Chapter 1: A New Case
Japan was a land of conflicting emotions. He lost his twin here; yet upon coming to the country to find his body, he found a group that exceeded his expectations in both psychic ability and human connection.
Returning to England with Gene’s body had been necessary. His parents wanted to bury their son. The six months he was forced to endure away from the company he created felt less necessary.
With a sigh, Oliver looked away from the window in his office. Picking up his cup of tea, an image of the woman who made it flashed through his mind.
Inhaling the scent of Earl Grey, he relaxed at the combination of tea and her smile. Before leaving for England, he had felt as though he lost to his twin again.
Gene was everything happy and fun. While it had been a shock to learn that Mai’s spirit guide was his brother, it was not a surprise for Oliver that Mai would confess feelings towards Gene. It was a mistake often made through adolescence. The girl would always regret her confession upon realising which twin she was speaking to.
Me or Gene?
A standard question. One that made returning to Japan more difficult upon the realisation that while he had feelings for Mai, Mai wanted Gene. It had taken time for the understanding of these feelings to be clear. How could he return to Japan, to her, when she wanted his dead twin? If he went back, would her behaviour change? Would she become indifferent to him? Would she want to see him?
After several months being home, he was involved in a conversation regarding the Japanese team and their abilities. It made him realise he wanted to return. He had mourned Gene. Had since the moment he felt this twin die. It was now time to do something for himself. So, he began making arrangements to return to Japan.
Initially, Lin was not included in those arrangements. However, upon learning of the younger man’s plans, Lin quickly informed Oliver that he had every intention of returning as well.
England is a spiritual wasteland compared to Japan.
Oliver smirked at the memory. It had certainly helped in appeasing his parents for Lin to come with him. He began to research psychic phenomena similar to what he had observed in Mai. With little to find, he was determined to take the opportunity to broaden his understanding of Mai’s abilities.
Which meant working with Mai.
It had been a sobering thought, knowing that Mai had realised her feelings for Gene.
Which is what made her response at the end of the Arakaki case so improbable. Mai chose him. He knew that she meant it, her hand on his face triggered his psychometry. He knew what she felt about him. About Gene. He could sense the depth of her feelings.
So why was she so reticent since returning to Shibuya?
Releasing his tightened grip on the cup, Oliver pondered his own feelings. Mai was…
A loud cry could be heard from the sitting room of the office. Oliver rolled his eyes.
With a sigh, he stood from his desk and moved to the office door. He could hear the chatter of the Irregulars; Mai’s laughter rising above all the noise.
Fixing his face into his signature cold stare, he snapped open his door. As he stalked into the room it took quite a bit of his considerable self-control not to laugh at the melee before him.
“Naru!” Mai cried upon noticing him. She tried to wriggle out from Yasuhara’s grasp, stomping on his feet when the man refused to let her go.
Raising an eyebrow, Oliver turned to the other embraced pair. Matsuzaki had somehow managed to climb onto Takigawa’s back and was trying to simultaneously throttle the man and collect her purse from his grasp.
At Mai’s cry, all movement in the room stopped. Sheepishly, everyone moved away from the person closest to them, Matsuzaki gave up on her purse but took the opportunity to jab Takigawa in the kidneys, and tried to present a facade of normality.
Oliver had to check himself from rolling his eyes. Yes, he mentally snickered, this isn't ridiculous behaviour at all.
As the four in standing before him settled into embarrassed silence, Oliver turned to Mai.
“Has the appointment booked for today been cancelled?”
Mai’s face became red. Oliver hoped it was because she realised how bad it would look if a client walked in on this scene.
As he watched, Mai scampered to her desk to check the calendar. Waiting for Mai to confirm the booking, he looked back at the remaining three. Of them, only Yasuhara didn’t appear to wilt under his gaze.
“No cancellation, Naru. They should be here in the next fifteen minutes or so,” Mai said sheepishly, she clearly wasn't over the embarrassment of the earlier scene.
Turning to face her, Oliver was struck again by his feelings for her. Or rather, why he had feelings for her when she was so constantly ridiculous. He never enjoyed foolishness when at work but, somehow, Mai’s foolishness always made him smile. If only to himself.
Hearing Yasuhara’s snicker and realising he had been staring at Mai, further evidenced by her bashful expression, Oliver turned to face the sitting area. With a pointed glance at the disarranged furniture, he suggested that she use the remaining time to prepare for the interview.
As he entered his office but before shutting the door, he gave Mai a last instruction.
The resulting growl made the smile he was holding back break free. She really is ridiculous.
Ten minutes later, he heard a knock on his door. He looked up to see Mai poke her head in.
“The client is here,” she said before darting back out to the sitting area.
Oliver nodded and collected his notebook. He could hear Mai offering tea to the client. As he walked into the room, he saw a tall, thin man sitting on the lounge. Making his way to his preferred seat, Oliver took note of the dark circles under his eyes and the tense set of his shoulders.
Shifting his focus from the client, Takigawa and Matsuzaki were sitting to his left, Yasuhara was manning Mai’s desk, but still close enough to hear what was being said. Lin was seated in the other armchair, laptop on his knees to take notes.
Settled, he observed the man seated before him. His expression was fearful. However, Oliver sensed that there was more to the fear than just a haunting.
“Here,” Mai said as she put down a tray of teacups on the low table. Passing out the cups, she then took a seat in the only remaining place, next to the client.
Oliver noticed with interest the change in her body language. Where before she was her usual professional, if chirpy, self now she sat with her body arched away from the client. While she still had a smile on her face, it was strained compared to her usual grin.
“Sato-san.” Oliver noticed the man jump slightly when he was addressed. “You asked to speak with us regarding happenings at your home?” Oliver prompted.
“Yes.” The client, Sato Kisho, placed his teacup on the table before clasping his shaking hands.
“We, my wife and I, have been getting phone calls. They always occur at the same time. When we answer, the voice on the end is a woman. Calling us her parents. Asking for help.” He stopped abruptly, shuddering.
Oliver was surprised when Mai did not lean in to offer comfort, as she usually did. He sent a look to Lin who nodded, having also noticed the unusual behaviour.
While Sato took time to compose himself, Oliver inquired as to why this was so unsettling.
The man looked at Oliver with terrified eyes. “Our daughter, Emi, went missing fifteen years ago. She was nine years old.” Sato rubbed his hands together. “She was our only child.”
Interesting. Oliver took note of the past tense used.
“You don’t believe the woman calling could be your daughter?” Matsuzaki asked.
Sato tensed before he shook his head. “We have moved since Emi disappeared; and our phone numbers have also changed. But the phone calls,” Sato stopped and took a deep breath. “The phone calls don’t show up on any phone statements, there is no return number showing on the phone.”
“What happens if you do not answer the phone?” Oliver queried.
Sato, who had just taken a mouthful of tea, almost choked on it.
“The phone keeps ringing,” he managed to cough out an answer. “It rings until we pick it up. The longer we wait to answer the phone the more hysterical the voice on the other end is.”
Oliver frowned at that piece of information. Before he could ask for clarification, Lin beat him to it.
“The message changes?”
Sato nodded. “If the phone is answered quickly, the woman sounds slightly stressed. If we ignore the phone, by the time we pick it up the woman is screaming and begging for help.”
How very interesting.
“Are there any other happenings? Other than the phone calls?” Takigawa asked.
“No,” Sato responded.
Oliver snapped his book closed. Raising an eyebrow at the startled client, he turned to Mai.
“Gather the usual details; you, Lin, and myself will head out first. Yasuhara, be on call for research purposes if needed.” He then looked to Takigawa and Matsuzaki, “We will call you and the others if necessary.” With that said, he turned to move back to his office.
Oliver heard Mai asking the man for his address and the best times for them to arrive before he shut the door.
Chapter 2: Is This Normal Behaviour?
Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. It had taken some favours to gain the equipment to listen in on the client’s phones, and now they were being blocked by a pretentious socialite with illusions of appeal.
“I really don’t see why this is necessary.” Sato Leiko’s nasal voice grated against Oliver’s ears.
“As we explained, Sato-san, we need to understand why this is happening-” Oliver reiterated.
“Can’t you just do an exorcism and go?!” she demanded.
Oliver was contemplating just leaving them to their haunting if the woman continued to interrupt him and his work.
Lin, evidently seeing how short his charge’s fuse was becoming, interceded.
“Sato-san.” Oliver pushed down the indignation that the woman stopped her screeching to listen to Lin. “Your husband came to us for assistance. In order to assist, the phone taps are necessary. We will not be listening to all of your phone calls. Only the call from the spirit.”
Leiko’s face still twisted into a scowl at that. “Why?” she challenged.
Oliver was distracted by Mai’s entering the room. Much like she had with Kisho, Mai’s body language betrayed discomfort with Sato Leiko as well. Tuning out the ongoing battle between Lin and Leiko, Oliver watched with interest as Mai moved around the room.
While she wasn’t the most confident person, and somewhat clumsy, she had never moved with the skittishness she was displaying now. Thinking back, Mai had been distant since they arrived at the Sato residence.
“Fine!” Oliver’s attention snapped back to the fuming Leiko. “Fine! Listen in on the calls. Just get this over with quickly. Some of us don’t revel in the misery of others!” She then turned and stormed out of the room. Lin followed her to set up the phone tap.
“Some just like causing misery,” Mai’s voice murmured from behind Oliver.
When she didn’t respond to his sharp look, he frowned. This seemed to gain her attention.
“Hey, Naru,” she said. “It’s only the two of them who live here, right?”
“Yes,” Oliver responded. He was curious to find out where this was leading.
“If it’s just the two of them, why do they have such a large condo? This place is a penthouse with four bedrooms!” Mai’s voice was high pitched, and her breathing occurred in little gasps. Oliver tamped down his amusement at her reaction before calling her to attention, he didn’t want to deal with her passing out from lack of oxygen.
“Mai.” Her head snapped up to look at him. “Why is this so upsetting to you?”
Mai bit her lip. Oliver’s interest increased when he noticed her furtive looks at the door.
“Sato-san said their daughter went missing fifteen years ago.” Mai’s voice was low, as if trying to avoid being overheard. “She was never found. If they can afford to live like this, why haven't they put those resources into finding their daughter? Parents don’t just give up like this...”
Oliver blinked. Huh. That thought… Had not occurred to him. He looked at the ceiling while he mulled over the question and its implications before returning his gaze to the woman in front of him.
“We do not completely know the Sato’s situation. We should not create assumptions.” Mai looked embarrassed by his statement. No. That was not a criticism. Before he could explain his words, Mai interrupted.
