Right after Lin banished the remaining spirit, the team immediately brought Naru back to the SPR office as per Lin's suggestion since it will be a bad idea if Naru woke up inside a hospital suite. But the man is beginning to regret his action now.
Lin was in panicked mode! It's been four hours since Noll received a blow from that spirit yet he's still not waking up. Lin keeps on shaking his charge but he won't wake up. He checked his pulse, It was weak and slow! Noll didn't used his PK so what's happened?
"Noll! Noll wake up!" Dang! He needs to take him in the hospital, fast! He was about to lift him when he heard a feeble groan from Oliver. "Noll!" He shouted in relief.
"Don't shout Lin, I can hear you well enough." He mumbled.
"Naru are you okay?" Masako inquired in a worried voice.
A simple 'I'm fine' came Naru's answer and he sat up from the couch, eyeing everyone in the room. Looks like all of them are fine. He sighed. He's glad that no one is badly hurt.
"Do you feel ready to talk about what happened, Hara-san?" Naru said as he straightened himself.
Masako gave him a worried look. Despite having attacked by that spirit, Naru is still pushing himself to know what's happened. They can probably talk about it tomorrow but he refused to waste any time and all of it are for Mai.
Her gaze lowered on her lap. "I received a message. It was enclosed with Mai's photo being tied on that oak tree." She shifted in her seat. "I'm not planning to go there alone, but ... something happened along the way."
They were already on their way to the office when another black vehicle blocked their car. After that a man got off and dauntingly walked towards them.
"The man knocked on my window. I can't remember his face or what he did to me. I didn't open the window. I'm scared that he might do something to me." Masako said, remembering the fear she felt back then. "Yet, I didn't know how ... ... how he was able to get me."
Naru rested a hand under his chin. This person has a unique ability, like Ibara Sachi's landlady, Hara Masako also couldn't remember what happened. It was like the part of their meeting had been erased. Similar to the other cases of losing their memories, it might be something like hypnotism. But it's too early to say. It might be more than just a simple hypnotism.
"We have to be careful in every way now that the culprit decided to harm one of us." Naru informed them.
"But what is the meaning of those spirits earlier? And the cursed dolls?" Bou-san asked.
"The culprit want us to get confuse." Naru responded. "He wants us to think that what happens earlier was caused by a certain curse."
"Then, if that person can control spirits and yokais ... he must be one from our circle?"
"What do you mean Takigawa-san?" John asked, clearly confused.
"If an Onmyou-practitioner can control a spirit that he has captured, a miko and a monk can also have their own familiars which can serve them for generations." Bou-san explained. "It could be something that they inherit from their ancestors or simply summoned."
"There's a possibility." Ayako affirmed. "I'm not from a family of pure shinto, but I do know that familiars living in every shrine chooses their masters."
"Let's hold this discussion for now." Everyone looked at Naru. "All of you needs to rest. We will continue everything tomorrow."
"What happened?" Lin asked after the team left the office. "You nearly died."
"It's Eugene. He brought me in the astral plane."
"Gene? How? He. . .He didn't move on?"
Oliver sighed when he saw Lin's stunned look. "He did, but for some reason he decided to go back."
And it disturbs him that Gene decided to go back for a certain someone. Also 'that someone' is looking for Mai. Who the hell is it?
"But what was he thinking? Calling a person's soul in the astral plane without any astral experience is excessively dangerous." He nags.
"He knew that's why he brought me back before you get bald."
Lin rolled his eyes. "I don't have falling hair."
"Oh yeah? Then you're not human." Oliver said with a serious tone,
The Chinese man knew that his charge was teasing him but he chose to ignore him instead. "What does he want from you?"
"He showed me Mai."
"Gene told me what to do but he didn't tell me where to look. He said that he didn't know Mai's exact location, so I assumed that there's a big reason for that. Gene told me . . . there's something protecting Mai. He also assured me that she will be alright."
"That's good news." Lin said.
"It's not, but it's better than having a shot in the dark." He collected the papers on his table and placed it inside his drawer. "Are we leaving?"
"If you're ready."
"Let's go." He stood up and exited his office but he stopped outside.
He walked towards Mai's table and touched it. The organized things on the table are giving him a slight aching feeling.
Her absence made a big impact in their lives. He hired them to be his employee but she's the one who unite them as a family, things were more fun when she's around. At first he thought that his stay in Japan would be dreadful while looking for his twin, yet Mai manage to change his perspective. She made him forget the painful truth behind his stay in Japan.
