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The Cases of London

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Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt.

Chapter Key:

“Japanese Speaking”

Dreamscape

'Thinking'

Chapter One

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Thursday, April 4th

Mai stood in darkness; surrounded by glowing orbs of white light that twinkled like stars, colours reflecting ever so slightly onto non-existent surfaces. On instinct, she turned around to see if Gene would show himself today. Ever since Naru had left for England, a year and nine months ago (not that Mai had been counting), it had become rare for her to see the medium. Part of her wished that this was because he'd moved on, but she already knew that wasn't the case. Since the very beginning she'd had a somewhat special relationship with both Gene and Naru that allowed her to see and understand the both of them in ways nobody else had previously; and it was through this connection that she was sure she would feel if Gene moved on into the next world. In fact, Mai was mostly sure that it was Naru's involvement in her life that had triggered the release of her abilities – a fact that he would likely agree with.

Seeing no sign of Eugene, Mai turned towards the almost screen like area of blackness that was beginning to show a picture. It would seem that today she would just have to brave the dreams without him (although a cynical part of her mind wondered if that was all that different to any other day).

Taking a deep breath, she readied herself for the dream that was to come, momentarily relieved by the fact that this wouldn't be a first-person dream. Those were the worst.

Mai observed as the scenery morphed into a manor. The walls were made of cobblestone that was covered in numerous green vines where roses grew. The little moss that covered the building added aesthetic, making it feel majestic and magical. There was a lake in the background that contributed perfectly to the amazing picture, further helped by the setting sun that painted the background orange and pink.

If it weren't for the shout of a man, Mai wasn't sure if she would have been able to snap herself from her awed state of mind. “Pay attention Mai!” she scolded herself, turning her attention to the man and woman that she hadn't noticed in front of the manor.

The woman was on the ground, hand clutching her face where it was obvious that the man above her had struck, leaving a swelling red mark.

How dare you embarrass me in front of my family?! I told you never to speak unless spoken to!” the man bellowed.

Tears fell from the woman’s eyes. “I only told the truth!” she cried, “I refuse to allow my child to grow up under the conditions you give me.”

Sneering, the man pulled her from the ground by her hair. “What I give you is what a worthless slut like you deserves.”

Defiantly, the woman shook her head spitting towards him, saliva barely reaching his feet from the way she was held, although it was enough to garner a look of disgust and outrage from him.

What you give me is less than what you would give to a dog. I am a human being and I don’t care what you say, my child will not grow up being treated how you treat me.” she hissed, determination and desperation clear in her eyes.

The man's face went red with anger as he threw her to the ground once more, face pulled into a mocking smile. “Your child will receive the exact treatment that she deserves. If you can't even manage to give me a male heir, then they deserve everything that I give them. And, for that matter, so do you. What is the point in a woman other than to provide gratification for a man and to give them a child to continue their line? You are nothing.”

Mai gritted her teeth at the words that fell from the man's mouth. She knew that she couldn’t do anything about the remarks but regardless, she found the need to restrain herself. “It’s already happened.” she told herself until she felt that she could handle it. Turning back to the ‘screen’ she continued to watch the scene play out.

Despite her position laid out on the dirt, the woman only laughed hysterically, pushing herself up on shaking arms. “If anything, females are the superior beings,” she declared.

It seemed as though she was going to say more but the man didn't wait to hear it. A well-aimed slap hit the woman's skin loudly, and her words turned to silence. After delivering a few more hits, his fists seemed to clench even more, showcasing the anger that was coursing through his body in that moment.

The only reason you live now is because if you were to die, so would the child that grows inside of you. However, if you continue to defy me, I will make sure that the child you so dearly wish to give a good life finds itself in pain throughout its entire life.”

The man’s promise sent shivers down Mai spine as she covered her mouth in horror; her posture reflecting the very essence that was the woman’s face. Nodding the woman watched as her husband began to walk away only stopping briefly to call behind him. “Now hurry up. I don't have all day. Get yourself cleaned up for the guests later. I won't have you embarrassing me again.”

As the scene changed, Mai felt time skip forward. As the air around her seemed to rush, she shivered at the chill it caused her spirit's “body”. Voices surrounded her all at once, the sound of a new-born baby, the resounding of hits and slaps, screams of anguish and fury. One thing in particular stood out to Mai. The scream of that single word.

“Mama!”

It wasn’t hard to tell what had happened as Mai stood, watching people in black shed fake tears as a show towards the loss of the mother. The gravestone was simple and read two words, “Elizabeth Wadleigh.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai woke from the dream with a start, heart pounding in her chest. Her head spun slightly, and her stomach turned at the rough 'landing' her spirit seemed to make as she returned to her body once more. There was a residual anger running through her veins as she remembered everything that had occurred. Her heart ached to hold the young girl she'd heard scream, putting together that the mother had probably died in front of her child because of that man.

Pulling herself from her thoughts, not wanting to get too caught up in the emotions and then lost to them, Mai focused instead on pulling out her dream diary from the ground beside her futon. Releasing the pen from where it hung from the book, she sighed as she began to jot down every single detail she could recall from the dream. The slightly messy kana and kanji slowly filling the page before Mai sighed and set the book to the side.

Throwing the blankets from herself, she forced herself to get up. The cool tatami mats under her feet made her shiver slightly as she padded towards her bathroom to get ready for the morning.

She hadn't yet checked the time, but she was almost certain that there was no way she could get back to sleep either way.

Glancing at the mirror, Mai frowned at the sight of dark circles under her eyes; clear evidence that she'd been dreaming instead of sleeping, yet again. Her hair was a frazzled mess, serving as a good reminder that she should get a trim soon, and her nightshirt seemed to cling to her from the sweat covering her skin.

Wrinkling her nose in distaste, the brunette quickly stripped and turned on the water in the shower.

Stepping under the warm water, she allowed her thoughts to drift towards what she had to do today in an attempt to focus on anything but the scream that was still resounding in the back of her mind.

It sort-of worked.

After only a minute, Mai reluctantly turned the taps off. She still needed to jog, and it wouldn't do to use all the hot water before that.

Wrapping her towel around herself, it didn't take long to locate her jogging clothes and change. Walking around her apartment, she quickly grabbed her phone and keys before heading out; only stopping to slip into her runners and lock the door before she was off.

Noting that it was already four-thirty a.m. on her phone, Mai opted to jog through a small nearby park, stopping to practice her Qigong part way through.

The movements flowed as Mai relaxed into them, letting her mentor’s words flow through her mind.

It wasn't too long before she was making the jog back to her apartment, already glad that this day was beginning to look up (in spite of the way it had begun).

A short shower later found Mai slipping into a light blue bardot top and a pair of jeans. Grabbing her handbag, she double checked that she had everything before stepping out and locking the door.

It was a short journey as she made her way down the quiet streets to the little cafe that the team had chipped in to buy as her birthday present the previous year (despite it's position under Ayako's name until she came of age).

Spotting the sign for Little Delights, she couldn't help but smile at the memory. Everyone had been so excited; and she hadn't known what to do, or how to react.

Even though she had been apprehensive about running it, Ayako had just proclaimed that it was too late, and she didn't have a choice.

Shaking away the memories, Mai pulled out her keys and unlocked the door, stepping inside. It was already gone five-thirty in the morning. There was no time for reminiscing.

Re-locking the door after she entered to prevent unwanted people coming in, she made her way into the kitchen; hitting on the light until the sun rose higher in the sky.

Tying an apron around her waist, Mai set about the kitchen.

Heating the oven and then retrieving the pre-prepared cookie doughs from the fridge, she quickly rolled them out, cutting out the shapes and putting them onto trays, before slipping them into the oven to bake.

Changing her focus to the muffins and cakes, it wasn't long before Mai had settled into a good pace; movements fluid and sure as she moved around the kitchen, pulling out the cookies when they were done so that they could cool, and replacing them with the muffin trays.

The rustling of keys and the sound of the door opening caught Mai's attention a little later. A quick look at the time on the kitchen clock made her raise an eyebrow. She wasn't expecting anyone until later on. There was still an hour and a half until she was opening up for the day.

Walking over to the light switch, turning it off now that there was plenty of natural light, she listened out for whoever her unexpected guest was.

“Jou-chan?”

Blinking in surprise at the sound of Bou-san's voice, Mai sighed.

“In the kitchen!”

She was quite sure that the irritation in her tone showed how she felt about his being here so early.

“Can you come out here please?” he requested back.

Groaning a little at the distraction from her morning preparations, the brunette grumbled as she checked the muffins, happy to find them ready to be pulled out.

“Just give me a minute!” she agreed after a moment.

Slipping the chocolate cakes and vanilla cakes into the oven, she set the timer so that that they wouldn't burn while she was distracted. Checking the cookies, she nodded when she found them to be cool enough. Putting them into their designated jars.

Washing her hands quickly, she hung her apron up before grabbing two of the now full jars to take with her.

Heading to the register, she positioned the jars before walking around the counter.

“What's up Bou-san? I'm kind of busy-” Her complaint was cut off as she realised that next to Bou-san were two very familiar looking men.

She was suddenly very glad that she'd put the jars down before talking to the monk, because she was almost certain that they would have been in pieces on the ground otherwise.

“Surprise?” Bou-san joked, a bead of sweat slowly travelling down his temple. “Look who I found on my way over?”

His words fell flat, Mai's mind running a million miles a minute as she tried to figure out what to say without it coming out as a demand for an explanation.

After a moment of awkward silence, Mai tried for a polite smile, but wasn't quite sure that she managed it.

“Hello.”

Bou-san shifted slightly, already regretting that he'd put Mai in this situation.

After SPR had shut down, it had taken a while for Mai to bounce back. They'd all done their part to help the young woman move on.

Sometimes it was hard to remember that not only was Mai still a teenager, but she was a teenager without a proper support system.

Even now, Mai wasn't quite the same (although, after so long, none of them were). She was quieter, more reserved.

Her depression was the main reason why he had considered hanging up on Lin when he'd originally gotten the call, no matter how rude that would have been. But he'd held himself together long enough to let the other man explain the situation, before curtly informing him that he would consider it, anger swayed by the severity of the situation.

He was a professional, after all. Emotions couldn't run his life, and nor should they stop him from helping out someone who needs it.

Seeing how Mai's face shut down, however, made Bou-san swallow thickly. Perhaps he should have just let it go, or at least told them that Mai couldn't make it.

Noting her friends concern, Mai shot him a smile, trying to act like everything was okay. She couldn't let another person affect her like this.

“So, am I going to get an explanation as to why I'm currently looking at my old boss and co-worker, or are you intent on starting at me until everything becomes clear?”

Letting her irritation show, Mai's foot tapped impatiently as she looked up at the other men, not in the least concerned when both Naru and Lin's seemed slightly put-out at her blatant annoyance.

“Seriously you two. I do have a shop to run, so if you aren't going to explain yourselves-”

“I'm here on official business to request some help regarding a case in England,” Naru cut her off finally, a guarded look clouding his eyes as he watched her with equal irritation.

Mai sighed, ignoring the little voice in the back of her mind saying, 'why now?', to instead focus on what that might mean.

“I'm going to need more details than that, Dr. Davis,” she pointed out, a little exasperated.

'And why does it have to be as I'm finally moving on?'

For a moment, it seemed as though Naru flinched from the use of his actual last name and title, but his expression didn't appear to have changed.

“Of course. Currently I've been placed in charge of a high profile case, and I don't trust the incompetent workers from SPR. So, when I was informed that I had my own choice of team, I thought that it would be prudent to request help from some of the people I have the most experience working with.”

Mai hummed at Naru's words, before a thought occurred to her.

“In that case, why not just call? Or is the use of a phone below the great Oliver Davis?” Mai inquired, frowning.

“I had some other things to attend to in Japan. This wasn't nearly important enough to warrant an entire flight.”

For some reason, Lin seemed to find this reasoning amusing and Mai managed to catch a small smirk before it was hidden behind a mask of indifference once more.

“Takigawa-san was kind enough to pick us up and suggested that here was the best place to find everyone,” he added after a moment.

Mai was about to inform them that they didn't actually have any plans for the group to get together that day but was cut off by the sound of the entrance bell ringing as the door sung open and Ayako stepped inside.

“Good morning, Mai.” Ayako greeted, studiously ignoring the two additions to the room as she walked over to her friend, “How are you today?”

The underlying question was obvious to Mai, further punctuated by a side-eye towards Lin and Naru that made her giggle.

“I'm fine,” she tried to reassure the other woman, despite how off balance she still felt about everything.

Disbelief was clear on the red-haired woman's features, but she notably let it go, turning to focus an unimpressed glare on Naru and Lin.

Before she could get out a single (and most likely impolite) word out, the bell chimed again, revealing John and Masako at the entrance.

“Good morning everyone,” John called out cheerfully. He stopped for a moment, a look of surprise of his features at the sight of Naru and Lin (or so Mai assumed that's what the shock was from), before he smiled warmly.

Lifting her kimono in front of her face to cover her mouth, Masako repeated a similar greeting, her soft voice travelling easily through the silence of the room.

If she was shocked by the sudden appearance of Lin and Naru, it didn't show on her face.

Her concern for Mai, however, was clear in the way her eyes immediately darted to her friend.

Noting the medium's gaze, Mai offered her a slight smile and a nod, which seemed to satisfy her just fine.

Sighing when she noted how full the cafe was becoming, Mai waved towards a table in the corner of the room, out of the way of where the rest of the guests would be sitting once she opened up.

“Go and sit down-” she started, already moving towards it so that there wouldn't be any confusion.

She didn't get too far before the bell jingled and footsteps rushed towards her.

“Maiiii-chaaaan.”

Even as her name was still being called, the familiar weight of Yasu settled over her shoulders, unbalancing her slightly before she re-found her footing, turning her head slightly to glare at her best friend.

“Damn it Yasu! It's too early in the morning for this,” she bemoaned, fond irritation rising.

Tilting his head, Yasu smirked, lights reflecting off his glasses. “Does that mean that if it's not morning, then it's perfectly acceptable for me to do this?” he inquired.

“You know that it's not!”

A cough from Naru, and an irritated raised eyebrow made Mai roll her eyes when she spotted it.

Shaking him from her back, she gave them all a firm look.

“As I was saying, please go and sit down.”

Spotting Bou-san who was already moving to do as he was told, Ayako on his left-hand side, Yasu smirked.

“Oh Takigawa! Worry not my love! I would never cheat on you, even for the loveliest of ladies!” He exclaimed dramatically, before giving Lin and Naru an appraising look. “Or even for the handsomest men.”

Stealing a seat on the other side of Bou-san, he moved his chair closer to lean against him, fluttering his eyelashes cutely.

Giving the younger male a disgusted look, Bou-san pushed the chair further away roughly, and gave him a disapproving look.

“If you don't cut it out.” Ayako warned, “we're going to be having a very painful talk at the end of today, Osamu.”

Pouting at the use of his first name, Yasu sighed and relaxed back into his chair. He shot a wink towards Mai, who was standing beside him, now more amused than irritated.

Success.

In the background, there was a ding, and the brunette sighed. It was time to pull the cakes out so that they could cool.

“Look, I have to go and take care of some things for when I open up. I'll bring you guys out some tea, but you'll have to entertain yourselves for the moment,” she warned.

“Don't worry about us,” Ayako assured her, offering a warm smile. “Did you want a hand, at all?”

Shaking her head, Mai smiled at her friend widely. “No, no. I've got it,” she promised, before turning around and heading back towards the kitchen.

The moment she stepped into the kitchen, Mai let her eyes shut, the feelings of her panic and insecurities rearing their heads now that there weren't so many eyes on her.

Walking over to the oven, she ignored her shaking hands for the moment, and pulled out the cakes before they could burn. Testing to make sure they sprung back, she shut the oven door for the moment, placing the cakes off to the side to cool.

With the immediate issue taken care of, Mai finally allowed herself to freak out.

How was she supposed to deal with this situation? Even though time has passed by, the hurt from them leaving was still so fresh.

There were still so many questions that she would think about late into the night, keeping her from sleep.

Why had he lied to her? Why couldn't he have trusted her? Did he think that she would have revealed him? Did he really think that she was that much of a liability?

They weren't fair thoughts. She knew why he'd lied. She knew why he hadn't told her. Hadn't she already proven that she had a big mouth, especially when she'd been angered?*

And wasn't it even more true that he didn't owe anything to her? She'd chosen to put her faith and trust into the wrong person, and he'd broken her heart; leaving her stranded in a sea of her own emotions, struggling not to drown.

So, in reality, wasn't it just her own fault that this had all happened in the end?

Swallowing thickly, her eyes burned with unshed tears, and she rubbed at them carefully.

Hearing the sound of Bou-san shouting out in the cafe, Mai's lips twitched a little, the pain in her chest that had been so tight lightening, just a little.

That was right.

Even though Naru had chosen to leave, she'd still gained a family from her time with SPR, and they'd all helped her as best as they could.

Taking a deep breath, Mai focused on that instead, breathing deeply for a moment. Bringing her hands up, Mai clapped her hands to her cheeks, grounding herself with the sting.

“Enough wallowing,” she whispered to herself, emotionally exhausted, but feeling much better now then she had before.

Nodding to herself, she finally set about to preparing a couple of pots of tea, turning on the electric kettle, and preparing the tea for both pots; one earl grey and the other green.

She allowed the water to cool for a moment once it finished, letting it come down from the boiling temperature so that it was just hot before tipping it in. Humming to herself as she let the leaves steep, Mai moved instead to grab a serving tray from the cupboard, making sure there were enough cups on the tray, before adding the now steeped teas.

Before stepping back into the main part of the cafe, Mai breathed deeply, taking a moment to ground herself.

“You've got this.”

Unbeknownst to her, the small pot plants that had begun to wilt and almost flinch away from the darker thoughts clouding her emotions, slowly began to bloom on the windowsill once more.

Nodding to herself in an effort to reaffirm this thought, Mai left the kitchen, head high.

“Sorry for the wait guys,” she apologised as she made her way over to the table, grinning at John when he immediately jumped up from his seat to take the tray from her and carry it over for her.

“Thanks John.”

The Australian smiled kindly. “No problem,” he promised, sliding the tray to the middle of the table.

“The red pot has earl grey, and the green one has green tea,” Mai informed, not meeting Naru's (or Yasu's) eyes when she felt their gazes on her.

Taking a seat next to her best friend, opposite Naru who sat at the other head of the table, she smiled towards Masako who was on her right-hand side.

“We were just discussing what other things Lin-san and Davis-san had to do while they were back here,” The younger girl** explained. “but now that you're back, we should discuss the reason we're all here today.”

Glancing at the time on the wall-clock, Mai frowned. “That's probably for the best. It's already eight, and I still need to get things ready. I have, maybe, fifteen minutes before I have to get the buttercream and ganache ready for the cakes.”

Yasu tilted his head, a calculating look in his eyes despite the smile that was still in place. “Surely you can afford to open a little later than usual today?” He proposed, “It's not every day that you get a visit from some old co-workers.”

Huffing, Mai shot him a disapproving look, and then shot the same look at said 'old co-workers'.

“Yes, Yasu, and if they had given me advance notice then perhaps that might have been possible, but it's much too late to give notice now. I have a regular clientele that pays your wages. I'm not about to jeopardise that. This is a business I'm running, and I'm not about to encourage unexpected visits in the future either,” she scolded.

Across the table, Ayako nodded in agreement, pride shining in her eyes. “Spoken like a true businesswoman,” she praised.

“We can catch you up with everything else when you have a moment later in the day.” Naru interjected, sensing an argument when Bou-san's mouth opened, “When do you think that'll be?”

He'd had more than enough of the petty arguments between those two so far today. How he'd forgotten how irritating they tended to be together was beyond him.

Thinking about the question for a moment, Mai took another look at the clock. “At around eleven I have another couple of workers coming in to prepare for the lunch rush. I should have some time then, if you don't mind hanging around until then. If it gets busy though, I might not have a spare moment until much later today,” she warned.

Naru glanced over at Lin before he nodded in acceptance towards her. “That will be fine.”

Content that everything was sorted for the moment, Mai pushed her seat back and stood from the table, pushing in her chair. “In that case, make yourselves comfortable. If you need anything, John and Yasu both know where everything is and can help you out.”

Thinking for a moment, she gave John a pointed look. “Yasu is not allowed near the baked goods. If you want to grab some cookies for the table, then you need to grab them. And if you want to hook up to our internet, then get John to help you. Do not ask Yasu.”

John nodded in understanding, ignoring the protests from Yasu.

Content that John was trustworthy enough, Mai smiled. “Until later then.”

Bowing slightly, she turned and made her way towards the kitchen, rolling her eyes when she heard Yasu accusing Masako of being the reason he was banned from the baked goods.

“I wasn't the one who took four cookies,” Masako sniffed primly, and the brunette could almost imagine the look of innocent propriety on her features, smug smile hidden behind her kimono sleeve.

Mai's lips twitched.

This time when she stepped into the kitchen, there was no crushing feeling of anxiety or sadness. Instead, she only felt rejuvenated.

“Time to get to work.”

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*This is a reference to the 3rd case they take, The after school hexer (or the after school cursed person) where Mai reveals at the end that Naru used PK, despite being asked to keep it a secret (a scene that I personally abhor, if you wanted my opinion, because I don't find it all that in character at all. That's a personal opinion though).

**In case you guys weren't aware, Mai is actually older than Masako by 21 days.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

English Speaking”

“Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Two

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Thursday, April 4th

It was just under three hours later when Mai's additional workers showed up, who immediately placed their things in the staff room connected through the kitchen before getting to work.

Smiling at Hana, a woman in her early twenties who had been the first person Mai ever hired, Mai allowed her to take over her position at the register.

Switching to the teas, Mai set about getting the orders ready to go before her other worker appeared, smiling at her.

“I can take over Mai-san,” Erika offered, already moving to do exactly that.

Mai raised an eyebrow in silent question.

“It's quiet enough that Hana and I can handle things. There seem to be a group of mostly familiar individuals looking at you rather expectantly for the moment.”

Sighing, Mai nodded. “Okay, okay. I'll go take care of things then. Give me a shout if you need a hand. I have Riko coming in at twelve as well to help with things,” she informed.

Erika nodded in understanding before making a shoo'ing motion with her hands. “Off with you.”

Rolling her eyes at her employee, Mai quickly washed her hands and dried them before heading towards the back-corner table where the others were sitting.

She sighed when she watched Ayako whack Bou-san for whatever comment he'd just made.

Most likely something to do with her age, considering the angry flush on her face.

When would he ever learn?

Her eyes travelled over to Yasu who was happily shoving an entire cookie into his mouth.

“You enjoying that?” she greeted, mildly amused.

He nodded in response, grinning around his full mouth.

Why did she even bother?

Turning to Naru and Lin (and wasn't that still a surreal thought?) as she took a seat, Mai smiled.

“So, who wants to catch me up on everything you've managed to discuss?” she asked, glancing around the table.

“We're mostly trying to figure out who can afford to get the time off of work on such short notice*,” Bou-san explained. “Ayako thinks she should be able to sort something out and Masako has nothing scheduled. John thinks it should be fine, and I'm all good as well. We're basically just waiting to hear from you.”

Mai hummed in understanding, looking towards Naru inquisitively. “When would we be leaving? I can't just up and leave the store without organising for someone who I can trust to take over management and all of the opens.”

“The sooner, the better. Sometime at the beginning of next week at the latest,” Naru informed. “Will that be enough time to find someone?”

Before Mai could respond, Yasu cut in with a scoff. “Mai knows exactly who to ask. Hana and Erika have both been preparing to take over for the past few months. It's only a couple of weeks before we were supposed to leave for England in the first place. It's just a case of letting them know so that they can sort out how your current shifts are going to be split.”

Ayako nodded in agreement. “Both of them would love the extra money at the moment as well, so I’m sure they won't mind the short notice,” she pointed out, when Mai still looked unsure.

Gnawing at her lip, Mai nodded finally. “That's true I suppose... I'll speak with them about it later on, and we'll see what they say. If they say no then I'll have to figure something out, though.”

Naru nodded in understanding. “That's fine. I'll wait until tonight to finalise everything then,” he agreed, not allowing his mild irritation to show at the idea that Mai might not be able to make it.

Even more irritating was the way they were talking about leaving a couple of weeks early, almost like they'd been planning to go to England already. He hated being uninformed, and despite knowing that it was his own fault that he knew nothing – he was the one who hadn't left her with his contact information after all- he couldn't help the emotion.

As it was, he had been hopeful that Mai, at least, would be keen to come to England for a case; even if she no longer had any interest in the subject of parapsychology. He resolutely ignored the fact that he'd know the answer to that if he'd just left her with his contact information.

“What do you mean it's only a few weeks before you were supposed to leave for England?”

Naru glared at Yasu as he pushed his glasses up, smiling widely, a touch of smugness in his tone.

“Leave for Cambridge of course!” He exclaimed, voice practically screaming 'duh', like it was something he should have known. “Japan doesn't offer any parapsychology courses, so obviously if we're going to need to attend a foreign school, we'll aim for the best.”

An unfamiliar feeling of warmth bloomed in Naru's chest as the shock of Yasuhara's words began to subside; before he squashed it down. Why the hell was he so happy about something like this?

“I'm shocked that you managed to make it in with grades like yours,” he teased finally, resorting to the only thing that felt right in this situation.

The brunette in question huffed, her cheeks puffing out as her cheeks turned red with anger. “You stupid jerk! I'll have you know that I topped my class in every subject before I graduated!” she exclaimed proudly.

She opted not to mention how many lessons that she'd needed from Yasu and how hard he'd worked to catch her up on class work after the Summer holidays** had ended the year Naru had left. He didn't need to know that.

“I do have to wonder if that's true considering the lack of change in your vocabulary,” he baited, referring to the familiar insults. He smirked as her face only got redder, anger rising just like he remembered.

Would you feel better if I insulted you in English instead you damn narcissistic jerk?”

The sudden change in language shocked him for a moment, but the switch came easily.

I see you've finally learnt a skill that will actually be useful in real life.”

It was an easy bait, and it hid his off-kilter feeling easily as he struggled to add English to the list of things Mai knew. There were so many new things that he did know or understand about her, and it was weird for him to think of all the things that he'd missed.

Mai rolled her eyes at the comment, reminding herself that he was just baiting her for his own amusement. The concept was simple enough, but it was still hard to stop herself from reacting whenever he said something like that. He knew just how to get under her skin to get the reaction, and wasn't that the biggest problem?

Naru knew her. And yet he'd still...

She stopped that thought before it could fully mature, changing tracks quickly. Now really wasn't the time for another breakdown. Nor was it the correct company for one.

Of course I'm fluent in English now. I don't know how you would have expected me to go to Cambridge University, in England, where they speak English, with anything less,” she managed to throw back after a beat, pushing her prior thoughts as far from her mind as possible.

Lin noted absently that the change in language didn't seem to be bothering anyone else, which was interesting. It was likely to be useful, given Noll hadn't even really considered the possible issues with a team of mostly non-English speakers in an English-speaking country; outside of commenting that the only people they'd need to communicate with would be themselves anyway.

It was a novel situation to be in, watching from the sidelines as Mai and Noll threw comments at each other, back and forwards, similar to how things had been in the past.

The time apart didn't seem to have changed as much as he'd feared, and he couldn't help but feel grateful for that.

There were changes of course. Not a single individual at their table was the same as they had been before he'd left with Noll, but there didn't seem to be too many personality changes.

Before they'd left, Noll and Mai had been awkward in a way that they'd never been before, not even when they'd first made their acquaintance, and he'd worried that that awkwardness might have become even stronger. To his relief, however, Mai already seemed to have melted from the icier demeanour she'd projected earlier that day and his charge was becoming more and more lively.

It was unlikely that the younger man had noticed, but it had been clear to Madoka and himself, and then a little later Noll's parents, that he hadn't been the same since he'd returned from Japan the first time. He'd been even quieter and more reserved, always working, studying, or focusing on something.

He knew that Martin and Luella had convinced themselves that it was because of Gene's death, and that they were doing their best to be tactful about their worry, but neither of them had been in Japan. They hadn't seen Noll slowly overcome the pain he felt at his brother's passing.

They hadn't seen how different he was in Japan, and Gene had been dead then as well.

He'd always assumed that the real reason for his mood had been the fact that England wasn't where Mai had been. Gene and the lack of freedom might have been part of it, but Mai had always been the one person who could shake Noll.

Before Japan, Lin had never seen Noll react like that to anyone.

And since they'd left, he'd never seen it again.

He had known that he'd been right from the moment that they'd seen Mai once more, but their interactions in this moment really cemented that belief.

Smirking internally, Lin had to wonder if Noll even realised just how strongly he reacted to Mai's presence.

He'd wager that his charge hadn't even considered the possibility.

At some point during his distraction, the group had (miraculously) managed to get themselves back onto the original topic, and it seemed that they were discussing what they might need, and how long the trip was likely to be.

“Let's try to keep you out of trouble for this one, alright?” John joked slightly, looking up for his notes with excitement on his face.

There was a collective wince around the table, and Ayako shot Mai a suspicious look.

“That reminds me, are you allowed to be going anywhere? I haven't spoken to you in person for a few days, so I haven't gotten an update on your previous injuries. I know you said that there was nothing major, but I really would feel better if you were to give me an all-clear from the doctor. You injured your ankle before as well, didn't you?” she worried.

Rolling her eyes at the mothering tone that her friend was using, she couldn't help but smile slightly. “Don't worry. The doctor cleared me of all my injuries, including my ankle yesterday,” she assured.

Naru raised an eyebrow at the new information, looking at Mai intensely, this time any sign of injury. Even though injuries on the brunette were nothing new, a part of him felt unnecessarily guilty for not being there to prevent the cause of the injury.

“Injuries?” He inquired, when no-one seemed like they were going to elaborate further.

Like a switch being flicked, the happiness drained from the room, replaced by matching forlorn looks.

“I'll go get some more tea. You all must have finished it already. Especially given Naru over there,” Mai joked, ignoring the way it seemed to fall flat.

Gathering the tray from the table, she carefully weaved through the other customers seated inside the cafe and made her way into the kitchen once more.

It was a moment before anyone spoke, seemingly gathering their thoughts.

“After you left, we each still took various cases and sometimes we'd get together to help each other out. Mai doesn't come along as often as she used to, but if the days line up with when she can afford to leave the store alone and come with us, then she never gives up the chance,” Ayako started.

“Just over a week ago, we finished up one of the more... dangerous cases that we've had since you two left. Mai came out of a three-day kidnapping with malnourishment, severe dehydration, and some cuts that needed stitches. There was her sprained ankle as well, that put her on crutches for a few days after. She's good on them though, didn't even blink,” Bou-san continued, grinning wryly at his own joke.

It was something he tried not to think about – how well she'd used the crutches. The doctor hadn't even bothered to try and tell her about them, just handing over the set to her with a look of reluctant acceptance that made him think that this wasn't the first time that she'd dealt with this doctor.

The parting words of the doctor had made him think that it was unlikely to be the last time either.

Naru's eyebrows drew together slightly, the guilt even stronger now that he knew that a case had caused this.

“Surely you wouldn't all look this upset over it still if it was that simple. What else happened?” He demanded, sensing that he was missing certain pieces of the puzzle.

“We would also like to know that,” Masako informed him; voice soft but there was worry in its undertone.

His frustration rose a little, and Oliver forcibly stopped himself from becoming too annoyed. “Explain.”

Ayako sighed. “What Masako means, is that we don't know what else happened while she was kidnapped. Mai won't talk about it. She seems fine, all things considered, but whenever we bring up the case, she goes quiet and she won't talk to us.”

The frustration in her tone was reflected on everyone's faces.

“Leave it alone,” Yasu stated finally. “Mai's troubles are her own, and she'll talk about them when she's ready.”

Before anyone could argue with that, Yasu was pushing up from his seat and moving to take the tray from Mai (just like John had earlier) who had reappeared.

He leaned over to say something to Mai, and her mouth formed a single word back, although Naru couldn't make out what it was.

“Are you sure that you'll be okay for this case, Taniyama-san?” Lin inquired, not bothering to hide the small worry that he felt. He didn't want to drag her into more danger, especially so soon after she'd just recovered.

Not even seeing Noll in a better mood was worth that.

Smiling at the concern, Mai nodded. “Don't worry. Like I said, I've been cleared by my doctor and I feel fine,” she assured him, although it felt as though it was also directed at the other occupants of the table.

Glancing away from them all as the bell began to ring more frequently, Mai sighed. Nodding towards Riko, who had appeared ten minutes ago now, and was motioning for a hand, she turned back to her friends.

“It was great seeing you all today, but I need to get back to work. Bou-san can give you my new contact information and you can let me know the date and anything else I need to know that way,” she informed Naru and Lin, before she bowed slightly, and power-walked through the cafe, immediately settling into a pace with her workers.

Watching her start to rush around for a moment, everyone smiled slightly.

Scribbling on a piece of paper, Bou-san held it out towards Naru a moment later. “This is Mai's current number.”

Nodding in response – the closest thing the monk have ever gotten to a thanks from the other man- Naru tucked it away in his jacket pocket.

“Well, we should be getting out of here,” Ayako mentioned. “I'll see you all soon enough.”

Bou-san stood from the table, offering her a hand as she got up as well.

“See you all soon.”

With that, the two of them were out the door.

Masako, John and Yasu all offered a similar sentiment, smiling a little in apology for their sudden departure.

It was silent between them for a moment, before Lin turned to his charge with an inquisitive look.

Understanding the silent question, Oliver shook his head. “I'm going to stay here and use the internet to sort out some emails and work. You can go and take care of any of the various tasks that father left to you,” he informed.

Lin didn't look like he was buying for a second, giving Naru a pointed look. “Let me know when you want to be picked up.”

“Of course.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Despite what Mai had expected, throughout the second half of the day Naru had stayed at the table in the back corner and kept to himself for the entire afternoon; barely moving at all while he worked away at something.

He'd long finished the refilled pots of teas, and since then Erika had taken it upon herself to refill his cup for him every now and then.

Groaning as she rolled her shoulder, aching slightly from the constant serving and making of tea, Mai offered Erika a smile, the door shutting behind their last customer of the day.

Flipping the sign to now show 'Closed', the two of them set about wiping down tables, and making sure that everything was clean.

When she was satisfied that everything was ready to go for the next day, Mai smiled towards Erika, who had disappeared five minutes earlier to grab her things.

“I'm off Mai. I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks for your hard work!” Mai called to her, waving goodbye.

As the door clicked shut, Mai turned to the final table that needed to be fixed up for tomorrow.

Walking over to Naru, she collected the teacup he'd been using, rolling her eyes when he didn't even spare her a look.

“You'll need to consider packing up shortly, Naru. You can't sit there all night and I'm about to finish up,” she informed him, not waiting for a response before she went to wash up the cup.

A few minutes later, she reappeared, her bag slung over her shoulder.

To her relief, Naru had already collected his things, and he didn't waste a second getting up from his seat and heading over to her.

Setting the alarm, Mai stepped out the door and quickly locked everything up, before turning and letting out a sound of surprise when she came face to face with Naru's chest.

How had she managed to forget that he was here?

“What are you still doing here anyway?” she grumbled, fighting the feeling of embarrassment despite the heat she could feel spreading over her cheeks.

The look she got in response was condescending, and for a moment, she wondered if that would last past her stepping on his foot.

“I thought that would be obvious,” he scoffed. “You shouldn't be walking around of your own at this time of the night.***” He insisted.

“I can take care of myself,” Mai informed him shortly, attempting to step around him so that she could get home.

Within the next few seconds, she felt her foot hit a rock and could already feel the pull of gravity that was sure to make her crash to the ground.

Luckily, or not so luckily given her previous point, Naru noticed immediately and had no problem pulling her back up and righting her.

“I'm more worried that you'll get yourself killed without the help of anyone else,” he teased; voice uncomfortably close given their proximity.

Shivering – though not from the cold – Mai stumbled away from him quickly, ignoring the amused incredulity she could sense from Naru as she nearly fell once more.

“I'm fine,” she repeated.

This was further punctuated as she turned heel and began to walk home, not commenting when she heard Naru's footsteps begin to fall behind her.

His longer strides easily kept up with her somewhat fast pace.

Neither of them spoke for the rest of the journey, though it wasn't as awkward of a silence as Mai would have expected.

It just served as a harsh reminder of their shared past. Of how Naru was the first one to anger her, but also the only one who could just easily calm her.

They had gotten comfortable around each other, and with nothing to say in this moment, that comfort was showing in their silence.

Mai didn't like that.

They weren't comfortable anymore. Or rather, they shouldn't be.

It should be awkward right now. It should be strained and harsh, should be-

Mai didn't know how it should be. But, however it should be, it shouldn't be like this.

Her mental debate was halted as they made it to her apartment complex, and she shook them away in favour of seething at how Naru followed her into the lobby and then up to her floor.

Continuing down to the end of the hall, she sighed when he made no signs of leaving, even as she unlocked her door and let it swing open.

For a moment, she considered slamming it shut in his face – and although the image in her mind was satisfying, she reigned it in.

“Since you're already here, you might as well come in for tea,” she offered finally, sighing in exasperation.

Naru nodded in agreement, trying not to let the subtle feeling of victory show.

Mai hadn't thrown him out just yet, and he was even getting more tea.

Of course, he'd had plenty of tea that day so far, but after so long without it he could hardly be expected to give up another chance. Slipping his shoes off, he stepped onto the tatami mats and glanced around, trying not to appear too curious.

“Make yourself comfortable. I'll be back in a minute.”

After Mai disappeared into (what he assumed was) the kitchen, Oliver let himself take a seat on the equally small couch, lips twitching slightly as he examined everything. The cosy set up reminded him so much of Mai.

The brunette re-appeared a moment later and he accepted the tea without a word, smirking when it won him a (fond?) eye roll.

Taking a seat in the only recliner in the room, diagonal from his own spot on the couch, Mai sighed. “Why are you here, Naru?” She asked, exhaustion beginning to settle in her now that she had a moment to sit down.

It took a moment for Naru to respond, gathering his thoughts slowly before he spoke. “I wanted to... apologise,” he started, ignoring the startled look on Mai's face. “It was a tough time when I left here, but it was abrupt and not at all fair to you.”

It was hard to find the words to express his regret at everything, and Mai seemed to understand, because she was smiling softly at him. There was a maturity in her look that was foreign to him, but it offered the same feeling that he'd always appreciated.

He hadn't realised how tight his chest had been all day, concerned by the cold way he'd been greeted, until this moment now when it slackened, and he could feel a small blooming warmth spread through him.

Mai gave him her full attention, letting him continue speaking.

“I'm sorry,” he finished finally, unable to figure out how to put any more of his thoughts into words, let alone sentences.

“I forgive you,” Mai responded finally. “It took me a while, but I got over everything. Life's hard Naru, and despite everything, the year and a bit that I worked for you gave me some of my happiest times.”

Her voice was soft, and Naru couldn't help but wince slightly at her blasé response to how harsh life could be. It was something he'd long since come to understand, but the cynicism of the thought didn't suit the Mai he'd come to know.

'Why not?' A voice in the back of his mind asked him. 'She's been through so much, why shouldn't she be cynical every now and then?'

It was a fair point, and Oliver figured that he'd have plenty of chances to remind himself of it in the future, given Mai's future at Cambridge.

“If you don't mind. It's getting late and I need to get to bed,” Mai stated finally, breaking Naru from his thoughts.

Placing the now empty cup on the table, he nodded in acceptance. “Of course,” he agreed, before smirking a little. “You look like you could use some beauty sleep.

It was an easy tease, and he slipped out the door while Mai's tired brain fought to catch up.

“You narcissistic jerk!”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*So, obviously this is really short notice, since for most jobs you need at minimum two weeks notice for days off, let alone an entire week, but I also want to make a note that a sudden trip is very very uncommon in Japan. According to my teacher, they actually rarely take holidays, even though they have the proper 'accumulation' for it. The reason for this is how much extra work is leaves for other people, and how much more you have to do when you get back. It's just easier to stay home and not bother.

**Naru discovered Gene's body in Summer, so I place it in mid-Summer, which is July. Just after that, the Japanese Summer holidays begin, running from around the 20th of July to the end of August.

***I just want you guys to note that this style of thinking isn't common to Japan and somewhat shows Naru's English roots. Japan is incredibly safe and walking around at what would be around seven o'clock at night in story time wouldn't even register as late for Mai. This is me speaking from not only what other people have told me but also my own experiences from being in Japan.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“Japanese Speaking”

English Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Three

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, April 6th

It was only a couple of days later that Mai found herself getting into a car with everyone else so that they could get to the airport on time for their flight.

Greeting them with a smile, she squished herself in next to Yasu before they were off again.

It took them around an hour to reach the airport* and the entire ride was filled with endless chatter about their journey, but it wasn't until they first stepped inside that she felt her excitement truly spike.

Bouncing slightly on her toes, she couldn't help but grin at Yasu as they waited to make it through international security, then baggage checks.

In the back of her mind, she was glad that she'd decided to get her passport so early before their planned departure for England, just in case. It was proving to be one of the better decisions she'd made.

After an hour of baggage checks and endless walking, they finally reached their boarding area and were able to collapse into the seating that was provided.

Turning to her side, she glared at Masako, Lin, and Naru who all looked like this was a normal occurrence. John didn't seem too bothered either.

While it made sense to the her that they were used to the overseas travel, she couldn't help but envy the ease they had conducted themselves with and how quickly they had reached this point.

Any excitement that she'd previously had was pretty much gone by now, dampened by all the security checks and waiting around.

“Cheer up Jou-chan!” Bou-san exclaimed, appearing out of nowhere to lift her up from her seat and spin her around for a moment.

Letting out a small squeak in surprise, she glared at the monk who was giving her an amused look.

“Don't do that, you stupid monk!” Ayako scolded, smacking her purse over his head to make the point stick. The older woman didn't want to be anywhere near the idiot duo if they were going to keep making these kinds of scenes (however unwilling Mai's part may be).

Collapsing into a seat of her own, Ayako glared harder at Bou-san who was still rubbing at his head while Mai had scampered as far away from him as she could get.

Ayako didn't blame her.

Seeing Mai's attempt at an escape, Yasu couldn't help but wander over and swing his arm around the brunette's shoulders. “This is such a glorious day Mai-chan. Now if only the love of my life could accept me for who I am, then today could really be everything that I wanted and more!” He exclaimed dramatically, leaning his head into the smaller girl's shoulder.

Petting him on the head, Mai fought the urge to giggle at the dramatic tone he was using.

Smirking a little when something occurred to her, she used their position to lean over and whisper something into the boy’s ear; pretending not to notice the various suspicious looks that it was garnering her from everyone.

Snickering, Yasu leaned on her heavily as he glanced over at Bou-san in particular, despite his desire to look over and see the look that would be on Naru's face.

“You really are sneaky.” He admitted with a little bit of admiration in his voice. This was definitely information he could use, and the way that Mai had set things up... well, he was once more reminded that maybe Mai shouldn't hang around with him so often.

Mai shrugged slightly. “It's only to get you off my back,” she insisted, despite her own excitement.

Pushing up his glasses to make them reflect, Yasu gave her a disbelieving look. “You keep telling yourself that, but we all know the truth.”

Pouting a little at his words, she shoved him slightly and decided that this was enough colluding for the day.

Making her way over to Naru and Lin, Mai decided to try her luck for some quiet over there, amused when Yasu immediately latched onto Bou-san instead.

Taking a seat, a couple of chairs away from Naru, she closed her eyes briefly before opening them once more and glancing over at Naru.

Seeing him looking at her, she raised an eyebrow in confusion. “Is there something wrong?” She asked. Did she have something on her face?

Oliver regarded her with a blank look, trying not to seem too interested in the topic. “What were you and Yasuhara-san discussing?” He inquired.

For a moment Mai was surprised by the question before she shot him an innocent look. “Nothing important. Don't worry about it.”

It took everything he had not to roll his eyes at the response. If nothing else, Mai's inability to lie hadn't changed.

“You said something to him and right now he looks like the cat that got the cream, so if you two are about to start wreaking havoc then I’d like to know before it blows up in your face,” he quipped.

Mai pouted slightly, crossing her arms. “It's not going to blow up in our faces,” she grumbled.

“So there is something then?”

Scowling at being caught, she pointedly looked away. “Jerk. It's nothing to worry about.”

From beside them, Lin rolled his eyes at how transparent his charge was being and how oblivious Mai was.

It's was amusing to see Noll get so worked up over someone else knowing something that he didn't when it came to Mai, but he wasn't about to clue them in.

Just as that thought passed his mind, an announcement came over the system and he stood up, along with Noll.

“We're boarding now.” Naru informed her just in case she'd missed the announcement.

Nodding, Mai grabbed her carry-on bag and followed them, feeling the excitement from earlier begin to come back now that they were finally getting ready to leave.

Making it through the boarding pass check, Mai followed after Naru and Lin, accepting the earphones offered before climbing on and showing her boarding pass to the attendant who directed her to follow after Naru and Lin.

The plane was set up with three seats on either side and then four seats in the middle. She couldn't help but be amazed by how big it was as she made her way to where she was sitting. Realising that Naru and Lin were waiting on her to take her seat next to the window, she made herself stop gawking and moved to catch up.

As she approached, Lin took her bag to put it in the overhead locker.

“Thank you.” She said, smiling as she climbed down to the end of their row with Lin getting in next to her and Naru following.

Settling in, she looked at the window with excitement, almost bouncing in her seat as she waited for everyone to be seated.

“We won't be leaving for well over five minutes Taniyama-san,” Lin informed her in an attempt to quell her excitement at least a little bit.

Pouting, Mai looked away from the window and tilted her head at him. “Hey Lin-san, how come you don't call me by my name like everyone else?” She asked.

It was a topic that she'd been wondering about for a while and it made for a good distraction while she waited for the lift off announcement and safety demonstration.

Lin looked over at her with a raised eyebrow. “Should I be calling you by your first name?” He asked. It was both a real question and a tease. Mai was the kind of person who liked to feel like she was close to those she cared about, so something like the way he referred to her being important shouldn't come as such a surprise. However, at the same time, she'd never requested that he call her by her first name.

Shrugging a little Mai grinned. “We've known each other a while and no-one else calls me by Taniyama,” she pointed out.

Plus, the thought of Taniyama-san always made her think of her parents that were no longer with her. Even though it had been years since her parents passed away, she couldn't help but want to look over her shoulder for her mother or father every time someone called her Taniyama-san**. It was a habit that even after her mother's death, she'd never quite been able to break.

Lin allowed this point. Even Noll, who had made a habit of calling everyone by their last name (originally to keep a specific distance from everyone, given their circumstances) had always referred to Mai by her first name.

“You don't use my first name either,” he pointed out. Not that he'd ever implied that she should be using his first name, but it was the same kind of situation.

Huffing, the brunette wasn't sure how to respond to that point. “Then at least use Taniyama-chan instead,” she insisted.

At the very least the change in honorific would be enough for her to stop and think before trying to find her mother somewhere in the vicinity. And this way it was a step towards them being friends. A small one but a step none-the-less. It wasn't like there wouldn't be other opportunities to bother him anyway, what with her being in England over the next four years***.

Sighing, Lin nodded in agreement. “Very well. I will make an effort to remember that in future,” he agreed, somewhat put off by the hope that had been shining in her eyes.

Before Mai could say anything else to him, however, the announcements began, and she immediately turned to look out the window as they started moving.

From his spot beside Lin, Oliver couldn't help but glance over to see Mai as they prepared for take-off. Although he wouldn't admit it, he had specifically requested for the brunette to be given the window seat since he was almost positive this was her first time in an airplane, and he wanted her to experience the full excitement.

Seeing the childlike look on her face when they were barely moving made it worth it, a fact he chose not to entertain further, instead turning to the flight attendants that were preparing for the safety demonstration with familiar movements.

It was going to be a long fourteen-hour flight****.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, April 7th

When the announcement for touch down finally came across the loudspeaker system, Mai grinned, taking in everything that was out of the widow. Even though she couldn't see too much just yet, she was excited to see more of the country and she couldn't wait to go sightseeing.

“You're here to assist in a case,” Naru reminded her, as if reading her thoughts exactly.

Pouting, Mai couldn't help but stick her tongue out in response. “I know that jerk.”

Rolling his eyes at the comment, Oliver stood up from his seat and started to pull down their overhead luggage before passing Lin his own and Mai's to pass down.

Waiting for the person in front of him to start moving,Oliver made his way down the aisles, doing his best to reach the end as quickly as possible.

Getting off the plane, he couldn't help but feel a little bit of relief. No matter how many times he flew to Japan, he always found it annoying to be on a plane for so long.

Waiting a moment for the others to catch up, he smirked at the look of wonder on Mai's face as she looked around at everything like an excited child.

“Come on Mai. I don't know how interesting someone like you finds an airport, but I have better places to be,” he informed, satisfied when he noticed the immediate anger that came over her face.

Turning away from them, he began walking once more, already knowing that they'd catch up.

Reaching the international security, he turned to the group. “This is where I split from you,” he explained, pointing towards the two separate directions. “Just follow along and you'll figure it out easily enough.”

Nodding, the group began on their way, slowly making their way through security to meet up with him on the other side.

When everyone was together, Bou-san going so far as to do a mock head count (and gaining a bump on his head for his troubles), they all made their way over to the baggage claim area; all of them eager to get out of the airport and sleep off the worst of the jet lag.

It took a while for all of their luggage to make its way around the belt before everyone had everything and they headed out to the arrivals section.

Finally reaching the doors, Oliver scanned the area for the people who he knew were going to be waiting for them.

It didn't take more than a moment to find them. Standing a little off to the side was Madoka and his mother who were waving madly like he'd been gone for over a month instead of less than a week. A little to the side of them, his father looked like he was debating the consequences of pretending that they weren't his family.

Before he could try to slip past them unnoticed, Mai let out an excited squeal.

Clearly she had noticed Madoka.

Waving back just as excitedly, Mai started heading over to Madoka without a second thought, suitcase trailing behind her as they made their way through the crowd.

Oliver sighed in exasperation, and resigned himself to following after the girl.

“Mai! It's been so long! How are you? What have you been up to? Had any boyfriends lately?” She asked quickly, reaching over to pull Mai into a hug while the other's made their way over at a much more relaxed pace.

Mai grinned at the onslaught of questions, giggling a little as she hugged back. “I've been good. So much has happened since we last spoke, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!” She exclaimed; all previous tiredness momentarily gone.

A cough from just behind Madoka made both to them come back into themselves, and Mai smiled warmly at the couple that were standing there patiently.

Sorry for not introducing myself sooner. My name is Mai Taniyama and it's nice to meet you,” Mai greeted, holding her hand out for Martin to shake before turning to Luella and doing the same.

Nonsense, there's no need to apologise. It's wonderful to meet you dear,” Luella stated, smiling at her easily.

Mother, father. I see you've met Mai,” Oliver stated, appearing beside Mai out of seemingly nowhere. Her hand went to her chest on instinct as her heart pounded from the shock.

The brunette shot a glare at him. “Jerk.”

There was a slight twitch of his lips of a smirk as he side-eyed her before he gave his parent's his full attention once more.

Pointing to the group that was now behind them all, he began to introduce them all one by one, all of them saying their own piece and shaking hands with the couple, except Masako who simply bowed slightly.

Now with the introductions out of the way, welcome to England! Grab your things and we can head out. You guys will be staying at the Davis' place while you're here and if we have time before your flight back after this case, I'm definitely taking you guys sightseeing.” Madoka rambled, leading the way as Martin looked on in amusement.

He waited for the others to start following her, chattering happily before travelling at the back of the group with Oliver.

Was your flight okay?” Martin asked, glancing over at Oliver briefly.

Oliver did the same, keeping his eyes in front of himself but glancing over from time to time. “It was exhausting but nothing out of the ordinary,” he reported. “How was mother while I was away?”

Smiling slightly, Martin chuckled. “You know what she's like. She missed you every moment you were gone but she's reigned herself in so far. You may want to spend some time with her soon to make up for being gone though.”

Oliver sighed slightly but couldn't help the slightly warm feeling he had at having someone care so much for him. “I will,” he promised.

After that they fell into a comfortable silence until they reached the cars.

Noll, catch,” Madoka called, throwing a set of keys towards the teenager.

There are two five-seater cars, so we needed yours as well,” she informed. “I'm assuming you'll be wanting to drive yourself.”

Oliver caught them easily turning towards his own car that was parked next to the other two. “Mai. You can ride with me,” he decided, pressing the button to unlock the car before opening the boot***** so that they could place their things in the back.

Mai didn't comment on the decision, deciding it might be better for her to leave it alone for now.

Madoka rolled her eyes but didn't look surprised. “Now that that's settled, girls with me and boys with Lin and Martin,” she split them, opening her own boot so that everyone could put their things away.

Don't bore her too much Noll!” Madoka called out at him before getting into her own car, everyone else following suit.

Rolling his eyes Oliver opened the door to the driver's side, slipping into his seat while Mai slipped into the passenger side.

It was silent for a moment while he fiddled with the mirrors and made sure that things were in place before pulling out.

After a few minutes, Oliver finally broke the silence, snapping Mai out of the daze that she'd fallen into watching the scenery go by and taking in the very different look of England to Japan.

“Mai.”

Turning to look at him, she tilted her head. “Yeah?”

Oliver rolled his eyes slightly. “I was simply wondering about your academic process. You'll be at Cambridge University as of the Easter Term, right? Do you know what kind of stipulations have been placed on you? I honestly didn't expect you to show this much interest in the subject,” he mused, questions already running through his head.

Mai thought for a moment trying to gather what she could remember from the process before putting it into words. “After you left, there was a little bit of time where I tried to decide if I really wanted to continue parapsychology as a study; but when career choosing time came around and I still hadn't found anything else that I was interested in, I decided to do a little bit of research and found myself getting interested in the different theories.”

There was a short shrug as if to say, 'what can you do?' before she continued that Oliver managed to catch out of the corner of his eye before she continued.

“When I looked into places to study parapsychology, Cambridge University struck me as the best, so I looked into it further with Yasu. I didn't think I'd have a shot, since our school terms run differently and I wanted to get started on university straight out of high school, not wait a year, but Ayako said that since we already had experience, they might be willing to give us an exception.

“We sent off a long inquiry email and attached an essay from both of us to serve as proof of our proficiency on the subject, along with our academic reports up until that point. They got back to us a while later and offered us an interview each. Somehow, we were both lucky enough to make it through that and come out with an acceptance letter in January. Officially I'm under a scholarship program that covers my classes, and housing in Emmanuel College******.”

Oliver listened carefully, filing the information away for later purposes. “I'm assuming you have to keep your grades up to a certain degree for you to keep your scholarship as well, correct?”

Nodding, Mai sighed. “I know it's going to be difficult but I'm excited.”

There was a certain level of happiness that Oliver also felt at her admission. Even though he'd never considered whether Mai would enjoy parapsychology on a theoretical level before, he couldn't help but find the idea appealing now. There was a lot of study that could be conducted based on her psychic experiences alone and he was sure that her entrance admission would have had to be good for things to be going so well.

He made a mental note to check it out later.

Before he could offer his potential services in helping her keep her grades up over the next couple years, or drill her for more information, he was cut off by a small shout of excitement before Mai covered her mouth.

“That's not a house,” she whispered, slightly in awe.

Oliver rolled his eyes, smirking slightly. “It's a manor Mai. Get used to it.”

“Jerk.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*I don't even know how I screwed this up so badly in the original, but having first-hand international travel knowledge now definitely helps in this case. Narita airport is the airport that is most commonly used for international flights and it is not in central Tokyo. It's actually a little ways out and it depends on your mode of transportation as to how quickly you can get there. I used google maps to try and figure out a rough estimate for the time that it would take in a car.

**I'm not sure how many of you guys are aware but just in case, in Japan there are a variety of different endings on names called honorifics that all imply something different. Some examples include 'kun' which is primarily used for males and usually implies a certain level of closeness (but not always) or 'chan' which usually refers to someone who is young or cute such as a younger sibling or a kindergartner. In this case, 'san' is probably the most common and it is used to refer to anyone (male or female) who you don't know well or who doesn't require a different honorific. (For example: an upperclassman wouldn't be 'san' they would be 'senpai' and a teacher definitely wouldn't be 'san' but would be 'sensei'). It is usually an addition to the surname.

***The actual length of time that it takes to study parapsychology is kind of unclear however I did a little bit of research and the most reputable of information I found stated that it would take around four years for the undergraduate degree that Mai is going for. It would then be another two years to achieve a masters and then an additional two years for a PH.D. This is going to be what I use as a reference throughout the story from here on.

****According to google, the direct flight from Narita (Tokyo) to Heathrow (London) is approximately 11 hours and 40 minutes so I decided that 12 hours was a close enough estimate to how long they'd be on board normally however, when I tried to find a travel timeline, it also became clear that landing in Cambridge International Airport would make more sense since the university that Mai and Yasu will be attending is Cambridge and it's also where Martin lectures. So, I took a look at the map and decided to add an extra couple of hours onto the flight time but this is a complete estimate.

*****For anyone who isn't aware (I'm not sure of the English particulars for each country), the “boot” of the car is the trunk, i.e. the back part of the car that stores excess items such as groceries or suitcases.

******Cambridge apparently uses 'colleges' as their form of housing, so I just picked one for Yasu and Mai to use as their 'dorm'.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“Japanese Speaking”

English Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Four

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, April 7th

When the car stopped Mai couldn't help but stare in amazement at everything, body frozen in her seat. The building in front of her was old looking but in the nicest of ways. There was something about it that reminded her of the palaces she used to see in fairy tales; with the way the vines crawled over a small section of the brickwork and the gardens she could see surrounding the secluded area they were in.

“Stop gawking and get out already,” Naru teased, opening his own door and getting out; heading to the boot to grab Mai's things while she shook herself from her stupor.

“It's not my fault that I've never seen something like this before,” she defended herself hotly as she finally opened the door and walked over to grab her stuff from Naru.

Looking over at the group of mismatched people a little bit away, Mai pulled her suitcase over to Bou-san to rant about how everything looked.

“Are you seeing what I'm seeing?” he asked, voice somewhat dazed as he stared in front of him.

Nodding slightly, Mai couldn't help but twirl around as she admired her surroundings. There was a peaceful feeling in the air, almost like the plant life that was in this area was happy and alive. It was different to anything that she'd ever felt before and she wasn't sure how to describe it as she looked over at the monk.

For some reason, it seemed like none of them could tell the difference in the air despite how palpable it was to her, so it was easy decision to just leave the concept alone and keep it to herself for now. If she got a chance with Naru alone then maybe she would ask him if he knows anything about it.

The brunette felt her body flush with anger when she thought of the possibility of him telling her it was just an “animal instinct” as well.

As if sensing Mai's situation, Yasu glanced over and rolled his eyes as the familiar sight of the brunette working herself up over nothing because she'd gotten too caught up in her thoughts.

It didn't even take him a moment to decide what the easiest solution would be. Making his way over to his favourite monk, he grinned as he made to throw his arms around the other man's body. “My love! Are you seeing the same thing that I am?” he exclaimed loudly with as much drama as he could muster. “Don't you worry, one day our love will be recognised, and we too can live in a manor just like this one!”

Bou-san flailed against him almost instantly in an attempt to escape out of the younger man's surprisingly strong grip.

“Would you let go of me you weirdo?!” He shouted, “I don't love you!”

The pout formed on his face before Yasu even had a chance to think of it as he let the other go and quickly moved over to Mai instead.

“Mai-chan! Tell Bou-san that our love knows no bounds! His words wound me so much and I'm not sure if I can live through the heartbreak if he doesn't take back his cruel words.” He pretended to cry on her shoulder, resting his full weight on her for added dramatics.

On cue, Mai instantly began to pet his head in fake consolidation. “I'm sorry Yasu. Allow me to comfort you from this pain. His words mean naught for I swear it's merely his fear of society talking. He loves you truly, do not worry,” she proclaimed easily, more than accustomed to their “act” by now.

She would have continued had it not been for the (expected) thwack from Ayako's bag coming down on Yasu's head harshly and then lightly on her own.

That's quite enough out of you two. I don't appreciate the acting, much less encourage it, so stop being ridiculous so that we can move this along. Not to be rude but it's been a rather long flight and I'd much rather get inside as soon as possible,” Ayako said, looking over at Luella and Martin apologetically with her last comment.

Shaken from her own amusement, (as were Lin and Noll, no matter how subtle they thought they were being), Madoka nodded in agreement.

“Of course. Sorry, come right on in,” Luella insisted, starting up the stairs and opening the door for them to file on through.

Upon entering the house, Mai wasn't sure what she liked more about this place. The outside or the inside.

Looking around, the place practically sparkled, high ceilings made of beautiful dark wood and soft sweeping lines. Immediately she also noticed the regal looking staircase in front of them and couldn't help feeling a little bit like a princess out of a fairy tale.

Between the staircases that ran on either side, were a couple of steps before there was a set of French doors, as well as a door under both sides of the staircases.

Unable to help herself, Mai wondered over to the stairs and touched the cool wood that made up the decorated banisters in awe. This was, by far, the nicest place that she'd ever been and there was a small part of her that screamed for her leave. She was an orphan; this was surely the last place she'd expected to ever end up.

Shaking those thoughts away, head moving like they were a physical issue and not one of the mind, she glanced at the others to see them waiting on her once more.

Flushing slightly, she smiled sheepishly causing Naru to roll his eyes at her before he started off to the left of the house.

Just leave your things by the wall over there, and you can collect them before heading to your rooms after we've briefed you all on everything,” Naru informed them, ignoring the sigh Luella gave.

His instructions were followed quickly before they followed him, huffing at the expectant look he was giving from his spot just outside of a wooden door.

Opening it, Naru moved to take his seat to the right of the head of the large table that occupied most of the room. “This room is our primary meeting room. My father will join us again in a moment to discuss the details of the case I brought you in for,” he informed them, pulling out his black notebook.

Shaking his head, Lin took a seat across from Naru and left the others to figure out where they were going to sit.

Glancing around the room Mai quickly decided that she didn't want to be stuck next to most of the people in the room and took a seat next to Naru in the hopes that his glare at anyone too close to him would stop them from making complete idiots out of them in front of her to be professor.

Seeing his chance, Bou-san immediately took the seat next to her, grinning at the eye-roll he got from Ayako as she sat down next to him.

Pouting in a show of mock disappointment, Yasu made his way over to Lin's side of the table and took the seat directly across from Bou-san, leaving room for Madoka when she got back.

John immediately followed suit with Masako trailing after him.

They had just managed to finish seating themselves when Madoka walked back in with a wide grin on her face, the older man trailing directly behind her.

Martin's hand now clutched a file, which was probably the reason for his momentary disappearance.

Taking the seat that was obviously left for her next to Lin, they waited as Martin seated himself at the head of the table.

Despite it not being the first time they'd met, Mai took a moment to observe him. Her instincts said that he was definitely a nice person even though he may seem grumpy at first glance. Moving her eyes over to Naru and then back to Professor Davis, she couldn't help but enjoy the resemblance. Not in the physical attributes, they were nothing alike in that manner, but rather in the way that they held themselves.

Looking back to Martin before anyone caught her thoughts wandering, she waited patiently for him to tell them why exactly they were here.

Are all of you fluent in English?” Martin asked, clearing his throat slightly as he looked around the room.

Mai smiled, nodding at him. “Everyone here speaks English on a decent enough level Professor Davis,” she assured him easily.

In that moment she was glad that Bou-san had opted to learn English while she did so that none of them were left out.

For some reason the man seemed a little shocked that she'd spoken to him before nodding and giving her the smallest of smiles in thanks.

That will definitely make things a lot easier,” Martin noted, before he took a moment organise the papers.

Recently, a friend of mine and Luella's moved out of central London into a country manor in order to have some peace and quiet. Almost immediately after moving in, her thirteen year-old granddaughter, Megan, reported hearing the screams and crying of another teenage girl at night even though she's the only one in the house. Then another spirit appeared. Gwendolyn's daughter started seeing a young man around the place.

It was only a matter of time before he got violent. She's woken up to him trying to choke her to death twice and refuses to be inside the house anymore. They were all packing up to get out of the house temporarily after the spirit got violent but just as they were leaving this morning, the male spirit appeared, and Megan is now missing.”

Passing the documents around so that everyone could get a look at them, Mai realised with a start that they were pictures of the house that Martin was talking about and of the injuries that had occurred so far.

Staring at the picture of the house, she couldn't help but imagine the house a little bit newer as flashes of her almost forgotten dream began to come back to her. Flicking to the next pictures, she swallowed at the sight of familiar injuries. Moving through them quickly, she passed them along to Bou-san without a word, trying to fight back the images that were once more crowding her mind.

Watching her out the corner of his eye, Oliver's eyebrows furrowed slightly at expression as she stopped on the image of the house before flicking through the pictures and passing it along to the others. Aware of how hard he was staring, Naru turned back to his father but made a note to ask her if she knew anything before the meeting finished up.

When he noticed his father occupied, he leant slightly over to Mai's side. “Did you notice something?” He asked, voice low in an attempt not to get his father's attention.

He wasn't so lucky, however, as his father glanced over and gave him an inquisitive look. “Is something the matter Miss Taniyama?” He enquired noting her slightly pale expression.

Shaking some of the images from her head, Mai gave Martin the best smile she could muster. “I'm not sure. I'll need to show Naru-I mean Oliver and see if he agrees but I think... I think I may know a couple things?” She informed, slightly flustered at being called out.

There was an eyebrow raise before Martin turned back to Lin for the moment and left her to fish a small royal blue notebook out of her handbag and flick open the pages until she came across her most recent entry from the other morning.

Wordlessly, she passed it along to Naru and waited to see what his reaction would be.

Looking down at the book in his hands, Noll was surprised to see that it was a detailed account of what appeared to be a dream, as well as a sketch below it that he could easily find resemblance to the other image he'd seen with. Scanning over the account, he was frustrated at the lack of kanji that he could understand* but what he could make of it seemed like it matched up perfectly with what they knew of the house so far.

Nodding in approval, he handed it back over to Mai.

“It seems plausible,” he agreed easily.

Rolling her eyes slightly at his aloof acceptance, she turned back to the professor.

On the day that Lin and N-Oliver came back to Japan I had one of my dreams. It was third person and I witnessed the abusive relationship between a man and his wife, and how it caused her death in front of their daughter. He was-” Mai stopped to turn to Naru, listing off the Japanese word for 'misogynistic' in order to get a translation from him before nodding and repeating the word. “He was misogynistic and believed that women were lesser. Some of it was hard to make out but I'm sure that the mother dies from being choked to death. Her name was Elizabeth Wadleigh,” she informed.

It was difficult not to leave any details out, but her dream journal helped, just as it had in the past. Even still, she stumbled a little, unused to having to verbalise her dreams. Usually, she could just hand her journal over to one of the others to read, but that wouldn't be an option in England.

And she was certain that this wouldn't be the last time that she dreamed of something in relation to a case that Naru worked.

Lin and Naru immediately made some notes in their current case information while Madoka noted the name without complaint to look into later.

Letting out a hum of understanding, Martin focused his entire attention on the brunette.

How do you know that this is definitely related to the case?” He inquired, always the sceptic. It hadn't escaped his attention that his best workers had already taken her at her word, but he needed to make sure that they weren't slipping. People's lives were on the line after all.

Flushing, Mai held out her notebook with the drawing. “This is the house from in my dream. I remember it being almost exactly as the same in that photo. I just need Madoka to check the name to see if there was a history of it belonging to that family to be one hundred percent sure, but my instincts are telling me that this is the case,” she insisted, no trace of doubt in her tone.

Nodding in acceptance of her answer, Martin glanced down at the notebook and was shocked to find that at the bottom where the sketch of the manor was, laid an extremely close match to the manor he'd just looked at images of.

Still, despite the eerie similarities, he felt a little sceptical towards this girl. Oliver was rather closed off when it came to discussing his previous employees and co-workers, so it was hard to understand where he was coming from a lot of the time.

Lin and Madoka had both spoken of them, of course, but even Lin seemed uncharacteristically tight lipped on the subject and Madoka never seemed to say anything of importance about them, only inconsequential tid-bits on their lives. It was all very frustrating.

Once more giving the girl his full attention as he handed back the notebook, he couldn't help the slightly incredulous tone his voice took on despite his best attempts.

You're basing this mostly off of instinct then? Does this “instinct” tell you anything else of importance? If possible, could you also explain it further?” He inquired.

It was an odd feeling for Mai, being legitimately questioned about her abilities from a sceptic within the parapsychology field but she couldn't help but feel like it was going to become something frequent (despite her intent to keep her abilities to herself for as long as possible).

Before she could attempt to explain her abilities, Naru seemed to take pity on her.

Mai has exhibited psychic abilities in the past on many cases that we worked together. Her instincts are usually extremely reliable,” he informed his father.

He tried to resolutely ignore the looks of surprise from the other's sitting at the table and -more specifically- the knowing look he was receiving from his mentor. What things were going through that woman's head to cause her to look like that, Oliver was sure he never wanted to learn.

Listening to the information, Martin nodded in acceptance. “And more on the dreams? What can you tell me?”

Once again, before Mai could answer for herself, she found Lin speaking on her behalf to explain things. “Mai frequently had post-cognitive dreams on or about cases that often helped us to gain an understanding of what was happening in a home. She has also exhibited a capacity in astral projection in the past as well. It can all be found in the written reports for the Japan branch of SPR,” he explained with ease, keeping the explanation brief in an attempt to quell the interest Martin seemed to be showing.

Almost like reading his mind, Martin gave the brunette a thoughtful look. “I don't suppose that you find yourself in a position to run a few tests?” He inquired, the scientist in him running through a variety of different ways that they could test this girl's abilities.

A brief look of surprise came over Mai's face before she seemed to consider it for a moment.

Frowning slightly at her reaction, Naru turned away to face his father instead, silently fuming at the thought that he would ask such a thing.

I would ask that you don't make such suggestions father,” he stated, carefully crafting his words and finding himself relieved from the nod he received from Lin who appeared to be of the same opinion.

Blinking in surprise, Martin couldn't help but flick his eyes back and forwards between them before focussing on Mai. “But surely you wish to test at least a couple things and find out more about her abilities? There are not nearly enough with similar abilities in parapsychology that we have the chance to gain an understanding from,” he couldn't help but insist, confusion clear in his tone.

Before either of them could open their mouths to speak further on her behalf however, Mai finally managed to shake herself from the thoughts that were currently running through her mind.

Although she had thought to test her abilities at one point, something about the way that both Lin and Naru had immediately spoken up for her made her wary. Between that and the more recent changes she could feel in her spiritual energy, she wasn't nearly as inclined as she might have been only six months ago.

“While I appreciate the sentiment, if you could refrain from answering on my behalf Oliver, then that would be much appreciated.” Mai muttered, rolling her eyes at the glare she got in response while she turned her attention back to Martin.

While I'm certainly grateful for the offer, I'm afraid that I have to decline. There are far too many things to consider before throwing myself into the kind of testing I'm sure that you're suggesting, and this is hardly the time to be thinking on such things. You'll just have to satisfy your curiosity with the case notes that Oliver has from my time with SPR and after this case is over, I may be able to find some of our newer case notes for you as well instead?” She offered, voice trailing a little uncertainly after her little speech.

Sighing in disappointment, Martin nodded to her suggestions. “I suppose that is very true. We can speak more on the subject later then,” he acquiesced. “However, if you change your mind at all...”

Mai smiled warmly at him. “I'll be sure to let you know first,” she agreed without prompting, before amending herself at the glare Naru gave her. “Second.”

Martin chuckled a little but before he could say otherwise there was a knock on the door before it swung open without prompting to reveal Luella.

I don't suppose you lot have finally finished up, have you? It's gotten late and you still need to rest up before tomorrow's no doubt eventful day,” she insisted without waiting for a single reply.

Seemingly unaware that they both made the same motion, Naru and Martin both found themselves pinching the bridge of their nose at the same time in what was probably a fruitless endeavour to avoid an oncoming headache, much to the amusement of Mai as she found herself once more subject to just how similar the two of them appeared to be.

Yes, mother,” Oliver agreed after a beat, not willing to fight her given how tired he felt currently, but no less annoyed at the interruption.

As though she hadn't noticed the annoyance in his tone, Luella eagerly turned to her son, grinning. “Oh Noll, we haven't even had a chance to talk properly, have we? We'll have to do that shortly. Did you eat enough while in Japan? I hope you weren't working too hard,” she rattled off without waiting for a single response before turning to Lin. “You were keeping an eye on him, weren't you?”

There was faint amusement on Lin's face as he nodded. “I assure you that Noll did not work too hard and that he ate plenty while he was away,” he promised, inwardly thankful that for once it had not been a lie.

From beside her, Oliver merely rolled his eyes at her fussing and pushed his chair back, getting ready to leave the room now that nothing immediate held his attention anymore.

Amused at his son's reaction, Martin gave his wife an indulgent look. “I thought that we were about to show our guests to their rooms?”

The gentle reminder was exactly what Luella seemed to need, and she addressed the people of the room once more. “Of course. I'm so easily distracted. How do you all feel about taking a moment to freshen up before we have dinner?”

Smiling at her in relief, Ayako couldn't help but be thankful for the option. She at least, felt like there was a thin layer of dirt covering every part of her body and she wouldn't be against a bath of any kind.

That sounds wonderful, thank you,” she expressed.

As if her response had finally prompted them from their stupor triggered by the sudden presence of the lively woman, a resounding sentiment came from the other sitting in the room causing Luella to laugh lightly.

You're very welcome. Come along and I can show you to the rooms you can stay the night in,” she proposed, stepping back out into the hallway without waiting for a response.

It didn't take long for them all to follow suit, pushing themselves away from the table, eager to get somewhere to tidy up before they filled their stomachs.

When she was satisfied that all of them were following her, Luella made her way down the halls and back to the staircases that they'd seen earlier. Unlike her son, she had the good grace to give them all a moment to collect their things before leading them up and to the left with all the ease and grace of a well-off woman despite her more childlike demeanour.

Coming to a stop only a few doors down, she waved towards the row. “These guest rooms have been prepared for you all to use. You're welcome to choose any of them,” she informed them cheerfully. “I'll send one of the maids to let you know when dinner is ready, and she can show you the way to the dining room.”

No sooner than everyone had once more relayed their thanks, did they all start filing into the rooms.

Just as Mai made to go to a room as well, she found her arm caught between a familiar grip.

Turning to look at Naru, she couldn't help but tilt her head in confusion. “Naru?”

“I have a different room for you to stay in.” He informed, slipping back into Japanese purely out of habit.

As if on cue, Mai's eyebrows drew together in a clear show of confusion.

“What do you mean?”

Without explaining further, Naru merely began to drag her back the way they had come from ignoring the look from his mother.

“Naru?!”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*This is a canon reference to Naru's struggles with Kanji.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Please note: This is the point in the story when the italicised language changes based on how much the languages are being used.

Chapter Five

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Sunday, April 7th

When her call for him to answer her was ignored – not that it was a shock – Mai resigned herself to her fate; her legs doing their best to move as quickly as Naru seemed intent to, despite the difference in length.

Thankfully, before Mai could manage to fall – despite the close call that did not happen on the next flight of stairs if Naru would stop smirking at her! - they eventually arrived at a door that, for some reason, seemed familiar to Mai; though she couldn't fathom why that would be. It wasn't like she'd ever been in a house even remotely similar to this one, let alone in this exact one.

If I ask you where we are, will you give me a straight answer?” Mai asked, looking over at Naru, still slightly annoyed but more curious now that they were stopped.

Rolling his eyes, Naru stepped forwards and opened the door. “I'm sure you'll figure it out.”

Waiting a beat, the brunette looked at Naru for a second before sighing and stepping through the door, into the bedroom.

The first thing she noticed was the picture of Gene and Naru next to each other sitting on one of the bedside tables next to the double bed in the middle of the room.

Scanning the rest of the room, she felt her eyes close when the spiritual energy from the air in the room found its way into her senses.

Without warning she could feel the corner of her eyes prickling with the sudden need to cry with the amount of melancholy flooding her in that moment.

This was Gene's room. I'd like to offer it to you for the duration of your stay,” Oliver informed, voice oddly stiff as he debated with himself.

He'd known what he was doing when he dragged Mai up here. There had been an argument with his mother originally, but he'd won in the end and she'd let him offer Gene's room to her.

Mostly, he'd actually wanted her close to him and thought that seeing Gene's old room would bring her a sense of comfort. The tears weren't that shocking though given her previous adoration for his brother.

A-are you sure it's okay? I don't want to intrude. This room obviously has a lot of precious memories for you...” Mai managed to get out, voice slightly thick as saltwater fell from her eyes in thin lines.

Unsure of what to do to help Mai, Oliver felt himself wincing as his mind went on autopilot. “Do you think that I would've offered if it was a problem?” He asked, voice disbelieving.

Despite him berating himself for the harsh words, he was shocked at the chocked laugh that left Mai's throat before she turned around to smile at him.

You're right. How dumb of me,” she commented, tears slowing down at the sense of normality she was getting, washing away the suffocating amount of melancholy from everywhere else in the room.

Naru made a show of rolling his eyes at her, lips tugging into a slight smirk. “It's not like I'm unused to you being dumb.”

The indignant squawk that Mai let out made him smirk further. She may have changed but there were some things that always stayed the same.

You narcissistic bastard.”

Satisfied now that she wasn't crying any more, Oliver just turned around and stepped out of the room. “Make sure that you're ready for dinner in an hour. My room is right next to yours and I'll be coming to grab you,” he informed her as he shut the door behind himself to give her space.

She really hadn't changed that much at all.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

When the door finally shut behind Naru, Mai let out a loud breath and feeling the tension leave her body. Even though all she'd done was sit around and sleep all day, she couldn't help but feel worse than when she ran a marathon. It was ridiculous but not that surprising.

With how strong everything felt to her, she wasn't sure how she was going to sleep. That said, hopefully being in Gene's room would make it easier for him to locate her spiritual energy. Making such a big trip meant that it was sure to disrupt the wavelength that they usually communicated on. When he bothered to turn up that is.