“You’re right.” She punctuated her words with a nod. “Well, I may not be Yasu, but I can start looking into the phone records we were given and see if Sato-san missed anything.” She smiled brightly at Oliver before returning to the room they had been given to use as a base.
Oliver started to follow her when Lin re-entered the room. Oliver raised an eyebrow at the man’s rankled appearance. Oliver couldn’t think of the last time he’d seen Lin so disheveled. Not since that case with the lonely housewife who wanted… oh.
With a slight smirk, Oliver couldn’t help but ask: “Another Mrs. McAllister?”
It took skill, but he didn’t flinch at the look of rage Lin sent his way.
Waiting for his assistant to stalk out of the room to base, Oliver had a small chuckle.
Harassment was never acceptable, but it wasn’t often Lin was perturbed.
I will speak with Sato-san about this.
Speaking with Sato Leiko had not been a satisfying experience. Despite Oliver’s ultimatum to behave or they would leave, the woman had a smug look on her face that did not bode well for Lin’s comfort.
Returning to base, Oliver snorted in resigned amusement to find Mai asleep; slumped on a lounge still holding the phone records.
Sharing an exasperated look with Lin, Oliver took a seat by the computer Lin was working on. Despite his intention to research records of similar hauntings, he found himself studying Mai’s sleeping form instead. Even in sleep, Mai was restless. Her face scrunched up before relaxing. Repeatedly. Her body shifted every few moments as well.
“Why did we take this case?” Lin’s question brought Oliver out of his observations.
Turning to his assistant, he raised an eyebrow.
“There is little evidence of a haunting,” Lin continued, still focused on his computer. “No other signs of paranormal presence. We are unlikely to record anything of scientific value. So, why did we take this case?”
Oliver turned his attention back to Mai.
“Have you ever seen her react to a client like this?” Oliver asked in response.
Lin paused his typing to look at the woman asleep on the lounge.
“No,” he admitted with a frown.
Oliver nodded. “There is something happening here. Whether it is a haunting or not, I do not know. But Mai’s instincts have never been wrong. That is why we took this case.”
Oliver looked over at Lin to find the older man watching him.
“Have you discovered the reason for her recent behaviour?” Lin asked. Oliver was only slightly surprised to hear the note of concern in his voice. That didn’t stop the expression of frustration to come over his face.
“No,” his frustration leaked into his voice. “She was fine until we got back from the Arakaki case.”
This time, Lin raised an eyebrow. “Have you asked her?”
Oliver sent a withering look at his assistant. Ask her. He mentally snorted at the thought. Like that will work. Although... Mai did tend to give more complete information when asked about specifics… Oliver’s disdain morphed into contemplation.
A low moan from the lounge drew the men’s attention. Seeing Mai begin to stir, Lin returned to his computer while Oliver remained watching her.
“Anything unusual in the phone records?” Oliver asked her, enjoying the startled jump his question caused.
“Naru!” Mai gasped. Her shock quickly became self-consciousness. “Ahhh. I didn’t really, well…”
Oliver knew it wasn’t polite to enjoy her discomfort, but it really was too easy.
“You fell asleep,” he stated.
“Ahhh. Yes,” she answered, blush high on her cheeks.
“Hmmm.” Yes. Oliver knew he would pay for this somehow, but it was a simple pleasure.
“Hey, Naru,” Mai’s voice drew him from his amusement. Focusing on the woman, he saw a look of contemplation on her face.
“I know Sato-san said that the phone calls were the same time late at night, and I figured that’s why we arrived in the late afternoon rather than the morning, but do you know the exact time of the call?” she continued.
“Yes. 2:05am. Every night.” He responded.
“Ushimitsu doki,” she murmured.
Oliver was confused. Why was the time between 2 am and 2:30 am significant?
Seeing his confused expression, Mai elaborated.
“Ushimitsu doki is the time when the veil between the living and dead is at its thinnest. It’s also the time best suited for cursing others.”
Oliver’s eyes widened a little, caught off guard by her matter of fact delivery. Unfortunately for him, Mai must have seen his surprise.
“I’m not an idiot Naru,” she scowled at him, “Ushimitsu doki is well known for its association with ghosts and curses. And I can research things that relate to this work just like anyone else.”
Oliver opened his mouth to respond when she cut him off.
“I may not have received a doctorate as a teenager, Doctor Davis, but I am more than capable of keeping up with the basics of paranormal activity in Japan!” She seethed before stomping out of the room.
Oliver stood there. He wasn’t expecting that.
Catching sight of his reflection in the ornamental mirror on the wall, he also wasn’t expecting to see his reflection grin and wink at him.
Could this day become any weirder?
Chapter 3: Confrontations
Torn between going after Mai or discovering why his twin had not passed into the beyond, Oliver couldn’t move. Another wink from his reflection in the mirror made the decision. With narrowed eyes, Oliver walked into the bathroom to have some privacy while he interrogated his brother.
Reaching out his mind to their subdued twin link, Oliver wasn’t surprised to find it still active. Dimmed, but active. Facing into the mirror, he found his reflection looking back at him with a grin he never wore.
Oliver clenched his teeth. Eugene was not supposed to remain on this plane of existence. He was supposed to move into the beyond! Also, why was he only contacting Oliver now?! Why not when he was in Japan before they found his body?
As if reading his thoughts — which he probably was. The pest! — Gene’s grin slipped from his face.
“Noll,” he begged. “It’s not that simple. I tried to reach you, but I couldn’t. The closest I could get was to Mai.”
Oliver started to relax. That was reasonable. He didn’t have any first-hand understanding of what it would be like to communicate after death.
“I think that’s why I’m able to connect to Mai now as well as you. I already have a connection with you both,” Gene continued.
Oliver tensed again.
Mai knew? Mai knew his brother had not passed beyond and hadn’t told him?
Rage filled him and he left to confront Mai. His brother’s pleas from the mirror cut off as he turned his attention from the glass.
Storming into base, Oliver found the focus of his ire sitting on the lounge. Striding up to the piece of furniture, Oliver stood over the woman he had trusted. Vaguely, he heard the clacking of Lin’s keyboard cease.
“Naru?” Mai asked in confusion and some fear. She was pressed into the back of the seat away from him.
“Why did you not tell me?” He grit out. Mai’s eyes flicked behind him towards Lin in a silent call for help.
“Naru. I- I don’t understand. Tell you what?” she stammered.
“Gene.” At the sound of his brother’s name, Mai froze. Oliver pressed his lips together in grim satisfaction.
Then, to his surprise, Mai stopped pushing herself into the lounge. Astonished, when she moved to stand from the seat he felt himself move to avoid bumping her.
“You do not,” Mai’s voice was sharp, “get to yell at me for not telling you something.”
Oliver felt a sliver of guilt over his previous lies by omission, but it was quickly devoured by his fury over Gene.
“My not telling you a name is not the same as your failure to tell me about my brother,” he said coldly.
“I never said it was!” she cried.
“Really? Because it appears that you think hiding my brother’s lingering state is proper payback for not telling you my name!” he yelled.
“NOT TELLING YOU ABOUT GENE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!” Mai screamed.
She moved into his personal space and pushed her finger against his chest.
“But since we’re talking about you now, let me explain that there is so much more of an issue than your NAME! You don’t tell me anything!” she punctuated that last sentence with a poke of her finger. “You figure things out and refuse to share it. You demand people do things without giving any reason.”
Her fury made her seem taller than normal. Oliver felt himself shrink away from her. “You demand answers to questions, but refuse others the same courtesy!” At this she stopped and turned away from him before taking a deep breath.
“I didn’t tell you about Gene because there is no harm in him remaining.” Mai’s voice was soft. “Should I have? Maybe.” Then she turned back to Oliver and her voice hardened. “But you do not get to speak to me like that Naru.”
Oliver was at a loss. While he wasn’t sure what he was expecting from this conversation, Mai standing before him with her head held high wasn’t how he anticipated it ending.
Lin’s voice broke the standoff, “Taniyama-san, did you dream earlier?”
Startled from her glower Mai looked at Lin with a confounded expression. Oliver took her distraction to take a breath and collect his equilibrium.
When Lin had the attention of both Mai and Oliver, he repeated the question.
“Yes. Well, kind of.” Mai stuttered, “Maybe? I don’t…”
Oliver frowned at her response. In the past, Mai either had no recollection of her dreams or remembered everything. First the Arikaki case and now this. What was affecting her dreams?
“I’m not even sure if this dream is related to the case.” Mai finally got out. Oliver snorted. When are her dreams during a case not related to it?
Mai shot an irritated glance at Oliver. “I have normal dreams too, Naru,” she rebutted.
“Humour me. What was in this dream?” Oliver nodded at Lin for him to take notes.
Mai sighed before resettling onto the couch.
“There was a little girl. She was crying. There were adults coming and going, but she didn’t answer any of their questions.” Oliver watched as Mai’s face scrunched up.
“A little girl? Our case involves a missing girl. And you thought this was not pertinent to the case?” Oliver growled.
“I’m not sure she understood everything they were asking,” Mai defended. “Eventually the adults started walking away. She was just left there. Crying.”
Oliver frowned at the lack of information. Sharing a look with Lin, who nodded to affirm he had transcribed the woman’s dream, Oliver looked to the time.
“In the morning, we will research if your dream has any relevance to the case. For now, we should do any final checks on the phone tap before the Sato’s go to bed.”
Lin made a disgusted sound before leaving the room. Mai looked at Oliver in confusion.
“What was that about?” she asked.
Oliver smirked before moving to check the feed on the computer system.
Unsurprisingly, Mai's awake status did not last long enough for her to hear the phone call. Her repetitious yawns and droopy eyes had Oliver sending her to bed close to 12:45 am. He had to make a promise (that he had no intention of keeping) to wake her before 2 am so she could witness the call in order to silence her sleepy protests.
Just as the clock ticked over to 2:05 am, they heard the phone start ringing. Both Lin and Oliver focused on the computer, waiting to start the recording once the phone was answered.
By agreement with the couple, the team would not answer the phone, even for this call. It made waiting for the phone to be answered frustrating. After a minute the phone stopped ringing. Oliver looked at Lin while the man frowned at the computer. Lin shook his head. The call had not been answered.
Oliver began to rise from his seat when the phone rang again. Resettling, he focused his gaze on the computer. More quickly than before the phone stopped ringing. Oliver watched Lin press a finger to his earphone, their agreed signal that the call was in progress.
Oliver disliked waiting. Particularly when others did not have too. Tapping his fingers on his arm, he waited for Lin to finish recording and save the audio. Time stretched on, finally Lin leaned back in his seat and removed his headphones. With a sigh, the man handed them to Oliver. He waited for Oliver to put on the headset before pressing play on the recording.
