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Midnight Train

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Rolling green fields and pastures streamed by in the window. A quaint countryside the likes of which she'd only ever seen in movies. Mai stared, taking it in. "Is this...England?"

She then looked around, examining her surroundings. She sat in a cozy train compartment. Alone, except for one other person.

Naru sat across from her, clad in his usual black suit. He was shuffling a deck of cards. Over and over, the cards flowed through his hands like water. His eyes focused, but at the same time, lost in thought. It appeared almost meditative.

She watched him for a while, mesmerized. Then finally spoke up.

"Hey. So where are we headed?"

He paused, and his gaze drifted out the window. But then, as if deeming it too much trouble to figure out, he just shrugged.

"Huh? What kind of answer is that?"

But Naru resumed shuffling, paying her no more attention.

Mai sighed. Out of a lack of anything else to do, she looked back out the window. Just in time to catch sight of white puffballs scattered about the scenery.

She gasped. "Wow! Are those sheep?"

Now she was glued to the window.

"Look, Naru!" She waved towards him. "Aww, they're so cute!"

Naru paused again. He looked up, first at her, and then out the window.

When he spoke, his voice was oddly soft. "Yeah…"

 


 

"What the hell?"

Mai slumped face down over her desk, clutching her head. Her dream from this morning still hadn't left her mind.

It wasn't all that significant of a dream, really. She probably would have forgotten about it if not for one detail.

Why was she dreaming about Naru? Now of all times?

No, no, no. She'd learned her lesson once. She wouldn't fool herself into thinking this might mean anything. After all, it wasn't as if he was being especially kind to her in the dream. He was just being his usual aloof self.

But...was it really him?

Since he was playing with cards, she'd immediately assumed it was Naru. But couldn't it just as well be Gene? And the way he'd responded at the end...that definitely sounded more like a Gene thing to do. If it were Naru, he would have just called her childish for being excited by sheep. He wouldn't agree with her, let alone waste time watching the scenery with her.

So it must be Gene.

A thrill of excitement ran through her. He'd come to visit her, even outside of a case? But at the same time, she wasn't convinced, precisely because of the fact that they weren't on a case (in fact, they had just finished one a few days ago). Why would Gene appear to her now? It didn't make sense.

Still, she hoped it was him. What if Gene had figured out a way to stay awake even off of cases? What could that possibly mean?

The door to Naru's office opened then, and he stuck his head out. "Mai. Tea."

"Okaaay..." she sighed, and got up from her seat. Seeing him act as usual made her ideas suddenly seem silly.

It was too soon to get her hopes up. After all, it could have just been a dream.

 


 

And yet that night, just like clockwork, they were back on the train again.

Mai bounced in her seat. This was it. It was one of those dreams. It had to be.

Gene sat across from her, engrossed in reading through a bundle of papers.

Mai smiled. Leaning forward, she asked gently, "Gene…? That's you, right?"

He froze. Then looked up with a smile. A deeply cynical smile. "I'm sorry to disappoint."

"Naru?!" Mai drew back, mortified. Oh god, no. She didn't mean to confuse them again!

The shock was enough to jolt her awake. The next thing she knew, she was in bed, hiding her burning face beneath her hands.

"Crap," she murmured. "That's not good."