Sighing, the brunette turned to her suitcase and proceeded to pull out a new shirt and shorts, determined to look less like the wreck that she currently was. Grabbing her towel and toiletries, she made her way over to the adjoining bathroom to wash up before dinner.

It didn't take long and immediately after she was feeling better. Checking the time, Mai couldn't help but sigh when she noticed that she still half an hour before they were due to head down to dinner.

As her eyes fell on the bed, Mai couldn't help the debate that ran through her mind. 'I'm sure Naru won't be too surprised if he has to wake me up from a nap. Not like it's the first time' she thought, deciding that the benefits of some more sleep far outweighed Naru's irritation.

Settling herself onto the sheets, she pulled the covers over herself and found herself falling asleep straight away, exhaustion hitting hard.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Unfortunately for Mai, not long after she fell asleep, she found herself standing in familiar darkness; not a trace of Gene's spirit near her own – much to the ever-growing annoyance she was feeling. The stupid medium was always around when she didn't need him but now that she was off balance and unsure of course he'd completely disappeared.

Despite her irritation, there wasn't much else that the brunette could do except turn back to the scene that she was about to see. Within seconds her dreamscape warped, and she found herself in an unfamiliar body standing inside a dark room.

'Of course, my luck couldn't last,' she thought with resignation as she surveyed her surroundings to the best of her ability.

It was then that she noticed that her hands were moving. 'Pay attention, Mai!' she scolded herself, completely focussing herself once more on what was happening.

Kneeling on the ground, Mai watched as she began to apply antiseptic to some wounds before moving to bandage them up carefully. “Mother, you really need to avoid angering father like that. It only ends up with you getting hurt,” she heard herself say.

Mai saddened at the complete resignation that she heard in the voice as she spoke. Clearly this was a common occurrence.

The woman – her mother – tried to smile but it came off as more of a grimace. That wasn't surprising considering the injuries that she was sporting at current, legs tucked under herself as she allowed her daughter to treat the cuts on her face. “Bianca honey, I have to stand up to him. I can't keep letting him do this to you,” she insisted.

Making a mental note of the name to add to her dream journal, Mai felt the body she was in go cold as the door opened and slither of extra light made its way into the darkness. Turning her head slightly, she wasn't shocked to see the man from her first dream standing there, face twisted into a cruel smirk.

Walking over, Mai didn't bother to fight as she felt herself pushed away from her mother, body tense on instinct as she hit the ground harshly on her upper-arm, wincing but refusing to make a noise and give him the satisfaction.

Foolish woman. Learn your place,” he sneered, aiming a kick at her mother's ribs before turning around and storming away, door slamming shut and then locking only seconds later.

Feeling the beginning of her body starting to wake up, Mai closed her eyes and let her body pull her back into the normal plane of existence, completely relaxing as she felt herself re-enter her body.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Pushing down the instinct to sit up straight away, Mai breathed for a moment and let herself re-adjust to being in an actual body before opening her eyes and slowly forcing her body into a sitting position. Almost immediately she felt the shoulder she'd fallen on during the dream throb slightly. Grabbing her dream journal, she immediately started to write down everything that she'd learnt before she focused on anything else.

After she reached over to place her journal down on the bedside table, she grabbed her phone from where she left it and blinked in surprise at how late it was. She was supposed to be down at dinner thirty minutes ago!

'Why didn't Naru come grab me like he said he would?!' She internally screeched, jumping out of bed quickly only to fall back onto the mattress when a wave of dizziness came over her.

Rolling her eyes at her own stressing, she breathed in deeply and then relaxed. Carefully this time, she pushed herself off the bed, ignoring the twinge of pain and carefully pressing out some of the wrinkles in her clothing.

Padding over to the ensuite, she checked herself and carefully fixed herself up so that she seemed normal. As soon as her eyes fell on the bruise beginning to bloom a little above her right arm's bicep, they widened. How the hell was she supposed to hide that?

Breathing carefully, she fought not to freak out again. 'It's fine. All I have to do is play dumb and they'll just think I was clumsy again,' she reasoned.

Nodding like she was agreeing with herself, she smiled brightly. “Yosh! Let's do this.”

Leaving the room, she couldn't help but face palm when she entered the hallway and realised that she had no idea where to go.

Groaning, the brunette closed her eyes and fought to reach around the numerous emotions in the house until she could sense the familiar presence of her friends.

Smiling triumphantly, Mai began to walk slowly down to what she assumed was the dining room, taking care not to trigger any lasting dizziness.

It didn't take long before she reached the large oak doors that would lead to the others.

Swallowing and taking a deep breath, she placed a smile on her face before pushing the door open.

Almost instantly, everyone's eyes turned to her and the conversation that was happening came to an abrupt halt.

Bou-san grinned at the familiar sight of Mai. “Look who decided to finally join us,” he teased gently.

Smiling properly at him, she couldn't help but feel a little bit sheepish. “Sorry. I went to take a nap and well... as you can tell I only just woke up,” she apologised.

Luella shook her head straight away at the young girl, her heart feeling warm as she waved for her to take a seat between Yasu and Noll. “Nonsense, you have nothing to apologise for. We considered waking you up so you wouldn't miss out, but Noll insisted on letting you sleep,” she informed.

It had been a great shock to the blonde to watch as her usually completely impartial son told them in no uncertain terms that they were to leave Mai to sleep. He would grab her later if she didn't wander down on her own.

Not that she was complaining. Despite their best attempts, Noll had never quite developed the same compassion for others. He was by no means a robot but still... she was sure that if this was anyone else, he would've just gone in and woken them up with irritation.

It was a nice change, even if it was jarring.

What was more shocking was the lack of care from the others when they were informed this. Noll was purposefully putting himself in a position where he would have to put in more effort for someone without hesitation and no-one seemed to think it was odd. Not even Lin had been shocked by the situation!

Which was how Luella found herself turning to the girl that had Noll acting strangely and starting up a conversation with her. There were definitely some things that she needed to figure out and there was no way that Noll was going to give her any more information then what she'd already deduced.

Just as she was about to ask Mai about herself, the older woman couldn't help but notice a bruise forming on the girl’s arm, just peeking out from under the short sleeves of her shirt. “Oh my... what happened there?” She asked, voice concerned as she traced the yellowing and purpling lines with her eyes that looked extremely painful.

This question seemed to trigger an immediate response from the table as they all turned to Mai instantly, various questions being shouted from one end of the table to her.

Mai winced at the noise, shaking her head at them. “For the love of... Shut up! How am I supposed to answer you when I can't even tell who's yelling at me?” She shouted in irritation, voice drowning them out as they quietened at the sudden Japanese demand.

Taking a deep breath, she ignored the look she could feel from Naru as she focused on Luella first. It was terrible, but she found it easier to lie looking at the woman and knowing that she didn't know her. There was also something comforting about her aura. Motherly in a way she hadn't felt in years.

Shaking her head of those thoughts, she focused on the task at hand. 'No need to get depressed now, Mai,' she scolded herself.

“It's nothing Mrs Davis. I had one of those dreams when I tried to sleep before and when I woke up, I fell onto the floor and landed on my shoulder. I'm a bit of a klutz,” Mai admitted sheepishly, fighting the urge to scratch at the back of her neck as her hand played with the hem of her shirt.

Luella looked around the table to gauge the rest of the reactions and found that almost everyone else was rolling their eyes at her story.

“Does this happen... a lot?” she inquired cautiously, unsure from their now unworried reactions.

Yasu next to her snorted. “It would happen more often if it weren't for the fact that Mai still sleeps on a traditional futon back in Japan. There isn't much of a height to fall from,” he informed easily, snickering along with the rest of the table.

Glaring at him, Mai huffed but didn't bother to dispute the claim because her best friend had just unknowingly helped her case.

“If you're sure...” Luella trailed off.

Mai nodded. “Perfectly. I'll have Ayako take a look later if that'll make you more at ease, but this really isn't uncommon. I'm injured more often than not,” she informed.

Before Luella could inquire any further, Naru cut her off. “You had another dream about the case?” He inquired; eyebrows creased slightly. That was a lot of information before they'd even made it to location. He'd need to ask Mai more about her powers. There were obviously a few things that he'd missed while they were apart.

He'd add it to the list along with why Mai had just lied. It wasn't obvious and she had everyone else fooled, but Oliver wasn't just anybody. And he wasn't about to fall for that trick.

It was even more concerning that Mai could lie well. Last that he'd checked she'd been terrible at it. This was another development to learn about.

Mai rolled her eyes at Naru's immediate question. “Are you okay Mai? Did you break anything Mai? How could you be so stupid Mai? Thanks for your concern Naru,” she commented; voice sarcastic even if it was clear that she didn't actually care that he hadn't asked.

Naru pinched the bridge of his nose at her response. “I thought that we'd just established that you were fine. What reason do I have to rehash a conversation from only minutes ago? That's a complete waste of my time,” he informed, voice completely dead pan as she grew red out of anger, eyes glaring instantly while he smirked. “And I’ve long since concluded that wondering over your stupidity is never going to offer me answers.”

“Why you-”

Before she could get going, Martin spoke in an attempt to avoid whatever argument was about to occur, much to Naru's disappointment. Mai's reactions were always entertaining.

“How about you tell us about that nickname you keep calling Noll by? I'm curious as to how it came about since I've heard everyone say it at this point.”

Blinking in surprise as her anger suddenly dissipated, she flushed slightly. Tilting her head, she pulled her thoughts together and translated them as best as she could.

“When I first met Naru he was always being super rude and narcissistic, so I came up with the nickname Naru; a shortened version of narcissist, which in Japanese is Narushisuto. Knowing that you guys call him Noll though means that it probably terrified him at first, because ‘Noll’ in Japanese is pronounced ‘Naru’. Anyway, I'm getting off track. After I started calling him that, it sort of stuck. Everyone called him that, including Lin,” she informed; voice fond as she thought back on the memories.

Naru scoffed to hide his soft expression. “It's a ridiculous nickname,” he insisted.

No-one paid any attention to him as Martin chuckled. “Well it certainly suits him,” he agreed easily.

'Gene agrees too,' Mai added mentally, grinning slightly.

Finally, Mai managed to fill her plate up with various options from the table and eat, chattering along with the rest of them.

When dinner came to an end an hour later, they all moved into one of the sitting rooms further down the hall, settling down into the chairs.

Turning to Mai, Naru reiterated his earlier question. “You had a dream earlier?”

Nodding, the brunette gave him and Martin her full attention. “It was definitely the same family; the man and the woman were the same. I was their daughter whose name was Bianca and we were in some kind of room. There weren’t any windows and I remember feeling trapped, like it was a personal prison. I was tending to my mother's wounds, helping her out, when he came in and pushed me away from her. He kicked 'my mother' and then stormed out again calling her a foolish woman and talking about “knowing your place” again.” She shuddered slightly at the memory, a feeling on anger washing over her again.

Even if she couldn't do anything about it, part of her really wanted to knock that guy down a couple of pegs.

Taking notes down in his own black notebook along with his father, Naru looked at her suspiciously. “Are you leaving anything out?”

Mai huffed at the accusation. “I'm telling you what I can remember about it off the top of my head. You can read the journal entry later if you're that interested but I don't know how much good it'll do you,” she scoffed, glaring at him as she referenced his earlier attempt to read her journal entry.

Glaring back, Naru scoffed. “I'm just make sure. You seemed to always manage to leave out important details before,” he informed, eyebrow twitching.

Flushing in anger, Mai felt herself flare up. “Sorry that I can't remember to tell you guys everything after draining my energy finding information to help you on cases. I can't help it if I don't always remember everything straight away,” she threw back glaring.

“You should be sorry,” he retorted instantly, smirking as her rage grew.

Across from them, Luella and Martin couldn't believe their eyes as they watched the most emotion they'd seen from Noll in months happen due to this small brunette that hadn't caught much of their attention outside of being severely misplaced between all the others they had met.

“Is this... normal?” Luella asked Lin, turning to him with a mystified look as she kept her voice quiet enough for them to not overhear. Not that it mattered, they seemed to be off in their own world as Noll continued to bait her further and watch as the poor girl got even more red with anger.

At first, she'd thought to interrupt but everyone else seemed to content to just let it play out, so she'd opted to follow their lead.

Fighting off a chuckle, Lin looked over at Mai with fondness -and not that they were questioning Lin, he wasn't nearly as bad as Noll, but that was such a rare sight as well- and shrugged slightly.

“This is what a normal day at JSPR looked like,” he informed them simply, always a man of few words.

Luella wanted to argue against how healthy this was as a relationship of any kind (platonic or otherwise) but the look in her son's eyes prevented her from asking for more details. There wasn't much, but her mother's eye could find that spark of interest anywhere.

Ever since Noll had come back from Japan it had been so hard for him to find enjoyment or interest in anything. He spent all of his days in his office researching and working on academic things. That in and of itself wasn't that unusual, but the fact that even BSPR cases hadn't ignited any intrigue was concerning.

So, when this most recent case had come up and they'd tried to entice him with the option of his own team, Luella and Martin had both been shocked at the request to bring in the people he'd worked with while in Japan.

Trying to get information about his time in Japan out of Noll was almost impossible, so it was quite a gamble they took in accepting his offer. But there was something in his eyes when he'd make the request that had made her insist that Martin accept; and looking over the group now she could honestly say she was glad that they had.

It was one thing to hear about how different Noll had been in Japan from Madoka -with a little input from Lin- but watching him now she knew that they hadn't exaggerated. For the first time in ages her son was living and not just going through the motions.

If this was the response that bringing them here got, Luella would pay for many more flights. Her son's happiness was worth every last one of them.

Shaking away from her thoughts she smiled at the scene as Mai now sat next to her son pouting while he simply looked smug.

Seeing an opening, Martin cut in before they could start another argument.

“So, Mai, can you tell us more about your abilities. I'd love to learn more about what you can do, and I'm sure Noll would love to hear about how your abilities have grown over the last year.”

Mai brightened at the reminder about her abilities. “Of course. It might take a little longer than we have left tonight to go into the type of details that you're after,” she explained, her teeth moving to chew on her lip automatically as she thought about what to tell them all.

Martin smiled in what he hoped was an encouraging manner. “That's fine. Hopefully we'll have enough time to discuss them further after the case.” He pointed out.

From his right, Yasu shrugged, finger pushing up his glasses so that the light reflected off them. “Even if the others aren't here for it, Mai and I have plenty of time to discuss them further with you. We'll be here for at least another four years after all,” he informed.

That caught Martin and Luella by surprise for a moment as they blinked at the new information.

Hitting her head lightly for how forgetful she'd been, Mai giggled. “Of course. Yasu and I are actually studying parapsychology here in England. We start up with the new term in a few months,” she informed. “I can't believe that it hadn't come up yet.”

Naru smirked. “See. Forgetful,” he scoffed; voice low enough for only her to hear.

Directing a kick at his leg beside her, she huffed. “Shut it narcissist.”

Martin coughed. “While I'm certainly glad to hear that, perhaps we should get back to the question at hand. Even just a basic run down on your abilities would be perfect to help me understand more. Then I can research a little more and get back to you with various questions, if you're amenable?”

Nodding, Mai smiled at him. “Of course. I'll start with the absolute basics. I'm a psychic with ESP, post-cognitive dreams, and astral projection as my main abilities,” she informed, thinking a little on the subject to figure out what else to say.

“Usually on cases, I rely on my instincts as mentioned earlier. They've never steered me wrong and they are the probably the ability I use most next to my post-cognitive dreams. As far my dreams go, when I sleep, I find myself experiencing visions of spirit's past lives. Sometimes these take a third person point of view and I watch from the side lines like mentioned in the first dream I had for this case. Sometimes though, they take the form of a first-person dream like earlier. In these dreams I experience the same thing that the spirit did during life,” she informed, taking a deep breath before continuing while Martin took notes.

“Astral projection is pretty self-explanatory. I don't use it too often because of the risk leaving my body provides but if I feel like I need to, I can consciously force my spirit to leave my body. I've only done it a few times though.”

Martin nodded as he took down notes. “Is there anything else on a basic run down that you can give me as far as your abilities go?” he inquired.

Naru watched her closely as she began to fidget with the hem on her shirt. “There are a couple more things but I'm not sure I have enough energy to do them a very good explanation right now,” she informed him carefully.

Narrowing his eyes, Naru added that to his mental list as well. So many things to ask her about and no time to do it.

As if on cue, his mother started fussing with her. “Poor girl, you must be exhausted. Leave the interrogating to another day boys. It's high time everyone got some rest. You all have a long day tomorrow,” she informed them in a no-nonsense tone.

Rolling his eyes, he resisted the urge to glare at his mother.

“Very well. We can pick this back up again after the case is solved,” Martin agreed, unwilling to argue with his wife on the subject.

Sighing, Naru stood up and turned to Mai. “I'll walk you back to your room then,” he informed her before nodding to his father.

“Good night mother,” he addressed her before turning to everyone else. “We leave here at six in the morning for a two-hour drive. Be awake at five.”

Without waiting on an answer, he immediately left the room.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Six

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, April 7th

Watching as he left the room, Mai blinked in shock before turning to everyone and smiling quickly.

“Good night,” she offered, bowing quickly, before racing off to catch up with Naru. “Naru you Jerk! You could've waited a minute for me!” She huffed, glaring as she finally managed to catch up to him.

Naru merely raised an eyebrow as he glanced over at her. “You seem to have managed just fine regardless.”

Staring at him with her mouth wide open she couldn't help but stamp her foot angrily at the response. “Why do you have to be so mean?” She whined, throwing her hands up in exasperation.

She didn't even know why she was bothering at this point. He would just ignore her point and rile her up instead and now that she wasn't surrounded by everyone, she could feel exhaustion setting in.

Glancing over at Mai, Oliver was a little worried as she left it at that and didn't make any further complaints about the situation. A quick scan of her face revealed how tired she must be. There were bags under her eyes that indicated a lack of proper sleep and he couldn't help but sigh internally.

Is there anything else we should know about your abilities?” He asked after a moment, focussing on the stairs in front of them with an eye on Mai just in case her body decided to give out on her. It wouldn't be the first time.

Mai thought about it for a moment, her sleep deprived mind searching for anything she knew that Naru needed to know and trying to figure out what things she'd decided he never needed to know.

Sensitivity,” she informed him sleepily, fighting to focus on the conversation and not how inviting the hallway looked as an option to just fall asleep on. 'The carpet looks plush. I've slept on worse,' she registered absently.

Moving a little closer to the brunette, Oliver's eyebrows creased as he tried to figure out what Mai was trying to tell him. “Your sensitivity to what? I'm assuming you mean that it's heightened,” he deduced.

Blinking, Mai nodded slightly. “I'm super sensitive to emotions and spirits. I can just feel things. Like here. Everything here is so sad inside,” she mumbled.

This only confused Oliver more before it all clicked in place. “You can feel the emotions that linger where you are. And since we're still mourning... you can feel how sad it is,” he concluded carefully.

Now that he was actually getting somewhere with his interrogation, he suddenly wasn't so eager to make it to their rooms. Even though part of him felt guilty that he was essentially taking advantage of her exhaustion, the more logical part of him knew that if she was more awake, he wouldn't be getting anywhere.

Mai had been surprisingly tight-lipped on the subject of her powers thus far and he was shocked he had gotten this much out of her even with her fatigue.

Mai hummed in answer to his previous question. “It's exhausting. Negative emotions are hard to block out and it takes a lot out of me to put up a mental shield against them. 's why 'm so sleepy. Well that and the stupid dreams. I don't wanna dream Naru. Tired,” she revealed, body tilting towards the wall.

Quickly Oliver moved to place his arm around her and lean him back towards his body instead as they approached the door to Gene's old room.

Carefully he opened the door for Mai and led her over to the bed, settling her there and watching as she immediately climbed under the covers. “Thanks, Naru. You're being surprisingly nice for once. Are you sure I'm not already dreaming?” She asked, sleepily looking up at him through her eyelashes.

Swallowing thickly, he shook his head ruefully. “If only,” he sighed. “Just go to sleep Mai. You need to be up on time remember. I will wake you this time if you don't get up yourself.”

Mai hummed. “M'kay Naru. G'night,” she mumbled, eyes falling closed already.

Oliver waited until he was sure she had fallen asleep before he moved to tuck the covers around her tighter. 'She looks cute like this,' He noted before shaking the thought from his head immediately.

'What the hell is that supposed to mean? You don't have time to be thinking of anyone as cute, let alone Mai,' he scolded himself mentally.

Turning away, he quietly left the room, shutting the door lightly to avoid waking her up – not that he thought that was possible at this point.

Walking over to his own room, he sighed as he entered the simple looking room. It had never occurred to him before tonight how his room might appear to an outsider. It was merely a place to rest due to his bodies inability to go on continuously – much to his own disappointment.

However, now, after seeing Gene's room again and how much more lived in it looked with Mai there, he found himself noticing how cold it felt.

Shaking those thoughts from his mind, he sighed. There were more important things to consider then whether or not his room looked lived in enough. Honestly, what had gotten into him.

Ignoring his mind's traitorous reply of Mai's name, he walked over to the large desk where he had a copy of the case file for tomorrow. He had long since memorised all of the important details, including the ones that Mai had provided them with. However, he couldn't help but check them over once more.

There were many questions he wanted answers to, and he hoped that this case would reveal some of them. If he were to assume that Mai's powers were more active during cases, then that would be the time to collect more information.

He wasn't sure yet why Mai was keeping so much from them, but he would figure it out one way or another. He was Oliver Davis. There was no way that Mai was going to out intellect him. No. Way.

Content with his own resolve, Oliver placed the file back on his desk and made his way over to the bed to get some rest. Something told him that he'd need it.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Monday, April 8th

-ai. Mai, if I have to tell you to wake up one more time, I’m docking your pay from this case,” Naru informed lowly from beside the brunette, crouching to be level with her ear.

Groaning slightly, Mai shuffled in bed, turning slightly until she was facing Naru as her mind finally came to a little. Blinking slightly to get the sleep out of her eyes, she stared in confusion as she came face to face with Naru. There was a moment of silence before she let out a small shout of surprise and sat up quickly, her heart pounding as a red flush worked its way over her features.

What the hell Naru?!” Mai shouted in embarrassment, narrowing her eyes at the smirk on his face. Stupid narcissist.

Now that you're finally awake, perhaps you should consider getting up before I decide that you don't need to eat before we leave. I've wasted enough time trying to wake you up as it is,” Naru informed her coolly.

He wasn't about to tell her that the way she was looking at him right now was well worth the wait for her reaction. Even though it was unintentional, she had set him up for a perfect opportunity to see those reactions he'd missed.

'Still an easy target,' he thought with a smirk as she practically squeaked when she noticed the time.

Turning around, he exited the room to wait for her to change.

Meanwhile, Mai was having a mental breakdown. Holding her hand to her heart, she flushed at the thought of what had just happened. That stupid jerk! These things weren't good for her first thing in the morning.

Of course, it wasn't good for her at all but... oh for Kami's sake.

Giving up on her mental rant, the brunette turned herself to her bag and hummed lightly as she looked through for something comfortable to wear, settling on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Even though Naru said that the weather was warming up, Mai had decided that he was insane. The highest temperature it'd been since she got here was thirteen degrees Celsius. That's only slightly warmer than the average winter weather in Tokyo.*

Shrugging on a jacket as well, she was slightly surprised to see Naru still outside when she exited the room with her smaller go-bag in hand.

Fighting the urge to hit her head with the palm of her hand, she sighed. If she'd been paying more attention to her surroundings, she would've noticed that his aura was right there. Honestly, she was beginning to question her own intelligence at this point.

Naru gave her a moment to work through whatever had caught her thoughts before he sighed and grabbed her arm briefly to pull her along with him before letting go. “Are you going to stand there all day or are you going to get something to eat?” he asked.

Snapping from her thoughts, Mai flushed slightly again before scolding herself. Twice already this morning he'd made her blush. 'What the hell Mai? Get a grip!'

Focusing on Naru again, she couldn't help but stare slightly. There was a thought nagging at the back of her head like she'd said something that she shouldn't have last night but she couldn't remember what it was.

Furrowing her brows, she looked away as her thoughts got caught up once more, but this time running through everything that had happened after they left the living room.

Stopping mid-step, her eyes widened as she registered what Naru had done. He'd used taking her to her room in her sleep deprived state as an opportunity to get her to be looser lipped when interrogating her!

That bastard.

Flushing in anger, her eyes narrowed into a glare. Luckily it wasn't something super important that she'd told him about. Still, it wasn't something she'd wanted him to know.

Watching from beside her, Oliver could almost feel the moment that Mai became angry. At what, he couldn't be sure. He was never sure when it came to Mai.

Nevertheless, he kept his thoughts to himself. Judging by the unusual silence between them there was probably something that he'd done to anger her without even meaning too.

Fighting the urge to sigh, he pinched the bridge of his nose out of habit as he considered what he could have done this time. Coming up short, he rolled his eyes mentally.

'I'm sure she'll let me know soon enough,' he concluded wryly as he watched Mai enter to dining room to eat before he followed suit.

Ending up in the same seats as yesterday, Mai almost glowed in happiness as she saw the spread in front of them.

Anger at Naru forgotten for the moment Mai couldn't help but grin up at him. “There's so many things to choose from,” she exclaimed excitedly, much to the amusement of Luella who had gotten up early to see them off.

“Feel free to have as much as you want,” Luella urged, smiling kindly at the child-like expression on Mai's face.

It was times like these that reminded Oliver of just how little Mai had growing up. It was obvious things like this, that were freely given to himself and Gene through their entire childhood, were extremely rare – if not non-existent to Mai.

The thought made him sad though he opted not to consider the direct connotations of that as he helped himself to some toast, not hungry but willing to give Mai extra time to enjoy this. Once more – something he was unwilling to examine closely.

From beside him, Mai hummed happily as chewed on part of a pancake with syrup and fresh cream, before moving on to try the waffle. She had probably gone a little overboard with the amount of food she'd grabbed but there had been so much to choose from, and she couldn't decide, so she'd indulge just this once.

“Got enough food there Mai?” teased Yasu from next to her.

Turning to glare him, she huffed and decided to ignore the comment lest she run out of time to finish the food.

The rest of the of meal passed in relative silence as everyone finished up their food before Naru stood up.

“Finish up eating. We leave in ten minutes,” he informed as soon as he realised Mai was getting to the end of her food before he promptly left the room to go and finish packing everything into the vans.

Scowling at him slightly, Luella looked as though she was about to scold him for being rude.

Mai smiled softly at the familiar pushiness from Naru. There was something calming to note about his lack of change in demeanour.

Noticing the look, the blonde held her tongue, sighing slightly. Would her son ever learn?

Unluckily for Naru, however, his rapid departure also reminded Mai of the fact that she was mad at him still.

Suddenly glaring at her dish, she huffed as she angrily chewed on the last piece of her pancake before standing up to leave as well, much to the amusement of everyone else at the table.

“What did that plate ever do to you? Run out of food too quick?” Bou-san teased, coming to stand next to Mai.

The brunette huffed. “It's not the plate I'm mad at. I just remembered something,” she grumbled before remembering herself and bowing towards Luella.

“Thank you so much for the food. It was delicious,” Mai informed, smiling at the older woman before turning to leave the room and catch up with a specific narcissist. 'This time,' she promised herself, 'I won't get distracted. I'm angry at him damn it. He can't go around taking advantage of people like that!'

Making her way outside, she happily breathed in the fresh air with her eyes closed as the feeling of calm that she'd noticed the first time she'd gotten here once again washed over her. She'd adapted so well to the sadness and negative emotions of inside that she hadn't noticed how much they were suffocating her until she was out here in the fresh air.

Opening her eyes again, she forgot her calm instantly as her they fell on Naru who was looking at her with a smirk.

Before she could start a fight, however, the others came trailing out behind her.

“Mai, you're riding with Lin and I. The rest of you are in the other van. Madoka will be driving you.” He informed without waiting for anyone to say something about the suffocating irritation Mai was sending at the seemingly immune teenager.

Sighing, Mai continued to glare as she got into the back of the van while Naru got into the front and Lin got into the driver’s seat.

Settling in, she continued to glare at the back of Naru's seat as they began the two hour-long drive to the client’s house.

It was silent for ten minutes before Oliver fought the urge to sigh as he shut the file that he'd been looking over.

“Do you intend to glare at me all day?” He asked, unable to take her ire for much longer. It wasn't that it bothered him to have her angry at him. More often than not, she was angry at him. It was the fact that normally he actively made her angry at him. And this time he hadn't.

Mai made an annoyed sound. “Depends. Do you intend to be a jerk all day?” she shot back.

His eyebrows furrowed as Lin shot him an inquisitive look from his seat. What had his charge managed to do this time?

Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose. “What have I supposedly done?” he asked.

Glaring harder, she scoffed at his lack of understanding. “You're a so-called genius. Figure it out,” she grumbled.

Outright sighing, Oliver turned around to glare at her, but she had directed her gaze to the window just in time to avoid meeting his gaze and breaking.

“I'm an intellectual genius, not a mind reader. You should very well know the difference. Or was that entrance to Cambridge a fluke?”

Glancing at his charge from the corner of his eye, Lin shook his head. When would Noll ever learn to be less of a brat?

Luckily, it would seem Mai didn't take any more offence then she would normally to his barbs. How the brunette could deal with Oliver was beyond him.

“Are you implying that Cambridge entrance and scholarships are so easily applied for and won that I could have fluked it? Perhaps I should inform your father of that fact,” Mai shot back easily, even angrier than she'd been before.

This reply seemed to shock Oliver and Lin both, because neither spoke for a moment before the former shook his head.

“I wouldn't put it past you,” he replied after a moment.

Mai blinked for a moment before her brows furrowed slightly. “Was that an insult or a compliment?” She muttered more to herself as she glanced over at Lin.

Sadly, the older man seemed to be ignoring their argument. Not that it surprised her.

Rolling his eyes, Naru turned to look at her again and this time, Mai ended up caught by his gaze. “Just tell me what I did that angered you so much to break pattern.”

He was, of course, referring to the mental pattern he had observed – and informed her of – years ago.

Normally she would get depressed first. Then she would get angry and then soon after she would bounce back to her usual cheerful self. Naru theorised that this was due to her hatred of grudges.

However, this time he hadn't noticed any outright depression and she definitely hadn't bounced back quickly.

Mai huffed at the reference. “Maybe I just don't fit that pattern anymore. Did you consider that?” she questioned.

Oliver scoffed at that. “Doubtful. Now answer the question.”

The brunette looked at him innocently. “What question? I only remember a demand for knowledge. Maybe I would be more forthcoming if you didn't try to force the information out of me,” she spat back.

Something about the way that she said it made alarm bells go off in the back of his mind. 'Force information out of her...' He thought for a moment before it clicked into place. Of course.

Honestly with how tired she was last night; Oliver was surprised she even remembered their talk.

Lin could tell the moment that Noll realised what was wrong even though he had no clue what was going on himself. Paying extra attention to the conversation now that it wasn't just bickering, he was somewhat glad that neither of them ever paid him much mind.

It was so much easier to be silent and have them be comfortable enough to speak like this with him right here then to take Madoka's stance and stand there arguing with them and making things worse. If you left them alone then they would figure it out on their own. You just had to give them a little bit of time and patience. And if you did that, then you didn't have to worry about them leaving you to go and talk it out elsewhere so that you'd be left guessing about what happened.

He did so hate not having the whole picture after all.

Huffing, Mai could practically feel it in the air the moment Naru finally clicked on what was wrong.

“Are you honestly mad about telling me about your spiritual sensitivity last night?” Naru asked her, looking over the seat to watch her reactions in order to sort this out.

Mai turned to glare at him once more, anger kicking back up. “Of course I am! I was asleep on my feet and you saw an opportunity to interrogate me more easily and took it. There was no way I was going to be able to sensor myself in that state and you knew it. It was an invasion of private information,” she shot back angrily.

Sighing, Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose. “It wasn't that much information in the first place. I'm pretty sure that we would've found out the same thing the second we walk into the house today as it was. I don't understand why you insist on keeping so much of your abilities to yourself. We'll learn of them eventually.”

Gritting her teeth, Mai's glare didn't waver at his words. “And the moments when I choose to confide in you about my abilities are mine to choose, not for you to force out of me when you know very well that I have no filter! And I certainly wouldn't have given you the exact same information when we got to the client's home.”

Rolling his eyes, Oliver did his best to get his point across. “The more we know about your abilities, the easier it is to use them to their full advantage. But if you're so sure that you wouldn't have said the same thing today then tell me what would've changed.”

In her anger, Mai didn't even stop to consider her words before she spoke. “I wouldn't have given you a rundown of your own home's emotional status!”

There was dead silence after the words left her mouth as Oliver considered her words. That was very true. But he failed to see how that mattered all that much.

Thinking back to their conversation, he could've kicked himself when the answer became clear. Mai was a kind soul and she'd think that talking about how his home made her feel would be insensitive to his emotional health. The irony was not lost on him.

Oliver ignored the slightly warm feeling as he focused his full attention on the now silent brunette, a small smile fighting to make its way onto his features.

“Mai.”

She didn't so much as twitch in response.

“Mai.”

Still nothing.

“Mai. Look at me.”

“No.” Came the short response.

“Mai.”

“I don't want to.”

Switching tactics, he couldn't help but roll his eyes slightly.

“Why not?”

Mai bit her lip gently, worrying it between her teeth. “Because if I do then I won't be mad anymore,” she admitted.

Oliver sighed. “That's ridiculous. You aren't that mad in the first place. You're worried,” he informed simply.

Almost immediately, her eyes shot up to him. “What do you know? Stupid emotionally-constipated narcissist,” she grumbled; fight gone from her as she'd predicted the moment her eyes met his.

“Listen to me carefully because I'll only say it once. I'm not upset about what you told me,” he promised.

It was silent for a moment and he thought that she would argue for a moment.

The thought did cross her mind as she stared at him. However, she could find no lie in his statement and any of the fight left in her faded instantly.

“Okay.” She mumbled. “I believe you. But never do that again. Seriously. It's not fair to me.”

Sighing, Oliver nodded. “Very well.”

Mai smiled at him before finding her attention distracted by the large manor in front of them as they arrived.

“Wow! It really is the exact same as in my dream,” she marvelled, slightly shocked even though she had seen the pictures just the day before.

As the van came to a stop, Mai got out excitedly, looking around with wide eyes. Closing her eyes, she let herself feel the air around them carefully, eyebrows furrowing when the outside of the manor felt relatively normal.

“Something wrong?” Naru asked.

The brunette opened her eyes and glanced over at him. “Everything out here feels... normal? I don't know how to explain it to someone who hasn't experienced it, but it's almost like the area out here is wearing a mask to hide anything negative. It's not peaceful like I would expect, but none of it is making my senses scream 'danger'. It's weird,” she explained, glancing around the area.

Naru made a note in his notebook of this before sighing as the other's arrived a moment later.

“I'll go get Gwendolyn and she can show you all where to place everything,” he informed, moving to the house and knocking before he opened the door and just went inside.

Turning away from him, Mai smiled as she saw her family getting out of the van.

“Look guys! Isn't it pretty?” She exclaimed, spinning around like it would prove her point.

Bou-san chuckled at her excitement, running over to pull her into a hug and spin her around again.

“Not nearly as pretty as my little princess. You're much prettier than any old building,” he informed.

Giggling, Mai grinned brightly at him when she was set down again.

Madoka laughed at them only to cough when they turned around to see Noll standing there with an unimpressed look while the elderly woman next to him just looked amused.

Blushing at her childishness, Mai waited until Gwendolyn looked away before she stuck her tongue out at Naru who just rolled his eyes.

“This is Gwendolyn Baker, an old friend of my family’s. Gwen, you of course know Lin and Madoka,” he introduced before proceeding to point at everyone. “Ayako Matsuzaki, a Shinto Priestess, Houshou Takigawa, a Buddhist monk, John Brown, a catholic priest, Masako Hara, a well-known medium, Osamu Yasuhara, a researcher, and Mai Taniyama, a psychic.”

“It's very nice to meet you all. Come on in and I'll show you where you can set up,” Gwen informed them, smiling kindly as she turned to show them inside.

Grabbing some of the equipment, they followed her inside. Just inside the entrance, she pointed to two rooms directly across from each other. “The room on the right is for the ladies to sleep in and the room on the left is for the men,” she informed before continuing until they reached the next door over. “You can use this one as your base. It's the room we have with the most outlets and no-one uses it much these days anyway. There's a bed in there as well, just in case.”

On Mai’s left, the entire room was an open plan lounge with a huge kitchen and dining area. There was a fireplace on the far wall with a large flat screen tv above it.

'At least it'll be relatively hard to get lost and easy to see each other if things get dangerous,' Mai thought, slightly relieved. Even though she could use her abilities to find the others when she needed too, if she wasn't paying attention then she often got lost anyway.

Turning away from the area, Mai followed the others into their base, once again shocked at the large inside. There was a large oak corner desk that Naru was already setting up the monitors on while the first part of the room contained two long couches and a coffee table in the middle. Because of the odd shape of the room, it took Mai a moment to realise that the bed that had been mentioned was just to the left of the desk, hidden behind a wall that separate the room from the stairs in the living area that led upstairs.

Placing down the monitor that she'd been carrying with the rest of them, Mai sighed.

She'd been so focused on the layout that she'd barely taken note of how the house felt since she entered.

Letting go of the tight grip she'd placed over her abilities when they'd first entered to prevent any surprises, she immediately stumbled over to the couch to sit down when she felt the suffocating presence of the man she suspected to haunt this place, as well as the fear of the two women who had lived with him. It was so strong that she wasn't even sure whether it was a phantom phenomenon in which old their emotions remained, and their spirits had moved on or if they were actually still here, lingering.

Her energy was already been drained by the negative energy as she tried to reign her emotions in, tightening her grip on her sensitivity again.

“Mai?” Ayako asked, immediately noticing the small stumbled she'd made as she made her way over to the couch.

Swallowing, Mai shook her head in response, unable to force her mouth to move while she did her best to keep breathing for a moment, collecting herself as the strength of the emotions began to fade away.

By the time she'd gotten herself under control, the brunette looked up to find almost everyone looking at her with worry.

“What happened?” Naru demanded, immediately.

When Mai turned to look over at him, he felt his blood run cold. He'd never seen her look so drained.

“How can anyone stand to live here?”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*When I was in Japan, I was there from January through to Mid-February aka Winter. In this time, the average day temperature in Tokyo that I experienced was 9-10 degrees Celsius so I’m basing this on that. However, the ones for London are purely from Google so if anyone has been or knows more about the patterns, feel free to let me know. I'm no weather expert so I'm relying heavily on research to help keep things as close to reality as they would be.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Seven

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Monday, April 8th

Her quiet admission only served to make everyone more confused before Mai shook her head to break free from the emotional haze she currently found herself in.

A quiet clearing of a throat from beside her made Mai turn her head, only to smile at John as he offered her a glass of water.

“Thank you.”

Taking slow sips from it, the brunette took a deep breath before feeling better. Of course, now that she knew they were there, she could still feel the negative emotions under the surface, but it didn't bother her quite as much with her shields back up.

Seeing that she was feeling better, Oliver ignored the feeling of relief and instead repeated his earlier question.

Collecting her thoughts, Mai thought about it carefully before responding. “When I enter a place I’ve never been before, I always put my sensitivity on lock down until I have a moment to focus on them entirely; especially since sometimes they're too strong to deal with, standing up. Just then, I re-opened them to get a read on the house. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so strong,” she admitted, slightly angry at herself.

Naru nodded in understanding. “We'll finish setting up and then I want to hear about it,” he informed her coldly before giving the group of people still in the room an unimpressed look. “How long are you going to stand there instead of going to collect equipment?”

Almost immediately, everyone began to scamper out of the room, leaving Mai with a little bit more time to put her emotions into something resembling an explanation. It really was difficult to turn emotions into words. Stupid jerk, demanding answers like they were easy to come up with when he could barely name any emotions.

Shaking off the irritation, she tried to focus on the emotions she'd felt earlier to get a read on what exactly the emotions were.

There had definitely been a strong feeling of animosity that was aimed towards not only herself, but all of females. It had been terrifying in intensity and even now she shivered at the thought of it. The underlying residual fear that linked to it made her want to wince with how sharp it felt and the way that it triggered an additional rise in how smug and arrogant the man had felt towards women made her angrier then she could put into words.

'If this was how it feels after more than a century, how would it have felt back then?' Mai couldn't help but wonder. It was a question she hoped she didn't get an answer to.

Time passed by slowly as everyone else continued to bring in the equipment, leaving Mai to figure out her thoughts and recover from the emotional strain. However, all to soon they were taking a seat to discuss the details of the case.

In true SPR fashion, instead of immediately explaining her experience so far, Mai found herself watching in amusement as Ayako shouted at Bou-san for calling her old while Yasu “protected” his love from the cruel words.

“Yasuhara Osamu, I swear to you, if you don't stop that I'm going to make your life a living hell” Ayako hissed.

Eyes widening in fake surprise, Yasu jumped up from his space on the couch, running over to his best friend and huddling next to her. “Mai-chan! Did you hear how she threatened me? She's a demon, you have to exorcise her, or I'll never live to see our classes at Cambridge,” he informed her, faking terror as the red head continued to get angrier.

Before she could respond, Naru's cold voice cut in. “If you continue to treat this like playground, you can go and pay for your own ticket back to Japan now.”

Glaring at him, Ayako settled down, continuing to glare daggers at Yasu. Now moved away from Mai, he grinned smugly as he pushed his glasses up with a finger so they would sit better on the bridge of his nose.

Mai took this moment of quiet to breathe deeply before turning to Naru to explain everything.

It didn't take long before he had notes on her emotions, looking thoughtful.

“Judging by this spirit's attitude towards women, I don't want any of you to go anywhere without a male. When you sleep tonight, make sure that all of you go together and under no circumstances is anyone to be alone. Do I make myself clear?”

There was a resounding agreement and Oliver nodded slightly, happy that they'd understood. Maybe they had changed slightly over the year. After all, he had expected at least a slight argument from Mai.

Or perhaps she was merely too tired to argue.

Either way he wasn't about to tempt fate by looking this gift horse in the mouth.

“Mai, Takigawa-san, I want you two to set up the cameras. Take Hara-san with you so that she can do a walk through. John, you and Matsuzaki-san will set up the other lot of cameras. Mai, John, both of you take a temperature gauge with you and take the temperatures of all the rooms as you go through. Madoka, you and Yasuhara-san are to go and research this house and see what you can find.”

Naru waited until there was confirmation of their assignments before he motioned for them all to split off, Lin handing Mai and John each a list of the different places the cameras would be placed.

Before long, a much-needed quiet settled over the room and the teenager found he could finally focus on his thoughts.

Pulling out his black notebook, he frowned at the meagre amount of notes that he currently had written down. Ordinarily, he would have relentlessly asked for more information from the current client, however, in this case he already knew everything that the client had to say. It certainly made things run faster but he couldn't help but feel like there were some obvious things he was missing.

Letting out an inaudible sigh, he rubbed the bridge of his nose and silently noted that a cup of tea at this point might be exactly what he needed. For that though, he would have to wait for Mai to return.

Resigning himself to such a fate, he turned his focus to the monitors that were slowly flickering to imagery.

He could be waiting a while.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai sighed as she took down the temperature in the sixth room they'd been to so far.

“How's this Lin?” Bou-san asked from across the room as he set the camera up.

It was a slight pause before the other man's voice came through the walkie-talkie. “Move it slightly to the right.”

Following the direction, Bou-san almost immediately gained confirmation that it was fine.

Groaning, the monk looked over at Mai with the most pitiful expression he could muster. “This is, by far, the most boring part of an investigation,” he informed her.

Mai wanted to laugh at the eye roll Masako offered from behind him where he wouldn't notice it but opted just to smile, not wanting to offend him.

“If you're that bothered about setting up the cameras, we can always switch?” She offered, giggling at the look that he gave her.

“Even I know that this is more fun than taking a bunch of temperatures,” Bou-san grumbled.

Before Mai could respond to his comment there was a moment of static before Naru's voice fluttered through the walkie-talkie.

“If you stopped complaining and instead just did your job then maybe you would be further along,” he informed them all, voice harsh.

Bou-san winced at the reprimand and shook his head. “That kid,” he huffed, proceeding to pick up the camera pile as he made his way out of the room.

As they made their way to the next room so Mai could take the temperature, she turned to Masako.

“So, how does everything feel so far? Have you sensed much?” she asked the medium, curious.

Masako took a moment to think on it and put her feelings into words before she replied.

Unlike Mai, she didn't feel the same intense emotions which was odd, but not unheard of. There were times when Mai connected better to an area then she did and as such Mai would find herself feeling brunt of the emotions.

That said, with the way she had acted earlier, Masako had her suspicions that Mai's sensitivity had grown even further. It was an exciting probability but not something she herself wanted to explore. There were enough downsides to feeling spiritual emotions at her current level of sensitivity without the increases that Mai seemed to be constantly experiencing.

(Masako tried not to think about how much further Mai's abilities might end up growing, and how that's going to affect her in the future.)

She continued considering Mai for a moment and found herself wondering if she was even aware of the extent that her abilities had grown so far. It seemed unlikely but not entirely impossible.

“Masako?”

Shaking herself from her thoughts, she covered her lack of response by moving her sleeve in front of her face and narrowing her eyes at Mai.

“Don't rush me. You of all people know how hard it is to reconcile the feelings of a medium and turn it into words,” she scolded, feeling slightly guilty at her cover up but throwing the thought to the back of her mind. She couldn't be caught with straying thoughts after all.

Looking suspicious, but slightly guilty, Mai nodded at her friend, pouting slightly.

She was almost positive that Masako had been completely distracted and not at all focused on her question, but she let it go. If her friend didn't want her to know then she wouldn't concern herself for the moment.

“I feel the same animosity towards females as yourself and I can sense the spirit of the man who it comes from. He spends a lot of time on the third level of this house and mostly wanders around angrily. He seems to have gotten even angrier with the current presence of more females,” she informed Mai before pausing. “There is another spirit here as well. She's faint, almost like she's concealing her presence. I don't think the male spirit has noticed her. She doesn't seem malicious. More protective.”

The fact that there was another spirit in the house didn't really surprise Mai and she couldn't help but consider who it could be as she continued to mindlessly take the temperatures of the rooms.

It was possible that it was the teenager’s spirit, but her instincts were telling her that it was probably the mother. The only thing she couldn't understand was why she would stick around?

Surely if she could finally be free of that man then she would.

Mulling over it, Mai almost hit herself as she recalled what Masako had said. 'Protective.'

If it was the mother, then it made sense for her to stay and be protective of her daughter. But her daughter was long passed on, so who was she protecting now? And why?

Of course, this was all speculation and questions that she might never have answers to, and she didn't want to offer them up until she had at least some form of proof.

Resolved to keep her thoughts to herself, she continued chattering with Bou-san as they finished up and headed back to base.

Walking back into base, she grinned at the sight of Ayako and John who had returned only a few minutes before her sitting near an annoyed Naru.

It was a familiar sight and she couldn't help the pang that registered as she thought of all the memories she associated with scenes like this. Without Naru and Lin, ghost hunting just hadn't been the same.

Moving to take a seat with Ayako, she rolled her eyes as the priestess made a show of looking 'sore' from all the work (that she'd doubtlessly put onto poor John). “I didn't miss what a slave driver Naru is, let me tell you,” she whispered at Mai.

Bou-san snorted from behind Mai's place on the couch. “I think you'll find that to be the result of old age,” he informed her easily, stepping back to avoid the swing of her purse.

Eyebrows creasing slightly in annoyance at the display, Oliver tried to ignore the tiniest part of him that found the familiarity to be comforting. It was good to know that they really didn't change all that much.

He was about to open his mouth to ask for his much-needed tea from Mai when the base door opened loudly and Madoka waltzed in with Yasu in tow.

Almost immediately, he resigned himself to waiting even longer for his caffeinated drink with spiking irritation.

“Bou-san my love! Did you miss me?” Yasu proclaimed, quickly making his way over to where the monk was still standing only to pout as the adult immediately removed himself from the spot and moved as far away as possible.

“You can keep your love to yourself. I don't need it,” he informed Yasu, shivering at the creepy thought.

Mai giggled at the response, turning to her friend and patting the space next to her. “It's okay. I'll accept you,” she told her best friend, fluttering her eyelashes up at him in a fake show of coyness that caused him to smirk.

There was a cry of outrage as Bou-san moved quickly to sit in the spot she was indicating so that Yasu couldn't. “No Mai. Don't let him corrupt you. Stay away from the creepy kid,” he insisted.

Before Yasu could respond, Naru glared at them heavily. “What did you two find out?”

Giving up on his game, Yasu moved to sit down away from Bou-san and waited for Madoka to present their findings.

“It turns out that this manor was built in the early 1800s, just as London started to become famous for the levels of smog and pollution, so that the Wadleigh family could escape to the fresher air. They were one of the leading families who invested in the railroad project and were practically rolling in the money. Benjamin was the first-born son to Albert and Maria Wadleigh. When he married to Elizabeth Monree in 1867, his parents gifted him this manor as a wedding gift and passed on from disease not long after,” she informed them all, nodding to Mai when she mentioned Elizabeth's name.

“Benjamin was liked well enough by the men, but he was known for treating his women harshly which matches with what Mai said. In 1868, Elizabeth finally managed to get pregnant. There are rumours that he was furious when she gave birth to a daughter. Evidently, he had been waiting for an heir and didn't care for a daughter at all. Their daughter, Bianca went missing just before Benjamin's body was discovered; only months after the unexpected death of her mother in 1882.”

Oliver thought about the new information, digesting everything that he'd been told as he tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

“Do we have any ideas as to what happened to them?” he inquired. Some of the puzzle pieces were still missing and he didn't want to reply purely on speculation for what happened. Assumptions were hardly scientific after all.

This time it was Yasu who responded. “There were some rumours that could be traced back to one of the maids. It was never investigated but everyone was fairly sure that Benjamin had been the one to kill Elizabeth. There was nothing they could've done considering his influence, but the rumours were still there. One day, the maid was passing by a room and got curious when she heard raised voices.

“She reported seeing Bianca shout at her father for killing her mother, only to make him mad enough to attack her as well. Allegedly there was a struggle as he tried to choke her, but a white light appeared to protect her for long enough to grab a hold of something heavy and hit him over the head, killing him. The maid ran away after that, but she believed that Bianca packed herself just enough to get by and left to start over. They never heard of her again,” he explained.

This was enough for the details to click into place for everything to click into place. It seemed likely that things had played out much like that. The white light was interesting, however.

“That's terrible,” Mai muttered, feeling sad at the thought of all the lives lost. Poor Bianca would've been on her own in the world at such a young age too.

Looking over at Naru, she tilted her head. “Do you think that it was Elizabeth who produced the white light? That maybe she was protecting her daughter since she wasn't powerful enough to do it while alive?” She speculated, finally raising her suspicions.

Even before a response, however, she could feel her instincts telling her that this was the truth of the situation.

“That seems likely,” Naru agreed, seeing the conviction Mai felt. Her instincts were likely to be spot on, as always.

Fighting the urge to sigh as they finished information swapping, he rubbed at his nose. He really needed some tea.

It didn't take long for Naru's mood to darken as base began to get loud again and he hadn't had a chance to demand his tea.

Meeting them all with his best glare, he hoped that his voice sounded as cold as he was beginning to feel. The familiar comfort of the earlier arguing was gone and long since replaced with memories of this same irritation stemming from their inability to focus on the job at hand instead of mucking around like five-year olds.

“If you have time to play around then you can find something to do. Need I remind you that someone is missing?”

Bou-san shrank back slightly at the cold glare before sobering at the reminder. “Right. Ayako, let's go walk around and see we can find any clues,” he insisted, grabbing her arm and pulling her along before she could protest.

John smiled slightly at the display before turning to Masako and offering her his hand. “It might be best if we do the same. Maybe the female spirit will help lead us to Megan,” he pointed out optimistically.

Despite her doubts, the medium allowed the priest to pull her up before they left base together.

The sudden level of calmness and quiet immediately helped Naru's mood.

Seeing that things were getting serious again, Yasu and Madoka moved over to the monitors with Lin to help observe things.

Seeing her chance, Mai reached into her bag from next to the couch and pulled something out before she pushed herself off the couch and wandered over to where Naru was seated.

“Our turn,” she insisted, giving him a pointed look when he glanced up from his notebook to glare at her.

Ignoring it, Mai crossed her arms.

Narrowing his eyes further, he couldn't help but wonder when Mai had become immune to his glares. “What idiotic ideas are you spouting about now?” He asked, giving in.

Mai huffed at his obliviousness, resisting the urge to stamp her foot in irritation.

“I've never seen you go this long without tea on a case and your annoyance in bothering everyone, including me. So, we are going to go and make some,” she insisted. “Besides, you were the one who made it that the girls need to go everywhere with an escort.”

Raising a brow at the situation, Oliver also had to consider when he had become this easy to read. Or maybe he was just easy to read for Mai. It wouldn't be a shock, what with how in tune she normally was to everyone else's needs but her own. And he could at least find relief in the fact that she hadn't even attempted to leave base without someone else. Small miracles he supposed.

Debating his chances of receiving tea if he pushed her attitude further and commented on this fact, he opted to leave it alone.

Closing his book and tucking it away in his jacket pocket to come back to after, he stood up, following Mai as she left the room.

Thankfully the kitchen wasn't far away, and it was more precautionary that she took someone with her when only going across the open plan room.

Humming lightly to herself, Mai filled the electric kettle and then flicked it on to boil.

Taking note of Mai's closed hand, Oliver's eyes narrowed. “What's in your hand?” He asked.

Blinking at the sudden question, Mai tilted her head in confusion before her eyes lit up in recognition.

“Oh! I have some of my home-made tea bags. It's not as good as making a fresh pot with my loose tea leaves and I don't have a lot of them but it's enough to keep us going for a week or so. I'll have to figure out where to replenish my stock here...” she trailed off thoughtfully as she placed the bags on the bench.

Turning away from Naru again, she turned to the overhead cupboards and opened them only to glare.

Standing on the tips of her toes, Mai reached up as far as she could, barely brushing against the mugs that were placed on the topmost shelf. 'Who the heck keeps the mugs this high up?' she wondered, glaring at them like it would make them jump down to her.

Watching her in amusement, Oliver let her struggle for a moment before stepping up behind her and reaching over her to easily procure two mugs.

At the feeling of another body near her own, Mai froze, her breathing stopping as she felt a wave of shock.

Just as soon as he had been there, Naru's body heat was gone leaving behind a feeling of longing as she relished the last remaining heat, her face completely red.

Swallowing thickly, she ignored the smirk on Naru's face as she proceeded to fill the cups with hot water before placing the tea bags in to rest for a moment.

Forcing herself to breathe, Mai tried to get a hold of herself. 'Stop freaking out!' She scolded herself, only succeeding in making her blush come back full force as she was reminded of how Naru had felt against her – 'Stop it!'

On auto pilot, the brunette added some sugar to the tea and a splash of milk before stirring it and then draining the tea bag.

Ignoring her raging blush, Mai shoved it at Naru for him to drink, the liquid lapping precariously at the edges of the mug from her careless movement.

“If you drink this before we get back to base then I can refill it for you straight away,” she informed his, unable to meet his eyes.

Oliver couldn't help but feel smug at the reaction he'd managed to pull from her as he drank greedily from the tea, absent-mindedly noting the instant relaxing effect it had over him. It wasn't surprising, he supposed, that his body knew the smell and taste of Mai's tea well enough for it to have an effect on his olfactory to the point of it triggering an involuntary memory.*

Holding out his mug without a word he tried not to smile at her huff as she turned around to fix him some more, uncharacteristically silent in her movements.

Holding it, she gave him an expectant look as he held her gaze.

“Are you going to stand there holding it all day or give it to me?” Oliver asked after a beat, smirking at the flash of irritation on her features at his lack of manners.

Shoving it at him, Mai grabbed her own mug and stalked away angrily.

“You jerk!”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*The Olfaction is the part of your body that give you the ability to smell. A 1000 thanks to my beta for linking me to an article on Involuntary Memory which is the idea that when your body smells something, it triggers a specific memory. An example is a specific perfume reminding you of your grandmother and triggering her memory. Sometimes these memories also form an autobiographical response in the body such as automatically causing you to relax or tense. Smell is the most common trigger for autobiographical memory recollection due to the connection between your sense of smell and memory keeping but visuals can cause the same kind of response and in theory, taste can also do the same thing.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Flashback

Chapter Eight

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Tuesday, April 9th (Just After Midnight)

The previous day had passed by in an unusual silence. Despite the fact that up until now the spirit had been rather violent, as long as the girls were with a man Benjamin's spirit hadn't seemed inclined to do anything to them.

Considering this, Oliver glared at the monitors in front of him. It was early morning now and almost everyone else had gone to bed for the night, leaving himself and Lin to watch the monitors. There was a nagging feeling in the back of his mind like something was going to happen. Everything had been too quiet today and he couldn't help but feel as though this was going to turn out to be a literal calm before the storm.

However, despite this unease, the rest of the night passed without any sign of an issue. None of the females mentioned anything about this spirit bothering them. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that Oliver had come onto this case knowing for a fact that it was a haunting, he would have completely dismissed what he'd learnt so far.

'As if I needed a reminder that I don't have the same capabilities for pre-cognition or mediumship,' Oliver couldn't help but scold himself. It wasn't like he'd had a basis for his unease in the first place. He was working himself up over nothing.

As everyone slowly started trailing in to start together, his eyebrows furrowed when not all of the girls entered at once. For a second, he was about to complain about their inability to follow basic orders, but Mai walked through the door only a few moments after Ayako. The delay annoyed him, but he forced his mind back into an impassive state.

His anxiousness was beginning to get out of control. He tried not to think about how this hadn't been an issue before he'd seen Mai again.

As they all took a seat, he took a moment to calm his mind and focus on the facts yet again.

“Was there any activity last night?” Bou-san inquired, taking a seat on the lounge.

Oliver glared slightly. “None at all,” he informed them, somewhat annoyed. There was a child of a family 'friend' missing and they had no clues as to where she was. It had already been too long for her to go without water.

An equally frustrated sigh came from Mai across the room.

Debating over her options, the brunette bit her lip. On one hand, she was trying to downplay her abilities. There were so many things that she needed to keep from everyone around her and the more questions they had, the harder that was going to be. But on the other hand, someone's life was in danger and she was sick of sitting around, waiting for the other shoe to drop. She could do something.

'So why the hell am I still sitting here?' she scolded herself.

Standing up in what seemed to be an abrupt fashion to everyone else, Mai headed for the door to the base, her mind made-up and completely one-track.

It wasn't until she got to the base door that she registered the familiar glare that was trained on her back.

“And just what do you think you're doing?” Naru asked, voice cold.

Turning to face him, Mai's hands went to her hips as she went on the defensive. “I'm going to go and do something. Sitting around here isn't going to change anything,” she pointed out.

Oliver couldn't help but glare harder in response. Something? How very vague. What reason could she possibly have to dodge the question so clearly? That was a thought to put aside for later.

“Something? Well would you care to explain exactly what that something is? And why you thought you could go out on your own for whatever it is? I believe I explicitly ordered everyone to never go alone and that a male escort be with the females whenever they leave base.”

Mai glared back at him. “How about I explain it after, so I'm no longer wasting time talking when a teenager is somewhere without food and water, probably scared out of her mind,” She retorted, glossing over his other point with ease.

In truth she'd been so caught up in deciding whether or not she could help out that she'd completely forgot that little detail. 'I wish I could go on my own, that would be better. But if I have to take someone with me who would be best? Yasu would be the most useful in terms of keeping his mouth shut but he has no warding magic. No-one will go for it. Bou-san? Too overbearing. That only leaves Lin or John. John would ask the least questions but maybe...' She hesitated for a moment over her own thought process.

For whatever reason, her instincts were screaming at her to take Lin of all people, with her.

But why?

It was times like these that she really hated her abilities. An answer without a reason isn't worth too much in the end. But... well she couldn't really go against it at any rate, right?

“Lin-san? Would you mind accompanying me?” Mai asked, the words out of her mouth before she'd even finished contemplating the thought.

For the first time (in her own experience), Lin actually looked a little surprised by something, before the expression was quickly stoic once more.

He'd been minding his own business at the monitors ignoring the inevitable spat that was happening behind him when he'd heard his name.

Looking over, he couldn't help his own confusion at the situation. Why was he the one she was asking for?

Apparently, he wasn't the only one confused at her choice. Oliver looked slightly confused as his brows furrowed as he tried to figure out the situation, his anger effectively contained as a new mystery reared its head – had that been her intent? - but even more confused were the irregular members of JSPR.

“Hey, hey, hey. What about me? Don't tell me that you've forgot your favourite man when faced with the stoicisms of Lin and Naru?” Bou-san demanded, pouting at her.

Mai's irritation faded at the ribbing from her friend. “It can't be helped. I need peace for concentration, and you'll help with neither of those things,” she shot back simply, grinning at the hurt expression he adopted at her insult.

“Why you-”

Before he could get going though, Mai turned and opened the door. “Coming?” she called back at Lin, already halfway out the door.

Not really seeing any options, the (reluctant) man sighed inwardly and followed after her.

If nothing else this meant that he would be able to witness some of her abilities and get a read of them on his own. Noll wasn't the only one who had noticed how tight lipped she was being.

After Mai and Noll had left the room the other night, Martin had tried to get any information out of the other members from JSPR, but they hadn't been able to tell them much.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

As soon as the door shut behind them, Mai running after Naru in a haste not to be left behind, Martin turned to the other members of the team that Oliver had called upon.

Is she always like that?” He inquired, not delicate in the least as he looked towards them in confusion.

Ayako looked over at him. “How do you mean?” She asked, a little confused at the sudden topic of conversation.

Martin winced as Luella elbowed him for his rudeness. Coughing, he tried again.

I only mean to ask if Miss Taniyama is always so... tight lipped about her abilities? Even around those she knows, or if this was merely because I was here.”

Bou-san nodded as understanding dawned over all of them. “She is to us at least. There's a lot of things that Mai doesn't really tell us. Even in the beginning, Mai wasn't all that comfortable with her abilities. Has anyone ever mentioned how she was revealed as an ESPer?” He inquired.

Martin shook his head, leaning forwards in intrigue.

The monk sighed but was unsurprised. “Mai had always had an uncanny ability to sense danger and make predictions. Usually about specific people or something that would happen during the case. During a particular case, Mai predicted that despite all the evidence pointing to one of the girls being the perpetrator, she was sure that it wasn't her. I think even at that point, Naru was sure that she was an ESPer because he took her words as more than just the statement of a teenage girl. But she had been correct. After that, he tested her officially.”

Martin raised his eyebrow in response. “I never heard about this. What test did he use?” He asked, glad that he was finally getting somewhere. Despite his best attempts, he hadn't managed to wheedle much information out of the young woman, and this was already more than she'd relinquished to him.

Ayako grimaced slightly, remembering that day. “It was a test where she had to pick which bulb was going to light up in a set of light bulbs. Somehow, she managed in 1000 attempts to never pick the right one, a mathematically impossibility,” she informed.

Martin hummed in understanding. “Psi-missing*, while much more rare than psi-hitting, it isn't unheard of. Did Noll have a theory on why she always guessed incorrectly?”

John hummed in thought. “Naru once mentioned that he thought it was due to her overwhelming desire to not have any abilities. He figured that her abilities were reacting to her desires and that by her logic, getting them all incorrect meant that she'd failed the test.”

A cough came from beside him and they all turned to Yasu who had been silent up until that moment. “While that may be his theory, I have a different one,” he informed the professor confidently.

Martin raised an eyebrow at the open challenge to his son's hypothesis but waved the boy onto continue, curious about anything he had to say.

Yasu nodded, pushing his glasses as he spoke. “I wasn't actually around for this particular part of SPR in Japan yet but when Mai mentioned it to me, I told her my own hypothesis. In actual fact, I – and Mai actually - believe that her ESP abilities in general lie in disproving or finding the wrong result instead of finding the correct one. We've run a few tests before and found that when focusing her instincts she's not very good at deciding what's correct – her instincts in that regard are much more subdued and case by case - but if you ask her if it's not correct she has no problems saying if it isn't. The case you mentioned before is actually a great example. She couldn't tell you why it wasn't that girl or who else it could be, but she could say for certain who it wasn't. That's not to say that she doesn't have any ability in the opposite – as I said before. There are times when her instincts tell her something that she can't decipher but I can say for certain that she follows them always.”

The explanation was long winded, but when he thought about it, Martin could definitely see the sense in it. Indeed, it was possible.

I would definitely like to hear more about those tests when you have the chance,” Martin expressed; curiosity peeked.

Yasu grinned. “If you can get Mai to agree, they're all yours,” he promised.

There was a feeling of disappointment at the reminder of his current predicament. “Back on topic, however, she was always like this?” he inquired.

Bou-san nodded. “Pretty much. She never had that much faith in her own psychic abilities. But I suppose, she never out-right hid them like she seems to be these days,” he mused. “Before, she just wouldn't believe what she knew but these days she knows better. Especially since the last case that we took in Japan.”

Ayako looked over at Yasu. “Which reminds me, you're Mai's best friend. Has she spoken to you about anything?” she asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

The younger man took the look in stride, shrugging easily as he stood up from the couch. “Maybe she has, maybe she hasn't. But you already know, anything I know isn't about to come to light short of a life or death situation. Anything Mai tells me that she doesn't tell you all is in complete confidence covered under our best friend policy. Maybe you should consider that if she doesn't want you to know, perhaps it’s for a reason,” he pointed out before bowing slightly. “I'm off to bed. Goodnight.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Yasuhara's decision to leave for the night had reminded them all that they had to be up early in the morning and they'd all promptly forgotten about their worries, focusing instead on getting some rest. Lin, however - who'd been silent through the entire talk - had continued to mull over these thoughts even as he made his way to the guest room that he used whenever he stayed the night at the Davis' place.

Walking through the halls quietly, he couldn't help but continue to think on everything once more. It was obvious from Yasuhara's behaviour that he knew more than the rest of them but none of them could really be sure just how much that 'more' entailed.

Looking over at the brunette, he wanted to sigh at the determined look on her face.

The first thing they'd done after leaving the room was grab a bottle of water and it had confused him. There were a few reasons he could think of for needing water but none of them seemed to be lining up with the current facts.

Groaning at his own thought process, Lin wanted to shake himself for his own stupidity. The object of his concern and questions was right beside him and there was no-one around to stop him from asking questions.

“Taniyama-chan, why did you choose me to come with you?” he inquired, getting straight to the point. There was no point in being subtle after all.

Mai couldn't help but giggle in response to the way he asked. She'd wondered how long it would take.

Humming, she thought about it as she walked. “I'm not actually sure about that,” she admitted easily. “All I know is that I had to take one of you with me and for whatever reason, my instincts decided that you would be best.”

Lin frowned at the explanation. “For whatever reason?” he parroted, somewhat stupefied.

Mai shrugged, turning to look up at the man beside her. “Yup. It's not like I always know why my instincts decide the things that they do. I trust them with my life so it's no worry for me to follow them, but it could be even weeks before the reason behind their push is clear to me,” she revealed, seeing no reason to keep that from the older man.

It wasn't something she'd originally planned to study but unlike other topics, this wasn't actually something she'd planned on outright hiding.

Thinking it over, Lin supposed that the answer was real enough. Imagining himself in her position, he wasn't sure he'd have any more idea then she did.

“And what about your plans? What exactly do you plan to do to help find Megan?” he asked, deciding to try his luck.

Mai deliberated for a moment in silence over the question. Even though she'd hoped that Lin wouldn't ask, it wasn't like it was extremely unexpected.

Biting her lip, she eyed him out of the corner of her eyes. It wasn't like what she was doing was an unknown ability. She'd have to embellish but she supposed that there was a way to get around this without giving too much away.

Even now she wasn't sure why there were things she was determined to keep under wraps. She just felt like there were so many new aspects to her own abilities and she didn't want to just make claims about them. She wanted to showcase them. Prove their reality.

Honestly, sometimes she felt like she was being an attention seeker. With how many things that had happened in the past year, so much had changed, and it'd become normal not to talk about it.

“Taniyama-chan?”

Breaking from her thoughts, Mai smiled at him. “I'll explain it as I go along. We're here.”

Standing in front of them was Megan's bedroom. Lin hadn't actually entered the room himself. There had been significant temperature drops in here a couple times, but no other cause of activity. Before their arrival however this had been a central part of the attacks. Why were they here?

Stepping in, Mai shuddered slightly at the seeping emotions from the ghost's residual appearances. She could still feel the malice and anger he was holding inside.

Looking around, she spotted Megan's bed and immediately moved towards it, taking a seat on the duvet and focussing on the left-over energy that Megan had from her time in this room.

“Explanation,” Lin reminded, watching the younger girl carefully. There was a camera in this room but no microphone so the others would see but not hear.

The reminder jolted Mai from the daze that she'd managed to put herself into.

Coughing slightly, she gave the older man an apologetic look. “Right so, um. I don't know how to explain this first part really well, but I'll do my best. In the year you guys were gone, while my sensitivity began to increase, I started also becoming sensitive to aura's and residual energy. By being here, I'm hoping to get a read on Megan's residual energy so that I can locate her,” she explained, turning her focus back to the room for a moment, before giving her attention back to Lin.

“And the purpose of the water?” he inquired. Things still weren't quite adding up for him.

Mai blinked at the question, before remembering that the reason Lin didn't know why she had the water was her own fault.

“I'm going to try and find her energy while astral projecting. Hopefully I'll be able to give her this water to tide her over until we can get to her in real life,” she explained.

The only sign that Lin was shocked by her quick thinking was the way he blinked at her for a moment.

“How did you come up with this idea?” he inquired, instead of bothering to ask when she was going to explain the exact extent of her astral projection. And just how many different ways she could apply it in the field.

Flushing a little, Mai bit her lip nervously. “Well, since in the Urado case I could give Masako my key, I figured it shouldn't be that hard to apply the same concept to other items that are on my person,” she trailed off.

“It's a good idea. I've just never heard of anyone using astral projection like that,” Lin admitted, trying to sound encouraging.

The main reason why people probably haven't done it before is probably more to do with how much more complex it was then just 'astral projecting with another object' like Mai made it sound.

The level of control, power, not to mention natural talent that it probably required would be immense.

“You're sure that you can do this?” Lin asked, putting aside his other notes for the time being. There would be time after this case was finally solved.

Mai's face was serious as she nodded. “I'm confident in my abilities and my instincts aren't screaming that this is a bad idea,” she assured him. “I can do this.”

The last part seemed more self-directed than anything else, so Lin chose not to comment on it, just nodding in assent, before watching as Mai moved to take a seat on the bed.

Almost immediately, she started some basic breathing exercises and allowed herself to relax a little.

It was a little odd for her to do this feeling judging eyes on her, but Mai focussed on the multitude of colours that surrounded her, feeling out the energy of Megan as she began to let go of her physical body. Allowing a light feeling to overtake herself, she kept her breathing even until she felt herself fully separated. Opening her eyes for the first time since she's begun, Mai quelled her urge to shout in happiness. She could celebrate later.

Looking around, she scanned her surroundings. It was always weird to see the way the spirit world depicted the houses that they worked in, like each level was transparent, the only colours being formed from residual energy and auras of anyone inside.

Ignoring the oddness of everything, Mai focused on finding the energy that she'd memorised earlier. Thinking back to the emotions she'd felt from Megan, she let her mind re-picture the colours, lines, and images that had made up her aura as she looked around.

It took a moment before she felt the pull of that energy.

Following it without a thought, she wanted to shout in joy once more when she managed to find her goal.

There was a white energy surrounding Megan as she approached, and Mai couldn't help but gasp as she got closer and realised that it was actually a spiritual form.

“Elizabeth?” she whispered, smiling as the light slowly moved to reveal a form.

She looked the same as Mai remembered from her dreams and she couldn't help her happiness at the woman.

It was clear from the spiritual barrier that was surrounding Megan that Elizabeth had been protecting her in the only way she could. It made so much sense now as to why the other woman was still here.

Elizabeth smiled slightly as her and allowed her to approach her.

Stepping into the room that Megan was in, she allowed the girl a moment to react to her presence before shushing the crying that had begun.

“You need to be quiet or you'll alert him. I'm here to help,” she promised.

The girl in front of her eyed her suspiciously, but didn't continue crying, wiping away the tears that had formed.

“How can I know to trust you?” she demanded.

Mai was a little annoyed at the response but could understand the lack of faith in a strange spirit like girl appearing out of no-where when she'd been taken.

“I'm an old co-worker of Naru- I mean Oliver Davis'. I worked for him in Japan and we've been called here to help you. It won't be long before we find you but until then, here is some water. Even though Elizabeth has been protecting you up until now, you have to be super dehydrated at this point,” Mai explained, carefully placing down the bottle of unopened water next to Megan.

The teenager was still suspicious, but it seemed that thirst won out and she reached for the bottle, swallowing some of the water eagerly.

Happy with her progress, Mai was about to say more before she felt an approaching presence.

“He's coming,” Elizabeth whispered towards her, the first words that Mai had heard from her since arriving in the house.

She could sense that the other woman was right as well, the feeling of the darkness that marked the male spirits aura heading their way. Mai couldn't help the cold fear she felt in reaction.

Turning around, she readied herself for a fight but found herself being pushed back by Elizabeth. “You cannot stay. Go back and tell them. Tell them where she is. I don't have much more energy left,” she informed Mai; her tone urgent.

Hesitating, the brunette flinched when he got closer.

“Go!”

Unable to hesitate further, Mai turned and ran back towards where her body was, praying to Kami-sama** that Elizabeth would be able to hold out until they got back.

It took a moment for her to get back to her body but as soon as she made it, she focused on relaxing herself once again to re-join her body.

It was harder than before, a sense of urgency coursing through her and warring against the calmness she needed to get in the correct head space.

Taking a deep breath, she refocused following the string that connected her spirit to her body and allowed herself to drift back into it.

Moments later, she felt herself completely re-joined and immediately placed her abilities on lock down, body feeling considerably drained from the use of so much energy in one go.

As she groaned in complaint, Lin was at her side in a second, kneeling down to her height. “Are you alright Taniyama-san?” he asked, a little worried. It had been almost four hours since she'd gone into her trance and he'd been unable to do anything but guard her dutifully.

As his words registered, Mai glared slightly. “I could almost swear that we had a talk about calling me Taniyama-san,” she scolded easily. However, before they could focus on that, Mai's eyes widened. “We have to get the others. I know where Megan is.”

It was then that Lin realised that at some point the water that she'd been holding had disappeared. He really would have to try and find out more about that later. There wasn't much to read on the subject of astral projection.

'Focus Koujo,' he scolded himself. There were more important things then a new parapsychology study right now.

Pulling out his phone, he speed-dialled number one as he helped Mai to her feet.

Noll picked up straight away, voice no nonsense as always.

“Mai knows where Megan is,” he informed the teenager.

“Where?”

Looking over at Mai, he raised an eyebrow.

“Third floor, right wing, second last door on the right,” she responded quickly.

“Did you get that?”

“We'll be there shortly.”

Before he could hang up Mai, cut in. “Be quick. Benjamin's spirit is there right now, and he wasn't happy,” she informed, already moving to leave the room.

Lin followed behind her quickly, not wanting the girl to run off on her like she always had in the past.

Going up the stairs quickly, Mai was practically sprinting by the time she hit the top of the stairs and turned right.

Following after, Lin wanted to growl at her impatience. He understood why she was moving quickly but what good would it do anyone if she ended up hurt?

He wasn't sure if it was comforting or irritating that this habit hadn't changed as he came to a stop in front of the door that Mai had attempted to open.

“It won't budge. There's a block on it,” she informed him, analysing the energy that was spread over the door with irritation.

Without a thought, Lin whistled and watched as his shiki ran through the door, effectively putting a hole in the defences long enough for him to get the door open.

It was an odd experience to watch Lin do this while being able to actually see what was happening.

Shaking off her fascination, she frowned as they came to an open room. Closing her eyes, she focused on feeling it out. It was no wonder they hadn't found Megan yet if the room wasn't actually a normal room.

It didn't take her long to catch Megan's aura as she sensed the room. Colours glowed around every item, and it took Mai a moment to locate the one she was after.

Following it's pull, she could have hit herself as she ended up in front of the cupboard. 'Why is it always a cupboard?' She couldn't help but grouch as she pulled open the doors to find another set inside.

“In here,” she informed Lin who had been following her movements closely.

In the distance they could hear the other's approaching but before Lin could suggest they wait a moment, there was a scream from inside the room.

Without a second thought, Mai swung the door open, running into the room.

“Damn it,” Lin cursed, following after her without hesitation. He should have expected this but it had been a while since he'd had to deal with someone this impulsive.

Entering the dark room, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the darkness but as soon as they did, he found himself watching as the spirit of Benjamin edged closer and closer to Megan.

There was a faint glow around Megan but the closer he got the more it was fading. “Elizabeth won't be able to hold on much longer. Do something!” Mai shouted at the older man, jolting him into action.

Whistling, he commanded his shiki to attack Benjamin, watching as he was distracted enough to turn towards them.

Glaring at them, he changed destination, approaching them. “How dare you get in my way,” Benjamin spat, glaring at Lin. “I didn't interfere with your women, so you have no right to interfere with mine.”

'Well that answers that question.' Mai thought miserably. No wonder they hadn't been attacked up until now.

But it seemed that was about to change.

Mai could feel the waves of his anger even more as he got closer, Lin's shiki not doing enough to keep him back even as she could see the effect it was having on his spiritual form.

“He doesn't care what he has to do to accomplish his goals,” she realised; voice quiet as it dawned on her just how little Benjamin cared about anything - including his own spirit.

Lin seemed to be thinking the same thing because he was getting rougher with his attacks, shiki glowing more as they made their attacks, spiritual energy pouring into them from Lin as Benjamin tried to keep them at bay.