Oliver had seen and heard some horrible things during his career; but hearing this woman begging her parents for help, pleading that they save her triggered a level of empathy Oliver rarely reached. His vision lost focus, and he felt clammy. Slowly, his chest tightened.
As he listened to the final moments of the woman’s pleas, Oliver felt numb. Her distressed sobs faded away until the phone call stopped. It took Lin removing the headset from him before he regained some feeling. Oliver hated dissociating. He rarely did, the last time had been with the sudden loss of Gene, but the effect it had on him always made him feel vulnerable.
Lin took a deep breath as Oliver watched. Mimicking the action, Oliver found his head cleared slightly.
Finally, Oliver felt that he could focus on the case objectively and turned to look over the readings from the single thermometer placed near the phone.
Nothing. There was no abnormal reading from the thermometer to indicate spiritual presence. That didn’t make sense. There was clearly spiritual activity occurring, why no physical indicator?
“She won’t call again,” Kisho said from the door.
Spinning in his seat, Oliver looked to see the distressed man standing in his nightwear.
“She calls until we pick up. Until she’s heard. Once she’s done, the phone calls end for the night,” he explained. Oliver took note of the pallor of the man’s skin, and the sorrow in his expression.
After sending the man back to his bed, the two investigators made sure the equipment was secure before sleeping themselves. In the morning, the inquest would begin.
Unfortunately for Oliver, his morning started with less of an inquest and more of imminent peril. Mai greeted the men with an obviously fake smile and their preference for on-case breakfast foods. She even had tea ready for Oliver without him asking for it.
Oliver knew, without any need to use his psychometry, that Mai was beyond angry. And if he didn’t find a way to head this off, breakfast was just the beginning.
“Have you listened over the recording yet?” Oliver asked. The moment the sentence finished, he wished he could take it back. The grin on Mai’s face helped him realise just how wrong a choice of distraction that had been.
“Well, no, Naru. I have not listened to the recording yet.” Mai’s syrupy voice sent chills down Oliver’s neck. “I wanted to listen to it last night,” she continued, “but for some reason, it seems I slept through it.”
Oliver looked to Lin for support, but the man was studiously avoiding his eyes. Traitor.
In a role reversal from last night, Oliver was now pressing back into the lounge while Mai leaned forward.
“Apparently,” Mai was not done yet, “when my boss makes me a promise to wake me up in order to witness an important part of the case we’re working on; it’s not something he feels he needs to keep.”
Oliver managed to avoid flinching at the venom in her tone. Over her shoulder, he could see Lin taking a seat in front of the computer. Did he just turn on the webcam?!
“What I don’t understand,” Mai’s voice had lost all traces of sweetness, “is why my boss insists on bringing me on a case if he won’t let me do my job!” She finished in a yell.
Oliver sat in silence. He watched Mai as she panted from the exertion of yelling and slowly responded. “You are doing your job, Mai.”
At her narrowed eyes, Oliver elaborated. “You do some of your best investigative work when you sleep,” here he cut off her protests. “I know last night during the call was not a psychic dream. However, you can not deny you were tired.”
When Mai pouted, Oliver knew he had won a point. Pressing his advantage, Oliver tried to climb out of the hole he found himself in.
“We need you well rested for you to do your part. Once you’ve finished with breakfast, I want you to listen over the recording and see what stands out to you.”
Through the webcam recording, Oliver could see Lin’s eye roll on the monitor. Oliver mentally shrugged. As long as she is no longer yelling at me…
Chapter 4: Nothing Makes Sense
Watching Mai’s expression as she listened to the recording was informative. She was just as moved by the pleading as he and Lin had been. However, Oliver noticed at times she would frown at something. He inquired about her reaction once the recording had ended.
“Have you listened to this since last night?” Mai asked.
“No,” Oliver raised an eyebrow.
His other eyebrow met its twin when Mai stood up and moved to the door.
When she shut the door, his brows furrowed. What is she doing?
“Can you replay over speakers Lin-san?” she asked.
Lin unplugged the headset and restarted the recording.
“Stop!” Mai cried partway through. “Did you notice that?”
Oliver frowned. He was again caught by the begging of the woman. What else was there to notice?
“Kisho-san speaks to her here,” she said. “He begs her for forgiveness.”
Oliver’s eyes snapped to Lin’s. What? Oliver watched as Lin restarted the recording, running it through a program that isolated voices. With the voices separated, Lin began the thread belonging to Kisho.
“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… Please… Forgive me… I’m sorry…”
“I think,” Oliver said slowly, “we need to do some research into the Sato family.”
Evidently, Sato knows more than he told us. Oliver wasn’t sure what his expression was, but Mai was quick to reply.
“I’ll call Yasu,” she said.
While Mai was on the phone to Yasuhara, Oliver sat and listened to the full recording again. He was determined to find why neither he nor Lin could hear Kisho’s words while Mai could. As he listened over the audio, he was once again overcome with the emotion of the woman’s begging.
Mai’s hand on his shoulder brought him back to attention and he ripped the headset from his ears.
Quickly, she removed her hand from his shoulder and there was a moment of silence before she spoke.
“Yasu says he’ll start looking into things right away.” Oliver appreciated her no-nonsense tone. “He’ll email or call with anything big that pops up, but if it’s only small things he’ll just do one big info dump tonight.”
Oliver nodded before gesturing for Mai to sit in Lin’s empty chair. The older man had taken the chance to avoid Leiko by being out of the condo. Given that there was little he could do during this time, Oliver did not blame him.
With his attention on Mai, Oliver spoke.
“What was the first reaction you had when hearing the call?” he asked.
Oliver had always been fascinated by the way her emotions were so easily read on her face. Watching now as her brow furrowed and she bit her lip, he was amused by how her entire awareness seemed to turn inward as she tried to recall.
“At first I was really sad,” she said.
Oliver started slightly, pulled from his observations at the sudden words.
“But, it didn’t feel like me being sad,” she continued. Oliver unconsciously mimicked the frown she wore.
“How did it not ‘feel like you’?” Oliver wasn’t sure what that meant.
Mai’s breath came out in a gust. “I don’t know,” she said. “It just felt, foreign, like someone else’s sadness was being pushed onto me. Once I realised that, the feeling dimmed. Then I could hear Kisho-san.”
Oliver frowned at that. He hadn’t felt anything odd about the emotion he felt during the call. Which was, in and of itself, odd. He did not normally get swept into the emotions of a haunting, especially during repetitions of the event.
Overlooking Mai, Oliver turned back to the computer and replayed the recording. Foregoing the headset, begging filled the room as he tried to isolate any ‘foreign’ emotions.
Almost immediately, he was swept into the desolation of the words. Mai shifting beside him caught his attention and immediately he remembered why he was listening. Focusing on trying to tell what was him and what was foreign, he suddenly was able to hear past the woman. Clearly, though softly, he could hear Kisho’s pleas.
A gasp and the sound of breaking glass caught their attention. Turning off the audio, Oliver spun to see Leiko standing by the door, clutching her throat. At her feet, orange liquid rapidly spread to the rug from the shards of the wine glass on the floor.
“Sato-san!” Mai moved to the distressed woman. Carefully stepping around the mess on the floor, Mai helped the woman into the lounge. While Mai bustled to make the woman a cup of tea, Oliver observed her shaking hands and white face.
“Do you always feel that strongly when hearing the call?” he asked.
Leiko looked at him with wide eyes. “That was the call?” she gasped.
Oliver raised an eyebrow. Mai turned from the kitchenette to look at the woman. Seeing their looks, the woman explained.
“I’ve never answered the phone. Kisho always does.” She paused to accept the cup of tea Mai handed her. “I, well, I never really thought about what the calls would be,” she said after taking a sip of tea.
“Did Sato-san never explain them to you?” Mai asked. Oliver could see her in the seat opposite Leiko and was once again surprised by her tone when speaking to this couple.
Leiko looked into her cup of tea. “He told me that it was a woman begging. Asking for her parents. I didn’t really care after that.”
“Sato-san told us the woman was calling the two of you her parents,” Oliver stated.
“That’s ridiculous,” Leiko scoffed. “We don’t have any children.”
“Not even Emi-san?” Mai’s sharp words pierced the air.
Leiko paled further. Placing down the cup of tea, she stood from the lounge and walked to the door.
“We have a cleaning service due in later today. They’ll clean this mess.” With her back still turned to the investigators, she finished, “good day.”
After she walked out of the room, Oliver turned to Mai. The woman was red-faced and quivering, her breathing occurring in sharp bursts. While Mai becoming emotionally invested in a case was normal, she traditionally didn’t make accusations towards clients. That she reserves for me.
Watching as Mai attempted to gain control of herself, Oliver thought back over her reactions to this case so far. From the beginning, she had been aloof toward the Sato’s. Uncomfortable in the condo, and even now with Leiko. While Mai had helped the woman to a seat and prepared tea, there had not been any of the other fussing that usually accompanied those actions.
Combined with her recent outburst, Oliver felt that there was something he was missing. When he opened his mouth to ask, he saw Gene in the ornamental mirror again. His twin shook his head, making throat-slashing gestures at him. Oliver frowned. Well, if I cannot ask Mai, I will ask Gene.
Facing Gene in the same bathroom mirror as before, Oliver waited impatiently for his brother to stop burbling about his behaviour last night toward Mai.
“- really Noll. You can’t just do that to people. You know if Mum saw you do that she’d be -”
“As it is,” Oliver cut in, “Luella did not see me do that. Also, my behaviour has already been called out.” By both Mai and Lin. The reproving look and words Lin had given him after Mai was asleep had not been pleasant.
“Still -” Gene began.
“Why did you stop me from asking Mai about her behaviour?” Oliver once again cut against his brother.
Gene heaved a sigh. “The most I know is it’s likely her intuition.”
Oliver was sceptical. “Her intuition has never had her act like this before. Normally during a haunting she is protective of the client not calling them out.”
“Haunting?” Gene frowned. “What haunting?”
Now Oliver frowned. “The couple we are assisting is being haunted. It is why we are here.”
Gene shook his head. “There are no spirits here Noll.”
That didn’t make sense. They had evidence that there was a haunting. “Are you sure?” Oliver asked.
Gene scowled. “Yes. If there was a spirit here, it would be drawn to Mai.” Oliver nodded in agreement.
“When Mai enters her astral realm, I’m called. Mai hasn’t entered her astral realm to speak with them, I’d know it.” Gene continued.
Oliver paused. Mai hadn’t had any psychic dreams during this case. Even the dream she had yesterday afternoon she wasn’t sure was psychic.
