Disclaimer: I do not own Ghost Hunt
Stages of Love
Stage IX - The Choices & The Happiness
She dropped her purse.
The clattering of the purse and the opening of the elevator door with a huge crowd of people trying to swarm in alarmed Mai. She fumbled for her purse and stepped out of the elevator awkwardly. Her boss followed her as she exited the building, walking at a quickened pace. She was afraid of what had just happened. She was in a state of shock - she had never expected her boss to confess out of the blue. Few months ago she would have been hoping secretly that he would fall for her but now things were different. Her thoughts were different. She had moved on - from her immature self who had been bewitched by her boss's beautiful face.
'I love you.' It echoed in her mind. Unbelievable! How she had wanted to hear it, how she had yearned for it and how easily these words were submerged with an another echo. 'Me or Gene?' Groaning slightly, she was lost in her own world. She failed to notice her boss walking behind her, a worried expression on his face.
What exactly was the situation that she had been through a few moments ago?
Was she imagining things?
Naru followed her as she walked at a mildly quickened pace. He could neither walk alongside her, nor look at her back. He could only see the path on which he walked. He felt funny. Immersed deeply in his thoughts, he didn't even notice that they were halfway through to Mai's apartment. He was waiting for her decision. Her choice. He reached a sudden halt as Mai turned towards him.
"I-I can go on my own from here," She mumbled softly, "Thank you." She bowed slightly as an appreciation and then began to walk away from him.
"Mai." He suddenly caught her hand. She winced at this sudden action of his. She looked at him, a permanent blush on her cheeks and her wide eyes anticipating a move from him. What was this - a melodrama? She felt worse than earlier. She didn't want to know this feeling that brought water to her eyes. She was terrified of this feeling which was crushing her. She looked down reflexively, her eyes refusing to meet his.
How could he?
How could he confess after all that he had done to her? How could he do it so easily when he had rejected her so coldly?
"I-I need time." She said defensively, her tone shrill with anxiety. She was afraid that he would ask her to reply back. He looked surprised - he had been caught off his guard. He had wanted to calm her down but he was only worsening the situation, so he realized. He let her hand slowly slip from his grasp. He nodded and looked at her. Her tense shoulders and moist eyes worried him. Had he made a huge mistake? He felt her fingertips slowly brushing away from his.
"Be careful on your way back home." He said, slightly embarrassed that he was hesitant to let go of her hand. She nodded and then turned swiftly. She slowly traced her steps back home, away from him. He watched her disappear into the dimly illuminated street. He could feel his heart ramming against his chest. The expression on her face made him regret his action. Was it a mistake to say those words? Shouldn't she be happy that he had confessed, yet why was she so - unhappy? He was afraid all of a sudden. Afraid of her answer. Afraid of letting go of her hand.
He was afraid that once he let go, he won't be able to grasp it again.
He sighed and shook his head. He was being too irrational.
What was wrong with her?
She was in a situation where she should be happy, consider herself lucky but she felt none of that ecstasy. Mai hugged the pillow closer to her chest. She had been lying on her bed for over an hour - sleepless. Her eyes wavering to the ceiling. The blank, dark ceiling. She couldn't shut her eyes. Each time she tried she would be reminded of what had happened earlier.
A situation that she would have yearned for - when Naru would profess his love to her. It was happening. Yet, how unhappy she was! She couldn't understand why her chest tightened each time she remembered his voice calling out to her, saying those three magical words. Was she overreacting? Why wasn't she happy? After all, it was a chance in a lifetime. She was in a situation where both the outcomes wouldn't hurt her. She smiled radiantly for a moment when a certain thought crossed her mind. She could reject him and fulfill her revenge! She could definitely do that. Rolling on to the other side of the bed, she sighed. What good would it do? Wouldn't it hurt them both?
Although she could accept his proposal and live a life similar to a fairytale, with her extremely handsome prince charming, she couldn't imagine herself accepting his proposal. She was frightened of something. Something which she couldn't figure out. She groaned - what exactly was wrong with her? Which girl wouldn't want a handsome man such as Naru? He had everything - riches, good looks and intelligence, more importantly - he had declared that he was in love with her. What more could she ask for? Yet, she was afraid. Terrified of something deep within.
Was she in love with Gene as her boss had once told her?
She shook her head violently. She had definitely liked Gene. He had a radiant smile, a smile which attracted her, but she yearned for something completely different from his warm smile. She had always yearned for Naru to smile. The same way 'dream Naru' did. She had always wanted Naru to smile. She groaned and rolled to the other side of the bed. Why was this so frustrating? Although it boosted her pride, it also hurt her deep within. Why would she even want to go out with a man who had plainly rejected her, confused that she was in love with his brother?
She didn't want to go to work tomorrow. She didn't want to face Naru.
What a coward she was!