Just as it was becoming a hopeless case, Mai heard the familiar chanting of Fudo Myo-o*** approaching.

Naumaku sanmanda bazaradankan.”

Stepping into the room, Mai could already see the difference it was having to have Bou-san chant and summoned what energy she had left to form her own hand signals and chant with him. Completing the Fudo Myo-o, she pressed forwards to form the Kuji-In**** after her own chant.

Rin, Pyo, To, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen.” The arm movements felt natural as she felt moved her arms into the nine cuts, watching as Benjamin's spirit recoils at the sudden additions to his exorcism.

Unable to continue after her first go, Mai relaxed slightly when John stepped into the room with his bible in hand, focusing on the spirit as he recited from it.

“In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.”

Finally, Benjamin's spirit let out an angry scream as it felt itself being fully drained, spirit slowly fading into nothing.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*This sentence has changed because while researching, I discovered that there is actually a term for when someone proves psi by showcasing the ability to avoid the correct answer, i.e. psi-missing. I don't actually know if it's rarer than psi-hitting (where you get statistically high results), but for the sake of this story, I've decided that it is.

** This is the Japanese name for God.

*** This is the Japanese name of the Buddhist chant that Bou-san uses in the anime.

**** This is the Japanese name for the nine cuts that Mai gets taught in the anime.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Flashback

Chapter Nine

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Tuesday, April 8th

For a moment the room was silent, a sudden calm spreading through the room as the last of Benjamin's hold over the house was severed.

As his spirit disappeared, Mai watched at the shimmering white form beside Megan slowly faded away. For a moment, Mai thought she could see a gold wash before Elizabeth completely faded from view, her spirit finally moving on now that she was no longer needed to protect anyone.

Without a thought, Mai rushed over to Megan who was lying on the ground, out cold. Evidence of the water Mai gave her being drunk was next to her, the empty bottle laying on the ground at the wall.

Kneeling down, Mai felt a wave of exhaustion come over her, forcing her to tilt forwards for a moment before she righted herself. The adrenaline triggered energy was already beginning to fade, leaving behind only tiredness.

Ignoring it for the moment, she gave Megan a quick once over, happy to see that outside of being a little cold and probably malnourished, along with her dehydration, there wasn't a scratch on her.

An irritated cough came from next her and Mai looked up only to wince slightly, and look away immediately, when she came face to face with an angry Naru.

Picking up the empty bottle of water from next to Megan, Oliver looked at it sceptically. He didn't have details over what Mai had done to get the information that she had, but he'd find out.

“I want an explanation,” he demanded.

Mai nodded in understanding as she shook Megan slightly. “As soon as we finish wrapping up, I’ll explain everything,” she promised.

Even though he wanted to push for more details, Oliver had to admit that it was better to wait until Megan was taken care of.

Beside him, John approached as Megan finally came to.

Noticing Mai, she blinked in surprise. “You're actually real?” she whispered, amazed.

The brunette smiled sweetly at the girl. “Of course. But don't worry about that for now. I think it's about time someone got you some food and water. And something warmer,” she commented.

As if only just realising how cold she was, Megan shivered.

Almost instantlyJohn pulled off his own jacket, offering it to the girl.

Smiling at him, Megan took it, wrapping herself up tightly as she was helped up.

Satisfied that the teen would be okay, Mai pushed herself up off the ground before stumbling slightly at how heavy she felt.

From next to her, Naru caught the moment she struggled and was already there as she began to fall, grabbing a hold of her arm and pulling her into his side.

“Idiot,” he growled, annoyed. If she had been so tired why didn't she just say so?

As if reading his thoughts, Mai winced a little. “Sorry, I didn't even realise how drained I was with all the adrenaline coursing through me before.”

It wasn't a complete lie. She knew that she was exhausted before she'd even attempted the warding magic earlier – just not to the extent that she'd need help to walk.

Oliver fought the urge to roll his eyes at her, wrapping his arm around her to help keep her standing as they moved. “Like I said. Idiot.”

Refusing to rise to the bait, Mai didn't respond despite the flare of anger at him, focusing instead on putting each foot in front of the other.

Soon, however, it became clear that if they continued like this then it would take all year to get back to base.

Sighing in annoyance, Oliver weighed his options. He didn't particularly care to carry Mai all the way down three flights of stairs, but he also didn't want to be here all year.

Debating his options, he rolled his eyes and gave in as he watched Mai wobble slightly despite her insistence that she could walk.

Moving his other arm, he easily placed it under the bend of her knees before Mai could realise what was happening and pulled her into a princess style hold.

Letting out a squeak of surprise, Mai's entire face flushed at the position she found herself in. “Naru! Put me down,” she growled, more at her embarrassment then out of any real anger.

Oliver gave her a pointed look and raised an eyebrow in response. “If I put you down then we'll have to continue going back to base at a snail’s pace. Even you must be able to see that this will be more efficient,” he informed.

Glaring at him, Mai huffed at his comment. “And just what is 'even you' supposed to mean, you jerk!”

Smirking at her predictable response, he smirked down at her as he reached the hallway. “If you can't figure even that much out then maybe I should put even less faith in your intelligence.”

This time Mai couldn't help but raise to the bait, squirming in his arms in an attempt to escape his hold so she could yell at him properly for being so rude.

Struggling to keep a hold of her, Oliver glared at her properly this time. “If you don't stop that I'm going to drop you,” he informed her coldly.

Glaring back, Mai pouted. “You could just put me down and let me walk,” she reminded. “And besides, you're the one that made me angry in the first place. What did you expect to happen?”

Even he had to concede that point, even if only in his head. But Oliver couldn't help it. Her reactions were always so entertaining.

“I expected you to be able to realise that it wasn't a good idea to move around when someone is carrying you so that you don't fall down the next flight of stairs from exhaustion.”

Mai pouted but conceded to his own point as she fell silent and let him do as he wanted. Like he wouldn't anyway. 'Stupid jerk.'

Feeling the fight drain from her, Oliver was satisfied as he finally made it to the bottom of the stairs.

He had almost made it to the base when Mai began to squirm in an attempt to escape his hold again.

“Would you stop that?” he asked, glaring at her again.

Mai flushed under his gaze and looked away. “But I don't want to be carried into base. I can walk on my own,” she mumbled, slightly embarrassed to admit her current predicament. It wasn't like it was the first time she'd been carried by any of the team, but this felt different. Especially after it had been so long, and Mai was fighting so hard to prove how much she'd matured and grown as a psychic. Being carried like this made her feel weak in a way she wished she didn't.

Looking down at her carefully, Oliver sighed internally. Of course, she would rather worry about things like that instead of her own health.

'So would you in her situation,' A voice in the back of his mind reminded him and for once he didn't have a valid response for it.

“Fine,” he agreed after a moment.

Carefully, he let go of Mai's legs first, gently placing her back on the ground but sticking close in case she decided to take an impromptu fall.

Focusing on steadying herself, Mai felt the tension ease from her body as she was once more back on the ground and out of Naru's warm- 'Don't think about it!'

“Stop getting lost in thought before I change my mind and decide to carry you the rest of the way,” Oliver scolded, amused by the flush of embarrassment that was quickly becoming one of anger.

“You jerk!” Mai shouted, crossing her arms as she began to walk slowly towards the base.

Focusing on putting one foot in the other without anything bad happening, it took more than twice as long as it needed to in order to get to base, though Oliver didn't say anything in a rare show of patience.

Opening the door, however, he couldn't help but wish that they'd taken even longer.

Inside the room, Madoka and Yasu were interrogating a worn-out looking Lin, Bou-san, and John without actually giving them any time to respond to the questions that they were asking.

Ayako was checking them over to make sure that there was nothing wrong outside of exhaustion.

As far out of the way as she could be, Masako sat primly, sipping quietly at a cup of tea as she perused her phone, doing her best to ignore the chaos of the room she was in. Honestly, why did she put up with these people again?

Because of the noise, no-one seemed to have noticed an incredibly annoyed Oliver and Mai standing at the door.

“If we turn around now, we could probably escape without them noticing us,” Mai muttered quietly in a hopeful voice.

Oliver didn't want to admit it, but it was a tempting offer. Sadly, however, he wanted to get this case wrapped up, so it wasn't an option to avoid – not run away, Oliver Davis doesn't run away from anything – this chaos.

Stepping into the room, he cleared his throat in an attempt to grab their attention.

Sadly, the effect he was hoping for never came and he settled for glaring harshly at them while he waited for them to realise he was in the room.

If nothing else, he was hoping to see their faces go pale when they noticed him and realised that they'd been ignoring him for their petty squabbles – not to mention wasting his time.

Mai wasn't nearly as patient as Oliver. Her head was beginning to hurt from the noise level that was in the room and Ayako was shouting at Bou-san for god-knows what all of a sudden and it was just making her exhaustion worse.

Setting her best 'Naru' glare on the room alongside him, she leant against the doorway carefully as she brought her fingers to her lips and let out a loud whistle that would – and did, though he would never mention it to her – impress Lin.

Almost instantly, the chaos fell into silence and the group looked over to see two equally unimpressed teenagers standing next to each other.

“If you are quite done causing a scene and making yourselves look like a pack of unruly children, I would like to wrap this case up,” Oliver informed them coldly

His sense of satisfaction kicked back in when he did get to see most of their faces lose colour at the sight of him.

Even Madoka seemed to realise that she was also being ridiculous because she didn't call him out on his rudeness.

“Where's Megan?” Mai asked, glancing around the room as she carefully moved towards the full couch.

John smiled and considered moving to help the girl but had a feeling it would be an unwanted assist. “She's sleeping in her room. Now that the spirit is gone, we thought it was best for her to stay in her own room. Ayako made her take some nutrient supplements and drink some more water before she let her go and she wants to do another check-up later to make sure she's healing fine,” he reported, aiming his response at both Mai and Naru.

Letting out a relieved sigh as she leant against the couch instead now, Mai smiled. “That's good.”

“In that case, I'm going to call Gwendolyn and my father and let them know that this case is solved. When I get back, I expect you all to be ready so that we can go over the events of today. I'll also require a full case report from each of your perspectives,” Oliver informed them, turning to leave the room and make his call.

There was a resounding groan at his words, but no-one made any further complaints when he tossed a glare over his shoulder before shutting the door behind himself.

Almost as soon as he was gone, the noise was back but this time it was directed at Mai.

“So, Mai, tell us what happened? Four hours alone with Lin-san and some alone time with Naru on the way back. I never knew you were so quick to move,” Yasu snickered, sending a wink her way so that there was no question about what he was alluding to.

Flushing slightly at the implications, Mai glared at her best friend as everyone else – except Lin – laughed at her expense.

Huffing, Mai crossed her arms as she glared at her best friend before her mind caught onto his words. “Wait, we were gone for four hours?” she gaped at them.

Madoka's eyebrows furrowed at her shock. “Well yeah, you didn't realise?” She inquired, curious now.

Shaking her head, Mai winced a little at the thought of Lin having to stay alone with her for four hours with nothing to do just because she needed to drag someone along with her.

“Time on the astral plane, where I was, works differently than it does on this plane. The saying 'Time is relative' really is no joke. It honestly felt like thirty minutes to me as most,” she mumbled, sending an apologetic look over at Lin.

Madoka hummed in thought at the new information. It would seem that Noll, Lin, and Martin's decision to give Mai a full-on interrogation might be for the best. This was just another of many interesting facts that the younger woman could probably give them.

A little worried by the sudden look of interest on Madoka's face, Mai began inching a little further away before catching sight of the bed. As if it was calling to her, Mai found herself moving towards it.

Before she could get too far, however, the others were asking even more questions.

“Don't change the subject anyway. What happened? You were gone for so long and then suddenly, when we were considering going up to see how you guys were doing, Naru gets a call and he's sending us up to a malicious ghost to exorcise it without warning, saying that you guys had found Megan. It was quite jarring you know,” Bou-san informs her.

“Yeah and how did you even figure that out? What were you doing astral projecting?” Ayako added on; her own eyebrows furrowed as she considered everything further.

“And then there was that glowing light surrounding Megan when we got in there, although it was gone pretty quickly. Do you know anything about it?” Bou-san continued on, even more curious about that. It was the first time he'd seen anything like it.

All of the questions were making Mai equal parts annoyed and dizzy as she focused on understanding them and considering their questions without falling over.

What strength she had built up earlier was quickly failing her and her instincts were screaming that if she didn't make it to the bed pronto, she'd be making the ground her home.

Luckily, she made it over to the bed without tripping - although it was a close call at one point - ignoring the questions as they continued to fly towards her, barely even registering them as any more than sounds at this point.

Sitting down before falling backwards, she didn't even realise that the interrogation had actually ended around the same time that she'd stopped hearing them, as Ayako noticed that something seemed off.

'm just gonna take a tiny nap and then I'll answer your questions. Promise,” Mai muttered, switching back to Japanese without conscious thought.

Even though nothing else seemed to matter in her state, her brows furrowed slightly for a moment as she considered something seemingly important.

Nobody tell Naru I took a nap. He'll get all glarey.”

There was a round of snickers around the room before Yasu responded, all worries replaced with a sense of amusement for the situation. He'd forgotten how much fun Mai was when she was half asleep.

Don't worry Mai-chan. Nobody will tell Naru,” he promised easily. After all, he wouldn't need to. There was no way she was waking up before he got back.

Standing up, Ayako made her way over to Mai and gently moved her into a more comfortable position as she gave the girl a quick once over and made sure that there wasn't anything else wrong.

She frowned at the sheer number of bruises she found but rolled her eyes as she remembered how clumsy Mai was.

Satisfied that there wasn't anything else wrong, she covered the brunette in a blanket and left her to sleep and recover. That was all they really could do.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It was an hour later when Oliver re-entered the room and, true to Yasu's earlier prediction, Mai was still out cold.

Looking around, Oliver narrowed his eyes when he didn't immediately see Mai sitting around chatting with the others or causing some other problem.

Noticing their boss’s predicament, Yasu smirked but didn't say anything. He'd promised his best friend after all.

“Welcome back big boss.” He chirped happily. “Did the calls go well?”

Stepping further into the room, he ignored the questions until he noticed that the bed off to the side in the room was occupied by a familiar body.

Ignoring the instant feeling of relief that flooded him, he took a seat next to Lin over by the monitors and turned his attention back to the room.

“The calls went fine. Gwendolyn will be returning from work in an hour or so, but her daughter and her husband will be home momentarily. They think it would be best if we spent the night and headed home tomorrow due to the late hour,” Oliver reported, irritation leaking into his tone.

He had outright refused to stay another night originally – it was only around two hours to get back to his house after all – but Gwendolyn had informed him that she'd be informing his mother if he didn't stay the night and surely he didn't want to worry her unnecessarily.

Even thinking about how she'd forced his hand made him angry.

“In light of this, I want to use what's left of the daylight productively and pack up base tonight so that we don't have to waste any more time tomorrow,” he informed them all.

As if on cue, there was a resounding collection of groans at the thought of lifting heavy equipment.

Fixing them all with a glare, he raised an eyebrow. “Is that going to be a problem?” He inquired coldly.

Gulping at his tone, Bou-san jumped up from the couch. “Nope. No problems at all Naru.” He assured easily.

Moving over to the shelves, he turned to give a thoughtful look over at the bed.

“Who should wake Mai up?” he asked, looking over at his young boss with a questioning look.

Oliver gave him a look like he was an idiot for even suggesting something so stupid. “Just let her sleep.”

'It's not like we're going to be able to wake her up in the first place. It's hard enough when she isn't exhausted let alone when she is,' he reasoned.

Satisfied with the logical response he'd formed for his own peace of mind, he glared when he saw that no-one had moved any further since he'd spoken.

“Are you going to stand there all night looking like idiots or do your job?” Oliver demanded coldly, glaring at them. “If you don't make a move on, you'll be carrying equipment in the dark.”

Snapping to attention, there was a chorus of various “Yes Naru!” from around the room before everyone jumped into action.

Ayako and Masako shot an envious look over at the bed where Mai was still sleeping away, completely unaware of their gazes.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai groaned slightly as she turned over on the soft mattress, her mind slowly coming too as she registered her surroundings.

Staring blankly at the wall she was now facing, her eyebrows furrowed. 'How did I get here?'

Thinking back over the events from earlier, the brunette groaned when she realised that she'd fallen asleep in the end.

Rolling over, Mai blinked at the darkness in the room and lack of equipment. They'd packed everything up already?

Pushing herself up slowly from the bed, Mai winced at the exhaustion she could still feel in her bones. Her sleep had made her more exhausted then she'd felt earlier.

Just as she was considering laying back down and going back to sleep, her stomach grumbled.

Now that she thought about it, she'd missed a lot of meals already today, hadn't she?

Sighing, she flopped back as she considered her options. Food or sleep?

A ridiculous thought came to mind making her giggle slightly at the prospect. 'How is it that this feels like the hardest decision of my life all of a sudden?' she wondered, rolling her eyes at her own silliness.

When her stomach growled at her again, the teen sighed. Apparently, she didn't need to think so hard after all.

Forcing herself back up, Mai slowly crept across the room, careful not to trip over anything in the dim light of the room before she reached the door.

Pulling it open quietly, she blinked a little at the slight change in brightness, but otherwise frowned a little when she didn't see any of the others sitting around.

Walking over to the lounge where she'd been expecting to see then hanging around, Mai felt her eyes widen when she caught sight of a digital clock that displayed the time. 'When did it become midnight?!'

It made sense why no-one was awake at least – even if she was a little shocked that Lin and Naru weren't still sitting around and working considering what they were like.

Shaking her head, Mai made her way over to the kitchen, careful not to hit anything on her way past.

Seeing the light switches off to the side, she made a beeline for them and sighed in relief when they came to life and she no longer had to walk around half blind.

Walking over to the counter, she checked there was water in the electric kettle before flicking it on to boil.

Sighing, Mai glared at the mugs as she reached up, fingers brushing gently against the cool surface of one as she struggled slightly before finally managing to grab one of the handles and pull it down.

Luckily, the tea was on a shelf below it, so Mai quickly grabbed the ready-made earl grey tea bags, pulling one out for herself before replacing it and reaching for the sugar.

Gently placing it on the counter next to her cup, she let the familiar movements sooth her exhausted mind. Even though in the past, the thought of making tea had made her angry, it now soothed her worries and she found it to be rather calming. Maybe that had something to do with her little shop in Tokyo? Or maybe it was just because she'd gotten used to using tea as a calming method whenever something was bothering her?

Lost in thought over the possible reasons for her change of heart, she didn't notice as someone walked up behind her before they were around a half a metre away.

“Make me a cup too.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Ten

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Wednesday, April 10th (Just After Midnight)

Jumping in surprise, Mai turned around faster than anything, arms raised like she was ready for an attack. If it weren't for her years of ghost hunting, she probably would have screamed in surprise at the interruption.

Upon realising who it was, Mai felt anger more than anything else.

“Naru, make some noise when you move,” she hissed at him, glaring at the smug look that was on his face.

Oliver couldn't help his smirk. When he'd noticed Mai was finally up and about, he had been about to make a request for tea, but she hadn't seemed to notice his presence yet. Then he'd considered what her face would look like if he surprised her and he couldn't help himself.

It was childish and if anyone else was around then he would've squashed the urge like a bug; he opted not to consider why it was okay if Mai saw him being childish.

Then she'd gone and gotten lost in thought and it was a perfect opportunity. Any hope of squashing his urge fled along with what he assumed was the small amount of sanity he had left after spending an entire night dealing with the old SPR team. It would seem he'd forgotten just how irritating they used to be – and evidently how irritating they could still be.

Seeing the slight mischievous twinkle that had taken place in Naru's eyes, Mai narrowed her eyes and pouted, attempting not to give him any further ammunition.

Not that he really needed her to do that, he seemed to come up with some from the most normal of situations without any help on her part.

Still, it was nice to see something other than the coldness that he usually portrayed in his eyes. It made her think back to the fake smile he'd given her and her friends the first time that they'd met and how cold his eyes had been then.

And then that thought led her towards the time that he'd smiled at her after the case at Kasai's school.

Flushing at the memory, she turned away from Naru abruptly.

Curious as to what thoughts had made Mai flush like that, he felt a twinge of something at the thought that she might no longer be thinking of him.

As if on automatic, he reached up over the brunette to grab a mug down for the tea that he'd requested (read: demanded) from her.

Giving him a confused look at the unexpected display – although if she thought about it, he'd done the same thing earlier hadn't he? - she moved to fill that mug with water as well.

“As amusing as it was to watch you struggle with your own mug earlier, I’d rather you not accidentally knock them down and wake everyone,” he informed her, at the look of confusion he'd been given, smirking.

Blushing for a different reason now, Mai huffed. Just how long had Naru been standing there in the first place?

“Since just after you left the room you were in,” Naru informed simply, enjoying the reactions he was getting as he ignored the smug feeling he got when considering that her attention was a hundred percent back on him.

Oops, had she asked that aloud?

“Yes, you did. If you continue talking out loud when you're trying to think inside your head, I might have to reconsider whether you were lying about your entrance into Cambridge,” he teased.

Turning to him, Mai wanted to glare at him, but she couldn't help but feel like he wasn't wrong. Without meaning to, Naru had hit a sore spot that she'd been struggling with ever since she'd even started planning the entrance paper that she wrote in order to get into Cambridge. From the beginning she'd worried about whether they would take her. After all, even though she'd studied hard to get to where she is now, she'd also missed a lot of school for various reasons. Maybe she wasn't ready for university yet. Maybe it would have been better if she'd just stuck to her original level of work and focused on living a more normal life instead of following her dreams so early on.

Sensing that Mai was no longer with him, Oliver frowned at the somewhat sad look that was on the brunette's features. He'd been trying to get his usual rise out of her, baiting her in the same way that he usually did.

An unpleasant feeling formed in his stomach at the thought that something that he'd said had caused her expression to change like that. 'Idiot. You couldn't at least wait until she'd fully recovered before causing her emotional distress?' he scolded himself.

How the hell was he supposed to deal with this situation anyway? Emotions were Gene's speciality. Oliver had made it his life mission to avoid them with a passion.

Shaking herself from her stupor, Mai turned back to the tea and finished preparing it before handing one to Naru.

If she hadn't been so distracted, she would have immediately noticed the conflicted look on his face. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view) for Naru, Mai was still too preoccupied with her thoughts.

Not quite ready to go back to bed just yet, all hunger now wiped from her mind, Mai moved towards the couch. Sitting down, she inhaled the smell of the tea and couldn't help her small smile at the comforting scent.

A tentative sip a moment later and she was feeling slightly better – even if her doubts about Cambridge were still bouncing around her head once more.

Following after her, Oliver was still at odds with himself; trying to decide what to do as he took a seat in the recliner to the couch's left, sipping at his own cup.

Unsure of what to say in order to break the silence that had fallen between them (ruining the earlier mood), Naru continued to think about what he could have said to upset Mai.

Thankfully, he didn't have to worry for too long before Mai broke the silence on her own.

“Do- do you think that it might actually be true?” she asked, voice quiet and vulnerable sounding.

Oliver frowned in response. “What might be true?”

“That I'm not ready for Cambridge. That I won't be good enough,” she elaborated, finally looking up from her tea to make eye contact with him, her eyes just as vulnerable.

Swallowing thickly, her expression suddenly made so much more sense to him.

'Gene's right. I'm such an idiot scientist,' he thought, scolding himself for his careless choice of words earlier.

Thinking about how to word his response, he couldn't help but sigh.

Mai took his silence and then sigh as answer enough. Of course she wasn't ready. How had she managed to delude herself into thinking that she was?

“You're right, I'm an idiot. Of course I'm not ready for Cambridge. Who knows if I'll ever be ready?”

Shaking himself from his thoughts, his head snapped to where Mai was looking down at her lap again.

“Now you're actually being an idiot.”

Wincing internally at himself, he was shocked when that got Mai to look up in surprise.

“Wha-”

“I said you're being an idiot. If you weren't ready for Cambridge, then you never would have made it in,” he informed her simply, stating the facts. It was harsh, but he's never known himself to be anything less.

“But-”

“No. Did you study hard?”

“Of course I did!” Mai cried out indignantly.

“Did you write up an entrance paper, that got the department of parapsychology's – in particular my father's – attention and give them enough of a reason to admit you to Cambridge, filled with scientific facts and statements that you built off with, what I'm assuming would be, real world experience?” Oliver continued.

“Of course, but-”

“And did my father and the rest of the board decide to admit you based on these results?”

“Yes, but-”

Oliver let out an annoyed sound as he glared slightly at Mai. “Then what are you worried for? If the people in charge of your scholarship thought you were ready, then what's the problem?”

Glaring back at him, Mai pouted slightly. She could understand where he was coming from but somehow, she still felt a little bit of doubt at her preparedness.

Rolling his eyes at the expression on her face, Oliver sighed. “Mai, let me ask you this. Are you worried because you think that you lack the knowledge to compete with the other students at Cambridge, or are you worried that you're going to fail in the end despite your efforts, and when you get back to Japan everyone will be disappointed in you?”

Mai considered the question for a moment, understanding where Naru was coming from. Were her doubts because of her worries about leaving Japan or because she hadn't studied enough.

“Both... I think,” she admitted quietly.

“I agree. I think that most of your worries stem from your concern that you won't measure up and when that happens, the people around you will leave you or condemn you for not trying hard enough or for failing to understand the situation,” Oliver explained.

Mai nodded in understanding, ignoring the feeling of warmth that spread through her at the thought that Naru knew her so well, even after it had been so long.

“It's an unfounded worry,” he informed her.

Mai's head snapped up at that. “Huh?”

Rolling his eyes, Oliver sighed. “Firstly, if you're worried about a lack of knowledge you'll be happy to know that given your real-life experience with ghost hunting, you actually have a better understanding of everything then most of the other students do. Additionally, do you really think that my mother would forgive Lin, Madoka, my father, or myself if you were having trouble and we didn't help you to better understand the material you receive in class – not that I think it'll be an issue – and we didn't help you pass?” he pointed out. “Secondly, there's no way that if anything happened, any of those idiots that you consider your family would leave you. You'll probably be stuck with them for the rest of your life.”

Mai couldn't help but giggle a little at the tone of voice Naru used at the end, the warm feeling spreading through her body.

This wasn't the first time that she'd confessed her concerns about Cambridge, but it was the first time that she'd actually felt like her worries were being put to rest.

“Does that mean that you'll help me study before term starts up?” Mai asked, looking over hopefully.

Oliver rolled his eyes at her but couldn't help the small smile that wanted to appear on his face at her request.

She could've asked any of the people he'd listed for help – not to mention Yasuhara - and all of them would've been glad to help her out. Instead she'd chosen to ask him.

“I suppose I might be able to make time in my busy schedule.”

Mai pouted at his response. “Narcissist.”

Pushing up from the couch and moving to put his mug in the sink for later he smirked at her response. There was the Mai he knew.

“Go to bed Mai. We leave early tomorrow,” he informed her as he walked towards the hallway to return to his own room.

Unwilling to ruin the moment, Mai smiled as he walked away. “Night Naru.”

Once he was out of sight, the brunette set about washing up her and Naru's mugs. After setting them up to dry, she dried her hands and started her way back to the bed that was in base – not wanting to wake the other girls by going back to their room instead.

It wasn't until she hit the mattress again when she recalled her earlier hunger, by then too tired to care.

'Stupid distracting Naru.'

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Even though she'd slept for so long before waking at midnight, Mai had no issues sleeping through until six in the morning when she found herself being woken by Ayako.

Groaning slightly, she blinked the sleep out of her eyes as she turned to the priestess. “Morning already?” She couldn't help but whine, getting an unimpressed look from her friend.

“Hurry up and get ready to go. I brought you your bag so just get changed and make sure you have everything. Naru wants to leave within the hour and if you have any hope of getting breakfast you'll want to move fast,” she informed Mai.

Sighing, Mai waited until the door clicked shut behind Ayako before getting up and changing into a clean pair of jeans and a new long-sleeved shirt. Throwing a jumper on over top, Mai double checked her bag to make sure everything was still in there, before swinging it over her shoulder and stepping outside the room.

“Morning,” she greeted as she took a seat at the table, mouth watering at the sight of food, all hunger from last night returning two-fold. The spread wasn't much in comparison to the banquet they'd had before leaving the Davis', but after skipping lunch and dinner the sight of various cereals and toast with various spreads was more than enough for her.

Bou-san laughed slightly as he watched Mai immediately fill a bowl with some corn flakes and top them with milk, barely waiting until she replaced the carton of milk before she started shovelling it into her mouth.

“Calm down Mai. The food isn't going anywhere and if you keep going like that, you'll just end up choking,” he warned her.

Pouting slightly, Mai wanted to argue but she knew that he was right.

Slowing down to eat a more normal pace, she flushed at the amused look Naru was sending her.

Huffing, she turned back to her food, ignoring him.

After that, breakfast passed in relative silence, everybody still a little tired after being woken so early and a little under an hour later, they were waving goodbye to Gwendolyn as they left the manor behind.

Sighing, Mai stared out of the window for a moment longer, lamenting her own luck. How had she been the one to end up with the two silent members of their team again. Naru hadn't even made any demands this time around, Yasu had just pushed her towards the van and told her to “have fun” while he got in and shut the door to the other van.

Not for the first time, Mai wondered why exactly she considered Yasu her best friend.

Shaking herself from her disappointment, she tried to look on the bright side. The silence was a nice change. She could appreciate that.

And she did.

For about twenty minutes.

In all honesty both Lin and Naru were both impressed that she'd made it that long before interrupting their silence.

“Naru.”

Said man ignored her easily.

“Naaaaaru.”

His eyebrow twitched.

“Naruuuuuuu,” Mai whined, pulling out the most annoying voice she could manage.

Wincing at the decibel of it, Lin glared over at his charge.

'Just answer her so she'll stop,' he thought.

Oliver glared right back before giving in.

“What do you want Mai?” he demanded; patience short.

Mai pouted at his tone. He'd been much nicer last night, she noted.

“I'm bored,” she informed him unnecessarily.

Oliver rolled his eyes. Obviously. “What do you want me to do about it? Read a book or something,” he suggested.

Mai blinked at him before tilting her head. “I don't have any books to read,” she stressed.

Looking at the bag at his feet, Oliver ran through a mental list of the books he had on hand before reaching down to grab one that he thought would interest her.

“Here, now be quiet.”

Mai grinned as she took the book from him, glancing down at the title. Journeys Out of the Body: The classic work on out-of-body experiences by Robert A. Monroe*. She'd heard of it, but she hadn't had a chance to go to the library and try and find a copy.

“Thanks, Naru,” she chirped, before settling in to read.

The rest of the ride was blissfully silent.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Pulling up at the Davis' manor, once more Mai couldn't help but be in awe of the building for a moment despite having already spent the night inside it once.

Stepping out of the van, she breathed deeply, enjoying the calmness of the area. After how tightly she'd had to keep her senses during the previous case, it was a relief to be able to just let go and not worry about it.

Now that she was standing here again, she could practically see the difference between the area surrounding the Baker's manor and this one. The peace here was almost ten-fold.

“Earth to Mai,” Oliver said, trying to get the brunette's attention a second time.

He would have rolled his eyes at her but there was something about the expression on her face in that moment that made him reluctant to break her trance, let alone scold her for spacing out.

Now that he thought about it, hadn't she had a similar reaction when they'd gotten here the first time?

Thinking back a couple days, he remembered glancing over to see her with a similar expression on her face that time as well.

Curious. He would definitely need to ask her about that as well when he got the chance.

Breaking out of her stupor finally, Mai glanced behind herself to see an impatient looking Lin and Naru.

Flushing when she realised that she'd been holding them up, she smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. Are we going inside?” She asked.

As if on cue, the front doors both swung open to reveal Luella.

“Noll, Lin, Mai! Welcome back! Where are the others?” she inquired; voice cheerful.

“They had to stop for fuel on the way home, so they'll be a little longer yet,” Oliver informed her, inwardly sighing at his mother's peppy nature.

At least he'd gotten relative silence for most of the trip here, so he was prepared to deal with his mother being over-bearing for the rest of the afternoon.

“Well in that case, come on inside ahead of them. Martin is practically a child with how excited he is to hear about everything that happened on this case. I don't know what you told him over the phone, Noll, but he's barely been able to contain himself since your call last night. It was a nightmare to get him to put down whatever paranormal nonsense he was reading and come to bed.”

Luella's tone gave away what exactly she thought about that particular issue.

Oliver wanted to sigh at the over-reaction. He hadn't even told his father anything exciting since he didn't have too many details when he called. In fact, he still didn't have all the details – something that was slowly beginning to annoy him further. He was in charge of the case so why was it that he was so out of the loop?

They'd had their report round up last night, but he hadn't wanted to wake Mai when she clearly needed the rest so apart from the information that Lin knew, he was flying blind.

It was a feeling - he was discovering - he really detested.

Trailing after his mother, the three of them found themselves in the same lounge that they'd relaxed in after dinner the first night that the team had stayed here.

Taking a seat while Luella turned and left the room (citing that she had no interest in whatever case information they wanted to mull over), he wanted to roll his eyes at the fact that his mother hadn't been exaggerating. His father looked ready to jump out of his seat at any moment and demand answers from Mai if she didn't disclose everything that had happened.

“Welcome home. Sit, sit. Tell me everything.”

Mai wasn't really sure what to do other than follow suit and take a seat in the same spot that she'd claimed the first time she was in this room.

It wasn't that she didn't know how to deal with excitable men – between Bou-san and Yasu she had her work cut out for herself most of the time – but seeing her future professor and the man who had been nothing short of a complete business man turned into something akin to a child about to hear a great bedtime story, she wasn't exactly sure how to approach the situation.

Seeing her hesitation, Oliver sighed. “If you insist on debriefing before the others have arrived, then perhaps we should mention what we already know and go from there,” he suggested. Considering her unconscious state, there was no-way she was sure of what exactly they'd already gone over, and he'd rather avoid going over information they already knew.

Mai nodded. “That would help. I'm not sure where to start from but I'll add in when I can,” she agreed easily, thankful for his input.

Martin nodded. “Alright.”

Pulling out his black notebook, Naru glanced down at his notes despite not needing them to remember everything. It was more out of habit than anything else.

“So, on arrival there was a distinct lack of activity outside of the emotions that you mentioned feeling when you got into the house and let your walls down,” Oliver noted, glancing over at Mai for her to confirm this.

“Yes. When I let my walls down was the only time I could really sense much in the way of anything, but the emotions in that house were stifling,” she confirmed easily.

Martin took note of this to ask more about later, his own notebook like Noll's appearing as he started to jot down the things he had questions about.

“Because the men were with the women the entire time outside of sleeping, none of them were touched by the spirit, and since none of the household's women were around during the daytime, there was no activity. However, when you and Masako were walking around, she mentioned feeling the angry spirit as well as another one that we now know was the mother who was concealing herself and felt protective,” Naru continued.

Mai hummed a little as she recalled the conversation they'd had but didn't add anything to it. There was nothing to add really. If there had of been, they would have said so at the time.

At her silence, Oliver continued on. “After that, the night passed quietly and then out of no-where the next day, you decided to run off without explaining what you were going to do. We sat around for four hours with only the camera feed as proof that you were okay. Then, we watched you finally get up and start talking with Lin. Suddenly, I had a phone call about Megan's location and was informed that the spirit was about to make its move on her.”

There was a level of coldness in his voice when he explained this part of the story that made Mai wince.

Luckily, Martin didn't seem to notice the change in tone (or if he did, he didn't comment on it) as he made a couple more notes in his notebook and turned to Mai to hear her side of the story from this point. In all honesty, this is what he'd been waiting on.

Swallowing a little, Mai organised her thoughts to the best of her ability as she started her own recollection. “When we were sitting around, I was frustrated that Megan was in danger and I was thinking about what I could do to try and speed up our progress and maybe get something to Megan to help keep her alive. I remembered that on a couple of occasions, such as with Masako on the Urado case, I've been able to astral project on this plane of existence and when I do, I can actually give items to people. With Masako she got my lucky key, and I was hoping that if that was the case then I could give Megan water,” she explained. “I also thought that I might be able to get some clues as to where she was so that we could get to her.”

Martin and Oliver both made notes about this, corroborating this information with what they knew so far while Mai continued.

“Sometimes it is hard to find a specific plane of existence; and even then, it can also be hard to locate someone. So, I took Lin to Megan's room because if I spend time surrounded by their residual energy before I astral project, it can give me something to focus on and that makes it easier to find someone. It's not a very solid plan, I’ve only managed to do it a couple times since I've started experimenting with options, so I wasn't even sure it would work.”

“You still should have mentioned something before you left so that I knew what you were attempting to do.” Oliver cut in, an irritated look on his face.

Mai shook her head. “If I had mentioned it then there would have been a certain expectation that I manage it this time around, and that would have made me nervous. Being nervous would have made it harder to astral project and then it probably wouldn't have worked,” she informed him simply. “Besides, I told you, didn't I? It would take too long to explain, and we didn't have all the time in the world.”

Glaring at her, Oliver didn't speak on it anymore but resolved himself to lecture her later on.

“As you are aware though, it did work, and I managed to make it to Megan and give her the water to keep her hydrated until we could get to her. I took note of my surroundings to be able to tell you guys where to get to her and then I communicated with Elizabeth who was guarding Megan to keep her safe. She told me that he was coming; so, I forced myself back to my body and you should know the rest,” Mai finished off.

There was silence in the room for a moment while the three men thought over what they'd been told and debated over their new information. However, before any more questions could be asked, there was the sound of loud laughter and footsteps just down the hall.

Oliver scowled. There went his quiet.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*This is a real book title and as such I claim no rights over it. In fact, most – if not all – of the titles I use in this story will be real books (not that I’ve read any of them because I’d have to find a PDF version and that's practically impossible). I am doing a substantial amount of studying on various subjects surrounding parapsychology and psychology for this story (and my own curiosity). On that note, if you guys have any good sources then I'd love to know about them!

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Eleven

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Wednesday, April 10th

As the door swung open and Madoka stepped into the room, followed closely by Ayako and then the others, she grinned brightly at them all; completely uncaring of the look on Noll's face, opting to address Martin.

“So, what did I miss?” she inquired as she took a seat on the couch to Mai's right, placing herself directly next to Lin's recliner leaving the others to figure out where to sit. Yasu immediately took a spot on Mai's other side.

It didn't take long for Martin to catch them up, Yasu paying particular attention so that he could make adjustments and add more notes to what he already had saved on Mai's abilities.

“Wah, my Jou-chan is so amazing,” Bou-san cheered from his spot on a different couch making Mai flush.

Stupid Monk. Was he pretending to be a 'soccer mum' or something?

Oliver rolled his eyes at the show, smirking at the embarrassment on Mai's face. Despite the way he was going about things, Takigawa had a good point. Mai's abilities were rather well developed at this point and more than a little interesting. Perhaps he should write a book on them?

It was definitely something to consider asking her about at a later point in time.

He could add that to his mental list that seemed to have doubled in length since Mai (and the rest of JSPR) had come to England.

Thinking about his list, maybe it was time to wipe a couple of those things off. Before Oliver could even get a word out on the subject of Mai's abilities, and the full page of questions he had about them, Martin beat him to it.

“Since we have the time now, perhaps you can give us a better run down of your abilities. And I have some questions for you about your entrance paper for the scholarship program as well if you wouldn't mind,” he inquired.

Mai smiled at him. “Of course not. I'll answer as many questions as I can to the best of my ability, within reason,” she assured him.

Martin nodded back at her. “In that case, we can start with the energy sensing that you mentioned earlier that you used on the case. It wasn't mentioned when we spoke about your abilities before the case, and after finding out that you were the one who took our scholarship, I looked up your entrance paper; I couldn't help but think that this was a major ability to leave out,” he commented. “What can you tell me about it?”

This caught Oliver's attention. He hadn't had a chance to read the entrance papers by the students – honestly he wasn't going to put too much stock in something someone wrote with no background of proper parapsychological study and simply decided that he would get to them at a later date – so he wasn't sure what his father was talking about. But if it gave him a better understanding of Mai's abilities then he would have to read it soon.

(As if he hadn't already planned on it.)

Tilting her head, Mai hummed in acknowledgement of the question as she took a moment to put her understanding of her abilities into an acceptable English sentence.

“I left energy sensing out of my last explanation because of how much there is to explain on its subject. If you re-call, I mentioned that I was too tired to do much justice to some of my ability’s explanations? This is probably the main one,” she explained. “Energy sensing is the term I use for when I read the aura of different objects. It runs along the same vein as aura reading for me, an ability that I have become quite good with – at least according to my sensei. I define the difference between them based on whether I have a living person in front of me for the aura to attach to, or if it's just left-over energy from the auras that form a fingerprint of sorts on different places and objects.”

Martin nodded, making various notes in his notebook while Oliver quickly jotted down Mai's definitions for later reference, since these were terms that she used personally, and unlikely to be the official terms he could look up.

There were some similarities, he noted, between emotional psychometry and her energy sensing. Another thing to look into and add to his list.

“What does energy sensing usually entail? How do you do it and how does it help in real world situations?” Martin inquired after a moment; curiosity peaked.

Biting her lip, Mai debated over that for a moment. “It's not really something I can explain doing but I guess it's similar to how a medium senses a spirit?” She offered, looking over at Masako for her agreement or disagreement, knowing that the girl had been with her enough in that situation to understand what she meant.

Masako nodded, her kimono coming up to cover her mouth. “Indeed, Mai is correct. What she's termed “energy sensing” is one of the main parts of being a medium. It involves opening yourself up to the emotions of the spirit and letting their intentions and emotions wash over you. That is more than enough for a basic reading. And then, just like with a medium, it is possible to learn to look for something specific or focus on a singular area or object to get a more detailed reading.”

More notes were taken down as Mai took over the explanation again, smiling at her friend for her help.

“Right. So mostly I just relax and let the energies flow over me while keeping calm, so I don't taint what the spirit or person has felt. Unlike how a medium is limited to just a spirit’s emotions and feelings that are more centralised in the past, or that the spirit is experiencing in that moment, it's much easier for me to sense something more recent and I can sense emotions left behind by those who are alive as well.

“If I can sense things from long ago then it's usually because of the sheer power of the emotions. The more strongly I feel it, the more the person who experienced that emotion in the past felt it. If their ghost is still present this is doubly true, as was the case this time around, because I can sense their past emotions and the emotions they are still experiencing after death.”

“And their application in the field?” Martin prodded, no longer looking up and instead permanently fixed on his note taking.

The thought that he looked a lot like how Mai imagined herself and Yasu would be soon made her want to giggle before she refocused.

“Right. It gives me an accurate reading of the emotions of a person, not just a spirit, which allows for the creation of questions that are more suited; such as “how or why did these emotions come into play”. It's also useful for a Jourei style exorcism*. It can also be used like I did yesterday in order to find people or other beings as long as I have enough of their energy memorised and focus on it enough,” she informed.

Martin nodded in understanding. “And having tested this on case with witnesses gives some extra credibility to your words, although it would have been better if I could have seen it in person,” he muttered excitedly.

Mai chose not to grace that with a response. She could understand the desire but at the moment, she wasn't sure if experimentation was really her goal with her abilities. It was something to consider for later on in the year, she supposed.

Before the questions could pick back up, there was a quiet knock at the door before Luella let herself into the room. “It's time for lunch,” she proclaimed.

Looking down at his watch, Martin blinked in surprise. “Where did the time go?” he commented. “We'll just have to pick this back up later.”

Luella gave him an unimpressed look. “You better be thinking of much later. I've left you to monopolise them all morning but surely it can't hurt to give them a break this afternoon and let them do some sightseeing.”

Grinning at her best friend, Madoka bounced up off the couch. “Of course. There will be plenty of time after dinner to focus more on things like this, and Mai's going to be around for the foreseeable future so you can just focus on thinking up more questions for her until then,” she agreed.

Oliver wanted to growl in annoyance. Between Madoka and Luella, there was no way any more work or research would be done with the rest of JSPR today. At least it would give him a chance to locate Mai's entrance paper and give in a few reads over so that he had more questions next time and wouldn't be as in the dark seeing as the others all looked as if they'd read it.

Trailing after everyone slowly, he sighed as he sat down in what had essentially become 'his' seat at this point, watching as everyone else did the same thing.

Luella smiled at them all as they started digging into the lunch that was spread on the table; various sandwiches, cut up fruits, and pitchers of juice and water placed strategically for everyone to grab.

“So. Which places were you guys thinking of looking at while you were here? Are there any particular sights you really want to see?” she inquired.

Bou-san grinned. “Big Ben!” he cheered.

Ayako rolled her eyes at his enthusiasm but refrained from taking aim at his head, just this once, feeling soft at the childlike glee he was exhibiting.

Smiling kindly, Luella nodded at him. “Of course. Big Ben is a classic must. Is there anywhere else is particular?”

John smiled at her. “I'd like to go to the Cathedral,” he piped up shyly.

Smirking slightly, Yasu looked over at the monk. “I would love the chance to ride the London Eye. With my beloved Bou-san, of course. Just imagine the romance,” he sighed, putting on his best love-struck look and wasn't disappointed by the disgusted face Bou-san pulled in response.

Mai laughed at her friend. “I think maybe you should leave the romantic ride on the London Eye with Bou-san to Ayako.”

Clutching his heart dramatically, he turned to his best friend looking crest fallen. “But Mai-chan, can't you imagine the chance? Until now he's refused to admit his love for me, for fear of retribution from those around us. But away from prying eyes and ears, we can finally be free to profess our love without ridicule.” He exclaimed.

From across the table, Martin looked like he was unsure of how to take this development, looking between the older male and Yasu in confusion and then over to Ayako who was looking more and more angry.

Mai rolled her eyes at her friend. “Yasu, if you leave them be then you can ride together with me,” she offered before putting on her best unsure look, making herself as pitiful as possible. “Unless, of course, you don't want to ride with me?”

Looking at her, Yasu felt himself cave even though he knew it was just an act. “Fine. You'll probably be better company anyway. Just don't think of confessing to me at the top. I only have room for one true love,” he informed her with the most serious look he could muster.

Oliver eyed them sceptically, eyes narrowed slightly as he listened to them converse. Everyone else seemed to find the current situation amusing but there was something about it that made his chest clench tightly and his anger rise.

Ignoring his emotions, he turned back to his food trying his best not to think of Mai and Yasuhara in the same sentence, especially in relation to any confessions.

'Why does it matter? They're just joking around like always,' he thought to himself. And yet, knowing this didn't change the situation.

Part of him was tempted to go on this sightseeing excursion to, to, to do what?

Just what would he do?

This was ridiculous and exactly the reason why he avoided emotions. They were messy, confusing, and a hindrance to his thought process. Sightseeing would be a waste of an afternoon where he could be getting work done instead.

As if sensing his inner turmoil, Madoka looked over at him from her spot.

“How about it, Noll?”

Oliver looked over at her in irritation. “How about what?”

The pink-haired woman rolled her eyes at his tone. “Koujo and Martin have both agreed to come along today. We were thinking of going to dinner after we've seen some of the sights. You'll come as well, won't you?”

The way it was phrased made it seem like a question, but Oliver narrowed his eyes at her because it was clearly a thinly veiled demand.

“I would much rather spend the afternoon doing something more practical,” he insisted.

Luella looked over at him and he already knew he'd lost by the expression on her face.

“Surely the work isn't so urgent that it needs to be done this afternoon? You've just gotten back from a case that finished up earlier than expected, and your old team from Japan is only here for another week. It'll be a while before you see most of them after that.”

Her voice was both imploring and scolding at the same time as she watched her son carefully.

Letting out an inaudible sigh, Oliver nodded in agreement. “Very well. However, if we're sightseeing, we're going to the National History Museum.”

If he was going to spend the afternoon out, he may as well go somewhere that he can stand.

However, when Luella smiled widely at him, he couldn't bring himself to hold too much of a grudge against her request.

“Of course, one afternoon isn't enough for even close to most of the sights that London has to offer, so we'll have to dedicate tomorrow to seeing more things without Lin, Noll, and Martin's valuable company.” Luella mused, already planning out some of the other sights that they would have to fit in for the group before they left.

Madoka nodded in agreement. “Well, how about we just go and see what we can fit in this afternoon and we'll go from there.”

Martin didn't even bother to contest that Madoka should also be heading into work, already realising it'd be an effort in futility. His favourite worker deserved a break every now and then anyway.

As everyone made varying sounds of agreement with those plans, they finished up with lunch and agreed to take a moment to set themselves back up in the rooms they'd stayed in the first night they'd been at the Davis' manor and meet up again in the front of the manor later on.

Watching her family file out of the room, Mai glanced at Naru nervously.

Catching the look on her face, he sighed. “You've forgotten where your room is, haven't you?”

Flushing pink Mai crossed her arms and puffed her cheeks out slightly. “I can't help it if this place is so big!” she defended weakly.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “Come on idiot,” he muttered, grabbing her bag from the floor next to where the brunette had been sitting before moving out of the room.

There was a sense of deja vu as Mai found herself running after him yet again, a little more resigned then irritated at this point; until she realised that he was carrying her bag. Without being asked to. The feelings of confusion and amazement were strong, before she shook them aside, and her irritation took over once more.

Madoka watched the interaction between the two from her seat next to Luella for a moment, before looking over at her friend, slightly shocked.

Luella seemed to have the same sentiment as she watched the openness her son conducted himself with when it came to the young woman. “Was that really Noll?” She asked softly, a sense of disbelief obvious in her tone.

After nodding her head, Madoka then shook it as if shaking away her own disbelief. “I don't know why this is such a surprise. Noll always was kind to her.” She pointed out. “We even saw it the other night.”

The blonde hummed but didn't look quite so convinced. “I know, we all saw how they interacted but doing something nice like picking up her bag without being prompted...” she trailed off.

Madoka snorted at her comment. “It's not like he did it without a Noll-like flourish,” she pointed out.

At that, Luella couldn't help but laugh in agreement as she stood from her seat to get herself ready for their outing. “I guess you're right. We'll just have to wait and see how things go for them. I've never seen Noll like this so if nothing else, things are proving to be interesting.”

From near their respective women, Lin and Martin shared a look and silently promised themselves that they wouldn't get involved in anything as they exited the room.

It was going to be a long day. Or more likely, a long few years.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

The rest of the day flew by as they hit all of the promised locations, Mai smiling widely as she took picture after picture of her family, commemorating their first proper trip together.

There was a certain kind of warmth running through her that made her feel like she was floating in a dream; happiness being something that even after so long, she was still getting used to.

When Naru and Lin had left Japan, things had seemed a little hopeless for a while. Even though she still saw everyone regularly, there was something missing. For a while she'd had no real drive for anything. When she'd started the cafe, it was like she finally had something she wanted to put her effort and time into, a passion to work towards. But even then, she hadn't been sure that it was what she wanted for the rest of her life. It was better than any other available job she’d had, and she made a reasonable amount with it being a fairly popular place these days. It had been the greatest present anyone had ever given her but there was still something missing.

When they'd all started taking cases once again, she knew that she was missing the excitement. She missed chasing ghosts and helping people. It was around then that Yasu mentioned he was switching his major and applying for Cambridge. He hadn't pushed her to apply as well, but Mai knew the moment he'd said it that it was what she wanted also.

So, with his help, she'd studied hard to get her grades up from decent to exceptional and worked hard on coming up with an interesting entrance paper, as well as did her best to appear impressive in an interview, all while knowing that her chances were slim.

When the letter of acceptance had come in originally, Mai hadn't known what to do. She'd called Yasu and made him come over to double check she wasn't imagining things. When he'd confirmed it, she hadn't known how to feel. She was excited of course, but a part of her threw images of the boy she'd fallen in love with and she'd worried a little over seeing him again.

The way they'd left had been sudden and without much closure, so she wasn't sure how things were going to go. And she'd known they'd see them again. Her instincts had made that much clear.

Looking at her family in front of her now though, she couldn't be happier to have them all together again, even if Lin was as silent as always, dragged along by an enthusiastic Madoka; and even if Naru spent more time glaring at their group then actually looking at the sights that he'd probably never been excited to see and is even less excited to see for the millionth time.

As she continued to muse over the past year, she shrieked a little in surprise when she felt someone push her lightly in the back making her stumble a little.

Whipping around to see who it was, she glared angrily at Naru's smirking face. “Naru! What was that for?” She demanded angrily, cheeks flushing with heat.

Oliver rolled his eyes at her predictable response, still mildly amused by her reaction to his light touch.

“You've been staring off into space for the past fifteen minutes. We're leaving to go to dinner before they go to ride the London Eye,” he informed her with his best 'you're an idiot' look.

Huffing at his look, Mai looked away pouting a little, cheeks flushed for a completely different reason now.

Looking around for a moment, she realised that Naru was right. Everyone had already moved on from where they'd been admiring the Cathedral and started back towards the van.

Seeing how they all looked from here, Mai smiled a little, bringing her phone up and capturing the image of them all.

It was a cute picture; Martin had his arm around Luella's waist, Madoka and Lin were holding hands, Ayako had Bou-san's arm around her shoulders. Between them all Yasu had his arm's linked with Masako and John, pulling them along with a mischievous grin that could barely be caught by the camera from this angle.

“Are you coming idiot?” Oliver asked after giving her a moment, barely pausing in his long strides as he looked over his shoulder to see what she was doing.

Pressing one final button to set the image as her lock screen and background image, she put her phone into the pocket of her jeans, running after him to catch up, not even being angry at the fact that this kept happening. She was too happy with how this afternoon had gone.

It only took a moment to catch up to Naru before she slowed down to a walk next to him.

It was comfortably silent as they walked next to each other, slowly making their way back to the van.

Just like the drive back from the case, it was a nice change from how loud it was all afternoon to just enjoy the distant laughter of her friends as she enjoyed the peace and quiet for a moment longer. Almost like they were in some sort of bubble and she didn't want to burst it quite yet.

Of course, all good things come to an end.

As they finally reached the van Yasu was smirking at her, unconsciously matching the look on Madoka's face.

“Took you two long enough,” she teased.

Mai rolled her eyes, smiling. “It was worth it. I have the cutest picture of you all now,” she informed, sticking her tongue out. “And just for that, I'm not sending it to you.”

“I'll just get one of the others to send it to me once you send it to them.”

Mai raised a challenging eyebrow at the other woman, her weight shifting to the side as her arms crossed. “You're basing that on the assumption that I plan on sharing it with the others,” she pointed out. “An assumption that you have no base evidence for.”

Madoka blinked a little at the physical change in Mai's posture. Somehow, the way she was holding herself all of a sudden made her seem like she'd actually grown up.

It wasn't like the thought hadn't occurred to her until now. It had been more than a year since she'd last seen them and she'd noticed the most obvious changes in Mai's physique. But it was only just hitting her just how much the young girl she'd known before had probably grown up.

This was a side of Mai she'd never seen before and there was something about it that got her blood pumping in excitement.

Martin seemed to agree, giving her a look from beside his wife that seemed contemplative.

For once, Yasu seemed to be on Mai's side as well; as he moved from where he'd been standing with Masako and John to used Mai's shoulder as an arm rest.

“Mai's right of course. Making assumptions without any basis,” he tsk'ed teasingly at his pink-haired friend. “You really should know better.”

Ayako let out a loud groan looking at the two of them before throwing her hands up while everyone else was almost silent out of shock at the sudden change in dynamic, Madoka herself not quite sure what to come back with.

“Why do we even bother? You two managed a total of four days without pulling the 'dynamic duo' routine. Four. That's it.” Ayako grumbled.

Bou-san laughed from next to her. “It's not so bad. It's a new record if nothing else.” He pointed out, placing a consoling hand on her arm as he rubbed gently in a rare show of real affection.

Mai huffed at them. “You guys are ridiculous,” she declared.

Snapping out of the moment, Martin chuckled at his young friend. “It would appear, Miss Mori, that you have been reminded of your purpose in the field of parapsychology.”

Madoka hummed in agreement, grin still on her face. “So it would seem,” she agreed.

From across from them, Yasu grinned. “Kami-sama knows how many times we'll be reminded of those sort things once term starts up. Let us have this one,” he pointed out, winking.

Clapping her hands together to get their attention, Luella smiled at them all. “Now that you guys have finished, how about we head out? I, for one, am famished.”

There was a round of agreement from everyone as they got into the van, chattering away once more as they started on the way to dinner, the shocked atmosphere from before disappearing like it was never there.

It wasn't long before they were pulling up outside an Italian restaurant.

“This is our favourite place to eat whenever we go into London, so I hope you guys don't mind Italian.” Madoka commented as they went inside, Martin walking up to the lady at the podium and saying a few words to her.

Almost instantly, they were being led into the back corner of the restaurant and seated.

It was amusing to Oliver to watch as they all sat in the same order that they gravitated towards at the house.

“Someone will be with you shortly to take your drink order.” The waitress informed them politely as she handed a menu to each of them.

There was a chorus of ‘thank you’ from around the table as the lady walked away.

It was silent at the table for a moment as everyone looked through their menus, first deciding on a drink before moving on to decide on a dish.

Mai bit her lip seeing some of the prices on things, reminding her why she never ate out. She already knew that she would only be getting water to drink – as was her preference whenever she ate a filling meal. But looking at the different dish options, she found herself struggling a little. There were so many options to choose from and she didn't know which was better. She didn't have a lot experience going out to eat, which meant that her knowledge of non-Japanese food was limited, so she was tempted to get one of the cheaper options and hope for the best.

From next to her, Oliver noticed her internal struggled and sighed a little at his parent's lack of forethought.

Glancing down at his own menu, he'd chosen what he was getting before they'd even entered the restaurant. They had his favourite spaghetti and meatballs dish here and it was rare for him to get anything else.

Thinking on Mai's own preferences, he moved over to point at Mai's menu.

“You'll like this one.”

The brunette jumped slightly at his movement, flushing at how close he was, before turning her eyes down to her menu to see what he was pointing at.

“Carbonara?” she asked, voice unsure as she sounded out the letters of the unfamiliar dish.

Oliver couldn't help the twitch of his lips. “Yes. It's a creamy pasta with bacon,” he informed her.

Smiling at him, Mai nodded at his explanation, cheeks still warm as she thought about how well he knew her preferences, not for the first time in the past few days.

“Thanks, Naru.”

He didn't respond, but even after he pulled his arm away, he didn't move his chair back to its previous position.

He chose not to dwell on the reason for this.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*Jourei is the Japanese term for a peaceful exorcism (a cleansing if you prefer), more akin to convincing the spirit to pass on instead of forcing them to leave such as what takes place with Jorei which instead destroys the spirit entirely.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twelve

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Wednesday, April 10th

Everyone watched Naru's actions discreetly, doing their best not to alert him of the audience he'd gained lest he react in a way that was befitting of the devil moniker that those at BSPR had dubbed him. Not that they could really be blamed for that. They all knew how touchy Noll could get on the bad days.

Luella smiled gently before deciding to try and move their attention elsewhere.

“So, Yasuhara. You guys are going to be studying at Cambridge this year?” she asked.

It was as the question left her mouth that she realised that she hadn't even asked them both about their plans for the next few years.

Mentally scolding herself for her oversight, she promised herself that she'd learn what she could about the two of them over the course of the night – especially since it was clear that they'd be seeing a lot more of the both of them.

Yasu beamed at the question, turning to give her his full attention.

“I'm getting an undergraduate degree in parapsychology,” he informed her.

Luella smiled a little at his enthusiasm. “And your parents were happy for you to do that?” she inquired. “You're the same age as Oliver aren't you? What did you do over the past year?”

Yasu smiled. “I was actually doing a business course last year, but I wasn't enjoying it at all. That was what convinced my mother to let me come to England and get a degree in parapsychology. She doesn't get it, but she understands that my happiness is the most important thing,” he explained.

Luella smiled softly, nodding in agreement. “She's very correct, and it would be a shame if your enthusiasm was to go to waste on a subject you hated. What about you Mai?” she inquired, seeing that the moment that her son had shared with the younger woman seemed to have ended.

Flushing a little under the older woman's gaze, Mai smiled. “I'm doing my undergraduate degree in Parapsychology as well, but I'm focusing on some of the psychology electives they offer for my course,” she informed the blonde.

Raising her eyebrows, Luella didn't try to hide her impressed look.

“That's going to be a lot to catch up on for the final term,” she mused, “But I suppose things could be worse. I have a degree in psychology myself so if you need any help you just let me know.”

Mai smiled nervously and nodded. “Thank you for the offer of help. I'm sure that I'll need it.”

For a moment Oliver was reminded of the previous night when Mai had admitted her fears about coming to Cambridge and he frowned. He didn't have to worry too much about it though, because Luella seemed just as aware.

“You'll know more than you think and you're a smart girl. You'll do fine. I'm just offering to help you with the things that you don't quite get straight off the bat. Don't stress too much over things that haven't happened yet,” she advised, smiling kindly.

Yasu bumped Mai's shoulder and gave her a pointed look.

Ignoring her friend, Mai nodded at the older woman, accepting her advice.

“Would you look at that Mai. I don't think you could fail if you tried. A table full of willing minds that have intimate knowledge on your degrees.” Bou-san teased her, grinning at the thought of how far she'd be able to go.

Mai rolled her eyes at his words, but Martin nodded along seriously.

“He's very right. Everyone at this table wants you to succeed in your papers*. It'll be good for you to treat us like another resource at your discretion. We all have different knowledge and experience in our chosen fields and, at the risk of being over-confident, there really isn't a better group of people to get information from,” he explained, looking both Mai and Yasu in the eye. “In the business world, it's important to use what connections you have. This is the same sort of thing. Most people don't have a group of experts at their disposal, and you should make sure to use this to the best of your ability.”

Sensing how serious he was being, both of them nodded silently, even if Mai's was a little more reluctant.

The thought of how Naru had already practically promised her unlimited help brought a small happy smile to her face as her eyes met the table to avoid seeing anyone.

That's right. Naru said she could do this, and he was never wrong.

Madoka grinned from her spot. “So, why psychology? I understand the parapsychology, but the psychology papers are a little out of the blue, aren't they?” she inquired, thinking back on what she could remember about Mai.

Mai's eyebrows furrowed a little bit as she thought about how to answer that.

“I guess, I thought it was interesting and that it would help me with ghost hunting too. Give me ideas on how to help spirits find their peace and move on – or at least calm them down?”

She shrugged a little trying to downplay how hard she'd considered her options and how often she wondered if she was choosing correctly. There were so many choices in papers that might be of more value. But she figured, if she'd found something that interested her and that she could feasibly use, then why shouldn't she do that?

Madoka grinned at Mai.

“Those are great reasons,” she assured the younger girl. “And you're right. There's a lot to be said for the study of behaviour and how it could help you in the parapsychology field.”

“So, where will the two of you be living? On campus in the colleges?” Luella inquired.

Before they could respond, the waiter turned up, taking their orders before leaving.

Turning back to Mai, Luella raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

Remembering the question from a moment before, Mai thought back to the terms of her scholarship.

“Yasu and I are both going to be living in one of the Colleges. Emmanuel, I believe was the one we were assigned. We'll be moving in there on the nineteenth of April since our classes begin on the twenty-second, just in time for the Easter Term. That's why Yasu and I aren't actually leaving here when the others do next week,” she informed the older woman, eyebrows furrowing in concentration as something dawned on her. “Although, I guess I'll have to call up and see if it's possible to move in earlier since we're here a lot earlier than planned.”

As Mai trailed off, Luella looked scandalised.

“Whatever would you do that for? You can just stay with us until the move in date,” she insisted.

Immediately Mai shook her head. “No, no. It's fine. I'll sort something out, there's no need for you to go out of your way.” She argued.

Luella pouted. “Nonsense, I'm not going out of my way at all. You're already set up at our place, there's no need for you to go and shuffle things around when you're perfectly welcome.”

Looking between them, Yasu rolled his eyes at Mai's stubbornness.

“In that case, if you don't mind then we'll take you up on that offer,” he accepted before Mai could do anything about it.

Mai's head whipped around to look at her friend. “But-”

“No take-backs. You'll stay with us and that's that,” Luella added in a sing-song voice.

Oliver mentally rolled his eyes at the put-out expression on Mai's face as she gave up the fight. It really was a lost battle before she'd even begun, and he was surprised the brunette had bothered (although given her nature – perhaps less so). Though this situation did have its advantages. It would allow for him to ask her a lot more questions about her abilities and to help her study like he'd promised.

With that thought in mind, he was completely at ease as their food finally arrived.

Mai looked at her dish in excitement. Picking up the fork, she swirled the creamy pasta on to it and tried her first bite. Her eyes immediately lit up as the flavours exploded on her tongue.

'Of course you like it. Naru's never wrong remember? Not even with something like this,' she thought to herself, giggling slightly.

Masako scoffed at the look on her friend’s face. “So dramatic,” she scolded half-heartedly, turning to her own food and ignoring the amused look that she got in return from John next to her, and the glare she got from Mai.

After that comment, however, there was a lull in the conversation; small talk being passed back and forwards between the older of the group discussing their jobs, and some of their past experiences with the paranormal. Other than that, it was a quiet night and soon they were finished with dinner.

“So, the real question is. To get dessert or not to get dessert?” Madoka whispered conspiratorially as she looked around at the other females at the table.

Luella rolled her eyes at her friend. “Obviously we need to get dessert.”

Thinking on the prices she had seen on said items, Mai bit her lip. She wanted one – she had a sweet tooth a mile wide. But those prices – while she was sure they were warranted based on the skills used and the cost of ingredients – were more than she was willing to pay, even on a night when she was treating herself.

Seeing her friend’s dilemma, Masako tried to think of a way to help her out without being obvious. Over the past year, she had gotten rather close with Mai; and Mai had confided in her somewhere along the line that she always worried over money and how much things cost, even when she really didn't have to anymore.

As someone who grew up making money with parents who were also well off, Masako didn't really understand on the same level (or any level really), but she acknowledged that it was something that was probably ingrained in to Mai for so long that there was no getting around it. Even when it came to clothing Mai preferred to go thrift shopping** as opposed to buying something new.

Instead of helping directly, Masako decided it would probably be easier for Bou-san or Ayako to get away with helping her out. Tapping John on the shoulder she nodded towards Bou-san for John to get the man’s attention.

Catching on quickly, John stretched a leg out under the table to tap on the older man's calf.

Head snapping up, the monk turned towards John to see what the other man wanted. John gestured towards Masako, who nodded slightly in Mai's direction. His eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he tried to figure out what the girl meant before it dawned on him.

Nodding in understanding, he glanced down at the dessert menu.

“What do you want for dessert Mai, Ayako? I, for one, think we deserve a treat for a case well done. So it's on me tonight,” he informed, voice brokering no argument as he looked over at the brunette, giving her a stern look.

Mai narrowed her eyes at him, about to argue but when his own eyes narrowed, she relented.

Looking back down at the dessert menu, she scanned over the options again before deciding.

“I'll get a slice of the classic cheesecake,” she decided after a moment. “But I can buy my own.”

Bou-san sighed dramatically, forcing his face to look as sad as possible.

“And here I was hoping to treat you. You didn't even let us celebrate you getting accepted into Cambridge. Is it really so bad for me to buy you a single dessert? I didn't even get you a graduation present either because you were so against it.”

A pang of guilt hit Mai and before she knew it, she was agreeing to let him buy her dessert. As soon as she realised what happened, her hands came up to her face, allowing her to cradle it, suddenly feeling exhausted as he instantly brightened.

Yasu didn't help either as he leaned over, a smirk on his lips.

“He totally just played you; you know that right?” he whispered.

With a well-placed elbow, she shot a quick glare at her best friend. “Of course I know that. I'm not stupid,” she hissed back; annoyed at herself for caving so easily, and at him for calling her on it.

Though her irritation was superficial at best because, glancing over at the man who was something between an older brother and a father figure in her eyes, he truly looked happy to be able to do this much for her – and she'd never want to take that away from him.

With the dramatics out of the way, Madoka made note to ask Yasu what all that was later on and instead focused on choosing her own dessert.

The rest of their night continued to fly by, with everyone but Naru also ordering a dessert in the end, as they continued to chat away about nothing and everything.

When it came time for them to pay, Bou-san was over with his card before Mai could even try to pay for her own meal, leaving the girl to lament ever trusting that he would only buy her a dessert.

Patting her friend on the shoulder with fake consolation, Yasu sighed dramatically. “Oh how hard it must be to have a man willing to pay for your food. When you find one willing to pay for mine let me know.”

Mai rolled her eyes at her friend’s antics before pointing towards Bou-san.

“You can have that one if you want,” she shot back.

Ayako rolled her eyes. “Just let him have his way this time. It'll be a pain to deal with him if you don't; so if it helps to think of it as a favour to me, then do that.”

Mai chose not to reply to that.

It was a good ten minutes later when all the payments were made and sorted and they were headed out of the restaurant to pile into the large van they'd been using all afternoon and headed over briefly to the London Eye, and then back to the Davis’ manor.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Thursday, April 11th

Mai groaned as she sat up in her bed, stretching out and looking to her side.

Despite the relatively late hour that they'd returned to the Davis' manor last night, her internal clock had fully switched over to London time and had now woken her up just in time for the sun to start rising.

Yawning a little, Mai supposed that she shouldn't be surprised. While she loved sleeping in, over the past year she had rarely had the chance. In fact, she'd taken to jogging in the mornings for the sake of her own personal improvement and it really had made a world of difference – both in her general energy and health, and in her fundamental spirituality.

Swinging her legs out of the bed, the brunette shivered a little at the cold floor before making a dash for her suitcase.

Pulling out a pair of jogging pants and a light jumper, she changed quickly; pulling her hair back so that it wouldn't get in her way before slipping into a pair of socks and carrying her runners in her hand. The Japanese lessons instilled in her refusing to allow her to walk through the house with shoes on.

Before leaving the room, she grabbed her phone, slipping it into her pant pocket – just in case. Originally, she'd forgotten it a lot, but Ayako and Bou-san had practically killed her one time when they couldn't get a hold of her; so since then she'd been very careful to remember it.

Even though they'd been so angry at her, she hadn't been able to help the warmth that she felt when she'd remembered that there was someone there to worry about her now. It was something that she was still getting used to years later, but she was getting better at it. She was trying. And they understood that.

Moving down the steps, she made her way towards the front door before slipping out, dropping the shoes just outside the door and slipping them on before shutting the door behind herself. She knew that there was a garden on the Davis’ property, but she hadn't been there yet and she wasn't sure if it was big enough for her to jog in. So she opted to explore the surrounding areas instead, jogging along the main road and enjoying the peaceful morning.

Unlike in the past, these days she didn't usually listen to music while jogging, preferring to focus more on being in tune with her surroundings. Sometimes if she paid enough attention to things, she felt like she could hear the trees talk to her or understand what the birds would sing.

It was probably her imagination though.

Breathing steadily, Mai grinned when she saw a sign for a park around thirty minutes into her jog. Veering away from the main road, she smiled at the sight of the grassy area and the small playground. It was empty, the hour still only around six-thirty in the morning.

Following a dirt track, her smile widened as she realised that it led to a small wooden pier on a river edge. It would be perfect for her Qigong exercises.

Coming to a stop before the beautiful scenery, she quickly snapped a picture of herself in front of it to send to her friends before settling in to run through her movements.

And for the first time in days, she finally felt fully at ease.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It was nearing eight in the morning when Mai arrived back at the Davis' manor, having lost track while she was running through her routine.

Stepping inside the place, she could immediately tell the difference. Everything felt even more heightened than usual, but at the same time much more peaceful and controlled. Less overwhelming.

'Skipping those few days really did a number on me,' she noted, filing it away for later reference. It was something to tell Yasu too, since he liked to keep well-informed notes on everything she experienced.

Feeling around, she found that everyone appeared to be in the dining room. It wasn't that much of a surprise considering the time. Though it didn't feel like Ayako or Masako was there yet, another thing that didn't surprise her in the least.

Heading that way, she grinned as she pushed the door open and stepped into the room.

“Good morning, dear,” Luella grinned, noting the younger's clothing. “You plan on going for a jog?”

Mai laughed lightly, shaking her head. “No, no. I've actually just gotten back.”

From his usual spot, John smiled over at her. “Was it nice out? Where'd you end up going?” he asked curiously. Sometimes in Japan, Mai would go as far as to jog down to the church. Because service starts early, they would often catch up for a moment before she'd head off again.

A couple times he'd gone with her and found that because of her frequent trips out, Mai actually knew a lot of peaceful little places he'd never have found without her. Whenever he needed to get away from things, he'd go to those from now on and he'd always feel better afterwards.

Grinning over at him, the brunette nodded, moving to take her own seat. “Yeah. I was jogging along the road and found a park area with a river front. It's a good spot,” she explained, pulling out her phone and bringing up the picture of the place that she'd found, passing it over to him to look at.

The priest took her phone gently, smiling at the peaceful look on his friend’s face before he looked over the river in the background and the beautiful scenery. He carefully passed it over to Bou-san when he started making grabby-hands towards the item.

Mai rolled her eyes, settling down in her seat after she grabbed a couple pieces of toast, adding some jam*** to them and turning her attention back towards Luella.

“So, do you usually jog in the mornings? I don't mean to be rude, but I didn't really take you for a morning person,” Luella admitted. Part of her was actually a little miffed that she'd been so far off, considering her background was in behaviour analysis. Then again, there were always exceptions.

Mai hummed in understanding, waiting until she swallowed her food before replying.

“I'm actually not a morning person at all. I love sleeping more than anything and if you'd told me a year ago that I'd be jogging on the regular and getting up with the sun then I probably would have laughed at you,” she admitted. “But once I got into the habit, I found that it wasn't that bad. It's made a huge difference in my work ethic and my overall health, plus the spiritual benefits have been unparalleled; so, I don't really mind.”

Luella nodded in agreement. “I can definitely understand that. I do actually go jogging fairly regularly as well, so if you ever want some company just let me know,” she offered. It'd be nice to have someone to chat to while she exercised in the morning.

Smiling brightly, Mai agreed readily. She only ever went jogging with John, but those were often some of her best trips out.

She tilted her head as she remembered her Qigong. “Ahh, but I have my Qigong exercises in the middle of my jog so I'm not sure if you'd be happy to hang around for that...” she trailed off, uncertain.

The term was familiar to her, but Luella wasn't sure why as she wracked her brain.

Spotting her confusion, Yasu decided to elaborate. “The specific form of meditation that Mai does. You might have heard it mentioned by Lin, in particular, since it's one of the main techniques employed by onmyoji's,” he explained.

It clicked in Luella's head and she grinned. “That makes sense. I don't mind. If it's mainly a meditation technique, then maybe I'll try and follow along for fun,” she joked.

Mai shrugged. “It could only benefit you if you did. Kind of like Tai-chi or yoga,” she pointed out. “But don't feel like you have to. Qigong should really be taught by a proper instructor, and it's usually person specific. I do add some Tai-chi movements on occasion though that I can teach you.”

The other woman agreed readily, eager to learn and (hopefully) get to know Mai better.

“Then it's settled. I'll let you know the next time I plan on going jogging and we can go together.”

With that out of the way, Mai finally took note of the lack of Naru and Martin. Feeling around the manor, she frowned when she realised that they weren't nearby at all.

“Where are Naru and Professor Davis?” she inquired curiously, starting on her second piece of toast.

Yasu grinned. “Ah, that's right. You missed them by about twenty minutes. They stopped for a quick breakfast and then they headed off to the BSPR satellite office that they both work at here in Cambridge. Before he left, the professor invited us to come by at any point today and take a look around,” he informed her, excitement showing in his eyes as he pushed his glasses up.

Mai felt a similar excitement settle in herself.

From across the table she heard similar sighs of disappointment from Bou-san and Luella.

Turning to look at the both of them, she gave them a confused look.

“We were hoping to get some more sightseeing in. Yasu said you'd be more inclined to go to BSPR, but I was holding out hope. But I guess we're going without you,” Bou-san lamented.

Mai could only shrug unapologetically.

“Sorry. I have plenty of time to go and sightsee. I'm really curious about what BSPR is going to be like, even if it is just the satellite office...” she trailed off.

Luella nodded in understanding, trying to sound less disappointed when she saw that it was genuinely distressing for the poor girl.

“It's alright dear, we'll just drop you both off on our way to some of the sights and you can let us know when you're ready to be picked up. Maybe try not to spend the entire day there though. It would be nice for you to see at least a few things today, since you don't have too long before your school term is going to start up.”

Mai beamed at Luella, her enthusiasm coming back full force. “Sounds like a good plan. Oh, I want to see the zoo still! If we head in soon you guys should be able to get through some of the other sights and it'll give us enough time to go through BSPR; then we can meet for a late lunch and spend the afternoon there,” she suggested, her eyes going pleading.

Luella laughed, nodding in agreement.

“In that case all you have to do is get Masako and Ayako up and ready to go. Then we can head out.”

Mai froze in realisation as Yasu winced in sympathy at his friend’s situation, patting her shoulder gently.

“It can't be too bad....” she tried to convince herself.

“Those are famous last words.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*The compulsory classes and electives at Cambridge university are called papers. I don't get it either.

**I hope this is the correct term to use. It's the only one I see other people use for second-hand shopping in other countries. Australia (Queensland in particular, I can't speak for the other states), uses the term “Op-Shop” (which is a shortened version of the term “opportunity shop”), and often we just call the store by name since most people Op-Shop at St. Vincent De Pauls, aka Vinnies, or at Lifeline.

**Jam or jelly, whatever term you use in your country. Here in Australia, jelly is the American equivalent of Jell-o, and jam is what American's call jelly.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Thirteen

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Thursday, April 11th

Mai grinned as she watched the scenery pass by on their way to the BSPR satellite office to drop herself and Yasu off for the next four or so hours, her body almost vibrating in excitement as each minute ticked by.

Finally, Ayako got fed up, placing a gentle hit to the younger woman’s head. “Stop that. We still have a little way to go before we get there, and it's not going to do any good for you to get all revved up only to find that the office is actually really boring.”