“If it’s not a spirit,” Oliver spoke slowly to a bemused Gene, “what is happening?”
There was heavy silence before Gene spoke.
“That’s what you’re good at brother. Finding the answers.”
After leaving the bathroom, Oliver went to the room they had been given to sleep in and sat on the bed. Carding his fingers through his hair, he gave a deep sigh.
It doesn’t make sense.
They had evidence of a haunting, but Gene was also right in that signs Mai normally gave during a haunting were missing. His fingers clenched hair and he grit his teeth at the pain.
Nothing about this case was adding up. The only paranormal activity occurred at a single time each night. Only one of the clients had interacted with the spirit. Mai’s behaviour was also odd, almost as if she felt the Sato couple deserved this...
Oliver froze. That couldn’t be right. Mai would never wish something like this on someone.
A groan left his throat as he rubbed his forehead. Why does none of this make any sense?
A voice clearing caught his attention. Looking up, Oliver saw Lin standing in the doorway. Waving the man in, Oliver looked him over. Given that nothing seemed out of place, Oliver presumed the tall man had not been accosted by Leiko again.
“What is bothering you?” Lin asked.
Oliver grunted and waved his hands over the case file, sparse as it was.
“Nothing is making sense,” he said. Quickly, he informed Lin of his conversations with Mai and Gene. Other than a raised eyebrow, Lin did not show any expression. Even when Oliver stood and began to pace.
“- her behaviour does not make any sense! She is barely civil to the Sato’s. She has been more temperamental since we arrived. That scene this morning over breakfast is not in character for her!” Oliver stopped to breathe.
“Are you frustrated over the case or over Taniyama-san?” Lin drawled.
Oliver whipped his head around to glare at the man.
“The case,” he grit out.
“Are you sure?”
Oliver wasn’t sure where Lin was going with his line of questioning. Of course he was frustrated over the case. The details were not making sense. Yes, he was also frustrated by Mai’s behaviour; but that was lesser than solving this case. Isn’t it?
With a growl, he sat back on the bed. Once more, his fingers carded through his hair. Oliver was both thankful for and hated the silence that filled the room. Why does nothing make sense?
A soft knock was heard against the door. Months of hearing the same rap whenever Mai brought tea had Oliver’s mouth twitch.
“Yes Mai?” he called.
“Um, Yasu called,” she said. “He wants to speak to us.” He could hear her take a breath. “He didn't sound happy.”
Ignoring Lin, Oliver walked out the door; barely glancing at Mai. Ignoring her huff from behind him, he made sure the door leading to the rest of the condo was closed before moving to the phone.
“What have you found Yasuhara-san?” he was grateful his voice didn’t show any of the frustration from earlier.
“Nothing good Boss.” Yasuhara’s voice was tight. “Nothing good.”
Chapter 5: Hints and Clues
This chapter (upload) is dedicated to Em, because her enthusiasm always makes me smile.
“At first glance, the Sato’s seem like your typical high profile couple,” Yasuhara began.
“Aren’t they?” Mai asked. The three of them had taken seats around the coffee table to hear Yasuhara’s report through the phone speaker.
“Well, yes,” Yasuhara replied. “But it’s more what happened as they became high profile that is non-typical.”
“Yasuhara-san,” Oliver intoned. Now is not the time for vagueness.
“Right boss. Well, the Sato’s rose in consequence when Sato Kisho received a promotion to a marketing executive position,” Yasuhara continued. “As he rose through the ranks, his family became more and more recognised by those with money and influence. Sato Leiko even snagged a few modeling jobs.”
Oliver saw Mai frown. “I don’t remember seeing Sato-san’s face in any modeling promotions, Yasu,” she said.
Oliver shared a look with Lin. They hadn’t been in Japan long enough to take note of whose face was on an advertisement. And clearly, her modeling days are behind her.
“Well, it was fifteen years ago,” Yasuhara laughed before his voice became grim. “By the way, Kisho-san was correct when he said they had a daughter, Emi-san. She was nine years old when she went missing.”
“I knew it,” Mai hissed. “She told us they don’t have any children.”
Oliver reached out to remove the folder she was clutching. He didn’t want to redo the paperwork.
“What does Emi-san going missing have to do with the Satos’ careers?” Oliver didn’t understand how the two were connected.
Yasuhara sighed. “Boss,” his voice was pained. Oliver leaned in toward the phone. “Emi-san was born with severe developmental delays. According to reports, Emi-san was physically and mentally behind her peers.”
Suddenly, Oliver felt Mai’s hand clench over his arm. Any tighter and I will lose circulation. Wincing at the pressure, Oliver refocused on Yasuhara.
“The reason Leiko-san received any opportunities was because of Emi-san. Apparently the casting director liked that Leiko-san was an attractive woman who was a caring mother toward a disabled child.”
“So why would Emi-san be an issue if her parents were profiting from her disability?” Oliver could feel the frown on his face.
“Because Kisho-san was being offered promotions that required them to travel. Emi-san didn’t handle the constant travelling well and Leiko-san refused to be left behind with Emi-san,” Yasuhara explained.
Lin paused in his typing. “How well known is this Yasuhara-san?” his voice was vaguely impressed.
“Ahh, Lin-san,” the younger man responded, “I can’t give away all my secrets.”
Oliver rolled his eyes at Yasuhara’s smug tone, he could almost envision the man pushing his glasses up his nose while they reflected light.
“Yasu,” Mai cut in. Turning to look at her, Oliver was only slightly surprised to see her unfocused gaze. “What did the police reports say about Emi-san’s disappearance?”
Oliver kept his focus on Mai even while the sound of their researcher rustling through papers came over the phone. He took Yasuhara’s moment of distraction to place his hand over Mai’s. His aim to gain her attention worked and her gaze snapped to him.
At his gentle squeeze of her hand, Mai’s eyes dropped to where she was still clutching his arm. As her face went red, Oliver felt her try to tug her hand away. Keeping it within his grasp, Oliver waited for Mai to look at him again.
Just as she did, Yasuhara’s voice came over the phone. Oliver scowled as Mai’s attention dropped from him to the phone. You are on a case, Davis.
“So, the police reports are rather slim,” Yasuhara was saying. “Basically, Emi-san was left briefly unsupervised. They think she must have walked away from the house and gotten lost, the family home at the time was near a forested area.”
“Surely they would have looked for her,” Mai’s voice had taken on that dangerous tone which had Oliver straightening.
“Police did, but nothing was found,” the man on the phone sighed. “Then it’s like her parents just gave up. Focused on their lives and travelling.”
Oliver could feel the seething emotions rolling off Mai.
“Something interesting though,” the researcher pronounced. “I took the dates Kisho-san gave us for when the haunting started and compared them to what was going on for him career-wise…”
Oliver felt a headache spread across his temples at the other man’s dramatics.
“Yasu,” Mai’s voice was sharp. “Get to the point.”
There was silence as the three men processed that Mai had just chastised Yasuhara to get to the point. What? Oliver shared a disbelieving look with Lin.
“Right, well,” Yasuhara cleared his throat. “According to Kisho-san’s recent work, he’s been head of a team working on the marketing for a disabled children’s aid campaign. Based on the time these things take to organise, the phone calls started around the time Kisho-san began to work on this project.”
The three investigators sat in silence at that revelation.
“So,” Mai began, “did Kisho-san’s new job activate the haunting?”
There was no haunting.
“I do not believe there is a haunting,” Oliver said.
“What?” Mai cried, turning to face him. Oliver winced at the volume.
“Ahh, boss. Are you sure?” Yasuhara said through the phone. Even Lin was looking at him askance.
“The data we have collected is not enough to signify a haunting,” Oliver declared.
“Then what is causing the phone calls?” Mai challenged.
“I do not know,” Oliver sighed. Ignoring Mai’s gaping expression, he continued. “That’s what we need to focus on now.”
There was a niggling thought in the back of Oliver’s mind. Something he was forgetting. What was it?
A knock on the door made him pause. The door slid open and Kisho stood in the opening.
“Good evening,” he bowed to the group. “I was hoping you could give me an update on the case?” he asked walking into the room.
Oliver watched the man as he hovered behind the lounge.
“Please, Sato-san, have a seat,”
Blinking, it took Oliver a moment to realise that it was Lin, not Mai, who offered hospitality to their client. Looking toward the woman he saw her blank expression as she gazed at Kisho. What is going on?
Overlooking Mai for a moment, he reached over to the phone.
“Yasuhara-san,” he said. “Thank you for that information, we’ll be in touch.”
“Yes’sir boss-man.” click.
“He sounds like an energetic sort,” Kisho said with a strained chuckle.
“He can take some getting used too,” Oliver replied. “What in particular were you wanting an update on Sato-san?”
The man on the lounge shifted his weight.
“Anything really,” he answered. “I- I really don’t wish for this to last much longer.”
“Why is that?” Mai’s tone wasn’t rude, but it certainly didn’t have her normal warmth either.
Kisho looked at the young woman askance. Clearly Oliver wasn’t the only one to realise Mai was on edge.
“This may sound selfish, but I have large commitments at work coming up,” Kisho said. “My work is always stressful, but this haunting is making everything harder.”
“Has your wife been having similar struggles?” Oliver asked. Dimly, he could hear the sound of Lin keeping record of the conversation on the laptop.
Kisho’s face became a ruddy colour, and the man cleared his throat before answering.
“Leiko hasn’t been as impacted as I have.”
“Your wife said something this morning I was hoping you could explain, Sato-san,” Mai cut into the conversation.
Kisho gave her a confused look, but nodded anyway.
“Sato-san said the two of you didn’t have any children,” Mai continued; completely ignoring Oliver’s glare to be careful. “But when you came to us with this case you mentioned your daughter Emi-san.”
Oliver’s eyes were bouncing between watching Mai, whose straight, tense posture resembled a predator, and Kisho, who was folding into himself in an attempt to hide from her gaze.
“Why would Sato-san deny Emi-san?” Mai finished.
Oliver’s eyes settled on Mai. The woman’s back was a straight line, leaning toward Kisho. Her eyes were locked onto the man. Oliver was taken aback by her absolute focus.
“I- I-” Kisho stammered. “I can’t really- That is. I don’t know. I-”
“Sato-san,” Lin’s voice stopped the man’s bumbling response. Their host looked toward the tall man like he was a lifeboat.
“You wanted an update on the case,” it wasn’t a question, but their client nodded his head in response. “So far, we have last night’s recording. Given the lack of data outside of that call, at least another night’s recording will be needed.”
When Kisho frowned at that answer, Lin’s visible eye pierced him. “You understand these things can’t be rushed.”
Kisho gulped and nodded. Jumping to his feet, he moved to the door.
