A/N: Hello favorites and followers! Hello Ghost Hunt readers and reviewers. It's been a little over a year since I've updated this story and I apologize for that. But I had been uninspired to write, something very difficult for me to accept, but these things happen to writers from time to time. For me it definitely had a lot to do with depression and although it's not fixed I can say I felt the urge to write and do I did. I have also written chapters 9 and 10 for this. I'm proud of it. I hope you guys like it.
on another note... this chapter is not scary. The scary stuff begins in Chapter 9 and escalates on a much worse scale. I'll be introducing very tough subjects. Hope you stick around!
Mai was left in the book study with Oliver for over half an hour as he looked over the blueprints of the mansion, handed by Watanabe's servant Tamba. Oliver hadn't uttered a word nor instruction to the auburn haired girl in that duration of time and Mai longed for one of the teammates to walk in every minute that passed of silence.
Mai wasn't keen on silence, she liked to fill the void with conversation. She was a talkative person by nature while Oliver were perhaps the exact opposite. His very existence depended upon it, she gathered. Years ago this exact scenario would have her thrilled to be alone with the young man albeit a nervous wreck but a strong desire nonetheless. Now, she couldn't stand being alone with him. She tried hard not to look at him, she tried hard not to think about him nor their past and her past feelings. She just... couldn't be in this silent room alone with him.
"I think I should go check on the others." She suddenly announced.
His eyes averted upwards to her steadily reddening face. He stopped his task at hand to look at her without so much a word but of course an intimidating stare. She frowned briefly wondering what he were thinking, why he wasn't speaking. Maybe he were waiting for her to get up and walk out. Maybe she hadn't need to announce her leave anyhow. Thinking so much was frustrating! How Oliver did it sanely was beyond her.
"That will not be necessary." He finally spoke and continued to look over the blueprints. Probably photographing the layout in his memory. The genius.
"Then what would you like for me to do?" She spoke slowly unsure what she could be doing.
"You could sleep."
And there it was. Her only use to the team for that short duration of time. Dreaming on the case was her only strong point. Back in the old days she had felt rather useless to her coworkers. She hadn't any investigative skills like Oliver or Lin . She didn't have spiritual control like Masako or Ayako. Nor was she religiously educated like John or Bou-San. Her time with Madoka wasn't just about "dreaming". She was a paranormal investigator with psychic abilities not a sleeper.
His eyes slightly averted upward. "Then I have no use of your time at the moment."
She blew air out her nose and using the palms of her hands lifted off the armrest she were sitting on.
"Then I'll go check on the others." She stood looking at him.
Oliver sat up more stiffly and gave his full attention to the short female, eyes narrowed out of annoyance. "I said that's unnecessary."
"And I'm unnecessary at the moment. I rather not sit and do nothing." Mai wildly gestured her hands around the room. She wanted to carry her weight being back on the team. She had something to prove.
"You could just be silent." Oliver said with that sarcastic tone Mai couldn't stand.
"I'm leaving." She stood there for an odd number of seconds before taking a step towards the door. But before she could even reach it his voice stopped her.
Mai turned around to look at him. His back was against the chair he sat upon and hands folded over the other, a stoic expression on his perfectly angular face.
"On.." from the deadpanned expression on his face she gathered he were thinking she ought to know what he meant.
"The interview with Watanabe. Thoughts?" The way he was staring her down like she were stupid to not understand what he'd meant to begin with made her even more irritable than she already was. But his eyes were on her. Not on his notes, nor his laptop. Which meant that this was very well important.
"I think there's something here. We need to be here." She finished her thoughts.
"Or this could very well be the psychological breakdown of a man who can no longer be outside in the sun." Oliver began to stack papers together and shuffle them into a neat pile.
"I doubt it." Mai shook her head vigorously. It wasn't just some psychological breakdown. Though it could very well get to that point. Watanabe had gone through a lot in this estate, he was still going through it. This was more than the demands of a professional psychologist.