Mai turned and hugged her pillow tightly, engulfed by the silence and darkness of the night. Her thoughts were spinning around aimlessly. She had yet again reached a dead end with the reasoning that she had come up with earlier. She was haunted by his words - why was this so hard? Why was it hard to accept that Naru was in love with her?
She sat up with a jolt.
Pushing her hair behind her ear, she stared at the white bedspread. Was it hard to accept that Naru was in love with her? - No.
She had always wished for it. She had always hoped for it, before she had been rejected though. Things were different now but still, it would in no way be difficult for her to accept his feelings, his confession. She was afraid of something completely different. After all the heart-break that she had been through, she was afraid of only a single thing.
She was afraid that she was still in love with Naru.
Even after being rejected, she still had feelings for such a man.
How could she?
Tugging to her pillow even more tightly, she fell into a dreamless sleep.
For the umpteenth time, Naru heard himself sighing involuntarily.
He was usually not such a depressed person. He was in a situation that troubled him deeply. He felt as if he was trapped in a room that had no window or door - he felt awful. Why had he been so desperate to confess to her?
He had only worsened the situation. He should have been considerate of her feelings. Why had he grown so selfish all of a sudden? Why had he turned into a person who only cared about his feelings?
A few moments more and it would be the usual time his assistant entered at. He was waiting impatiently, hoping that he would hear her footsteps as she entered. He hoped that she would come to work and face him. He could only hope. Moreover, he was slightly hopeful that she would hold an answer to his proposal. Again, he could just hope that it was a positive one.
Then again, there are two sides to a coin. What could he possibly do if his assistant rejected him outright? He couldn't do anything. He felt bitter. He felt hopeless.
He sighed. Why was this so difficult?
Each second seemed like eternity. When would she come? When?
Tapping his foot out of impatience, he buried his face in his hands. He was somewhat a lot more pessimistic than usual. Although he hoped that she would walk in through that door, he was also terrified of her arrival. He was unaware of how he should react. How he should behave in front of her. He was afraid and he began concocting a few sentences in his mind that he would say to her.
He had no time to plan, he heard the soft click of a door knob turning.
For once, Mai felt a strange fear enveloping her as she turned the knob to open the door.
The door to S.P.R, a door that would lead to her boss.
"Mai," A voice she did not want to recognize called out to her, "Tea."
She sighed reflexively. Though, she couldn't figure out if it was a sigh of relief or of disappointment. As soon as she heard footsteps coming from the direction of Naru's desk, she dashed to the kitchen. She was hoping that she wouldn't have to face him so soon. She hoped God would just give her another five minutes.
Her wish was granted. She got another five minutes for making the tea, throughout which she had not laid her eyes upon Naru but now she had to take the tea to him. She couldn't help but hope that he wasn't at his desk. She just hoped that he was somewhere else. Keeping her fingers crossed she peeped into his office.
"Oh." She muttered, a little disappointed to see that her boss was sitting right where she had hoped him not to be. He was flipping through pages accumulated in his files. She knocked on the open door and as soon as he looked up, she averted her gaze to the carpeted floor. She could just see the tilting of his chin, a nod to her entrance. Mai stepped in carefully, trying to be as soundless as she could. She couldn't look at him. Looking at the floor, she carefully placed the tea-cup on his desk and stood there for a few seconds before leaving.
The moment she left, she heard a soft sigh coming from his direction. How painful it sounded!
Still looking at the floor, a sigh escaped her too. She was being selfish. She was behaving as if the whole world revolved just around her. How cruel she was! She realized that they were in the same boat - struggling with each others feelings, hoping that they could attain happiness. A soft sob escaped her lips. Biting her lips, she controlled herself from being too hysterical.
She couldn't understand what she wanted.
Was it happiness or revenge?
Taking in a deep breath, she stomped her foot in an attempt to calm herself down. Growling softly, she cursed her cowardice. She knew she wanted to be together with him - which girl wouldn't want to? She was lying to herself. She was afraid of her own frightening, messed up feelings. On one side she wanted to avenge her broken heart and on the other side she wanted to accept his feelings.
Her mind was in disarray.
Taking in another deep breath, she hoped that she would calm down and the heavy feeling in her throat would disappear. She tried to control herself from breaking down. When she was having it so hard, how much more hard would it be for Naru? After all, he had to be ready to face even rejection.
The amount of courage it would have taken him to confess to her!
Mai sat down on her chair, placing her elbows on her desk and burying her face in her hands. She couldn't even imagine what he was going through. She wondered how painful it was for him. She couldn't even know how he had felt all along all the time. He hid it so well under his wooden face. He hid it so well that she couldn't even know that he had been going through such emotions. That he had been in love with her all the time.
If it was so painful for her to not face him, how much more painful would it be for him that she was not facing him?
What an idiot she must have been to be unaware of such feelings!
If she rejected him, things would be awkward and hard for them both. Why should she reject him? She had no reason to. Then again, she had no reason to accept his feelings.
'Love doesn't need a reason,' she sighed softly, her own words echoing in her mind.