“Thank you for your time,” he said quickly before leaving the room.
Oliver watched as Lin purposefully closed the laptop, walked to the door, and shut it. Once the door was closed, the tall man took a deep breath before turning back to the others at the table.
“What,” he looked straight at Mai, “was that?”
Oliver turned his attention from his guardian to his second assistant. He was slightly annoyed with himself that it was Lin who called her out first.
Mai tightened her jaw and stared back. She looked ready for a fight.
Oliver felt a headache coming on.
Chapter 6: (Now I) Fall Apart
Oliver sat looking between his two assistants. He had never really appreciated how tense a stand-off could be. Lin had made the first move with his question, but Mai wasn’t backing down like she normally did against the older man.
“Taniyama-san,” Lin grit out.
Oliver watched as Mai tilted her chin higher. This will not end well.
“Mai,” he cut through the stand-off. Mai’s attention snapped to him. Oliver felt his eyes widen when he saw the hard look in her eyes.
“Mai,” he gently repeated. “If you know something we don’t, or suspect something, you need to tell us.”
Abruptly, Mai’s face fell from its stubborn expression and her lip trembled. Oliver moved forward and caught her as she crumbled. Carefully, he maneuvered them to the lounge.
Oliver wasn’t sure how long he held her while she sobbed, but he sensed Lin leave and check in several times.
Holding her, Oliver didn’t shush her while she cried, that wasn’t his style. He did, however, alternate between petting her hair and rubbing her back while humming softly in her ear.
Slowly, Mai’s sobs began to die down. As she moved from deep gasping breaths to hiccups, Oliver pulled out the handkerchief from his pocket. Slowly and carefully, he wiped away the tears from her cheeks.
Catching her gaze, he tried to hand her the handkerchief to clear her nose. Mai didn’t notice the cloth; she was so focused on his face.
“Naru,” she whispered.
“Why?” she began.
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “I grew up in England Mai. I always carry a handkerchief.”
Oliver watched as she blinked at his response before she turned red.
“Naru,” she scolded. It wasn’t up to her usual standard given her stuffy nose, and Naru waved the cloth in front of her again. With a huff, Mai took the cloth from him and blew her nose.
At the sound, Lin poked his head into the room. Seeing that Mai had calmed down, he entered and sat in his usual seat.
“I’m sorry Lin-san,” Mai said.
Lin watched her for a moment before speaking, “Taniyama-san. Please explain what has been happening.”
Mai looked down at her hands clutching the handkerchief. Letting out a shuddered breath, she began to speak.
“It began when Kisho-san entered the office.”
Given that Lin had taken the lead on these questions, Oliver retrieved his book from the desk and returned to sit beside Mai.
“There was something wrong,” Mai continued. “I didn’t trust him. Coming here, everything became worse. Leiko-san, the condo; then Yasu’s report,” she took a deep breath.
Oliver placed his left hand on her lower back, and she leaned into his side. Looking down at the woman at his side, Oliver felt something tighten in his chest.
This woman. She didn’t have formal training, yet she had so much ability. She didn’t care for positions and titles, yet she was one of the most caring people he knew. She didn’t back down when he was in a snit, yet she didn’t hesitate to take comfort from him.
His arm tightened around her and she paused in her speaking to look up at him. Oliver focused on her eyes. Still red and slightly puffy from her earlier tears, he was caught by the sheer emotion in them.
Before he could identify just what was expressed in her eyes, he heard Lin clear his throat. Immediately, Mai dropped her eyes and blushed. Oliver felt her try to pull away but, this time, he refused to let her go.
Clearing her throat, Mai picked up her sentence from before.
“Since Yasu’s report, especially after hearing the call, I just know,” she paused. After a breath she continued, “I just know Emi-san is dead. And-” she choked.
Oliver could feel her trembling against him. Giving her a slight squeeze, he then rubbed her back until she could speak.
“I know-” she got out, “that they killed her.” Mai looked at Oliver with more tears in her eyes.
“They killed their daughter.”
Given Mai’s tears earlier, Oliver wasn’t surprised that she fell asleep easily. With her earlier confession and Oliver’s knowledge from Gene, Oliver and Lin turned their focus on to how the phone calls were occurring if they weren't coming from Emi.
“Last Phone Call Phenomena?” Lin threw out.
Oliver cocked his head to the side.
“Doubtful,” he replied. “There have been multiple calls, and after 15 years? It no longer fits the criteria.”
Lin hummed in agreement.
“It could be a form of PK,” Oliver put forward.
Lin tilted his head back, thinking it over.
“It could,” he said, “but I’ve never heard of PK creating an effect like this.”
“Very true. Something that doesn’t make sense though is the infliction of foreign emotions during the call,” Oliver mused.
“What?” Lin’s question cut through the room.
Oliver looked askance at the other man. “Mai spoke about it when she heard the call. That the emotions felt foreign.”
Lin shook his head. Oliver then remembered why the man didn’t know.
“Oh, yes,” Oliver began to smirk. “You were avoiding Leiko-san when Mai and I had that conversation.”
Ignoring the glower he received from his assistant, Oliver recounted the conversation he had with Mai earlier.
Lin mulled over the new information.
“Does Kisho-san have any history of empathic ability?” he eventually asked.
Oliver frowned. “I do not know. I can call Yasuhara-san and have him look into it.”
“Do that,” Lin responded.
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “Care to share?”
Lin gave a sardonic smile, “Will you hold me close if I do? Or do I need to break into tears first?”
Oliver left the room.
The downside to having a psychically connected twin who communicated through mirrors was the lack of privacy. Washing his hands, he looked up to the mirror and saw a grin he both loved and hated.
“So,” the grin grew with each word, “how was it?”
“How was what?” Oliver asked. He immediately regretted it. He will not let this go now.
Gene’s grin reached a previously unknown size. “How was holding Mai so close?”
“You actively held her!”
“You refused to let her pull away!”
“GENE!” Oliver bellowed.
Gene looked at him through the glass. Oliver could feel his glee through their link. Staring at his twin through the glass, Oliver felt himself crack.
“Gene,” his voice broke. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Gene’s grin slipped into a small smile. “Noll.”
Oliver ducked his head. Why are my hands trembling?
“Noll,” his twin’s voice made him look up. “None of us know what we’re doing.”
At Oliver’s snort, Gene gave a low chuckle. “I mean it,” he insisted. “It’s why people talk about relationships being scary.”
“I can handle scary,” Oliver said.
“No, you can handle horror,” Gene rebutted. “Everything has a reason for happening and a feasible method of handling. Relationships don’t have standard measures, Noll. They don’t make sense and everything needs to be taken as it comes.”
Oliver frowned at Gene’s words.
“Relationships need people to communicate Noll,” Gene continued. “You need to be able to give and take, trust each other, talk about what you need and want, but also what is bothering you.”
“You don’t tell me anything!”
“Gene,” Oliver cut off his brother’s rambling. “How do I tell her?”
“Idiot scientist,” Gene laughed. “You need to -”
Gene was interrupted by a loud rap at the door.
“Noll,” Lin’s voice came through the wood. “We need to prepare for the phone recording tonight.”
“Right,” Oliver said.
He gave his twin a wry smile before leaving the bathroom.
He had a case to solve.
Chapter 7: Impacted?
The second night of recording happened much the same as the first. Only this time Kisho answered the first call. Like he had previously said, the woman was calmer having been answered sooner.
Oliver once again found himself caught by emotions as he listened to the call. As he regained his awareness of the room around him, he saw Lin watching him closely.
“Run the call through the audio separation program,” Oliver said. “Let’s see if Kisho-san speaks with her again.”
Lin watched him for a moment longer before turning his attention to the computer. Shortly, a different audio stream flowed through the headset.
“Please, I’m sorry... I’m so sorry… I shouldn’t have… I’m so sorry…”
Oliver removed the headset and sighed. Without looking at the other man, he passed over the headset for Lin to listen.
Could Kisho be causing this? How? He regarded Lin as the man listened to the recording. What does Lin suspect could be happening? Oliver hated being left out of the loop. As he watched, Lin removed the headset.
“If you keep making that face, it will stay that way,” Lin said with a smirk.
Oliver’s frown deepened.
“What is your theory?” he asked. “Do not blow me off like you did before, either.”
Lin leaned back in his chair and blew out a breath. He tilted his head so his visible eye considered Oliver.
“Before I answer,” he began, “did you contact Yasuhara-san?”
Oliver winced at his oversight. He had not. Catching his expression Lin’s eye narrowed in reprimand.
“Noll,” he began.
“I know,” Oliver groaned. Thank goodness Mai is asleep and the rest aren’t here. He’d never live it down. Lin knowing was bad enough.
“I know,” he continued, “I have been…” he floundered for a word
“Distracted,” Lin offered in bemusement.
Oliver sent a sharp look at the man. “I have not been distracted,” he insisted.
“You have,” Lin drolled. “You have been obsessing over what is going on between you and Taniyama-san.”
Oliver opened his mouth to defend himself.
“It is about time something happened,” Lin continued. “But you need to make sure it does not impact your work, Noll.”
Oliver sat flabbergasted. Impact my work? Nothing impacts my work! My work has not been impacted!
Lin rolled his eyes. “I’ll text Yasuhara-san,” he said. “He should see it in the morning. Hopefully, he’ll find something quickly.”
With a snort of mild disgust at the dumbfounded look on Oliver’s face, he left the room.
“Impact my work?”
The hours until breakfast were not enough time for Oliver to come to grips with Lin’s assessment of his behaviour. He was not letting his obsession with Mai impact his work. Not that it was an obsession. It was a proper concern for his employee’s odd behaviour.
The fact that her behaviour was usually odd in relation to himself was beside the point.
As he came to the door of the kitchenette, he paused when he saw Mai. She was humming slightly as she prepared breakfast. A warm feeling blossomed in his chest as he watched her.
Movement from the other side of the room caught his attention. Changing focus, he saw Lin watching him with an amused expression. Caught.
Not that he was doing anything wrong. The heat he could feel creeping around his ears was completely unnecessary.
“Naru!” Mai greeted. Then she paused. “Hey Naru, are you ok? You look flushed. You’re not getting sick are you?”
“I’m fine,” he replied.
“Are you sure?” Mai pressed. “Do you want some tea or anything?”
He then moved to sit by Lin. For once, Mai didn’t huff at his gruff demand for tea. Watching as she once more moved around the kitchenette, Oliver started when he felt Lin poke him in the ribs.
“For heaven’s sake Noll,” the man grumbled. Louder he continued, “Taniyama-san. Have you heard from Yasuhara-san?”