Sticking her tongue out in retaliation, the brunette crossed her arms and pouted.

“I can't help it, Ayako. This is a building filled with people who make a living by doing the same thing we love. It's my dream,” she stressed; voice petulant.

Ayako sighed. Even though Mai's excitement was annoying, it wasn't necessarily bad. She just didn't want the girl to be disappointed when it wasn't everything that it'd been talked up to be. But she guessed she had been a little harsh – especially since up until a few years ago, Mai hadn't even been able to dream of going into a higher education. She'd planned on finishing out high school and then getting a full-time job – regardless of whether she liked said job or not – and making enough money to keep on living.

It had taken a while for them to get her to understand that she did have options. That she could actually find something that she'd enjoy doing and follow a career path.

That had been the one time that she'd been thankful for the friendship that Yasuhara and the young woman had formed. Despite how much the other man had corrupted Mai (read: helped her to cause endless trouble), he had also been the one to finally get it through her head that they weren't just giving her empty platitudes.

The teen had taken the time to look into options for schools that supported a form of parapsychology study and had looked up the various scholarships that were possible to give Mai the best chance. He'd even sat down with her, helped her get her grades up to be eligible for them, and helped her to fill out applications.

By the end of the process they had been able to see the difference in Mai. Her confidence had sky-rocketed and she no longer talked like she had no chance at a future.

Watching as Mai's pout was gone at the sight of the BSPR building and how she was jumping slightly in her seat, Ayako couldn't help but feel more fondness than any form of irritation.

Yes, Mai choosing here was definitely the best decision. She'd found something to work towards – a job goal so to speak – and thinking on last night’s events with Naru, maybe, she'd even find something more.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai smiled widely as Luella led her down the corridors of the BSPR building expertly.

They'd stopped briefly at reception to sign their names on a visitor's sheet before the blonde woman had swept them off down the halls.

“I'll take you to Martin's office and he can give you the tour himself to start off with. I don't want them leaving you to your own devices around here in case some unsavoury character comes along and decides to take advantage of you,” she informed them.

Not that the likelihood was high, they usually kept good track of people who had plans to use the paranormal abilities that BSPR supported in a less scientific way, but she didn't want to take any chances with her two new favourite people. They were so young after all.

Although thinking on it now, it wasn't like the two of them were going to admit to anything like that.

Yasuhara at least seemed to understand the possible danger because before they'd even entered the building he'd turned to Mai and instructed her, deliberately switching to Japanese to keep unwanted ears from understanding him, “We are only some visiting students from Cambridge's parapsychology class. If you aren't talking to someone we know, keep everything else to yourself.”

Maybe neither of them really needed to worry because she'd raised an eyebrow at him and crossed her arms, the stance looking somewhat familiar, though she couldn't place it, and gave them the most confused look that she'd ever seen, voice so sweet.

But Yasu, we are just visiting students from Cambridge's parapsychology class.”

Even now, as they walked down the hall, Luella wasn't sure whether Mai was just playing dumb or genuinely didn't understand the possible dangers. Ordinarily, she'd been told, Mai can't lie to save her life.

“Literally. All she had to do was lie to the ghost and we could have all gotten out of it without a scratch and she couldn't even manage that,” Masako had explained to her.

But she'd been so convincing that the older woman had no idea what to believe.

Regardless, she trusted in Yasuhara to keep her out of too much danger – not to mention between Lin, Madoka, Martin, and Oliver, she doubted anyone would try anything.

Reaching her husband's door, she knocked lightly but didn't wait for his response before pushing it open and peeking in.

Seeing no-one but Martin inside, she opened the door wider and waltzed on in to give him a kiss on the cheek.

“Hello darling. I brought Mai and Yasu along for a tour of the place,” she explained, motioning towards the two who waved.

Martin chuckled. “Of course. I suppose you've given me the perfect excuse to avoid this paperwork even further – so I thank you for that,” he informed them, pushing the offending pages away from himself as he moved to stand from his desk. “Will we have you for the entirety of the day, or just for a little while?”

Yasu sighed dramatically. “I had planned on staying the day but everyone else insisted that we needed to go sightseeing with them for a least a little while. You have us until lunch-time.”

Perking up, Luella smiled sweetly at her husband. “I don't suppose you'd be inclined to avoid your paperwork even further by joining us for lunch?” she offered.

He pretended to think about it before pulling his wife closer using her waist. “How could I turn down an offer like that from such a sweet woman?” he teased, pressing a kiss to her cheek.

Laughing, the blonde hit him lightly. “You sweet-talker. I have a group of impatient tourists in the van waiting, so I had best be on my way. Take good care of them and don't work them too hard. They're not your employees,” she reminded, moving away from him and waving her hand as she left them all.

Turning back to the teenagers in front of him, Martin shook his head ruefully. “I guess we should get started then. Is there anything in particular you'd like to see, or do you just want to me to give you the general tour?” He asked, moving to leave the office, shutting the door gently behind himself as they started walking down the halls.

“The only thing I want to be sure to do is interrupt Naru's day,” Yasu informed, a mischievous look on his features. “Or more specifically, I need to throw Mai somewhere while I talk shop with Madoka and what better place than with the big boss himself?”

The older man sighed. “I suppose that can be arranged. Try not to traumatise my employees too much. An angry Oliver has them all on edge and they become rather useless.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “Or we could avoid Naru and visit everyone else. I for one, am most excited to talk to anyone who has experience in this field and see how our experiences differ,” she suggested.

While Mai was distracted, Yasu offered a wink to his soon-to-be professor.

“Don't be ridiculous Mai, we have to visit Naru. It'll make his day!”

Despite the way Mai scoffed at the prospect, Martin couldn't help but think that the boy might not be too far off. In just the short time he'd seen Oliver interact with the younger woman, he had seen a major difference in how he'd interact with her in comparison to anyone else. With any luck, she'd put him in a great mood for the rest of the day. A happy Oliver meant a much better work ethic from his employees because he was much easier to please (read: he wasn't nearly as rude when he informed them they were morons).

Of course, it was possible that things could go in the opposite direction and it would result in Oliver being in a terrible mood for the rest of the day – just as he'd suggested to Yasuhara.

But he was willing to gamble.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai sighed as she found herself standing in front of Naru's office door, thinking back to how she'd ended up there.

Honestly, she shouldn't have trusted Yasu when he'd stopped mentioning going to see Naru so quickly. As soon as they'd gone through the main areas, Professor Davis showing them the testing rooms that they used and explaining a couple of the tests used for the various forms of psi, he'd taken them to see Madoka.

The second Madoka had spotted Mai, she'd handed her a collection of papers.

“Please Mai. Oliver's been in a bit of a mood since this morning and I don't want to deal with him being a jerk,” she'd begged.

And, because Mai was a sucker for punishment, she'd agreed without hesitation; only to hesitate now when she'd reached his door.

'Kami, I'm such an idiot,' she bemoaned. 'But I’m even stupider for standing around here like this. It's just Naru. I used to do this sort of thing for him all the time – and that was regardless of his mood swings then.'

After reminding herself of this fact, she steeled herself and knocked lightly on the door.

It was silent before she heard Naru's voice.

“Enter.”

Mai winced. Madoka hadn't been kidding – he really was in a bad mood. Sighing, she turned the handle and poked her head into the room, raising an eyebrow at the sight of his annoyed expression.

“Hello to you too. What's with that face?”

Oliver fought the urge to roll his eyes at the response. Typical Mai.

“Hurry up and get inside idiot. What's in your hand?” he asked.

Mai sighed at his attitude but did as told (not asked, never asked with Naru), shutting the door behind herself as she made her way across the room, handing him the papers in lieu of answering his question.

Looking down at them, Oliver frowned when he realised that they were reports that Madoka was supposed to get to him on a case from a week or so ago. “Why do you have these?”

Mai summoned her most deadpan look as she fell into one of the seats in front of his desk without being offered, ignoring the look she got in response for the action.

“Why do you think?” she scoffed, “Apparently you've been such a jerk all day to the point that even Madoka didn't want to deal with you.”

This news didn't really answer many of Oliver's questions, although it did make him even more annoyed at the pink-haired woman than he already was. “And her solution was to send you to give them to me instead?” he demanded.

Rolling her eyes, Mai crossed her arms. “You do realise that this was literally my job at SPR in Japan, right? And that you were almost always in a mood back then?”

She didn't add that his mood was usually caused by her inability to be on on-time and the lack of tea that he'd have if she was behind schedule.

Oliver sighed at the reminder and conceded to the point before noting the fact that the brunette didn't seem too inclined to move away from the spot that she'd set herself up in.

Raising an eyebrow, he tried not to look confused. If she'd completed the task she'd set out to do, then why was she still here?

“Are you going to leave me alone any time soon?” He asked when it became clear that she wasn't really paying him much attention, instead observing his sparsely decorated office.

Humming instead of giving a proper response, Mai pushed up from the seat and wandered over to the large bookshelf, glancing over the titles on the various covers.

“I'll take that as a no,” he sighed, before turning back to the report when Mai only hummed in response to his question again.

Even more caught up in her task now, she continued to note some of the titles she'd been extremely keen to read in the beginning but had been unable to find anywhere.

Taking note of them, she made a mental list of all the ones he had that she wanted to read before realising something.

“Hey Naru, do you know what books I should make sure to read before classes start up at Cambridge? I know that we don't have anything specific that we're supposed to learn ahead of time, but I'd rather get some reading out of the way before then to make things a little easier during the terms – especially since Yasu and I are starting in the last part of first year,” Mai explained, glancing over her shoulder to look at the man in question.

Oliver was silent for a moment as he finished reading the report before setting it aside and getting up from the desk. Walking over to the shelf, he scanned over the titles similarly to how Mai had before – despite knowing extremely well what was there – and pulled out a couple.

“These ones will help you the most. You can take any that you think might be interesting though. There's not really a set list of things outside of a basic focal point during the lectures, so your assessment pieces are all going to be up to your own discretion,” he explained, as he made a small pile in front of the titles he already knew wouldn't be of any use just yet.

Mai tilted her head in confusion. “What do you mean?”

Sighing, Naru pulled out one of the books. “I mean that, each term will focus on a basic topic but which things under that 'umbrella' you choose to speak or write about will be entirely up to you, although usually you'll be given a few options to choose from.

“For example, your first years compulsory papers focus on ghost hunting one-oh-one, and parapsychology basics. That means that in your assessments, you'll likely be able to choose anything that relates to what you've learnt to write on – whether that's some of the basic equipment and how it’s useful, or on the types of ways to go about investigating. You'll learn all of it throughout the year, but how much you specialise in each topic is completely up to you.”

Mai nodded in understanding this time, thinking about it as she looked over the titles that Naru was recommending.

'An Introduction to Parapsychology by Harvey J. Irwin and Parapsychology: The controversial Science by Richard S. Broughton,*' she noted. They were both books she'd heard of but never managed to get a copy of in Japan.

Oliver watched Mai carefully, noting her subtle excitement and the way she kept glancing back to couple of the books on the shelf in particular.

Rolling his eyes, he motioned towards them all. “You can take any of the other ones that you feel like reading. Like I said, those will help you the most but any of them are a good source of information. There's a library at home as well with much more to work from that I'll show you if you're that keen,” he offered.

Honestly, even though he kept the ones that he got the most use out of in his office, the ones that he thought Mai might enjoy were all inside the office he had at home or in the library he'd just mentioned, which was a shame but he'd be sure to show them to her later.

He tried to convince himself that the extra effort he was putting in was because he wanted to encourage the level of commitment that Mai was putting in so far – even though the excited way she had pulled out one of the books she'd been eyeing made him soft in an unexplainable way.

'Body Mind Spirit: Exploring the Parapsychology of Spirituality by Charles T. Tart,' he noted with a small smirk. She was so predictable.

“Thanks, Naru. Some of these are impossible to find in Japan,” Mai explained, holding the three books close of her chest. There were a couple more she wanted to grab, but she'd work through these first.

Oliver smirked slightly. “Maybe when you finish those, you'll be a little smarter,” he teased.

“You had to ruin it by being a jerk, did you?” she demanded, huffing despite her own fond look. It was Naru being Naru after all. “And here I was going to ask if I could drag you away from your work long enough for you to show me where I could make you some tea as a thank you. But clearly, you don't need anything.”

Narrowing his eyes, Oliver tried to figure out if she was being serious or not before deciding that it didn't matter. Even though the day had started terribly, things were starting to look up thanks to a certain brunette and said brunette's tea would be the topper that made it possible for him to get through it.

As if thinking the same thing, Mai placed the books on his desk to come back for later and grinned. “Come on. I suppose that even if you did ruin the moment, you're lending me your books. The least I can do is stop you from scaring everyone around you for the entire afternoon. Maybe we can find a thermos bottle or something so you can have some for the rest of the day,” she teased, a knowing twinkle in her eyes.

Oliver ignored the twitch of his lips as he exited his office, waiting impatiently for Mai. “You're being ridiculous,” he informed her primly.

Mai gave him a false look of confusion. “You mean you don't want tea for the afternoon? Because I came prepared with my personal blend of earl grey but if you're sure...” she trailed off, pretending to be uncertain.

“Mai.”

Her name came out like a warning and she couldn't help but grin at the response.

Oblivious to the looks that were being thrown their way, Mai set about figuring out where things were the second they arrived in the communal kitchen, ignoring the amusement she could feel from Naru's aura as he positioned himself to lean against the counter to watch the younger woman.

“Bottom drawer to your left,” he mentioned.

Mai glanced over in confusion. She'd already found the mugs and the electric kettle was already set up. The sugar was on the bench and she'd also grabbed a clean spoon already.

Deciding to roll with it, the brunette reached down to pull it open only to find a collection of large travel thermoses made for sharing hot drinks on long road trips.

Rolling her eyes, she supposed she shouldn't be surprised. BSPR would probably take long road trips a lot so it's not a surprise that they would carry something like this.

Grabbing out the largest one, she went about setting it up for a larger batch of tea, guessing the amount to be the same as she would make for a tea pot.

Satisfied that he was going to have Mai's tea for the afternoon, Oliver finally took note of the wide eyed stare he was receiving from the couple of people who were standing in the communal area and the equally confused looks he was getting from people who walked past.

Narrowing his eyes at them, he was satisfied when they turned their attention back to other things.

It wasn't too much later when Mai had a mug of her own tea in hand while Naru carried his own full mug and an equally full thermos back to his office to sit down.

Even though Mai figured she should probably head back towards Madoka – she'd been gone much longer than planned after all – she wasn't really in any rush.

Thinking back on the reason why she'd had to come to this office in the first place, Mai frowned when she recalled Naru's previous bad mood.

Settling down in the seat that she'd claimed earlier, she took a sip of her tea and waited until after Naru started on his own before trying to breach the subject.

“So...” she started, a little unsure of how to go about this. It wasn't that she hadn't spoken to Naru about emotions before, it was more that they were always in more dramatic situations (such as in the middle of a one-sided heated argument or stuck in a literal hole in the ground) and didn't require this sort of build-up.

Although an image of a couple nights ago when he'd cheered her up after she revealed her own feelings on whether or not she was ready for Cambridge came to mind that proved otherwise.

'But all of those occasions were about me,' she noted with a sigh, 'It's always been nearly impossible to get him to speak about himself.'

It was something that had always irritated her about him. She wanted to be able to help him for once.

Noting her uncharacteristic hesitation, Oliver debated over whether to push her to move faster or to wait for her to gather herself.

It wasn't much of a contest in his mind in the end, considering his own limited patience, even when it came to Mai – and the fact that he had any extra patience for the young brunette at all was also a fact he locked firmly away in the back of his mind.

“If you have something to say, then say it,” he sighed, giving her a look that implied he didn't have all day, despite knowing that his urgent work was all completed and for all intents and purposes, he did actually have all day.

Mai felt a flare of anger at his words, narrowing her eyes at him – briefly wondering why she cared about him in the first place.

“I just wanted to know what put you in such a bad mood this morning,” she admitted finally; voice soft, in spite of the frustration he could hear.

Her hesitation made a lot more sense all of a sudden and he felt a pang of sadness at the thought that she was wasting her time worrying over something like that.

“It doesn't matter,” he responded finally.

Mai sighed, unsurprised but a little forlorn at how quickly he'd shot down her attempts to help him out. “I get it. You don't want to tell me. Sorry I asked,” she muttered finally.

Once more, Oliver felt a stab of emotion as the sight of how genuinely sad Mai looked at being denied. It shouldn't be such a surprise considering her tendency to worry about others and her natural inclination to help them whenever she could, and yet it was still hard for him to comprehend even now, years later.

He could almost hear Gene's favourite insult now.

'He was right. Sometimes I can be such an idiot scientist.'

Suddenly feeling a little dehydrated, he took a sip of his tea, noting the relaxation that it brought him once more.

“It's not that I don't want to tell you, it's just that-” he stopped awkwardly unsure of how to broach the subject. Honestly, even now he wasn't entirely sure what had caused his irritation this morning – although a traitorous part of him implied it was because he hadn't seen Mai that morning – an utterly ridiculous notion, especially if he reminded himself that Mai had never been a constant in his life so to have himself consider her as one after only a few days was inconceivable.

Letting out an annoyed breath, he tried again, conscious of Mai's attention (although she was completely silent, giving him the time he needed to figure out what he was trying to say) as she waited patiently for him to figure his emotions out.

“It's just that there really is nothing to tell,” he admitted finally. “It's just one of those days.”

Mai let out a breath that she didn't know she was holding and trained her eyes on Naru's aura, as opposed to his mostly blank features.

It was jumping around, showing off the uncertainty that made complete sense when she thought about how emotionally inept he was.

Those days, huh?” she muttered rhetorically. She didn't need him to explain further than that, having been through the same thing over the years, especially just after her mother's death.

Oliver could tell just by the look on her face that she knew what he was talking about and for some reason it made things seem just that little bit better.

“Don't worry. I'm in a much better mood now,” he promised; voice quiet.

Mai's lips twitched. “I know,” she agreed. “But I'll worry anyway.”

He sighed at her admission, ignoring how it made him feel.

“Subject change. I went out for a jog this morning and found a park with a nice little dock – or would you call it a pier?” Mai mused, not even bothering to try and finesse her way through the change as she titled her head, genuinely confused by which English term she should use.

She'd referred to it as a pier earlier, but she actually wasn't sure what to call it or the difference between the two**.

“Most likely a dock.” Naru agreed after a moment. “But it doesn't matter. Anyone will understand what you mean if you use either.”

Mai hummed in understanding. “I suppose so. It was nice and peaceful,” she admitted, thinking back to how quiet it had been.

Oliver's eyebrows furrowed. “When did you go for a jog in the first place? The nearest park is a good five to ten minute drive away,” he asked, thinking back to the areas surrounding his house. “And why didn't you just use the garden?”

“I left when the sun was coming up, so around six this morning? I didn't know where the garden was, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to go out and explore,” she explained, “I'm glad I did too. When I got back I told Luella about it and she mentioned that she'd never been and we're going to set up a time to jog together while I'm still staying at your place.”

Oliver nodded in understanding. He was glad that his mother and Mai were getting along so well – not that he'd doubted that they would. There wasn't really a person who could hate Mai (especially one as kind as Luella was). Even Lin and himself had been unable to stay completely distant from her, which had been quite a shock. Especially if he considered how much Lin had hated the Japanese back then and how coldly he'd treated the younger woman initially – something he knew still bothered the older man though he wouldn't admit it.

'Well,' he had to admit to himself, 'It's not completely impossible for someone to hate her. Or for her to dislike someone back - never hate, Mai wasn't capable to hate, no matter how much she argued that she was or claimed that the emotion she was feeling was hate (an image of the time Mai had screamed that she hated him almost stole his breath away with its sudden appearance). He'd yet to meet someone with that capability. Even those who disliked Mai initially find themselves eventually giving in to her kind nature and fiery personality. Himself included.

It was an odd situation to find himself in. On one hand, the kindness and easy -he wouldn't think friendship because something about it didn't suit their relationship, and the thought of it made another emotion rise within him that he refused to acknowledge- camaraderie? No.

It was in that moment that Oliver realised that he didn't know how to term the relationship that he'd built with Mai.

In fact, it almost felt more like a bond.

Yes, that was a much better way to term how he felt – though he was sure that Gene would have been able to offer more guidance on the subject if he were to ask (however he was loathe to involve his brother for various obvious reasons) – bonded.

For reasons unknown, he had been drawn to her from the beginning and even now, when he'd spent so long away from her (time he'd very much spent worrying over her on occasion and wishing he'd had the foresight to take something of hers in order to be able to check on her which was ridiculous), the same draw was there, calling to him.

And yet, despite how well the word seemed to fit, it still wasn't quite right.

Thinking on it, he narrowed his eyes slightly, oblivious to the slightly amused and concerned looked he received from Mai when she noticed his own absence of mental presence.

A bond; a force or feeling that unites people; a shared emotion or interest. No, it still wasn't there.

Synonyms; friendship (no), affiliation (definitely not), connection (closer), link (closer still), attachment.

He paused at the thought of the word. Attachment. While it didn't quite explain everything, the word felt right. He was attached to Mai, though he didn't know how to term their relationship properly, he could now claim his own understanding towards their interaction and his own interest in her well-being.

He was attached, and for once, the revelation didn't seem quite so scary.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*I mentioned it earlier on in the notes, but I figure it doesn't hurt to mention it again. These are real books by real authors, I don't own them in any way, shape, or form. This will be the case for any of the parapsychology books in this story (although I will probably still make a note of them anyway just to be on the save side).

**Honestly, I have no idea either. Like, I tried to google it and got a bunch of information that made zero sense at all to me. So just roll with it and if you have any information on what the difference is between a pier and a dock, or if there's another term I should be using since it's by a freshwater river, please let me know.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Fourteen

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Thursday, April 11th

Glancing at the time, he frowned when he realised that he'd lost an entire hour because he'd been caught up with Mai.

“Do you plan to spend the rest of the day at BSPR?” he inquired.

Mai shook her head in response. “No, Luella should be here soon to grab Yasu and I. We're all going out for lunch and then we're going to the zoo for the afternoon.”

“In that case we should probably go and find her since it's just gone twelve thirty and no-ones come to grab you yet,” he decided, draining what was left of the tea in his cup so that it wouldn't go cold as he got up from his desk.

“You don't need to. I've already pulled you away from your work for long enough, I can just find my way on my own,” Mai argued weakly, picking up the books that she'd taken from the shelves and holding them to her chest as she got up as well.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “You'll just get yourself lost,” he scoffed, not stopping as he continued on out of his office for the second time that day.

Mai huffed at that but didn't deny it. With so many people around, her usual method not getting lost when finding people (aka aura sensing) got a little muddled up and it was a bit harder to find them. Not impossible, but definitely harder. Not to mention that despite the ridiculous way they'd tried to go about informing Mai of the dangers of being in a facility where people would want to take advantage of her (which – did anyone get the notice about her ability to detect malicious intent from humans and spirits?), they weren't entirely incorrect to worry at least a little.

So, she'd done her best to keep her powers on lock-down while here for the time being. It was in her best interests anyway considering her intent to keep her field capabilities secret from her future classmates, so anyone in the SPR office knowing about them was a risk she didn't want to take.

Satisfied with Mai's lack of retort, Oliver continued on his way towards where he guessed his mentor and Yasuhara would have ended up. Mai had originally come from Madoka's office which meant that Yasuhara had probably been there for a while before being dragged away finally to look at something else and get back to work. Even if his mentor enjoyed messing about, she was usually pretty good at getting her work done regardless.

That meant they were likely looking through the possible cases, as was the pink-haired woman's usual job whenever she wasn't in the field. It was a job that suited Yasuhara as well, if he considered the similar fashion in which they operated usually.

Mai trailed after him mostly silent, trusting him to know where to go and continuing to space at about random things she noticed, feeling a little claustrophobic almost, with how tightly she'd locked her abilities up for the day.

Opening the door to the communications room where they fielded the requests, Oliver was satisfied when he spotted Yasuhara sitting among a large stack of papers, reading over something next to Madoka.

Looking up to see who was coming in the room, she grinned at the sight of Mai and a much happier looking Noll. Don't ask what the difference between a happy looking Noll and an annoyed looking Noll was, even she couldn't quite describe the extremely subtle changes in his demeanour.

“Would you look at that? I told you that they'd be able to find us,” Madoka insisted.

Yasu smiled. “I never doubted you,” he reminded. “Although if they're here then that means it’s probably about time that we left for lunch.”

Glancing down at her watch in shock, Madoka nodded in agreement. “You're definitely right.”

Pulling out her phone, she grinned sheepishly at the sight of a missed call from Luella and an unread text.

Opening it, she laughed at the sight of her friend scolding them for losing track of time and telling them that if she didn't see them in the cafe down the street by quarter to one, she was going to be even more unimpressed.

“It would seem that your mother is going to be a little mad at me,” she admitted, looking over at Naru. “We have, like, eight minutes to get down to the cafe down the street or we're really going to be in trouble.”

Oliver raised an eyebrow. “You mean you're going to be in trouble. I'm not going anywhere else today. I've lost enough time. Now if you'll excuse me,” he informed her before turning around to leave, ignoring the glare his mentor shot at his back as he stalked out of the room and back in the direction that he'd come from originally.

“Honestly that kid,” Madoka sighed. “At least he's in a better mood than earlier today. I don't know what you did Mai, but you're a miracle worker.”

Mai shrugged. “I didn't really do anything. He should be in a relatively good mood for the rest of the day though,” she divulged.

“Oh?”

Mai nodded, a smirk pulling at her lips. “Of course. I made him tea. He's got enough to last him the rest of the day, even with how quickly he manages to go through it. And if he starts to get difficult to handle again just tell him that if he manages to be civil for the rest of the day then I'll make him some more later tonight.”

Madoka and Yasu both laughed at her explanation.

“Somehow, I'm not even surprised,” Yasu acknowledged, smirking. “But isn't that great Madoka? You have something you can actually use to bribe Naru now.”

Giggling, Madoka shook her head ruefully. “That only works until you guys leave the Davis' manor. Then what will I do?” she bemoaned jokingly as she started moving towards the door to leave. “Come on, we'd better get a move along before Luella actually gets mad.”

Yasu followed after her without complaint, grin still on his face.

“So, Mai. How was it with Naru? You obviously cheered him up, but you were gone for quite a while. If it was just the tea that cheered him up, you could have had that done in no time at all.”

Mai turned to face her friend briefly, rolling her eyes as the mischievous look on his face.

Madoka grinned. “Oh yes. Please tell us more. If you give us some good information we might be able to bribe Luella into not being annoyed,” she added.

Part of Mai wanted to face-palm at her friends’ antics and insistence, but she settled for giving them both her best disapproving look – patented, of course, by the one and only Naru.

“Oh, come on,” Yasu whined. “Give us something. Even if it's not proper gossip, at least tell us something.”

Biting her lip, Mai thought back on her interactions with Naru, trying not to smile as she recalled how helpful he'd been.

“We just talked about some school stuff. He leant me a few of his books to read,” she admitted, lifting the books in her arms as if proving her point.

Madoka pouted. “That's so boring, Mai!”

“What did you expect? Honestly, you two are ridiculous,” Mai huffed, refusing to speak further on the topic even as Madoka tried her best to get her to reveal anything else.

“Do you think that they're really just that boring?” Madoka mock-whispered to Yasu when she failed yet again.

Yasu considered it for a moment. “I guess it's not impossible,” he admitted sceptically, thinking back on how the two of them often interacted. “But I doubt it. Mai's always been pretty tight lipped about things that happen with other people though. She doesn't like to give out information about others, even when they haven't requested her silence on them. Except when she's angry. Maybe if we get her angry enough, she'll let something slip?”

Spotting the cafe that Madoka had mentioned Mai sped up, eager to be away from the two of them and their prodding.

Stepping inside, she smiled sheepishly when she spotted an impatient looking Luella sitting in a large booth and started making her way over, Yasu and Madoka still more than a couple steps behind her whispering to each other.

“Sorry we're so late. I got a little caught up with Naru,” Mai admitted easily, smiling at the older woman.

Martin perked up at this, looking over to give her a smile. “I did wonder with how long you ended up being gone. Is he in a better mood now? Madoka seemed concerned earlier.”

His concern over whether he'd be gambling on her putting him in a great mood instead of a bad one had been undermined by the fact that when they'd gone to see Madoka she'd informed him that Noll was already in a bad mood; making him think that it wouldn't have been much of a gamble to send Mai to him. He noted that there wasn't much she could do to put him in a worse mood. Not to mention that before he could even suggest a way to get Mai in to see him, Madoka had everything well in hand; following a similar thought pattern – and if nothing else he trusted the woman's judgement on things like this.

By the pleased look on her face, Mai had been a complete success. He'd have to remember that for later.

His wife frowned next to him. “Noll's never in a good mood,” she pointed out, despite knowing it wasn't quite true. Seeing him interact with his old team, especially Mai, she couldn't help but think that he hadn't been in a good mood in the last year, not because of the loss of his brother's life, but because he'd left so much behind in Japan, and for their sake no less. So that he would be close enough that she wouldn't have to worry so much about losing another son.

It suddenly dawned on her that, without meaning to, she might have trapped her own son in a situation where he found himself unable – or rather unwilling – to leave and follow his own desires, prioritising her over himself.

Swallowing thickly, she tried to banish the thoughts and the bad taste suddenly on her tongue. She'd done the one thing that she'd never wanted to do to her son – tied him down.

She'd wanted to encourage them to follow their desires in life and help them to find happiness – Noll especially considering how long it took for him to find something even resembling contentment, let alone happiness. Honestly, she'd almost given up on it – especially after the loss of his brother, his other half-, but thinking back to the look on his face when he'd teased Mai over the past couple days, she knew that she'd been too hasty. And too blind.

Madoka and Lin had both warned herself and Martin subtly about the girl that they'd taken him away from. Noll had refused to speak about her, but whenever her name was mentioned by anyone in passing -usually Madoka on something or another when he was being difficult, and Lin in similar situations but with more rarity- there was a new level of attention he'd pay to whatever was going on. Thinking back on it now, the signs were all there and she'd chosen to ignore them because they didn't benefit her own personal needs.

It was probably her greatest failure as a mother, and she steeled herself with a promise. Never again. For whatever reason, Mai had once more ended up in their lives against all odds and this time she would see her son happy. She wouldn't deny him the freedom he needed but ignored.

Never again.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Lunch passed by with limited conversation, Mai eating hungrily when she realised just how empty her stomach had become. Luella had been unusually silent and absent-minded throughout the meal, much to the worry of both Madoka and Martin, but the younger wasn't sure how to help. Normally she'd let her abilities go a little and try to get a feel for how the woman was feeling, read her aura and try to help her based on what she'd learnt. But something made her feel that it wasn't necessary (and a smaller part of her wondered if that was considered rude and invasive).

'Later. If I can get her alone, maybe I can ask her what's worrying her and try to help,' she promised herself. Happy with her resolve, she smiled at Madoka and Martin as they stood from the table.

“Well this was lovely, but I'm afraid that the two of us need to be getting back to work for now. You're off to the zoo, right? Have a good time!” Madoka wished them, pouting after a moment. “I wish I could come but I've ignored my work for too long and if I let it pile up any more then I'll never be able to leave the office.”

Martin rolled his eyes at her dramatics before leaning over to press a kiss to his wife's cheek. “I'll see you back home, love. Try not to have too much fun without us or I'll never hear the end of Madoka's complaints,” he joked, relieved at the small, but genuine, laugh that it pulled from the blonde.

He wasn't entirely sure what exactly had been said to make her so upset, but he would leave things be until later tonight when he could get her alone and they could talk about it. As much as he'd like to confront her about it now, there was too many people around and it was something of a private conversation.

Luella seemed to understand his uncertainty.

“Off with you two. The last thing I need is you two staying even later at the office because you slacked off during the day. Shoo,” she pushed, waving them away. It wasn't quite as enthusiastic as she'd like to have it appear, but it seemed to do the trick.

Later. They could talk later.

Martin pecked her on the lips and, just like that, the two of them were off down the street, leaving the blonde with a group of Japanese tourists for the afternoon.

Summoning as much cheer as possible, she turned and smiled at them. “It's about time we were off as well, right?” she pointed out before making her way out of the cafe, followed closely by the rest of them.

She would be fine with time. For now, well, there was no better distraction than a group of Japanese tourists who had never been to England.

Hearing Takigawa complain when his fiancé hit him; her lips twitched.

Yes, they were definitely a distraction.

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Mai grinned as she stepped through the entrance to the zoo, practically bouncing on her toes as she looked around at everything.

Masako huffed at her friend’s excitement, glancing down at the map in her hands that she'd already started using, as she currently lacked her traditional Kimono, to hide her expressions.

“What do you say to just doing a loop? If we get going now, we can probably make it around the entire place before closing time,” Luella suggested.

Nodding in agreement, the group of them started off towards the left; Mai leading on as she bounced from animal to animal, earlier worry about Luella put on hold as she 'ooed' and 'ahhed' at the penguin beach and the butterfly paradise, completely enraptured; much to everyone's amusement.

Her phone was out as she continued to snap picture after picture at anything and everything new, completely unhindered and unembarrassed about her enthusiasm, despite the teasing she could hear coming from her friends behind her as they followed at a much more leisurely pace.

Stopping in front of the lions she looked at them in awe, their fur glowing in the sunlight, they looked majestic and utterly terrifying at the same time.

Getting close to the glass, she leaned against it as she watched one of the lions, lowering her eyes in submissive answer when he caught her eye and started to stare her down.

Bou-san grinned as he stepped up beside her. “They're pretty cool, huh? Scary though,” he commented, looking down at her as he rested his arm on her shoulder.

Mai shook her head. “They're scary in thought, but they're actually lovely creatures,” she informed him, her eyes locking with the same lion whose head seemed to cock in response.

Tilting her own head, she smiled at it.

He stared her down for a moment before moving towards the her at the enclosure.

Ayako blinked in surprise before stepping a little further away.

“Why is it coming over here? Did you anger it Mai?” she asked, voice a tiny bit worried as the lion prowled towards them, head looking arrogant, body moving fluidly.

Masako scoffed at the red-haired woman. “What are you so scared of? The enclosure is perfectly fine at keeping them away from us,” she pointed out, rolling her eyes at how ridiculous her friend could be.

Before Ayako could respond, they watched as Mai crouched down on the ground a little to be closer to the lion's height.

“Hello there. I'm Mai. Aren't you handsome?” she asked.

Bou-san shook his head at her. “You know that they can't respond right?” he asked, voice teasing as he watched the younger woman interact with the creature in front of her.

Mai didn't bother to respond, waiting patiently before the lion let out a low growl, as if in response to her words.

She grinned. “Of course you realise how handsome you are, how silly of me. Does that mean you don't want to hear me talk about it?”

The lion let out a huff, sounding remarkably unamused and frustrated, making Mai laugh in response.

Luella watched on in amazement at how well things were going. She'd been here plenty of times before and she'd never seen one of the lions react like that to anyone. It would seem that people weren't the only ones who lacked the ability to ignore Mai.

As if on cue, a couple of the other lions, and a single lioness stretched their legs before heading over towards Mai, letting out low roars of their own.

Mai grinned.

“Yes, yes. You're handsome as well, the both of you,” she agreed in response making them all smile. It was almost like the girl was speaking to them and hearing responses – an interesting thought although it was ridiculous in actuality.

Noticing everyone else's preference for Mai, who looked like she wanted nothing more than to pet them in that moment, a cub made its way to the rest, head just as proud as the first one that came over.

Lowering herself even further, Mai reached out to place her hand against the glass that kept them apart, amazing the others when it let out a yawn before moving to try and rub against the hand that was there like it was normal, before letting out a roar of annoyance when the cub seemed to realise that it couldn't get into contact with her.

Mai let out a quiet giggle, smiling softly. “Sorry little one. I wish I could give you scratches too,” she promised; voice almost too small to hear.

The cub let out an irritated huff before moving to fall against the enclosure, it's paw perfectly over Mai's hand in an odd form of high-five.

“Oh, wow Mai. It looks like it really likes you,” Yasu commented, trying to act like his normal self despite being as in awe as the rest of them.

Mai hummed in response, attention still caught by the little lion, feeling sad that she couldn't be closer to it. “He just wants some attention. They all do,” she said, looking up at them with a smile.

Ayako chuckled at her. “Well, as cute as they are, if you want to make it to everything else then you'll have to move soon.”

Pouting a little, Mai sighed as she realised that the other woman was being realistic.

With a heavy heart she got ready to move. “I'll come back soon, okay?” she promised, reminding herself that she could come back as often as her schooling gave her time off.

The lions all gave their own roars of disappointment, but it was the little cub's small roar that made Mai's heart even more heavy as she turned back to the park.

This point onwards she stuck to the back of the group, paying significantly less attention to everything, even though she still smiled and took pictures.

Her mind kept wandering back to the cub and how badly she'd wanted to stay there with him.

Luella smiled sadly at Mai's expression whenever she thought no-one was looking. She'd been keeping to the back of the group as well, having seen everything plenty of times before and she couldn't help but note the younger woman’s sadness at leaving the lions behind.

“You can come back as often as you'd like,” she reminded Mai quietly when the she glanced back at where the lions were.

Jumping at being caught, Mai smiled softly. “I know. I don't mean to be upset. They're just... they're lonely. They want more attention, especially the little one.” She sighed before shrugging.

Luella smiled. “Always so kind.”

Red rushed over Mai's face, covering her cheeks quickly and extending down her neck as she shook her head quickly. “No- not at all,” she denied.

The other woman laughed at the response. “Well I think you are. You always think about everyone else's feelings before your own. You're even thinking of the animals like you would anyone else,” she insisted, her own smile fading slightly. “I wish I could be like that.”

Mai blinked a little at the admission before remembering her earlier promise to herself about making sure she got Luella to speak about whatever had been bothering her at lunch.

Swallowing thickly, Mai chose her words carefully, letting them fall back even further from the group to give them a little more privacy.

“You are like that. You've been more than kind enough,” Mai informed her quietly. “But it sounds like you're thinking of something specific...”

Luella sighed. “Just a thought I had earlier.”

Humming, Mai gave her a small smile. “Do you want to talk about it? I might not be of too much help, but I've been told I'm a great listener,” she offered.

For a moment she was sure that Luella wouldn't tell her anything, but then as she began to speak, the situation started to fit like puzzle pieces in her mind.

“I just realised before lunch that I tied Noll down without meaning to. He had friends and a good job in Japan and because he knew that I wanted him close to me – paranoid of losing another son so soon – he moved here to be with us, leaving behind his own chance at happiness. As a mother all I ever wanted was for them to be happy, but I was so caught up in myself that I didn't even think...” Luella trailed off, her voice full of sadness.

Mai bit her lip as she thought about what to say in response to what the woman had just told her.

Turning over the words in her mind carefully, she took her time putting things together before speaking. “I think that you've gotten things a little mixed up,” Mai provided, putting her hand up when it seemed like Luella was about to interrupt her. “I understand that you might think you took too much from Naru but you're looking at things from only a single point of view.

“To Naru, it wasn't even a real question of whether or not to return to England – it had always been a matter of when. And in this case, you're also reading into his relationships too much. It's true that we're all pretty close but, well, sorry if this sounds bad but, I don't think you could really say that Naru made proper friends with the JSPR irregulars. Not to say that he didn't tolerate them, or care for them for that matter. But more like, he doesn't view people so simply? I don't know how to explain it to you, but I think you know what I mean.”

Luella turned her words over, digesting them and understanding the other view that Mai was giving her. “So, you mean that he wasn't as happy as I suspect in Japan?” she asked.

Shaking her head, Mai tried to think of the right way to put it into English. “No. Not to make you upset, but most of the time in Japan Naru was much happier than I've heard him being here. He formed a truce with the others, between Naru and I we had a tentative understanding – possibly even friendship – but he misses the independence more – I think. That doesn't mean that he needed to be in Japan though. He needed the closure, and he does enjoy being here as well – at least as far as I can tell.” She shrugged slightly with a rueful look on her face. “But who am I to tell you that? You're probably much more aware of how he works than me...”

Laughing lightly, Luella shook her head as she realised what Mai was trying to say and connected what she knew about her son with what the girl beside her had pointed out. She was right – not that this surprised Luella. She's prided herself on knowing her son quite well, but it was clear that after Gene's, Mai's knowledge matched hers just as well.

“I understand. I'll try not to dwell on it further. But just answer me this. Do you think that Noll can be happy here? Truly happy?”

Mai smiled. “Of course. It might take a while for it to manifest in the way that you're expecting, and there's still gonna be times when he's not fine. But he's already content and he does love you a lot. Happiness is only one step further for Naru. Even now he enjoys some things more than he lets on and cares even more than that. Just be patient and don't start jumping to conclusions. He'd hate to know you were thinking this way.”

Sighing, Luella nodded. “You're right. It's time I stopped worrying over this anyway,” she agreed, a true smile spreading over her mouth. “Thank you, Mai. You've really helped me out.”

Flushing, Mai shook her head. “Any time,” she assured, before blinking as Yasu stopped a little bit up ahead and turned around to them.

“Are you guys going to catch up soon or?” he joked, laughing at the glare Mai shot his way before jogging off, causing Mai to roll her eyes before giving chase.

Watching the two teens run around like children, Luella couldn't help but feel at ease finally and despite Mai not being able to hear her, she admitted quietly – more to herself – that she might just take Mai up on her offer in the future.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Fifteen

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Friday, April 12th

Yawning as Mai pulled herself upright, she smiled a little as she looked around the room that was quickly becoming familiar to her. Even though it had been less than a week since they'd come to stay in the Davis’ household, there was a certain routine she was beginning to get used to and she was sad that it would be ending soon.

Frowning, she sighed at the reminder that tomorrow everyone but Yasu would be heading back to Japan and it would be the end of the year before she saw any of them again, barring extreme circumstances. It was saddening but at the same time she couldn't wait. She'd miss them all dearly but there was something to be said for living on her own for so long and then suddenly being surrounded by people so often.

It had definitely thrown her abilities for a loop; they were more sensitive to everything since their trip to BSPR, washing emotions over her at random moments that had thrown her off balance a couple of times.

Her lips twitched as she recalled the lions at the zoo. That had been the first moment during the day that she'd felt like herself. It was embarrassing to think of the attention she'd gathered from her friends but at least they hadn't questioned her pull towards them. There was just something calming about the emotions they portrayed and how open they'd been.

It was a good change from the stifling emotions of her friends, who were also doing their best not to depress her with how sad they were to be leaving her alone over the next few years with only a few visits.

Not that she didn't appreciate their attempts to keep themselves under control, but having their emotions closer to lock-down than openness had only served to throw her off balance as her abilities had instinctually tried to figure things out harder; now she was left feeling drained from the back and forwards between having them on complete lock-down to overusing them by accident.

Forcing her still-exhausted body out of bed, she shook her thoughts from her head. That was yesterday and today was a new day. There was no time to be dwelling on such negative things. Especially when – for the first time since she'd been in Gene's room – she'd woken up with a happier emotion permeating the room. She wasn't sure what prompted the change, but it was doing wonders for her own mood.

Changing into her jogging clothes, she set off; already behind since the sun was much closer to having risen than it had been the last few times that she'd gone out for her jog.

Stepping quietly through the house, she was momentarily shocked to see Lin-san at the door, hand part-way on the handle as he turned to her. She'd completely forgotten that they'd all stayed up late speaking about some parapsychology stuff last night and Luella had insisted that he spend the night; as it was already gone mid-night when they'd realised the time and decided to retire.

“Good morning, Lin-san,” she acknowledged, smiling brightly at her but keeping her voice quiet. It was barely six in the morning after all.

“Morning Taniyama-san,” he greeted, ignoring her irritation at the formal use of her name. “I admit, when they mentioned that you had started jogging in the mornings, I was a little unsure if it was true.”

The slight teasing tone from the older man distracted her from her irritation as she crossed her arms with a small pout. “I don't understand why that was everyone's reaction when I first started jogging. Is it really that shocking?”

“It's not the jogging that really shocked me, but rather that you were doing so in the morning. You've never been a morning person before,” he informed her, thinking back briefly on all the moments when he found himself irritated at this fact because of how late it had made her.

Mai flushed a little but had to concede the point. “It's not that I'm any more a morning person now... I just kind of got used to it and now it doesn't matter what I do, I can hardly sleep until seven...” she admitted.

Lin gave her an amused but understanding look.

“In that case, would you care to join me? Luella mentioned that you've been jogging towards the park?” he prompted.

It was then that Mai finally took note of the attire that Lin was wearing and realised that she hadn't even noticed that he was in a simple T-shirt and jogging pants, a change from his usual office-wear.

“As long as it's not an imposition, I wouldn't mind the company,” she agreed. Despite her exhaustion from being surrounded by people, there was something soothing about Lin's aura that was making all of that disappear.

Lin's lips twitched a little in place of an actual smile at how much Mai cared about everyone else over herself, like always. “I wouldn't have offered if that was the case,” he pointed out kindly.

Flushing, Mai shrugged a little but admitted to herself that it was a bit of a stupid question. The older man definitely wouldn't have offered out of politeness – he was like Naru in that regard.

“Right.”

Sighing, Lin opened the door and stepped outside, holding it open for Mai as she stepped out as well, and nodding at her 'thank you' as he observed the way the girl relaxed the moment they stepped outside. This must have been what had distracted Noll when they'd gotten back last time.

“I assume that this has something to do with your sensitivity?” he prompted, stepping down the stairs easily as Mai followed along, snapping out of her state.

Flushing as she realised that she'd gotten distracted by how things felt outside the Davis' household, she grinned sheepishly and followed him easily, keeping pace with Lin as he broke into a light jog that was barely more than a fast walk.

A raised eyebrow from Lin had her remembering his question and it took her a moment to try and figure out how to describe it best for the man – already knowing that there was no way she was getting around it even if she didn't quite understand why it happened.

Maybe he could shed some light on the situation if nothing else.

“I think so? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's at least something to do with that. The air outside is, well, peaceful. But not in the same way that nature always is. I've never been somewhere like this. There's a certain life to how everything feels around the Davis' manor. I haven't been in the gardens to test my theory yet, but I'd say they’re going to feel the same. Everything feels light and it's almost like I can hear how happy the animals and plants in the area are – how much they enjoy just standing still and being there. Even the shrines and temples I've visited in Japan don’t do it justice,” she admitted, trying to explain just how enlightening everything felt. “I thought that maybe it was the trees but if that was the case then Ayako would have reacted when we got here, and she didn't.”

There was a level of confusion clear on the young girl's face as she tried to put sensations into words – something that despite her struggles she was much better at than she gave herself credit for, since the older man could almost imagine the type of feeling she was describing. It was certainly a more apt explanation than he'd ever heard someone give.

The thought that she'd make a great teacher popped into his head, but he quickly pushed it away lest it distract him.

The way that she described things reminded him greatly of how a priestess would describe the trees, but she'd mentioned the animals as well, something that Shinto priestesses didn't have a close enough relation with. Plus, Mai had never mentioned training with Matsuzaki-san. In fact, she hadn't mentioned much to do with her training at all when he thought about it.

This was something to file away and bring up with Noll later. Maybe Mai had spilled something to him since she'd been considerably less tight-lipped around him than anyone else. If not, then they could always ask her about it at another date. It wasn't like they were going to run out of opportunities any time soon after all.

“I'm afraid that even though I have an idea of what you're talking about, I don't have any information of someone with similar experiences. I'll keep an eye out for an explanation though and let you know if anything comes up,” he promised. “Do you always feel nature this strongly?”

Mai smiled. “Sort of, yeah. I can't really explain it. Even when I was little, I preferred being outside with the plants and nature than cooped up inside. It's only gotten stronger as I got older.”

She winced a little as she remembered that she'd been enjoying the cherry blossoms the first time that she'd noticed Lin and gotten him hurt. Even after all this time, there was still a lot of guilt she felt for how that had gone.

Noticing Mai's change in mood, Lin gave her a curious look but didn't say anything as she seemed to shake it from her only moments later.

Picking the pace up slightly, he was impressed to find that Mai still had no problems keeping up even though her legs were much shorter than his own, so this was a significantly faster pace for her than it was for himself.

Up ahead he could spot the park that he assumed was the one that had been mentioned to him.

Mai seemed to brighten at the sight of it.

“This park isn't as peaceful as the Davis' area but the place by the river is perfect for meditation,” she explained to Lin when it was clear that he wasn't going to ask.

“You do more than just jog in the mornings?” Lin asked. It made sense in a way, but the initiative still shocked him a little. This was different to how he imagined the girl from a year ago would react. Meditation is the sort of thing that he'd always thought Mai would need to be forced into.

Noticing how she'd thrown Lin off balance from how his aura reacted to her words, Mai couldn't help but giggle. “Don't worry Lin-san, it's not exactly something that I ever thought I would take part in regularly either,” she admitted, mirth colouring her tone as she easily kept pace as he sped up again into something bordering on a run even for himself.

This only seemed to make Mai laugh, however, something that he scowled at before admitting to himself that his reaction was childish in a way he hadn't acted in a long time.

His shiki seemed just as amused at his reaction and he slowed down a little as he schooled his emotions again. He realised that, so far, Mai had been rather respectful; considering that if she could read his aura while jogging then when they were just standing around it must be as easy as breathing for her.

As if sensing his thoughts, Mai smiled. “That was a different side than I expected to ever see from you, Lin-san,” she teased before becoming more serious. “I didn't mean to read your aura and I apologise if I made you uncomfortable. Ordinarily I do my best to ignore them since it feels unfair to know how someone is feeling all the time when they don't want me to, but sometimes I slip up.”

Lin winced when he realised that he might have brought up a touchy subject without meaning to. Slowing down to a walk, he shook his head at Mai's apology. “I apologise as well. It was hardly a suitable reaction and I imagine that under different circumstances I would have been quite happy for you to read my aura, but it caught me by surprise. I'm not used to being an open book, as such,” he admitted.

The brunette smiled reassuringly at him. “Don't worry about it, Lin-san. You're hardly the first person. I let myself go a bit too much when running since your company is quite peaceful and didn't realise what I was doing until too late. As much control as I have these days, it's still quite frustrating. However, if it interests you on a more academic level, I can do aura readings for you all later on under more controlled circumstances?” She offered.

Blinking at the offer, Lin nodded before recalling Mai's aversion to 'testing' earlier.

“I don't want to put you in an uncomfortable position, though I am curious,” he admitted.

Mai shook her head, seeming to remember how much she was against testing originally. “Oh no, I don't think of this in the same vein as testing. This is perfectly normal for me. I do readings for the others quite regularly and I used to offer them at the church when I went with John. It was good practice,” she explained.

Nodding in understanding, Lin noted down this information for later and promised to bring it up with Madoka, Noll, and Martin later on.

Approaching the wooden dock on the river edge, Lin could understand what Mai meant when she said that it was a good place for meditation. Even though he was no-where near as in tune with nature, he could sense how calming everything was.

As he watched the brunette breathe deeply and take up a Qigong position, he couldn't help but feel shocked. When had this happened? Perhaps some of his later questions on her training would need to be moved up.

Watching carefully, he easily fell into the role of a teacher observing their student to see where they were at with their training, and where they could improve.

He was more shocked to find that there were few faults in her movements, no doubt from being practised as often as she must if this was a regular occurrence. Her movements were fluid and well-timed, apart from a couple of movements, and she concentrated easily and without care for his staring that he had seen many students find unnerving and stumble mid-way from.

As her movements began to finish up, he continued to watch carefully, and was impressed when she finished at the same pace she'd kept for most of the routine, reluctantly impressed by her self-control from rushing to finish things.

Coming back to herself from the hypersensitive state that Qigong caused her, Mai blinked and then remembered that Lin was watching. Although, that's not quite right. She knew he was watching her, had been able to feel his eyes on her every movement. But she'd fallen into an easy ignorance towards it and focused instead on her own aura entirely.

Turning, she smiled at how he seemed somewhat impressed – a high compliment she knew even if he hadn't said anything yet.

“I wasn't aware that you'd started training in Qigong,” He expressed.

Mai furrowed her brows before realising that she hadn't actually mentioned her practice and Luella mustn't have either.

“Sorry. I thought that Luella would have at least mentioned it since I told her when we spoke about my jogging, but I guess not. Although I thought it was clear when I mentioned meditation earlier as well, or that you would ask if you didn't know about it.”

Lin sighed before nodding. “You're correct, but I had thought you were speaking of traditional meditation. Your movements were fluid and well-timed except for a couple of forms, which you fixed the flow of fairly quickly. Well done. Who trained you, if I may ask?” he inquired.

Stretching out a little bit to completely loosen herself up, Mai smiled and began to walk back in the direction that they'd come from, speaking as she went.

“I spent some time training with the monks from Bou-san's family when my abilities first started to expand to try and control them, but their methods weren't really working for me. I don't suit traditional meditation – as you felt earlier. I can do it if I have to, but I'm more likely to just end up in a sleep trance when made to sit around as opposed to actually meditating,” she admitted. “At the time, however, there was an onmyoji staying with them as well and when he noticed their struggle, he offered his expertise. It took us a single lesson to realise that I was much more suited to the practice of Qigong.”

Lin nodded in understanding as he followed her easily, noticing how far the sun had risen. Had they really been out for that long already?

“You must practice regularly for your movements to be so fluid,” he prompted.

Mai nodded. “Of course. I spent only a few weeks during the holiday period with him, however, in that time Master Wei taught me the importance of practising Qigong regularly and recommended that I start getting into shape to further my spiritual control. Since I could feel the difference from the start, it was a good incentive to continue. It's been around a year and a half since I started this routine.”

Something about the name 'Wei' was familiar, and Lin simply added it to the ever-growing information he had. There were many people in his practice that have the name Wei after all, it's hardly a rare name.

Thinking on how things must have gotten for Mai to be requesting help – something that they'd practically had to force her to do in the past with how independent she'd been – made warning bells go off in his head.

“You've never mentioned, how did your powers begin to expand to the point of loss of control? I know that we never offered you much in the way of formal training, which was an oversight on our part, but I would have thought someone would have mentioned to Madoka if something had happened?” he enquired.

Mai blinked at the sudden onslaught of words from Lin who usually spoke so little but quickly felt uncomfortable at the turn their conversation had taken.

“Später,”* she blurted, using the code-word herself and Yasu often used to portray a desire to leave a topic alone for the time being. It didn't mean, 'never' it meant 'later'.

Confusion showed for a second on Lin's face before he schooled it into his normal expressionless facade.

“I don't believe that's a real answer.” Or English. Or Japanese, for that matter.

Mai winced a little, upset by how harsh he sounded. Keeping her own tone soft to prevent from angering him, she flinched at how strongly Lin was radiating his annoyance at being brushed off.

“I'm sorry Lin-san. I don't mean to ignore your question. I didn't mean to upset you. It's just... I don't like to talk about what happened,” she tried to explain quickly before he could anger further, stumbling over her words as she tried to rush the English out, wishing for the first time in a long time that she was speaking in her mother tongue, but determined to keep using English. “I'll tell you eventually, or if I don't then one of the others will slip but, I just – später. Later. It's the code-word Yasu and I use, and I guess, you now as well?”

Just as quickly as the irrational annoyance at being brushed off had come, it left. What was wrong with him today? His emotions were more all over the place than they were when he was with Madoka for God's sake.

There was a sense of specialness to being given the code-word that Mai shared with only one other person, and a level of trust he felt settling with himself as he realised just what he was being offered. Mai was giving him her safety word and trusting that if she ever used it and Yasu wasn't around then he knew what it meant. And offering to the same thing for him.

Unsure of how to accept something like that, he could only nod, words failing him but hoping that she could sense how much her trust meant to him.

There was a silent moment before Mai turned to him and beamed, a sense of gratitude and relief in her eyes.

The rest of their jog passed by in silence as they enjoyed the peace, a fundamental difference between them that was obvious, and yet something that Mai felt like she'd been missing for years.

Her grin was just as wide as they made it back to the manor and stepped inside. She smiled gratefully when Lin held the door open for her, before she let out a deep breath.

Almost instantly, Mai felt the emotions slam into her as usual but she held steady, focusing on pulling back from them slightly and finding where everyone was instead, a ritual that she'd been doing since she arrived here and found comfort in.

Noticing a familiar aura in the dining room with the rest of her friends, she frowned.

Still wordless, Lin raised an eyebrow.

There was a fleeting thought that maybe he'd used all his words on their morning talk that made her lips twitch before she pushed it away and responded.

“Everyone is in the dining room. Even Naru. That hasn't happened since we first got here,” she explained.

Shrugging at his look, she opted to just make her way over to the dining room and let herself in, keeping the door open for Lin like he had for her the last two times before letting it shut.

“Good morning Mai! And Lin as well! Did you two go out jogging together?” Luella inquired, voice chipper as always in the morning as she watched the two of them take their usual seats.

Mai grinned sheepishly. “I ran into Lin on my way out this morning since I got out later than usual and we decided it could be interesting. He looked over my Qigong exercises,” she explained as she reached across the table to grab a slice of toast and add it to her plate before also grabbing some orange juice and pouring it into her glass.

Yasu grinned a little from next to her and waited until Mai took a sip from her juice before speaking.

“Running off with an older man now are we Mai? It's been less than a week on foreign soil!” he exclaimed while looking scandalised, satisfied when it caused her to choke half-way through her drink and cough when it went down the wrong pipe.

Swinging around to her best friend, she glared. “What the hell Yasu?!” she shouted back, voice a little rough from how hard she'd been coughing while her friend doubled over in laughter and everyone else looked on amused, except Naru and Lin who simply rolled their eyes.

Masako covered her mouth as she tried to look like she wasn't amused at her friend’s reaction.

“Really now Mai. I had thought you'd have a little more decorum. And one that's in a relationship as well.” She tsk'ed, making Bou-san double over along with Yasu and prompting a snicker from Ayako.

The brunette turned to glare at her other friend, muttering some choice words too quietly for even Naru right next to her to hear before she opted to ignore them in a rare show of maturity.

Turning to Luella after swallowing her mouthful of toast, she smiled slightly. “Did you decide on the plans for today while I was out? I don't think Ayako would be up if you hadn't,” she joked, ignoring the indignant scoff from her friend.

Luella grinning. “Oh yes. We've decided that since everyone will be leaving soon, today is the perfect opportunity to go shopping.”

Mai froze at the information before immediately turning to Naru. “Take me with you,” she hissed, knowing he was going to BSPR and she would much rather spend a day there than be stuck running from shop to shop all day trying on clothing that she didn't want or need.

There was a level of amusement in Naru's eyes as she gave him her most pleading look and for a moment, he seemed to consider it while the other females were distracted talking about what shops they could visit and where they could get lunch.

That only made Mai more desperate to get out of the activity.

“I can make you tea if I go with you,” she pointed out, trying to be as convincing as possible, much to Yasu's further entertainment.

Glancing over at Madoka and Luella, however, Oliver could already tell that it would be an exercise in futility.

“As tempting as your offer is, it doesn't nearly stand up to utter hell I'd go through from Mother and Madoka,” he informed her; his voice quiet as a smirk tugged at his lips.

The crest-fallen look on her face was so dramatic he was tempted to chuckle but schooled himself into impassiveness.

Here lays Taniyama Mai. Killed by the excitement her friends put into an activity they wanted her to enjoy but she hated with a passion. May she find peace in the knowledge that she'll never again have to go shopping,” Yasu whispered, just loud enough for Mai and Naru to hear, prompting a giggle out of Mai as she noted her own dramatics.

Hitting him lightly for his words, she resigned herself to her fate. It couldn't be any worse than she was used to after all.

Right?

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*später is literally the word for ‘Later’ in German. I wanted a word that seemed foreign for Mai to use since she wouldn't want a word that you could just blurt out on accident in the middle of normal conversation, so this seemed to be the best that I could come up with. I hope that there's enough detail about on the concept of a Safety Word and how important it is to Mai and Yasu, and how much this changes her situation with Lin? If not, feel free to ask any questions. I just felt like Mai is the kind of person to forget how to say “I can't talk about that right now”, and who breaks if pushed too far on a topic she wants people to leave alone but has trouble explaining that to people. I actually think this is something that people should have more often in real life since people seem to limit safety words or safe words to just the practice of things like BDSM even though they're perfectly valid as a normal everyday tool. But even if you don't really believe in the concept or understand its relevance right now, try to remember the word since it will 100% come up in the story later on.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Sixteen

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, April 12th

Oh, how wrong she'd been. Mai noted as she stood in the middle of a large mall, feeling like she was drowning from the amount of emotions that surrounded her; even as she tried to reign herself in as tightly as possible and put up a shield around her mind to protect herself.

At Madoka's squeal of excitement, she turned her head curiously to the other woman and wasn't surprised to find her running off towards one of the display mannequins in a shop window.

“Let's go in this one!” she called out, before entering without waiting for a response.

Shaking her head in exasperation, Mai followed without much complaint as Luella almost ran after her friend and Ayako followed suit having spotted something that she also wanted to take a look at.

Moving at her more sedate pace, Mai found herself standing with Masako just outside the front entrance.

One look from the medium made the brunette smile, noting the level of concern from her friend that she could see in her eyes.

“I'm alright. I've got everything on a tight lock-down. I just- I'll need some time to myself later on so if you can fend them off then?” she asked her friend, trusting her to understand her current development.

Masako gave Mai the smallest of smiles before nodding.

Out of everyone Mai knew, she knew that Masako would understand best what it was like to just be surrounded by too much. It wasn't something that the other three had even considered – honestly Mai hadn't even considered it. She'd been so worried about the shopping itself that she'd forgotten how long it had taken for her to be able to even go into the busier areas of Tokyo when her abilities had started growing and how much worse everything felt when surrounded like this.

Noting her friend’s absent-mindedness, Masako reached out to gently touch her arm.

“Perhaps it would be better inside one of the shops, further away from all people out here,” she suggested, worried, but determined to help her friend make it through the day.

Even though she complained, Mai did actually enjoy going out with the rest of the girls, even if the activity was shopping. And since they were already here, there wasn't much to be done on the subject except to keep on moving.

Mai sensed her friends thought pattern and took a deep breath before double checking she had everything on lock-down - the emotions and auras around her much more muted than usual – before nodding and shaking herself a little in the hopes to get herself hyped up.

“Let's go get some shopping done.” She steeled herself before finally entering the store.

Much to her relief, Masako had been correct about it being easier to bear the weight of people’s emotions from inside the store and soon she found herself distracted enough by her friends and the various pieces clothing that she didn't even notice it.

The rest of the morning continued to pass much like that, with Luella, Ayako, and Madoka conning Mai into letting them buy her a skirt, new pair of jeans and three new tops – much to her irritation.

Luckily, the older women were beginning to wind down a little as they grew hungry and not long after they called it quits for the time being and made their way over to the food court, after a quick trip out to the car to drop off what they'd bought so far – lest Ayako's arms fall off.

Mai snickered slightly at the thought as she recalled just how much her friend had ended up buying in the past three hours.

Looking around, the brunette immediately felt overwhelmed with the different options to choose from.

“So, do we want to get proper food court food and sit out here, or do we want to go and find a restaurant that's inside and sit in there instead to eat?” Luella asked, deferring to the three Japanese women who looked mildly unsure.

Biting her lip, Mai considered the options carefully but ultimately the strain of what it would be like to sit in the packed food court had her opting for a one of the little restaurants she'd seen along the way.

Masako nodded in agreement.

“Yes, I'd also appreciate somewhere a little quieter to eat. I recall a place called Coffee Club* that seemed like it had many options,” she suggested.

Ayako lit up at the suggestion. “Oh yes! I saw that as well. Have either of you two ever been?” she asked, looking over at Luella and Madoka curiously.

Nodding, Madoka started off in that direction straight away. “Yes, of course. They do have nice food. And it's not too expensive either. Good eye,” she agreed, grinning.

Following her, Mai was relieved. A chance to get away from the near constant noise around her and the chance to sit down finally? It almost seemed too good to be true.

It didn't take them long to find a seat and Madoka explained how this particular type of restaurant worked - there were no waiters, they had to go up and order and then they would be given a table number to use - reminding her of how the vending machine style restaurants** in Japan worked.

After they'd each gone up to order, they settled back down at their table.

“So, where else do we still want to go this afternoon?” Luella asked, directing her question towards Mai more than any of the other girls. It seemed like Mai was enjoying this significantly less than the rest of them were, but she hadn't made much in the way of complaints, letting them drag her along without protest.

It made the blonde feel a little guilty, but she wasn't sure how to broach the subject without drawing unwanted attention to whatever the topic ended up being.

Thinking about it, Mai smiled slightly in an attempt to placate the worry that was screaming from Luella even as her powers stayed tied down and blanketed.

“Well, if you don't mind the change of pace, I actually need to find somewhere that supplies loose leaf tea. I make my own mixes, but I could only bring a minimal amount with me here and I'm a little worried that it's not going to last me much longer with the amount I've used between myself and Naru,” she admitted.

This shocked the woman slightly. “Noll drinks your tea that often?” She paused, realising how her shock might come off and back tracked quickly. “I wasn't aware that he would drink anything made by someone else with any frequency. He's always needed everything to be done perfectly. Even now there's only a single maid at home that makes it quite right – other than myself of course,” she explained; awe clear in her voice.

Mai flushed. “I do run a tea shop, though,” she pointed out, “I've almost always made my own blends of teas and I like to play around. I've never found Naru to be that picky though...”

The way she trailed off belayed her confusion at the new information. Her tea wasn't that good, was it?

Noting how unsure she appeared to be, Ayako cut in easily.

“Mai's tea has always been really good, so I'm not surprised that he became addicted to it. If he didn't have tea almost every hour, Naru tended to get irritable,” she proclaimed receiving an affirming nod from Masako who had experienced the same irritation.

Luella laughed lightly at the thought of it. “And now that you can make tea again for him, I suppose that's the reason for his sudden 'good mood'?” she joked, only to find a knowing look on her pink-haired friend's face.

“It's actually my current theory. Mai used it to bribe him when we were at BSPR,” she revealed, pretending like it was a secret and grinning at the flush that began to cover the brunette's cheeks in embarrassment.

“Which won't be happening again any time soon if I can't find some loose tea leaves,” Mai reminded, refusing to acknowledge just how warm her cheeks felt.

Luckily, she was saved from speaking further on the subject when their food began arriving.

Tucking in, she kept her eyes on the table as she let the conversation between them flow over the rest of their lunch, relishing in the moment of almost quiet while it lasted.

If it weren't for her desire to find the tea leaves before her collection ran out, Mai was almost certain that she'd be begging Yasu to bail her own right now, well and truly shopped out for the time being. Sadly, she was going to have no such luck as they discussed further where else to go.

“I haven't bought a single pair of shoes yet today so that needs to be next on our list after we get Mai's tea,” Ayako informed them all, making Mai roll her eyes.

“Or,” Mai suggested, swallowing a sip of water. “You could go shoe shopping and I can catch up with you after I get the tea.”

Madoka pouted at her. “But it won't be as fun if you aren't there,” she complained.

Masako covered her mouth. “I'm actually curious about the tea options here as well so I'd like to go with Mai for now. I'm sure you can manage for an hour on your own,” she scoffed.

Ayako bristled at the condescending tone despite knowing that she was being baited, sitting up straighter in her chair. Before she could start to complain, however, she was cut off by an equally appalled Luella.

“An hour?”

Giggling a little at her disbelief, Mai nodded. “Like I said – you can go shoe shopping while I go and get tea. I'm not one to settle for anything but the best when it comes to my tea, so it'll take me quite a while once we manage to find the place,” she informed them, completely serious. “I'm sure we'll catch up to you eventually though, so don't worry!”

'With any luck they'll be almost shopped out by then,' she thought to herself.

Sighing when she realised it was a losing battle, Ayako conceded. “Make sure that you text me when you get to the tea supplier, and before you leave,” she ordered, obviously worried about sending them off on their own.

Rolling her eyes, Mai smiled a little. “Yes, yes. I promise.”

Ducking the swat from her friend, she pulled Masako along, exiting the restaurant before they had a chance to change their minds. She loved her friends dearly, but she really was beginning to need a proper break. An entire day to herself, without worrying about dampening her abilities or considering other people's wants and needs.

Spotting one of the maps, she noted where she could find the tea supplier, watching as Masako also took note, before they headed towards the nearest elevator to go up another two floors.

It was quiet between the two of them, both of them feeling the strain of being constantly surrounded and opting instead to enjoy what silence they could get within the loud building, and before Mai knew it they had managed to find the little store hidden in the corner of the top floor.

Pulling out her phone, she fired off a text to Ayako so that she wouldn't find herself being lectured for forgetting.

Looking around, she noted the variety of flavours and options, Masako doing the same. There were a couple that were familiar and a few other ones that were from a brand she liked, but in flavours she'd never spotted in Japan.

Are you after anything in particular?” Masako asked finally, noting a couple that she was sure her parents would like and picking them up to place them in the basket she'd grabbed upon entering the store.

Mai hummed a little. “Kind of? I'll know it when I see it. Don't worry about me. Though we might be here for a little bit,” she admitted, picking up a raspberry flavoured tea and placing it in her basket that already contained mint tea, earl grey, chamomile and green tea.

Covering her mouth, Masako sighed a little. “I expected as much. Remember, we have at least half an hour before they're going to consider us re-joining them,” she reminded lightly.

Nodding in understanding, Mai set to work grabbing different teas from the shelves at what appeared to be random to her young friend but was mostly planned by Mai. She took note and considered which teas she needed for her personal blends, grabbing some things for her tea making as well; most notably some more tea bags to prepare in advance.

'Or perhaps to give to Naru,' Masako considered, heading up to the counter to pay for her own, content to watch her friend flit around and amused when she noticed the shock on the cashier's face at the amount of tea currently in Mai's basket.

Accepting her bag from the lady, she thanked her politely before leaving the small store to sit on one of the seats provided in a rest area just across from the shop, sighing at the chance to relax. It was quieter at this end of the centre as well, which helped.

Around thirty minutes later – much like she'd predicted – Masako watched Mai leave the shop with three large bags, rolling her eyes in a rare show of unladylike behaviour at the sheepish look the brunette was sporting.

Are you sure you spent enough?” she teased. “I believe that's the same amount that Ayako spent on actual clothing.”

Mai winced, a little guilty at the amount that she'd spent but deciding it was worth it if she didn't have to come back to this centre for at least the rest of the year.

I suppose I might have gone overboard,” she admitted, “But I think it's better to have more than less in this case.”

Masako decided that it wasn't worth the argument, instead looking down at her phone to note where their friends were currently.

I texted Ayako. They're on the first floor towards the entrance. Apparently, they're pleased enough to call it a day.”

Mai grinned. “Thanks. I'm glad that they're done. I've done enough shopping for until the end of the year,” she complained, voice only slightly joking.

Not to complain, but I agree. I'll be in no rush to shop when we return home.”

Snorting at the 'not to complain', Mai opted not to say anything further, their walk continuing in silence just as it had the first time. She couldn't wait to get back to the Davis'.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It was later that night before anyone noticed that something was up as they finished eating and retired to the lounge room, talk about how today had gone flowing easily enough.

“Mai literally bought the entire tea shop, I swear,” Madoka relayed, disbelief as clear as it had been when she'd noticed them earlier that day. “She walked out with three big bags. She must have had nearly the same amount in tea that all three of us bought in clothing items.”

Rolling her eyes, said brunette huffed at the description but refused to re-start that argument, instead putting on her most innocent smile as she titled her head in false confusion, directing her gaze towards her female friends before it trailed over to an amused Yasu as she spoke.

“But you were complaining that I'd barely bought anything when we went to lunch. I thought you'd be happy?”

Luella laughed as Ayako spluttered, “You aren't supposed to spend half of your money on tea leaves!

“Well then, I hope that you were intending to at least share. That much tea can't be good for you,” Luella pointed out, not even the least bit shocked after their earlier conversation as the rest of their group, bar Lin and Noll (because they were never rowdy like that), and Martin (who couldn't understand the sudden change of pace), cheered at the idea.

Bou-san put on his most convincing pout as he turned to the younger brunette. “I've barely had your tea this entire week we've been gone and normally I have it every day,” he whined, making her laugh.

A voice in the back of Oliver's head commented, 'How do you think I've felt this past year?' – but he tried to ignore it, reminding himself that his tea withdrawal had been his own fault entirely.

Humming, Mai pretended to think about. “Well I guess I can make some,” she agreed, acting reluctant as she stood up. “I'll be back in a little while I suppose.”

Watching her leave the room, John blinked as he noted her English. “A little while? It doesn't usually take too long…” he asked aloud, curious.

Yasu shrugged, smile tugging at his lips. “Who knows what she has planned,” he pointed out, despite his own inkling as to what was going on.

Apparently, his friend had been paying attention to his manipulation techniques when he didn't think she was, since getting them to ask for something that she already intended to do was something he had a habit of doing, but he'd never outright explained it to her.

Kami-sama, he was so proud of her sometimes.

Narrowing his eyes at the look of pride hiding in Yasuhara's eyes, Oliver glanced around to see if anyone else had noticed but seemed to be the only one who had caught anything.

That meant they really were all in the dark about what was going on and he wasn't likely to get anything out of the boy himself.

Settling back to observe, he decided to wait it out and see what Mai was up to.

It couldn't hurt after all.

Distracting themselves, Martin turned towards the group of friends. “So, you're all flying out tomorrow night?” he prompted.

Ayako nodded, a sad look on her face. “Yes. It's going to be a bit lonely back home without Mai around and things will be weird for a while, but I suppose we have to get used to it eventually,” she sighed.

There was a sound of disappointment from Yasu's spot as he turned to her with a fake wounded look on his face. “You mean you won't miss me as well?” he asked, pout settling on his features.

Bou-san scoffed at the younger man. “You're the last person anyone is going to miss,” he informed, a put out look on his face.

Stepping it up a notch, Yasu forced his eyes to tear up just slightly, pretending to be even more hurt by that statement.

“I don't know how I can go on now, Madoka! The love of my life, my own heart, has proclaimed me unnecessary. It will be months before we see each other again and he cares not!” he exclaimed dramatically, pretending to cry into his hands, amused when everyone's attention was definitely on him and not how long Mai was going to be gone.

Shaking his head, John offered Yasu a small smile, always the nicer one. “I know I'm not as important to you as Takigawa, but I will miss you,” he admitted.

Lighting up at the blonde priest, he smiled widely, pretending to suddenly be overwhelmed with happiness.

“Thank you so much John. You're a true sweetheart. If only I could have fallen in love with you instead of such a cruel man,” he continued theatrically.

“Who are you calling cruel?!”

They all ignored the monk's response without even thinking, instead moving on from the entertaining drama as they turned towards more normal topics, all while Luella continued to laugh at the situation.

Not wanting to spend too much time of frivolous conversation, Oliver tried to steer it towards something a little more interesting, or at least something that could be used in his research.

“What kinds of cases have you experienced in the past year? You mentioned that on occasion you still all work together?” he inquired.

There were many interesting cases during his time in Japan and while being home had its benefits, mostly the closeness to Luella, he did miss how much more diverse the options had been while there.

Ayako hummed. “That's true. While not as often as when you were in Japan, we did usually have a least one case a month with all of us together. Mai used to go with each of us separately on occasion as well,” she admitted, thinking on what they'd done since Naru had left.

Masako agreed quietly, face covered by her traditional kimono since they were inside, as she spoke softly but clearly. “Mai used to come and help me on set when she could spare the time. She was quite useful in making sure that things didn't escalate too far, and in giving me information that helped me to coerce spirits into moving on,” she admitted.

There was an unsaid compliment in the air that no-one touched, lest the young woman take it back, as Bou-san continued speaking easily.

“Honestly the one who knows the cases the best over the past year is actually Mai. We can tell you about some of them, but she's such a trouble magnet and half of the time whatever the spirits were doing ended up directed towards her instead of anyone else,” he divulged, an irritated look on his face at the thought of how often it had resulted in her getting injured before they'd even realised something was wrong.

Martin looked a little intrigued, if somewhat concerned about that.

“Is it normal for Mai to spend so much of her time being targeted?” he enquired.

Yasu's grin turned a little wry as he responded. “Calling Mai a trouble magnet is pretty accurate. I have notes on her cases and her attacks that you can take a look at another time,” he offered, “But yes. It is quite normal. I'd be more shocked if we made it through an entire case without any injury appearing on her person.”

“She has an openness, a lightness of her soul. It attracts spirits left and right. Even taking her away from cases cannot change that. Mai is just as likely to be approached from a spirit on the street as she is while on case – though cases are the more violent situations,” Masako explained, trying to convey her own understanding of how Mai looked to those of the other world. “She's like an extremely bright medium, easy to find and so very kind.”

Luella smiled for the first time since the topic had come up. “Those are some high praises,” she pointed out, a slight bit of awe in her tone at how beautifully the young woman had described her friend.

Shrugging a little, Masako turned away with a slight pink on her cheeks. “I only speak the truth.”

“I suppose I should prepare for multiple visits to the hospital while you're studying with us here?” Martin suggested, a sigh in his voice as he considered how this was going to affect her studies.

Ayako sighed as well. “Yes. Normally I treat her smaller injuries, stitches and the like, but without that she'll probably spend a lot of time in your ER. She heals remarkably fast though.”

Oliver opted to note that down as well for future reference as he thought back on her injuries while they worked together and was forced to agree. Her body bounced back as quickly as her mind did a lot of the time and was just as durable.

Tilting his head, John narrowed his eyes at a thought. “I wonder if there are any injuries she hasn't experienced, either through her dreams or in real life?” he mused.

“Any injuries who hasn't experienced?” a voice called out, shocking them all as Mai suddenly opened the door, a curious look on her face.

Scoffing, Ayako gave her a disbelieving look. “Just who do you think we're talking about?” she shot back with a huff.

Mai blinked before flushing when she realised that they were talking about her.

“Can I plead the fifth?”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*Coffee Club is a real restaurant/cafe line here in Australia. I'm not sure if they're international or not but they do great food at a decent price and we have them in like 90% of the shopping centres that I've been to. I'm taking liberties though because I've never seen them laid out like an inlaid restaurant (although I've seen a couple that are close).