"Your reasons then." He folded his hands in front of the desk, an amused expression on his face and eyes eagerly awaiting. Waiting for a response or to prove her theory wrong that this was actually supernatural she wasn't sure. But that smug smile was going to be wiped off his face.
"A man of his stature and status would have no reason to exaggerate an already exuberant account. He's embarrassed enough the fact that he has this allergen but to have 'ghost hunters' into his rich estate! Icing on the cake."
She wasn't that same girl who couldn't give an explanation for her feelings on cases. She could better explain herself. Madoka taught her that intuition, observation and experience were key to being an investigator. She'd made sure on putting these lessons to use.
"His allergen can't be helped by us, we aren't all doctors."
She rolled her eyes to his comment. Of course Dr. Davis had to point out his success somewhere. Not to mention the failing of others. An eye roll and a sigh later she could accurately respond.
"No, but we are sorta like miracle workers. We've done amazing things together. But as you've said we can't be able to change that. However, if we could link his allergen to the paranormal events here we may give him some semblance of peace. Which is all he asks for and what you promised him."
His mouth parted ever so slightly and with a long gaze pressed her way did he decide to look back at his notes.
"I expect you to work hard on this case and not find yourself being the damsel seeing as you're the one who presented this case initially."
Did he seriously see her as the same girl those years ago? She didn't need his provocation to do her job accurately. She didn't need him.
"I don't need saving! I'm more than capable of taking care of myself. Thank you very much."
"Past cases have shown otherwise. Would you not agree?" He looked up at her his eyes narrowed in that sinfully awful way. She couldn't stand that know it all look. She sneered at him like a petulant child.
"Past. As in not presently."
His blue eyes rolled. Did Oliver Davis actually roll his eyes? And he was...
"Whatever you say, Mai."
Oliver had a smile that made time stop. A smile that assaulted all the senses and grabbed the attention of anyone privileged to see it. A smile Mai had longed for in reality and not just in her dreams. A smile entirely separate from Ge-
"I ...I told you about saying my name." She wasn't sure why she had stuttered, nor why she was whispering. It confused her, upset her to be this influenced by a smile. Or was it the memory of... Him.
A desk chair could be heard scooting back. Mai's cinnamon orbs looked up to see Oliver standing and looking at her with an unreadable expression. She parted her lips. Once. Twice. Then closed her mouth and tilted her head to him.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
The door to the study opened creaking rather loudly. Mai let out a small squeak of surprise and swiftly turned towards the door revealing both Lin and Madoka entering in. Madoka carrying on a conversation from outside the study with Lin but it abruptly ended after looking toward the two initial people inside.
"Lin and Madoka, impeccable timing." Mai turned to find Oliver sitting in his original seat as if he hadn't left it to begin with.
"But I wasn't finished talking."
Oliver lifted an eyebrow and looked to his laptop.
"It was irrelevant anyhow."
Mai's face was turning red from anger. The audacity of him. Saying things that made no sense, smiling at her, teasing her... saying her name. And then pretending nothing happened.. no saying it didn't matter. Oh she could just!
"You arrogant j-"
"Did we happen to interrupt an intimate moment by chance?" Madoka's more quizzical expression changed drastically to something more eerily amused as she looked toward a red faced Mai.
"I'm not tolerating this behavior, Madoka."
"You're never any fun to tease, Noll."
"STUPID OLD HAG!"
The door had opened a second time revealing Masako, Ayako, Takigawa, John and Yasuhara. The rambunctious members were in the mist of yet another argument between Monk and Ayako. However, sensing the atmosphere change in the vicinity they'd all gone silent and still. Yasuhara shutting the door behind them like a cautious parent afraid of awakening a sleeping child.
"Something happen in here?" Monk tried to joke looking towards Mai who only pressed her lips together tightly.
"Your interview with the head servant?" Oliver addressed both Madoka and Lin ignoring the rest of the members who'd just joined.
Ayako rolled her eyes and flopped onto the brown leather couch crossing her arms and legs in annoyance. Monk just shrugged at Oliver's normal antics and leaned against the wall closest to Mai who was still rooted near the door. John and Masako joined Ayako on the couch while Yasuhara sat on the armchair that Mai had originally occupied. Madoka looked towards Lin and nodded her head once for the Chinese male to respond as she took to the seat Watanabe was interviewed in.