“No,” Mai mused. After bringing over tea for both Oliver and Lin she took a seat.
“Which is slightly odd,” she continued. “Yasu likes to bombard me with silly memes throughout the day. I usually wake up to several.”
“He’s likely researching the information you asked for last night,” Oliver said to Lin.
“If he’s awake yet,” Mai laughed slightly. “He’s been bemoaning how his university work is making him keep odd hours. If you texted him late, he may not have read it yet.”
Oliver’s jaw tensed. He hadn’t realised she and Yasuhara were that much in contact. Stop it Davis. You. Are. On. A. Case. Besides, you know how Mai feels about you.
Then, Oliver’s phone rang. After looking at the caller ID, he smirked. “Speak of the devil.”
Accepting the call, he placed the phone on speaker.
“Yasuhara-san,” he greeted.
“Boss,” Yasuhara replied.
Oliver frowned at the exhaustion in the researcher’s voice. “Yasuhara-san, is everything all right?”
“Yeah,” the man yawned. “I was about to head to bed when I got Lin-san’s text. I started looking into it right away.”
“Yasu,” Mai chastised. “You need to take better care of yourself.”
“Taniyama-san is correct Yasuhara-san,” Lin spoke. “I anticipated you would be asleep when I sent the text. This could have waited until morning when you were rested.”
“Yasuhara-san, is whatever information you found able to be sent via email?” Oliver asked.
“Not really,” Yasuhara replied. “But if you want it in writing, I can send a summary.”
“No,” Oliver responded. “Get some rest.”
“If you work yourself into the ground you are unable to aid with cases, Yasuhara-san,” Oliver said. “Sleep. Call back when you wake up.”
“Okay? Um, I’ll talk to you later then,” Yasuhara said before ending the call.
Oliver leaned back and sighed. As much as he admired Yasuhara’s passion, the man needed to take better care of himself. Yes, they would be down a researcher, but Yasuhara couldn’t afford to overwork himself. Not with his university commitments.
It wasn’t lost on him that Gene said similar things about him in the past.
Blindly he reached out for his teacup. Between his turmoil at Lin’s words and his concern for Yasuhara, he must not have been shielding properly. The moment he picked up the cup, a psychometric reading of Mai’s feelings and thoughts as she prepared the tea rushed through him.
Concern - was Naru all right? He looks flushed and out of sorts.
Joy - he held me. He actually held me as I cried last night. Squeeeeee.
Embarrassment - how ridiculous is it that I’m excited about him being nice!
Simmering beneath her top emotions, ready to leap up at any moment, was fury - how dare the Sato’s get rid of their daughter like she was worthless.
But the emotion that flowed through them all, and made him give pause, was confusion - I love him. But I don’t know if he feels the same. Sometimes he pushes me out, others he pulls me in. Why can’t he just give me a clear answer?
He didn't realise he had dropped the teacup until he heard Mai’s cries break through his concentration.
“It is fine,” he said to the frantic woman. She paused in mopping up the spilt tea to scowl at him.
Oliver watched as she picked up the teacup and stomped back to the sink. A clear answer?
“You don’t tell me anything!”
Was that the reason for her behaviour?
His phone began to ring again.
“Yasuhara-san,” he answered, “You were told to rest.”
“I know Boss,” the man replied, “but this has been bugging me and I had to share.”
Oliver raised an eyebrow at the agitated tone.
“Share then,” he replied.
“So, I got Lin-san’s text to look into Kisho-san and see if there was any evidence of empathic ability. Which, by the way Lin-san: such an easy assignment. Truly. So simple.”
Lin smirked at Yasuhara’s sarcasm. “It’s a good learning experience Yasuhara-san,” he replied.
Yasuhara snorted. “Yeah, well, I managed to find some anecdotal information that supports the theory. Kisho-san always had a way with people. His work managed to pull some big names when he was small-time. Apparently his work ‘had a way of touching the soul’.”
“Nothing more concrete, Yasuhara-san?” Oliver asked.
“Boss,” Yasuhara whined. “This isn’t information I can pull from someone’s computer!”
Oliver rolled his eyes.
“What is interesting,” Yasuhara continued, “is that after Emi-san’s disappearance, his work didn't have the same effect. He still did a good job, but it was less intense.”
Hmmm. Oliver looked at Lin to see if that information was of any use.
“What about the relationship between Kisho-san and Leiko-san?” Lin asked.
“Well, Leiko-san seemed to be the power in the couple, according to gossip rags,” Yasuhara answered.
“Would you say she is able to influence Kisho-san’s behaviour?”
“Before Emi-san went missing, yeah,” Yasuhara answered. “But afterwards? It’s like he only cared about himself.”
“Thank you Yasuhara-san,” Lin acknowledged .
He turned to Oliver. “There is something I think we need to test regarding Kisho-san.”
“Oh?” Oliver raised an eyebrow.
“I think we need to test him for PK-LT.”
Chapter 8: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Oliver leaned back in his seat. That could be an interesting answer-
“PK-LT?” Mai asked. “What does PK-LT have to do with this?”
Lin and Oliver looked at each other. Oliver raised an eyebrow. Your show.
Lin sighed. “To be honest, my main theory is that Kisho-san has empathic ability.”
“There are theories that empathy is a form of PK-LT,” Oliver continued.
Lin nodded. “Which is why I would like to test Kisho-san. Especially since it appears emotions are being broadcast.”
Mai’s eyes bounced between the two men.
“How would empathy, or even PK-LT, create the phone calls though?”
Three sets of eyes were drawn to the phone on the table.
“That I am not sure about Yasuhara-san,” Lin answered. “Perhaps a projection of some sort?”
“Mental projection?” Oliver clarified. “He did say his work was stressful. Combine that with guilt over killing his daughter, it could be a stress response.”
“Wait,” Yasuhara spoke. “He killed his daughter?”
Silence filled the room. Oliver looked at Mai, who was looking grimly at the phone.
“It’s intuition Yasu,” Mai answered. “But both Kisho-san and Leiko-san were part of it.”
Yasuhara whistled. Mai returned to her seat at the table and rested her chin on her fist.
“Hey Yasu,” she began, “you said after Emi-san was killed Kisho-san’s work became less intense?”
“Yes,” the researcher replied.
Mai looked at Lin. “I know stress can bring out PK, but can it also suppress it?”
It was Oliver who answered. “It can,” he frowned. “It’s not as common though.”
Mai looked at him. “So, theoretically, Kisho-san’s empathy could have been suppressed after he killed Emi-san, and when he saw the disabled children in his newest work project the guilt resurfaced and activated the empathy?”
Oliver looked at her in amazement. That was not a leap I expected her to make.
Then Mai began to narrow her eyes at his continued silence.
“It’s possible,” Oliver answered. Let’s not have her chew me out again over her capabilities.
“Ultimately, it depends on if Kisho-san tests positive for PK-LT.”
Mai watched him for a moment longer before nodding.
“You want me to do what?”
“Return to the SPR office for a specific test,” Oliver repeated.
“Why?” Kisho queried.
Oliver sighed. “Sato-san, I cannot give you details as that would influence the results of the test.”
“Is it really necessary?”
“Sato-san,” Oliver’s voice hardened. “You came to us with this case. This test is needed to solve it.”
“Right,” he stammered, “right. Well, what time do you need this test done?”
Oliver looked over at Lin who raised 4 fingers.
“4 pm Sato-san,” Oliver spoke into the phone. “You will need to be at the Office by 4 pm.”
Ending the call, Oliver let out a frustrated huff.
“Do you get the feeling the Satos’ thought we would just say some words and the phone calls would stop?” Mai pondered.
“Based on Leiko-san’s reaction when we first arrived? That is likely.” Oliver agreed.
Mai hummed as she moved around the base. With how little there was to investigate, or run off into danger over, Oliver was not surprised to see her bored.
“I haven't seen Leiko-san since she came into the base when the call was playing; have you?” she eventually asked.
Based on Lin’s suddenly tense shoulders, this was not a conversation turn he wanted.
“I’m sure if you want to track her down and talk about her modelling career you’ll be able to,” Oliver smirked at the peeved look she sent him. “First, however, tea.”
His smirk grew, almost into a grin, as she stomped to the kitchenette. Pretending to read his case notes, he could hear her mumbling.
“Stupid narcissist. Things never change. Honestly, all he cares about is tea. He’s lucky the only reason I make it for him is because I’ve tasted his attempts. He’d end up poisoning himself. The idiot.”
Oliver’s smirk dropped and he rolled his eyes. I have more than enough talents to not need to make tea.
“Has she been causing any more problems?” He prodded Lin.
“You should have told me,” Oliver frowned.
“Told you what?” Mai set down the cup of tea.
“That Lin is being harassed by Leiko-san.”
“Urgth,” Mai dropped into a seat. “Seriously? How pathetic.”
Oliver and Lin both stopped what they were doing and looked at her.
“That is, I mean, not that you’re pathetic Lin-san, because you’re not,” Mai started babbling. “But she’s just, you know, a rich housewife. That cliche, you know? Nothing better to do than cause drama. Right? Not that you’re drama, Lin-san. You’re not. You’re totally focused. It’s just-”
Oliver took pity on the woman and saved her from the hole her mouth was digging. “Mai.”
“Yes Naru?” she asked with a look of relief.
“Call John-san. We’ll need him at the office at 4 pm.”
“John-san?” Mai tilted her head. “Why John-san?”
“Because John-san has no prior knowledge or preconceived ideas regarding this case. Which is what we need to test Kisho-san,” Oliver explained.
“Mai-san,” John smiled. “I was thrilled to get your call. How can I help?”
Oliver frowned slightly. Has he always been that friendly to Mai?
“John-san,” Oliver stepped forward. “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
“Not at all,” John replied. “I’m happy to help.”
“Good, because I need you to trust me.”
John’s eyes widened at Oliver’s words. He turned back to look at Mai. At her nod and slight smile, he turned back to Oliver.
Oliver gestured to Lin’s office. “I need you to wait in Lin’s office. In order to solve a case we are working on, we need an unbiased opinion on something,” Oliver grimaced. “It is why I cannot give you details.”
“Ahhh,” John said in comprehension. With another smile, he moved to enter Lin’s office.
“Brown-san,” Lin waved him through the door. “I have questions I need to ask, and repeat later. Please sit.”
Oliver watched as Mai gave John another smile before shutting the door.
“What’s wrong?” Mai asked.
Oliver moved his gaze from the door to her. “Wrong?”
“You’ve been frowning since John-san arrived,” Mai prodded. “Did something happen?”
Only losing my mind.
“No,” Oliver asserted. “Kisho-san should be here soon. Have you set up my office?”