**I'm not sure how to describe this or how common this is in other countries so I wanted to note it down, but here if you go to one of the restaurants in a shopping centre, they'll often bring your food out to you or call out a number so that you can go and collect it but you have to order at the counter and pay up front either way, no-one comes to take your order for you. I'm not sure what the vending machine style restaurants are called but it was pretty common from what I saw in Japan, where you went up to a vending machine and selected what you want to order by pressing a button, then you'd pay and be given a ticket which you would bring straight to the chef so that there's no need to pay for waitress staff or the like. (I just realised that these would have been the bane of Naru's existence because everything is usually in kanji – the one I went to in Kanda had an English one to use, but that was pretty out of the norm – and it might have been one of the few times that Naru actually went out of his way to learn some kanji.)

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Seventeen

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, April 12th

Laughing lightly, Luella motioned for Mai to step further into the room, noting the tray in her hands filled with steaming teacups.

“You'd better put that down before you trip and break everything,” Bou-san teased, making the brunette scowl and place it down quickly before turning to stick her tongue out at him in retaliation.

Huffing she moved to take her usual spot, pout on her face.

Yasu grinned, pushing up his glasses. “You know, you should be more careful. You could've jinxed her,” he pointed out.

Bou-san huffed. “There's no such thing as jinxing, it's all coincidence,” he scoffed.

“Yuuta,” Mai responded at the same time Yasu called out, “Risa,” and John and Masako called out, “Takada.”

Pouting, the monk sighed. “I still say it's coincidence,” he proclaimed.

Mai hummed. “If something happened it could have been a coincidence,” she agreed. “But it also could have been the result of you putting the thought of it in my head and my subconscious then trying to avoid the outcome and thereby causing nervousness about my situation and further impairing my ability to move and making me drop everything.”

Seeing an opening, Luella couldn't help but chime in. “Oh yes. The moment he said that I could see you tense up and worry about it being possible which was much more likely to cause you to fall then if he hadn't said anything. There's some interesting psychology behind the concept of jinxing as well.”

Smiling over at her, Mai nodded. “I've read a couple of articles, it's all very fascinating.”

Ayako sighed. “And that's more than enough learning for me today,” she groaned out, pretending to rub at her temples like a headache was beginning to form even though that wasn't the case.

“You know, inability to learn is one of the signs of getting old,” Bou-san teased, grinning as he watched his fiancé’s face start to turn red.

“Who are you calling old, Ojii-san*?!

Masako scoffed at their argument, a smirk tugging at her lips. “I don't know how anyone could consider you two old when you clearly didn't make it through kindergarten,” she informed them primly before turning away from them as they began to glare at her, gesturing towards the teas. “Which one is for me?”

Grinning at her friend, Mai picked up one of the teas and handed it to her without a word, nodding at the thanks she received and taking it as her cue to pick up each of the teacups and hand them to each person before picking up her own and taking a seat.

Glancing over at Lin's cup, Madoka's eyebrows furrowed at the completely different colours they were.

“Are these all different teas?”** she asked, curious about the situation as the JSPR crew simply took a sip.

Blinking in surprise, Mai looked over at her and titled her head in confusion. “Of course they are? Why would I make everyone the same tea?”

Luella's eyes widened. “Oh, you didn't have to go through all that trouble,” she insisted, glancing over at Martin's tea and noting that her friend wasn't kidding.

It was then that she noticed that there was a variety of intermingled scents in the air, not just a single tea. How had she managed to miss that?

Taking a sip of the tea in her hands, her eyes widened at the flavours or cinnamon and apple, as well as something else that she couldn't place.

“I've never had a tea like this before,” she noted, a little bit shocked as she took another sip to try and figure out what it was.

Mai giggled a little at her reaction but didn't comment, waiting for everyone else to try their own with varying reactions.

“Why did you make us all singular teas? We would have been quite happy with just the one flavour,” Martin assured her, a little confused and worried that they'd put their guest in a situation where she thought that this was necessary.

Bou-san waved him off. “Mai rarely makes a single tea for everyone unless she's just making a pot. She owns a tea shop back home and thinks that it’s an insult to her craft to just make the one type,” he teased.

Pouting, Mai turned away from him. “Just for that you don't get any tea for the rest of the year,” she huffed.

The older man rolled his eyes at her. “You'll cave. You always do,” he teased.

Yasu grinned. “While that's true enough, this was more for Mai's benefit than any 'insult to her craft',” he informed his future professor before the two of them could get into a proper argument.

Lighting up at the reminder, Mai grinned over at him. “Oh yeah. If you guys can give write down your honest feedback and comments on how it suited your tastes personally, that'd be a great help to me. And if you could list one or two other teas that you usually prefer to drink then it'd be an even better help,” she admitted before Yasu could spoil too much.

If they had any idea what was going on it would spoil the results of her experiment and then it wouldn't be admissible. Not that she couldn't do it again. She'd been periodically testing things over the course of the year when she 'tries new flavours' on the others and had taken down various notes at this point. But it was always better to have more than less to work with.

Oliver narrowed her eyes at the way that she explained what information she needed. There was something about it that was sending off warning bells in his head. Not that Mai would ever put them in any danger – more like she was up to something and no-one seemed to really understand what.

Sipping at his tea, he tried to think about what he knew about Mai and her current studies.

Luckily for himself, without the distraction of Mai to take him away from his proper work, he had gotten everything finished and finally had the time to dedicate towards reading her entrance paper. It had definitely been much more enlightening than most of the others and he could admit – if only to himself – that he was looking forwards to her future works. Maybe he could convince his father to let him read some of the papers she writes for her future assessment pieces?

Filing away the thought to take it up with his father later, he continued to examine the situation.

Running over the words he remembered from the entrance paper (that he did not read more than ten times – only nine), he recalled what Mai's over all aim had been.

Auras and aura reading, while an interesting section of study, holds much more potential then currently explored. At a basic level, auras are an electro-magnetic field that surrounds all living things. Many psychics explain that auras are made up of multiple complex layers consisting of colours, symbols and on some occasions, images. These images and colours reveal much about the person, but I hypothesise that they could reveal further details such as someone's preference for food or drink, or possibly even a personal desire. Through personal experimentation I will continue to document the current outcomes in the interest of furthering this study.”

It had been an abstract idea that was so Mai that he hadn't really considered just how she would go about documenting it, and judging by everyone's reaction, none of them had even realised that it was happening yet.

It was very sneaky and so very not Mai that he was beginning to think that Yasuhara had a hand in it.

Almost as if the other boy was reading his mind, he turned and winked at Oliver before continuing with his conversation.

Smirking now that he'd solved that mystery, he leant back with his tea and opted to enjoy the rest of the evening, only chiming in to correct everyone occasionally as they passed the time.

When Luella turned to the clock a little later, she blinked in surprise. “Oh dear, it's almost eleven. We really should be getting to bed. You all have a long afternoon ahead of you all and I imagine you'll want to be fully rested for your trip home.”

Ayako nodded, sighing. “You're right. Will we be seeing you all again before we leave?” she asked, glancing around the room.

Madoka grinned. “Of course. We'll be there to see you off,” she proclaimed, not leaving any room for argument.

Biting her lip, Mai fought hard not to flinch at the way it felt like something had suddenly curled in her stomach, tightening everything in a way that could mean two things – something bad would happen if they all went tomorrow, or she was more upset about her friends leaving than she thought she would be.

'Or both,' the helpful voice in the back of her mind pointed out. Which was a valid point.

Smiling widely, she allowed Bou-san and Ayako to pull her into hugs goodnight before waving them off.

Leaning down to put all of the teacups on the tray, she looked up when she heard the sound of Luella's voice.

“Sorry, what was that?” she asked.

Luella smiled kindly at her. “You don't need to worry about that. James can take care of it,” she assured the younger woman.

Shaking her head, Mai fought against portraying her need to do anything, something, to stop the feeling from in her stomach, to focus on something else.

“It's alright. It's not that far away and I'd feel bad for the rest of the night if I let someone clean up after me,” she insisted.

Luella still looked uncertain but let herself be dragged away by Martin with minimal further complaint.

From his seat, Oliver watched as Mai finished cleaning up, wishing Lin and Madoka a safe trip home since they had an early start in the morning and didn't want to make the journey from here into town when their own place was much closer.

There was something about the way that she was moving, stiff and wrong, that prevented him from going back to his room straight away. He wasn't particularly tired yet, so he decided he was much better off watching.

Mai seemed almost fragile as the door shut quietly after the last person left, leaving only himself and the young brunette in the room – though it seemed like she had forgotten that he was there.

Waiting, he followed her as she left the room, heading towards the kitchen silently; completely unaware that she was being followed.

Stepping into the large room, she moved to the sink, placing the teacups in carefully and slowly.

When the last one was place, Oliver deemed it safe to speak.

“What's wrong?” he asked, never one to beat around the bush when he could get straight to the point and get answers all the faster.

Jumping at the sudden sound of another person’s voice, Mai turned around, hand over her chest as she calmed her racing heart. Yet again, Naru had managed to sneak up on her.

Blinking, she took in his words and found herself biting her lip despite knowing he would note the action and place her nerves instantly.

“Nothing's wrong,” she answered after a moment.

Oliver scoffed. “Don't be ridiculous. You look like you're about to fade away,” he noted, not saying out loud how much that thought terrified him.

Mai seemed to catch it anyway, smiling softly at him. “I promise I won't. There's nothing wrong – not really,” she insisted.

Hesitating at what to do in this situation, he tried to think of what Gene would do. There had been too many emotional moments between them already since she'd arrived in England and he was quickly reaching the end of his knowledge on what to do.

Thinking about what they'd spoken about – he recalled that she'd wanted to see the gardens at one point and seemed enamoured with nature as a whole these days.

“Would you like see the gardens?” he asked before his mind had a chance to catch up and decide that he was being ridiculous. It was eleven at night for God’s sake!

Those thoughts were wiped from his mind, however, when Mai smiled properly at him, smaller than she had before but so much more real.

“I'd love to,” she accepted, despite her own reservations. Part of her was psyched at how romantic and intimate it was as a situation, but the more reasonable part of her was still concerned by the tightness in her stomach and the wetness that had been trying to form at her eyes despite her best efforts.

Before she could change her mind, Oliver reached out a hand to pull her along.

A little surprised at the touch, she went along easily before remembering the teacups. “Wait, Naru. I have to finish cleaning up.”

Mai tried to stop but he pulled her along easily. “Leave them. They'll still be here in the morning and it isn't like you're the only one who can clean them up. Leave them for James.”

Huffing at his lack of respect for his houseworkers, she grumbled a little under her breath about unhelpful narcissistic bastards, completely unaware that this was the response he had been aiming for.

Relieved at the usual direction things had gone, he stopped long enough to open the door before pulling her through, feet stepping out onto the stones that made the path leading through their garden.

Looking around, any more insults Mai had were stopped as she breathed in, eyes closing as she almost immediately relaxed in the cool outside air, shivering slightly from the lack of coat or jacket, but otherwise already feeling much better than she had moments ago. Even the tightness in her stomach seemed to lessen – if only slightly.

She was a little disappointed when the warmth from Naru's hand dropped away but scolded herself for it.

'He doesn't like touch,' she reminded herself, glad that he had held onto her for as long as he had – probably aware that she preferred touch and familiarity.

“Come on idiot, there's more than just this,” Oliver said, smirking at the look of awe on her face as they followed along the path, lights marking the edges of the path and lighting things up magically.

She couldn't help but be glad that it was night-time when she saw everything for the first time, a magical feeling overwhelming her as she looked around at the different plants and flowers that were organised everywhere.

Just like out front, there was a certain kind of peacefulness in the air, a sense of purity.

Noticing a gazebo up ahead, she grinned, moving to take a seat as soon as she was within distance and noting happily that Naru didn't hesitate to follow after her.

She should have realised that it wouldn't be so easy.

As soon as she was settled, eyes closed as she enjoyed the breeze, Oliver took the chance to bring up his earlier topic once more.

“Will you tell me what's been bothering you now?” he asked.

Opening her eyes suddenly at the question, she looked over at him, unable to feel nervous in the same manner as earlier because of how calm her surroundings were, but equally as unsure of what to say.

Noting her dilemma, Oliver prodded. “Try to explain it.”

Swallowing, Mai nodded in acceptance, trying to put together her feelings.

“I just- I was reminded that everyone goes home tomorrow and Madoka was talking about seeing them off and there's just a bad feeling in my stomach about it and I can't tell if it’s just me not wanting them to go or if there's something else in play that I should get you all to avoid,” she admitted, swallowing thickly when the words were out there.

It was silent between them as Oliver considered her words. Mai usually knew her feelings well enough but, in this case, there was so much uncertainty. He'd never considered that her instincts mimicked emotional feelings before but there seemed to be a clear correlation between them now and it was definitely something to consider for later analysis.

“How do you usually tell the difference between your emotions and instincts?” he asked finally.

Furrowing her eyebrows in concentration, Mai tried to put it into terms that someone without experience would understand even if it seemed ridiculous to her.

“Well, they feel similar, but usually there's a clear line between them and a certain pull to do something to prevent the bad thing from happening – or sometimes even brief flashes of what could happen if I don't do something to prevent it,” she started.

Oliver noted those 'flashes' for later questioning as well – she'd never really mentioned them before.

“But mostly I just know, the same way that I know anything else. This time it's all intertwined though, and I can't tell one feeling from the other. It's never happened before,” she admitted.

Considering it, he recalled her earlier words and it seemed obvious. “Then it must be both. Something bad happening simultaneously at the moment you're likely to experience your own emotions tomorrow,” he deduced.

Mai thought about it and it seemed right, but it didn't help her with preventing the bad thing.

“What could go wrong at the departures section of the airport though?” she asked, more to herself as she thought aloud.

At once everything seemed to click for Oliver and he suddenly felt more grateful for Mai's abilities than ever before.

“The departures section of the airport? Why there?” he asked, determined to see if his current theory was correct.

Mai blinked in surprise at the sudden question, tilting her head. “Because that's when I'll be most emotional since it's the time when I’ll have to officially say goodbye, right?”

Oliver raised an eyebrow at her, deciding this was a perfect time to make a point. “Are you asking me or telling me?”

A little confused at the sudden change of pace, Mai narrowed her eyes. “Telling you,” she stated, much more decisive this time.

Nodding in satisfaction, Oliver smirked a little. “Good. If you phrase your responses as questions in class, you may as well not bother because it's the same as asking for the answer.”

Everything seemed to click at once and Mai huffed, glaring harder at him – much to his amusement. “Jerk. You chose now as a time to teach me?” she grumbled.

“You should always be learning – there is no right or wrong time.”

The superior tone he said that in made the brunette roll her eyes, smile pulling at her lips. “There's no need to sound like such an old man about it,” she teased.

Oliver scoffed. “I hardly think old men like Takigawa could sound half as wise as me if they tried,” he informed her, smirk stretching wider on his lips.

Mai's jaw dropped open a little in surprise at his return of her teasing.

“Did you just-”

She cut herself off, pouting a little at the amused look he was giving her.

“Yes Mai?”

“Never mind.”

Noticing how off track they had gotten; Oliver brought his focus back to their initial issue and tried to think about how to breach the subject.

It was a sensitive topic for Mai just as it was for his entire family, but he didn't want her to continue thinking about this; and he'd have to explain it Madoka so she could convince her parents against going to see the others off in the afternoon, so he was better off starting with Mai.

'Why is Mai easier? You've hardly known her the longest and until recently you hadn't spoken at all,'' his subconscious pointed out, making him scowl.

It didn't matter why it was easier. He could analyse things like that later when he didn't have to think about the feelings of the girl in front of him.

'Since when do you worry about other people's feelings about a situation?'

He ignored that thought the same way he had the first time it had occurred to him that Mai was more than just an extra thought and instead had become a priority. The only answer he'd ever managed to come up as an explanation was 'because it's Mai' which was hardly an answer – and yet it was the only one that rang true.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, he opted to go about things the same way that he always had, the same way he had started their conversation tonight. Straight forward and to the point.

“It's because of Gene,” he stated finally.

At the sudden sound of Naru's voice, Mai looked away from the flowers she'd been looking at a moment before, waiting for him to come back from whatever part of his mind he'd fallen into.

“What is?” she asked, voice softer than before.

“The reason for your bad feeling. The last time we all saw Gene was when we saw him off from departures. If we go there tomorrow, mother and father will probably be a wreck for the entire day. I can't believe none of us considered it,” he explained, voice sounding off towards the end.

Trying to place what it was, she was shocked when the memory of Naru missing something the very first time they worked together and how he'd reacted came to mind and everything suddenly made a lot more sense.

It was odd to see him be so self-deprecating, but it wasn't her first time and perhaps, (a small part of her hoped) it wouldn't be the last time he showed this side of himself to her.

“You aren't the only one that missed it.” She reminded softly. “None of the others considered it either.”

“But if you hadn't had a bad feeling-”

Mai cut him off, firming her voice when she realised that being soft wasn't working. “Oliver Davis, you listen to me. There is no 'But if'. If you run through scenarios like that, you'll wear yourself down and it'll be a bad time for everyone. We did catch it, and tomorrows send-off will be all the better for it. Don't dwell on the things that haven't happened,” she scolded.

More shocked by the use of his real name than her scold, Oliver shook himself from the scenes running through his mind and nodded.

She was right. It hadn't happened, and now things would be better for their understanding.

He considered thanking her, the words on his lips when he noticed her shivering slightly.

'Of course. We've been out here for a while and neither of us thought to grab something warmer to wear,' he mentally supplied.

His lips twitched. “Come on idiot. It's time to go inside.”

Standing up, he didn't wait for Mai to get up and follow him before moving along the path towards the house.

It took the brunette a moment to catch up, shocked as she was the by the sudden onslaught of warmth in her cheeks from the real smile she'd gotten from Naru. It had been small, but it meant as much to her as any other smile that she'd ever been given from him. It meant so much to her.

Running to catch up to Naru in the hopes that the cold and sudden exertion of energy would disguise the redness of her face, she tried to sneakily look over at Naru as they walked side by side.

“I'm okay.”

The sudden promise confused Mai for a moment until she realised that he thought she was watching him out of concern.

Thanking Kami for the save, she smiled at him.

“If you’re sure then I believe you,” she assured him, looking away. “But it's okay not to be you know. You don't always have to be. Okay that is.”

She cursed how fumbled her English sounded in that moment and by the smirk that was now gracing Naru's lips, he was just as amused.

I know.”

The muttered Japanese threw her for a moment, but before she could consider just what that meant they were stepping inside the house and heading back towards their rooms.

It was silent between them as they climbed the stairs, the rest of the house eerily silent as well. Noting the time on a clock as they walked past it, Mai blinked when she realised that they'd been outside for nearly an hour and half. Had it really been that long? No wonder she'd gotten so cold.

Thinking of her warm bed that she could just fall into for the night, the feeling of exhaustion hit her all of a sudden.

Glancing over, Naru shook his head at the tired look on Mai's face.

“If you were tired you should have said so, stupid.”

Pouting, Mai crossed her arms and looked away. “It's not like I would have been able to sleep if we hadn't been able to figure out what my feeling meant,” she pointed out softly, refusing to rise to his insults – more because everyone else was probably fast asleep. “Besides, you have to be tired as well.”

Oliver smirked. “I'm not like you. I don't need that much sleep to function,” he informed her.

Huffing at his tone, she narrowed her eyes but refused to shout, instead keeping the resulting insults to herself as she grumbled about him.

Before she even realised, they were at Gene's old room.

Yawning, Mai pushed open the door. “Oyasuminasai***, Naru,” She muttered, smiling fondly as he responded with, “Go to sleep, baka****,” and opted to do just that, falling asleep quickly as warmth enveloped her body.

She almost thought she heard him mutter 'thank you,' but that was likely just a dream.

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*Ojii-san is the Japanese term for grandfather, not to be confused with Oji-san which means uncle.

**Okay, so here's the thing. I've taken all of my tea ideas from websites like Lipton and Dilmah who actually know what they're talking about because I do not. I'm not a tea drinker and I could barely be considered a coffee drinker considering I take my coffee the same way as Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. This is all purely me winging it so hopefully you guys don't mind the lack of detail. The flavours aren't even really touched on here but I figured I would note it down for when it becomes relevant later on.

***This is the Japanese term for goodnight. Normally because I use the italics, I don't bother to place the Japanese word with a few exceptions such as Bou-san's name, the honorifics on everyone's names in general, and words that just won't get the point across otherwise (such as Ojii-san above), or rather I think they have more impact. In this case however, this is probably going to be a term that pops up frequently so I thought I would make sure to include it here so that you guys can follow along.

****Most of you have probably heard this already, but this is the Japanese term for idiot or stupid, a common insult used in anime so I thought it would fit my needs well. This, like goodnight before it, will probably become a 'thing'.

 

 

Chapter Text

This Chapter is Dedicated to: Joys - A couple of reviews ago Joys mentioned that Naru was going to have to come to terms with Mai no longer being someone he can monopolise since she's about to start up schooling and I thought it was a wonderful idea that fit so perfectly for the second part of this chapter, so I hope that you enjoy seeing your idea come to life and thank you for giving it to me in the first place, even if my plot bunnies ran away with it a bit!

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Eighteen

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Saturday, April 13th

Much like Mai expected, the next day brought plenty of tears and heartache as she waved goodbye to her friends- her family - with only Yasu by her side in the departures area.

Madoka had come with them, but she was waiting outside at the car with Luella so that they didn't need to brave the onslaught of terrible memories this place held for them. Naru, Lin, and Martin had opted instead to head to work.

No-one had questioned it when they explained the new plan earlier that day; claiming they wanted them to have 'privacy to say goodbye to each other'.

Mai had been just as amused as Yasuhara at their excuse, rolling her eyes as she tried to figure out how anyone could mistake a public airport as private.

It was all very dramatic, as Yasu kept reminding her while they sat in the car.

“Oh hush, Yasu, leave poor Mai alone. She's allowed to miss her family,” Luella scolded after his second dig in so many minutes.

Feeling chastised, Yasu reached over to pat Mai's shoulder in apology, getting a smile for his troubles.

“Now that that's out of the way though, what would be like to do for the afternoon you two?” Madoka asked.

Mai bit her lip. She didn't really want to do anything. She was feeling rather exhausted after everything that had happened so far and she didn't think she could handle anything overly exciting.

It didn't seem that the other three shared her opinion, however, as Yasu perked up.

“Well, now that the others are gone; I don't suppose you'd be willing to take us around Cambridge for a tour? It'll make things easier if we can at least familiarise ourselves with the area now,” he pointed out.

Luella perked up. “Oh, of course. We have just the right amount of time to do it as well.”

Despite how she felt about another two hours of walking around, part of Mai was thankful that Yasu had thought to ask. She was almost certain that it was mostly for her benefit – her habit of getting lost clearly implied.

Resigning herself to her fate, she waited for them to pull into one of the Cambridge parking lots, stretching as she yawned. Maybe she would have been better off sleeping in and skipping her run this morning, but she didn't want to throw her schedule off again.

Frowning, she sighed when she realised she'd have to find somewhere new to jog after all of this. And it would be much more annoying to jog on campus.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn't even realise when Luella, Madoka, and Yasu started off, only jolting out of her thoughts when they called her name.

Turning to the right, she blinked when she noticed that they were almost twenty metres away already.

“Coming!”

Running over to them, she grinned sheepishly.

“Awe, come on Mai. I know that you miss them, but you need to keep your head about you,” Madoka scolded lightly.

Flushing, the brunette shook her head. “That's not it,” she denied. “I was just thinking about how annoying it'll be to find somewhere new to jog and how much it sucks that I'll have to share the area. At the Davis' no-one's ever around in the morning, even though the parks a public space. I don't really have to worry about people and I've already gotten used to it. Now I'll have to try and find somewhere quiet if I want to keep practising my Qigong when I jog too.”

Luella let out a sound of understanding. “I guess that makes sense. We can have a look around instead of just going to where your classes and your dorms are going to be?” she offered.

Shaking her head, Mai smiled at the older woman's thoughtfulness.

“Don't worry about it. I trust my instincts more for this sort of thing anyway.”

The blonde didn't look convinced but left it alone.

“In that case, off we go!” Madoka cheered enthusiastically, linking her arms between Yasu and Mai and dragging them off towards the parapsychology building. Mai protested, looking back at a laughing Luella for help and receiving a good luck instead.

It was going to be a long afternoon indeed.

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Just as she predicted, the afternoon dragged on as Mai was pulled from room to room as they walked around the large campus with Madoka pointing out all the most important places.

Despite her exhaustion as she stumbled up to her room, the brunette had to admit that it had been a good afternoon and it had taken her mind off of things for a while at least.

Sighing in relief as she opened the door to the room that she was staying in, she stepped inside and shut the door quietly before flicking the lock over for the first time since she'd gotten here.

It was time for her to get some much-needed alone time.

With any luck, when they realise that the door is locked, they'd leave her be – although that sounded a lot like wishful thinking.

Putting down her things and making sure her phone was on silent, Mai moved to sit on the ground with her legs crossed, closing her eyes and breathing deeply.

Even though traditional meditation wasn't usually her preference, sometimes it was easier to just sit and think about nothing but controlling her powers for as long as it took for her to regain equilibrium. She could feel them fighting under her skin, unused to being turned on and off so frequently as they had been over the past few days and they were all out of balance.

Breathing in, the brunette took her focus away from her thoughts and instead focused on letting the feeling of everything around her wash over her senses, reaching out with them to find the auras contained in the room and smiling gently as everything began to wash over with colours – objects coming into view as if her eyes were open as they faded in and out of clarity.

She felt her body relax as she continued to breathe, air in and out, in and out, over and over.

It felt like only moments when she felt herself starting to be put back to sorts, the ease of being able to focus on each item starting to come back to her, abilities no longer fighting to throw things in front of her like a child with a toy they want to show you waving it in front of your face.

Finally, she re-opened her eyes, not at all surprised to find that the sun had completely set, and it was dark out now, even though the sun had only just begun to set when she'd sat down.

Pulling her thoughts away from the time, Mai re-focused on the items in front of her, now that she could see them once more, and proceeded to conjure their auras with her eyes opened; the colours blooming once more in front of her with ease.

Relieved to find that everything seemed to be back to normal for her abilities, she found herself more relaxed than she had been since she left home.

Her stomach rumbled in protest to her not eating properly since breakfast, and Mai sighed when she realised that she'd have to leave her room and face people once more, though she didn't really want to.

For once, all she wanted to do was stay in this room and continue just breathing, if only for a little while longer.

Another rumble from her upset stomach and Mai sighed, giving in.

She couldn't avoid getting up forever anyway.

Slowly she pushed herself to her feet and made her way over to the door, unlocking it and stepping out.

Immediately, the auras of everything seemed to jump out at her clearly, her mind more in tune with the manor than it had ever been before.

'I'll have to let Yasu know so that he can add this to his notes,' Mai thought; humming to herself as she walked down the hall, content to let her abilities breathe for the time being. Everything was that much clearer as she made her way down the stairs with renewed energy.

She could sense the others sitting in the dining room, and she cursed herself for not thinking to check the time before she'd left. They were probably beginning to finish up.

Sure enough, as she stepped into the room, the plates in front of Luella, Martin, Yasu, and Naru were all empty and Luella and Yasu seemed very intent with their conversation.

“Look who finally decided to join us!” Luella exclaimed, smiling up at Mai as she took a seat in between Yasu and Naru, resolutely ignoring how empty the room felt now that it was just them.

“Sorry,” she apologised, suddenly concerned that they'd been waiting for her.

The woman waved her apology off easily. “Don't worry about it. Yasu said that he thought you might want some time to yourself for a while. It's been a full-on week; I don't blame you,” she promised, smiling kindly.

Smiling at her friend in thanks, she reached over the table to grab a few things and put them on her plate; tucking into her food without waiting any longer, hunger obvious – much to everyone else's amusement.

The rest of the night passed by quickly and unlike the previous nights, after eating everyone seemed to head in different directions, leaving Mai with even more time to herself for the first time in what felt like forever.

Settling down in her room after a quick shower, she resolved herself to doing some study before she went to bed – despite her exhaustion. Her university days were approaching fast and she was determined to be ready no matter what.

Setting up at the desk in the room she pulled out the books that Naru had given her – the thought of it making her feel warm all over once more – and flicked one open to start reading, her notebook next to her to write down anything of importance so she would better remember it.

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Unbeknownst to Mai, from his room just next door, Oliver was almost an exact copy of her; book open as he read over it at a faster pace than Mai ever could, jotting down minor notes as he looked over the work.

He tried to focus on the words on the page, but his thoughts kept drifting back to Mai at dinner. She'd looked livelier than the last few times he'd seen her, but there had been something tired about her in a way that screamed spiritual exertion; even though he knew she hadn't really used anything over the past few days - that she couldn't have done so with all the running around to places she'd been doing.

When she hadn't shown up at the start of dinner, he hadn't been too concerned, but he didn't have time to worry anyway since Yasuhara had informed Luella as soon as thirty minutes had gone by, and she hadn't appeared, that Mai was probably meditating.

He hadn't explained why, and no-one had asked – although Martin had certainly looked as though he was tempted – but he was Oliver Davis, he could put two and two together without help. It had definitely helped her in the end, even if she'd still looked like a strong wind would knock her over, Mai's eyes had been much more bright-eyed and awake.

'Of course you'd notice that,' part of him scoffed, something that he chose to ignore.

Thinking about it, he wondered what Mai was up to now. It was too early to sleep, even for Mai, what with it being only a little past eight o'clock.

'Probably studying,' he decided, given that they were due to move into the dorms after just five more days with them.

For some reason, the thought of Mai no longer being so close any more ruffled him the wrong way – though he didn't quite understand it.

Of course, he'd be reluctant not to have her around all the time given his attachment to her. But it wasn't as though it was something new.

'You've seen her more in the past week than you had in over a year and you did fine then. And it's not like she's that far away and you'll never see her again,' he reminded himself.

But even thinking this wasn't quite enough to alleviate his worry for whatever reason. 'Emotions.' He cursed himself in annoyance. They never made logical sense.

But then again, if he looked at things logically, did he actually know that he'd be seeing all that much of Mai? Over the next few days of course he would, she was still staying with them after all. But after that when would she have the time?

She was getting her degree in Parapsychology and her scholarship required her to keep her grades high, so no doubt she'd be spending the majority of her time working on that. And it wasn't like she needed to go to BSPR for anything since there wasn't a particular reason for her to visit. She didn't work for them after all.

He frowned as he realised that it was quite likely he was going to see very little of her over the coming couple of months until their next break.

'You're Oliver Davis and you can't think of a single reason that Mai would want to visit you?'

The scoffing disbelief in the tone of voice in his head reminded him strongly of Gene's and he couldn't help but imagine his brother's face as he considered the words, bristling at the implication that there was something he couldn't figure out.

There was a reason for her to come see him.

Thinking back over the conversations they'd had over the past week, Noll almost hit himself when he realised that the answer was so obvious.

Studying.

He could practically feel his twin’s amusement at the idea – despite there being no way that Gene knew what was going on.

Although, reflecting on his thoughts so far tonight...

Slamming down his mental wards, just in case, he turned his focus back to the idea that seemed so obvious now.

He had promised that he would help Mai with her studies, and he intended to fulfil that promise. If he suggested making it a weekly thing then surely that wouldn't be too suspicious. And it would be a good use of his time that even his mother could not scold him on. It never hurt to go over the basics again, since complexities need a solid foundation, or they'd crumble at the slightest criticism.

Yes, this was definitely his best bet. His mother would probably even encourage it since she would no doubt love to see more of Mai anyway and she could always stay for dinner afterwards once a week.

His lips twitched at the thought and satisfied with his solution, he turned back to his work.

He would speak with Mai tomorrow and then his damned emotions wouldn't bother him again.

Or at least he hoped.

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Sunday, April 14th

As intended, the next day Oliver made his way down to the dining room and was unsurprised to find Mai there, even though it was barely seven in the morning.

As expected, she was in the same clothing he'd seen her wear after a jog the couple of mornings he'd been around.

“Morning Naru!” Mai greeted cheerfully, smiling.

She rolled her eyes at the eye roll she got for her efforts but didn't bother to feel annoyed. She would probably have been more shocked if he had replied.

“What are your plans for the day?” Oliver asked finally, after he poured himself a cup of tea and took a sip. Not as good as Mai's, but it would have to do for the moment.

Blinking at the sudden question, Mai tilted her head. “Probably just studying,” she admitted. “I only have a week before I start going to Cambridge and I still feel like I don't know enough.”

Oliver hummed in understanding, grabbing a piece of toast and taking a small bite. Watching Mai out of the corner of his eye, he waited until she took a small sip of her juice before he spoke.

“Would you like me to help you study?”

As predicted the brunette's eyes widened and she swallowed quickly to prevent herself from spitting it out in shock, coughing as some of it went down the wrong pipe.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

Oliver rolled his eyes, smirk tugging at his lips. “Would you like me to help you study?” He repeated, trying not to sound too amused.

He was obviously failing given the glare she was shooting him.

“You did that on purpose!” She accused, pointing her finger at him.

Raising an eyebrow, Oliver scoffed. “Did what?”

“Wha- You- Naru!”

As if conjured from her screaming, the door was pushed open and an equally amused Luella and Yasu wondered in, rolling their eyes at the scene in front of him.

“Surely you can't find it that amusing to bother poor Mai this early in the morning Noll,” Luella said after a moment, voice slightly chastising despite knowing it wouldn't make a difference.

As predicted, Oliver gave her a blank look that reminded her so much of his brother – a road she was determined not to go down because it wasn't fair, not to Gene or to Oliver – when he had been up to no good.

“I have no idea what you're on about,” he informed her primly, sipping at his tea as if it somehow proved his point.

Huffing, Mai glared at him. “You're such a jerk,” she grumbled.

“That's still not an answer,” he retorted.

The brunette pouted. She wanted to tell him that he could go study himself into a grave elsewhere and leave her alone, but she had been the one who wanted the help originally, and she was still did, so she couldn't really afford to.

Glaring at her plate now as if it wronged her, she sighed. “Yes,” she admitted finally.

Oliver smirked but didn't say anything in response – much to Mai's relief.

After that, however, breakfast passed by quietly. Martin joining them shortly after, having slept in a little because it was a Sunday; and before Mai knew it, she had finished eating and was following Naru as he led her to a room she'd never been to on the third floor.

As they passed by their rooms, she thought for a moment Naru was dragging her to his room, but then he walked straight past it to the room on the other side, swinging it open.

Stepping into the room after him, she blinked owlishly as she looked around at the bookcases that covered all of the walls and the rows in the centre of the room. Following Naru deeper in, she realised that she was standing in the Davis' personal library.

They came to a stop in front of a table with a few chairs and Mai could see another small area over the other side of the room that was clearly for more relaxed reading, given that there was a small table for holding drinks and two recliners on either side. It was very cosy and, knowing that it existed, Mai was suddenly tempted go and curl up over there with something other than her study material to read.

Pushing the urge away, she took a seat next to an expectant looking Naru.

“I had no idea you had a library,” she said finally.

Oliver tried not to look offended at the thought. “My parents live in a manor and they're both academics,” he scoffed. “Of course we have a library.”

Mai rolled her eyes at how obvious his tone made it seem – as if normal people could just afford to put aside a room this large for just books, let alone fill it!

“Well sorry that I didn't grow up surrounded by people with this sort of money,” she huffed.

Oliver didn't respond to that, instead pulling out a piece of paper from his jacket and placing it on the table in front of them.

“This is what the class covered in the first term that you weren't present for. There's nothing here outside of common sense to remember that you don't already know, but I'll go over the important points with you so that you are aware. I let Yasuhara know as well so that he could study up on it,” he informed her, pointing at the short list of things that they covered in the first term.

Mai blinked it. There weren't nearly the number of topics that she had been expecting, given that she'd missed two terms worth of work. “That's it?”

Part of Oliver wanted to laugh at the incredulous tone of her voice as she stared down at the paper.

'And she was so sure she'd be behind,' he scoffed mentally.

“Why did I think that there was going to be so much more than this?” Mai continued, oblivious.

Pushing the thoughts away, he focused back on Mai. “Because you've always learnt parapsychology in the field and, if you want to consider it studying, then you were doing so under me and not my father. I don't tolerate the same level of slowness,” he explained, tempted to roll his eyes at the look his got in reference to how he taught her what she knew. “The first term is mostly there to ease people into the ideas of parapsychology, both as a science and as a field project, and help people to understand what they're getting into. It's a topic we take seriously, but the people who take the first term aren't always as serious. You're actually lucky to be starting in the Easter term because the amusement has worn off by then and those that are left are usually at least reasonably sure that parapsychology is going to be their chosen field.”

Mai nodded in understanding, noting the irritation in Naru's voice when he mentioned those who take their profession for a joke. It wasn't news to her, but coming from a more spiritual country like Japan, it seemed odd to just turn your nose up against the idea completely – even in this day and age.

“So then, all Yasu and I have missed is...” She trailed off as she scanned over the topics written down, “An explanation on what exactly parapsychology is and why we study it as well as where studying it can lead as a career, the various topics we'll be studying over the next four years on it and brief overview on them, and some ghost hunting basics on the equipment we can use and their pros and cons?”

Her tone was still so disbelieving, as though she thought that he could be joking about something like this.

'Or anything at all given her propensity towards calling me a robot.'

Although, it would only be fair to note that what she'd listed off was a basic summary of the topics they'd covered, but had likely studied all of those and with a refresher course from him, she would no doubt be fine.

“Yes Mai. That's all you've missed. Do you still think that all this fretting is necessary?” he asked. There was a challenge in Naru's voice that made Mai pause as she recalled the night that had led to him agreeing to study with her in the first place.

Taking a deep breath, she smiled. “You were right. I didn't need to worry about things so much if this is the pace the class moves at currently,” she admitted, ignoring the smug look on his face. “But still, I’d feel better if I continued studying. It won't hurt me to be more prepared.”

There was a spark in approval in Naru's eyes that made Mai flush slightly.

“In that case, in light of your seriousness I suggest that I have nothing pressing on Sundays and I wouldn’t be against helping you go over them every week– barring a case that takes me away,” Oliver offered finally.

His words were chosen carefully as he tried not to seem too eager, but at the same time he didn't want Mai to believe that he didn't want to help her because that was also not the case.

Ignoring the voice in her head that insisted on referring to Naru's suggestion as a 'long-standing study date', she bit her lip nervously.

“Are you sure that I wouldn't be taking up too much of your time?”

Oliver relaxed slightly, the tenseness in his back giving way when he recognised Mai's familiar determination to not be a burden to anyone.

“If you're concerned about me getting my work done, it's usually always finished before the end of Friday and I spend my extra time looking over case suggestions,” he informed her.

Mai frowned a little at the thought that using Naru's time would mean that someone who might need help would have to wait even longer before their case was considered.

As if sensing her problem, Naru interrupted whatever she was going to say.

“You can always help me with them.”

Mai frowned. It was a good suggestion but that also seemed like it would break some sort of rules. But then again, hadn't that been what Yasu did with Madoka the other day? And Naru was hardly one to go around breaking the rules.

“If you think that I can be of some help then it seems like the best solution,” she agreed finally.

Oliver smirked. “Of course, it is. I suggested it.”

“Narcissistic.”

“Realistic.”

“...Shut up and let me read this, jerk.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Nineteen

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Sunday, April 14th

For the next hour or so, there was silence between Mai and Naru as she read over the notes that he'd made for her to study and brushed up on the things that she knew already from a different – more in depth – perspective.

It was comfortable and easy – both things she never thought being around Naru could be. Naru wasn't easy. He was arrogant, full of himself, stressful, and rude.

(He was also kind, endearingly unaware of how emotions worked, and more human than he liked to portray – but none of those traits were the reason for Mai's subtle shock.)

Reading the final words on her page, Mai groaned and let her head fall onto the table with a quiet thump.

“I give up. It's no wonder no-one studies parapsychology when the first two terms are this boring,” she declared, voice more of a mumble then anything as she resisted the urge to bash her head into the solid wood a couple more times.

Glancing away from the file in front of him, Oliver rolled his eyes at Mai's dramatics.

“No-one is forcing you to study,” he reminded her primly.

Mai pouted. There was a layer of disappointment in his tone at her that she was positive he'd learnt from Lin.

“But Naru, I want to study,” she insisted, sitting up and looking over at him. “I just don't want to study this.”

Amused, Oliver raised an eyebrow. “You don't want to study parapsychology? You are aware that it is the course you've chosen for the foreseeable future?”

Letting out a noise of pain at his deliberate attempt to be obtuse, Mai let her head fall to the table once more.

“You know that's not what I meant; you jerk. I don't want to read over any more of these basics. It's all stuff that I already know or that I need to memorise. I need a break to stimulate my brain or I'm going to fall asleep,” she whined.

Sighing, Oliver flicked shut the file he had been attempting to read and turned to Mai with an expectant look, smirk tugging at his lips at how childish Mai was acting.

“Then what do you propose you study? What do you consider 'stimulating'?”

Lighting up, Mai sat up and turned back to Naru. “Anything else. Something more in depth that I have to actually think about and debate over. Yasu and I used to take breaks every two hours to switch gears towards something interesting so that I wouldn't get too bored. Usually we would discuss the latest articles on different psychic abilities or cases that we'd heard around and what could be causing them,” she explained, words coming out quickly like she was worried that he would change his mind at any moment.

This news surprised Oliver slightly. It was one thing for Mai to be studying parapsychology, it was another thing entirely to hear that she went out of her way to keep up with the field at current – although it did make sense if he considered what he knew about Yasuhara. It was most likely his idea and it had worked to keep Mai interested in the theoretical side of ghost hunting so he couldn't really complain.

Thinking over the works that had been published recently, Oliver considered what would be a good topic for them to go over.

“Do you keep up with the release of the Journal of Parapsychology*?” he inquired after a moment.

Mai blinked before nodding her head slightly. “Of course. It's the main source Yasu and I used when we were taking 'breaks'. Why?” She asked, tilting her head in confusion.

“What did you think of J.E. Kennedy's hypothesis' on why Psi** is so elusive?” Oliver asked, leaning back in his chair, expression going thoughtful as he considered the different options that the article had presented.

It took Mai a minute to recall the article that Naru was mentioning. “The way that the hypotheses were all phrased and laid out made it easy to read over the options and it outlines many good and bad points for each argument with very succinct conclusions for each; however, I find that the end conclusion that there is no proof or research that shows that any single one of them was more likely to be extremely lacking. While I admired the dedication to showing every possible reason, I found some of them to be so unlikely that they didn't warrant mention outside of being disproved,” she summarised; eyes narrowed slightly at the wall as she considered her own opinions.

Oliver considered her points and was more inclined to agree than to disagree. Some of the points made were ridiculous. However, he could hardly be considered himself if it was that easy.

“Which did you find too ridiculous? The lay out was very clear and despite the lack of true reason behind some of the points, their inclusion was vital to making sure that all topics were covered. Which did you disagree with so much?”

Mai huffed a little. “Hypothesis 7. Evolution has Inhibited Psi,” she responded easily.

Unbeknownst to the two of them, there was a quiet click as Martin entered the library, momentarily shocked to hear voices.

While it was common to find Oliver in here, he hadn't expected that he would find anyone else – though given what he'd learnt of Mai Taniyama, he supposed it shouldn't be quite as shocked as he was.

Closing the door quietly, he felt almost young again as he moved quietly so as not to disturb them, listening intently when he recognised the article being referenced.

“What exactly about hypothesis 7?” Oliver pressed.

Martin's eyebrows furrowed. If this was hypothesis 7 from J.E. Kennedy's latest article, he was quite surprised to hear Oliver doing anything other than ranting at the stupidity of it. He'd spent the better part of two hours in a fit of annoyance pointing out the flaws and explaining how stupid it was for something like this to be considered; even if Kennedy was covering his bases and 'Does he even know what he's talking about? There is no supporting evidence!'.

It had been quite entertaining. And yet it almost sounded like Oliver was condoning it now.

Curious.

“What exactly about it? Naru, it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. The supporting 'evidence' stems from the idea that it would be detrimental to the human race if they were to exhibit Psi abilities, and that detrimentality stems from the concept of fear as recognised in Hypothesis 6. There is no true basis for the argument to even draw conclusions from. There is nothing to refute because it refutes itself by way of not containing anything akin to reason,” Mai ranted.

There was a smirk of Noll's lips that made Martin think that this outburst as exactly what his son had been hoping for; and honestly, the fire that he was seeing now was so far away from the teasing but soft attitude that the young brunette had exhibited thus far.

Martin turned around to exit the library quietly before they realised that he was there, shutting the door with an almost silent click.

'Now all I have to do is bring that out in the classroom,' he vowed to himself as he made his way back down the halls, his reason for going to the library forgotten in wake of his new information.

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Friday, April 19th

Despite her grumblings and the arguments that she'd had with Naru over a couple other journal articles, it had been a good day and more educating than even an entire week studying with Yasu could have been – a thought that she vowed never to inform her friend of – even so, the rest of Mai and Yasu's time staying with the Davis' passed by (too) quickly.

Waking up and going on her normal jog, Mai felt a little morose at the thought that this was the last time she'd be jogging along this path to her normal spot.

It was a similar feeling as she arrived back at the Davis' house, greeting James with slightly less cheer than usual.

Stepping inside the dining room, her eyes widened in surprise at the spread they were having. While a spread had been somewhat normal when the others were still staying with them, breakfast had been almost exclusively toast and cereal spread out to choose from since then; with something special each morning (they'd had bacon and eggs a couple of times and pancakes as well. Something called croissants also), but never all of those at once.

Turning to ask James what the special occasion was, she blinked when she realised that he wasn't there anymore.

Pouting a little, the brunette settled into her seat, grabbing a little of everything and quickly filling her plate now that she realised just how hungry she was.

It was a good ten minutes into her breakfast before the door opened and she heard a whistle of appreciation from Yasu, making Luella laugh as she trailed in after him. Martin was barely a step behind, shaking his head at the antics he was beginning to get used to.

“Someone put some effort in this morning,” Yasu joked.

Mai rolled her eyes as Luella hummed in agreement.

“Yes, I must say you have thoroughly charmed poor James, Mai. This must be his way of saying goodbye,” she informed the brunette with a soft smile.

The blonde opted not to inform Mai that it was probably also intended as a bribe to try and get the young woman to stay – something that she hadn't even bothered to bring up, though not for lack of wishing she could. Having Mai around had been like a breath of fresh air and she was going to miss her greatly.

Noticing the sad look on Luella's face, Mai couldn't help but giggle at how dramatic it all was.

“It's not like this is the last time you'll be seeing me. In fact, if you don't mind the imposition, you're likely to be seeing me every Sunday,” she informed her friend, flushing at the pointed look that she received from Yasu.

“Oh? Is that right?”

Hiding her face behind a piece of toast, Mai nodded. “Naru has offered to study with me on Sundays from now on, so as long as you don't mind...” she trailed off, suddenly feeling a little uncertain.

Seeing as Luella still seemed to be processing her happiness, Martin took it upon himself to give the young lady a smile.

“You are more than welcome any time,” he promised.

Snapping from her surprise, Luella hurried to nod her quickly. “Oh yes, of course! I would be delighted to have you over, and you must stay for dinner,” she insisted.

Mai fought the urge to deny the older woman and bit back her original response to instead smile. “That would be lovely,” she agreed.

Luella let out a sound that seemed suspiciously like a squeal of happiness that made Mai wince a little. She could only imagine what the reaction could have been in the case of her not agreeing.

Casting away the thought as quick as it came, Mai chose to focus on her food instead; finishing off an alarming amount of breakfast dishes and groaning slightly.

“That's what you get for eating so much,” Yasu informed her, dodging when she swiped at his shoulder, muttering something rude in Japanese that he couldn't quite make out.

Luella laughed a little. “Leave her alone Yasu, she's going to need all the energy she can get for today's moving,” she reminded him.

Mai let out a groan for a completely different reason this time.

There was some apprehension in moving into her college, although she was excited that she got a private room. It had been a long time since she'd had to share a space with anyone for a foreseeable amount of time and she wasn't sure how things would have gone if she hadn't had the place to herself.

Sadly, however, her funds wouldn't allow for an apartment off campus and her scholarship would only cover for rent at one of the colleges and she was lucky enough to be getting that.

'At least I don't have too many things to move,' she reasoned with herself. For the most part she had put her things into storage at Ayako and Bou-san's place and had only brought a bunch of clothing with her, as well as a couple of knickknacks that she could use to make her room homier.

Sighing, she pushed herself away from the table.

“I guess I'll go get my things ready. When are we going to leave for campus?”

Luella thought about it for a moment. “It might be best if we go sooner rather than later so that you don't have to worry about anything for the rest of the day. How does in an hour sound? Will that be long enough to get your things together?” she asked.

Snorting, Mai nodded, aware that she was going to be ready within the next fifteen minutes. She could take the last few minutes to ready herself for living surrounded by people once more.

It couldn't be that bad, right?

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Not even an hour into her life on campus Mai was already regretting that she didn't have enough money to support herself off campus. She was beginning to plan just what expenses would be required so that she could find somewhere off campus to live, soon.

Her room was nice and a decent size with a simple king single bed tucked into the corner, which she had already set up with her own sheets. Across from it was a desk with a set of draws on the left hand side and a set of shelves over it. There was a window on the side which was perfect for some natural lighting and warmth. Next to her bed was a simple set of draws, on top of which was a lamp and her phone charger, and a comfy chair across from that which could be used for company.

She was especially grateful for the ensuite which was small and simple, but meant that she wasn't sharing a bathroom, as well as the wardrobe that was built into the wall in the space between the building wall, and the ensuite walls.

Luella had left a little while ago, saying that she wanted to give Mai space to settle in. Since then Mai had mostly stared into nothingness; wishing that the people on her floor had the decency not to play loud music even if it was a Friday afternoon.

Sighing, Mai decided that it was time to unpack a little more. Her clothes were already put away in the wardrobe and her meagre toiletries were also in her ensuite already.

Looking down in her suitcase, her lips twitched as she spotted the two photos she had. One was of herself with her parents and she placed it on her desk, smiling at it sadly. The other she placed beside the first; flushing at the thought of anyone seeing it but reasoning that there was no reason for anyone to be in her room other than Yasu, and he already knew about it so what did it really matter?

And there was a certain calmness to her as she glanced at the picture of Naru and Gene side by side, so similar and yet so different.

Despite the pain she felt remembering how she'd been given this gift, she treasured it as much as any other thing she had been given.

Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Suddenly, it was like she wasn't alone anymore, and she felt lighter. The noise was still there and there was still a mild discomfort about being in the dorms but looking at the smiling faces of Gene and her parents, and the scowl on Naru's face, everything didn't feel nearly as bad.

She could do this.

She would do this.

She would be fine.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Monday, April 22nd

She could not do this.

She would not do this.

She would not be fine.

Pacing back and forwards, Mai tried not to freak out as she glanced down at the time on her phone every thirty seconds, counting down until it was time for her to head to class. Her nerves were on high alert and she felt more terrified than she ever had when facing down a malicious spirit.

'Come on Mai! Get it together!' she scolded herself as she tried to take deep breaths.

It wasn't working.

There were so many things that could go wrong. What if she messed up her English? What if she didn't know what they were talking about after all? What if she insulted someone by accident? What if they didn't like her? What if-

There was a sudden knock at her door making Mai jump.

Swallowing, she walked over to it, swinging it open to reveal Yasu standing there with a cheerful look his face.

“Morning Mai! Are you ready for our first day of uni? No time to waste, off we go. Better to be early than late,” he greeted, bulldozing over anything she would have or could have said and cutting her off.

Sighing a little at his familiar attitude, Mai closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She was being ridiculous; she could do this.

“Just let me grab my stuff and we can head off,” she agreed, moving back into her room with the door ajar and grabbing her small backpack which already had three notebooks (just in case), a pencil case that was nearly overflowing with how much she'd packed into it (two red pens, five blue and three black, as well as two sets of tape white-out, five pencils, an eraser, sharpener, small ruler, pair of scissors, glue stick, calculator and highlighters in green, pink, yellow, blue, purple and orange), and now her phone. Finally grabbing her keys, she locked her door quickly before turning to Yasu who was watching her in amusement.

“Ready now?”

Mai huffed at the amusement in his tone. “Let's just go,” she grumbled, ignoring his laughter as a smile tugged briefly at her lips no matter how hard she fought it.

“Stop worrying so much. It's just another class and no matter what happens, just remember that I've probably seen you do stupider things anyway,” Yasu informed her with a grin.

Rolling her eyes, Mai sighed. “I don't know how that's supposed to make me feel better Yasu, but I appreciate the sentiment,” she retorted, voice a little sarcastic.

Yasu winced a little at the lack of cheer. “What's up? Are you really that worried about today, or is something else the matter?” He asked after a moment, voice much more serious.

Mai sighed, shrugging a little. “Sorry. I'm nervous for today, but it's more the people. There's so much noise and not enough peace in the air,” she tried to explain, wanting her friend to understand how different the air felt.

A small voice in the back of her mind teased at her with the phantom feeling of peacefulness of the Davis' home and she couldn't help but scowl.

It doesn't help that I haven't managed to find somewhere more relaxing to jog and practice Qigong yet, so my abilities are even more off kilter than usual,” she continued to explain, voice quiet even as she switched to Japanese so that the chance of being caught was lower.

Even though they hadn't spoken much on the topic, it was a silent agreement between the two that her abilities would be kept quiet for as long as possible.

Letting out a noise of vague understanding Yasu gave her a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.

Well, tell your abilities that you don't have time for them to be needy today and keep your chin up because we're here and I for one am going to make the best first impression,” he informed her dramatically, grinning when it got Mai to giggle.

“If only it worked like that Yasu, if only.”

Those were the last words on that subject between them before they stepped into the lecture room.

Immediately, they both headed for the free seats that were in the sixth row, sliding towards the middle of the row and both pulling out their notebooks and pens so that they were ready to go for when the lecture started.

At the sound of someone coughing, Mai glanced up and raised an eyebrow in confusion at the young boy with light brown hair and green eyes in front of her.

“Can I help you?” she asked, her voice near accent less as she spoke in flawless English.

Yasu looked up as well.

“I've never seen you two before. Are you new to the course?” he asked.

Mai smiled. “Yes. The Japanese school year runs differently so I've only just graduated,” she explained simply. “Mai Taniyama.”

“And I'm Osamu Yasuhara. Pleased to meet you,” Yasu introduced himself, grinning.

The boy in front of them smiled. “I'm Raymond Connor. Nice to meet you too.”

Glancing around the room, he spotted another girl and waved her over. “This is Zoe Barlow. Zoe, these two are just starting out here. This is Osamu and that's Mai,” he introduced them.

Zoe grinned. “Hey there.”

Before she could say much more however there was the sound of giggling and her face seemed to change into one of disappointment as she narrowed her eyes towards the group of girls currently making their way into the room.

“Word to the wise, avoid them like the plague. The one at the front is Felicity Grey and she'll be a pain in your arse if you let her,” she informed them; voice low so that the they wouldn't be overheard.

Mai frowned a little at the idea of judging someone without knowing them but before she could ask for more information, Martin entered the room and everyone was quick to get into a seat, pulling out their own books as Zoe and Raymond took a seat next to each other in the row in front of them.

“Morning everyone. I trust everyone enjoyed the brief break and is back ready and willing to work hard,” he joked as he put down his stuff on a nearby desk and turned to his class.

Immediately he spotted Yasu and Mai strategically placed in the middle-back and fought the urge to grin unprofessionally. They were so predictable.

“As you may have noticed we have a couple of new students. This is Mai Taniyama and Osamu Yasuhara from Japan. I assume you will all be making them welcome.”

There were some murmured agreements in the room which was enough to satisfy him as he turned back to the topic of the day.

“Very good. In that case, let's begin by going over what we covered before the Easter break.”

Everyone flicked open their notebooks, looking over their notes and Martin wasn't at all surprised to realise that Yasu and Mai were doing the same. Evidently, they had made notes of their own.

“If you'll all recall, we went over the subject of where this course could lead you and the real-life applications, as well as the basics on the subject. Over the next several weeks we will be going much further in depth with these concepts and ideas and strengthen your understanding of them. If your foundation for your knowledge is strong, then anything you build from there on will also be solid.”

He waited for a couple of nods around the room before continuing.

“I was going to spend this first lesson going over the importance of fielding requests and how to tell which requests are fake while being off-sight, and then some of the ways to tell when you're on-sight-”

There was the sound of a few low groans at the thought of how boring that might end up being and he couldn't help but smirk a little.

“-But in light of the recent holidays, I thought it might be more stimulating to get started on something more exciting. So, for today we will be going over the concept of different areas of Psi on a base level, although the more in-depth studies on it won't be until later on in your course, and is dependent on you taking the correct papers.”

The response to this idea was much happier and he couldn't help but mentally congratulate himself on his topic choice as he settled in to go over the concepts for the day.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*This is a real journal that I've been reading over here and there to get a better grasp on things for the classes at Cambridge, although I haven't had a chance to read as much as I would like. The following mentions of J.E. Kennedy and the articles I'm mentioned are all real and I do not own them. They are published works that I have read through pdfs online and I will probably reference him a lot because he has been published in the Journal of Parapsychology a lot over the years.

**Psi is the blanket term used to describe PK and ESP.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty

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Monday, April 22nd

“And that, I think, should be enough information to tide you all over until our next class. Don't be late,” Martin finished, shutting off his power point presentation and watching in amusement as a few of the students all but ran from the room.

“Mai, Yasu, if you two could stay behind for couple things, that'd be great,” he called out when he watched the two start to get up so they could leave as well.

Mai frowned, turning to look at Yasu in confusion who just shrugged. “Of course,” she agreed, instead moving to the seats at the front of the room while she waited for everyone else to leave.

It took a while for all the students to file out, a couple of them lingering in the hopes that Martin would start talking to the newcomers while they remained in the room so that they'd have some gossip – although a quick glare that reminded Mai of Naru's answered that idea soon enough.

When the last student left the room, door clicking shut, Martin's professor look seemed to completely fall off and his amusement became clear.

“Sorry to make it seem like you were in trouble so soon. No doubt everyone will be curious next lesson as to what I could want from you,” he apologised, shaking his head at the familiar antics of young adults.

Yasu grinned. “It'll be a good way for everyone to meet us,” he waved off, mischief shining in his eyes that worried Mai a little. “But what is it that you need anyway?”

“Ah, of course. I was actually wondering if you two would be willing to consider spending some of your spare time over at BSPR. This is the time of the year that we normally get new interns so you wouldn't be out of place at all if you wanted to gain the extra experience. Or at least, that's the angle that Madoka was working on,” he admitted, rolling his eyes at the last part with a sigh.

He'd tried to argue with the woman by reminding her that they had other commitments, but the pink-haired woman had just shrugged and stated that, 'they were parapsychology students, this was basically study. And it wasn't like they need to be here all the time.'

Mai giggled at his resignation. “I can't speak for Yasu, but I'd love to. Honestly, outside of my classes and studying, I don’t have too much else to occupy my time. And I miss ghost hunting, so even if it's just at the office it'll be a good chance to stay in practice,” she agreed, turning to Yasu.

The older boy sighed dramatically. “Well, since you agreed I guess I'll have to. Better off that then facing the wrath of a disappointed Madoka.”

“Don't let her hear you say that,” Martin warned lightly, shaking his head at the innocent look the boy gave him in return. It had only been a short weekend without the two of them around and he had already missed the way that they'd lighten up the place.

'Not to mention Noll's been down-right difficult.' Which had been the actual argument that had gotten Martin to break on the idea of taking up Mai and Yasu's study time – not that he could tell them that (although something about Yasuhara's expression made him wonder if the boy had already guessed – the boy was remarkably sharp despite his age).

“I'm free on Tuesdays since I don't have any classes, and on Fridays, my last class finishes at eleven so I can be there for the afternoon. I have Saturdays free as well, since Naru and I study on Sundays already,” Mai listed off. “I'm going to assume that you'll let us know if Madoka and Naru are gone on case – if he doesn't, which he might not because he's a jerk – so if I find myself with free time and nothing to do I'm guessing it'd be okay for us to show up unannounced?”

Martin nodded at her days and times, listening as Yasu recounted his availability. “You are more than welcome there at any time. You know where Madoka's, my, and Oliver's offices are, so it shouldn't be too much trouble to find us. Have Madoka or Noll mention where Lin's office is as well so that you can find him if need be,” he mused.

Lighting up at the open invitation, Mai looked down at her watch and blanched at how late it had gotten already. “On that note, I'm going to be late to my next lecture if I don't leave now. I'll probably be over at SPR this afternoon but only because my afternoon lecture was cancelled.” She explained, swinging her bag over her shoulder and bowing a little before she raced out of the room calling out a goodbye over her shoulder as she legged it to her next class. She barely made it with a couple of minutes to spare as she slid into an empty seat, pulling out her book and settling in for another two-hour class, already excited for the moment when she would be done for the day.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

True to her word, Mai left the Cambridge campus to walk over to the satellite office of BSPR at around twelve thirty, happy for the chance to stretch her legs finally. It was weird, using a car to get from place to place*, and Mai wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to adapt to the idea. She was much more partial to the subway, but after spending the past two weeks being driven anywhere and being unable to find a good jogging place over the past few days, she thought that the walk would do her some good.

It was around an hour later when she finally made it, body considerably more relaxed after her walk.

Stepping inside, Mai smiled at the secretary and walked over. “I'm Mai Taniyama. Professor Davis said I should just go and find Madoka or Oliver when I got here?”

The secretary smiled. “Just sign in here and then you're right to go on through. Do you need help finding them?” she asked, watching as Mai wrote her name down and what time she was entering the building.

Mai shook her head. “I'll be right, thank you.”

Putting down the pen, she made her way down the hall, recalling how she'd managed to get to Naru's office last time easily enough and grinning in victory when she spotted the door with his name on it. She frowned when she noticed a skittish looking man, who looked to be in his mid-twenties, looking at the door like it might bite him, hands clutching the file he was holding so tight that they were beginning to turn white.

“Are you okay there?” Mai asked, unable to help herself and flinching back a little when the man jumped.

Spotting Mai, he seemed to calm down. “Uh, Miss Mori asked me to deliver this file to Dr. Davis but last time I had to deliver something to him he practically turned me into dust and so I was trying to build up courage to knock but then you turned up and, oh God, how long did you watch me standing there? Please don't tell Miss Mori, she's been sending me to Dr. Davis in an attempt to help me build 'a back-bone' and if she hears about this then I'll be delivering files for the rest of my days here,” he rambled, English forming quickly on his lips to the point where it took Mai a minute to understand what was going on.

Sighing, Mai shook her head at how much trouble Naru must have been making for people in the past to have him become a real-life courage test. Grabbing the file off of him, Mai smiled.

“I'll hand this off to Dr. Davis, don't worry about it,” She promised.

The man looked relieved for a moment before glancing over at the shut door with trepidation and then back at her. “But won't he be mad at you?”

Mai laughed slightly. “Don't they have a saying in English about looking a gift horse in the mouth? Hurry back to Madoka before she comes to see what's taking you so long,” she suggested, shooing him away easily enough and watching in amusement as he practically scrambled in the direction of Madoka's office.

Shaking her head, she tapped lightly on Naru's door before pushing it open without waiting for him to respond.

Glancing up from the page he was reading, Oliver scowled at the sight of Mai in his doorway. “You do realise that you're supposed to wait until I say 'enter', right?” he tried, the words an echo of the same thing he'd said several times in the past.

And just as she had in the past, Mai just hummed, moving to place the file he hadn't noticed in her hand on the desk in front of him.

“...Is this going to become a regular occurrence?” he inquired, more curious than concerned.

Mai rolled her eyes at that, taking a seat in the same spot she had last time she'd been in his office. “That depends on how often Madoka sends skittish interns your way the same time that I happen to be around. What the hell did you do to them that Madoka is treating delivering papers to you like a real-life test of courage?” she asked, disapproval clear in the way her eyes narrowed, and her brows seemed to furrow slightly – although whether it was towards Madoka or Oliver remained to be seen. There was always the option of them both.

Oliver sighed, fingers coming up to his temples to rub gently. “The only thing I’ve 'done', as you so eloquently accused, is be myself.”

Rolling her eyes, Mai couldn't believe him. There was no way that he hadn't done something. “I don't believe it for a second, unless be yourself is code for 'be a complete jackass'. If it is, let me know so I can correct my English now rather than later,” she snarked.

A smirk tugged at Oliver's lips at her rapid-fire retort, trying not to be amused. “It's common knowledge that if you can't handle me at my worst then you don't deserve me at my best,” he informed her; voice purposefully flat while it took the brunette a moment to realise that he'd just recited a common teenage phrase like it was a perfectly valid response.

“Wha- you-” She wasn't quite sure how to respond to that, spluttering slightly while blood rushed towards her cheeks. “No one can handle you at your worst!”

Sighing like he was explaining something simple to a toddler, Oliver forced away the smirk that wanted to form, catching Mai's eyes as she glared at him. “Now who's being rude? I can name a fair few people who can handle me at my worst and it's the only reason any of them survive working with me. Consider it a test to see if they'll be able to handle dealing with someone difficult in field work. If they can't even handle handing over a file, then they aren't ready,” he informed.

Mai's mouth dropped open in disbelief as she tried to figure out what to say in response to that. Somehow, he had taken a perfectly invalid argument and made it sound logical enough that she could see the thought process and understand where he was coming from. It was infuriating and the temptation to stamp her foot in anger was strong.

“You and Madoka are the worst,” she sighed finally, slumping back in her seat and giving into the madness that she'd voluntarily signed herself up for earlier that day. “Why did I think that coming here in my spare time was a good idea?”

Oliver had been preparing a sarcastic comment in response when Mai's words seemed to reach him, and he had to stop.

“Coming here in your spare time?” Oliver asked, curious. If it had just been this afternoon then it wouldn't matter, but the way Mai said that it was almost like this was going to be a common occurrence.

Mai hummed, oblivious to her friend’s thoughts. “Yeah, I guess Professor Davis didn't mention it to you yet?” she asked, tilting her head. It was weird for Naru to not know something that was happening.

Oliver tried not to look guilty as he shook his head. If he acted like something was up, then Mai would ask what had set off his latest 'mood', and that wasn't a conversation he wanted to be having.

“Clearly not. Do you plan to explain?”

“Not if you're going to act like that, I'm not,” Mai grouched. Another look from Naru had her caving though. “He offered Yasu and I the chance to spend our free time here helping out. I thought it was a good chance to keep learning outside of the classroom when I have time, and since I missed ghost hunting, I jumped at the chance to keep my skills sharp. I'm already regretting it though.”

Oliver ignored the pointed look and instead nodded in approval, imagining how often he would be able to drink tea if Mai was sticking around. Although he wouldn't be able to order her to make it if this was something she was doing of her own volition, but any tea was better than no tea.

“You're being dramatic, and you'd be better of getting used to this. Madoka seems to have endless amounts of free time which she spends concocting various plans that will no doubt spell trouble in the end,” Oliver informed her, smirking openly at her groan.

“I hate you so much.”

Oliver scoffed at that. Mai wasn't capable of hate. Not even towards him.

“Did you intend to actually get anything done this afternoon or are you just here to bother me?” he asked, instead of allowing his mind to go down that path.

Mai huffed, crossing her arms. “I did plan to help. I was going to ask you what you thought I could help with but then the whole intern fiasco happened, and I got distracted.”

It was hard not to concede to that point since he'd actively encouraged the conversation without intending to. It had only been a few days since he had last seen Mai, but he'd already gotten used to seeing her every single day and, although he was loath to admit it, he'd missed having the brunette around. No one else challenged him as much as Mai did, and very rarely did they respond with the same level of sarcasm.

“In that case, I can think of something that would definitely be of great help,” Oliver informed her.

Mai perked up, waiting for him to continue.

“Tea.”

At the single work, he watched as Mai's face went slightly red in anger as she glared at him. “Why should I if you're going to be a jerk like that?” she grumbled.

The response was so predictable that Oliver couldn't help the smirk. “Because I asked, and you said you wanted to be of help.”

At Mai's unimpressed look, he shrugged and motioned towards the stack of files on his desk. “If you aren't inclined to do that then you can help me go over these cases that Madoka has checked and thinks are legitimate. Maybe you can glean something I haven't from them,” he offered instead.

Intrigued, Mai picked up one from the top of the stack and skimmed over the words at the top of the page before shutting it without a word. “Let's go get tea,” she decided instantly. There was no way that she could read over something like that without caffeine.

Happy with his victory, Oliver pushed back from his desk and stood, motioning for Mai to leave his office first. He followed her out and then lead the way to the same kitchen area they had gone to the first time Mai was here, it would seem that many of the same similarities were repeating themselves.

Just like last time it seemed as though Mai had come prepared, placing the ready-made tea bags on the counter while she collected the mugs and sugar after starting the kettle.

When Mai spotted him smirking towards the tea bags, she huffed. “They were both for me,” she lied, rolling her eyes when he gave her a look that asked if she was an idiot.

Out of spite, she ignored him as she continued to make the tea, tempted to just take the other mug to Madoka instead.

Before that thought could get much further though, Oliver was picking it up off the counter and moving back towards his office without a word.

“Naru!” she called after him, not surprised when he kept walking, but even more annoyed as she fell behind, glad she knew where she was going since his legs had carried him at twice the pace.

When she entered his office again, she glared at his smirking face. Jerk.

“Why can't you be nice for once?” Mai complained, shutting the door and sitting down to look over the file once more, feeling more alive as the seconds went by.

“You'd worry if I started being too nice.”

Mai scowled at that. “Waiting for me to grab my own mug of tea is ‘too nice’ now? I'll be sure to give Madoka the second cup of tea next time,” she threatened.

“Do whatever you want.” Oliver stated simply, much to her further irritation.

Instead of starting a fruitless argument (because it would be fruitless – Naru never changed) she started to commit the details of the case file in front of her to memory, eyebrows furrowed as she read over the words slowly.

It was a case at a school, something that reminded her clearly of the numerous cases she'd had at schools in the past with SPR in Japan. It seemed that there were reports of random fires starting up in some of the rooms without cause. Students reported constantly hearing voices shouting and some of the rooms apparently got cold enough for ice to form on the windows. There had been a few injuries so far, but it was the last line that sent warning bells off in Mai's head.

“Naru, kids are being led to the edge of the building with the compulsion to jump,” she whispered; voice raw with emotion. It was terrible to read and even more terrible to imagine. The thought of something creeping into your mind and pushing you towards the edge of the building.

Oliver frowned at Mai's words, reaching over to take the file from her and noting the sticker on the front that marked it of the utmost importance.

The school had been able to ignore the voices and the temperature issues, and to some extent, even the fires. But after the fourth incident with the students on the roof they were starting to panic and were seeking outside help.

“Madoka is probably already organising the group to go and take care of it since she’s fielding the request,” he explained, hoping to quell some of the unease on Mai's face as he pointed towards the sticker on the front Mai hadn't taken previous note of. “She gave me a copy because she probably intends for me to go as well.”

Worry settled deep in Mai's stomach and for the second time since she'd gotten to England, she wasn't sure if she was worried because her instincts thought something bad was going to happen, or if she was worried because Naru was going into a dangerous situation.

Swallowing, she picked up her tea and took a calming sip, waiting for it to settle her nerves a little.

“You'll be careful, right?” she asked finally, her voice soft as she looked up at Naru, catching his eye so that she'd know if he wasn't being sincere.

Oliver's body felt warm with a feeling he couldn't comprehend but didn't bother to fight.

Azure eyes met Mai's chocolate brown ones and he nodded. “I'm always careful,” he stated, as close to a promise as he could make, although by the reigned scoff he wasn't sure if it had quite the effect he'd intended.

Biting her lip, Mai put her hand into her pocket, fingers running over something small as she debated for a moment.

Mind made up, she placed it on the desk in front of Naru.

Carefully, Oliver picked up the small charm and raised an eyebrow as he looked over at Mai for explanation.

“It's a protection charm,” she explained, ignoring his look – because obviously it was a protection charm. “I started learning them a while ago and I'm better at some than others, but that was the first one I made that got Sensei's** approval. Keep it with you?”

Oliver closed his hand around it, letting his lips twitch briefly. “I suppose I had better,” he accepted, pretending that it was a hardship.

It was weird to be given a charm that wasn't from Lin, and if he looked closely at the characters, he could see the differences from their Chinese origins, although he could only understand parts.

“You've never mentioned learning to write charms?” Oliver asked after a moment, giving into his curiosity and a little frustrated. How many things did Mai leave out every time he asked about her abilities?

Mai flushed as the disapproval in his tone. “Sorry. I honestly didn't even think to mention it when we were talking about my abilities,” she apologised, looking down with a sigh.

Some things never changed.

“I don't suppose you can tell me anything else about this case?” he asked finally, thinking back to the dream Mai had reported having before she'd even left Japan.

Mai shook her head. “No, I haven't had any of those dreams lately. I'll let you know if I do while you're on case though,” she promised, frowning when she realised that she didn't have a way to actually fulfil that promise.

“Give me your phone,” Naru demanded. It seemed he was already a couple steps ahead of her.

He didn't need to be so demanding about it though.

Grumbling a little, Mai pulled out her phone and unlocked it quickly, opening up a new contact page and handing her phone over to Naru so he could fill it out.

Oliver filled out the boxes quickly, adding in his email in case she ever needed it and leaving the name for last. He debated for a moment before finally filling it in as 'Naru'. The thought of using his given name just didn't make sense.

Handing the phone back over to Mai, he rolled his eyes at her grin as she sent off a quick text so that he would have her number as well.

Looking up from saving her number, Oliver wanted to sigh in exasperation at the look of nerves on Mai's face. Did she realise how easy she was to read, or was it just around him that she was so open?

“What is it Mai? Just ask before you kill yourself wondering.”

Mai pouted, looking down at her lap. “It's just... will you keep me updated while you're gone?” she asked finally.

It felt like something so weird to ask him, but she couldn't help but feel a little concerned. She was so used to being on cases so that she could help out if anything went wrong, the thought of being in school, so far away instead, made her nervous. It was a well-known fact that the others hated how much she was targeted by ghosts, but personally she much preferred that they were targeting her over someone else. And then there was the matter of whatever feeling she was getting from everything.

Oliver watched the brunette carefully, considering his options. It wouldn't hurt to keep Mai updated, but there wasn't really a reason to do so out of her request. And there still seemed like there was something she was holding back, although he doubted he could get her to speak about it. But it was so rare that Mai actually asked for something selfishly and part of his didn't want to deny something so simple when it would take no time at all.

'Maybe she can prove to be insightful when the idiots I'm stuck with aren't.'

It was as good a reason as any.

“Fine.”

That singular words made Mai look up quickly, eyes wide as she stared at Naru, scarcely believing he'd agreed but not willing to ask again in case he took it back.

Beaming, Mai felt a rush of relief. “Thank you.”

Oliver didn't respond, focusing on the page in front of him instead to avoid looking at Mai's smile any longer, unsure of how to act when that blanket like warmth returned.

But well, if that was the kind of response this got, Oliver supposed it was worth the effort. Just this once.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*Mai, near as I can tell, was born and raised in Tokyo which means that she's used to getting from place to place by foot and using a train system because it's not worth trying to commute by car even if you have the means to have one. Even when I spent only a couple weeks in Tokyo, getting back home to somewhere that constantly uses a car to get from point a to point b was a harsh change to get used to and I often felt myself getting super restless, so I’m imagining that Mai would feel much the same.

**In this instance, I've used the word sensei instead of substituting it for teacher because it's being used as a name and not as a title, if that makes sense?

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-One

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Wednesday, April 24th

The next couple of says seemed to pass by quickly for Mai as she spent every waking moment studying in or out of classes, or over at BSPR working. It was nice to be so busy since she wasn't used to being so idle, but she was beginning to feel the itch under her skin from her lack of ability use and proper meditation.

She was still going out in the mornings and getting in a jog around the campus wasn't difficult, but there wasn't any real peace. There was nowhere that she could just let go and relax with her abilities.

And it was starting to show.

“I'm sorry” she apologised to Yasu softly after she'd snapped at him for the second time that day, stepping into the classroom for their afternoon parapsychology lecture.

Yasu frowned, pushing up his glasses as he observed his friend. “It's fine,” He waved her off. “But you need to do something about this. Will going out to the Davis' help?”

Mai bit her lip, worrying it between her lip. “It would,” she admitted, thinking of how nice everything was in their area and the peacefulness she would be able to enjoy. “But that's a short-term solution at best, and a one-off at worst. I can't always rely on being able to get away from here in order to relax.”

It was a good point and Yasu smiled wryly. “We may need to find someone who knows this campus good enough to recommend you a place or something then,” he suggested. “But I still think that we should try for the Davis' place sometime soon to help you out.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “You just want to eat James' cooking again,” she accused teasingly.

Holding his hands up in a show of surrender, Yasu smirked. “Like you don't.”

Huffing, Mai was about to respond when she realised something so obvious from Yasu's words. “You're a genius Yasu,” she breathed, pulling out her phone quickly and firing off a text to Naru since she didn't have Lin's number. If anyone had an idea of the kind of 'peace' she was trying to find, it would be him.

Putting her phone away after checking it was on vibrate so that it wouldn't bother anyone else, she resigned herself to waiting for a reply, which, she had discovered, could take anywhere from a couple minutes to two hours.

'Plus, Naru starts the school case today,' she reminded herself.

Resigning herself to an even longer wait, Mai was shocked when just as Martin stepped into the room, she felt her phone go off.

Was someone else texting her, or had Naru actually responded that fast?

Unwilling to check while class was under way, Mai turned her focus away from her phone and to her lecture instead.

“Good afternoon everyone. Today we will be covering something I know you are all excited for,” Martin opened. “Spiritualists. Last lesson we covered over some of the forms of Psi that are well known. In a similar vein of research is the concept of spirituality and the people who practice it.”

