It was early when her phone started vibrating beside her pillow on the wood floor... too early for her liking. However when she saw who was calling, she groaned before lurching into an upright position and picking up the sleek black phone.
"Morning Chief." She answered with a yawn, unaware of the pair of eyes watching her. "Oh yea... About that. We had a small incident and we now have two more witnesses... Yes. I'll need the reports and the papers by the time I get there, in about an hour or two... Ok. See you later sir."
With a small sigh, she stretched before standing from her futon, only then realising someone was watching her. Turning to her left, she saw Naru looking up at her from his position on the floor, his eyes dancing with an emotion she couldn't place.
"I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say we are required to go with you today, right?" He asked, sitting up in more elegant way than what Mai had done.
"Hmm. Yea. I'm going downstairs to get ready and then I'll start breakfast. Do you mind waking the others and getting ready. We need to stop by their place so they can change." She told him, making her way to the staircase.
"What of Lin?" Naru asked, the silent curiosity as to why she didn't mention the older Chinese man, getting to him.
"He's awake. He always is. So, you two should take the opportunity to get cleaned up. Towels are in the bathroom. Come down once you're done." She said, glancing at the pull out bed before smirking and chuckling quietly as she descended out of view.
"Well, what do you know?" Lin asked, shocking the younger man, though he didn't show it. He was a narcissist after all. "She's grown up. Seems s he's learnt a lot in the past few years."
Turning to look at the only other persons in the room, Naru watched as Lin stood from his bed and made his way to his luggage, pulled a few articles out and made his way to the bathroom.
A few minutes later had Monk rubbing his head after he was pushed off the bed by an angry Ayako who was complaining that it was far too early. The blonde bassist mumbled something about beauty sleep and old women, which earned him another smack to his already injured head. He whined about being abused and it didn't seem like it would stop until the smell of cooking food filled the air.
"Oh wow! That smells delicious!" He exclaimed, jumping up from the floor and bolting down the stairs. "Mai!"
The yell was followed by a small scream and the sound of metal hitting something soft, which cause someone to groan in pain before a loud thump met their ears. The three individuals on the second level balcony room looked at each other before simultaneously running down to the kitchen.
"Oh my god! I'm so sorry!" They heard Mai cry. But they couldn't see her until they walked around the marble island. To their surprise, they found Mai kneeling beside a moaning Monk who held a hand to his nose while red liquid spilt through his fingers.
One of Mai's hands fluttered over the older man's face while her other held a firm grip on a frying pan; which in this case, had been used as a weapon. She looked close to tears before he finally responded.
"I'b fine Mai. I'th ok." He tried to say, his bloody nose halting any further attempt at communication.
"It's just like he said. He'll be fine. Aren't you forgetting about something though Mai?" Ayako asked, kneeling on the other side the dazed Monk and swatting away his hands. The young brunette squeaked before jumping up and taking the food off the stove. She oiled the frying pan before placing it on the warm hot plate and then cracked a few eggs into the heated surface of the metal utensil.
Scoffing at the bassist, Naru took a seat at the kitchen island as he watched Mai cook. He was shocked at how much she had changed and a question related to the change had been nagging at him. He knew the others were thinking the same thing as him too, so like any human, his curiosity got the better of him.
"Mai?" He asked. She hummed in response. "How could you afford this place?"
The question made her freeze before she sighed.
"I was wondering when you'd ask." She stated, separating the food onto the plates Lin had set out. She didn't know when he had done it but she was grateful none the less. "I'm guessing you wouldn't believe me if I told you I got it on my police salary alone. I wouldn't blame you either... but it's the truth."
Her words caused his curiosity to peak and he lifted one of his finely shaped eyebrows to show he was interested.
"Because of my powers, I was given compensation for training and the test that I had to take. After I started working, depending on the case, incidents, extra training and such, I got more money. After four years, it just added up I guess. I only just got the place about a week ago."
"So... the harder and more dangerous a case was, the more you got paid..." Monk mused, having cleaned up the blood and taking a seat at the kitchen island and thanking Mai as she placed a plate in front of him. "But then... to afford this place..."
She smiled at her brother figure before grabbing a bowl and placing a few warm bread buns from the oven in it and then placing it on the table.
"It's what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep myself occupied. Now, SPR is back, sure I still have to work for the police, but I think I can find myself again..."
"Mai. Why didn't you tell us?" Ayako asked. The brunette in question fiddled with the hem of her red turtle neck shirt, her boot clad foot tapping the floor in an uneven pace.
"Well... I was an orphan before SPR. Then I had a family again. To lose that... to lose my family again... it brought back all the pain. But I think I was mostly angry at myself for getting used to it..." She bit her lip in an effort to hold the tears at bay. "I couldn't think clearly and then, I was working again and I didn't have time. But, it's over now."