Mai nodded. “It’s ready. How are you going to be testing him anyway?”
Oliver rested his weight on his heels. “To be honest, we’re taking a shot in the dark with this.”
At Mai’s look of disbelief he chuckled. “Neither Lin or myself have experience in testing empaths. Also, given the peculiarities with this case, I am not sure Kisho-san could be tested with established tests.”
“So,” Mai wondered, “you’re making it up as you go?”
“Based on the evidence presented, yes.”
“So, what are you going to do to test him then?” Mai pushed.
A knock on the office door stopped him from replying. Oliver raised an eyebrow at Mai’s scowl. Walking around the frustrated woman, he ushered Kisho into the room.
“Is this really necessary Shibuya-san?” Kisho was demanding. “I don’t understand how you think a test here will help with anything?”
“It will answer many questions, Sato-san,” Oliver replied. “Questions we cannot progress through right now.”
Oliver shot a look at Mai and she nodded. Stepping forward, she gained Kisho’s attention.
“Sato-san,” she began, “please follow me into this office. We will be conducting the test from here.”
Oliver waited for them to enter his office before he rapped twice on the door to Lin’s office. He then moved into his own.
Pausing by the camera facing Kisho to check it was functioning properly, he moved to his seat and observed the man seated on the other side of the desk.
The man was still tall and thin, but the emotion that was present when he first approached them for help was different. Before, the fear was of the unknown. There was grief there too. Now, that fear was tempered by frustration. Apparently Oliver’s team hadn’t worked the way Kisho believed they would.
Oliver’s smirk was barely visible. When they discovered why this man had killed his daughter, the frustration as his team’s approach to the case was going to be the least of the man’s problems.
“Sato-san,” Oliver ignored the sullen glare he got in response. “We believe the phone calls are linked to a potential psychic ability you possess.”
“What?” Kisho gaped. Obviously, whatever he was expecting, this was not it.
“The test we wish to conduct will answer if that psychic ability is present, and if it has the impact we believe it does.”
Oliver looked at the man in disdain. It is not that hard a concept.
Mai apparently sensed his scorn.
“Sato-san,” she called softly. “Have there ever been times where you felt what others were feeling? Or made others feel something?”
Kisho looked at her stunned.
“You think, what?” he looked between her and Oliver. “That I can feel and manipulate emotions?”
Seeing their serious expressions he scoffed. “You can’t be serious,” he looked back at Mai. “Can you?”
“As I said Sato-san,” Oliver was annoyed at needing to repeat himself. “The test we wish to conduct will answer whether you have the psychic ability we believe you do.”
Oliver wouldn’t admit it, but the stupefied look on the man’s face was priceless.
As a scientist, Oliver was used to conducting tests and maintaining a stoic expression to keep the subject from gaining unnecessary feedback. If only Mai had that same experience.
As the woman fidgeted in the seat beside him, Oliver truly considered the benefit of duct taping her to the seat.
“Sato-san,” Oliver angled the computer screen toward the man. “On this screen images will appear. I need you to be completely honest with your emotional response to them.”
Kisho nodded his head. That is the easy part.
“In the room behind you there is a person you have not met before. I want you to project the emotions you feel to them. Mai, dim the lights.”
As Mai turned down the lights, Oliver started the program.
“Again, Sato-san, I need you to express your honest emotions to these images.”
With his pen and notebook ready, Oliver paid close attention to the man before him. The first image appeared. A barren desert.
After a moment of silence, he prodded Kisho. “Sato-san?”
Oliver waited a full minute before he changed the image. A forest.
A paparazzi style photo of a couple kissing.
A newborn baby.
A small girl, grinning at the camera.
“Regret,” Kisho sobbed out.
Oliver placed up the last image. Leiko as a model.
Chapter 9: Blow Up
CW: This chapter has swearing and describes child abuse and murder
There was the sound of raised voices from the next room. Oliver looked from Kisho’s furious face to Mai’s concerned expression.
He then clicked to the next photo. Yasuhara had found this while trolling through magazine archives. Leiko scantily clad in the arms of another man.
“Loathing,” Kisho growled.
The voices in the next room became louder. Mai shifted, like she was going to check on the others. Oliver placed a hand on her shoulder to keep her still. With narrowed eyes, he clicked to the final photograph.
Kisho stormed to his feet with a roar of rage. The sound of something breaking came through the wall. Oliver pushed Mai further from the other man in the room before moving forward.
“Sato-san,” he tried to gain the enraged man’s attention. Objects smashing could still be heard in the next room.
“THAT FUCKING BITCH!” Kisho kicked the chair away from himself. He paced from one end of the room to the other. “HOW DARE SHE!” he ranted.
“Sato-san,” Oliver tried intervening again. Kisho looked at him, but his focus was quickly drawn to the photographs on the screen. Oliver moved to block his gaze.
“And you!” Kisho spat, advancing on Oliver.
Oliver felt a frisson of unease run through him.
“You were hired to stop those damned phone calls,” Kisho growled into Oliver’s face. “What have you done? Huh?”
“Sato-san,” Oliver attempted to regain control of the room.
“NOTHING!” Kisho thundered. “YOU’VE DONE NOTHING!”
Oliver deeply regretted not having Lin sit with him. Not that he wanted Mai in with John if Kisho did influence him; but surely Takigawa would have been able to join them.
From the sound of struggling occurring in the other room, he doubted Lin would be here anytime soon.
Kisho then jerked away from him with a bewildered look. Expanding his focus, Oliver saw Mai had a hold of his arm and was turning him to look at the screen again.
“What do you think you’re do-” Kisho’s rant cut off as he saw the screen.
Oliver watched the man crumple to his knees. He looked at Mai askance. What did you do?
He saw her gaze flick between the screen and the man now sobbing at her feet. He turned to the screen and drew in a breath.
Smiling from the screen was Sato Emi.
Oliver grunted as he and Mai lowered Kisho to the lounge. The man had fallen into a sobbing heap and refused to move under his own power. Leaving Mai to watch over the distraught mess in his waiting area, he checked on Lin and John.
Despite the noise coming from this office earlier, Oliver was surprised by the amount of damage the room contained. Furniture was thrown across the room, multiple books and files were strewn across the floor. Oliver winced when he saw the broken computer.
Bracing himself, he looked up at the dishevelled Lin. The missing jacket and rumpled shirt were almost as disconcerting as the death glare Lin was sending his way.
Oliver then turned his focus on John. It’s not like the equipment isn’t insured. The blond priest was sitting against the wall, head in his hands. Oliver crouched in front of him.
“Are you ok?” he made sure to keep his voice even.
John let out a hiccupping sob before raising his head. Oliver frowned at the man’s red-rimmed eyes.
“Y-Yeah,” John stumbled over the word.
“John,” Oliver pressed.
John let out a breath before he nodded.
“I’m fine Naru,” he smiled slightly. “That was... disconcerting.”
Oliver winced at the reminder that John had gone into this situation unwarned.
“Sato-san is currently in the waiting area. You are free to stay here if you wish, or join us, or leave,” Oliver listed to John. “I need to return to Sato-san and Mai.”
He stood and took a step back. “Will you be ok?”
John let out another breath before nodding. “I’m fine Naru. I think I’ll stay here for a bit more though.”
Oliver nodded in response before turning back to Lin. He raised an eyebrow at the taller man. Are you ok?
Lin snorted before nodding. I’m fine.
Oliver looked around the room then back at Lin. Insurance will cover it.
Lin rolled his eyes before he glared. I know. You still owe me.
Oliver rolled his eyes and returned to the waiting room. Lin two steps behind.
“Lin-san,” Mai gasped.
Oliver smirked slightly as she stopped just before Lin, torn between fussing over him and respecting his personal space.
Lin must have sensed his amusement because he resumed his glare.
“I am fine, Taniyama-san,” he assured the worried woman.
“Are you sure?” Mai’s hands flittered around Lin. Not touching, but as if doing so would confirm his health. “Do you need some tea? Sit down Lin-san. I’ll get tea.”
Oliver couldn’t help but appreciate the promise of tea without needing to ask.
“Taniyama-san,” Lin interrupted her, “perhaps you could check on Brown-san?”
“John-san!” Mai ran into Lin’s office to check on the blond.
Oliver frowned at the loss of tea. Judging on the subtle smirk Lin sent him, he knew the request was made on purpose.
Before he could send a scathing look toward his assistant, Kisho moaned from the lounge.
The two men turned their attention to the third heaped on the furniture. After a glance between them they took their usual seats.
“Sato-san,” Oliver began, “how do you feel?”
Kisho moaned again. Oliver snorted at the display. At the sound, Kisho raised his head.
“What did you do to me?”
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “We tested you for psychic ability.” Turning to Lin, he asked, “I dare say the test was a success?”
“You could say that,” was Lin’s droll reply.
Catching sight of Lin, Kisho’s eyes widened. “What happened to you?”
Oliver swallowed an amused smirk at Lin’s disgruntled expression.
“Sato-san. I am going to ask you what happened. However,” Lin paused to give a stern look to the man sitting on the lounge, “if you blow up like you did earlier you will be restrained. Do you understand?”
Kisho gulped before nodding.
“What triggered your earlier outburst?”
Kisho’s eyes narrowed.
“There were photos,” he growled. “Photos of Leiko and-” he cut himself off and looked away.
“Leiko-san and another man. Also, Leiko-san with Emi-san,” Oliver continued the explanation.
This time it was Kisho who snorted.
“I knew the woman was having an affair,” he spat. “That’s not what set me off.”
He got to his feet and paced the room. Suddenly he swung back to the men still seated.
“Emi could be difficult,” he declared. “But all kids are.”
Oliver saw his grip tighten on the lounge fabric. He looked up to Kisho’s face and watched impassively at the turmoil spreading through the man.
“I knew Leiko was struggling with Emi,” Kisho ground out. “But I didn’t know- I didn’t know she-”
Kisho gasped and used the couch to support himself.
“Leiko-san would become physical with Emi-san,” Oliver explained the final photograph when Kisho remained silent.
“So stupid. I was so stupid,” Kisho whispered into his chest.
“How so?” Lin asked.
Kisho lifted his head. Looking at the taller man, he explained.
“I knew something was wrong,” he began. “Emi was behaving differently. Leiko was becoming more and more melodramatic. I was so caught up in work, I left Leiko responsible for Emi. I-” he choked on his words.
“I didn’t stop her,” he eventually gasped. “I didn’t stop her from hurting my baby girl. And I, I hurt her too. I would come home from work and all I felt was frustration. Anger. All she wanted was a hug and I would lose my temper.”