Bringing up a picture of a Venn diagram*, Martin pointed towards the middle where the two areas overlapped. “As you can see, some of the abilities that are considered psi are also considered normal for spiritualists. For example, mediums. A medium is someone who is able to communicate openly with spirits and is usually able to see them. This ability is considered both a form as psi, but also places them within the realm of spiritualist. Unlike Psi, however, spiritualists do not have to show any affinity for a form of psychic ability. It is common in many cultures for spiritualists to simply learn and maintain their history by practising the arts passed on from generation to generation.

“The literal definition for a spiritualist of course, is anyone who believes that the dead have the ability to communicate with the living. If we go by this definition than the diagram changes.” Martin flicked the slide over to show a big circle with the word Spiritualists written up the top, and then a smaller circle within it that said 'psi'. “In this diagram it becomes clear that in actuality a medium, or many other practitioners of psi are spiritualists by definition because of their belief in the dead and their ability to communicate.”

A girl from the front of the class raised her hand.

“Yes?”

She swallowed nervously before speaking out with as strong of a voice as she could manage. “What about the abilities that fall under Psi that do not require belief in the dead?” she asked.

Martin grinned. “Excellent question.”

Flipping his slides again, he pointed towards the same Venn diagram that they started with. “And that is why we usually show things like this and not like the other diagram, because this allows us to fully grasp that Psi does not equal Spiritualist, just as a Spiritualist does not equal someone with psi. Please remember this for your end of term exams. You mustn't only think of the smaller picture. You have to consider the additional possibilities.”

With that said, Martin looked down at his watch. “That's everything I had to teach for today, so you are all free to leave. I'll be around for another thirty minutes if you have any questions about anything that we've covered today.”

As he signalled the end of the lecture, everyone began to pack up their things.

Recalling her earlier text, Mai pulled it back out and rolled her eyes at Naru's response.

[Naru:] What did you do?

[Naru:] Contact shared

Saving the contact, Mai shot off a quick text to Lin, making sure to say that it was from her, before turning back to responding to Naru.

[Mai:] Nothing, Jerk. I just have a question for him.

Huffing, she turned her screen blank again and put her phone away, beginning to pack up the rest of her things.

“One class down, too many left to go. And we even finished early! Should we go and see the prof., maybe try and con him into feeding us sometime soon?” Yasu joked, slinging his bag over his shoulder.

Mai rolled her eyes. “Madoka and Naru are on case starting today, I'm sure he has more important things to worry about,” she pointed out.

She followed him over to Martin regardless though, resigned to whatever Yasu actually wanted to bother their professor for.

“Yasu, Mai. How can I help?” Martin asked, raising an eyebrow at his two (favourite) students.

“I was just wondering about the case that BSPR starts today. I wanted to know if I there was anything we can help with. Mai and I are both mostly free on Friday's and with Madoka and Naru both on case there won't be much in the way of people to bother on Friday over at the satellite office.”

Blinking a little, Mai realised that he was right. Trust Yasu to think everything through.

Martin hummed in understanding. “Well I can't clear you to go on-sight at this time, but I can give you a copy of the file. I'm sure if you ask Madoka there will be plenty of research you can help with,” he admitted.

Walking over to the desk, he pulled out the file he had on hand for it and handed it over to Yasu.

“You can keep that copy. I'll print another one later on. You two will have to share though or photocopy another one at the library.”

Mai shook her head. “No need. I've already seen the file,” she admitted.

Her professor chuckled. “Of course you have. Did you glean anything from it?”

The way he asked the question made it clear what he really wanted to know.

Shaking her head, Mai sighed. “Nothing so far. I've got Naru's number though and he'll be told the moment I get anything – if I get anything.”

Martin nodded in understanding. “Don't push yourself too hard.”

Laughing without any real humour, Mai recalled her lack of use of her powers in the past few days. “I won't.”

Curious about her tone, Martin frowned a little, but decided to leave the topic alone for the moment. There wasn't much he could do that the people who Mai surrounded herself with weren't already able to do.

Except...

“It's good that I caught the two of you, however. I was wondering if you two would be amenable to dinner on Friday night. Luella’s been lonely without someone around to converse with and if you could come and quieten her for a few hours, I would appreciate it,” he offered.

It wasn't a lie. Luella had been pouting constantly since the two of them had left, no longer used to having the large house to herself all the time with no-one to talk to, and she would be delighted to have them over.

Yasu grinned in a way that worried Martin slightly and reminded him of Madoka so clearly. “We'd be happy to,” he agreed easily.

Mai rolled her eyes. “Talk about getting everything you want,” she scoffed.

As predicted, she was ignored.

Looking down at the time on her phone, Mai sighed. “I had better get going. I have a couple of things that I need to get done and some homework that I'd rather get out of the way now if I'm going to spend the weekend on case work,” she explained.

Martin nodded in understanding. “I should probably be on my way as well,” he admitted.

Waving goodbye to both men, the brunette made her way out of the room and headed back to her dorm room, phone in hand as she observed the reply she had just gotten from Lin.

[Lin:] When we return from the case I will show you a place.

[Mai:] Thank you

It was a weight off her shoulders to know that Lin knew somewhere that she could go to take care of all this pent-up energy. Now all she had to do was make it through tomorrow without going off at anyone again, and then she can spend part of her Friday evening outside at the Davis' enjoying the serenity there.

Content with her plan, Mai continued on with her day, the classes passing by slowly until she finished up with her introduction to psychology class at six.

Feeling a tex come in, she glanced down at her phone.

[Naru:] When you have a chance to discuss the case let me know.

Mai couldn't help the way her heart fluttered, knowing that Naru was talking about his promise to keep her updated on the case.

[Mai:] I will be back at my dorm in a minute. We can talk them. I'm assuming you want to call

[Naru:] Obviously

Mai rolled her eyes at the tone she could hear even without him being here. When her theory that Naru would hate texting turned out to be correct, she hadn't been able to stop feeling smug. It wasn't something big, but it had proved to her that she still, somewhat, knew Naru even after a year and so many lies.

'Don't go there,' she scolded herself immediately, dragging her thoughts back towards the topic that she'd be talking about with Naru. The case.

Going over the facts, she frowned as she opened the door. There wasn't much in the way of information at the moment to go on, so she hoped that Naru was going to be able to shed some light on the situation.

Putting her things down next to her desk, she locked the door and then fired off a text to Naru to let him know that he could call her at any time now.

Phone in hand, she moved to sit at her desk while she waited, pulling out some loose paper and a couple of pens so that she could take note of anything that he said.

A minute later her phone began to vibrate, and she answered it instantly.

“Hey. How have things gone so far?” she asked, straight to the point.

On the other end, Naru let out a sigh of frustration. “Remind me why I have to put up with idiot interns that don't know a night vision camera from a normal camera and can't take orders properly.”

Mai blinked a little at the unexpected rant before giggling a little and shaking her head even though he couldn't see it.

“Give them a break. They're still learning, and they won't be able to if you don't give them a chance,” she reminded, remembering her own experience in the poor interns’ position.

Naru scoffed. “You give them too much credit. The interns we hire always have experience in the field or have been studying the subject for over a year already and are ready for field experience. They should be able to tell a night vision camera from a normal camera.”

Wincing, Mai had to admit that he had a point, like always. They weren't like Mai; who started due to an un-honest debt and had no idea what she was doing from day one.

“Regardless. They're probably so worried about you that they're forgetting the simple things. Give them a chance,” she pointed out.

Oliver sighed angrily. “I'll give them a chance when they prove that they deserve it.”

Sighing, Mai took that for the half-win that it was, since she wasn't likely to get anything better from him.

“In that case, how have things gone so far? Any activity?”

“Not too much so far. There haven't been any cases of children on the roof today, which is good; however, there was a fire in one of the classrooms. The temperature readings are also showing signs of spiritual presence. You still haven't gotten anything?”

“I told you I would let you know if I did,” she reminded. “I have a feeling I might get something soon though so if it'll stop you from being in a bad mood then you can prepare yourself mentally for that.”

“Don't leave out any details.”

Mai huffed. “I'm not the same as I was years ago, Naru. I understand by abilities better now. I will tell you as much as I can if I do end up dreaming, I swear.”

“Good.”

Rolling her eyes at the satisfaction in his tone, she couldn't help but smile slightly. Even if they were mostly arguing, she couldn't help but feel much better than she had all day, for whatever reason.

The part of her that answered that with the name 'Naru' immediately got stamped down.

“You'll let me know if anything happens as well, right? You have my charm on you correct?”

This time it was Naru who huffed. “Yes, Mai, I have the charm on me. I'm not stupid.”

“Just making sure.”

For a moment the other end was silent, and the brunette thought she could hear Madoka in the background and she sighed.

“I'll let you get back to work. Thanks for keeping me updated. I'll be at BSPR on Friday with Yasu if you need us to do any research or need anything else done. I know Madoka will probably give Yasu a list since those two tend to talk all the time, but if there is anything in particular you need you know how to reach me.”

On the other end, Oliver was reluctant to end their conversation, even though Madoka was giving him the most irritatingly smug look.

“Not stupid,” he repeated. “I'll speak with you tomorrow.”

Mai laughed slightly and agreed with him before wishing his a good evening.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Thursday, April 25th

To her surprise, the next night, after her classes for the day had been completed, Mai found herself once more on the phone to Naru, catching up with what had happened that day – not that there had been much in the way of activity so far.

Yawning, Mai flushed even though Naru couldn't see her. Suddenly she felt exhausted and not in a 'I've been out an about all day' kind of way.

'What's the chance that this is the dream I've been expecting?' she thought to herself rhetorically, already recognising the signs.

Sorry to cut this short Naru,” she apologised through another yawn.

She could practically see him roll his eyes on the other end.“Go to bed before you pass out, baka.”

Smiling sheepishly, she nodded even though he couldn't see it. “Oyasuminasai.”

After that the line went dead and Mai pushed herself away from the desk to collapse onto her bed, turning off her light on the way.

She lamented that she didn't have enough time to shower or change before falling into bed, but she didn't want to risk ending up somewhere else when she fell asleep. It had happened a couple of times in the past and, so far, she had been lucky enough to avoid major injury; but it only took one stroke of bad luck to change that.

Settling into the mattress, she sighed softly and made a conscious effort to let go of her mind and her body, allowing the feeling of floating to fully take over her senses.

And then – she was dreaming.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Standing in her dreamland, Mai looked around as she waited for the normal black landscape to morph into a scene. For a moment nothing seemed to happen, and then Mai found herself watching as everything finally changed and became what appeared to be the roof top with two boys.

How dare you show me up like that?” one of them growled.

The other seemed slightly scared as he looked confused. “I don't understand what I did. What have I ever done to you, Elliot?” he demanded.

'Elliot' scoffed. “What have you done to me? It figures that you wouldn't even notice. If you weren't here, then I would be the best. If it weren't for you, I would be number one. If it weren't for you, my parents wouldn't call me a failure. If you didn't exist, then everything would be better,” he hissed.

There was a moment when the other boy didn't seem to know what to say, before he softened slightly at the admission of Elliot's home life. “I'm sorry. But there is nothing I can do about that. We can try to call someone though, get you some help?” he offered, stepping closer towards Elliot.

Elliot growled at the well-meaning boy, crowding him towards the edge of the roof. “Help? You think I need 'help' now, do you? What for? What do you gain from helping me? Or do you just want to one up me on that too? William Turner, always caring for others even when he's so busy and so far out of our league.”

The last sentence was said with such malicious mockery that even from where she was viewing, Mai shivered. She noted the names though, determined not to leave out any details when she spoke to Naru.

That's not what I meant. I won't tell anyone if that's what you want. I just want to do what I can to help,” William promised, voice imploring.

There was hysterical laughter as a smirk formed on Elliot's lips. “You want to know how you can help me? Truly?”

Elliot swallowed nervously, unsure of how to get away but getting more and more unsure of the safety of his position as he was crowded against the rooftop edge.

Nodding slightly, he shook a little at the laughter he got in response once more.

I know how you can help me,” Elliot started, hands coming up to grab William.

Mai watched on in horror as William was lifted, a shout leaving his lips as he struggled in Elliot's stronger grip, desperately trying to get away.

You can die.”

With those last words, William was pushed from the roof, voice screaming himself hoarse as he landed on the ground with a sickening thud.

In that same moment, Mai woke.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Opening her eyes, Mai shivered slightly as the sweat that covered her body hit the cool air of the room, covers on the ground from where she had kicked them at some point while she had been absent and in dreamland.

Without thinking, Mai reached for her phone that was sitting on her bedside table and dialled Naru's number.

While she waited to see if he would answer, she pulled her blanket from the ground and wrapped herself back up, snuggling into them in an attempt to warm back up.

The phone continued to ring, and Mai was about to give up when she finally heard the sound of it being picked up on the other end.

“Naru?” she whispered, shocked at how hoarse her throat felt, almost like she had been screaming too.

“Mai. Why are you calling?”

His voice was a little rough in the way that reminded Mai of the couple times she'd heard him after being woken up.

“Sorry. I had a dream and didn't think. You can go back to sleep and I'll call you at a more decent time.”

There was silence and some shuffling before Naru responded. “Don't be an idiot. I'm already awake now, so you might as well tell me while the memory is fresh.”

Mai bit her lip, not wanting to bother him at, -she looked down at the time on her bedside clock and frowned at the blinking numbers that read three-thirty in the morning. She'd been dreaming even longer than she'd thought, and Naru had probably only recently gotten to sleep too.

Guilt filled her stomach, adding to her already present nausea.

“Mai.”

Naru's impatient voice snapped her back from her own wallowing quickly, and she swallowed thickly.

“Sorry,” she apologised again.

There was a huff from the other end before Naru spoke again and she didn't even need to try to imagine the irritated look on his face. “Stop apologising and start recounting. The sooner you give me the details, the sooner we can both get back to sleep,” he reminded.

“Right,” Mai agreed. But even knowing this it took a moment before she could gather the words to explain everything that had happened.

Recounting every single detail she could think of, she made sure to stress the names that she'd managed to gather and from the sound she got in response, it was likely that Naru already knew something about them.

She wasn't sure how long exactly it took to go over everything and answer the questions Naru had; by the end of it, Mai's throat felt dry and scratchy, and despite her bone deep exhaustion she felt wide awake.

There was adrenaline rushing through her veins as she woke up fully and forced herself from her warm bed to grab a bottle of cool water.

“You're sure that's everything?”

Mai huffed at the same question she'd been asked already. “Yes, Naru, I promise that this was everything that happened. I didn't leave out a single detail,” she repeated, before opening her water and gulping some down quickly, frowning when it seemed to slosh in her stomach in a way that made her even more nauseous. Figures. She couldn't even have water without it making her sick right now.

'What I really need is tea,' she thought.

Her lips twitched when she recalled the first time she'd been given tea after experiencing one of her psychic dreams, and without her permission her body seemed to warm slightly; almost like a blanket of safety was being wrapped around her at the memory.

“It would probably be best if you went back to sleep. You won't do anyone any good if you're tired and you need to be up again in a few hours if you want to be at the satellite office at eight.”

Mai frowned, before she realised that Naru was right. It was already past four in the morning.

Her guilt started to rise again when she realised that if he was lucky, Naru would get a nap before getting up for the day.

“You're going back to sleep too, right?” she asked.

There was pause and Mai sighed when that was more than enough of an answer.

“Please, Naru. You probably only slept for like thirty minutes before I woke you.”

There was a sigh. “I will endeavour to sleep for at least an hour if it will mean that you shut up about it,” Naru agreed reluctantly.

Honestly, all he wanted to do was go and continue putting the new case details together, but even without seeing the brunette he could hear the guilt she was carrying.

A new kind of warmth formed at Mai's core when she realised that Naru was basically agreeing to sleep for her sake, and this time she let it wash over her.

“Thank you.”

“Go back to bed,” was all she got in response, making her roll her eyes because that wasn't a request. Before another argument could start, however, she hung up the phone, replacing it on the bedside table and putting it on charge.

Despite her irritation, she felt the adrenaline rapidly leaving her system and instead the exhaustion was all that remained.

When the exhaustion mixed with the warmth and safety she felt from her talk with Naru, she didn't stand a chance.

And this time when she fell into sleep, it was dreamless.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*For those of you who didn't want to scream in frustration (I sure wanted to the moment the words were on the page) at the mention of these demonic (but otherwise helpful) things because you've never studied them or have completely forgotten that they exist, a Venn Diagram is the diagrams that involve two of more circles that overlap at different points. The one being referenced is a simple one that simply has two circles that overlap in the middle which shows the items that apply to both sides.

P.S. The bs explanation on Psi and spiritualists is not at all structurally sound is literally created for the purposes of this story. Please do not take it as fact. I have of course done some research into these subjects but I'm not nearly well-versed enough for anything other than the hand-waving science I am providing for you.



 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Two

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, April 26th

When Mai awoke again a few hours later to her alarm, she groaned in exhaustion. Her mind felt drained from being in dreamland for the most part of the night instead of in her body, resting with the rest of her.

Turning over, she allowed her eyes to close once more, not even caring that she had well and truly missed any chance of going for a jog. It wasn't like it mattered with how restless she was afterwards, at the moment.

Letting her mind drift, she found herself jolting awake what felt like only a couple of minutes later; but a quick look at the clock revealed it to be almost an hour and a half after she was supposed to leave, the blinking numbers of eight-thirty making her wince.

Groaning, she forced herself from her bed, changing quickly before grabbing her things and racing out the door, only stopping to double check she had her dorm keys, purse, and phone, and that her door was locked.

Content when all of these things proved to be true, she raced off; immediately starting the walk to the BSPR satellite office building.

She let her mind wander slightly, trying not to think of the dream from last night, recalling instead how nice Naru had been.

Smiling a little, she hummed, suddenly in a better mood. There was a skip in her step as she made the rest of the hour long journey, no longer caring that she was late. A few more minutes wouldn't hurt at this point.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Naru sighed, ignoring the pounding in his head from his lack of sleep. He'd gotten another hour, like he'd promised Mai, before he'd gotten up and started to stockpile the information they'd gathered.

After Mai had given him those names, he'd immediately felt like they were familiar, so he'd looked them up first and found records that they both committed suicide.

Or at least, the school thought they had both committed suicide. Oliver knew that, if nothing else, one of them hadn't.

He'd spent the rest of the morning gathering more information before he'd been interrupted by Madoka.

“We're going to group call with the BSPR office, since Yasu, Mai, and Martin are there, and let them know anything that we need help with.”

Sighing as his lack of peace vanished, he turned his attention to the laptop they'd set up for this, waiting as they loaded in.

Only moments later, an image of his father and Yasuhara appeared, with no Mai in sight.

Madoka seemed to be confused – although Naru could guess what happened given her struggles last night – and voiced her concern.

“Ah, she isn't here just yet. She'd probably just running a little behind,” Yasu assured her.

The pink-haired woman frowned a little in concern. “Should we wait for her then?”

Shaking his head, Oliver shot her down. “Mai has been getting regular updates on the case, and she might be more than a few minutes away. She had a dream last night,” he explained.

Narrowing her eyes, Madoka crossed her arms, turning to look at Naru.

“And just when were you going to mention this?”

“I just did, didn't I? Regardless, she gave me some good information, but she only got back to bed at gone four this morning. It might be a little bit before she arrives if she falls asleep again. You can update her when she gets there yourselves,” he said, before going on to recount Mai's dream to them all.

Yasuhara grinned. “So, Mai called you at three-thirty in the morning and you didn't bite her head off? Isn't she special,” he teased.

Glaring at the other boy, Oliver scoffed. “It was vital information for the case, of course not,” he reasoned. “But if that's everything then I'm quite finished wasting my time with this.”

With that, he turned and moved away from the laptop; picking up his research again and burying himself once more, ignoring the snickering he could hear from across the room.

At least one of them needed to be working, or things would never get done.

Looking over his notes, he frowned. Both of them had died, so the real question at current was which boy was haunting the place. Was it Jason, due to his unfair death, pushed from the roof by Elliot? Or was it Elliot, angry from the treatment he'd suffered at home?

It didn't help that the most dangerous part of this haunting could happen to anyone, and it didn't give him any clues as to which ghost was the correct answer.

The roof was locked for the moment, but he had no doubt that the spirit could change that when the time came.

Currently it seemed that the spirit was luring someone onto the roof every three days, so it was due to make its move today.

“The battery on cameras three and five need changing. Can you go take care of them, Oliver?” Madoka called out, only glancing up from the work she was doing for a moment before going back to reading over some more information.

Scowling, Naru put aside the article he'd been reading to go and grab the spare batteries, making sure he had his walkie talkie before he exited the room.

It was a quick walk to camera three, but camera five was on the fourth floor, right below the roof.

As he walked, he kept an eye around, trying to spot if anyone was doing anything that might be considered suspicious, checking the door was still locked as he went past, before making his way to the camera. He frowned when he checked the battery. It still read full.

“Madoka, did you give me the wrong number for the second camera? The battery on five is full.”

It was quiet for a moment before he heard Lin respond. “Camera five is still reading as out of battery for us.”

Naru frowned. That was odd.

Glancing back towards the staircase, cursing when he spotted someone slipping around the corner.

“We have a situation,” he informed Lin quickly, before heading up the stairs, panting a little as he rushed towards the roof door.

It was open, of course.

“Stop!” Oliver tried shouting, trying to get the attention of the boy who was walking towards the edge of the roof.

The boy didn't seem to hear him, which wasn't much of a surprise.

Barrelling after him, Oliver grabbed his arm firmly, pulling his back from the ledge.

“Let me go!” the boy shouted, but there was something off about his voice.

Narrowing his eyes, he held his grip easily. “No. Leave this boy's body,” he ordered. “You are not welcome here.”

The boy froze before his eyes seemed to come back into focus, the cloudiness that was there moments before vanishing before the body slumped, leaving Naru to hold his weight up before gently lowering him to the ground.

Stepping in front of the body, he blinked a little when his jacket pocket seemed to glow as the spirit raced towards him, more of a mist than an actual spirit that he could see.

It hissed angrily. “I'll be back. You can't protect them forever.”

Naru glared at the spirit, still unsure as to whether or not he was speaking with Jason or Elliot.

“You need to move on,” he informed instead. “It does you no good to lead them to their deaths.”

There was laughter in the air, cruel. “It does me lots of good. I feel much better after watching them fall. After watching them suffer like I did,” he screeched.

There was sharp whistle as something flew through the mist before the everything seemed to lighten.

“Are you alright?” Lin asked, jogging over and glancing down at the boy who was still lying unconscious on the ground.

“Fine. I'll explain after we get the boy somewhere else and are back in base.”

The older man looked like he was going to argue for a moment before deciding better of it, nodding instead and leaning over to pick up the body, checking that the boy was still breathing.

“Make sure you relock the door after we leave,” Lin reminded.

Naru didn't both to respond to the reminder, glaring instead at the idea that he could be stupid enough that he would forget that.

Stopping by the infirmary on the way back, they dropped the unknown boy off, instructing the nurse to let them know when he awoke so that they could question him, before they continued on their way back to base, an irritated Madoka chattering towards Lin through the walkie talkie (which he ignored) as she waited impatiently for them to get back.

He let his thoughts drift toward everything that happened, in particular, the light that had protected him.

It wasn't something that he had done, that much he was certain about.

So, the question was, what had?

Reaching into his jacket pocket, he blinked in surprise at the feeling of a material covered piece of cardboard.

Pulling it out, he tried not to react at the sight of the charm Mai had given him before he'd begun this case.

“What's that?” Madoka asked, eyes zeroing in on the charm from the moment he stepped in. “This isn't a curse after all is it?”

Oliver scoffed. “Hardly. This is a charm that Mai gave me before we started this case. I'm not sure what happened but it glowed when the spirit tried to attack me.”

Furrowing his eyebrows, Lin held out a hand towards it, silently asking to take a look.

For a moment, Naru couldn't help but hesitate. It was ridiculous to think that this was his and he didn't want anyone to touch it, but at the same time he couldn't help it.

Pushing that thought to the back of his mind – emotions really were ridiculous – he offered the charm up, thankful that Lin didn't comment on how long it took for him to hand it over.

The older man's eyes almost seemed to widen after a moment spent studying it. “This is powerful. And good work. When did Mai start learning charms?” he inquired.

Oliver sighed, rubbing at the bridge of his nose. “She didn't mention exactly how long ago, only that this was the first time she managed to get it right. I think she said that she was better at protection charms over anything else, but I haven't had a chance to ask her about them properly.”

Madoka let out a groan that mimicked perfectly how he had felt when he'd gotten the new information.

“I swear. The day that girl finally gives us the full story about her abilities and what she learnt while we were back here...” she grumbled, pouting.

Lin didn't respond, still studying the charm closely.

“Something wrong with it, Koujo?” Madoka inquired, walking over to peek over his shoulder at it, whistling in surprise at how professional it looked.

“When you said a charm, I was thinking more along the lines of the paper charms we usually use. Is that hand woven into the fabric?”

Lin nodded. “It's much harder to get the patterns correct when hand-weaving them, but charms that are made on fabric instead are much more likely to last. They're usually stronger as well.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Knocking lightly on Martin's door, Mai smiled sheepishly when she walked in. “Sorry I'm late.”

Martin waved her off. “It's not like you have to be here, helping with this. Oliver let us know about your dream. They got us caught up around an hour ago, so now we're just sorting through these reports on the two boys you saw in your dream.”

Wincing at the memory, Mai nodded. Suddenly she felt all the more depressed.

Sighing, she pushed her thoughts about it to the back of her mind, focusing on the research in front of her that was on the subject of Elliot's home life.

Reading over the abuse that he suffered while he was alive made her a little sick to her stomach, heart squeezing in sympathy.

She'd known about it before, of course. His ranting and twisted logic had explained it all pretty simply. But still, seeing the evidence of everything he'd suffered through the eyes of a collection of medical reports, all detailed numerous bruises and broken bones...

Sometimes, she really hated her job.

They all seemed to work in silence for a while before Madoka sent Martin a message an hour later, letting him know that they'd be making an update in an hour when she forces them to stop and eat, so to be ready for a call around then.

That was the only break in silence before everyone went back to work, Martin working on some paperwork as Yasu and Mai quickly compiled the information into files, ready to go into a single folder when the case was finished later on.

Apparently, BSPR kept an impressive amount of notes on every case, and the brunette couldn't help but groan when she had to repeat the same information in a different format, glaring at her professor for a moment, but giving up when he ignored her.

Now she knew where Naru got it from for sure.

Letting her head fall back onto the case file, she allowed her eyes to close for a brief moment, exhaustion winning her over and forcing her to take a minute.

Opening her eyes again, she frowned at her surroundings, the auras seeming much sharper all of a sudden. Getting up, she looked around for Martin and Yasu, only to jump when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

Whirling around, she blinked in shock at a familiar smiling face before squealing.

“Gene! Where the heck have you been?” she demanded, unsure whether to be overjoyed at his sudden appearance, or bothered that it had been almost six months since the last time she'd seen him.

It was weird to see someone with Naru's face look to sheepish, but she brushed that thought off easily, narrowing her eyes at him as he grinned.

“Sorry. I've been doing a lot of journeying here in the spiritual realm.” He smirked a little, “Trying to figure out who I am here.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “I could have really used your help a couple of times, you know,” she grumbled, huffing and bringing her arms up to cross them in front of her chest.

He winced a little, smirk turning in an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that. I wish I could have gotten to you. There was a disturbance on your spiritual plane a month ago though and I tried to contact you then, but nothing seemed to be working. I thought you might have been blocking me.”

This time Mai winced, recalling how things had been at the time. “No, that wasn't me. I'm terrible with blocking – you know that. It was the spirit on the case. It...” she trailed off before changing subject, keen to approach a different topic. “Never mind that, how have you been? With this many months surely you've been full recharged with ghostly abilities as well.”

Gene narrowed his eyes for a moment before letting it go, grinning a little. “Yep. It's weird though. I've met a couple other spirits who were spiritualists when they were alive over the past couple months, and none of them say that their 'ghostly powers' are like them at all, but it doesn't feel like there's a difference,” he reported, frowning slightly before shrugging. “I guess I must be special.”

Smirking a little, Mai poked his forehead. “You're definitely something,” she agreed, dodging when he swiped at her.

“There's no need to be rude about it,” Gene grumbled, smile tugging at his lips.

Suddenly his face seemed to change though. “You need to warn the idiot scientist though. He's in danger. Something happened earlier today, and he made the spirit he's hunting angry. There was a charm on him as well, I think? It wasn't super clear along our connection but for some reason when he was getting ready to protect himself, he stopped all of a sudden, but then the spirit returned to this plane and he looked injured. But I don't know if it'll hold up when the spirit attacks again.”

Mai swallowed at the news before blinking in surprise. “My charm helped then?” she asked.

Gene blinked back. “I've definitely been gone too long. When did you stare learning charms?”

Shrugging, the brunette gave him a pointed look. “I started my Qigong and charm making over six months ago. You've missed a lot,” she admitted.

Sighing, Eugene pouted. “Well then, you're just going to have to catch me up,” he decided. “I'll come by and see you again soon, but I need to let you get back. I can hear Noll over the connection, and I think they're worried you're dreaming again.”

Mai groaned. “You just had to interrupt me in the middle of my workday, didn't you?” she teased.

Gene scoffed. “Like you were working. I saw you close your eyes for that nap,” he retorted.

“Nu-uh! I was just resting my eyes for a moment. I wasn't going to sleep at all.”

Rolling his eyes, Gene gave her a gentle push, helping her to leave the spirit plane. “You keep telling yourself that. Just be careful, spiritual exhaustion is nothing to sneeze at. Get some real rest tonight.”

“I'll promise that if you promise to talk to me again before the end of next week.”

“I promise.”

“Then I promise too.”

Letting herself completely fade out, she let her body adjust to having her spiritual mind return, breathing deeply and keeping her eyes closed for a second before she forced herself up from the desk, blinking at the sudden bright light.

“And the sleeping beauty awakens. Just in time. Did you find anything out?” Yasu asked, jumping on the brunette the moment he realised she was awake.

Batting him away, Mai rolled her eyes. “Not too much,” she admitted, before turning towards the screen of amused adults watching her. “Sorry for falling asleep.”

Madoka shook her head, grinning. “Don't worry about it. We know that last night was rough for you,” she assured the younger girl.

Rubbing her eyes, Mai was suddenly awake when she remembered what Gene had said about Naru being attacked.

“How are you guys? There was an attack earlier, right? Did my charm help?” she asked, looking at them all.

Oliver narrowed his eyes. “Just how did you know about that?”

It took a moment for Mai to realise that blurting out that his brother supplied the information probably wouldn't go down well, especially with Martin in the room, so she shrugged instead. “I said I didn't get too much, but I did learn a couple things on the spiritual plane. The spirit is angry, so you need to be careful – Naru in particular, but I can't tell whether it's Elliot or Jason,” she admitted, sighing in disappointment.

She really didn't want Naru to be there for much longer. Between Gene's warnings and the bad feeling in her stomach that hadn't lessened at all, she didn't have much faith in them escaping from this case unscathed.

Naru rolled his eyes at Mai. It felt like she was leaving something out, but he didn't know how to call her on it when there were so many other people in the room.

Deciding that he could breach the subject, he left Madoka continue talking instead.

“Speaking of which, I had no idea that you could make charms Mai! Well done on that one, it really did save Noll, although I don't understand exactly what it did.”

Mai beamed at the praise. “I've been practicing for a while now, but they take a little bit to make. I'll make you all one eventually. The team in Japan have one each as well.”

There was a certain level of specialness taken from the concept of Mai giving him one in that moment, before he recalled that she had given him hers. The very first one she'd gotten right.

It was different.

He scoffed a little at his own thought process. It was stupid, and he didn't understand where the sudden jealousy had come from, but he wanted it to go away.

“There was a bright light from it. Do you know what that was all about? It's not a single use only, right?” Madoka checked, suddenly a little concerned.

Mai blinking a little before shaking her head. “No, not at all. But the spells on it will need to be re-energised. If it needed to conjure a shield so strong that Naru could see it then there's probably nothing left of the energy I filled it with. Without that it's a holy piece of fabric, but nothing too helpful.”

Nodding in understanding, Madoka hummed. “Do you have to be the one to recharge it, or can someone else?” she asked, giving a brief look towards Lin, meaning clear.

Shrugging, Mai bit her lip. “I'm not entirely sure...” she admitted.

Lin sighed. “It doesn't have to be you, but it's usually better. Since you're too far away and you can't be on sight, however, I'll refill it for the time being to be on the safe side and give Naru another one just in case,” he decided. “You'll have to replace the energy when you see him next, though.”

Mai nodded. “Thank you, Lin-san.” She grinned.

“The question is though, how do we figure out whether or not this spirit is Jason or Elliot? What's our next step?” Madoka asked, face morphing into one of contemplation as she tried to figure out what they were going to do next.

Mai frowned. “I can try and get more information from the spirit plane, but I can't just yet since it's too soon after my last visit. It'll be too much strain on my body.”

Her voice was regretful, but the pink-haired woman shook her head. “It's fine Mai. We'll figure something else out. We had to do things the old fashioned way without you around all the time. You've already sped up the process considerably by giving us the potential names of the spirit and some information. Let us do the heavy work from here on out,” she promised.

Biting her lip, Mai nodded. “Alright.”

Satisfied, Madoka nodded back, grin still in place. “Good.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Three

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, April 26th

A dark shadow watched from a hallway, an ominous darkness seeming to surround it despite the lights that should have been on, and the windows that should have been enough to provide light.

A single boy was making his way towards the stairs, eyes glazed over, mind absent.

I won't be outdone.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai blinked a little at the image that had suddenly appeared in her mind, flashing briefly before she brought her focus back consciously, taking a moment to reorientate herself and remember where she was.

Spotting her professor and best friend, her remembered that they were on their way down to Martin's car ready to head off to dinner with Luella despite it only being four in the afternoon.

Her body was thrumming with energy, excitement coursing through her veins at the prospect of seeing the other woman, and for a moment she forgot about whatever that had been. She hadn't realised it at the time, but Mai had gotten used to seeing her every single day and going a week without Luella's motherly smile and light-hearted jokes had been remarkably difficult.

She chose not to psychoanalyse herself on that.

Slipping into the back seat, she forced herself from her thoughts to pay attention to what Martin was saying to Yasu.

“I can't tell you exactly what topics we will be covering before everyone else, Yasu. It wouldn't be fair to the other students,” Martin stated, although his tone implied that this was something he'd already said a couple of times.

Mai couldn't help but giggle.

“But Professor, surely it wouldn't wrong if you were to mention the topics you think would be beneficial to parapsychology students who were in their second term, and what form those topics should be discussed in? On a hypothetical basis only, of course.”

Martin couldn't help but chuckle, rolling his eyes at the comment.

“You'll find out with everyone else soon enough,” he reiterated, shooting Yasu down again.

Biting her lip, Mai debated for a moment before she pulled out her phone, sending off a text to Naru with the same question, mostly to see if Naru would give her the answer, but also to show Yasu that her source was better.

A reply text came back in soon after and she took a moment to re-read it before she grinned.

[Naru:] I don't know why you would need this information, since I'm already studying with you based on it, however, here.

[Naru:] Image Attached

Opening it up, her eyes widened at the sight of Martin's handwriting scrawled all over a large piece of paper, outlining each of their topics and when they would be learning them, as well as the form of assessment it would take.

How he had gotten a picture of it, Mai had no idea, but she was glad for it.

Her happiness only lasted for a moment though, when she realised that it was going to be Sunday all too soon, and she wouldn't be able to spend it with Naru like she had before. They were supposed to be having study day. She had been excited for it.

'Don't be selfish,' she reminded herself, thinking of how much more important the work that Naru was doing currently was.

The reminder of the case also reminded her of her weird maybe-dream.

Debating for a moment, she focussed on her phone once more.

[Mai:] I may have had a dream

[Naru:] I distinctly remember you being told not to dream and to rest instead

[Mai:] I didn't mean to

[Mai:] I don't even understand what it was exactly, maybe a flash?

[Mai:] It was only short. There was a boy walking towards the stairs. Then there was a shadow in the corner as well. It said that 'it wouldn't be out done'.

[Mai:] It could be nothing, but I wanted to warn you in case

[Naru:] We never have the luxury of things like this turning out to be nothing. I will look into it

“-ai, Mai!”

Snapping her attention from her phone, the brunette tilted her head in confusion towards Yasu and Martin, only to realise that they had made it back to the Davis' already.

“Sorry. I had a maybe-dream just before and I wanted to tell Naru about it,” she explained sheepishly.

Martin nodded, the two of them waiting as Mai stepped outside of the car finally, her body relaxing as she allowed her abilities to fully unfurl, no longer holding them reined in so tightly.

“It really does make a difference to you, huh?”

Turning to Yasu, Mai shrugged, a light pink on her cheeks. “I can't help it. Everything around here really is nice and peaceful. There's no place quite like it.”

A moment later there was a shout of happiness and Martin chuckled. “I'm not sure that assessment is quite right,” he joked, turning to head towards the house, Luella standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face.

“I wasn't expecting to see you all for another hour, but I'm so happy that wasn't the case,” the blonde admits.

Mai's heart squeezed at the comment and she allowed herself to be pulled into a hug before they headed inside. “I missed you too,” she assured Luella. “It was going to be disappointing if I didn't see you on Sunday since Naru's on case.”

Smiling, Luella took a seat in their usual lounge. “James is making us all tea now. I know it isn't as good as yours, but I think you've earned yourself a short reprieve after what i'm positive has been a full-on week. So, tell me all about it,” she implored.

Without waiting for a moment, Mai launched into an outline of everything so far, including the courses she was taking currently and what they were like.

“Professor Davis won't even let us know our assignments a little in advance,” Yasu whined to her, making Luella laugh.

Mai snorted. “You mean he won't tell you.

Yasu narrowed his eyes at his best friend. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Tilting her head up in her best Masako impression, Mai harrumphed and turned away. “Wouldn't you like to know.”

“You weren't talking about a dream to Naru in the car, were you?” he demanded, pouting. “You were asking about the class run down.”

Martin shook his head, sighing. “I can't believe he actually gave it to you.” He didn't sound angry about it though, merely shocked.

Shrugging, Mai grinned. “There was a real dream, but I asked him for the run-down on our classwork as well. Do you lock your office Professor?” she inquired.

Narrowing his eyes in suspicion, Martin nodded. “Of course. I can't have people sneaking in and gaining information they shouldn't have after all. Why?”

“Because Naru didn't just send me a list, he sent me your handwritten outline. I was wondering if you knew he had it.”

At his groan, Luella laughed. “It was a favourite past time of Noll and Gene's. It's one of the few things he used to do for fun, sneaking into Martin's office to get back something that we'd taken off of him – usually a book in an attempt to get him to make friends. He hasn't done it in years though, to my knowledge. Martin would encourage it by using increasingly more difficult locks for everything.”

“I've clearly been a little lax lately, if it was easy enough for him to get in without me noticing a thing. I'll have to fix that. I had thought he'd completely outgrown it, but perhaps there's a little bit of mischief left in him.”

Their voices were tinged with sadness, and Mai felt the urge to apologise for bringing it up but managed to bite it down. These were good memories, and she knew from experience that having someone apologise would just ruin them further.

The rest of the afternoon passed by like this and before Mai knew it, she was feeling drowsy and ready for sleep, still exhausted from the constant dreaming, mind slipping away despite her best attempts.

She thought she heard voices around her, but they faded quickly as she fell into the dreamless void for a few hours.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

She felt herself running, footsteps falling harshly on ground. There was a level of fear thrumming through her as she took a sharp left turn, only to find herself caught by a large hand, fingers gripping tightly at her wrist.

Wincing, she struggled to get away.

You've been a bad boy. But don't worry, we'll fix that. Then you can go back to being a good boy just like your father wants,” the female voice sneered, false kindness flowing like overly sweet honey as she struggled more.

Let me go. I don't want to be a good boy,” she shouted, her voice young and terrified, shaking with every breath as she tried not to hyperventilate.

Cold fingers pressed to her cheek lightly, the action making her cringe away.

Well, we'll be sure to fix that, then,” the woman promised.

Mai shivered as the body she was in began to be dragged away, the echo of the spirit's past she was seeing resounding in her mind.

'I don't want to be a good boy!'

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, April 27th

Shooting up from her sleep, Mai groaned as she rubbed her hand over her face, rubbing at the spot where she still felt fingers on her skin, cringing at its memory.

A quick look at her phone revealed that it was barely four in the morning, and her exhaustion testified to that.

Even worse than her exhaustion, however, was the confusion. Why had she dreamed again? It was becoming a pattern that she wasn't used to. It wasn't a warning, since it was something from too far in the past. Had she been Elliot in that dream? Something about it seemed off, like she was missing a puzzle piece, and that feeling reminded her a little of the maybe-dream from the day before. She'd have to ask Gene about them as soon as she could.

Sighing, she forced herself out of bed, readying to go for her jog before something occurred to her, feet hitting a rug that she knew shouldn't be there.

This wasn't her room at the dorms.

Her mind raced to catch up with her as she glanced around, quickly realising that this was Gene's room, the room she'd stayed in when she'd first arrived in England.

Had she fallen asleep last night?

Her cheeks flushed at the thought. This time she groaned for a completely different reason.

'At least this time you can have a fulfilling jog?' she reminded herself, trying to look on the bright side of things even when she felt like crawling back under the covers and screaming into a pillow.

Since it was still a little bit early to be going on her jog – which she'd have to do in yesterday's clothes which was less exciting – she made her way down to the kitchen to grab herself a cup of tea, intending to sit in the garden and relax a little until the sun was closer to rising.

Put upon reaching the kitchen, she frowned at the light that was already turned on.

A quick peak inside revealed Luella sitting at the island bench, mind seemingly far away, with her hands around a mug.

Moving quietly, Mai made her way around the island to start the kettle, pulling down a mug and patting her pocket, not surprised in the least when she found one of her pre-made tea bags in there.

Placing it in the mug, she poured the steaming hot water in and settled in to wait.

It was around five minutes later, as Mai was stirring in some sugar, that Luella seemed to realise someone else was in the room.

“Oh, Mai. What are you doing up already?” she asked, voice unnaturally soft, and yet somehow loud in the quiet room.

Shrugging, Mai offered a hopeless look as she moved to stand on the opposite side of the bench, hands wrapped around her mug in a similar manner. “Can't seem to stop dreaming,” She offered.

Luella sighed. “Gene was like that once,” she said.

'Ah,' Mai thought, the answer to what might be bothering Luella seemed clear now.

She almost responded with 'he's never mentioned it', only to realise that they didn't even know that she still saw Gene. The JSPR team had known until recently if she'd seen him, and occasion they'd ask, but it'd been too long since she'd last mentioned it. Not even Naru knew, and outside of Yasu, he knew the most about her these days.

“You remind me a lot of him,” Luella continued, seemingly unaware of Mai's internal struggle.

Mai hummed. “I've been told that before, although I've never really considered it too hard. We've gone through some similar experiences, so I guess it makes sense.” She shrugged.

Frowning, Luella tilted her head. “How so?”

Mai's eyebrows furrowed. “Well, even though Gene and Naru had you for a bit of their growing up, they've both experienced being on their own like I was. Orphans as we all were.”

There was a wounded sound from Luella, and she looked at Mai with wide eyes.

Swallowing Mai's voice was a little small as she spoke next.

“You had no idea, did you?”

Luella shook her head. “No-one's thought to mention it to me,” she admits. “I'm sorry. It didn't even occur to me even though you haven't mentioned your parents even once since you arrived.”

Strands of brunette hair flew into her face as she quickly shook her head. “There's no need to apologise. Even the team didn't know for a while. I don't usually bring it up because people tend to look at me with pity and well – I guess you would understand...”

Thinking on the looks she received from people whenever Gene was mentioned, Luella nodded. “Yes, I guess I do.”

They were silent for a moment, before Mai noticed the lightness beginning to rise, sun not quite out just yet.

“Would you like to join me for my run this morning?” she offered.

Luella smiled softly. “I'd love to. Let me get changed, and I can grab you something else to wear,” she offered.

Mai thought about arguing, but decided against it, accepting the offer without complaint as they both placed their mugs in the sink, now empty, and began to make their way to the second floor where Luella's bedroom was.

The blonde disappeared for a moment before coming back out with a pair of full-length tights, a singlet and a thin jacket, offering them to Mai.

“Thank you,” she whispered smiling.

“I'll meet you by the front door?” Luella asked.

Mai nodded. “Definitely.”

It didn't take long for Mai to get changed, slipping into Gene's room for a moment to change quickly, before grabbing her phone that had been put on the bedside table last night and heading downstairs.

Luella was already there, and she smiled at Mai when she approached.

“Ready to go?” Mai asked.

Nodding, Luella grinned, face much brighter than an hour before.

Stepping outside, Mai breathed in the fresh air for a moment, before continuing when she realised that Luella was looking at her.

“Sorry. Off we go.”

Luella shook her head. “There's no need to apologise. It's just nice seeing you so relaxed. You were so tired last night.”

Sighing, Mai nodded. “I felt like it too. Dreaming isn't the same as resting and it's been taking a lot out of me the past couple of days. I feel better since I get to recharge with the energy around your place, but back on campus it isn't the same,” she explained, trying to figure out how to word her dilemma as Luella hummed for her to continue.

“I just haven't been able to find anywhere that's quite right on campus yet. Lin said he'll show me somewhere once the case is over, but after an entire week of that, plus keeping my abilities tightly locked down to avoid mishaps, I'm a little all over the place.”

Luella hummed again. “Do you think that your dreams are more frequent at the moment because you've been keeping yourself so tightly locked up?” she inquired.

Mai blinked a little, stumbling in her jog before righting herself. “That – actually that would make a lot of sense. I'd have to run a few tests to see if that really is the cause, but it's as good as anything else that I could come up with,” she admits, speaking more to herself now.

Laughing, Luella shook her head. “You're as bad as Noll. We can save that talk for another time,” she snickered.

“Or for never,” Mai suggested.

She only got more laughter in response.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

After returning from their jog, Mai felt a lot better and Luella was looking it as well, both with cheeks pink from laughter and smiles on their faces as they stumbled inside.

Martin raised an eyebrow with a look so similar to Naru's, that it set Mai off again, her chest aching as she gasped for breath.

“Are you done?” he asked, mock professor voice in place as he looked unimpressed.

Giggling a little, Mai nodded.

“Now, now, Martin. There's no need to be so grumpy in the morning,” Luella chided, grinning.

Melting at the open happiness on his wife, he rolled his eyes. “I suppose. Although you would be just as irritated if you were only just getting up.”

Luella stuck her tongue out, heading for the dining room so they could eat breakfast, Yasu already sitting inside with his mouth full of pancakes.

“Morning,” Mai greeted, before taking her place next to him and picking up a couple of pancakes to add to her own plate, before drizzling syrup over them.

“Morning. You look a bit better. Sleep well?”

Mai gave him a hopeless grin. “Not so much. But I am better than I was yesterday,” she agreed.

“Another dream?”

Martin perks up at that, swallowing a sip of his own coffee. “Another one? What was this one about?”

It took Mai a moment to gather her memories before explaining it to them, effectively ruining the mood of the morning.

“We'd better give Noll a call to let him know about this quickly,” Martin sighed, finishing his coffee and looking at it forlornly. “I'm going to need more caffeine for this.”

Luella sighed. “Go set up in your office, Martin. I'll have James bring through some more coffee. You want tea, Mai?”

“If it isn't too much trouble.”

Luella shook her head. “Of course not. Off with you lot now. I've got this.”

Martin kissed her cheek before getting up to leave the room. “Thank you.”

Waving him off, Luella just shoo'ed them a little harder.

Stepping into Martin's office, he immediately set up his laptop for them to video call Madoka. “She's expecting a call this morning anyway.” He explained.

Mai nodded in understanding as it rung through for a moment, before an image of Madoka and Lin appeared on the other end.

“Morning Martin. Mai and Yasu. I didn't expect to see you two still there. That's his office at home, right?”

Yasu grinned. “Mai fell asleep last night before we could head home, so Luella insisted that I just stay the night as well.” He explained.

Madoka giggled. “Of course. In that case, we can get back on topic. Yesterday afternoon Oliver spotted another person heading up to the roof, but he managed to intersect them and wake from the daze they were in. It wasn't like possession though, oddly enough. More like they felt compelled to head up there. The last boy said something similar when he woke. It's weird though, because the ones from before that all report having no memory of the trip to the roof. They weren't compelled, they were possessed,” she reported.

Frowning, Mai filed the information away for a later moment.

“Speaking of which, Mai had another dream,” Yasu mentions.

Madoka huffed. “It thought I told you to rest,” she scolded, but her eyes softened at Mai's hopeless look.

“I don't control the dreams. It's weird for them to happen so frequently all of a sudden, but it's nothing I can't handle, I promise.”

“You better mention if it gets to be too much. And we'll need to have an in depth talk about the growing frequency of these dreams too, Missy.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “Don't worry about me, Madoka, keep your focus on the case. I'll talk to Naru about some of my theories soon, but a few more days while you guys sort this out won't hurt,” she pointed out.

Madoka made to argue, but Lin gave her a look.

“Fine. Tell me about the dream,” she grumbled, before listening intently as Mai explained it for the second time that morning.

It was silent for a couple minutes while Lin and Madoka processed the new information, noting down things of importance for later.

“Do you think you can get your dreams written up in case format for me, Mai? I'd like to add them to the case file,” Madoka requested, breaking the silence.

Blinking in surprise, Mai nodded. “Yeah. I usually have them written out like that in my dream book, so it shouldn't be hard to transfer them to a document for you,” she offered.

“Dream book?” Madoka asked, titling her head.

Nodding again, Mai smiled. “Of course. Shortly after Naru and Lin left, I was still having dreams with varying frequency, and Bou-san suggested that I start writing them down just in case they would be useful later on,” she explained, shrugging. “And since I was still used to writing everything out in case format from working for Naru, they just stayed like that. I usually write them in as soon as I wake up from them, but I didn't have it on me this morning. I forgot it at the dorms yesterday and, well – you get the idea.”

Thinking on it now, the brunette wondered if any of the dreams would match up with some of the cases Naru and Lin worked previously.

She knew the answer before the thought fully finished forming.

Noting it mentally to request a look at them from Naru or Martin as some point, she turned her attention back to Madoka and Lin, frowning when she realised that she still hadn't seen any sign of Naru.

“Hey guys, where is Naru this morning anyway?”

Madoka smirked, looking eerily similar to Yasu who was making the same face. “Why? Are you worried?”

Huffing, Mai turned away, her cheeks going pink. “I'm just curious,” she defended.

Madoka snorted. “Yeah right,” she scoffed. “Oliver was in something of a mood this morning, so I sent him to do a check of the cameras and to make sure that the roof door was still locked.”

Mai was about to say something when she felt a sudden drop in her spiritual energy, air rushing out of her at the sudden change.

“Mai?”

Coughing a little, Mai took a deep breath before letting it out slowly. “Check on Naru.”

Instead of wasting time asking questions, Lin was getting up from his seat in an instant, heading out.

“What's going on?” Madoka demanded.

Mai shook her head. “I'll try and find out,” she promised.

Letting her abilities bleed out a little, she closed her eyes and focussed, trying to pin-point where the drain was coming from, already having a feeling.

As she followed the string that connected her energy to the charm she'd given Naru, she felt more and more anxious, a bad feeling forming in the pit of her stomach.

As if sensing her needs, the blackness of her mind changed to form an image of the roof that she recognised from last time.

It was empty aside from a boy she didn't recognise, her charm, and traces of a familiar aura where Naru should be; the only proof that he had ever been there.

Coming back to herself, Mai knew what Madoka was going to say even before she spoke, looking at them grimly.

“Oliver is missing.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Four

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, April 27th

Mai's heart felt heavy as she sat with Yasu and Martin looking over the information that they had in an effort to find where Naru might be right now.

“He's not there either,” came the voice on the other side of the computer when Madoka and Lin returned from checking another one of the areas.

“This isn't working,” Mai admitted finally, throwing down the blueprint she was holding.

Glancing over at her, Martin looked at her seriously, wrinkles more pronounced from the stressful situation.

“What would you suggest?” he asked.

Swallowing, Mai thought it over for a moment. There were a few things that she could do in this situation normally, but they were all harder (or impossible) from a distance. Reaching a part of her was easy and kept her grounded so she didn't lose her way, but she couldn't just astral project to Naru. It wasn't safe.

She groaned, hands coming up to rub at her eyes. “I don't know,” she admitted, voice soft. “All I know is that this isn't helping, and my instincts aren't even saying whether or not some of these places are options.”

Yasu hummed. “That's true, but this is all we have right now, so it's better than nothing,” he pointed out.

“Is it not possible for you to go to him like you did in the first case you worked, or is the distance a problem for you?” Martin asked finally, a little desperation leaking into his voice.

Mai shook her head. “I can in theory, but since he doesn't have my charm on him anymore, it's too dangerous. There's nothing for me to ground myself to so that I don't lose my way-” Her mouth clicked shut quickly.

Or maybe, there was something she could ground herself to when seeing Naru. Well – someone.

“Mai? Did you figure something out?” Madoka prompted.

Biting her lip, the brunette wasn't sure exactly what to say. She didn't want to lie to Madoka, but she also didn't really want to tell them about Gene yet, although she wasn't sure why.

“I just realised that there might be a way to ground myself after all. You guys will have to hold down the fort for a while. I'm going to go take a nap.”

Getting up from the seat, Mai was most of the way to the door when she realised that Lin was calling her name, voice distorted slightly by the computer.

In the background she could hear the intern asking what she meant when she said “take a nap,” but ignored it in favour of focussing on Lin's voice.

“Taniyama-san. Don't do anything reckless,” he warned, when she moved back into frame.

Mai's lips twitched into a smile. “It's almost like you don't know me,” she joked. “I'll be fine. I always am.”

The look on his face screamed that he didn't believe her, but this time she managed to leave without anyone else stopping her, heading back to the room she seemed to be spending a lot of her time in.

Her mind was whirling, and honestly, she wasn't even sure if this would work, but it was the only idea that she had. And if there was one thing that she knew for sure about herself, it was that there were few things that she wouldn't do for Naru.

This? Well, she'd just be glad if he was still around to scream at her for doing it.

Settling into the bed, she pulled the covers around herself to prevent herself from getting too cold, before allowing her mind and body to separate, calling for Gene at the same time.

It was dark for a moment, before light flooded her vision.

Yes, there were few things she wouldn't do for Naru, whether he asked for them or not.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Oliver groaned a little as he came to, head throbbing as he tried to recall what had happened.

He recalled going around and dealing with the cameras, eager to be away from the two lovesick idiots he worked with for a while. Even though he wouldn't say it to anyone, he had been in a terrible mood, although he didn't understand why.

Shoving that thought away, he focused instead on the other events leading to ending up... wherever here was? It was dark enough that he couldn't make anything out apart from some shadows, but there seemed to be plenty of air – for the time being at least.

Running his fingers over the ground, he noted that it was concrete, not dirt, so he was probably still somewhere on campus.

He remembered finding the boy who was about to jump, looking as blank as Mai had mentioned, but not being careful enough about the shadow that she'd also mentioned, shaking the boy from his trance, only to be attacked.

He remembered the attack hitting whatever barrier Mai's charm had created, before getting angry.

It had turned that anger onto the scared teenager.

He scoffed at the memory; sympathy non-existent given his current situation.

Everything made sense now. He'd been trying to keep the boy safe, and the boy had been so terrified that he'd knocked the charm from Naru's hand.

He didn't remember what had happened after that, but considering his situation, he'd place his bets on the spirit having taken him.

Sighing, he forced himself up; relieved to note that there was enough room to stand. Reaching his hands out, he moved around until he had a good layout for wherever he was.

The room was rectangular, and the walls felt like standard gyprock. It wasn't very large, but he thought he could feel indentations on one of the walls where there might have been a door at some point.

His ran through the ideas of where he could be, and the most likely option seemed to be a storage closet. Or rather, an area that might have once been a storage closet. Judging by the wall where the door mostly like had been, it was long abandoned. This school had been standing since 1968, so it was also just as likely that it wasn't going to be on any of the maps.

Oliver couldn't help a surge of annoyance at that, letting himself sit back down. It would do him no good to burn energy uselessly.

For a passing moment, he wondered if this is what Mai had felt like a lot of the time when a spirit had trapped her.

His lips twitched a little. Probably. Given Mai's easily angered nature, she would probably be even madder at her situation, perhaps making noise in an attempt to goad the spirit further.

As if conjured by his thoughts, an image of Mai appeared in front of him.

He frowned a little as that thought crossed his mind and brought himself into focus.

When Mai was still in front of him after he blinked a couple of times, he wasn't sure how to feel.

“Mai?” he asked finally, unsure whether or not he wanted her to be there or if he wanted her to be an illusion. His mind could make arguments for either side, but he pushed that aside. It was unnecessary for the moment – or for any moment going forward.

There was a relieved look on her face as she looked at him. “Hey Naru.”

He raised an eyebrow as he waited for her to something else, more to see her huff in annoyance, then out of any real need.

When the image of her did exactly that, any part of him that had still been in disbelief relaxed completely.

“Even when you're kidnapped from ghosts, you manage to be insufferable,” she grumbled half-heartedly.

Oliver couldn't help but shrug in response. “How exactly are you here?” he asked instead, giving her a pointed look.

Mai waved him off. “Don't worry about that, do you have any idea where you ended up, or any information that you want me to give to the others? I can't stay long.”

Swallowing his protests, Oliver nodded. “I don't remember much, but I think that I'm in some kind of storage closet. Or rather, it used to be a storage closet. It'll be on the older blueprints, not the new ones, since the doors been properly boarded up. Likely a space everyone forgot existed,” he said before frowning. “You can't see the exact location like on the last case?”

Huffing, Mai looked irritated at the question, and he had to wonder if the others were going to ask something similar – or alternatively if they had already.

“I'm not in the same building as you Naru, and even then, I don't know. I have limits to by abilities, and this alone is pushing them. Near as I can tell, you're on the first floor somewhere, but that's it. Everything is blurry,” she explained, biting her lip.

Oliver narrowed his eyes. “I'm going to want more information on that,” he warned.

Mai shrugged, a wry grin on her lips that showed just how stressed she was. “I'll just be happy that you make it to asking,” she admitted softly.

He could have hit himself for being so insensitive. Mai cared so much, even for someone like him. Of course she was worried.

“I'll make it out of this. I'm not even injured. Do you have any idea how long I've been down here though?” he asked, pushing sentiment from his mind for the moment.

Emotions weren't going to help him now. He needed to think with his head.

Mai concentrated for a moment. “Probably somewhere between five or six hours? I can't be entirely sure. When I finally decided to try and make my way to you, we had already been looking for you for around three and a half hours. And time works differently on the astral plane. It's hard to tell.”

Oliver nodded. “Then I still have plenty of time before I have to worry about dehydration. Go back to the other and let them know what you've found. Be careful though.”

“I'm always careful,” Mai scoffed, only to get an incredulous look in response, making her giggle, before she stopped and got more serious, her body already beginning to fade from the strain. “You as well, though.”

“It'll take a lot more than this to kill me,” he promised.

“It had better,” Mai warned, before letting herself fully fade away.

Once her spirit was gone, Oliver couldn't help but miss her, despite the fact that it would mean that she was here with him. It was a cruel thing to want, and he couldn't help but curse the concept of emotions for making him feel this way.

With her gone though, suddenly everything seemed all the darker, the room seemed even colder, even though he knew logically it didn't make any sense. The room should have been colder when Mai was there.

Or did the normal rules not apply to the spirit of someone who was astral projecting?

He made a note on his ever-growing list to talk to Mai about it when he made it through this.

Pulling his jacket on tighter, he let his head fall back, and his mind wander. He'd done everything he could at this point, so all that was left to do was wait.

And so that's what he did.

Counting the minutes to pass time here and there, whenever his mind wasn't thinking about something.

By the time he'd counted to minute one hundred and twelve, marking almost two hours since he'd been awake (but most likely more), he could finally hear voices somewhat close by.

“Hello?” Oliver called out, just to see if he would get a response.

For a moment to was silent, before he felt a knock on the gyprock.

Listening intently, he recognised the Morse code, smirking a little as Lin tapped out, 'N-O-L-L'.

Lifting his fist, he tapped back easily, 'L-I-N'.

There was something like a relieved sigh on the other side of the wall, although it could be his imagination, before he heard Madoka's voice.

“Get as far away from the wall as you can. We're going to break it down,” she warned, voice muffled, but her intentions clear.

Following her order (for once), he moved backwards until his back hit the other wall.

The distinct sound of the something hitting at the wall began a moment later, and within five minutes, Lin and Madoka managed to tear down the wall, paster flying everywhere, while Oliver covered his nose and mouth with his jacket, breathing as little as possible as he squinted his eyes at the sudden light.

“Oh thank God, Oliver,” Madoka whispered, exhaustion clear.

Despite how insensitive he knew it was going to be, he brushed past her, stepping away from the debris and into one of the classrooms.

“Took you long enough,” he said, only to get a broken laugh from Madoka.

“Maybe I should have left you there if you were going to be a jerk about it,” she joked; voice strained.

Oliver shrugged, smirking a little. “Maybe.”

Rolling his eyes at the exchange, Lin gave them both a stern look. “There will be time for you two to argue later. We need to head back to base.”

Neither of them bothered to argue with that, following after him as they made their way back to the base on the second floor.

Without a word, Oliver took a seat; letting Lin do a check to make sure he really didn't have any injuries, while Madoka poured him a glass of water and handed it over.

As soon as the liquid hit his tongue, Oliver couldn't help but down if quickly, not having realised how thirsty he actually was.

Madoka gave him an amused look but refilled it without a word as Lin finished up.

“I don't think you have any injuries. Any pain?”

Oliver shook his head. “Not outside of a mild headache,” he promised, drinking this cup down slower.

Nodding, Lin got up from where he'd been crouched, moving to take his seat at the monitors once more. “In that case, you might want to call your father so that he and Mai stop worrying.”

Instead of arguing, Oliver grabbed his phone from off the table and stepped into the hall.

At Lin's warning look, he rolled his eyes and left the door open. If he was lucky, maybe Madoka wouldn't listen in on their conversation.

He scoffed at his own thought. Not a chance.

Regardless though, he pushed the contact for his father and waited only a moment before it was picked up.

“Oliver?”

He frowned at the concern in his father's voice. “Yes father. I'm back, with zero injuries.”

There was a relieved sigh, and he rolled his eyes a little. “Thank God,” he whispered.

“I'm not sure 'God' had anything to do with this.”

That managed a startled laugh out of the other man, and Oliver couldn't help the twitch of his lips.

“Yes, well, you're right about that. I'll have to pass along my thanks to Mai. I don't know how she did it, or what she used as her anchor, but I'm just glad it worked. Between your description of the room, and educated guess, as well as Mai placing you on ground level, we cut down a lot of the rooms that we would've wasted time on.”

Oliver frowned, mind no longer following as his father talked about an anchor. He understood the theory, but how did it relate to his situation? Did it have something to do with what Mai mentioned about 'being too far away'? He didn't bother to voice those thoughts to his father, however, letting the older man ramble about how worried he'd been for a moment.

He could allow him that much.

(And a very small part of him felt warm at the thought of how worried he seemed to have been, which was yet another terrible thought on account of his emotions, but not one that he bothered to tamp down.)

“Can I convince you not to mention this to mother?” he asked hopefully, when Martin stopped talking for the moment, only to get a scoff in response.

“Like I'm going to be the one to tell her about that? You can speak to her about getting kidnapped on your own, preferably when I'm too far away to be screamed at for letting you go into such a dangerous profession.”

It was a little dramatic, but Oliver could understand the appeal. He also didn't want to deal with his mother, but it sounded a lot like he wasn't being given a choice.

“Now that I know you're back safe and sound, I have to advise that you also speak with Mai. Poor girl was more worried than the lot of us combined, and she was the one trying to assure us that you were okay.”

The warmth was back, and this time Oliver didn't bother to tamp this lot down either, rolling his eyes even though no-one could see it.

“She was my next call,” he admitted reluctantly.

There was a noise of approval from the other end of the receiver. “Good. She cares for you an awful lot.”

Oliver smiled a little. “She cares for everyone. I'm not that special.”

“I'm not so sure about that, Son. There aren't many people who would risk those kinds of things for someone else.”

“Risk?” Oliver asked when the words registered. His blood ran cold, and the warmth vanished instantly; dread beginning to replace it.

“I've said too much, apparently. I'll leave you to that next phone call,” his father insisted. “Be safe.”

“I'll try,” Oliver promised absently, mind already whirling through whatever reckless thing Mai had done for him.

He didn't even think about it as he ended his call with Martin and tapped on Mai's number instead.

This time it was a couple rings before she picked up, but based on the tired “Naru?”, he assumed that was because she'd been sleeping off the drain of astral projection.

“Mai.”

It was silent, and he knew the moment she'd woken up properly because she repeated his (nick)name again, this time much louder, and with way more surprise.

“Yes, Mai. I thought we established that a moment ago.”

“Well this has to be you. No-one else can pull of being quite that rude,” she grumbled on the other end. “Is everything okay? You didn't have any injuries after all, did you? Did the spirit come back to you within that time? What about the others? Madoka and Lin are still okay, right? When did they end up finding you in the end? What time is it any way..?” The last part seemed more like a question to herself, but Oliver answered regardless.

“It's two-thirty in the afternoon. Given that they got me out a little under twenty minutes ago, your timeline wasn't so bad.”

“I'm getting better,” she admitted, voice a little proud.

“More importantly though, I remember talking with you about how difficult it was for you to astral project to me while being so far away, which checks out theoretically, but I don't recall you mentioning that it was dangerous.”

There was silence on the other end, and he rolled his eyes at the lack of answer. “Mai.”

His voice was harsher than he intended, but he didn't apologise for it, too busy trying to figure out why she had bothered.

“Can we- I don't want to argue over it Naru.”

“This isn't going to be an argument. It wouldn't do me any good either way, would it?”

“No.” The admission was soft, but Oliver caught it all the same, and wasn't surprised, despite his growing annoyance.

“I'm not worth all the danger,” he said finally.

He could almost feel the way that Mai was shaking her head through the phone, imagining her annoyance.

“You weren't actually on this case, Mai. And for once you weren't in danger. I can't have you risking yourself all the time. Father mentioned that you needed an anchor. I didn't have anything of yours on me, which means that you didn't have an anchor. Which means you could have been lost permanently in the spiritual plane, and I- none of us would have been able to help you,” he ranted, not giving her a moment to speak until he finished, voice softer than he would have liked.

Vulnerable in a way he wasn't used to, but that somehow Mai seemed to inspire in him.

“I did have an anchor though,” she argued, before stopping, voice going silent.

“Oh?” he asked, glaring at the wall in front of him.

“Never mind. I'm sorry.”

“No, go back. What exactly did you use as an anchor?”

It was silent on the other end as Mai refused to respond, and not for the first time he wished that she was in front of him – only this time so that he could read her expression.

“I don't understand why you insist on being so difficult. You're going to tell me eventually,” he pointed out. It was just a matter of time, after all.

Mai huffed a little, but didn't respond, and Oliver cursed himself for being surrounded by people who were always so difficult.

“Fine. We will be talking about this more later, but I meant it when I said that I didn't want this to be an argument,” he caved, irritation still in his tone.

“You have a terrible way of showing it,” Mai pointed out softly.

“I have a terrible way of showing a lot of things. But put yourself in my position and say that you wouldn't be twice as insufferable.”

Mai's giggle made his lips twitch, annoyance giving way to that warm feeling once more. Even though she'd done something dangerous, it was already done and there wasn't much that he was going to be able to do about it now.

He would still be talking to her about it later, but for the moment he could let it go.

“I hate not being the one who's being hurt. I hate playing the waiting game for a change and praying that nothing bad has gotten to you first,” Mai admitted finally.

Oliver snorted. “It can't always be you.”

“Why not? It always has been before.”

It was a valid argument, but it made him more upset at being unable to protect Mai than anything else.

“You're the only one who could ever want to be attacked by wayward spirits.”

He could practically feel the indignation when she replied.

“I don't want to be attacked by spirits! But if someone is going to get hurt, I would rather it be me.”

“And that makes you the only one.”

He could imagine the pout on her face at that.

“Jerk,” she muttered finally.

“I wasn't aware that telling the truth made me a jerk now.”

“No, being a jerk makes you a jerk.”

Oliver didn't deign that with a response, letting the silence settle between them for a moment before Mai broke it.

“You have to get back to work, don't you?” she guessed.

Oliver sighed. “Of course. This case isn't nearly solved yet,” he reminded.

“Keep me updated?”

“I believe Madoka will being making a call-in tonight if you are still with Martin.”

“You know what I mean, Naru.”

And the pouting tone was back. Good. This was much better than the other range of emotions her voice had held so far today.

“I will fulfil my end of our bargain from before the case began,” he promised finally.

Mai giggled on the other end. “Thank you. Be safe.”

“I'll try,” he allowed.

“Try harder.”

Scoffing at that, he hung up on Mai, imagining the look of irritation and the anger she probably felt from the action, his thoughts further confirmed when he received a text a moment later.

[Mai:] Jerk

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

-0-0- Past Event -0-0-

Chapter Twenty-Five

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, April 27th

Sitting in front of the monitor at around seven o'clock at night, Mai couldn't help but wring her hands together a little at the not-so-subtle glares she kept receiving from Naru every other minute, lip pulled into her mouth so she could chew at it nervously.

The rest of their team either didn't care or didn't notice (she was willing to bet on the former), their discussion continuing unhindered.

“What I don't get is, why take Oliver? Why not just possess him and get him to jump off the roof?” Madoka asked. There was a round of agreeing sounds as everything went quiet while they thought about the implications.

“Is it possible that they couldn't possess Naru?” Yasu threw out, head tilted in contemplation.

Oliver shook his head, gaze momentarily averted. “I didn't have the charm on me anymore. There was nothing stopping them,” he denied.

“Well let's consider then. Out of the thirteen known cases of someone being possessed, or put into a trance, none of them have actually died. They've always gotten to the edge of the roof and then broken from possession, or out of the trance,” Madoka informed them all.

“Which means it was likely that the same thing would have happened to Noll if they had possessed or put him into a trance,” Martin throws in, frowning.

“It's possible that maybe the spirit can't force them into jumping, right?” Mai asked, brows furrowed in concentration. “Isn't that a thing in hypnosis as well? That you can make suggestions to someone, but if it's something extreme like killing themselves, they snap out of it?”

Naru nodded, making her beam. There was something almost proud in his eyes, but that was wiped away when the intern piped up, asking for more details on that thought.

Predictably, he ignore them and continued on, leaving Madoka to explain it to him.

“It's more than possible. I'd say it's likely. But that still means that we have no idea why the spirit took me. Why go through all that effort?”

“Was it a distraction?” Yasu threw out.

“There weren’t any attacks during that time,” Lin denied, having already looked over the recordings.

Mai bit her lip harder. Nothing was adding up.

“Additionally, is there a particular reason for the difference between choosing to use a trance on these most recent occasions, and possession in all the previous cases?” Martin raised, adding to the ever-growing list of things they didn't know.

“We also still don't know whether the spirit is Jason or Elliot either,” Madoka lamented, glancing at Naru. “You really don't remember anything that would help us figure it out?”

“Nothing. The most I saw was the shadow.”

There was a collective groan from Mai and Madoka, causing the men to roll their eyes.

“This is ridiculous,” Mai grumbled, head starting to hurt from all the thinking that she was doing.

“You're telling me. None of this is adding up at all, and I'm really concerned for the reasoning behind them taking Oliver,” Madoka insisted, looking more and more stressed.

Martin shook his head. “We're just going in circles at this point. We'll call it a night over on our end and speak more on the subject tomorrow with fresh minds. I recommend that you do something similar. Take a break at least.” The last part was directed towards Naru, who hadn't stopped working since they'd found him and spoken on the phone.

“Don't worry. I'll make sure that we take a break for the moment and we can speak more on the subject tomorrow.”

Nodding in thanks, they all said their good nights before Martin closed off the video.

Shutting his laptop, he rubbed gently at his temples for a moment, before giving them a wry grin. “I should get you two back to campus,” he sighed, pushing back from the desk.

As much as Mai didn't want to leave, she had to admit that he was right. They had already stayed longer than either of them had planned, and she did have a couple things she wanted to go over study wise before the new school week started on Monday.

Standing up, she rolled her eyes when Yasu held his hand out dramatically, refusing to move without help.

Grasping it, she tugged him to his feet. “Such an old man,” she teased, shooting an apologetic look to Martin for the comment, only to see him chuckle in amusement.

“We should probably go say our goodbyes to Luella,” Mai sighed. “And I need to go grab my things from the other bedroom.”

“You two go grab your things then. I'll get Luella and we can meet you in front of the house,” Martin decided.

Receiving affirmative nods from both, they all split up to do exactly that, and not five minutes later they were standing in front of the Davis' mansion once more, Mai relaxing in the peaceful air, despite the cool breeze that threatened to freeze her to death.

“You two get home safe, you hear?” Luella warned, pulling Mai into a hug as she broke the silence. “And I expect to see you again next weekend.”

Mai laughed. “You tell the ghosts to stay away for a weekend and you have a deal,” she bargained, grinning as she pulled away from the other woman's warmth.

“If that's what it takes, then so be it,” Luella insisted, making Mai giggle.

“I'll be back in a little bit, dear,” Martin promised, moving to press a kiss to his wife's cheek briefly, before motioned towards the car. “Come on you two. If we don't leave now, you'll never go.”

Yasu pushed his glasses up. “Would that be such a terrible thing?” he joked, only to have his arm grabbed as Mai pulled him off towards the car, amusement clear on his face.

“Stop being so troublesome,” The brunette grumbled, opening the door and getting into the back seat, letting Yasu take the seat next to Martin once more.

Shrugging, her friend waited for a moment as Martin moved to the driver's side, opening his door as well, before they both slipped in at the same time.

“It's all part of my charm,” he said finally, just to see the exasperation on his best friend's face.

“You have about as much charm as Naru.”

Placing a hand to his heart dramatically, Yasu forced his most pained voice to the surface. “How could you say that Mai? After the love we fostered so carefully over the years. Did it mean nothing to you at all?”

Mai looked at him blankly. “Not a thing,” she assured, face breaking a moment later when he put on his saddest puppy dog eyes. “Stop it, Yasu. You look like an idiot.”

Turning his attention to Martin, who had quietly amused by their antics, Yasu gave him the most pitiful look he could muster. “See, professor? This is the kind of treatment I get for being the most amazing best friend ever.”

Martin chuckled, not quite catching whatever Mai had muttered under her breath, but not bothering to ask her again given her eye roll.

“Now, now, you two. I could swear I was teaching young adults, not children,” he warned.

Mai scoffed a little at that. “With how some of the people in our class act? I think that was a mistake on your part, professor,” she informed, thinking back to the lovesick heart eyes half the class had whenever someone so much as mentioned the wonderful “Oliver Davis”.

Shaking his head, Martin smiled wryly “You might be right about that one.”

After that, the car fell silent, the rest of the ride passing by with the quiet murmurs of Yasu and Martin over what kinds of exorcisms were best in which situations, and the different effects of the various religions on spirits, despite the nature of them practicing a different religion.

Mai let that fall into the background though as she stared out the window, exhaustion seeping into her bones once more, despite how much of the day she'd spent sleeping. Even though logically she knew that she hadn't actually been sleeping, it didn't stop her from feeling a little bit bad for the wasted time. She'd even missed lunch with Luella because she'd had to rest after her trip to Naru.

'At least I got to help Naru,' she reminded herself.

She recalled how weird it had been to call out for Gene and have him turn up.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

As Mai's body sunk into the bed, and her mind went blank, she focused on nothing but the spirit she wanted to see, calling Gene's name out mentally as she moved into sleep, and then out loud once she found herself standing in familiar darkness.

Eugene Davis, I swear if you don't show the hell up-” she warned angrily into the darkness, only to jump when she felt something touch her shoulder.

You'll do what?” Gene teased, eyebrows raised towards her, mirth glittering in his eyes.

'Not the right shade of blue,' she noted, before trying to shake that thought immediately (although she had to wonder how she had missed it previously, given how often she spent looking at them – which –)

Ooh, a blush?” Gene singsonged; grinning even wider, mischief showing on his features. “Thinking of doing something-”

Waving her hands in front of her quickly as her face flushed even darker, Mai shook her head. “Don't even finish that!” she warned, hand moving to clamp of his mouth.

Almost as soon as she'd done that, his tongue darted out to lick at it, making her squeal and let go, moving far back as she wiped her hand on her pants, absently noting the difference in how it felt in the spirit plane as opposed to the plane of the living.

That hurts, you know,” Gene whined, motioning towards her rapid rubbing away of his touch.

Why do I even put up with you?” Mai lamented, throwing her hands in the air, giving him her most unimpressed look.

Shrugged, Gene gave her a curious look. “I don't know, why do you? You're the one who demanded to see me.”

Not demanded – asked.”

“Demanded. So, what's up?”

Sobering when she recalled why exactly she had asked for Gene to come to her, she gave him a wry smile. “How much would it take to convince you to go to Naru so that I can use you as an anchor so that I can astral project to him?”

Gene frowned. “You want to use me as an anchor? I mean, in theory it might work, but it's going to be dangerous no matter how you look at it. Why do you need to get to Noll, anyway? Can't you just call him? Twenty-first century has plenty of perks, you know.”

He was taken earlier this morning. We've been looking the best that we can, trying to figure out where he ended up, but I'm worried. But since I'm far away-”

You need something to help anchor you to him. He doesn't have anything of yours on him?”

If you mean the charm, then he dropped it when the spirit attacked him, otherwise we wouldn't be in this situation.”