The only sound in the room came from Mai as she sat on the opposite side of the island from them and ate her food, her long hair held back in a loose ponytail.
'She really has been through a lot...'
Naru jumped at the new voice in his head, earning himself a curious look from Lin. He just shook his head at the older man before eating his own food.
'Noll... Please. Don't ignore her...'
'Gene. I... I'm not going to. I'm not sure I'd even want to try anymore...'
His thought shocked him but he smiled slightly, a true smile, as he finished his food. He continued to ponder the new change in his logic when the girl responsible for the change snapped him back to reality.
"Naru. Come on. We have to go." She told him as she walked by, grabbing her keys from the bowl by the door before slipping into her coat and grabbing her bag.
'There's no point in staying mad or being depressed.' She thought, taking Naru's coat from the rack and handing it to him as he came close. 'Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we can be like before...'
After locking the door, they waited for the elevator and then stood in silence as they waited to reach the ground floor. Well, it was silent until Naru decided to change that fact.
"Mai? Are you... alright... working with SPR again... and with us working on your cases?" The question shocked her as he watched her, waiting for her response.
She turned to him, a puzzled look crossing her features before she smiled. He felt his cheeks colour and hoped she didn't notice, however, his wishes weren't met as she giggled into her hand.
"You bet! It's going to be so much easier now and Akito can finally stop worrying about me and focus on his fiancée." She told him, grinning as the elevator doors opened. He was glad that she was no longer acting cold and distant to him but was slightly suspicious as the why she had changed so suddenly. Walking out the front door, the doorman nodded to them as Mai bid him good and continued down the street. He suddenly realised they others weren't with them due to his lack of a headache.
"Where are Lin and the others?" He asked, his high-and-mighty attitude all but disappearing as he fell into step beside with the short women and became comfortable, shoving his hands into his deep pockets.
"I gave Lin the keys to my car so that he could take Ayako and Monk to their apartment. We'll meet up with them at the scene. Hope you don't mind walking." She said, glancing at him as they waited to cross the road.
"I don't mind... It's nice." He told her, allowing a small smile to show on his face. "You said that Akito was engaged. Why do you want him to spend more time with her? Besides the obvious reason."
She was shocked (again), by the fact that he was willing to converse and smile, but she wrote it off as to the fact that he didn't need to worry about finding his brothers body.
"Well, because of the fact that he was my guardian, he didn't get to spend a lot of time at home. Even now that I'm older, he worries too much which still keeps him from spending time with her. The main reason I want him to take time off is because his fiancée is three months pregnant. Now that I'm going to be working with you guys again, I can try to convince him to do so."
He hummed in response as they finally came within view of the office/ Police walked around and kept people away from the staircase leading to the second level. Those that were curious enough sat outside the coffee shop on the ground floor, trying their best to act normal. As the two young adults got to the taped off stairway, another officer glared at them from the café doorway.
"Excuse me. This is an area for authorised personnel only." He told them, acting as if he was disgusted by them.
"Well then. Excuse us." Mai hissed, glaring back at the man as he came closer. "But my name is Mai Taniyama. Lead detective on this case. He's my partner Kazuya Shibuya and I must ask you to step aside."
The officer sputtered when he saw her badge, apologising quickly before rushing away from the pair, giving them access to the steps.
"I take it you know him then?" Naru questioned, stopping in the doorway to his old work place. Only now did he see the full extent of the damage from the night before and he winced as he caught site of the drops of blood on the floor and over some pieces of ceramic in the centre of the room. He also noticed the rough drag marks that lead to the splintered table with even more drops of blood on it.
Mai subconsciously clutched her shoulder as she cast her eyes over the damage.
"There you are." Someone called, coming out from Naru's old office. "Where are the new witnesses?"
Ryo handed a few papers to another officer and walked up to them, patting Naru on the shoulder before drawing Mai in for a hug. The young women flinched at the contact as he brushed her shoulder, causing her boss to pull away.
"It's nothing." She whispered, chuckling nervously and she rubbed her shoulder.
"She was hit in the shoulder when the poltergeist attacked us. Lin, along with the two other witnesses should be here shortly." Naru explained, ignoring the glare he got from the women beside him. Ryo turned his gaze from the brunette to the professor.
"Well, then. I'll need you two to fill out incident reports and then we'll have a meeting." With that, the Chief walked out of the room after pointing them in the direction of Naru's office.
It took a total of two hours to get through interviews, paper work and planning before they could rest. An hour into it all, Akito had led Ayako, Monk and Lin into the room and they were all currently sitting in the small CEO office, waiting for Ryo to come in so that they could commence the meeting.
"Wow Mai. I never expected you to work for something so serious. You haven't even fallen asleep yet." Monk laughed, his voice raising as Mai puffed out her cheeks. She glared at him despite the obvious pink tinge that dusted her face.
