This takes place after the Bloody Labyrinth which is the Urado case. I've only read the manga and haven't watched the anime, so all my info comes from there.

Summary: When Mai is early to work one day, finally arriving before her narcissistic boss for once, she uncovers an essential piece of the mystery surrounding her boss and the man in her dreams. But will Mai's discovery place her boss even further out of her reach? Slow/eventual romance.

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize I don't own :(

VI

"So, you weren't kidding when you said your brother had been revived after a year of being dead," Houshou Takigawa murmured his whole posture changing from relaxed to serious in an instant. He stared at Eugene intently cataloging the other boy. He observed that while the boy in question was wearing some of Naru's all-black clothes, unlike Naru, he had adopted a more casual look. He was missing the sports jacket, the top button of the dress shirt was undone, his tie was loose, and the sleeves of the shirt were rolled up partway. He got the sense that this was someone who, not only was more comfortable in his skin than Naru, but also cared more about comfort than appearance.

"Of course not," Naru scoffed at the same time as Eugene deadpanned, "My brother doesn't joke."

Intimate knowledge of his brother's personality was a good sign that he wasn't possessed. Monk continued his perusal. He wasn't a medium or blessed with ESP like other members of the team, but he had a wealth of knowledge taught to him by the monks at Mt. Kouya. Underneath Euguene's rolled-up shirtsleeves were strange white markings almost like old healed over scars. Bou-san reached out slowly and clasped Eugene's wrist gingerly. He pushed up the shirt sleeves and twisted Eugene's wrist slowly trying to make out the details of the markings. They were all over both forearms and looked nonsensical and placed without rhyme or reason. Bou-san couldn't move on though, these were strange and he could almost feel something residually emanating from them.

"What's this?" He questioned hardly above a whisper. He ran two fingers over the marks, but they were smooth and felt exactly like any other part of the surrounding skin. They looked like a decade's old scar or as if he had been born with the markings already engraved into his skin. He lifted the arm closer to his face and tilted it toward the sun. The light hit them and reflected off the silvery marks. Bou-san squinted his eyes. One of the marks kind of looked like the Sanskrit word for life if he turned his head just right. He picked up Eugene's other arm and held it up to the light. He could almost make out Kanji characters on this arm. They were an awful mess and he couldn't be sure, but that was the nearest thing he could equate these markings to.

"Are these words written on your arms? Maybe Sanskrit and Kanji?" he asked still turning the other boy's arms and peering intently at them.

Gene looked down at the other man who had been analyzing him so closely. The priest on Noll's team had at least been discreet in his examination and had conducted his chanting from a distance. However, the monk was poking and prodding him and he had to fight down the urge to yank his arms away from the intense scrutiny. "Yes, I wrote down some prayers a spiritualist told me about, but I ran out of space in my notebook, so I wrote them on my arms. The ink wore off at some point in the water, but I figured my arms were just discolored from the ink being on them for so long."

He shrugged as casually as he could manage while being tensed up and refraining from ripping his arms out of the other man's grasp. He didn't know why he was so averse to touch right now. He was typically the more tactile twin, but every time the other man touched him, he could feel that awful blanket being wrapped around his broken body. He shifted his weight back onto his other foot and attempted to shake off the sense of unease he felt.

Takigawa furrowed his brows and raised his hand with one finger sticking up. "First of all, I do think this is your brother. I can't discern any signs of possession and he seems to know you intimately." Naru's shoulders noticeably lost tension as another spiritualist verified the conclusion he had already come to.

The long-haired monk continued, "Secondly, I don't think it's the ink that is directly responsible for these discolorations. They are weird and feel eerie like-" he paused for a minute, his tongue pressing against the roof of his mouth as he searched for the right words, "like the denseness from a ritual item."

Lin, who had silently been paying attention to the whole conversation, frowned and cocked his head. He wasn't sure how he had missed that, but now that he was looking for it, he could nearly taste the heavy flavor of ritual magic surrounding Eugene. Lin crossed his arms and leveled an unimpressed look at Eugene, "You didn't think to mention you had written a ritual on your skin? That would have been helpful to know yesterday."

"It wasn't supposed to be a ritual and I didn't know they were stuck on my skin until I took a shower this morning," Eugene said sullenly. He took his arms back from the monk and crossed them over his chest.

"What do they say?" Naru asked as he crossed over to look at his brother's arm. Now that he was up close, he could see the silvery marks for himself. However, he couldn't read Kanji or Sanskrit and he hadn't been aware that his brother had picked up that skill on his trip. He did, however, remember the strange glow surrounding his brother's arms right before Eugene had started coughing up water from his lungs. Oliver sat back down, took out his black notebook and a pen, and began writing down the details and theories that the others mentioned as well as any known facts.

Eugene leaned back on his heels and grimaced already anticipating the backlash his next statement would generate. "I don't exactly know. One of them was supposed to be a prayer to help summon trapped spirits and the other was a cleansing prayer."