Gene looked like he wanted to scream in frustration while being completely amused by their situation. “No not that- you know what? Never mind,” he decided after a moment, sighing.

Wait- what exactly does that mean Gene?” Mai insisted.

Smirking back at her, shrugging. “I don't know. Maybe you should ask the idiot scientist?” he offered.

Mai groaned. “I'm going to ask you about this again at a later point in time,” she informed him.

Gene didn't bother to respond, going serious once more. “Okay. So, your plan is to use me as an anchor so that you don't lose Noll, correct? I'm guessing that the distance is making this harder so what you need isn't so much an anchor, as a guide to stop you from losing his aura, or spirit?” he asked.

Humming, Mai tried to think of a way to explain what she wanted to do (try, really, since this was going to be a first for her as well). “Sort of. Normally, since my spirit can find pieces of its own energy anywhere, I could go to that without having to worry about losing my way, or at least that's how I astral projected to him earlier. In this case, since that isn't possible, I'm wanting to anchor myself to you. It's the 'how' I'm unsure about. Unless you can just take me to him?” she asked, voice hopeful, but unsurprised when Gene shook his head.

If only it was that easy. What you need then, is something on Noll, or on myself, that's a piece of you.”

Mai nodded. “But even then, it'll be safer if you're there for me to focus on as well.”

Gene's eyes lit up a little as he realised something else. “Wait, wait. If you just need something on us, then what's stopping me from going to Noll and doing exactly that?”

You're right. It's so obvious now, why didn't I think of that before?” Mai asked, eyes wide in realisation.

Chuckling, Gene shook his head. “Don't worry about it. Your ideas were good in theory as well, but harder to execute or justify,” he promised. “If you bring them up with Noll later on, I'm sure you two can discuss it for as long as you want.”

Mai blushed at what he was implying, crossing her arms. “Yes. We will. It will be a beneficial conversation for the both of us,” she insisted.

It will be a beneficial conversation for the both of us,” Gene mocked, dodging quickly when Mai made a swipe at him.

Stop being such a jerk,” she grumbled, before reaching into her pocket and pulling out the same key that she always kept on her person; the one given to Masako back during the Urado case. “Don't you dare lose this.”

I won't. Can't make the same promise for Noll though,” he warned, voice light. “Give me a few minutes to find the idiot and plant this on him before you try and project to him. I'll stick around after too, just in case. If something happens then, maybe I'll be able to guide you back to your body.”

Mai nodded in understanding, before making waving him off. “Be careful.”

I'm already dead. What's the worst that could happen?”

Shaking her head as he faded away, she settled in to wait, mentally counting down the minutes. If she concentrated hard enough then she could find her own aura that surrounded her key, stronger on that then anything else she owned from how often it was on her person, and feel it fading away. Unlike someone else's aura from afar though, this one stayed strong and clear.

It wasn't until she felt it stop moving, Gene's aura - even while they were still on the spiritual plane – faded and almost impossible to find now.

A moment later his aura vanished from her 'field of vision', a sign that Gene had moved to the plane of the living for a moment, too far away for her to track, probably to plant the key onto Noll.

When he reappeared once more, Mai took it as her sign to focus instead on the aura of her key, following it, much like she had followed her charm earlier, although finding it much harder than she expected as she slowly floated through the darkness, projecting herself closer and closer (and subsequently, further and further from her physical body).

When she could feel Gene's aura close by, she swallowed thickly and closed her eyes, letting her focus change from following her aura's trail, to putting herself back on the plane of the living, while still maintaining her spirit form.

Her eyebrows creased, and it took a moment, but eventually she felt a sort of shift in the 'air' and opened her eyes to see Naru's face in front of her.

From her aura vision, she could sense another piece of herself somewhere else in the area, but she brushed that off, focusing instead, back on Naru.

She'd found him, now she just needed to get him back to the others.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Despite the exhaustion she'd felt from that adventure (or the way she'd passed out after stupidly rushing to get the information to Martin and Yasu), she couldn't help but feel proud of the memory of her achievement, and amazed that it had worked out so well.

She didn't have time left to consider that though, since they were pulling up in front of Cambridge's Emmanuel dorms.

Sighing, Mai forced her thoughts away for the moment – she would analyse things further later – and smiled at Martin instead.

“Thank you for the ride, professor Davis.”

Martin smiled kindly at her, choosing not to mention how out of it the poor girl seemed to be. “No worries. Get back to the dorm safe, and I don't want to see you – either of you – at BSPR tomorrow until ten o'clock at the earliest. You've earned a break.”

Mai opened her mouth to argue, but Yasu shot her a look.

“Don't worry, Professor. I'll make sure of it,” he promised, before sliding out and waving the older man off, grin plastered to his face.

Turning to him, Mai glared. “I'm going to be there earlier than that,” she insisted.

Yasu shrugged. “Sure, if you get up that early after not setting an alarm then be my guest. But Mai, you need to let yourself rest.”

Before she could argue, her friend shook his head. “No. Just listen and walk with me for the moment.”

Mai let her mouth click shut, eyebrows creasing as she fell into step beside him.

“I know that you want to help, but you've done a lot already. You can't control the dreams, I get that. But you're exhausted. You've used your abilities more over the past couple of weeks then you had in over a month back in Japan. And that's great, I can't wait to log our data and make some conclusions based on it, but you can't keep going.”

He shook his head when Mai went to respond.

“Seriously, Mai. Just listen. If you don't, then I'll have to call Ayako and let her know you're being reckless.”

“You wouldn't.”

“You're right. I'd text her, and then let you deal with the fallout,” Yasu agreed, pushing his glasses up.

Mai threw her hands up. “What do you want from me?” she asked finally.

“A million pounds.”

Yasu.”

“I want you to get some rest tonight. Sleep properly, and let your body wake up as late as it needs to. It deserves a break. Everyone else will keep doing what they have to do to solve this case in the meantime, without you. It will be fine. They were solving cases without you for an entire year,” he reminded gently.

Letting out a deep breath, Mai sighed. “Okay.”

Yasu looked a little shocked for a moment. “That easy?”

Rolling her eyes, Mai shrugged. “You're right. What else do you want me to say? I can't always be there to help, and I need to let it go for now. I'll get some rest and go back in with a clear head tomorrow afternoon after my body has recovered properly.”

Pleased with how well that had gone, Yasu narrowed his eyes a moment later. “Are you sure you're not just avoiding how mad Big Boss is that you didn't tell him that you passed out earlier in your conversation when he checked on you?” he teased.

Mai smiled a little. “Can you blame me?”

Yasu let that one go, grinning a little. “I suppose not,” he admitted, stopping in front of Mai's door, amused when it took the brunette a moment to realise where she had ended up.

“You didn't need to walk me to my door.”

“Of course I did,” Yasu insisted. “I am, after all, a true gentleman.”

Mai rolled her eyes, unlocking the door to her room.

“Good night, Yasu.”

“Good night Mai. Try to have some actual sweet dreams for once.”

“I'll try.”

“And that's all we ask.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, April 28th

When Mai woke to a bright room the next morning, she frowned slightly in confusion, before turning to check the time on her phone and gasping. True to everyone's expectation, but her own, she had slept until just before ten.

Stretching out under the covers of her warm bed, she blinked lazily at the roof, trying to find the energy to move.

Even though she'd slept for ages, she still felt lethargic, like her body had run a marathon the day before.

Letting her eyes fall shut for a moment longer, she took another couple of moments to convince herself to get up, before she actually managed to force herself out from under the covers, shivering as the cool air touched her exposed feet and hands.

Padding over to her bathroom, she quickly got ready for the day, brushing her teeth and getting changed, before getting her things together for when she'd leave to head over to BSPR.

Grabbing a Granola bar from her stash, Mai chewed on it slowly, checking over the notifications on her phone at the same time, and grinning a little at the picture Bou-san had sent her of John and Masako.

Apparently, they'd all met up at the church yesterday and they had managed to catch the exact moment once of the kids tripped John over, and straight into Masako.

Giggling a little at the image, she saved it, her heart heavy at the thought of her family back home.

She'd spoken to all of them since they'd left at least once over the phone, and they had a group chat that was a complete wreck, but this was the longest she'd been away from them in years and now that she wasn't keeping as busy, she couldn't help but miss them all.

Firing off a quick response to the image, praising Ayako on her timing, she let her phone go back to sleep, the black screen staring back at her for a moment before she snapped herself out of it.

'Time for a jog,' Mai decided.

Even though it was later in the day, things weren't too busy because it was a Sunday, and she was positive she'd feel better afterwards. Maybe her usual Qigong would help her fix the way her abilities seemed to be jumping around under her skin.

Content with that decision, Mai grabbed her earphones, plugging them into her phone with a sigh before she grabbed her keys and set off.

As the music played in the background, she forced herself to let it fade away so that she could focus instead on the area she was in, enjoying the more garden-like areas that they had and relishing in them.

Even though she wasn't a fan of jogging with music (she much preferred to focus on the nature without distractions), it had quickly become clear to her early on that it wasn't an option with how loud the campus tended to be. Today was no exception, and she was glad she'd thought to grab them as she weaved through the people who were loitering, trying not to pay them too much mind as their auras were easier to spot than usual.

Before long, half an hour had passed, and the brunette was feeling much better, turning around to head back to her dorm room, relieved to feel that the tingling under her skin was already beginning to fade.

Stepping inside, she breathed deeply as she put her phone to the side, music paused, and slowly began to run through her Qigong exercises, even more relieved to feel that her abilities seemed to have settled when she finished fifteen minutes later.

Considerably more relaxed now, Mai stretched out for a moment before grabbing some fresh clothes and taking a quick shower, only checking the time once she finished up, blinking in surprise when the time showed that it was a little before twelve.

Time seemed to have flown by without her noticing.

'Maybe I should grab food on the way?' she mused.

Firing off a quick text to Martin and Yasu to grab any orders they might have for the sandwich shop that she passed by on her way, Mai grabbed her bag and double checked she had everything before heading out.

It was time she got back to work.

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

-0-0- Past Event -0-0-

Chapter Twenty-Six

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, April 28th

Stepping into BSPR once more, Mai signed in without a word, before heading down the hall to Martin's office; knocking lightly before she opened the door, bag from the sandwich shop in hand.

Stepping inside, she grinned at Martin and Yasu.

“Even later than I expected, Mai, how wonderful,” Yasu grinned. “Sleep well?”

“Good afternoon, Professor Davis,” said brunette greeted, ignoring her friend as she stepped up to the desk, putting down the food.

“Good afternoon, Mai. You're looking much better today,” Martin commented, accepting the sandwich when it was offered it him.

Mai smiled sheepishly. “I'm definitely feeling much better,” she agreed, ignoring the smug look that she could see on Yasu's face in her peripheral vision. “Have you spoken with the other's just yet?”

Martin nodded, pulling out a file with the latest notes from the case and handing it over. “I spoke with them when I got in early this morning. There hasn't been too much a change so far and they're beginning to get nervous about why Oliver was taken in the first place. The best theory they have right now is that it was a distraction, but none of them can figure out what that would accomplish.”

“Perhaps they needed to buy time for something big? It has to be expending a lot of energy to do all of this as well, right?” Yasu suggested.

Martin smiled over at him. “That's definitely as good a suggestion as anything else we've come up with so far,” he agreed, before his lips pulled into a frown. “But if that's the case, then what kind of 'big thing' could the spirit be planning?”

Something about this felt right, and yet so wrong, and Mai frowned a little as she tried to sort the feeling out, unsure of how to describe it.

“Then there's the matter of who the spirit is. We're mostly operating under the assumption that it's Elliot after the dreams that Mai has had so far, but we can't rule anything out just yet without definitive proof,” Yasu added with a sigh.

Something about that felt wrong as well, but Mai was finding it hard to untangle all the different feelings she'd felt so far on this case, and she wasn't sure what to do with that. It wasn't something that she'd ever experienced before.

'Perhaps a call to Sensei would be for the best?' she thought to herself. It would have to wait until this case was finished, but if things were going to keep going like this, then she wouldn't have a choice.

“This afternoon when Madoka calls to check in, it might be best if we were to go over everything that we do know for sure, and work from there,” Martin muses. “Perhaps we can shed some light on the matter that way.”

Yasu nodded in agreement. “Until then, what do you want us to do?”

Shuffling a few things around on his desk, Martin grabbed a couple of files, before offering them to Mai and Yasu. “Here is what we have on the boys that Mai's dreamt of so far. It's still peculiar that the way the spirit attacks seems to be changing on a case by case basis,” he mused.

Mai frowned at that; case by case basis? Changing?

“Is it that odd for a spirit to change case by case?” Yasu inquired, giving Martin his full attention.

Visibly going into teacher mode, Martin nodded. “Of course. Spirits, much like while alive, spend their afterlives with an affinity for certain things, and differing levels of power. It's not unheard of, but it's unusual.”

Noting that down, Yasu hummed. “We always manage to get the weird ones, don't we?”

Martin chuckled. “Of course. We're not about to be called onto a case for a friendly spirit who's doing no harm,” he pointed out.

Yasu sighed dramatically. “Is that really too much to ask for, just once?” he whined, voice joking.

Or at least, that's what Mai thought he said, although she couldn't be sure, mind to occupied turning over what she knew, everything beginning to click into place, and suddenly that feeling in her stomach was replaced with something more definitive. This was right.

Without a second thought, Mai unlocked her phone, pulling up Naru's number and calling it, stepping to the corner of the room so she could concentrate on the call, ignoring the conversation that Martin and Yasu were carrying.

It rang for a couple moments before Naru answered. “Mai?”

“Why does it have to be one or the other?” she rushed out, not even bothering with her normal complaints over his lack of greeting.

There was silence on the other end as Naru managed to catch up, mind working quick to make up for her lack of explanation, practically vibrating at her realisation.

“Continue,” he stated finally, and Mai was all too eager.

“We've been operating under the assumption that the spirit had to be either Jason or Elliot and ignoring the evidence. There are two motives presented, coercion and possession. The statistics of a spirit being able to do both, let along being proficient enough in them to pull off something elaborate like this is incredibly low. It would also explain the scene in my dream with the shadow that talks about 'not being outdone again'. Naru, I think that that Jason started possessing people in order to make them suffer like he did, and Elliot took it as another challenge and started coercing people to do the same thing, still trying to be the best even after death.”

There was silence on the other end as Naru processed this.

“Any other evidence?” he inquired finally.

Mai bit her lip. “Nothing tangible, but, this case finally feels right,” she tried to explain, frowning a little.

“Instincts?”

“Yes,” she admitted softly.

“Good,” Naru agreed. “This is a solid theory, and unfortunately, the only way we have to prove it without a medium, or other spiritualist who can see spirits, is to make assumptions based on the evidence.”

It was quiet for a moment, before Naru spoke again. “Well done, Mai.”

Mai's cheeks heated at the praise, a small smile forming on her lips. “Thanks, Naru.”

“I'm going to speak with Lin and Madoka about organising an exorcism. Unfortunately, I don't think that we'll be able to resolve this peacefully,” he admitted, voice cold, but Mai could feel the underlying regret.

As much as she wanted to shout at the injustice of it, she understood where he was coming from. Between not having a proper medium, or a stable enough background to warrant the use of a hitogata, there wasn't a lot of ways left outside of a proper exorcism.

“Be safe?” Mai asked, nerves rising once more. She had a feeling that this wasn't going to be as simple as just performing the exorcism.

“How many times are you going to ask that of me?”

“As many times as it takes to make you promise me.”

There was scoff. “I'll try my best.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “Go deal with this ghost,” she grumbled, smile pulling at her lips and easing her worries just a little.

There was silence, and then the dial tone as Naru went to do just that.

Turning back towards Yasu and Martin, she flushed when she realised that they were looking at her.

“What?” she asked, crossing her arms.

Yasu just wiggled his eyebrows in response, making Mai flush even darker.

Martin chuckled. “So, going to explain this one to those of us who were excluded from your call.”

Smiling apologetically, Mai nodded, before she settled in to do just that.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Hanging up, Oliver was tempted to throw the phone at the wall, cursing himself for not seeing the obvious soon enough.

It was a good reminder for them all to stop making assumptions based on a complete lack of information, and instead of focus on what they knew properly. If they had of, it probably would have become clear a couple days ago, just what was going on.

Tucking his phone into his slacks, Oliver made his way back into the room, having stepped just out into the doorway when he'd gotten Mai's call.

“We have a working theory.”

Madoka turned to look up at him, raising an eyebrow. “Was that what the call was for? Why didn't you just stick around in here then?” she grumbled. “We've talked about information sharing, Oliver Davis.”

Rolling his eyes, he took a seat in his chair once more. “I didn't know what the call would be about,” he admitted, about to continue when Madoka eyes lit up.

“Oh, so it was Mai then?”

“How on earth did you draw that conclusion?”

This time Madoka rolled her eyes, giving him the same 'don't be stupid' look that he so often employed (and had continued to employ on the assistant that had so far been completely useless on this case, wading through information, and yet drawing zero conclusions from it). “You only ever speak to a few people over the phone. In fact, you refuse to interact with most people. If it wasn't myself, Lin, or Martin, then it has to be Mai or Luella. If it had of been Luella, you would have thought about it for longer before answering, because you're a terrible son,” she ribbed, smirking triumphantly at the sour look on his face.

“What did Mai have to say?” Lin requested, tempted to rub at his temples due to the exhaustion he was beginning to feel over dealing with these two. Why they had to behave like children was beyond him. It was almost worse than watching Oliver argue with Mai.

Shooting Madoka one last scathing look, Oliver turned to give his attention to Lin. “She thinks that we jumped the gun on assuming that the spirit had to be one or the other. She's almost positive that it's both.”

There was a considering look on Lin and Madoka's faces. “She might be right. I'm assuming she had plenty of evidence behind this?”

“More than we've had for any of the other theories we've had so far,” Oliver agreed.

Madoka hummed. “In that case, we can finally move onto figuring out how to deal with this. I'm voting that we exorcise, but if there's two of them, this is going to prove difficult. We may need to call up another exorcist in to cover the second spirit,” she mused, frowning.

“I was considering that, but I'm also concerned that we still have no idea why they took Oliver, instead of killing him, or something similar,” Lin pointed out as well, frowning as well.

The three of them made quite the image to the poor assistant over in the corner, who had stopped to listen to them, only to look up and see them all wearing a similar 'thinking' expression.

“That's true, but it might best that we leave those assumptions for a later time, when it's safer to do so. Mai has just reminded us for the second time since she got to England that we shouldn't jump the gun on our assumptions,” Madoka pointed out.

Oliver nodded in agreement. “We'll focus on dealing with the spirits. Exorcism is our best bet. Do you have an exorcist in mind that might be best for helping you, Lin?”

Lin frowned. “I'll make a couple calls and see who I can arrange with on such short notice. When do you want this to happen?”

“The sooner the better. Unfortunately, we also need to figure out a way to draw the spirits out and trap them long enough to perform said exorcism, provided there isn't another attack as an opportunity.”

Madoka groaned. “So, our plans rely mostly on someone else getting hurt, or a lot more planning.”

Rubbing at her eyes, she picked up the mug of coffee she'd gotten a little earlier, downing some more of the warm liquid and praying that it would wake her up some more.

“If we trap the spirits in a spiritual barrier, do you think that it might be possible for you to conduct the exorcisms on your own, Lin?” Oliver inquired.

The onmyoji's eyebrows creased. “It's doable,” he agreed, “but it would be much easier with another exorcist on hand.”

“It's just as a last resort,” Oliver assured.

“Any ideas on how to trap the spirit?” Madoka asked, looking over at Oliver.

“I have one. But you aren't going to like it.”

“We aren't using you as bait,” Madoka denied immediately.

Oliver rolled his eyes. “It makes the most logical sense. The spirit already has an issue with me. This way guarantees at least one of them will show up.”

Glancing over at her almost empty coffee forlornly, Madoka groaned once again. “Your father is going to kill us.”

“Not if he doesn't know.”

Throwing her hands up in the air, Madoka gave Lin an imploring look.

“Oliver has a point,” Lin admitted, not liking it any more than she did, but not sure of any other way that they could draw the spirit out.

“Why don't we confer with the others over possibilities before you go ahead and sign Oliver's life away again,” Madoka grumbled, sending off a message to Martin to ask him to video chat with her in half an hour. “Freaking men, I swear.”

Oliver rolled his eyes at the comment but didn't bother saying anything. “Go make the calls that you need to, Lin.”

Not wanting to endure any more of the scathing looks he was not-so-subtly being thrown, Lin nodded in agreement, grabbing his phone and stepping just outside of the room like Oliver had earlier.

“If it comes down to you being bait after all of this, at least I know that I won't have to kill you. Mai will do it for me herself,” Madoka grumbled.

It was the first argument that she'd raised that made Oliver stop for a moment and consider the consequences, but ultimately, they didn't outweigh the benefits. Especially not when things were getting more and more dangerous every day.

This plan was no doubt going to make the girl worry, since she cared for him for whatever reason, but there really weren’t many other options that he could see in solving this case. He'd wait until after they spoke on the subject to make any solid plans, but he was almost positive that this was his best bet.

Going over some more of the information, the next half hour passed quickly, with Lin informing them that he'd spoken to a couple of colleagues that they should be able to contact as soon as they knew when the exorcism would be taking place.

“We should have that information by the end of this call,” Oliver assured. “We've waited long enough.”

Madoka nodded in agreement.

Clicking on the call button, she waited for it to ring out for a few minutes, before it was picked up on the other side.

Martin's face appeared on the screen, with Mai and Yasu standing behind him.

“Madoka, how are things going?” He inquired.

Smiling, Madoka shrugged. “Nothing has changed so far. We're coming up with plans for trapping the ghosts and exorcisms now. We were hoping it get some ideas from you before we made the final plans,” she explained.

Turning to Mai and Yasu, Martin smiled. “Well, this seems like an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted. Any ideas?”

Oliver recognised the lecture like tone in his father's voice and sighed. If nothing else, they were definitely getting some good experience from working with Martin on the side-lines.

“You're going to want to draw the spirits out right? Is it just Lin who's exorcising them, or are you calling in another exorcist to help?” Mai asked, head tilted at she considered her options.

“Koujo made a few calls and we should be able to get someone in to help,” Madoka confirmed.

Yasu hummed. “Is it possible to draw them out with a hitogata?”

“Do we have enough information on the spirits to get their attention?” Oliver inquired, glancing over at Lin. “It might be a good distraction technique, but they don't have enough presence in and of themselves to draw the spirits attention.”

Mai thought about it for a moment, eyebrows drawn together. “Maybe? If anyone's going to be affected, it'll probably be Elliot. Right now, what's running through his mind is still the desire to stop being second best so that he can make his parents proud. You might be able to draw his attention by creating one of them, or even a hitogata for Jason since he's the one that caused this anger,” she suggested.

“Wouldn't Jason be just as affected if we put Elliot make a hitogata of Elliot then?” Yasu mused, “Or does he already realise that Elliot is in the area and just doesn't care?”

“Either is possible, but which do you think is more likely?” Martin inquired.

Yasu's sighed. “I have no way to know for sure, so I shouldn't draw conclusions from an incomplete view,” he decided finally.

Smiling in agreement with the decision, Martin patted him on the back. “Good idea.”

“So, the question is, how do we draw the spirits into a position where they can be distracted, long enough for Lin to erect a spiritual barrier and then perform an exorcism?” Madoka groaned, more and more convinced that Naru's way was the most logical.

No surprise there.

“Did you come up with any ideas before you made this call, Madoka? Maybe we can add on to them?” Yasu suggested.

Madoka just groaned louder, making Yasu glance over to Mai with a questioning look, unsure of how to react to that reaction.

“Oliver has a plan to draw them out, but it's not the optimal,” Lin admitted.

Rolling his eyes, said teenager glared at them. “It's a perfect find plan. I can act as the bait to draw the spirits to me. If I'm on the roof, they will see myself as an opportunity and then you can distract them, erect the barrier, and then exorcise them.” He recited. “The only downside is that we have no way to tell whether or not both of the spirits turn up, unless they materialise onto this plane.”

Mai frowned. “Do you guys not have a medium available for the exorcism at least?” she inquired. It seemed like something that they would usually have a person on hand for.

“There's only a couple of mediums contracted with BSPR at this time, and both of them were already on other cases,” Madoka informed regretfully. This would have been much easier otherwise.

“So, we're settled on a plan, then?” Oliver cut in.

Madoka narrowed her eyes. “I suppose we are. The exorcism can take place tomorrow morning, provided that the night goes by smoothly, if that's convenient for your colleague?”

Turning to look at Lin, she smiled when he nodded in agreement. “It's settled then. By tomorrow afternoon, this case should be over,” she concluded.

Martin nodded. “Glad to hear it. In that case, we'll let you get back to your planning, and I'll send these two home early. It's back to classes tomorrow, after all,” he gave a pointed look towards Mai and Yasu.

Nodding in agreement, Mai sighed, before grinning towards them all. “Good luck. Be safe!” she cheered, before the connection was cut.

“She was considerably less concerned about this then I thought,” Madoka mused, casting a look towards Oliver, who didn't look visibly confused, but was probably just as unsure of the uncharacteristic calmness. “And speaking of Mai, you'll be wanting that back.”

Holding out the charm they'd found on the roof, she grinned when Oliver took it, immediately checking to make sure that it wasn't damaged, and relieved to find that there wasn't any more than a little dirt on it, before tucking it into his jacket pocket once more.

“She's probably a lot more nervous than she was letting on. But if she thinks about things like that, then she might not be able to focus,” Lin pointed out, making her hum in agreement.

Ignoring them, Oliver settled in to look over the information one last time, adding some more notes for when he wrote up the report on this case for his father.

“Lin, you'll want to get those hitogatas prepared now, if you want your spiritual energy to be back at full capacity.” Oliver suggested after a moment.

Nodding, Lin stood up. “I'll have to go off of the campus to prepare these,” he pointed out. “Just in the case the spirit takes notice.”

Madoka grinned. “That's fine. Be careful on your way,” she warned, not too concerned for him.

He nodded in understanding, before picking up a briefcase where he kept all of his things for creating hitogatas and charms and leaving the room.

Once he was gone, there was silence in the room as both Oliver and Madoka settled in to work for the afternoon, not a single word passing between them for a moment, the assistant helping them out moving from research to take over watching the monitors, without a word.

The rest of the afternoon passed by in silence, until Lin came back later and they re-confirmed their plans for the next morning, making sure that everything was set, before they turned in. Madoka took the first half of night watch, before she was relieved to get a few hours of sleep by their assistant who had slept earlier that night in preparation for being up so early.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Monday, April 29th

The next day, none of them delayed. Lin's colleague showed up at eight o'clock on the dot, and Oliver was already holding a hitogata, was ready to go.

Walking up to the roof, everything felt eerily silent, almost like the calm before the storm.

Swinging open the door, Oliver wasn't surprised when only a moment later he felt the temperature drop, signalling the arrival of at least one of the spirits.

“Leave this place,” he ordered, not at all concerned when the temperature of the air seemed to drop further. Pulling out the hitogatas, he cast them into the air, wincing a little when they seemed to glow for a moment, before he heard the breaking of wood that represented an attack being made against one of them.

“Suffer like I did,” the voice hissed out, even as Lin and his colleague appeared, erecting the spirit barrier and trapping it inside.

The sound of chanting from two different male voices resounded in the area, before there was scream, and the sound of something crashing into the spiritual barrier, before there was another scream of anger, then the coldness in the air seemed to vanish.

“That was only one of them, correct?” Oliver inquired, frowning.

Lin nodded. “This isn't over just yet,” he agreed.

“This won't work twice. The other spirit was probably watching everything that went on,” Lin's colleague warned.

Oliver frowned, picking up the broken hitogata that had read Elliot's name before.

“This was the work of Jason, then,” he concluded. “Which means that the shadowy figure that managed to materialise was Elliot, which was likely given the evidence, but I'm positive now.”

Lin nodded in understanding.

“Are you guys alright?” Madoka asked over the walkie talky, voice interrupting whatever else Lin might have said in response.”

“Fine. Elliot's spirit is still here,” Lin warned. “Is there anything on your monitors?”

Just as the words left Lin's mouth, the temperature began to drop once more, making a shiver run down Oliver's spine.

“I can see a shadow heading your way,” Madoka informed them unnecessarily.

This wasn't over just yet.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Seven

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Monday, April 29th

As soon as the temperature started to drop once more, Oliver heard Lin and his colleague start chanting once more, but the dark mass, just as Mai had described, appeared completely undisturbed.

“You won't interfere again,” he hissed.

There wasn't something akin to the sound of static in the air, before Oliver was knocked to the ground, the shimmering barrier that Mai's charm gave him looking weaker and weaker as the shadow continued to assault it.

There were a couple of whistles, before something rushed through the mass, and there was a shout of desperation.

The barrier broke finally, giving into the force being applied to it, and for a moment Oliver thought he was going to have to call upon his PK.

Before he could though, Lin's colleague completed a chant, making a couple of hand motions towards the shadow. There was a final shout before silence surrounded them once more, the spirit dispelled.

Slowly, the air began to warm, and even Oliver could feel the difference in the air, something peaceful, when before he hadn't even realised that there was an oppressive feeling over the roof in particular.

“We're certain that it's complete?” he asked, turning to the two exorcists on the roof with him.

“Positive. My shiki can't sense any more spirits that are tied to this building.”

“Are you guys okay?” Madoka's voice came through the walkie talky, crackling slightly.

Oliver sighed, getting up from the ground and brushing himself off, huffing in irritation when he noticed a tear in his jacket.

“Tell Madoka that we're fine and we're heading back down for our final report before we start packing up,” he ordered, satisfied when he spotted Lin doing exactly that.

Heading back down to base, he ignored them all as Madoka thanked Lin's colleague for his help, telling him to let her know if there was ever anything BSPR could do to help him out, instead moving to grab his phone.

Rolling his eyes when he spotted a text from Mai, he tried to convince himself that her worrying was annoying (much like his mother's always tended to be), but instead he only felt warmth and a touch of fondness.

[Mai:] Let me know how things go when you finish the case?

He was still a little shocked that the brunette hadn't argued harder against him playing as bait for this operation, although, perhaps she'd figured that it wouldn't do her any good anyway, so why bother.

[Naru:] Finished. Everything was fine.

It wasn't even a minute later when his phone vibrated, signalling a response.

[Mai:] Thanks for letting me know. Call later for details?

Which meant Mai couldn't make it to BSPR today, which wasn't much of a shock given how full-on her Monday schedule was.

[Naru:] Stop texting and pay attention

He smirked when all he got in response was an angry looking emoji.

Turning his attention back to Madoka and Lin, he scoffed at the knowing looks he was being shot; Lin's colleague having left at some point between when he'd looked down at his phone and now.

“Let's pack up and get out of here.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Mai groaned as she exited her parapsychology class. It had been an interesting topic, but she'd spent the first half of it unable to focus until Naru had texted to let her know that everything had gone fine. Well, she hoped everything went fine. Either way Naru had finished up with the case and wasn't hurt badly enough to warrant a hospital trip, since he would have at least mentioned that.

Since then she had resigned herself to having to go back and watch the online version* to understand it all completely, given her lack of attention. Her Introduction to Paranormal Cognition class hadn't been much better in terms of concentration.

Stretching out a little, the brunette headed towards her room. Theory of Practical Parapsychology didn't start until two this afternoon, so she'd have just enough time to call Naru and get the full story, as well as eat something.

It was short walk, and before she knew it, she was sitting down with a cup full of steaming instant ramen, scrolling through a couple of things on her phone.

Given her hunger, it wasn't long before Mai was finishing up her food.

Taking a sip of the left over broth, she fired a quick text off to Naru, glancing at the time. She still had a little time before class yet. Thankfully her classroom was close by.

[Mai:] Let me know when you're free for a call.

It was another ten minutes of scrolling before the brunette got a response.

[Naru:] Now is fine. Madoka is forcing us to break for lunch

Mai could practically hear the distaste in his tone from the text alone, imagining how annoyed he must look.

Giggling a little, she hit on the call button, holding the phone to her ear and waiting as it rung out a couple times before Naru picked up on the other end.

“Mai.”

“Naru,” she teased lightly, rolling her eyes at the usual way he answered the phone.

“I will hang up,” he warned.

Pouting Mai, huffed. “You're no fun Naru. I was worried you know. You didn't give me much information you know.”

“I'm fine. Happy?”

“Naru!” she cried out, exasperated. “Tell me everything that happened.”

And so Naru did. They spent the next fifteen minutes going over everything that had happened since Mai had spoken with him last night.

She listened quietly, only making noises every now and then so that he didn't think she'd stopped listening.

When he got to the part about the spirit breaking through the barrier that the charm created, Mai sighed.

“I'll have to recharge it,” she lamented, already dreading how tired it was going to make her. It was one of the most powerful charms she'd ever created, and it had been holding a lot of power. That was probably the only reason that it had lasted as long as it had.

“Speaking of, you owe me a couple of explanations.”

Mai gulped a little at the suspicion in his tone. “About what?” she asked, trying to sound innocent.

“You made yourself pass out. You spent so long complaining about me making sure I didn't take unnecessary risks, and you were running around like an idiot after astral projecting an hour away. I'm shocked you made it through that conversation without collapsing.”

Mai laughed nervously, biting at her lip. “I was pretty impressed as well.”

“I didn't say anything about being impressed, Mai.”

Gulping a little at the irritation in his voice, she deflated. “Sorry. I got caught up in things, and well, you know what I’m like.”

“Unfortunately.”

“Hey!” Mai protested, but the frustration drained just as soon as it had come. “I really am sorry. I was worried about you and I just didn't think.”

“But you won't promise not to do it again,” Naru observed, making Mai shrug hopelessly even though he wouldn't be able to see it.

“I can't,” she admitted softly. “I can promise you a lot of things, Naru. But I can't promise that.”

The words themselves sounded almost like a promise as well, soft and well-meaning.

There was a sigh of frustration on the other end, and Mai could picture the pinched look of exasperation on his face perfectly.

“If I asked you to be more self-aware, could you promise me that?” Naru asked finally.

Blinking a little in surprise, Mai thought about it for a moment, always careful with her promises.

“I can promise to try,” she decided finally. “My brain runs on one-track most of the time, you know this. But I can try.” She almost added the words 'for you' at the end, but caught herself just in time, biting on her lip again.

There was silence for another moment, before Naru responded finally. “Fine.”

It shocked a chocked laugh out of Mai with how begrudging it sounded, like he didn't want to agree, but couldn't see a better option.

“While we're on the subject of your abilities, I've been meaning to ask something of you.”

Mai hummed to show she was still paying attention.

“I want them to be the subject of my next book.”

It was dead silent on the line for a moment as Mai processed those words.

“What?!”

She could picture the wince on Naru's face from her loud tone, but she didn't bother apologising, still trying to comprehend what the hell he was asking of her.

“Really Mai?”

His tone was definitely unimpressed.

“How did you expect me to react when you spring something like this on me?” she huffed, frowning.

“The same way as someone else would for once in your life,” Naru grumbled. “The great Oliver Davis is writing a book on your abilities. Happy or flattered.”

Mai snorted. “As always, your humbleness astounds me.”

“Do you have a problem with the topic?”

Biting her lip, Mai tilted her head a little. “It's fine, as long as you don't mention my name,” she accepted finally, still somewhat disbelieving. “And I get the right to choose which tests I undertake.”

“Naturally. I still have your previous results from the light bulb test, and I have a couple other tests I want to run when you have a chance.”

“And you want another in depth conversation on my abilities,” Mai added on the end, sighing.

There was a scoff, and she rolled her eyes.

“We've been planning another discussion on your abilities since the beginning. I have a long list of things to ask you about, and I'm not the only one.”

Mai threw her hands up in frustration. “Scientists,” she grumbled.

“This wouldn't be the case if you'd been forth coming about your abilities from the beginning.” Naru pointed out.

Pouting, Mai sighed, leaning her head back in her chair to look up at the ceiling. “Fine. I assume that one of the times I spend at BSPR will be good enough for it?”

“Of course.”

Glancing over at her wall clock, Mai sighed at the time. “I need to go and get ready for class this afternoon. I don't suppose you know what we'll be covering?” she asked, voice hopeful.

“I gave you the outline before didn't I? I believe father wanted to cover some of the more famous locations today and have you all form hypothesis' on whether or not they were actually haunted,” Naru mused. “Although he tends to switch things up from his prepared outlines, so don't be surprised if this isn't what he teaches.”

Mai grinned sheepishly. “I completely forgot about that,” she admitted, pouting at the scoff from the other end. “But that's fine. At least I know to prepare mentally. Thanks, Naru.”

“Goodbye, Mai.”

“Bye Naru.”

There was the dial tone a moment later, and Mai pulled her phone away from her ear, locking it again.

Standing up, she moved to go and sit at her desk, opening up her laptop and immediately googling a couple of the famous haunted locations, settling in to do some pre-reading for half an hour.

It flew by and soon, she was off to class, her bag on her shoulder as she stepped out of the door.

Now that she didn't have to worry about them on the case, it was like an entire weight had been lifted off her shoulders, and she couldn't help but hum happily on her way over, ignoring the few looks that she got.

Spotting Yasu, she jogged over to him, bag jostling before she stopped in front of him.

“Someone's in a good mood,” her friend teased.

Rolling her eyes, Mai didn't let it curb her good mood. “Yup,” she agreed, letting the 'p' sound pop. “Everyone finished up the case mostly unharmed, and I also go a heads up on what today's class is probably going to cover.”

Yasu raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to share?”

Mai shrugged. “Naru reckons we should be doing famous locations, and the outline agrees. He thinks that we'll be trying to use the evidence available to prove whether or not a case is legitimate or not and the steps we'd take to prove it.”

“Indeed, I am, Mai. But how you know that, I can only guess,” Martin interrupted, appearing behind Mai and making her jump in surprise.

Turning to look at him, Mai grinned. “I have my sources.”

There was a raised eyebrow, although she could spot the amusement dancing in his eyes. Obviously he recalled when Naru had given her the outline. “I'm sure.”

Trying to look innocent, Mai stepped a little further out of the doorway where she'd been chatting, waving for him to enter first.

“Thank you, Mai,” Martin said, still amused as he walked inside, Mai and Yasu trailing after a moment later.

Walking up the stairs to their normal spot, Mai got a curious look from Zoe, but she just smiled, shrugging before she took her seat, Yasu sliding in next to her.

Martin gave them a moment to settle down, leaving them until the clock read it was two o'clock on the dot.

“Alright everyone. Today I'm going to start off with something new. We'll be starting to learn about forming our own hypothesis' and theories and give them appropriate academic backing. To practice, I'm going to ask for an opinion on a topic at the beginning of each class, and I'll pick one of you to answer. From there, I'll choose a fellow classmate to either refute you or back up your opinion with more evidence so that it can become a working hypothesis.”

Mai grinned even more at this, her good mood even better now despite how nervous she was feeling.

“Isn't this what you and big boss do all the time?” Yasu asked, nudging her a little with a smirk on his face.

Shrugging a shoulder, she nodded before turning her attention back to Martin.

“Any questions?”

When nobody raised a hand, Martin nodded.

“Good. For today; I want you to tell me what you think is the most important skill in the field?”

He gave them all a couple minutes before asking for anyone who had an opinion to raise their hand.

“Mr Thomas, you look rather eager. What do you think is the most important skill in the field?”

Steven smirked, sitting up straight in his seat in the front row. “The most important skill in the field is communication. As with most fields of practice, ghost hunting is done in teams, and this means it's important that they are all always on the same page – hence the necessity for communication.”

Martin nodded in understanding. “Anyone care to either refute or agree with this claim? Remember, I expect you to back your response with evidence.”

Scanning the room, he saw a couple of people with their hands up, but the second Mai raised her hand, a considering look on her face, he was curious. So far, Mai had seemed reluctant to participate despite her superior knowledge of the course (granted they hadn't many classes thus far).

Regardless, perhaps today would be the day that he got to see the fire he'd seen when she'd debated with his son.

“Miss Taniyama.”

Clearing her throat when she was called on, Mai took a deep breath before sitting up straight. “While Mr Thomas raises a brilliant point, I find that the precedent set by Oliver Davis, as explained in his book Solitary Investigation,** easily refutes this claim. In this book, Oliver Davis explains that on numerous occasion he's kept vital information from the teams he'd worked with in order to force them to think with the evidence they have and explained that this is a technique employed by many mentors in ghost hunting.

“These cases are always closed in the end without that information. As information sharing on a case is one of the most important forms of communication, I find that Mr Thomas' statement is false. This does not, of course, mean that communication isn't important, only that it cannot be the most important if it's possible to complete a case without it.”

She didn't bother to add that Naru also happened to be one of the most stand-offish people in the field, or that he tended to keep more than just vital information to himself, or that he didn't have anyone to mentor to give him such an excuse. It wasn't like she could really explain having that kind of information in the first place.

Martin smiled at her, clearly happy with how she'd phrased everything, and by the spark of amusement in his eyes again, well aware of what she was thinking of.

“Well done. Does anyone have anything to say about this? Your options are to either; refute Mr Thomas' opinion further, to refute Miss Taniyama's instead, or to offer a new option for us to discuss as the most important skill.”

Raising an eyebrow at Steven's once more raised hand, he nodded at the boy. “Do you care to refute her arguments, Mr Thomas?”

“Not at all, professor. She made a rather good point. I only wish to request that Miss Taniyama instead offer her opinion on what is the most important skill is in field work instead.”

Martin nodded, finding it to be fair. “Well, Miss Taniyama?” he inquired, finding himself just as curious.

Thinking for a moment, Mai bit her lip a little, gnawing at it as she tried to go through the list of skills that were deemed necessary for a ghost hunter.

“The most important skill for a ghost hunter in their field work would be their ability to adapt. In Andrew Green's Ghost Hunting: A Practical Guide***, he talks about how in the field, anything can happen without any notice, and you will have to act instantly in order to save yourself. If you don't act fast enough and adapt to the situation, then I wager that saving yourself is much more important in the field than anything else.”

There were a couple of laughs and giggles around the room, and Martin nodded. “Very good. Anyone to refute this claim or further give evidence to it?”

When no-one raised a hand, Martin nodded. “Very well then. We can move on to today's actual lesson.” He joked, getting a couple more snickers of laughter. “Today we'll be putting your ability to tell a real case from a fake one to the test on some of the more famous locations.”

Mai grinned, listening as Martin continued to explain what they were doing, before bringing up a few slides of some famous locations that were known to be haunted around the world and explaining which ones BSPR investigated, and which ones they didn't need to.

As he helped them to revise how to tell a real case from a fake case without being there in person, Mai glanced down at her phone, feeling it vibrate.

She frowned at the sight of Lin's name and the message on screen.

[Lin:] I am free to show you where to meditate tomorrow.

Biting her lip, Mai turned her attention back to Martin for a moment, making sure he hadn't gone over something new, before looking back at her phone and typing out her response.

[Mai:] Thank you. Time?

[Lin:] I'll meet you at your dorm at 6am

[Mai:] Kay. Thanks! ^_^

Putting her phone away again, Mai focussed on the class again, settling in to pass the rest of the lesson with the utmost attention, ignoring the curious look that Yasu was sending her.

Martin went on like that for another half an hour before he brought up another slide of famous locations around the world.

“Here are some more famous locations. I want you all to form 'teams' of between four and six and work together to deduce whether or not these locations are really haunted and back up your hypothesis with evidence. You have the rest of this class, and then until next lesson. Then we will be presenting them and opening them up to your peers for review so that they can refute or support your claims. Simple enough?”

There were murmurs of agreement, but no-one made any move to get up and find groups.

Martin raised an eyebrow, clearly amused at the situation. “You all have two minutes to find yourself a group or I'll start putting them together myself,” he warned.

Like magic, suddenly they were all scrambling to get up and choose their own groups, making Mai giggle.

Zoe and Raymond turn around to look up at them, grinning.

“You two want to team up with us?” Zoe suggested.

Glancing over at Yasu, they both shrugged. “Sounds like a plan.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Stepping inside the house, Oliver wasn't surprised at all when he was immediately accosted by his mother, drawing him into a tight hug.

“You're home!” She squealed, making his head pound just a bit.

“Evidently so, mother.”

Letting go of him, she grinned at him brightly. “Did everything go well on the case?”

Shrugging a little, Oliver sighed. “It went just fine, mother. But if you don't mind, I'm feeling a little bit worn out from all of it. I'd like to go and get some rest before dinner.”

Smiling kindly at him, his mother nodded. “Of course. Make sure that you're down here for dinner though! I want to hear all about this most recent case.”

Narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Oliver raised an eyebrow. “You never want to hear about the cases. And you don't like us talking 'shop' at the dinner table.”

She just smiled brightly at him. “Never you mind that, Noll. Sometimes a mother needs to go without something for a while to remember that she enjoyed hearing about it. Now off with you. You're wasting valuable sleep every moment you argue with me,” she teased, shooing him off with her hands.

Not bothering to respond to that, Oliver start making his way up stairs, his case bag in hand.

Stepping into his room, he relaxed just a little more, before he set his bag down on the floor.

Debating for a moment, he sighed and opened it, pulling out the dirty clothing that he had left and throwing it into the laundry, checking any pockets as he went.

His mother was a stickler for not leaving things in your pockets. He could recall one time when Gene had left a tissue in his pocket and it had broken apart and gotten pieces of white all over the clothing in that load. Their mother had not been impressed – and he'd been quite amused.

After that though, he'd been even more diligent to check these things. (Gene had not, and had proceeded to lose two USB drives, and a lot of money to the washing machine (and their mother).)

Pulling out the last pair of slacks, he checked the pocket so quickly that he almost missed it.

Fishing around a little more, he frowned at the feeling of something small and metal.

Grabbing it, he pulled his hand from the pocket and opened it so that he could see what it was, even more confused at the sight of a small metal key that he'd never seen before.

Where had it come from, and when?

Considering for a moment, he called forth his psychometry, carefully letting a brief flash fill his mind, Mai sitting in Martin's classroom, before he let the power go once more, even more curious then before.

This was Mai's key, which made no sense. He would have remembered putting it in there himself, and he hadn't seen Mai in days.

He frowned. What the hell was going on?

With a sigh, he added it to his list of 'things to ask Mai about', shaking his head.

Somehow, he didn't think he was going to like the answer.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*I have no idea if this is a thing in every country, but here in Australia, the two universities that I know of, always put all of their lectures online for student access. They're a great way to catch up on what you've missed or revise.

**This is a fictional creation of my own, but the title may appear a few times in the future so I thought I would make a note of it for you.

***This is a real book, I own no claim over it, or the writer. I was too lazy to come up with a book title and author on my own, so you can have this instead. I have not read this book before, so I have no idea what topics it covers. This is purely being used as a plot device.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

This chapter is dedicated to: ncisduckie – for always, always helping me with these edits, and for being a constant source of encouragement. This short sentence doesn't nearly do my thankfulness justice but it's all my brain can come up with (the irony of being a writer) so it'll have to do ^^;;

This chapter is ALSO dedicated to: waitingforjudgement – AKA, my amazing beta reader who has made this entire process much easier, and made these re-writes/edits so much better. She's been taking time out of her days in the background to edit chapters for months now (how she isn't sick of this story yet is beyond me), and without her I don't think any of this would have been possible.

 

 

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Eight

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Tuesday, April 29th

Mai groaned a little as her eyes opened, blinking as they adjusted to the early morning light in her room.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she absent-mindedly noted that it was five-thirty in the morning and groaned when she recalled that she and Lin had organised to meet up at six.

Forcing herself from the comfort of her sheets, Mai padded across the room to change into some leggings and a singlet, shivering slightly from the cooled air of her room.

'At least I can finally get back into jogging and my Qigong,' Mai thought, trying to look on the bright side of things.

Stepping into her small ensuite, she quickly brushed her teeth; before splashing some water on her face to help shock herself into wakefulness.

Tying her hair back so it would be out of her face, Mai nodded to herself, content that she was ready to head out.

Grabbing her phone and keys, she stopped briefly to slip into her runners on the way out, before locking her door and starting down the hallway.

It was mostly silent as she made her way downstairs to meet Lin beside the notice boards that were under the archways in the courtyard.

Humming to herself, she noted that there were a few other people already milling around, studying, and a couple jogging, and sighed. Within an hour, a lot of the college was likely to be awake.

Reaching the notice boards, Mai wasn't surprised to see Lin already standing there.

Good morning Lin-san!” she greeted, offering a wide smile.

Lin's face remained impassive as he nodded towards her. “Morning, Taniyama-chan. It's a little early than we planned, but shall we?”

Of course!”

And with that, the two of them started off down a path that was familiar to Mai.

How have you been, Lin-san?” Mai prompted after a moment, never one to jog in complete silence when she had a partner.

Actually, Madoka and I were concerned about something in regards to the case that we were on most recently,” Lin mentioned, voice casual.

Humming, Mai waited for him to continue.

We were concerned that you might have been planning something in regards to Noll's plan, because you were so calm about everything.”

Mai's jog stumbled slightly before she caught herself, smiling sheepishly at the look he was giving her.

I wasn't as calm as you make me sound. I was terrified that something would go wrong. But if I had let myself become too consumed by my worry, then I wouldn't have been of any use to anyone, in class or outside of it,” she started to explain, catching up again easily. “It was the most obvious solution to the case, and Naru, for all his faults, is not stupid. I figured that if he was so serious about using himself as bait, then I would put my faith in him, and his abilities, to come out unscathed.”

Lin hummed in understanding, and to let her know that he had paid attention, but inwardly he was a little floored by her explanation. Madoka had wagered that it had been a front, and while she wasn't completely wrong, there was so much more to it than either of them had predicted.

It was another moment that reminded Lin of how much someone can change in just a short time. Mai had matured, and it was moments like these that really showed by how much.

So, you didn't think about doing anything...” he trailed off, unsure of the politest way to phrase his inquiry.

Mai giggled a little, following his thoughts easily. “Of course I did. I'm not perfect, Lin-san. I will always prefer being the one to get hurt. But the truth is, given how drained I still was spiritually when all of that happened at the end of the case, it would have been impossible for me to actually do much.”

Sighing, Lin nodded. “Your faith was rewarded though. Everything worked out fine,” he pointed out.

Shrugging a little, Mai smiled wryly. “I suppose. Though really, I can't promise that if I'd had any sign of dread or warning from my instincts, that being drained would have stopped me,” she admitted softly.

Lin sighed. Maybe one day she would learn to trust them completely, when it came to these sorts of things.

As if sensing his line of thought, Mai frowned slightly. “I do trust you, Lin-san. There is no-one I would trust more with Naru then you. If I've learnt one thing over the past year, however, it's that my instincts aren't something to be ignored. And no amount of trust can change that.”

That doesn't mean that when you sense that dread, you can't inform someone else and allow them to help instead. You don't have to be the one to solve the problem, even if you are the one to notice it. We work in teams,” he reminded her gently.

Flushing a little at the slight scold, Mai nodded. “I'll try to remember. I can't make any promises, but I'll try.”

Lin supposed that was all he could ask for.

Noting the other part of Mai's earlier sentence, he smirked slightly. “Thank you for your faith in my abilities. That was high praise, given how much importance you place on Noll's life,” he teased.

The light pink on Mai's cheeks instantly began to darken, as she shot him an incredulous look that he caught in his peripheral vision.

I- that- Lin-san! That's not- Naru's my friend, of course I place a lot of importance on his life!”

Her voice was indignant, and he forced down the urge to chuckle at her embarrassment.

Of course,” he agreed, keeping his own tone magnanimous.

Mai groaned, able to sense from his aura that he was being sarcastic and opted to spend the rest of the jog in silence, pouting slightly.

Thus far, they'd been following a path that ran around the Emmanuel college, but just before the path turned left up ahead, Lin turned right instead, forcing them in the opposite direction.

Trusting that he knew where he was going, Mai followed Lin easily, noting what the area looked like, and how the trees seemed to feel.

The foliage got a little heavier before Lin slowed to a walk and pushed through a section of trees.

Curiosity high, Mai stepped through after him, unable to help her shock at the sight in front of her.

It was a small clearing, where a stream ran slowly, clear freshwater trickling over stones. There were a few birds in the trees, whistling, and Mai couldn't help but feel completely relaxed for the first time since she'd left the Davis' place days before.

Weightlessness flooded through her body, where before she hadn't even noticed just how severely keeping her abilities under control without a way to release them had been weighing her down.

Noting Mai's reaction to the area, and how immediate it was, he couldn't help his subtle amusement.

I take it that this meets your requirements for a peaceful place to perform your Qigong?”

Shaking herself from her own mind, Mai beamed at Lin. “Yes, it's amazing. Thank you so much.”

You're welcome.” Lin said. “Would you mind if I watched you run through your Qigong again?”

Mai shook her head quickly. “Of course I don't mind. Any advice you can offer me would be more than welcome.” she assured.

Nodding, Lin motioned for her to begin.

Taking a deep breath, Mai allowed her abilities free reign for the moment and relaxed completely. With slow movements, she began her familiar routine.

It seemed like only moments later that Mai found her eyes re-opening, the calmness she'd felt through her movements remaining, grounding her in a way that she'd missed.

Well done,” Lin praised.

Flushing a little, Mai smiled widely. “Thank you, Lin-sensei.”

The older man's lips twitched at the honorific but didn't refute it.

There were a few missteps, but your flow was still very good. And your spiritual energy seems calmer now.”

Tilting her head, Mai frowned. “You can tell?”

Lin nodded. “Yes. Before your energy was restless – like it was struggling to escape, but now it feels like it's comfortable being contained. Do you usually require an outlet like that?”

Humming, Mai nodded. “Ever since I started training, it's always been like that. That's why finding somewhere for Qigong was so important,” she admitted.

Noting it down mentally, Lin motioned back the way they came from. “You're going to the BSPR satellite office today, aren't you?”

Mai nodded. “Yeah. I don't have classes on Tuesdays, so it was one of the days I told Professor Davis that I'd be there most weeks. I'm bringing some of my classwork that I need to get done, but I figure anything that I do there counts just as much as study.”

It is quite good practical experience, although I highly doubt that's an area that you're lacking in,” Lin pointed out, as they began to jog back the way they came.

Pouting a little, Mai huffed. “Okay, I'll admit that I also miss ghost hunting. Even though we were on a case not long ago, I missed being there while you guys were away.”

Lin fought a chuckle at her reluctant admission. “Then you'll be trying for the BSPR work experience?”

Frowning, Mai glanced over at him to ask what that meant.

If you grab your things, you can ride with me over to BSPR,” Lin offered. “Then I can tell you about it on the way over.”

Mai nodded, “Okay.”

Curious, she practically bounded up the stairs to the second floor, all but throwing her door open in her enthusiasm. It didn't take her long to shower quickly, just washing the sweat from her skin, and then change into fresh clothes in record time.

Grabbing her handbag, she made sure to put her phone and wallet in there, as well as her dream journal just in case.

Keys in hand, she stepped into her everyday shoes on her way out before locking up and heading downstairs, dodging the students that were now milling around the hallways, many of them still half asleep.

Ready to go?” Lin checked when Mai re-appeared.

Yup.”

And with that, Lin lead her out into the car park to his car, unlocking the door so that she could slip into the passenger seat before he slipped in himself.

A minute later they were on the road, and Mai was practically vibrating with the need to find out more.

So, what's the work experience you mentioned?” she asked.

Lin shook his head slightly. “I still don't understand how you haven't heard about this yet,” he said.

Mai shrugged. “Since we're coming in the third term, everyone else probably already knows about it. I know Madoka said in an email to the class that she has some exciting news to share with everyone next lesson, which might have something to do with it, but no-one's thought to explain it to me. And with the case and everything, I haven't really thought to ask anyone about what it might be about...” she trailed off.

She had a point, Lin conceded mentally.

As you're aware, the theory on how to ghost hunt is a compulsory course, but the actual practicals for it aren't. Those who choose to take the practical course can choose to participate in a mock ghost hunting investigation at the end of the year, in a team that's selected by draw so that no team has an intentional advantage on another team. The team who scores highest on this test is offered a chance to form a temporary BSPR team, under the tutelage of two supervisors, so that they can gain field experience,” he explained.

Mai hummed at the information, trying not let her excitement consume her. While she didn't enjoy that she wouldn't be able to pick her own team, she understood the unspoken reason why they likely used a draw for it. When they did eventually start going into the field, there were likely to be times when they had to work with people they didn't know, and it would be much easier if they learnt to deal with that situation now, then later on.

It was smart, and cunning, so it was likely Madoka's influence.

How do we choose to participate? Is there a sign up?” Mai asked, glancing over at Lin.

Early on in the term, Madoka usually takes down notes of who will be participating, but anyone can choose to back out or apply up until week seven. After that, they start preparing things for the mock-case, so the participants are set.”

At least I know that Yasu and I would have definitely heard about it eventually then.” Mai joked.

Lin rolled his eyes, smirking. “Noll would have mentioned it to you before then.” he pointed out. He didn't add that his charge would probably also insist on going to see Mai's test himself, although what ridiculous excuse he would come up was beyond Lin.

Mai shrugged. “He probably would have. But his explanation would have been much ruder, and include a lot more grumbling about how 'you should already know this Mai' and 'you're such an idiot Mai' because, apparently, I’m an omniscient being and I should be aware of everything, including the things that I don't know to ask about.” she ranted, huffing.

Fighting the urge to chuckle at how annoyed Mai sounded, Lin nodded in response.

Noll does have a terrible habit of forgetting that not everyone is a genius,” he agreed.

What he has, is a terrible habit of being a complete and utter jerk,” Mai muttered.

This time, Lin didn't even bother to respond.

The rest of the drive passed by in comfortable silence, Mai's mind wandering after that, back to the test that she'd just found out about.

It really was exciting, and it was good to find out that she would actually be able to ghost hunt properly. But she was nervous that she wouldn't be able to pass the ghost hunting test.

She could practically hear Naru ranting in the back of her mind. She had more experience in the field then most of her classmates had combined, and she'd even run some investigations in the past. That didn't stop the anxiety from rising though.

We're here,” Lin said, noting that Mai seemed to still be mentally absent.

Snapping from her thoughts, she smiled over at Lin in thanks, before unbuckling her seatbelt and stepping out of the car.

Thanks for the ride,” she thanked Lin. “And thank you for showing me somewhere to do my Qigong.”

His lips twitched. “You're welcome.”

Taking a deep breath, Mai let it out slowly, before repeating the process again, taking a moment to lock down her abilities.

Almost like he could feel what was happening, Lin watched on curiously, amused when Mai's eyes closed slightly in order to concentrate.

That was something they'd have to work on, at least if they were given a chance. It was too dangerous for Mai to be so obvious whenever she needed to reign things in.

But for the moment, he let her do things the way she was used to.

Flushing when Mai opened her eyes properly again, she smiled sheepishly.

Let's go?” she asked.

Lin didn't bother to reply to that, moving to go inside instead.

Pouting, Mai followed him, stopping at the front desk to sign in, just as she had every time before.

Lin raised an eyebrow at that. “You may want to see Madoka and ask about a clock-in card,” he suggested.

Frowning in confusion, Mai nodded. “Okay. I'll see you later then.”

Nodding once, Lin headed off, leaving Mai to wander to Madoka's office on her own.

Knocking, she carefully opened the door and poked her head inside.

“Mai! I wasn't sure if I was going to see you this early in the day. I thought I'd have steal you off Noll.” Madoka teased, grinning at Mai.

Stepping inside the room and shutting the door lightly behind herself, Mai ignored how her cheeks flushed at the implications that her friend was making.

“Good morning Madoka! Lin-san mentioned that I should talk to you about a clock in card?” she trailed off, still confused.

Madoka giggled lightly. “Should have known that you'd only come to visit me first for a reason,” she joked.

“I- no-” Mai spluttered, trying to figure out how to response, while Madoka laughed loudly at her.

“Calm down Mai. I understand,” she assured, winking. Her eyes twinkled in amusement when that seemed to only make the young girl turn redder.

“I hate you,” Mai proclaimed, crossing her arms.

Madoka rolled her eyes, still amused. “How ever will I survive?”

“You won't. You'll have to perish, and then I'll be free from your ridiculousness at last,” Mai grumbled, but her lips were twitching into a poorly suppressed smile.

Shaking her head, Madoka sighed. “Well, before you kill me off, you might be wanting one of these.”

Curious, Mai reached out to take the card that Madoka was offering. Reading over it, she frowned. “Why do I need an employee card?”

“To swipe whenever you come in of course. You didn't think that everyone took the time to write their clock in and clock out times down every time they came and went, did you?” Madoka pointed out.

Mai shook her head. “Of course not, but-”

“No buts. You're here twice a week during school time as it is, and most Saturdays. This is just faster for everyone.”

Sighing, Mai gave in. “Fine. Are you giving Yasu one as well when he comes by this afternoon?” she asked.

Madoka nodded. “Of course. Now that that's sorted though, we have more important things to discuss,” she waved off.

Raising an eyebrow, Mai waited for Madoka to continue.

Rolling her eyes, Madoka sighed. “Noll and Martin have been talking about doing an interview with you sometime today, if you're up for it. There are some more details that we're hoping to glean from you on the subject of your abilities. Apparently, Noll also mentioned to you that he wanted to write his next book based on your abilities?”

Recalling their brief discussion over it, Mai nodded. “I remember, although I didn't know how serious he was about it,” she admitted.

Madoka sighed. “You don't even realise just how much of an enigma you are, do you Mai?”

Tilting her head at her friend, Mai rolled her eyes.

“Someone with your level of spiritual capability doesn't come around every day, Mai. And even less of those people are willing to work with us so that we can learn more information,” Madoka continued.

Frowning, Mai didn't bother to respond to that. She was uncomfortably aware that her abilities were more than the average person. Contrary to what everyone seemed to believe, she wasn't completely oblivious.

But she didn't like the idea of becoming some kind of lab rat and interviewee. She was worth more than just her spiritual capabilities.

Of course, she knew that Madoka wasn't trying to say that all she was were her abilities, she knew Madoka wasn't.

That didn't stop her head from saying otherwise.

Noting how absent Mai had become, Madoka opened her mouth to say something, only to be cut off suddenly.

“I'm going to see what Naru's up to until the interview later on,” Mai rushed out.

With that said, she turned heel and left the room, shutting the door quickly behind her, cutting off Madoka's bewildered call of her name.

Speeding down the hall and turning the corner, Mai slipped into Naru's office without even bothering to knock, shutting the door quietly behind herself.

Glancing up from the file he had, Oliver frowned at how skittish Mai looked.

He'd known who it was from the moment the door had clicked open – Mai was the only one who ever entered his office without waiting – but he hadn't expected this.

“Mai?”

Startling at Naru's voice, Mai swung around to look at him and tried for a smile.

Judging by the look Naru was giving her, she wasn't doing a very good job.

“What happened?”

“Nothing-”

“Mai.”

That was all it took for the false smile to fall from her face, and her shoulders to droop.

“Nothing major, I promise. It's stupid. I'm being stupid.”

Oliver gave a pointed look at the seat Mai used every other time she'd appeared in his office.

With a sigh, Mai reluctantly fell into her seat.

“Now, explain.”

“It really is just me being stupid,” she tried once more.

When Naru's expression didn't change, Mai resigned herself.

“I was talking with Madoka about the interview you guys want to do on my abilities this afternoon, and she was talking about how amazing my abilities are, and how good it is to have a spiritualist of my abilities around that's willing to interview, and give you guys information...” she started.

Glancing up from her lap where her eyes had fallen to avoid Naru's gaze, she swallowed when his face gave nothing away.

“It just- the way she said it made it sound like all I was good for was my abilities. Which I know isn't what she meant, but my brain just kind of twisted it. Then I started thinking about how maybe the only reason I've gotten this far to getting my degree is because of my abilities, and not what I can do in the field of parapsychology itself.” The words were rushed, and Mai felt stupid trying to explain her insecurities.

But if there was anyone she could trust to be truthful with her, no matter how harsh it might be, it was Naru.

She trusted him.

“You're right, you're an idiot.”

Despite how predictable the words were, Mai's head snapped up, eyes wide.

Oliver sighed. He could understand the concern. Both himself and Gene had struggled with the concept a few times over the years. It was especially difficult in the beginning, when Luella and Martin had first adopted himself and Gene.

It was hard to tell how genuine they were being when faced with the amount of testing they went through. Of course, Martin had been helping them, but that didn't change the fact that the data they gained from it all was enormous.

So he recognised how Mai was feeling now.

That didn't mean he was going to beat around the bush.

“If the only reason they took you was for your psi, Cambridge would never have taken you. The parapsychology department would have sent you a refusal, and then an offer to come and train at BSPR instead. That would allow them to interview you and glean much from you on your psi without needing to put you through three years of expensive schooling,” he explained, wording everything carefully.

Blinking a little, Mai smiled slightly when she registered what he was telling her.

Just like magic, her worries were completely washed away.

Thanks, Naru.”

Idiot.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “You just had to ruin the moment.”

Raising an eyebrow, Oliver scoffed. “What 'moment'?”

Letting out a frustrated groan, Mai pouted. “I don't know what I expected,” she muttered to herself.

A smirk tugged at Oliver's lips. He didn't know what she'd expected either. What he did know, however, was that Mai looked much happier now than when she'd entered his office.

And that was far more important than any (non-existent) moment.

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Twenty-Nine

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Tuesday, April 29th

With the moment well and truly ruined, Mai turned her attention towards everything else.

“When do you guys want to do the interview?” she asked.

Naru seemed to think about it for a moment. “When will Yasuhara be arriving? He has a lot of information of your abilities, correct?”

Mai nodded. “Yeah. He's been keeping detailed information on everything. His last class ends at one, so he can probably make it to us for two?” she suggested.

Naru made a noise of agreement, which Mai took as a go ahead to shoot her best friend a quick text, telling him to bring over the notes that he had on her psi.

“Even if he doesn't get here until later than that, though, we can always just start with whatever questions you guys have for me,” she pointed out.

“Yes, and I have plenty of those,” Oliver promised, thinking on the key that was sitting in his pocket.

He didn't know whether he was going to bring it up in the interview, or afterwards yet, given he had some suspicions. But he did know that bringing it up before the interview wasn't going to do him any good. The last thing he wanted to risk was Mai shutting down on him and giving him nothing.

“What work do you have to go through until then that I can help with?” Mai asked, oblivious to Naru's thoughts.

“These are all possible cases that Madoka passed on to me. She told me that I need to let her know which ones I'm willing to go on sooner rather than later so that the rest can be passed on to other teams,” Naru informed her, waving towards the stack of ten or so files that were sitting at the back of his desk. “If you want to help, you can note which ones might be of interest to me.”

Mai hummed in understanding, grabbing a file from the top and flicking it open. A quick skim of the information revealed that it wasn't anything overly exciting. Definitely not something that Naru would be interested in.

Putting it off to the side, she picked up another one, easily falling into a rhythm until there were two stacks – one of them considerably larger than the other one.

“Here you go, Naru.”

Looking up from the paper that he'd just finished signing off, Oliver raised an eyebrow. “That was fast,” he noted.

Mai shrugged. “Since you're so picky, predicting which cases you'd be most likely to agree to is easy.”

Oliver rolled his eyes. He'd been called many things over the years, but predictable definitely wasn't one of them.

“I suppose we'll have to see how well you did then.”

Huffing at his tone, Mai pouted. “And here I was, thinking that you'd been so nice this morning that I might consider making you some tea.”

Oliver forced himself to keep his eyes trained on the paper in front of him. “Do whatever you like.”

Fighting the urge to stamp her foot in irritation, Mai pushed up from her chair. “Fine. I will,” she hissed, stomping out of the room.

Putting down his pen, Oliver finally allowed himself to look up, smirking at the flash of red that he could see on her cheeks before the door clicked shut.

Reaching for the pile of three files, he flicked one open, and wasn't at all surprised to find that it was definitely one of the more interesting cases they must have had to choose from.

A quick skim over the other two files revealed the same information.

For whatever reason, his chest seemed to feel warm at the thought that Mai knew him so well, but he merely ignored it. It was such a ridiculous thing to be feeling all emotional over.

Returning to the paperwork in front of him, he picked up in pen and waited for Mai to return.

It was about ten minutes before she reappeared, but when she did, she was holding two cups filled with tea.

“Shut up,” Mai ordered, before he could even open his mouth.

Smirking, Oliver took the cup when she offered it. “I was only going to thank you.”

Mai rolled her eyes. “You were not,” she denied.

“I guess we'll never know for sure now,” Oliver baited, amused at her frustration.

“You're such a jerk,” Mai informed him, setting her own cup down on a clear space on the desk.

Oliver didn't bother with a response to that.

In retaliation to how rude he was being, Mai grabbed her bag from the ground, pulling out the book she needed to read through and write a 800 word essay on before her Supervision* on Thursday afternoon, and opted to get a head start on that instead of helping him out with any more of his own work.

Of course, that didn't bother Oliver in the slightest, and instead they both made it through the rest of the morning in almost complete silence.

It wasn't until Madoka and Lin came looking for them at twelve, that their peace was broken.

“Come on you two. You need to get something to eat,” Madoka ordered, hands on her hips when Mai simply flicked over another page, seemingly too focused on her reading to even notice that someone was speaking to her and not just Oliver.

With a sigh, he got up from his chair and made his way around the desk. “We'll catch up with you in a moment.”

Huffing, Madoka gave him a pointed look. “You had better. You've got five minutes to be at reception before I drag you two out by your ears,” she warned.

Narrowing his eyes at her, Oliver waited until she left the room before he turned his attention back to Mai.

Ignoring how concentrated (cute) Mai was, he reached around to poke the point where her forehead was creased.

Flinching from the unexpected contact, Mai blinked a little, confused that Naru wasn’t sitting in front of her anymore.

Turning to the side, she flushed at the smirk on his face.

“Come on.”

Tilting her head, Mai marked her place with her bookmark, but raised her eyebrow in silent question.

“It's lunch-time, Mai, and if you don't hurry up then I'll leave you to deal with Madoka's whining on your own,” he informed.

It took a moment before what Naru was saying actually clicked, and the moment it did, she couldn't help the way that her eyes widened.

“It's been that long already?” she wondered, putting her book back into her backpack. Pulling it over her shoulder, Mai sighed. “But if Madoka's already been here then I suppose we'd better hurry up.”

Oliver rolled his eyes. “I'm only waiting on you.”

Mai glared. “The one time you actually wait for me, and you're such a jerk about it,” she grumbled. “I don't know what I was expecting.”

Ignoring her grumbling, Oliver checked he had his wallet in his pocket before stepping out of his office, holding the door open for Mai with a smirk.

“Showing that you do know how to be polite only makes me wonder why you can't be that polite all the time,” she informed.

“Because then you'd worry that I'd been possessed.”

Mai didn't have a good response to that, so she opted to stay silent, following quietly instead.

It wasn't until they got to Madoka that Mai remembered what had happened when she'd spoken with her friend earlier that day.

Luckily, Madoka seemed content to just let it go for the moment, only telling them to hurry up before she grabbed Mai's arm and started pulling her along.

Noting the futility of trying to stop, Mai allowed herself to be pulled along, and resigned herself to dealing with Madoka's exuberance.

As long as Madoka didn't comment on what happened this morning she was willing to go along with almost anything.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It was a little later in the day that Mai found herself sitting in one of the BSPR testing rooms on the lower floor, a glass of water in front of her and a jug in the centre of the table. Her fingers fiddled with the edge of the skirt she was wearing as she avoided letting her nerves take over.

It wasn't like these were people she didn't know, but there was something anxiety inducing about being on the other side of a table from them all and having their full attention.

Yasu had rung earlier and let them know that he was a little held up, so he wouldn't make it to them for another hour, but Martin and Naru had agreed that they were better of just starting without him and his data.

Mai had agreed – she'd suggested as much to Naru earlier that day after all – but now with so much attention being trained on her, she missed the comforting presence of her best friend.

None of it was helped by the camera that was quite obviously set up to record their discussion so that if need be, they could go back over her information.

Which made sense, but still.

“Alright, so first we'll ask that you state your name, and your abilities as you know them for the official record,” Martin requested.

Mai nodded in understanding. “Mai Taniyama. I exhibit ESP in the forms of pre-cognition, retro-cognition and mediumship. My pre-cognition generally manifests through feelings or instincts and my retro-cognition through dreams of the past. I am capable of astral projection, aura sensing, and I have learnt to create charms,” she listed off.

Madoka's lips stretched into a grin at her words. “Perfect. Now, we're going to go through each of those abilities and I want you to explain what they are too you in more depth. At the end of each ability, we'll ask you a variety of things we have questions about. Sound good?” she asked.

Smiling, Mai tried to force herself to relax. “Of course.”

“In that case, we'll start with pre-cognition.”

Taking a moment, Mai pulled together what she knew about her pre-cognition. “As I mentioned, pre-cognition manifests in the form of instincts for me most commonly, especially when something bad is going to happen. I get a feeling. Sometimes everything starts tingling, kind of like something is prickling me gently and other times my stomach will drop all of a sudden, or panic will suddenly cloud my mind. There have been some cases where I'll have brief flashes of things that are going to happen, and I can see how they play out in my mind. These usually occur only minutes before whatever is going to happen, and they're usually about something terrible happening such as someone getting hurt,” she explained.

“You've used the term 'flash' in relation to your pre-cognition before. How would you define them?” Naru asked.

Thinking for a minute, Mai groaned when her English seemed to choose that exact moment to leave her. “pre-cognitive flashes are a short vision of something bad that will happen soon that occurs while I'm awake.”

No-one commented on her sudden language change, Madoka repeating it in English for Martin, much to her relief.

When no-one seemed to have further questions (this was hardly new after all), Mai moved on. “Retro-cognition almost always occurs in the dreamscape for me. As I understand it, once I fall asleep, my spirit astral projects into the spirit realm, where it is easy for other spirits to come into contact with me. Often this involves them wanting to show me something from their past, which triggers the dreams of the past.

“On some occasions, particularly on cases, the spirits’ emotions and feelings of the past seem to project memories, usually the ones trapping them here and stopping them from moving on, to me, and that allows me to see them instead. These dreams have occurred in both first person, and third person before.”

“And how would you define the term 'dreamscape'?” Martin inquired.

Mai swallowed thickly, focusing on forming an English definition this time. “Dreamscape is the term I use to refer to the specific area of the spiritual plane that I project to. It's an area that is completely under my own control, and can be altered as such,” she explained, offering a smile in return when he gave her a nod of approval.

“You're wording suggested that these dreams do not always occur in the dreamscape,” Naru prompted.

Nodding in agreement, Mai opted to take a sip of her water before she elaborated.

“That's correct. Just like with pre-cognition, there have been a few isolated incidents where I have experienced brief flashes of a spirit’s memories of the past. Ordinarily it's along the lines of seeing something in a location where it no longer exists, for just a moment, or alternatively seeing how something once looked, as if I was looking through someone else's eyes. These are always barely a second, and usually pass the second I blink.”

They took a moment to write, before Madoka broke the silence again. “You also implied that you don't always get your dreams on cases. Can you elaborate further on that?”

“Of course. If a spirit hasn't passed on and I am near enough to them, it often triggers a dream of their past. I've also experienced an instance of a spirit in public getting too close to me and triggering one of the aforementioned flashes,” Mai explained, forcing herself not to bite her lip.

It was more than that. When her abilities had first spiralled out of control, almost all she'd done was dream, and none of them were for cases. They were the result of any wandering spirit that got too close to her before she went to sleep.

Or at least that was the theory.

Apparently, closeness of a spirit isn't based on how close they are to you on the plane of the living, but rather dependent on the closeness of a spirit on the spiritual plane. And apparently, for Mai, that was a lot of spirits.

But none of that was information she wanted on any record.

If any of them noticed that she was withholding information, they didn't comment, although she could feel Lin's gaze training heavily on her, as if he knew.

“Your mediumship?” Martin prompted, snapping Mai from her thoughts.

“I don't know how much I can tell you on that subject. I've always been able to see spirits, and communicating has never been an issue either, although I find it to be much easier on the spirit plane, as opposed to the plane of the living where mediums usually communicate from,” she explained.

Even though the information was neither new, nor amazing, Martin noted something down.

“And your astral projection?” he asked.

Mai shrugged a little helplessly. “I've been astral projecting almost as long as I've been dreaming, though not with the same frequency. The first case I'm aware of was during the Urado case in Japan, where I astral projected to Masako and gave her my key in what I thought was a dream.” She noted that Naru seemed to narrow his eyes at this mention, which didn't make sense because she was sure they'd talked about this in the past, but she shrugged it off and continued.

“The first time I astral projected on command was on the forgotten children case, in order to help them to cross over. Since then, I've only managed to astral project on command a handful of times, although I've astral projected on accident a few times. The most recent example would be the case I attended with Na- Oliver-” and wasn't that weird to say? “where I astral projected to Megan and was able to give her a bottle of water. You have the details of that on record.”

Martin nodded. “That we do,” he agreed. “Although I would argue that the case at the school where you astral projected to Noll from afar is much more recent.”

Flushing, Mai nodded in acceptance. “Of course, but you also have details on that,” she pointed out. Because they did. After everything, Mai had been required to write up a case report of things from her view, just like everyone else that was involved. If she had left out a few, minor details, then that was hardly the end of the world.

Oliver wanted to scream in frustration when he noted that Mai was starting to get cagey, almost defensive, and while it was amusing to see her being so obvious, he didn't want her cutting the interview short because his father lacked the tact to realise when he'd pushed a subject too far.

Luckily, Madoka seemed to have noted the same thing (although perhaps that was due to Lin, since he'd noticed the older man prodding his mentor a moment before this) and she smiled at Mai.

“You're correct, and we can always come to you if we discover more questions after reviewing those once more. Moving on to aura sensing. I know you've given us information on this before, but if you could repeat it for the sake of documentation?” she requested.

Smiling at her friend, Mai tried not to look as relieved as she felt.

“Of course. Aura sensing is the term I have given my own aura reading abilities. Everything you touch becomes imbued with your aura, leaving behind remnants and emotions. Depending on how much an item was touched, and how strongly the emotions were felt when that object was being touched, decides how long those remnants last there-after. That's what I can sense.”