Oliver watched as tears rolled down the man’s cheeks. Footsteps caught his attention and he turned to see Mai standing just behind Lin’s chair.
Oliver took in her tense posture and braced himself in case he needed to hold her back as Kisho kept talking.
“We got into a stupid fight,” Kisho sobbed. “I needed to travel for work again and Leiko was demanding to come. But I knew Emi couldn’t handle the travel.”
He looked at Mai. “Leiko was talking about putting her into a school meant for disabled kids. Emi would get needed support,” he spat out the word, “and she could travel with me.”
When Mai didn’t move, Oliver relaxed.
“I told her ‘no’. I wasn’t going to abandon my daughter so she could party. Then there was just… so much anger,” Kisho stopped and pressed a fist to his mouth.
“What happened Sato-san?” Lin asked.
“Emi,” he sobbed. “Emi came into the room. She was crying. The anger just built and…”
“You killed her,” Mai stated.
Kisho collapsed behind the lounge. His sobs rang out through the room. Oliver was still as he watched Mai move to stand above the weeping man.
“It was like a nightmare,” Kisho gasped. “I hit her, then Leiko started on her. Just hit, hit, hit!” he pounded his fist against the floor with each word.
“Until she was dead,” Oliver concluded.
“No,” Mai rebutted.
Oliver’s eyes snapped to her face. She was still looking down at Kisho. Oliver felt a chill run down his spine at her blank expression.
Kisho made a gurgling sound.
Oliver couldn’t look away from Mai. I have never seen her like this. Peripherally, he saw Lin looking at him, but he remained locked on Mai.
Oliver rose to his feet. He took two steps before Kisho spoke again.
“She was bleeding,” Kisho’s voice was low. “She wasn’t moving. I thought she was dead.”
Oliver walked around the lounge to fully take in the scene.
Kisho was crumpled, fists pressed against the floor. Ragged gasps shaking his body. Mai stood watching him.
As an avenging angel, perhaps. Oliver pushed that thought away.
The man didn’t move as he confessed to the floor.
“I panicked,” Kisho continued. “All I could think of was how this would impact my career. I couldn’t call the police. I’d be ruined.”
Kisho looked at Mai’s torso, avoiding her eyes.
“We lived so close to the forest. I carried her out there. I walked until I found animal tracks. Then I left her.”
He finally looked at Mai’s face.
“I heard her cough… and I walked away.”
Oliver had only a moment to register the rage on Mai’s face before she attacked the man before her. Moving as quickly as he could to restrain her, she still managed to get in several kicks.
“YOU MONSTER!” she screamed from the body hold Oliver had her in. “SHE WAS YOUR CHILD! HOW COULD YOU?!”
“Lin!” Oliver called the other man to contain Kisho while he practically carried Mai into his office. Mai struggled against him the entire way.
Essentially throwing her into the room, he managed to slam the door shut. Panting, he looked over at Mai. She was sitting on the floor. Tears coursing down her face. He walked over and knelt before her.
“Why, Naru?” she whispered. “Why?”
Oliver had no answer to give her.
So, he held her as she sobbed.
Chapter 10: Finally
Thank you for joining me on this journey! I hope you enjoyed this fic! Thank you to everyone who has left kudos or a comment, they make me feel constantly better about my progress in writing.
Oliver started when he felt John’s hand on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw the concerned expression on the blond’s face. Reluctantly, he shifted to allow John to take his place comforting Mai. Watching as she burrowed into the priest’s arms, Oliver felt a twang in his chest.
Pursing his mouth, he returned to the sitting room. Kisho had moved from behind the lounge to sit on it and Lin was returning from the kitchen with a cold pack. He looked to Oliver as he handed it to Kisho.
Oliver retook his seat and stared at Kisho. The man winced as he pressed the cold pack against his ribs.
Good. I hope Mai left bruises.
“Sato-san,” Oliver waited until the man looked at him before he continued. “Based on the evidence we have collected; I know the reason for the phone calls.”
Oliver ignored Kisho’s bewildered expression, he’ll understand soon enough.
“Your guilt and suppressed empathic ability combined with the stress of your work, and the added element of a new campaign focusing on disabled children, triggered a form of mental and empathic projection,” Oliver stated.
“You likely suppressed your empathy after the murder of your daughter, blocking the memories surrounding her death,” Lin took over. “The new campaign released those memories to you subconscious, resulting in the phone calls.”
“Given that you have now fully admitted your role in Emi-san’s death, I can only speculate that the phenomena will become worse,” Oliver finished.
Kisho’s tear stained face became pale. “What?” he whispered.
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “Has admitting your actions made you feel less guilt?”
“No,” Kisho closed his eyes. “Nothing will stop this guilt.”
“You’re right,” John’s voice rang through the room. Oliver turned to see the priest and Mai enter the room.
Stopping in front of Kisho, John continued to speak. “While you must live with your actions, that does not stop you from making penance.”
“How?” Kisho demanded. “How does one make penance for this?”
“There is no Power on this Earth that can absolve you,” John explained. “And nothing can take back your actions or bring Emi-san back. You can, however, face the justice she deserves.”
Kisho’s gaze remained locked on John before, slowly, he shut his eyes and nodded. John moved toward the man and placed a hand on his shoulder.
Ignoring the silently weeping man and the priest kneeling in front of him, Oliver walked over to Mai and placed a hand on her shoulder. Looking at her red, puffy face he felt his chest tighten.
He waited until her attention was turned to him and squeezed her shoulder; she gave a tremulous smile in return.
Lin walked over to the pair and Oliver dropped his hand.
“We should get back to the Sato’s and retrieve the equipment,” Lin murmured.
Mai surprised them both by being the first to move to the door.
“Taniyama-san,” Kisho uttered, “I -”
Oliver raised an eyebrow as Mai ignored the man and shut the door firmly behind her.
The sight of Leiko stalking toward them had Oliver groaning to himself. I just want to pack up the equipment and get out of here. I do not need this right now.
“Where is Kisho?!” she demanded.
Oliver raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “I do not know.”
Which wasn’t exactly true. John had gone with the man to the police, while he, Mai, and Lin returned to the condo to retrieve their equipment.
“He said he had a meeting at your office hours ago. We’re supposed to be having dinner with some very important people,” she flicked her eyes over himself and Mai before sniffing. “So where is he?”
Oliver finished securing the box in front of him before he looked at the impatient woman tapping her toes.
“As I said, Sato-san,” he lifted another box on top of the first one. “I do not know.”
Leiko made a disgusted sound before stalking off.
“Bitch,” Mai muttered from behind him.
Oliver smirked and continued to pack boxes. Somehow, I do not think you’ll be making that dinner.
“Lin-san,” Leiko’s voice filtered through the door. Oliver cringed at the coy tone she was using.
“I haven’t seen you in a while,” she continued. “Surely your work can’t keep you that busy?”
Oliver felt Mai’s intake of breath behind him. Slowly, he turned to look at her and together they moved to the door.
“Excuse me, Sato-san,” Lin’s voice was strained, “I need to finish gathering our equipment.”
Peering around the door frame, they could see Lin being boxed against furniture by Leiko. From the look on Lin’s face, Oliver was thankful that the case was finished.
“Oh, but Lin-san,” she leaned in closer to the trapped man, “I’ve got a bit of time, why don’t you come and have a drink with me.” She placed a hand on Lin’s chest.
“Sato-san,” Lin’s voice was ice. “Clearly, you are too dimwitted to realise that I hold absolutely zero interest in you.”
He brushed aside her hand and moved to loom over her.
“You have attempted, pitifully might I add, on several occasions to involve myself with you,” Leiko pulled back at his words.
“Why you think I would have any desire to involve myself with a woman as morally bankrupt as yourself is beyond me. Remove yourself from my presence. Now.”
Leiko let out a strangled gasp before she turned and fled the room.
Oliver backed into the room, pulling Mai with him. In silent agreement, they returned to packing up the equipment.
It didn’t take long before the three of them had everything packed and loaded into the van. Despite Tokyo traffic, they managed to make it back to the office and unpack before night set in.
“I see, thank you John,” he finished the call.
John’s report that Kisho had broken down in the police station and confessed to the killing of his daughter hadn’t come as a surprise.
He stood from his desk and looked over the street through the office window. Movement caught his eye and he focused on his reflection.
He let out a sigh. He really wasn’t ready for another, undoubtedly emotional, conversation with his twin.
“Noll,” Gene prodded.
Oliver rested his head against the glass.
“Noolllllll,” Gene cajoled. Oliver twitched. You know I hate it when you do that.
“Stop ignoring me and I won’t annoy you.”
Oliver snorted. Twice.
Raising his head to look at his brother he couldn’t help the amused fondness travelling through their link.
Gene’s grin grew wider at the sentiment.
“Now,” Gene’s expression became serious. “You need to tell Mai how you feel.”
“Gene,” Oliver growled.
“No, Noll. Emotionally constipated idiot scientist that you are, you need to be prodded into this,” Gene wagged a finger at his twin. “Otherwise you sit and sulk.”
“I don’t sulk,” Oliver spat the word in disgust.
This time Gene snorted.
“You spent a week sulking after Mrs. Hawthorn told you that your assignment didn’t meet the requirements to be entered into the science fair.”
“That,” Oliver countered, “was not sulking. There was no reason for Hawthorn to eliminate my assignment other than she would not know high level science if it occurred in front of her. I had every reason to be unimpressed with her.”
“You didn’t acknowledge her for a week or speak in her class for a month.”
“What does any of this have to do with Mai?” Oliver demanded.
Gene rolled his eyes.
“You didn’t get your way with Mrs. Hawthorn and you refused to speak with her. You never get your way easily with Mai,” Gene elaborated. “If you don’t talk to her, you’re going to miss your chance.”
“And say what, Gene?” Oliver waved an arm in the air. “‘Mai, I love you. It drives me crazy when you are in danger, or upset with me, or around other guys. I want to have a relationship with you, but I have no idea what I am doing.’”
“It would be a good start,” came Mai’s voice.
Oliver spun around. Standing in the doorway, with a cup of tea, was Mai. Oliver stood frozen as she walked into the room and placed the cup on his desk.
He felt a tightness in his chest as she stopped in front of him.
She raised an eyebrow expectantly.
Oliver’s brow creased.
Behind him he heard Gene sigh. “Idiot scientist. Tell her.”
Why? She heard me earlier.
“Just do it!”
Oliver cleared his throat.
“Mai, I love you-”
The rest of his confession was cut off as she pressed her lips to his.
The emotions rolling through her surged through him.
As the emotions registered, he relaxed into her embrace.
After all, it wouldn’t be worth loving someone who didn’t realise just how irritating he could be.