"What do you mean you don't know?" Naru abruptly stopped writing and glared at his brother. He tapped his foot impatiently on the wooden deck and pressed his pen into the paper so hard that it tore the thick parchment paper he favored in his notebooks.

Eugene ran a hand through his hair and let out a low hiss as the full force of Oliver's outrage slammed through him. "Well, I was copying them down from an older scroll but, I don't know how to read in either of those languages."

"You don't know how to write in either of those languages either. You write like a kindergartener with a broken hand. How do you even read your own writing?" Bou-san injected incredulously.

"His handwriting is atrocious in English too," Naru said as he ground his molars together.

Naru's eyes flashed as he turned to fully face his brother and scowled. "Of all the asinine things to do why in the world would you write something unknown on your own skin?"

Mai tucked the unease and discomfort that was boiling under her skin into the back of her mind since she was almost positive that it was coming from Eugene's emotional state rather than hers. It was a strange feeling, as Mai had never had someone else's feelings bleed through her while she was awake. There were feelings during her death visions, but never while she was conscious and with a person who was alive. She hoped it wore off soon as it was just too disorienting to have to separate what she was feeling versus what someone else was feeling.

Mai winced sympathetically at Gene, she had written an innumerable amount of notes on her hands at the end of class when she ran out of paper or the teacher spoke after she had put away all her things. Granted she wasn't a renowned paranormal researcher writing potentially dangerous things on her skin but, she could see herself doing something exactly like that without thinking about it. She made a mental note to never, ever write on herself during a case, especially in front of Naru, that would embarrass her for sure. The last thing she wanted was for him to think she was even more foolish than he already did.

Mai shivered and cuddled into her blanket further. The air seemed even colder than it had just a minute ago. She picked at the lint on the blanket and cleared her throat. "I think it's more important to figure out what was written than to argue about something that's already been done."

Oliver closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could feel his PK going haywire and his control slipping over his abilities. He counted to four and then exhaled slowly. He was still angry at how irresponsible his brother had been. He could have cursed himself. The ritual on his arms could have very well caused his death or come with serious consequences. Just thinking about it was making his blood boil again. He took one more deep breath and held it for four seconds before releasing it. "You are right. That is more important right now, but we will be revisiting it," he said sharply and no one in the group dared to gainsay the researcher while he had such a frosty look on his face.

Takigawa stared at the marks and frowned. He didn't translate languages much anymore since he was only a part-time monk and was more focused on his music career. It just wasn't something that came up often enough for him to practice his skills. "My Sanskrit is too rusty for a full translation but I could take a copy up to Mt. Kouya next time I go and see if the Monks there can recognize it or provide a translation and hopefully an explanation too."

Yasuhara grabbed one of Monk's hands and cradled them between his own. "Don't worry my love, I shall help you research. We can start tonight, over coffee, after everyone else is asleep." He winked flirtatiously at the older man.

"Young man! Stop teasing me like that," Monk stuttered out as he yanked his hand out of the other boy's grasp.

The high schooler grinned mischievously and pushed his glasses up the ridge of his nose, "You don't have to be self-conscious about our love. These are our friends. I'm sure they will accept us if we give them time." He turned toward Naru, who was unamused by his antics, and said, "If we take some pictures of the Kanji, I will try to decipher it in my spare time."

Before Naru could respond or scold his brother and the monk, an older man's voice called out, "Uh. Excuse me..." The whole team looked over toward the speaker. He and another older man were walking from the direction of the woods. They were both wrinkled and the one who had spoken was partially bent over with age. He continued, "Are you from Shibuya Psychic Research?"

"Yes," Oliver answered curiously. He stood up from his chair and tucked his notebook back into his pocket

The old man spoke again casting an assessing eye over the group, clearly looking for the leader of the group. "I hear you people are psychic?"

"Something like that," Oliver said noncommittally. Gene walked up to stand beside his brother in solidarity. While Oliver looked stoic, his brother adopted a charming half-smile.

The old man blinked. "And you are?"

"I'm the person in charge of Shibuya Psychic Research," Oliver said firmly.

"Oh! You're awfully young..." the older man spoke again.

Oliver stared directly at the man as he spoke. "Thank you. What did you need?"

Mai hid a grin. No matter how many times he did that the person on the receiving end always looked baffled. Naru was hilarious as long as he wasn't terrorizing her.

"I'm sorry to bother you when you are busy... but I have something we need help with."

Mai and Takigawa exchanged looks. Bou-san murmured, "A job?"

"Even out here," Mai said curiously as she looked up from her pile of blankets.

"What is it?" Oliver asked. Gene put his hand on his brother's shoulder.

"Naru" Lin interjected.

"I don't mind," he said holding up a hand.

"But-"

"We're just going to be waiting around with nothing to do. Luella texted me this morning and they are delayed due to a severe thunderstorm. It will likely be a few days before they can reschedule their connecting flight." He nodded toward the two older gentlemen, "Please tell us about your problem."

Gene crossed his arms over his chest and grumbled under his breath, "That would have been nice to know earlier."