Lin's tense shoulders rolled back slightly as he held a pensive expression on his stoic face. He stood directly in front of the desk Oliver sat behind.
"The head servant, Tamba, did not express experiencing any paranormal activity of his own but did attest to Watanabe having changed drastically since the alleged spirit attack."
Lin said that almost disappointedly, Mai thought.
"The cook was of interest. Claimed someone was consistently playing silly jokes on her." Madoka interjected with the tap of her chin.
"Jokes like how?" Yasuhara asked out of curiosity.
"Moving kitchen utensils and hiding them in odd places, hiding spices and scratching on the cabinet doors." Madoka shrugged offhandedly as if those very things were normalities. In the ghost hunting world it was.
"Those things don't really sound malicious or spooky." Mai contested.
"Yea, more like a childish prank or something. You know, something the monk would do." Ayako looked at her nails with a mischievous smile etched on her red painted lips.
"Must you always throw a jab at me at any open opportunity?" Monk glared at the priestess Doctor.
"I just brought you up because I figured you could relate to the little ghost thing."
From the expression on Monk's face Mai could easily gather he was close to retorting back an insult or two of his own at the flame haired woman but the interruption of a frustrated sigh stopped any retort to come.
"What of the maid and the servants aid?"
Oliver pinched the bridge of his nose either from annoyance from the bickering couple or the lackadaisical interviews Lin and Madoka covered. Mai figured it was a winning combination of both.
"The maid was rather uncomfortable." Madoka shifted her legs slightly with a passive expression on her face.
"The spirit pranking her too?" Ayako asked, seemingly more intrigued by the conversation than her nails at the moment.
"No, she was uncomfortable with us there." Madoka finished.
The room seemed to simultaneously sigh with the useless information that'd been gathered by the interviews. Mai couldn't make out much about the home or paranormal activity with these results. At least the cook's account was of interest.
"Well, we are a rather intimidating group. Most people are nonbelievers." John gave a wry smile in attempt to attest for the maid.
"She probably wasn't into the whole men in Black good cop bad cop getup either." Yasuhara suggested towards Lin and Madoka.
"Lin is definitely an intimidating fellow." Monk spoke. A few of the others in the room nodded in agreement. Mai would agree as well but something felt off about the interviews especially with the maid's reluctance.
Madoka tilted her head to the side as if to give the notion of Lin's aura may have caused the Maid's unsteadiness.
"Hm, I'm not sure that's it. She was uncomfortable though."
"Had she experienced anything?" Mai walked around to be more in view of Madoka. Madoka looked up at the cinnamon orb girl and sat up more firmly.
"Only thing she mentioned was that she felt like she was being watched during her cleaning of the rooms."
Mai narrowed her eyes in thought and was going to elaborate further but Oliver interrupted rather impatiently.
"So nothing of use. The aid then?" The young boss asked Lin.
"We couldn't locate him." Lin replied effortlessly.
"Then interview him later, I suppose. Masako and Ayako." Oliver had been writing something down on a notepad furiously and abruptly stopped his pen to look at the pair of ladies.
"Hm." Ayako looked wide eyed having been surprised by the shift of conversation. She hadn't been the only one. Mai was not quite satisfied with the interviews. The workers were reluctant to speak for some reason. Mai wasn't sure what the reluctance came from- be it John or Yasuhara's theory or something bigger but it wasn't over with. Mai's eyes widen at her own declaration. Was that her intuition speaking?
"...there were several presences I felt walking through the property. However, they did not feel threatening and remain outside of the home."
"So we're dealing with multiple spirits? Great."
"There may be more. I also felt uneasy within the fields but I cannot distinguish if it's a spirit or the land itself."
"Yes, on our walkthrough I felt that the tree spirits are very weak." Ayako's expression taking on a more grim look.
"Like your spiritual powers." Monk murmured but it hadn't gotten past Mai who quietly snickered behind her hand.