"Oh come on!" She cried, standing from her seat on the window sill. "I wasn't that bad!"
The comment caused both Ayako to let out a loud giggle which ended in her snorting, joining Monk in his laughter. Even Lin smiled while Naru smirked, easily recalling all the times he had found Mai sleeping while she was at the office or on a case.
"It's good to see you're in high spirits."
They all looks up to see Ryo smiling at them from the doorway.
"Yeah. So anyway, what are we going to do now?" Mai asked, standing up straight.
"Well, they're your team Mai. I'm leaving this investigation to you. I've already cleared out the other officers, so you lot have full run of the place." He told the young brunette, leaving her stunned as he turned to face Naru. "Your equipment arrived as well. We've placed it in the other office for you. Now, I'll see you at the office with the report soon. Bye."
With that, the man left. Everyone was shocked into silence until Naru coughed into his hand in an attempt to get the others attention. Turning to their old and new boss, they waited to hear what they would be doing. When he didn't answer their silent question, Mai decided it would be up to her.
"Ok then... Naru. What should we do? I may be a medium and all but we have to get the ghost first." She stated, walked over the group.
"First, we set up a camera in the reception room and then we'll use you as bait. Once we get him to come out, Monk will exorcise him." It was so simple that Mai smiled. However, it didn't seem everyone was very happy with the plan.
"Why Mai? She shouldn't have to be bait!" He yelled. The only response from the narcissist was a blank look as he stood, motioning for Lin to follow him. The blonde was about to keep yelling when a soft hand landed on his shoulder. He turned to face to owner of the hand and his anger melted when he saw her soft smile, understanding lighting her eyes as she gazed at him softly.
"It's alright Monk. It's sweet that you care about my safety, but I've been through much worse. I feel safe just knowing you'll all be near me when Haruki comes out." She explained, her voice filled with determination but still held the soft tone that Mai was known for. "Besides, I was the one that killed him. He's looking for revenge, so I'd be the most effective person to get him to come out."
Ayako and Monk watched in awe as Mai left the room, her expression serene despite the fact she could very likely get hurt within the next few hours.
"Our Mai's grown up." Monk whispered, sniffling as he began to cry in a rather comical manner.
The sky outside the office window was dark and everyone except Mai was seated in Naru's old office. The three adults watched the single screen on the table with such intensity that Naru was surprised it hadn't started to smoke yet. He however was more interested in the fact that Mai was lounging calmly on the floor of the reception room, humming quietly to herself as if she wasn't waiting to be attacked by a vengeful spirit.
They had moved any and all pieces of furniture from the office and made sure that the CEO office door was firmly shut and bracketed from the inside. Mai had to climb through the window, earning herself a few stares, just to do it. The only thing open was the door between Mai and himself.
His musing was stopped however when the bright colours on the screen dimmed, the thermal showing the temperature was dropping at an unnatural rate. It was then that they saw the apparition appear behind Mai, but before they could yell out a warning, she was lifted off the floor and slammed into the wall opposite the doorway. She struggled as she let out a sharp breathe and clawed at the invisible force pinning her up.
Naru could see her neck being compressed and instantly yelled at Takigawa to do something. Even Lin let out a whistle, quickly followed by a set of bright lights that shot off into the other room. This only caused the angry spirit to raise her higher in the air and slam her against the wall again, causing the girl to let a small scream escape her lips before the closed her eyes tightly, holding whatever breathe she had left for as long as she could.
"Damn it! Do something!" Naru panicked, rushing toward Mai and trying to pull her away from the wall and hopefully the spirit. It did nothing except get him thrown into the floor with a loud smack.
"Naumaku san manda basaradan kan! Naumaku san basardan Kan!" Monk chanted, his voice gaining in volume as Mai's skin began to lose colour. Ayako finally decided that she could do something and roughly brushed away her tears.
"Rin! Pyou! Tou! Shah! Kai! Chin! Retsu! Zai! Zen!" As the last of the mantra left her lips, Lin let out another whistle and an angry howl filled the air.
The ghost began to manifest, turning its angry eyes to them before the last of Lin's shiki pierced through it. Knocking sounds accompanied the violent shaking they felt as the spirit dropped Mai, Naru catching her before she hit the ground.
'Damn...you...' It hissed before disappearing, the sudden silence nearly deafening as they watched the lights flicker to life. After he flicked the switch, he knelt down beside Naru and shook the dazed girl. Everyone let out a breath of relief they hadn't realised they had held when she smiled softly, struggling to keep her eyes open.
"Just like old times. Eh, Naru?" She whispered, her voice scratchy but still sweeter than anything they had heard. She closed her eyes and fell unconscious. Naru watched her peaceful face before letting a smile of his own slip onto his face, barely noticing Ayako and Monk chuckle at the girls' words or Lin's newly relaxed posture.
"Yes Mai... Just like old times..."