“I've noted in the past that this sounds a lot like emotional psychometry,” Naru pointed out.

Mai nodded. “I guess, in some ways it is. But I don't possess any form of psychometry to my knowledge. It's hard to describe, but I suppose the main difference is that I'm only feeling the aura. The memories of the object are beyond me, and the moment the aura fades, I can't glean anything. Additionally, my aura sensing also extends to people, living and dead.”

“Elaborate more on that please?” Madoka requested.

“There's a distinct difference between an aura of a person who's alive, and that of someone who's dead. A certain, brightness, I guess, that separates them. When my eyes are open and I'm not feeling sensitive, I struggle to see the images and colours that most aura readers discuss. Instead, I can feel the emotions that your aura carries, more similar to an empath, I suppose,” Mai continues unsure of how to really explain what she did.

“And when are you more sensitive to auras?” Martin prompted.

“Generally, I'm most sensitive after and during Qigong in the mornings. Jogging as well.”

“You've mentioned before,” Lin recalled. “You offered to do an aura reading for me.”

Mai nodded, smiling over at him. He'd been so silent this entire time that she'd almost forgotten about him.

“Would you be willing to do that on camera or with an audience on another day?” Martin inquired.

Thinking about it for a moment, Mai nodded. “That would be fine, although I doubt its nearly as exciting from your own view as you seem to think it'll be,” she warned. “It won't be able to be in a setting like this though.”

Martin raised an eyebrow, prompting her to explain further. “When I say I'm most sensitive after Qigong, I mean immediately afterwards. Anything more than an hour and the sensitivity seems to return to normal. Additionally, spaces that are away from nature tend to lower the time that sensitivity has, almost like walls form a barrier for them.”

She gave them a minute to note some more things down, sipping at her water again.

“We'll figure out a time for that later on then,” Naru decides. “I've noticed a sensitivity to the nature outside of our manor. Can you elaborate further on that?”

Shrugging a little, Mai smiled sheepishly. “I can try, but I don't know how to explain it. The aura of nature is something that I feel quite strongly, and it can tell me a lot about a place. If an area is cursed, or a darkness looms over it, not only does nature struggle to remain alive or grown, but the aura feels closer to that of someone who has passed away. It's dim and feels somewhat like ants are crawling over me. That's an extreme example, though. Your place is the exact opposite of the spectrum. Everything seems to sing with a certain liveliness and peaceful feeling that is very soothing to someone like myself.”

A couple more notes were made.

“You've mentioned training with monks and a Qigong master a couple of times. Is that where you learnt to create charms?” Lin inquired.

Mai nodded. “In the Summer not long after you and N-Oliver-” still weird, “-returned to England, I struggled with my abilities. They were growing and no-one else knew what to do, so Bou-san and I took a trip to Mt. Koya. I spent the rest of the summer there, training. Since I struggled with traditional meditation and an Onmyoji was staying there at the time, they requested his help. That was when I started training in Qigong and learnt some more techniques for control of my abilities.”

“Does this Onmyoji have a name that we can put on the record, or do you believe he would rather remain anonymous?” Madoka inquired.

Biting her lip, Mai considered for a moment. “I think I'd be better of leaving that blank for the moment. I don't think he would mind but...” she trailed off.

Madoka smiled. “But you don't want to speak for him. No worries.”

“Thank you.”

“Who was responsible for your charm making lessons?” Naru prompted.

“That was a mix between Ayako, which failed. I just can't see to pick up her techniques well enough for a strong charm. The monks who I see for a couple of weeks in the Summer every year since that first year, who I learnt traditional charm making from, and then my Onmyoji master, who taught me the material version that involves weaving my powers and emotions into each stitch,” she explained. “I only started learning them last Summer though, so I still struggle to get them right.”

She didn't bother to mention that she'd spiritually exhausted herself many times trying to get the material charms right, since she had a feeling that all that would garner would be a lecture – most likely from Lin.

(Considering the way he was looking at her at the moment, perhaps he had already figured it out.)

“What other techniques did you train in for your current level of control? And do you know what caused the sudden increase in abilities?”

Mai tried not to flinch at the thought about what exactly had caused her sudden power increase. “None of them were new abilities, per say. They're just more amplified versions of things I could already do, aside from the charm making of course.”

Naru's head snapped up at that, and he narrowed his eyes at her, making Mai fight the urge to wilt under his scrutiny. “Explain.”

“Noll,” Martin warned at the same time as Madoka, but neither got a response.

“What do you mean, it only amplified your current abilities? I've never heard of your aura sensing abilities until you came to England.”

“Because I didn't know what it was back then, Naru.” She didn't bother trying to use his formal name, starting to feel warn down from all the questions. At least he was more focused on the fact that she'd had a version of these abilities all along and less focused on how her abilities had grown to be at this point.

Small mercies.

“Explain,” Naru simply repeated.

Bristling at his tone, Mai's former feeling of guilt flew away and she forced herself to sit up, meeting his eyes. “I was about to explain, but if you're going to act like that then maybe I'm better off cutting this short and leaving any other questions for another day. One where you're more amenable to being polite, even if it is just a front,” she hissed.

She was rewarded by the smallest hint of guilt before it was gone.

“Mai's correct, Noll. And if she were to cut us short for the day, I wouldn't blame her,” Martin promised, shooting a glare at his son.

Anger leaving just as quickly as it had come, Mai shook her head. “I'd rather get everything out of the way now, and avoid needing another session,” she admitted, before taking a deep breath. “I really didn't know what it was back then. Shortly after the church case, I started being able to sense things. It was like an amplified version of my instincts, so I didn't bother mentioning it. I assumed my abilities were just growing. It wasn't until Urado when Lin sent his shiki to help me that I realised that I could see them. Or at least, their auras. That was the first time I can recall seeing auras clearly.”

Lin frowned. “You've never mentioned that you can see my shiki.”

“I wasn't aware that it was worth mentioning,” Mai reiterated, speaking slowly to make her point. “In all my time with SPR in Japan, none of you ever thought to go into much detail on my psi. It wasn't until things got out of hand that anyone thought to explain things further. Every time something significant changed, I thought that was normal because no-one had told me otherwise. The monks were the ones that explained some things and then my master did the same but in further detail.” She tried not to let her frustration show, but she was almost positive that she'd failed when Madoka seemed to radiate guilt.

Martin sighed. No matter how much Mai wanted to get everything out in the open now, there was simply no way that they could continue now. The situation and new information were beginning to stress them out, and it was sure to cause issues later.

“I'll speak to you more about any questions that I have at a later date, but I think we might want to wrap things up now-”

As if summoned by their professor’s words, that was the moment Yasu chose to show up.

Sliding the door open, he smiled brightly, seemingly oblivious to the atmosphere of the room.

“So, what did I miss?”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

*Supervisions are a thing that Cambridge does that I've never heard of elsewhere. It's basically a small group tutoring session. Your Supervisor is an expert in the papers you're studying that term and they give you pre-reading and assignments to complete to help with your learning. They also assist with personal research and are another resource for their students to use.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Thirty

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Tuesday, April 29th

“Perfect timing, Yasuhara,” Martin praised. “If you wouldn't mind, we could actually use those notes of yours. Mai's a little run-down from all the questions, so we were just finishing up on that end.”

Yasuhara grinned. “Of course,” he agreed, stepping further into the room, a large file tucked under his arm.

Pushing up from her chair, Mai smiled at Martin, avoiding looking at anyone else, and offered a short bow. “In that case, I'm going to head back to the University and spend my afternoon on my studies. I'll see you at class in the morning, Professor.”

“Of course, your studies are important. Thank you for taking the time for this,” Martin wished her, waving her away when Mai offered another short bow before leaving the room.

As soon as the door clicked shut behind her, Yasuhara's nature seemed to completely change. “What did you guys do?” he demanded.

It took a moment for Martin to reconcile this version of Yasuhara with the one that he was used to dealing with.

“I'm sorry?”

Yasuhara sighed loudly and repeated his question.

“We didn't mean to do anything, Yasu. Mai mentioned that she'd been able to sense auras before Noll even left Japan and things go a little heated,” Madoka explained.

Yasuhara's eyes narrowed, light glinting off of his glasses. “Let me guess. You all blamed her for not telling you sooner about everything,” he started, “and when Mai said she didn't even realise what had been happening, you all jumped on her to explain further. Naru was probably especially mad about everything, and in turn that put Mai even more on edge.”

“Got it in one,” Madoka agreed.

Rubbing at his temples, Yasuhara allowed himself to fall into his seat, suitably exhausted now that his suspicions had been confirmed.

“You can't just do that. Mai is offering you guys information that she usually keeps close to her chest. You don't get to be mad about what she hasn't told you, especially when you withheld so much information from her as well,” Yasuhara scolded. “If Mai chooses not to tell you about something – then that's her decision.”

Madoka wilted at the reminder.

“You are correct, Yasuhara. Mai was under no obligation to give us information – not then and not now. With any luck, however, she'll still be willing to speak with us more on the subject and we can move past how terribly today went,” Martin said, shooting a look towards his son.

Glaring at Yasu, Oliver didn't bother to say anything in response. The moment the other man had brought up how long they'd kept his identity a secret, he'd known that there was nothing he could say to argue further. It was becoming clear to him that the real problem with keeping his identity secret was that it meant he was permanently unable to demand answers like he once could.

It was frustrating, but there was some truth to Mai's words as well, which didn't help with the odd feeling that was creeping up on him. He didn't need to feel guilty over pushing for information, and it wasn't like being rude was anything new to any of them. Why it had mattered so much now was beyond him.

Except he did know why it mattered now. They'd discussed Mai's feelings over being interviewed this morning, and it has always been clear that her own view of her psi wasn't as high as everyone else's was. And instead of using that to try and keep things from going too far today, he'd been the cause of things going too far.

'Such an idiot scientist,' he cursed himself.

“Now that we're agreed on that, shall we take a look at the information you've got compiled here?” Martin suggested.

Yasuhara smiled. “Of course.”

Throwing the thoughts of guilt from his mind, Oliver vowed to focus on the facts for now.

He'd deal with having upset Mai later.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

It turns out that later meant much later, because it was gone five in the evening before any of them realised just how long they'd been going over Yasuhara's notes.

There was so much information, including: what testing Mai had agreed to go through – documented clearly, various cases that Mai had participated in and used her abilities on, and a detailed account of how she goes about using each of her abilities on command.

There were answers to questions that none of them had thought of yet, and more than enough for them to be thoroughly enthralled up until the moment that there was a knock on the door.

“Enter!” Martin called out, turning to look at whoever was bothering them.

“Sorry to bother you sir, I just thought that I should check if you were planning to stay late tonight or not. It's nearly five-thirty is all...” the secretary trailed off, clearly unsure.

Blinking in surprise, Martin looked down at his watch and let out a noise of shock. “So it is. Thank you for letting us know. We'll pack up now and head out, but you're welcome to leave ahead of us. I'll make sure things are locked up for the night,” he promised.

The secretary nodded. “Of course. Thank you, sir.”

With that, she exited the room just as quickly, leaving them all to start packing up.

“If you don't mind, would it be possible for us to keep any of this information for the time being?” Madoka asked.

Yasuhara smiled, pushing his glasses further up his nose so that they would flash. “Oh, ye of little faith, Madoka. This file is yours to keep – these are all copies of the information that I put together for you.”

“Of course, they are,” Madoka laughed, picking up the now put back together file to drop in her office on the way past.

“It's late, Yasuhara. Noll and I will drop you back at campus,” Martin suggested.

Yasuhara smiled brightly. “If you insist,” he agreed easily.

“In that case, you guys should head off. Lin and I can handle locking up for the night,” Madoka promised.

Martin hesitated, but Madoka made a shooing motion with her hands. “Off with you, Martin. The sooner you get Yasuhara back, the sooner you can return to Luella.”

Chuckling, he nodded finally. “Very well. I'll see you in the afternoon tomorrow.”

“Yes, yes. Go on.”

Rolling his eyes, Martin herded Yasuhara and Oliver from the room, not bothering to glance back at two of his favourite employees. “We'd better hurry up before Madoka throws us from the room,” he joked.

Oliver rolled his eyes but started out of the room and quickly made his way back up to the main floor so that they could head home.

The thought of sending Mai a message crossed his mind. Perhaps he could ask if he could call her later to- to what? Apologise? That would be what Gene would have suggested but he wasn't very good at that sort of thing, so what exactly would he do? What would he say?

Considering how the plan of calling Mai seemed to be forming in his mind, Oliver scrapped it immediately.

He would think of something – somehow.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, May 2nd

It was a decision that he was very much regretting by the time Friday rolled around. He hadn't figured out what he should say to Mai yet, and she was definitely going to come by in the afternoon, just as she had every week before.

Yasuhara had even dropped by to let him know – which was frustrating because he could tell that the other man was finding his struggle to fix things amusing.

Wracking his brain, he cursed himself. He knew many things about Mai, but he still had no idea what he should do to apologise.

The word in his mind sounded just as annoying as it had every other time he'd considered this and he cursed himself for letting something so prideful stop him from making amends with someone he was attached to.

'It's not like you've never apologised to Mai before,' he thought, annoyed at how dramatic he was being. He's apologised to Mai on two separate occasions before this one. What made this time any more difficult?

Nothing, he decided. Nothing made it more difficult.

He would apologise, then they would get past everything and he could turn his focus back to more important things such as finding out how Mai's key ended up in his pocket.

With that decided, Oliver finally found himself able to focus, quickly becoming enthralled in his work.

It wasn't until three hours later that he found himself being dragged out of his work, Mai stepping into his office after knocking, the same as usual.

She was smiling, but something about her seemed awkward in a way that made something in his chest squeeze.

“Hey Naru,” she greeted.

He narrowed his eyes at the fake cheerfulness.

“Mai.”

“I'm sorry,” they both blurted at the same time.

It was silent for a moment, before Mai broke it with a quiet laugh.

“You go first,” Mai prompted.

Oliver nodded. “I'm sorry. I was too harsh, and you were right to get frustrated with my attitude.”

Every word seemed to physically hurt him, but he forced himself to say them regardless, an odd tightness sitting in his chest while he waited for Mai's response.

“I accept your apology,” Mai said finally, smiling properly this time; the light in her eyes practically twinkling. “And I'm sorry for losing my temper. I know what you're like when it comes to this sort of thing, I should have expected it. You like to know everything about everything, so finding out that you actually didn't know that much was never going to gain good results.”

Oliver had to concede that Mai was correct. The tightness that had released when she'd forgiven him turned to warmth and spread as he was reminded yet again of how much attention she paid to him and his (bad) habits.

“Now that that's out of the way though, perhaps we should turn our attention to getting things done this afternoon,” Mai suggested brightly.

Thinking on the key in his pocket, Oliver decided against asking Mai about it today. Now wasn't the time to be fishing for information – especially not information that she was purposefully not talking about.

“Tea?” he suggested, causing Mai to laugh again (and why that made him feel even warmer, he couldn't comprehend).

“Tea.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

With the awkwardness resolved, the afternoon seemed to fly by and before Mai realised it, Yasu was knocking on Naru's door and letting them know that it was time for them to start heading back to campus.

Sighing, Mai started to pack her things up quickly, throwing everything into her bag quickly.

Getting up from her seat, Mai smiled brightly at Naru. “I'll see you tomorrow morning, Naru.”

Naru rolled his eyes, but they were soft, so Mai knew that he wasn't actually annoyed with her.

Waving goodbye, Mai followed after Yasu happily.

“I take it things went well with Naru?” her friend teased.

Mai pouted. “Of course things went well. He even apologised which was surprising.”

That seemed to catch Yasu by surprise as well, but he recovered quick enough.

“So, what did you two spend the rest of the day doing?”

Mai raised an eyebrow at her friend. That wasn't subtle in the slightest; he must be losing his touch. “Nothing interesting. We went over some more case request files and took care of some paperwork. I took a look at some possible cases and gave him some insight, and I got a head-start on the reading that Dr. Sinclair gave us yesterday.”

Deflating, Yasu sighed. “I should have known. How is it possible for two people to be so boring?” he whined.

Rolling her eyes at her friend’s drama, Mai sped up her walk slightly. It took her friend a moment to realise before he jogged briefly to catch up. “That was mean, Mai. You know that I'm a researcher, running is not my thing.”

Raising an eyebrow, Mai scoffed. “You're so dramatic.”

“I don't want to hear that from someone who spent the past couple of days wallowing in self-pity.”

“I did not!” Mai denied. “I've just has a lot of classwork to get through the past couple of days.”

“Ah-huh.”

“Yasu,” Mai whined.

“Mai,” Yasu mocked, unable to help the amused tilt to his smile as Mai let herself giggle.

“You're ridiculous,” she declared.

“You started it.”

It was silent between them as they continued their walk back to campus, the sun beginning to set as they enjoyed the moment of peace between the way everyone was shuffling around them.

“Are you excited?”

Looking over at the sudden question, Mai tilted her head. “For what?”

“Well, you're doing the aura reading sometime this weekend aren't you?

Groaning at the reminder, Mai let her head hang. It wasn't that she didn't want to do the aura reading. It was always interesting to practice focusing herself on a single aura and trying to glean information from it. She was more concerned about how things would end up going when she was being watched. This wasn't like when she did them for her friends.

What if she screwed it up?

“Stop worrying over it. I didn't bring it up so that you could work yourself up over it,” Yasu scolded lightly. “This is nothing new, remember. The only difference is that this time you'll have the famed Oliver Davis there to watch.”

Mai flushed at the wink Yasu sent her. “How is that supposed to help anything?”

Yasu titled his head curiously. “Well I figured that having him there might help you to relax somewhat,” he mused. “Though I suppose in reality it just adds to the pressure, doesn't it? Oh well.”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don't.”

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, May 3rd

The next morning came all too soon and Mai groaned as she forced herself from the comfort of her warm bed. Unlike her usual schedule, she'd be getting changed and heading straight to the Davis' manor for her jog and then they were going to hold the aura reading immediately after she completed her flow of Qigong with Lin on the garden grounds.

Nerves skittered under her skin; crawling like ants in a familiar but off-putting way.

“Stop it, Mai. You've done this a million times. Get it together,” she coached herself.

Pulling on some comfortable jogging clothes, she grabbed her things and quickly headed out of her room, not at all surprised to see Yasu standing outside of her room waiting.

“Ready to go?”

Mai smiled, trying to put as much confidence into her words as she could. “Yup.”

With that said, they headed down to meet up with Madoka who was driving them over to the Davis'. It was early morning, barely six, and almost no-one else was up just yet so it was quiet as they made their way over to the car.

“Are you ready for this, Mai?”

Glancing at Madoka from her spot in the back seat, Mai smiled. “Of course.”

Madoka hummed. “There's no reason for you to be nervous. This is mostly unofficial as far as testing goes. I think Martin's curious more than anything,” she admitted, giggling.

Unable to help herself, Mai giggled as well. She felt herself relax a little, knowing now that the stakes were lower than she'd thought. “I still think he's going to be very underwhelmed. I've been told it's boring enough when you have spiritual abilities. I can't imagine what it's going to be like from an outsider perspective,” she admitted.

Nodding from the front passenger seat, Yasu smirked. “It really is just a lot of Mai just standing there and somehow figuring things out about your mood. It's somewhat creepy actually.”

“Hey!”

Laughing at his description, Madoka glanced over her shoulder for a moment to wink at Mai. “Luckily, we happen to deal primarily in creepy so that won't be an issue.”

Shaking her head, Mai allowed the subject to be changed for the rest of the ride as they debated over various topics until they arrived at the Davis'.



Slowing down from the jog she'd started almost as soon as she'd gotten out of the car, Mai allowed herself the chance to even her breathing before she began running through her Qigong motions. She could feel eyes on her from the other side of the garden and couldn't help but feel relieved that they were giving her some space for the time being.

It was nerve-wracking to be doing this with so many eyes on her, but she tried not to let that dictate her mind, focusing on clearing it and running through her movements fluidly.

In the background, she could hear Lin listing off her flow of movements as she performed and even though she knew it was for the benefit of the researchers who had minimal knowledge on the subject, she couldn't help but ground herself to Lin's smooth tone.

Before long, her flow was coming to an end and Mai was bringing herself back into the present slowly, reigning in her abilities slightly but hyper-aware that they were stretching further than ever before.

That was new.

She didn't have time to consider that, however, since she could feel the approaching presences of everyone as her eyes slowly opened.

Blinking for a moment at the brightness of everything, Mai focused on keeping her nerves at bay.

“-fascinating,” Martin muttered. “Mai, how does it feel now in comparison to before you preformed your Qigong flow?”

Mai's first instinct was to shrug – how was she supposed to explain that? – but she pushed it down and took a moment to try and turn her feelings into works.

“Sensitive. Everything is brighter – clearer. It's a lot like the difference between seeing without glasses on and then putting them on. I can glean more than usual without so much effort as well.”

“Interesting. Does this happen every time?”

Thinking about that and about how sensitive she was in comparison to the past couple of times she hummed. “To an extent. Some days it works better than others,” she admitted.

For the first time today Naru spoke up. “Do you know what the cause is for the more sensitive days? There must be a linking factor,” he mused.

This time Mai did shrug. “If there is then I haven't noticed it,” she admitted. “I'll keep it in mind in future though and let you know if I notice anything.”

Naru made a note in his notebook while Mai turned her attention back to Madoka, Martin and Lin.

“Am I just reading Lin-san today?” Mai asked.

Martin nodded. “We thought he'd be the easiest for you to read since he's a spiritualist.”

“What kind of reading do you want?”

Frowning, Madoka tilted her head. “What do you mean?”

“It means that she wants to know whether you guys want to keep things simple or if you want a more in-depth reading.”

When Martin opened his mouth to reply, Mai cut in quickly. “If you want a more in-depth reading, we need to discuss that further. In-depth readings can be rather revealing and they're definitely a more personal thing. I would need Lin-san's permission for that kind of thing...” she added hastily.

In an instant Martin seemed to deflate slightly and Mai couldn't help but feel a little bad. Perhaps she should have just done a basic reading and never offered?

“Just how personal?” Madoka asked. There was a glint in her eyes that Mai didn't much like.

“Depending on my sensitivity and how much Lin-san opens himself to my reading... extremely. A basic reading is going to reveal current feelings and emotions, as well as the colours of his aura and what they mean. I can also tell the flow of his chi, but that's likely not going to be of any note. More in-depth means I can sense images, symbols. It essentially means I can build a picture about what is causing those emotions. The more Lin-san opens himself to the reading, the more I can glean. It's hard to explain.”

“You did fine,” Martin assures her. “I suppose we had better just go with a basic reading for the time being. Can you do more than one of us?”

Mai nodded. “I can do as many as need be until my sensitivity drops in a little while. In this state I don't use much spiritual energy. Normally I can manage two, maybe three before I start to feel drained.”

“In that case we'll just get Madoka and Lin to be read,” Martin suggested. “They're polar opposite personalities so that should wield interesting results.”

Mai nodded in assent. “Lin-san, are you going first?”

Lin nodded in agreement and for a moment everything fell into stillness. Without being a spiritualist, it would just appear as though Mai was standing there, her eyes closed for a moment before she opened them.

“Your aura is a mix of blue, yellow and green. You have some purple of course and there was a flash of pink as well,” Mai listed off.

In the background Martin quickly jotted down the information but didn't interrupt to ask what that meant lest he break her concentration.

“As expected, your flow is perfect with no blockages. Mostly from you I sense calmness and quiet. Your aura feels sturdy and dependable. Interestingly enough I can sense an undertone of... excitement? Interest?” her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to discern that further before giving up and moving on. “I can also see your shiki's aura's hanging around you, though they appear mostly in neutral colours due to their nature. That's all the surface information that I can pick up.”

“Very well. What of Madoka?”

Releasing her attention on Lin's aura, Mai allowed herself a moment to centre again before she reopened her eyes and focused on Madoka instead. “Your aura screams turquoise and red. You have some gold as well and a little orange. I can't sense any blockages in your chi, but I can tell that your spiritual chakras are tightly shut, and you have no access to them. However, your first four chakras are open – your second and fourth in particular.

“In terms of emotions I can sense your base emotion is excitement and mischief. I can feel a constant loving warmth from you, but I can also feel that you love fun. I can sense your interest in what's going on right now and your restlessness to find out more. That's everything that's surface though.”

Drawing herself back, Mai allowed their auras to fade to the background now that it was over and forced herself to slowly focus more on the physical and let go of the auras surrounded herself before she became to overwhelmed.

Clapping lightly, Martin grinned. “That was much more interesting then you lead me to believe. And you can feel all those emotions and feelings?”

Mai shrugged. “Sort of? I can see them in the auras and that seems to leave something of a phantom feeling behind,” she explained.

“Fascinating.”

Naru cleared his throat and Mai turned her attention to him. “Yes?”

“Can you give us a run-down of those colours. In particular you made it seem like Lin was expected to have purple in his aura.”

Blinking, Mai nodded. “Of course.”

Mai allowed Martin and Madoka a chance to prepare themselves to write before she began speaking.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

“Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Thirty-One

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, May 3rd

“Purple denotes spiritual and psychic ability, so it was a given that Lin would have that in his aura. I do as well and if I were to check I believe you'd have the most purple in your aura.  In fact, your aura is likely to be very similar to Lin's. Often people with purple auras are more quiet or mysterious. They make good teachers and philosophers.”

“Mai breaks that stereotype though, of course,” Yasu piped up, grinning at the laugh pulled from everyone else.

Huffing, Mai ignored him. “The blue denotes over all calmness. The ability to stay cool, calm and collected in most situations. Usually they are considered eloquent but are known to work too often and live too little,” the last part was spoken with an undertone of smugness that neither Lin nor Naru appeared to appreciate. “The green can mean a love of and connection to nature and a natural ability to heal, but it's also a result of being a well-grounded person with a high level of consciousness.

“Yellow means a variety of things. In Lin-san's case I believe it's a testament to his high spiritual development as well as his intelligence and level of awakening. It sometimes means that the owner is headstrong and known for ignoring their emotions as well as being judgemental. They value their alone time.”

No-one commented on Mai's remark about being judgemental, though Mai was sure she saw Martin's eyebrows raise. Instead, Naru raised another question.

“You said a flash of pink as well. Is that something of note?”

Humming, Mai nodded. “Of course. While it is possible to have a pink aura, it's extremely rare. More often, it appears as a flash temporarily, though this is also rather rare. It's a note on Lin-san's ability to be perfectly balanced between material existence and spiritually aware.”

“How rare is rare?”

Mai hummed. “I've only ever seen one other flash of pink and that was from my master. Not even in the monks at Mt. Koya,” she admitted.

“So extremely,” Madoka joked, winking. “What about me? What do my colours mean?”

Mai couldn't help but laugh at the eagerness in her friend’s voice. “Calm down, I'm getting there. Turquoise means that you're highly energised and influential. It also means that you organise well, and you can multi-task. The red can mean a few different things. In your case I think it's in relation to your competitiveness and how fiery and intense you tend to be. It's also likely a testament to your passion.

“The orange in your aura is likely due to the ease with which you interact with people and make friends. It's a note to your confidence as well. It's likely a smaller portion of your aura since you lack the other characteristics of someone with an orange aura.” Before they could stop to ask what those are, Mai continued. “The gold is a reference to your need to be the centre of the attention and the fact that you thrive off being social. It also denotes independence and a lot of parties.”

“Interesting,” Martin muttered, scribbling quickly onto his page. Just as he opened his mouth to speak further the sound of Luella’s coughing interrupted.

“Perhaps you should leave that alone until a more decent time? Breakfast is ready and I'm sure that Mai needs a chance to replenish her energy after all of this,” she waved her hand before laughing, “whatever nonsense this is.”

Chuckling, Martin nodded. “Of course. Right as always, love. Come on then, everyone. The sooner we've eaten, the sooner we can ask Mai more questions.”

Groaning good naturedly, Mai rolled her eyes. “Oh joy.

 

Despite her complaints, Mai was actually rather happy to answer all of their questions for the rest of the morning, all too aware of the extra attention Naru was paying to the information and trying her very best not to think about how the reason for that was likely his book... on her abilities.

It still felt surreal.

“Mai, Earth to Mai.”

Blinking, Mai turned to look at Yasu. “What?”

Her best friend sighed dramatically while Madoka giggled from across the room. “You weren't paying attention to what I was saying at all, were you?”

Shrugging sheepishly, Mai shrugged her shoulders a little. “Sorry? I can't seem to focus too well anymore. I'm feeling a little tired,” she excused, though now that she mentioned it, it definitely wasn't a lie.

Yasu seemed to realise that because he let up on his scolding immediately. “You didn't over do it again did you?” he asked.

Mai shook her head. “Not that I can tell. It wasn't that intense of a morning. You know me, I'm always tired anyway so this shouldn't be too much of a shock,” she joked.

Letting it go, Yasu repeated his question about their upcoming assessment piece, forcing Mai to focus at last.

 

Later that night found Mai staying the night in Gene's bedroom and staring at the ceiling, unable to fall asleep. When she'd checked only moments before it had been two in the morning. She had a feeling that if she checked the time again it would have only been a minute or two since then.

Groaning, she rolled onto her side in an attempt to finally fall asleep, just as she'd tried a few times now.

And yet another few minutes passed by and she found herself rolling over again, energy coursing through her body.

This was ridiculous.

Reluctantly, she forced herself up from the comforts of the bed. Perhaps a cup of tea would help to relax herself enough to fall asleep.

Kami-sama she hoped so. She'd need all the rest she could get to make it through her study session with Naru in the morning (which was the entire reason she was staying the night in the first place).

Not to mention normally she'd be getting up in a few hours to go for her jog and so far, she hadn't managed to catch any sleep at all.

As focused on her thoughts as she was, Mai barely noticed when she reached the kitchen. On autopilot, she'd set the kettle on to heat while preparing herself a cup for tea before she even knew what she'd done.

Recognising how much of a habit this had become, she couldn't help but flush. She could honestly say that becoming this comfortable in Naru's parent's home was something that she'd never expected to happen, least of all in her first year of university.

Life really was strange like that.

“Mai?”

Startled from her thoughts, she placed a hand over her heart as she turned to face the new person in the room.

Realising that it was a mildly amused Naru she couldn't help but huff. “You jerk,” she hissed. “What the hell are you doing sneaking around at this time of the morning?”

Raising an eyebrow at her pointedly, Naru rolled his eyes at her. “I could ask the same of you.”

Flushing at the comment, Mai pouted. “I was just making some tea to help me to sleep.”

Frowning, Naru eyed her carefully. There was something about the look in his eyes that made Mai shiver with unease – like he wanted to make a comment but wasn't going to.

That wasn't like Naru though. He'd never been concerned about someone else's feelings enough to not say whatever was on his mind.

Now that she thought about it though, she couldn't help but realise that he'd been like that for a few days now – possibly over a week if she thought hard enough about that.

Weird.

“Have you been having trouble sleeping a lot lately?”

Tilting her head at the odd question, Mai shook her head after thinking for a moment. “Not at all. Tonight is a rarity. It's probably just because of all the excitement this morning. Usually my abilities slowly wind down after a while but today they seemed to be brighter for longer than usual. It seems to have had a weird effect on my body,” she mused. “It's nothing to worry about though. This used to happen when I was training. It's just been a while.”

Naru stared at her for a moment before nodding.

Without waiting for him to request it, Mai turned around and began to fix him a cup of tea; relaxing into the motions while the comfortable silence fell between them.

He didn't say a word as Mai finally handed him a cup a few minutes later, but he did nod in lieu of a thank you which was an improvement.

Maybe he was tired as well. Mai snickered at the thought.

“I'll be on case again on Monday, but it shouldn't be a very long one. Only a few days at most,” Naru said finally.

Tilting her head, Mai smiled. “Make sure you're careful,” she insisted before lighting up. “Do you still have that charm I gave you?”

Raising an eyebrow, Naru nodded. What a ridiculous question.

“I'll recharge it for you so that it'll work properly on your next case as well. Of course, it would be best if for once this case went without any attacks, but I'd rather be safe than sorry,” Mai rambled.

“Are you sure that you should be recharging it given your current predicament?”

Mai grinned. “On the contrary, it's probably the perfect time for it. Since my wakefulness is probably due to excess energy, maybe recharging your charm will drain me enough to be able to sleep.”

Naru seemed doubtful but couldn't seem to find flaws in that logic as he sipped on his tea.

Finishing her own cup with a sense of victory, she wasn't surprised to find that Naru finished his own not a moment later.

He was such an addict.

“If you pass out, I'm going to leave you there,” Naru warned as they made their way back upstairs to their rooms, Naru holding out the charm for her to grab.

Rolling her eyes, Mai huffed. “I'll be fine. It's only a charm recharge. It really shouldn't be a problem.”

She opted to ignore the scoff that came from Naru at that comment, focusing instead on making it to the top on the stairs without tripping for once. Whenever she was around Naru she always seemed to become even clumsier than usual.

Luckily, the gods seemed to be smiling down on her (or perhaps simply taking pity) because she made it to the top without incident. Grinning in victory, she ignored Naru's comment about how stupid it was to feel proud over making it up some stairs.

“I'll recharge it in here so that I can go straight to bed if I do happen to get tired,” Mai informed Naru when they made it to Gene's room. Swinging the door open, she settled herself on top of the covers with her legs crossed and the charm held delicately between her fingers.

Naru didn't bother to respond, stopping in the doorway to observe as Mai closed her eyes and allowed her breathing to even out.

It was definitely odd to see the usually energetic girl fall into a meditative state, especially with what appeared to be a sense of ease.

It had no doubt taken a lot of time for her to get to this point. He couldn't help but smirk at that thought, lips tugging up at the corners.

Slowly, a glow seemed to seep from Mai, radiating around her.

Frowning, Naru narrowed his eyes at her. For him to be able to see even this much of the energy in play right now, she was bound to be using a rather large amount.

Slightly on guard now, he watched at the golden energy seemed to flow into the charm she held in her hands like an endless wave.

After a minute of this passed, he couldn't help but start to become concerned. This was a lot more energy then he'd expected her to be expending on this task – by a landslide. He'd need to check with Lin about whether or not this was normal and find out more.

Just as he made that mental note, the glow seemed to fade away from Mai in an instant. At first, he was relieved that she'd finally finished.

That was until the petite woman fell backwards, her body weight causing the bed to bounce slightly before becoming still once more.

It took a moment for Oliver to understand just what had happened before he shook his head slightly, rubbing at his temples from the headache that he could already feel forming.

He should have known better than to trust that anything with Mai was ever going to go the way it was meant to.

Her closed eyes and even breathing told him that she'd passed out. Just as he'd predicted.

What an idiot.

Stepping closer to the bed, he didn't even register what he was doing until he was shifting Mai into a more comfortable position and pulling the covers free from underneath her small body so that he could cover her.

There was something... soft about doing this. Something private. Mai's sleeping face was so peaceful. There were no creases from anger or stress, only smooth cheeks. Absently he noted that she'd lost some of the baby fat that her cheeks had still been holding onto when he was living in Japan.

It made him ache somewhat for the time he'd missed before he shook those thoughts away.

Scoffing at himself, once he was certain Mai was tucked in, he gently took the charm from her hands. Something about it seemed to radiate warmth and for a moment he was overwhelmed at the left-over feeling of what he assumed was Mai's abilities.

There was something warm, gentle and calming about how they felt on his skin before the feeling faded.

Just another thing to ask Lin about when they were further into the morning he supposed.

With a final glance at Mai who was still sleeping soundly, mouth drawn into a pout as she muttered something quietly, Oliver turned around and headed out of the room, letting it click shut quietly behind himself. She was too cute.

As soon as that thought registered, however, he banished it entirely.

Clearly it was time he got some rest as well.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Sunday, May 4th

It was hardly a surprise to Oliver when it passed eight in the morning and Mai still hadn't appeared from her room.

“Are you sure she's okay?” Luella fretted, glancing over at the door again.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes at his mother's inability to calm down, Oliver repeated himself for the fourth time that morning. “As I have told you mother, Mai wore herself out recharging a spiritual charm earlier this morning. She needs to rest in order to replenish energy again. It's expected that she would sleep through.”

Sighing, Luella finally let that drop, turning herself towards something she was more interested in. “And just what was she doing recharging a spiritual charm in the middle of the night?” she asked instead.

Could it be that her son was finally beginning to sneak around? Or perhaps they had been having a heart to heart?

Before her mind could fly away with too many possibilities, Oliver scoffed.

“She was having troubles sleeping and so was I. I went to make myself some tea and found her also in the kitchen. She made me a cup as well and we finished them. I mentioned that I was going on case again on Monday and she recalled that she still needed to recharge my charm with her energy and insisted it would be a good way to rid herself of the excess energy keeping her awake,” he explained. “Evidently, she was correct.”

Martin couldn't help but chuckle at that admission. “A little too correct, so it seems.”

Humming in admission, Oliver didn't bother to respond further to that. This conversation was a waste of valuable time. Since it would seem Mai was going to sleep for a couple more hours yet – not a surprise in the least – he could at least occupy his morning by going over tomorrow’s case details.

Excusing himself from the table, he quickly made his way upstairs to the library with that purpose in mind, only stopping briefly to retrieve his file from his room.

Soon enough he was settled in at his normal table, trying not to think about how his body seemed cold without the heat of another person sitting next to him. After even just a couple of weeks of studying with Mai at this table it already felt odd to sit here without her.

He quickly shook those thoughts from his mind. They weren't of any practical use to him and they only served as a distraction.

'Focus.'

 

As predicted, it wasn't until ten o'clock that the door to the study opened, a tired looking Mai stumbling in.

The signs of sleep were still obvious on her face, eyes slightly puffy and her hair a little bit messier than usual.

“Good morning Naru,” she chirped. It lacked her usual enthusiasm and he rolled his eyes when it was immediately followed by a yawn.

“Idiot. If you're still tired then you should go back to sleep,” he scoffed, turning back to his file so that he wasn't looking at her any longer.

Predictably, Mai mostly ignored his comment. The second he turned away he could hear her soft footfalls before the warmth he'd been awaiting in his mind joined his side.

He could feel her gaze on the file in front of him and he waited for her to say anything.

“Is this for the case tomorrow?” she asked finally.

“Obviously.”

Mai sighed, already too used to this sort of reaction. “Of course. Stupid question.”

“If you knew that then why'd you bother asking it?” Oliver couldn't help but rib, turning to glance up at her with an unimpressed stare.

Mai huffed, crossing her arms. “I was just double checking,” she grumbled finally.

Sighing, Oliver let that drop. “Have you eaten breakfast?” he asked instead.

Frowning, Mai shook her head. A light flush formed on her cheeks and her gaze was now on the ground. “When I woke up and realised the time I panicked. I just got changed and rushed here,” she admitted.

For someone who – during his time in Japan -- had ranted about the importance of breakfast, that was definitely a hypocritical move.

When he mentioned as much aloud all he received in response was a glare. “I wasn't thinking clearly, okay?” she huffed.

“When are you ever?” Of course, he was referring to her debacle this morning that ended with her passed out from spiritual exhaustion.

Blushing red when she finally caught on, Mai huffed. He saw her leg twitch, like she was going to stamp her foot in irritation but managed to fight down the urge.

No matter, he was just as amused knowing that she'd felt the urge as he would have been had she given in.

“You're such a jerk!”

Raising an eyebrow, he didn't even bother to comment about how this wasn't news to anyone, positive that she could understand from his gaze alone.

Naturally, she did – further proven by her groan of irritation. “I'm going to get something to eat and the rest of my study materials,” she hissed, slamming down the books that she held in her hands and turning around.

He didn't bother to respond as she stomped towards the door, footfalls considerably louder now.

“Maybe when I return, you'll have learnt some basic manners,” she called back over her shoulder before the door slammed loudly behind her, the noise making his ears ring for a moment.

“Doubtful,” he muttered, lips twitching.

She really did make it too easy.

 

Despite the somewhat unexpected way that their Sunday had begun, Oliver had to admit that it had otherwise been a decent day. Knowing that Mai would soon be starting work on her paper for her Introduction to Paranormal Cognition class, he'd spent a large part of the day drilling her on her knowledge and giving her more information on the subject when she faltered.

To his shock, she soaked up the new information like a sponge and he'd found himself begrudgingly admitting that when it was a subject that she was truly eager to learn about Mai was capable of putting in the right about of effort to learn what she needed to know.

Still, this was a much faster pace than things had gone previously, and Oliver couldn't help the small feeling of pride when he read over the brief essay that she'd written up as an overview of the subject.

It was messy, as he'd expected of the first draft of a quick essay, but it definitely had potential.

“Have you considered what you're going to write your essays on for each of your papers at the end of the year?” Oliver asked finally as he laid it down on the desk again.

Blinking a little at the question, Mai shrugged her shoulders a little. “I'm not too sure. We've been told that we still have a couple of weeks before we need to have made a decision though.”

Oliver hummed in agreement. “That's true but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. It's better to get a head start on things then to leave them last minute, especially since you normally spend so much time over at the office instead of on traditional study time. It might be best if you switched to working on your essay there even.”

Sighing a little, Mai nodded in understanding. “That's true. I would rather be ahead anyway since most of the end of year essays are going to be due at the same time,” she agreed. “Do you have any idea of what I should do it on?”

Raising an eyebrow, Oliver shook his head slightly. “You'll have to decide that yourself. I can help you study but I can't give you ideas for your assessment pieces. Everything needs to come from your own mind. My only advice is that you should choose topics that you have a decent amount of knowledge on and that you feel you could comfortably debate about.”

“Debate about?”

Smirking a little. “Of course. This is your own intellectual work; you need to be able to defend any points that you make just as you would in the field. Everyone who reads over your work is going to be looking to poke holes in your facts to see just how thorough you were in your analysis. The more air-tight you are in your knowledge and facts, the better your mark will be.”

Noting that he had Mai's complete focus, Oliver couldn't help but feel a little intrigued when he realised that she was already considering her options. Good. He wasn't ashamed to admit – at least in the safety of his mind – that he was interested in what she would end up writing.

Her entrance essay had its flaws, but it was still far above anything that most of the students in Mai's level were going to write, not only in terms of how well she'd researched her facts but also in terms of ingenuity. She'd taken a subject reasonably well-known and debated over and she'd presented a completely new perspective to the reader.

A knock on the library door shook the both of them from their thoughts and they both turned to look over at the newest person.

“Sorry to interrupt you two but Luella was preparing to come barging in here to demand you join us for dinner and I thought it might be better if I were to come and grab you instead.”

Grimacing at how loud his mother might have been if she'd come barging in, Oliver sent a silent thank you to his father for saving them from that fate.

The amused quirk of his father's lips told him that his thanks had been received.

“I didn't realise how late it had gotten,” Mai muttered, staring at the time on her phone in shock.

Chuckling, Martin shook his head. “We figured as much when neither of you appeared. Did you get through a lot today?” he inquired as she began to pack up her things.

Nodding, Mai beamed. “Naru and I were just discussing my end of the year essays. He suggested that it might be a good idea to start thinking on my topic and arguments earlier rather than later,” she informed him.

Martin hummed in agreement. “Of course. You have a lot going on at the end of the year so he's right to assume that you should get things started sooner rather than later. If you ask, maybe Oliver would even be willing to proof-read your essay for you.”

Biting her lip, Oliver could have sighed at the reluctant look that passed over her features. He was glad that Mai was as easy to read as ever.

“I'm just going to drop these in the room. I'll be down in a minute,” she informed before darting off without replying to the last thing his father had said.

“That was weird,” his father noted, giving him a pointed look.

“I'll wait for Mai, let mother know we'll be down in a minute.”

With a knowing look that Oliver didn't want to consider the meaning behind, he waited patiently for Mai to exit her room (and wasn't it terrible to think that at some point, it had become Mai's and no longer Gene's?).

It wasn't long before she was stepping out of the room, jumping a little when she realised that he was standing there waiting. It didn't take much more than a raised eyebrow and a pointed look for her to break.

“It's just- it feels like cheating,” she admitted.

It was such a ridiculous notion that Oliver couldn't help but vaguely wonder just what it was like to live in Mai's mind and worry over these sorts of things all of the time when they ultimately didn't mean a thing.

“Don't you remember before term started up? Father was quite clear when he told you that you and Yasuhara-san should use us like any other resource. It isn’t like having myself, Madoka or even Lin read over your essays is going to give you a leg up. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't take it. You aren't competing against your classmates. You're trying to do your best with the resources at hand. I can assure you that there are people in your class who have other academics willing to read over their work and help them get the best marks that they can. You just happen to have the best options available to you.”

His last comment made Mai roll her eyes good naturedly, a small smile forming on her lips. “I suppose you're right.”

“I always am.”

Giggling at the expected response, Mai sighed. Yeah, he kind of was.

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

“Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Thirty-Two

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Friday, May 9th

It was Friday before Mai found herself entering the Cambridge branch of SPR for the first time that week. She'd skipped coming in on Tuesday, telling herself it was to focus on outlining her essay plans and not because Naru was on case (not that Yasu hadn't taken the chance to call her on her excuse).

Naru had gotten back late the night before but she had no doubts that he'd be in the office by the time she made it there around mid-day.

What she hadn't been expecting when he made her way down the short hall was to be nearly overrun by how many people were milling about, rushing around to get things done for... whatever reason.

Frowning, Mai thought back to everything that she knew, and she couldn't recall anyone mentioning anything of importance happening today.

Stepping into Naru's office, she sighed in relief when he at least was acting normal.

“Hey Naru,” she chirped.

Glancing up from his work, Naru didn't bother to scold her for the lack of knock, long since realising it was an exercise in futility. Instead he opted to focus on the odd expression on her face.

“Why is everyone racing around today? Is something happening that I don't know about?” she asked.

Frowning, Naru tried to recall if he'd mentioned their upcoming visitor and sighed when he realised that in light of the excitement over the weekend, none of them had remembered to mention it.

“We're going to be having a well-known spiritualist here tomorrow. He arrived in London this morning and will be touring there for the day, but he expressed an interest in seeing the satellite office as well so everyone is trying to make sure everything is perfect so that he's impressed,” he informed blandly.

It was sure to be an interesting visit, that much was true, but he honestly couldn't understand why everyone was practically falling over themselves in preparation. It was ridiculous. Even Lin was joining the insanity, though he had to give the older man the benefit of knowing that the man visiting was supposedly half of the reason Lin had become the Onmyouji that he was today.

“Huh? But isn't that somewhat normal?” Mai asked, tilting her head in confusion. SPR was reasonably well known. Surely, they were used to this sort of thing happening.

Inclining his head in agreement, Naru nodded. “To some extent. In this case, the spiritualist visiting is a well-known Onmyouji, but he doesn't travel much. Mostly he's recluse and doesn't undertake students anymore either, to our knowledge.”

“An Onmyouji?” Mai mused, and image of her own master coming to mind. She still hadn't managed to find the time to get in contact with him. That thought quickly fled her mind when she recalled how excited Lin had seemed on Saturday. “Is that why Lin has been a little less calm than usual?”

Naru raised an eyebrow. “You could tell?”

Shrugging, Mai smiled sheepishly. “I could tell on Saturday, but I thought I was reading him wrong. His aura was a little off when I came in just before as well,” she admitted.

“Interesting.” Naru made a mental note of that information prompting Mai to roll her eyes.

When he realised that Mai was still standing there standing there staring at him, Naru arched a brow. “Are you planning to stand there all day or are you going to get some work done?”

Jumping a little, Mai flushed at the comment and immediately let her bag fall to the ground, settling into her normal chair and setting her laptop up on the opposite side of the desk.

After that, nothing but the sound of keys being tapped filled the office as the two of them worked through everything silently.

It was a couple of hours later before Mai managed to pull herself out of her haze of writing, flushing when she noticed that at some point Naru's eyes had landed on her. “What?”

Smirk tugging at his lips, there was a challenge in his eyes as he looked at her, as if waiting for to figure out telepathically what he wanted so that he wouldn’t' have to waste the energy on words.

Unfortunately, Mai could figure it out without him saying anything and that was just as frustrating as it used to be gratifying. Where once she would have been endlessly pleased at her ability to read Naru so well, now she was over his never-ending silence.

“Fine.” Huffing, she pushed herself up from her chair. “I'll go and get us some tea. In return, can you read over what I've started for my essay?”

“I suppose,” Naru agreed finally, determined to make it seem like a chore as he reached across the desk to turn the device around.

“Thank you,” she called over her shoulder even as she exited the room. Nerves were running underneath her skin and she wasn't ashamed to admit she was a little bit afraid of whatever criticism Naru was no doubt going to offer her.

Weaving her way through the crowded halls, Mai sighed in relief when she found the kitchen area mostly vacated. Settling into familiar motions, she quickly pulled together a couple of teas before heading back to the room. Without conscious thought, her feet slowed slightly as she got closer to the room.

'Stop being ridiculous. You were the one who asked him to read over it,' she scolded herself mentally.

Content that she's managed to kick her own nerves, she pushed the door handle down with her elbow and stepped inside the office, offering Naru his own cup before re-taking her seat.

It was silent as he finished reading over what she had so far. It wasn't much but underneath what she'd written so far was her layout and her arguments dot pointed and she was just as nervous about what Naru might have to say about them.

Finally, he looked up from her essay. “This is for ICP*, correct?”

Nodding in assent, she took a sip of her tea to fight back her nerves.

“I suppose it shouldn't really be a surprise that you're basing this on ESP, given how ingrained it is in your abilities. I'm intrigued though, Yasuhara-san also mentioned that often it was easier for you to determine negatives rather than positives. I didn't expect you to turn it into an essay.”

Shrugging a little, Mai's fingers played with the hem of her shirt as she considered how to respond to that. “Well, you said that I should be creative with the ideas that I presented and try not to bore the professors, right? And since I missed the first two terms of this year, I really wanted to prove that it hadn't hindered my learning at all...” she trailed off.

Naru hummed. “They covered ESP before you arrived, didn't they? The more in-depth looks into it were in the first two weeks of the Lent term if I recall.”

Mai nodded despite having no idea if that was true. She'd just been informed that they had already moved on from it and been given a few materials that would help her to catch up if she needed it.

“Is it okay?” she asked finally when Naru finished skimming over it once more with an almost... intrigued look? That was a good sign, right?

Looking up, Naru kept his face purposefully blank, unable to help his amusement at how openly nervous Mai was being before he allowed a small smirk to form. “It's okay,” he admitted. Actually, it was more than okay. Rough though it was, this was more innovation than any of the professors were likely to expect from a first year. It would be a good way for her to set herself apart from the other students. But still... “You can do better. Pull up a chair next to me and I'll help you to flesh your arguments out more.”

Mai didn't bother to argue, getting up to move her chair around before settling in next to Naru. She could feel his warmth beside her and once she might have gotten distracted by that. Instead, she just flushed slightly, all too used to this from studying with Naru at this point and focused instead on the pointers Naru was giving her on her assignment.

They were still sitting like that when Yasu and Madoka appeared to prompt them to head home even though Naru had long finished helping her flesh things out. He was in the middle of fixing an English mistake when there was a knock at the door. Unlike Mai, whoever it was waited for Naru to prompt them to come in before letting it swing open.

Madoka grinned at the sight of two of her favourite people sitting so close. If it was anyone else sitting so close to Naru right now, she might have been a little more shocked. But this was Mai – their exception to everything; especially when it came to their resident genius.

“You two might want to consider packing up. It's already six and you if you work anymore then you won't be ready to meet Lin-san's crush tomorrow.” She winked after the tease, prompting a giggle from Mai.

“I didn't realise it had gotten so late.”

“According to Martin, it's becoming a habit for you two,” Madoka mentioned, amused when Mai's face flared red in response. “Don't let Oliver turn you into a workaholic, Mai. You already live and breathe the paranormal, there's no reason that you shouldn't take breaks every now and then as well.”

Thinking about it for a moment, she grinned, and Mai could feel a sense of dread pooling in her stomach. “In fact, why don't you spend Sunday with Luella and I? It'll be good for you to get away from schoolwork for a while.”

Listening to Madoka as she moved around the room to collect her things, Mai winced. “I don't know... I was going to work through some more of my essay on Sunday... and I always study with Naru on Sundays...”

At Madoka's groan, she couldn't help but feel a little guilty.

“Come on Mai. If you've already started planning your essays, then I guarantee that you're ahead of everyone else. And you spend enough time studying with Oliver as it is, a weekend off won't kill you.”

Biting her lip, Mai had to concede that point not bothering to correct her friend that she was a third of the way into her first draft, not just planning. But she enjoyed studying with Naru and learning more about parapsychology. It wasn't a chore for her and Naru made things surprisingly fun for her.

Sensing the younger girl’s reluctance, Madoka sighed. “Fine, don't spend the whole day with us. Just the evening. Us girls can go out to dinner, that would be fine right? Maybe even catch a movie or something?” she suggested hopefully.

Unwilling to deny her friend further, Mai had to admit that it did sound like a good time. She was also a little too aware that even if she tried to turn her down, Luella would probably drag her out of the house regardless of what she wanted.

“Okay. Sunday evening,” she promised, letting herself be pulled into an excited hug by her friend when she finally stepped out of Naru's office.

Said man had just watched their planning with a slight eye-roll. Of course, Madoka was somewhat correct. Mai was always studying in some shape or form and he'd rarely seen her take a break thus far. It would probably do her some good to give her mind a break – even if it was something he couldn't understand the appeal of.

Part of him did wonder if her reason for spending so much time on purely her studies was due to her earlier concern over not being good enough for her course. Even in the beginning, she'd mentioned the same thing. She was trying to prove herself. How ridiculous. How was it that she still didn't realise that the moment she'd been accepted, she'd already proven herself?

When Madoka seemed intent on holding Mai hostage for a while longer, Naru scoffed, stepping out of the office and locking the door behind himself. “Are we going? Father and I can drop Mai home on our way.”

“There-”

Naru's eyes landed on her with a fierce glare and Mai couldn't help the way her jaw clicked shut. “Okay.”

Madoka sighed at Mai's continued inability to stop thinking she needed to turn down every offer, like giving her a ride was ever going to be a burden. At this time of the night as well, honestly.

She shook her head but didn't bother to bring it up, already aware that it wouldn't make a difference. This was just how Mai was.

“Now that that's settled, let’s get a move on before everyone leaves without us,” Madoka suggested, letting Mai go and following after Naru with a grin.

 

It wasn't until Mai was back her room getting ready for bed that she realised, no-one had mentioned the name of tomorrows onmyouji guest.

Groaning at their oversight, Mai sighed as she slipped under the covers of her bed and turned out the light.

Too late now, she supposed.

Surprises were fun anyway, right?

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-

Saturday, May 10th

Mai could feel it the second she stepped inside the building. It was earlier than she normally ended up at the satellite office,( barely seven thirty) but she'd been told the night before that they were expecting their visitor at seven so she thought it was better to get there earlier rather than later.

Now she was glad that she'd bothered.

Next to her, Yasu's glasses glinted when he noted Mai's hesitation. “Something wrong?”

Shaking her head like that would remove the shock, Mai grinned at him. “Not at all. Let's hurry up and meet with the others,” she suggested.

There was something brighter about her – almost relieved. How suspicious.

Letting it go for the moment, Yasu followed Mai, swiping his card on the way in. He didn't bother to remind her not to use her abilities inside the facility so openly, happy to trail after her through the halls and into the downstairs area without complaint.

To no-one’s surprise they quickly found themselves standing right behind Naru and Madoka as his Martin continued to explain which rooms were for what, obviously nearing the end of his tour.

“Good morning,” Yasu greeted, grinning at Madoka's whispered greeting in response and the way that Naru ignored him.

Typical.

“Morning guys, anything exciting happen yet?” Mai asked, practically vibrating with energy.

Eyeing Mai suspiciously, Naru shook his head. “We're just finishing up the tour of the building and then we'll probably sit down with Master Zheng and conduct an interview of sorts. It'll be largely informal until he has a small lecture this afternoon. We'll be recording it for the students to watch in class,” he explained.

Mai hummed in understanding. “It'll be good for us to have a chance to learn more about onmyouji since they aren't very well-known, especially in Western society, near as I can tell,” she mused.

Inclining his head in agreement, Naru turned his attention back to where his father was wrapping things up. Glancing over at Naru, he grinned at the sight of Mai and Naru standing at the back of their little group.

“Mai, Yasuhara, please come and meet Master Zheng Kai,” Martin encouraged, waving them over.

Yasu stepped forwards with a grin on his lips, taking the hand being offered from the older looking man. He was nothing like he'd expected, to be honest. His head was bald – that wasn't a shock – but he'd heard that Master Zheng was in his late sixties. And yet next to Martin he could barely tell the difference in age. Maybe that was the difference that taking care of yourself mentally and physically made?

If that was so then he'd have to be sure to take better care of himself.

“A pleasure to meet you, Master Zheng. I'm Yasuhara Osamu, a first year in the parapsychology course offered at Cambridge. And beside me is-”

“Taniyama Mai.”

Yasu blinked a little in surprise, turning to look at his best-friend with suspicious eyes. Master Zheng offered an apologetic smile at cutting him off. “I apologise, Yasuhara-san. I didn't mean to cut you off. I just felt that I should remind my student that I do at least remember her name.”

Crossing her arms next to Yasu, Mai offered an unimpressed look that was largely ruined by the way a smile was tugging at her lips. “And yet you couldn't remember to send me a message to let me know that you'd be spending some time in London?”

Mai could feel the rising curiosity and confusion of the auras in the room and felt no small sense of satisfaction about knocking them off kilter. Maybe if they'd thought to tell her who exactly was coming today, they would have been aware.

Chuckling, Master Zheng shook his head at his student. “Come now, Mai-chan, you know you're my favourite student. I just wanted to surprise you and if you really want to blame someone, it was that monk of yours that suggested it.”

Sighing, all too aware that it was likely that his 'surprise visit' was equal parts both Bou-san and Master Zheng's fault. “I'm your only student, Zheng Lao Shi**”

It was interesting to watch the man who had been stoic and calmly polite only a moment before turn into someone almost playful at the sight of Mai. He was going so far as to pout at Mai's half-hearted complaints which was not how anyone else in the room would have pictured the man reacting.

“Well, I can see that things have turned more exciting. Perhaps we should take a seat and you two can catch us up,” Madoka suggested, grinning.

Nodding in thanks to Madoka, Martin waved towards the room he'd set up for this visit. “Indeed. We have snacks and refreshments waiting in this room. You don't even have to make the tea this time,” he joked, offering Mai a wink.

Flushing a little at the tease, Mai fought the urge to stick her tongue out in response. “Thank you, Doctor Davis.”

She could feel the amusement in her teacher’s aura but she didn't bother to comment on it, all too aware that it would just end up being a petty argument that served to annoy Naru and Lin.

Taking a seat between Naru and Yasu and across from Master Zheng, she waited for everyone else to take a seat as well at the rectangular table. Soon enough they were comfortable, and everyone had a cup of tea sitting in front of them.

“If I wasn't mistaken, Master Zheng, you hadn't taken on a student in years. I find myself quite curious as to how you came to take Mai under your wing.”

Turning towards Martin who was sitting at the head of the table on Naru's left, Master Zheng smiled. “You can just call me Kai, or Zheng,” he offered with a slightly laugh. “And I suppose that I can see the appeal. It was actually an accident that it happened at all – or maybe it was fate.”

Rolling her eyes at the last part, Mai was quite proud of herself for not letting out a groan. Fate – how ridiculous. It was like one of those things that the girls in high school used to gush about over their lunches.

“Oh shush, Mai-chan. Let an old man enjoy his fantasies. Regardless on your disposition on the subject of fate, however, it was an accident. For the past few years I've spent a month or so in Japan. In Mai's case, she and I happened to be in Mount Koya at the same time. She stumbled across me when she was wandering around the monastery and mentioned her troubles with traditional meditation, so I offered to give her some tips. It sort of spiralled from there,” he explained.

Madoka snickered as something occurred to her. “Don't tell me – Mai wasn't supposed to be anywhere near that room, was she?”

Chuckling, Master Zheng inclined his head. “Correct. When I stay in Mount Koya I'm offered a private room to use for meditation and no-one else is supposed to be in that area while I'm there,” he admitted.

Gaping at the betrayal, Mai huffed; warmth creeping into her cheeks.

“Some things never change,” Yasu teased, glancing over at her.

This time Mai did stick her tongue out, moving to kick her friend for the comment.

“Now now, there's no reason to make fun of Mai like this. I have more than a few questions I want answers to before it's time for the lecture later and we won't get through them all if you continue teasing her like this,” Martin pointed out.

“Of course,” Master Zheng agreed. “I apologise. It's been a while since I last saw Mai-chan and I've let myself become unprofessional. Ask away.”

Martin waved away the apology with a smile before offering his next question.

 

It was hours later before any of them checked the time, too caught up in conversation and more than content as they worked through the sandwiches someone had brought them at some point, along with some water. Mai had been conned into making their second batch of tea as well, which had improved Naru's mood considerably.

“It might be best if we started moving for the room we've set up for the lecture this afternoon. It's already nearing two o'clock,” Martin mentioned casually as he glanced at his watch.

Master Zheng nodded. “I didn't realise that so much time had passed by. Lead the way.”

With that decided, the two older men left the room before everyone else slowly trailed after them.

With a moment of indecision, Mai hung back, intending to clear up the left overs and store them in the fridge in the kitchen.

“Are you coming, Mai-san?” Lin asked; eyebrows furrowed when she made no move to follow everyone else.

“I'll catch up, I'm just going to clean things up here first,” she assured him.

Lin seemed to debate over something for a moment before stepping out of the doorway and moving back to the table to help.

Blinking in surprise, it took a moment for Mai to realise what was happening. “You don't need to help, Lin-san! I can take care of it myself; I'll only be a couple of minutes.”

“You'll be longer than that if you waste time arguing,” Lin pointed out, already grabbing the leftovers with one hand and the tea pot from the table.

Flushing, Mai's shoulders sagged. “You're right,” she admitted reluctantly as she moved to grab a tray. With practiced ease, all the cups were placed on the tray along with two tea pots.

Lin's lips quirked a little at her admission and Mai couldn't help but feel that everyone was laughing at her today.

She huffed at the thought.

Maybe she didn't feel that bad that Lin was helping her after all.

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*ICP = Introduction to Paranormal Cognition.

**According to a quick bit of research, Lao Shi is what the Chinese use to make someone “Teacher name” so I've used that here. If someone knows better or has an alternative that fits better for their student/mentor relationship, I would love to know more!

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt

Chapter Key:

“English Speaking”

“Japanese Speaking”

'Thinking'

Chapter Thirty-Three

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Saturday, May 10th

With the two of them working at a quick pace (both evidently used to picking up after others) it wasn’t long before they were down to just running a cloth over the table to remove any crumbs.

The silence was somewhat tense, and Mai could feel the way Lin’s aura seemed to be screaming to ask her something. But as time ticked by and they got closer and closer to re-joining the main group, Lin still didn’t ask.

Fed up, Mai turned to look over at Lin as he pushed the final chair in – room looking as good as it had before they’d arrived.

“Lin-san, if you have something to ask me you should just say it.”

His aura seemed to scream shock before it re-settled into the calming presence she’d unknowingly come to rely on.

“I forgot that you could do that. Do you not need to be actively reading my aura, though?” Lin asked.

Humming Mai couldn’t help the slight smirk on her face. “For a man who doesn’t emote much on the surface, your aura is actually rather revealing. Your aura is practically screaming your emotions today – it’d be harder to ignore,” she mused. “But you’re dodging the question.”

Embarrassment. Interesting.

Mai waited for a moment, exiting the room to return the cloth to the nearby kitchenette. It didn’t take Lin long to follow after her.

“I was just wondering if- well- Is Zheng-lao shi always like this? He’s much livelier than I expected,” Lin trailed off.

Glancing over her shoulder at Lin, Mai couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled. Never was there a day that she thought she’d hear Lin asking question like a teenager who’s just met their idol.

Sensing that her laughter had put him on edge (not to mention the very unamused glare he was offering her now), Mai cleared her throat. “I suppose that depends on who you are. I have been told that I bring out the worst in him though, so I doubt that he’s always so unprofessional,” she explained. “It helps that we’ve gotten close since I see Zheng-lao shi every year in the Summer holidays.”

“What’s it like to be his student?”

Mai’s brows furrowed at she considered this. “I’m not sure what you’re asking. It’s good?”

Quirking a lip at her confusion, Lin hummed. “Rather, what’s it like to learn from him?” he rephrased.

Letting out a small noise of understanding, Mai titled her head. “Zheng-lao shi is very different when we’re learning. He’s much more serious when we’re working on my Qigong and my training. He’s also rather observant – he’s always paying close attention so you can’t get anything past him. It’s always hard work and he pushes hard, but the results are always significant and worth it.” Shrugging, she offered a slightly hopeless look. “I hope that answers your question.”

Lin nodded. “Indeed. I’m still a little shocked that he took you on,” he considered.

Wincing, Mai glanced to the side a little guiltily. “Well, uh, there’s a little more to it than he explained…” she trailed off.

He didn’t push, but Mai could feel the intrigue in Lin’s aura. Biting her lip, she considered.

“Originally, it was a one-off. Zheng-lao shi taught me some basic movements of Qigong and we spent the afternoon together making sure I had them perfect. But that was meant to be it. He said he might check my progress while I was still staying there a couple of times but was content to leave me be.”

Raising an eyebrow, Lin prompted her to continue with a small noise.

“Did I ever mention why I went to Mount Koya in the first place?”

Thinking back to what he knew, Lin nodded. “In the Summer after we left, you said you were struggling to control your powers.”

Mai nodded, worrying her lip between her teeth. “About a week after you guys left, I started dreaming again. And not just a couple of time, but every night. And more than once. By the end of the week I hadn’t been able to fall asleep even once. Bou-san came by to check on me and found me half asleep, in the middle of falling into another psychic dream.”

If felt like something cold was being poured over Lin’s body, chilling him to the core. Why hadn’t anyone contacted them to ask for help?

As if reading him again – and maybe she was – Mai smiled a little unsurely. “We didn’t want to bother you all while you were grieving for Gene. And I was fine, really! Tired, but it was fine.”

Lin fought the urge to shake Mai. That was so very not fine, on every level. When Noll found out about this, he was going to be uncontrollable.

“Seriously, Lin-san. It was fine, and it all worked out. It didn’t take long for the monks to help me gain control over my dreams. And they put me in a warded room to protect me from dreaming while I was there, so I was able to catch up on sleep as well. Not to mention the amazing teacher I got out of it all. It’s fine, I promise.”

Seeing that it was going useless to argue further, the stoic man nodded finally. “If you ever need anymore help…” he trailed off, unsure of how to finish that offer, feeling a little awkward over the situation he’d put himself in.

Lips stretched impossibly wide; Mai grinned. “I’ll let you know if I ever do,” she promised, “now we’ve already miss half of the seminar by now. We’d better hurry if we plan to catch the rest.”

It isn’t until they’re slipping into the back of the group that Lin realised that Mai didn’t finish explaining how Zheng-lao shi had gone from a one-time teacher to her yearly instructor.

 

Most of the afternoon flashed by in a haze of information sharing on Zheng’s part and learning for everyone else. As everyone filed out for the evening, wishing him goodbye, they were left in a somewhat quieter building.

“So, when’s dinner supposed to be?” Yasu asked, peering over at Martin.

Glancing down at his watch, Martin winced. “If we want to make it on time and avoid being scolded, we’ll have to get a move on.”

“Dinner?” Mai asked faintly, head titled.

Naru rolled his eyes at her. “Yes, Mai. The dinner that my father invited everyone to join us for. Which you would be aware of if you and Lin hadn’t been gossiping for twenty minutes.”

Spluttered, Mai flushed. “Lin-san doesn’t gossip!” was all she managed to say to defend herself.

Madoka winked from across the room, seemingly aware of something that Mai wasn’t given the looks she casted at Naru for a split second. “Don’t worry Mai. Lin’s gossiping habits are reserved for only his favourite people.”

Catching on, Yasu grinned. “Must be. I’ve never heard Lin-san gossip before.”

Mai lamented her friends with some confusion. “But we weren’t,” she insisted. “We were having a productive discussion over relevant information.”

Raising a brow, Naru cast an unwavering look at her. “Well, in that case I’d love to hear what you spoke about.”

Sensing that things were about to digress into a classic Mai and Naru argument, Martin intervened with a placating smile, even going so far as to step between them. “Didn’t I just say that we would be late to dinner if we didn’t head out? You two can save the verbal sparring for the night. We have a guest Oliver. Imagine how appalled your mother would be to hear that you’re acting like this.”

There were no visible signs of him being cowed, but Naru did refrain from further comments as they all headed out.

“I’ll ride with Madoka and Lin-san,” Yasu offered as they reached the parking-lot. “It’ll be a little squishy if we all pile into the same car. Who knows, maybe Lin-san will even be willing to gossip if it’s just us.”

Given the increasingly annoyed look Lin was shooting the younger man for the repeated joke, Mai was dubious. But she let him go anyway, content to have a small break from whatever nonsense he and Madoka were up to now.

To her surprise, after she slid into the backseat, Naru slid in from the other side.

Noticing her look, he smirked. “Really Mai, do you think that my father would allow our guest to sit in the backseat?”

Huffing, Mai had to admit that Naru was right. “I’m sure he would have survived,” she muttered, sticking her tongue out at Zheng when he winked at her over the seat.

Why was everyone being so weird this afternoon?

“I’m still waiting to hear about what you and Lin were conversing about so diligently,” Naru informed quietly as the car started up.

Martin and Zheng in the front seat paid neither of them any mind, content to discuss something to do with religion.

“It’s nothing super exciting, Naru,” Mai rolled her eyes. “We were just talking about how I became a student of Zheng-lao shi’s and what it was like.”

“That sounds like gossiping.”

Huffing, Mai bit her lip. “It might have been a little like gossip. But Lin-san’s a big fan of Zheng-lao shi’s – who knows why. I was happy to answer his questions. Why’s it such a big deal anyway?”

Naru didn’t offer a response to that, turning to look out the window instead. “It’s not. I just think it would have been prudent for the two of you to take advantage of the chance to listen to the entire lecture.”

“It was recorded though? I know that your father is going to be showing it in our next class, and that means Lin-san can totally get a copy to watch as well,” she pointed out.

Seriously, what was Naru’s deal today.

“It’s nothing.” It was a rather final statement and for the rest of the journey he ignored every attempt Mai made at conversation, seemingly deep in thought over something.

As they pulled up at the Davis’ mansion, the pout Mai had been wearing fell away and she smiled softly. At least here was never weird.

“You’re doing it again,” Zheng observed.

Glancing over at him, Mai tilted her head. “Doing what?”

Her teacher’s eyes were calculating before he closed his eyes, presumably trying to feel what Mai was. “The air is peaceful. But tell me, Mai-chan, how well can you sense it.”

Shrugging, Mai huffed at the unexpected impromptu lesson. “Well enough? I’m at the point where I can read the lay of the land with my eyes closed, if that’s what you’re wondering…” she trailed off.

Zheng didn’t respond as to whether this was what he was looking to know, even as he re-opened his eyes. “That does remind me, I should do a reading of you before I return home.”

Mai nodded in agreement. “I did have a couple of questions,” she admitted, thinking back to when Naru was on the first case since she’d arrived.

Lips quirking, Zheng nodded. “Takigawa-san mentioned you might have.”

Stepping out of the car, Mai rolled her eyes. “Bou-san should mind his own business,” Mai sniffed in her best attempt of a Masako.

 “Ooo, are we doing impressions. My John-san impression is perfect,” Yasu greeted, walking over from where Lin had parked just beside them.

Glaring at them, Naru motioned towards where Luella was waiting patiently in the doorway for them to notice her. “I believe there will be time for conversation while we eat.”

In other words, stop dawdling and get inside.

Filing, in, Mai grinned as she was dragged into a hug with Luella.

“Mai, it’s been so long since I saw you last,” Luella complained.

“I saw you last weekend,” Mai protested, unable to help the warmth she felt from being wanted.

Luella pouted. “That was a week ago Mai. I’ve missed you.”

Laughing, Mai let herself be dragged along into the dining room that had become as familiar as her own bedroom on campus.

“It’s okay Luella. Mai will probably stay the night here anyway since tomorrow is Sunday. And I’ve managed to convince her to go out tomorrow night, remember?” Madoka cut in, grinning.

At their excitement, Mai could help but giggle again. Well, the loss of study time was worth it if it had Luella so happy.

Taking up her seat – and when had it become hers? – she waited for everyone to be seated before serving herself some of the food that had been placed on the table without waiting to be told to.

She could feel Zheng’s eyes on her, but she didn’t acknowledge them, falling into easy conversation.

 

Dinner was mostly uneventful (if you counted the numerous quips Naru had made at her expense uneventful that is) and before long, they were all retreating to the main lounge to chat.

“Mai honey, I hate to ask this of you, but I’ve had a craving for your specific blend of raspberry tea these past couple of days,” Luella started, smiling sheepishly when Mai rolled her eyes good naturedly.

“It’s fine. If you didn’t ask, I’m sure the jerk over there would have eventually,” she joked, smiling. “Any other requests.”

“Earl grey.”

Barely sparing him a glance, Mai sighed. “Anyone who’s tea request isn’t so predictable?”

There was a round of laughter and a cold glare from Naru, but no-one else made a request.

“I’ll be back shortly.

She’d scarcely exited the room before Naru turned his attention towards Zheng. “Zheng-lao shi.” When he was certain he had the other man’s attention, he continued, “Mai mentioned a little bit ago that the one who taught her how to make charms was you?”

Zheng narrowed his eyes, somewhat suspicious even as he nodded. “Indeed. What of it?”

Pulling the charm Mai had given him, he ignored amused looks he was getting from the rest of the group, focusing instead on showing it to Zheng. “What can you tell me about this charm?”

Instead of reaching out to grab it and take a closer look like Naru expected, his eyes narrowed further. “How did you come upon this?”

“Mai gave it to him before he left for a case a while ago,” Yasu cut in, noticing how tense the room seemed to be getting. “Is something the matter?”

Zheng’s eyes closed for a second, almost as if he was praying for strength, before he reopened them. “No, it’s her decision what she does with the charms she makes. What is it you want to know?”

Debating over how much information he chose to offer, Naru considered how to word his question. Clearly there was something going on that he wasn’t aware of and that rubbed him the wrong way.

“The other night, Mai recharged it. She passed out despite being wired just before that. It seemed a little odd and I was wondering what caused that. Is it normal for it to be so strenuous to recharge a charm?”

Zheng’s eyes rolled heavenwards, and he groaned. “She didn’t tell you a thing about what you’re holding in your hand, did she?”

“It’s just a charm, why would she offer more information than that?”

Scoffing, Zheng shook his head. “That, my boy, is anything but ‘just a charm’. What you’re holding in your hands in the culmination of Mai’s abilities at the time, twice over. She passed out on two separate occasions when she was creating it. It holds more power than she used to have in her entire body. That she managed to fill it in one go this time just tells me that her spiritual energy had grown exponentially.”

Staring down at the charm in shock, Naru was about to reply – though what he would say he wasn’t sure – but then Zheng continued it.

“Moreover, you should be aware that Mai is incapable of making tradition charms. Her charms are special.”

Now curious, Martin pulled out the notebook he kept on hand, pen poised. “What makes them so special?”

“Despite several attempts, Mai proved unable to make charms correctly. They never worked – not even well enough to stop a low-level spirit. But we found that if we treated charm making as a sort of, aura bonding exercise, of sorts, she was much more successful. In your hands is her first ever successful attempt. And it’s not an aura bond. At least, not just an aura bond. That right there, is what happens when your spirit bonds to a physical item while still alive. Mai offered you a small piece of her soul.”

The world could have been falling apart in that moment and Naru wouldn’t have noticed over the rushing of blood in his ears as he struggled to comprehend what he’d just learnt.

In the background he thought he could hear Lin asking how that could happen, but it just washed over him as Naru tried to understand how he hadn’t noticed something so important.

 ‘Maybe she didn’t realise the significance,’ he considered, thinking on how blasé Mai had been about the entire situation.

Except that didn’t make any sense. Nothing Zheng had said indicated that he’d kept his student in the dark about what she’d managed to do. Which meant she’d done it knowingly.

But why give it to him?

He considered their attachment but struggled to understand why she’d chosen him (if anyone) to offer it to. Why not one of the team from Japan?

Struggling to puzzle this out, he didn’t notice when Mai re-entered the room until a hand was being waved in front of his face.

“Hey Naru, if you don’t take this from my hand, I will pour it on you. And it’ll be a complete accident,” she warned, hand trembling as she struggled to keep the teacup steady.

On automatic, he reached out to take it from her, fingers freezing at the feeling of her hand on his skin.

Quickly, he pulled back, barely managing not to spill tea over himself.

Mai was looking at him so softly and confused and Naru could feel that odd feeling in his chest.

“Seriously, Naru. Are you okay?”

“It’s nothing,” he managed after a moment, aware that he wasn’t being convincing at all.

“But-”

“Leave Big Boss alone, Mai-chan. He’s processing some stuff,” Yasu explained, winking.

Mai’s eyebrow furrowed and her lips pursed. “What the heck did you guys talk about while I made the tea?”

“Nothing important,” Zheng waved away, “just a few new things.”

“Right…” Mai trailed off, unsure of how much she believed that.

Madoka clapped her hands together. “As we were saying, what’s it like in Mount Koya? Mai rarely talks about her time there.”

Despite her concern, Mai let herself be dragged into the conversation, leaving Naru to deliberate over the course of the night.

And if she went to sleep that night concerned over whatever was wrong with Naru, she needn’t have bothered. By the time the next day came and they sat down study, Naru was back to his (narcissistic) self.

Except for when she caught him staring at her with a puzzled expression… Or when he opened his mouth to ask her a question but never said a word… Or when his hand would reach into his pocket pull something out. But other than that, nothing was different about him at all.

Nothing at all.