"That's quite enough from all of you." Oliver, who was sending death glares at Mai and Monk, said. It seemed it hadn't gotten past the pragmatic young man either.
"You're all dismissed for the remainder of the evening. We start work at 7 in the morning."
"7 in the morning? Awe c'mon!" Mai moaned to herself.
"6 then." Oliver's eyes lit up with something keen to mirth. Mai's eyes widened at his newest request and began to open her mouth to say something rude to the patiently waiting boss. He was definitely challenging her. Before she could even take a step towards the desk to give him a piece of her mind, Yasuhara (not a morning person neither), stood in front of her with his arms wide out barricading her.
"Mai, I'm begging you.. say nothing further." His eyes stretched with emphasis behind his round spectacles.
The auburn haired woman narrowed her eyes darkly and went to move the right of Tasuhara but he blocked her stepping left. When she attempted to move left he repeated his actions blocking her. She huffed loudly and stared at her senior who equally stared her down. His face was unwavering and her will was unnerving. She sighed once and dropped her shoulders.
"You blinked." Yasuhara smirked. She tried her damned hardest not to smile but her resolve failed.
"You win, Yasu." She shook her head chucking softly. The rest of the members holding their own amusements on their faces at the two.
Yasuhara opted to stand alongside Mai and placed an arm over her shoulder.
"How about you and I get a room together?" He wiggled his eyebrows at her. Immediately an uproar of insults came from Monk's lips.
"Monk, I would ask you but I can't take anymore of your rejection. Mai seems more willing."
"Shut up, you pervert. I'd rather stay in the room with you so I can watch you."
"You'd like to watch me? I'm flattered, Monk."
"The rooms have already been arranged." Oliver intervened with what seemed like a deadpanned expression but his eyes had a sadistic glint to them. Mai tilted her head in wonderment. What was he thinking?
"On the left wing will be Madoka and Lin, and Yasuhara and Monk. The right Ayako and Mai, John and myself and Miss Hara will have a room to herself."
Yasuhara nearly jumped out of his skin at the news of sharing a room with a downtrodden Monk who looked desperate for help. Madoka was practically beaming at the prospect of being with Lin.
"How come she gets a room to herself?!" Ayako childishly bantered at the blue eyed boss whom promptly ignored her question and turned on his laptop.
"Thank you, Oliver." Masako covered her mouth with her dainty hand coyly.
Mai tried very hard to refrain from rolling her eyes may they fall and roll on the ground but she couldn't help herself. Masako was still pulling that coy innocent girl act when she was anything BUT. Ayako gently elbowed her sharing the same sentiments with her tongue sticking out. The two quietly smirked at the other. She may not have gotten a room to herself but to be rooming with her favorite red head she was luckier than all of them.
A consuming darkness that silence could echo. She walked through that darkness, ignoring the bits of cackles, the soft murmuring of intangible words of many things said and unsaid. The astral plane wasn't translucent it transcended. Time wasn't an continuation of moving forward, but had multiple strings that wove with one another. She could be here and then and still had not seen it all. But she had managed to control it. Creating a safe place with doors that could shut and lock if need be. But this wasn't her astral plane, it was... familiar. Mai continued to walk on until a tickling of something soft touched her legs. She looked down at her pale legs seeing high ever green grass gently brushing against the creamy skin. And when her eyes reached up again effervescent light strobe the dark skies in hues of blues, and purples.
She stared on ahead. Images like these couldn't be found in the mortal world. They existed in a place where time was abstract and spirits were fluid. Only word managed to escape her lips at the sight.
Mai looked quickly into the fields of lush ever green to only widen her eyes at the sight before her. Sussurating in the breeze were colorful orbs resembling opal bubbles. They drifted and swayed all around her, some gently bumping her. She whirled around and around making herself dizzy with the gentle spirits that surrounded. She smiled, she laughed and danced with them till she became out of breath. Slowly inhaling and exhaling did she really focus out into those fields. Someone was watching her.