Although it would give her immense joy to reject him, that sort of happiness would be short-lived. She had no use for such a cruel happiness, she wanted to be happy for eternity. Then again, if their relationship doesn't end up well won't they be hurt again...?
She didn't want to lose him.
Although she had two choices, she couldn't afford to lose him.
It all depended on her. Her one and only choice. Either to be with him or to lose him.
He was very important to her, he was her family. If things didn't end up well, won't they hate each other? Won't it be awkward to be around each other? She couldn't lose him. She wanted to stay with him forever...
What an idiot she would be to reject a man who loved her!
She stood up, finally things becoming more clear. Her choices becoming more clear. She had prided herself on having grown mature after she had been rejected but she was still the same immature idiot. She laughed softly. What an idiot she had been since yesterday! She had been severely over-reading into things and had overreacted. She took in a deep breath and glanced in the direction of Naru's office. She could feel her shoulders getting tense, her feet seeming wobbly all of a sudden.
How was she ever going to say it?
Slowly making her way to Naru's office, she knocked on his door. He looked up and spontaneously her eyes traveled to the floor. She heard another soft sigh and then shaking her head violently, she slowly looked up at him. Their eyes met momentarily and her brain short-circuited.
Oh, how was she ever going to do it?
"Uh, Naru," She mumbled self-consciously. The distressed look on his face worried her a little but she continued softly, "I-I need to say, uh, something."
"..." He looked at her, his demeanor a lot more calmer than earlier, yet his hunched shoulders and clenched fists told Mai how anxious he was. Her eyes were burning up once again, so were her cheeks as she continued to look at him.
"I need to say something." She repeated, mustering all her courage.
"Yes?" He asked placidly, trying not to terrify his assistant more than she already was.
"I'm a coward..." She said softly. He looked at her, raising his eyebrows slightly. Mai sighed, she had been a coward the whole time. Naru was too important to her. That is why she had been a coward the whole time. Biting her lips, she looked at the floor before taking in another deep breath. She couldn't afford to lose him!
"Mai, are you okay?" Naru asked concernedly.
"I'm fine." She said with determination. "To me, Naru is very important! Everybody at S.P.R! Every single person is important to me. That is why I don't want to lose you." She began sobbing softly, tears streaking across her cheeks. Wiping them off she looked at him hoping that he was paying attention to her.
"..." He continued looking at her as she wiped the tears off her offending cheek.
"If our relationship doesn't end up well, we would end up hating each other. We would end up being awkward and it'll be hard to be a family anymore! I don't want that." She cried softly. "That's why, I..." Why was it so hard to say it? Naru shook his head and then walked towards her. He took her hand in his and smiled.
"Woman are too hysterical." He commented. She wiped her tears and glared at him.
"Well! I'm having a heartfelt confession here!" She snapped at him. "As I was saying, I don't want to lose you-"
"Idiot." He cut her off without much problem. "Why don't you just say 'I love you too'?" She looked at him, a hue of pink appearing on her cheeks.
"What's wrong with you?" She huffed, her face a beautiful shade of red by now. "Don't ruin the mood you idiot-" While she began rambling, a soft smile graced his lips. Entranced by his smile, Mai looked at him agape, still continuing to ramble. He slowly caught her in an embrace, holding her as tight as he could. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he allowed his face to rest on her shoulder, breathing softly into her ear. Her small face landed on his chest. He held her tightly, savoring the moment that he had always imagined and hoped for.
"I love you." He said softly, placing a soft kiss on her forehead. She blushed. "I'll make it so that we won't end up in a situation where we wouldn't want to see each others faces."
"..." She remained silent, highly embarrassed by his sudden declaration. Naru was - so not Naru. Finally, gathering all her courage she whispered softly, "I-I love you too."
He had never felt so happy before. Although loving someone is a joy, having someone love you back is an even more immense joy. He had never felt such an immense happiness in his life. He had finally obtained her. He was finally holding her in his arms as he had always wished for.
"Mai." He whispered softly into her ear.
"Naru..." She slowly answered to his call, a warm fuzzy feeling enveloping her.
Placing another kiss on her cheek, he caught her in a eloquent silence. The most eloquent silence; that of two mouths meeting in a kiss.
Author's Note: So, that's it. Why do I feel that this was the toughest chapter to write...? I hope you all are satisfied with the end.
Hope you enjoyed this roller-coaster ride. I dearly hope you did. Thank you for reading the complete story. I appreciate it. As usual, thank you for your reviews, alerts and favorites. I wouldn't have been able to complete it without your encouragement! Do tell me how you felt about this chapter. This chapter may be a little tiring to read with the sea of emotions being expressed. I tried to limit myself while writing down how they felt but it just ended up being too elaborated and dramatic. Still, I hope you enjoyed reading it to the end. Thank you. I hope I'll be back again soon with a better plot and with better writing skills.
Do leave behind a review!