Naru shot a warning glance at his brother before turning his attention back to the potential client. "Come inside and we can discuss your case," he said. The older man who spoke and his assistant looked at each other and then nodded to each other before beginning to follow Oliver.

Oliver barked out, "Eugene, Mai, and Lin inside with me. The rest of you stay outside and don't cause any trouble. Take inventory of what equipment we have if you think you won't break anything."

Mai startled and struggled to get out of her cocoon of blankets. The sudden change from sitting to standing made her head spin. She closed her eyes against the stars in her eyes and took a step forward. She tripped on the corner of the blanket still wrapped partly around her foot, but before she could fall Monk reached out and steadied her, his hands warm and comforting like family.

"Thank you," she murmured.

"You're welcome. Be more careful Mai-chan. Are you sure you don't want to stay out here and rest? Surely Naru can handle this without you." He asked quietly.

She looked between the chair and Oliver's dark head disappearing into the cabin. Her heart squeezed at seeing him walk away from her and faced with the two options it wasn't a difficult question. She didn't have much time left with him before he inevitably left, back to his research, back to Britain, back to his home, but away from her.

"Are you coming, Mai?" Naru called from the doorway. He had turned around and was leaning against the door frame, his expression unreadable.

"Give me a second Naru," she said with a conciliatory smile. He clenched and unclenched a fist and then nodded before catching his brother's eye and heading into the cabin with the client.

Eugene walked over to stand before the slight girl. He did not doubt that the look Oliver gave him was a command to escort Mai in. He wished that his brother would get over his aversion of being close to others because then he could have escorted Mai in by himself. Gene waited while Takigawa cast a considering gaze between him and his retreating brother. Whatever conclusion the Monk drew seemed to satisfy him as he handed Mai carefully off to Eugene, who wrapped his arm around her to catch her if she stumbled again.

As the bare skin on his wrist brushed against hers the connection between them sang with each other's emotions just as strongly as they had the first time they had touched just that morning. They both tensed imperceptibly at the renewal of the connection. Previously, while the connection wasn't gone, it had settled into something he could mostly ignore. Eugene tightened his grip around her, both to steel himself against the onslaught of her rioting emotions and disguise the fact that anything was amiss. They made their way into the cabin and as they crossed the threshold Eugene said, "We'll let Oliver know about this the first chance we get," just loud enough for only Mai to hear.

Loud enough for everyone else outside he said, "Come on, Mai, let's get you inside to my blockheaded brother."

"Thanks and sorry for the imposition," Mai murmured as she tried to straighten up and walk without leaning into Eugene. She knew Oliver didn't care to be touched and she wasn't sure if it was a shared trait between the brothers or not yet.

She didn't understand how she always ended up in these types of situations. She glared suspiciously in the direction that Naru had disappeared to, she didn't remember these types of accidents ever happening to her before she met the dark-haired researcher: she had never been clumsy or prone to danger if she had the government would never have allowed to live on her own sans a guardian. She was extremely self-sufficient and despised having people fuss over her.

Eugene glanced over at the young woman on his arm and wondered what she was thinking about. He had exactly zero guesses based on the dissonance between her words and the emotions flashing rapidly through the link. He would have to apologize to Noll, if he switched his emotions half as much as Mai cycled through hers, then it was a miracle he hadn't driven his more stoic brother absolutely insane.

Oliver glanced up, seeming to subconsciously feel something amiss. Mai smoothed out the lines of her face and tacked on a half-hearted smile, but her wide eyes still showcased the turmoil that Gene could feel through whatever link they shared. She would have fooled him though if he couldn't feel her.

Naru, his idiot scientist brother, met Mai's eyes and raised an eyebrow, clearly asking her some variation of "Is everything alright?"

Mai nodded and the sharp edges of her emotions faded. For as frustrating as Naru was he always seemed to do something thoughtful that took the wind out of her sails.

As they reached the table the others were at, Eugene took a stab at what he thought was bothering the young woman on his arm and said, "There's no reason to be sorry. However else would I be able to escort the fairest lady around?" He winked at her and Mai was so dumbfounded that it took her a minute to realize he had helped her into the seat next to Naru. She flushed at the seating arrangement and quickly averted her eyes to her lap.

Naru scowled at his brother before assessing the girl next to him. She was still exhausted and too pale, except for the pink blush his brother had put on her face. He clenched his fist under the table, it was his failure that resulted in her poor health, so he supposed he should be grateful his brother was trying to cheer her up, but he wasn't.

Oliver pulled himself together and addressed the clients across the table, "What was it you needed our help with?"


A/N Sorry for the delay. Things have been crazy in my household and I just wasn't thrilled with this chapter. The last half of this killed me and I have a feeling that the next chapter or two will suck to write too. I'm apparently, pretty awful at re-writing the scenes portrayed in the manga and better at the stuff that's all my content. However, it doesn't make much sense to skip this case since they are already at the lake. I just don't know how close to keep it to the original content, because I feel like that would be boring to read (and write). Any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Be safe!

Blushin