Morning light had seeped through the blinds of a simple bedroom. Long dark ginger tresses peeked from sheets of a full sized bed. A naked leg relaxed outside the silken sheets as soft sounds of breathing could be heard. A peaceful morning, one that hadn't happen in a very long while. And a dream to be the cause of such peace. She sighed longingly. Wanting to return to that place, wanting to see who had been watching her-
A knock on the door had just presented itself. The girl still lay asleep unnerved. The knocking continued to persist to the annoyance of the ginger head girl who lay awake.
"I suggest you let your presence be known before I open this door and personally wake you up myself." She could hear Oliver's voice through the door.
That dream, that astral plane.. it all felt so familiar to her. Like a distant memory. Could the figure in the distance be... could it really be..
"My methods aren't kind." Oliver threatened from outside the room.
"No shit." She growled low and hard, thoughts interrupted by the pestering insect outside her room. He knew exactly how to get under her skin with minimal effort. The effects he had on her emotions weren't her cup of tea. Hah, cup of tea, she smirked.
"Alive, you say? Good. We'll be in the breakfast room. Try not to get lost."
He couldn't help himself. Some where in conversation with her he placed a steady insult.
Mai thrashed her legs hard on the bed repeatedly as if she were a two year old having a tantrum. The sheets fell to the ground as she lay, now, on her back staring at the ceiling. Damn that Oliver.
Knowing she didn't have time to think cruel pranks on her annoying boss she jumped out of bed and rushed to her bathroom to get ready for day 2.
"Now that we're all present.." Oliver's eyes followed Mai's form as the girl took a seat beside Monk, unbothered by his obvious comment towards her. "..I can begin giving out tasks in groups."
"Miss. Hara and Mr. Brown you will do a walk through of the mansion." He then handed off a piece of parchment with crude sketches to the blonde male who began looking at them studiously.
"Here is a roughly drawn sketch of the hallways, the rooms and storage spaces. Do try to remember them."
Mai watched as Oliver took a sip out of his mug, a cup of black coffee with two sugars and a splash of milk. How she knew what he drank, she'd never admit out loud that she may have watched him make his coffee back at the office a couple of times. Just out of curiosity. He didn't drink tea anymore so there must have been a substitute. And his was coffee, apparently.
"You will be going through each room and taking the temperatures. Mark the coldest rooms and the ones that you feel may have high activity. We shall be placing cameras and microphones in those rooms by noon."
"Will do, Naru." John said with a pleasant smile.
"Oliver." Masako raised her eyes to Naru after bowing in acceptance.
"Takigawa, Ayako and... Taniyama." Mai smirked triumphantly as she watched Oliver's lips twitch in annoyance but just as fast as the grimace appeared it had gone.
"You will be doing a walk through of the island. We've mapped out everything to make it easier on your simple brains. Be sure not to get lost." Oliver paused momentarily then concluded. "Taniyama especially."
How dare he?! She may have been slightly prone to getting lost in the past but things were different now. She was different.
"I've grown I'll have you know." She crosses her arms and stuck her nose in the air haughtily.
"I've taken notice."
Her mouth was agape at the potentially lure statement. Yasuhara and Madoka were giggling like school children and Mai shot both of them dirty looks.
"Yasuhara and Madoka I want names, backgrounds and the history of the previous residence of the island."
"Hai hai boss man!"
"I won't stop researching till the blood vessels in my eyes burst!"
"Unnecessary Yasuhara but a pleasant thought."
"Suck up." Monk glowered at the spectacle wearing boy.
This would mark the first time in years that the group would be split up to work together on a case cohesively. Years of separation, of growth and repressed feelings. All forgotten to come together for a good cause. To bring peace to a man desperate for it. Oliver was back in the swings of things as a boss. This feeling- this euphoria at the prospect of working together again had Mai giddy inside. This was all she had waktefbin those years of separation. She smiled softly to herself. They'd solve this case and things would solve themselves. Things would change for the better. She was sure of it.
"And you all remain at the table, why?"
Except with Oliver. He was an irrevocable and unmovable slavedriver. Psh.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
or maybe he changed too.
A/N: Review Please.