Eugene is dead, he has to live. For Naru, his twin's death was some kind of way that leads him to people who would be there and worry for him. If not for Gene, he wouldn't have met Mai. That's why he will do everything to keep his promise.
'Will you help me find you?'
He closed his eyes and did a reading. A blue light flashes before his eyes, after that he saw images. He saw himself reading, he saw himself drinking tea, he saw himself talking to Lin, he saw himself in front of the table and saying something, he saw himself looking at her. He saw everyone while happily chatting with each other. He saw himself sleeping on the couch with his note on his lap. He saw himself, not her.
After what seems to be a long silence, all went black.
"Let's go, Lin."
'He wanted to see her so badly' Lin thought. But he won't see her because when one uses a psychometry you'll just become their eyes and see what they already saw.
"What's this?" Oliver asked Lin with a frown when he hand him a file folder.
"We accepted every case this past few months remember? This is the last one we need to investigate. Hara-san set a schedule last week and we can't cancel it. They're already expecting us tomorrow afternoon."
He opened the folder and read it. The client name is Oikawa Ayane and is currently residing at her friends house in the outskirts of Tokyo. There were a series of sightings of a female ghost wandering outside the house. According to her, the ghost was harmless and seems to be friendly but Oikawa's friend was scared and couldn't work properly.
"What did the ghost looks like?" He asked. He might as well finish this as soon as possible.
"A girl in her late teens wearing a nightdress. She doesn't seem to have any injuries visible in her outer body. Oikawa-san said, that ghost thinks she's still alive."
"She can see the ghost." He said.
"Informed everyone, tell them to be here by eight tomorrow."
"I was wondering Takigawa-san, some of the victims fall for a hoax case isn't that correct?" John asked the monk.
They're on their way to their client's house. It's already summer and the Monk's car was pact making the oxygen inside the car thin. The heat felt like a human torture and it doesn't help that Ayako and Masako brought a large amount of things all stuffed inside his car.
"Yeah," He respond, eyes on the road. "But some of them just vanished while investigating or doing research."
"Are you thinking that somehow Mai received a request to investigate something?" Ayako asked John.
"I was just thinking," He said. "If Mai did receive a request, she will notify us, unless it was something so dangerous."
"If it's something dangerous, Mai will avoid it." Masako said. "Besides, all of us were all busy at that time so Mai wouldn't accept a case. She would manage an interview but she won't decide without us."
"Ara~ Masako-chan. You knew Mai that well? I thought you're rivals?" Ayako teased.
Masako rolled her eyes and hide under her sleeve. "It only shows I'm more knowledgeable when it comes to Mai than her mother figure."
"Why you brat!" Ayako yelled. "Are you saying that I don't know anything about Mai?"
"Did I say that?"
"You didn't but that's what you're implying."
Masako sighed in frustration. Looks like Ayako's brain was toasted by the heat. Is it possible to melt a brain with this heat? Now she regrets wearing a kimono in this kind of weather after she learned Takigawa's car air cooler's capability.
"Can we open the window instead? The hell I'm dying here!" Yasuhara complained at the back.
"No need," Bou-san said. "We're already here."
The car halted in front of a not so large house. All of them got out and was glad to feel the breeze of the summer wind. At least it was cooler than the cars air-condition.
Masako gaze at their client's house. It was another two storey house with a mixed Japanese and Western design. The low fencing's purposed is to show everything in the front yard. It has a small terrace in front looking out at the garden below. The garden was simple yet maintained, aside from having different plants and flowers it also have a small fish pond surrounded by a few Gnomes statues.
Simple and beautiful.
A cute girl in her teens appeared in the front door and walked quickly towards them. "Welcome." She said, smiling. "I'm the one who request for your assistance. My name is Oikawa Ayane, I'm glad you're here." She looked at Naru. "A-Are you Kazuya Shibuya?" She asked, blushing
Naru Nod. "Please show us the room we can use as our base so we can start our work immediately." Naru demanded. Not even showing a slight interest on the cute girl.
"Y-Yes, please follow me." She started walking and guided them inside the house. "I prepared three rooms with extra electricity outlet and proper ventilation just like you instructed. Your base would be in this floor."
Bou-san noticed a glass sliding door. He looked outside and saw huge trees. The amount of the trees wasn't something he can tell as a garden. "Is that a forest?" He asked the girl.
Ayane looked at him. "Ah! Yes. This house was built near the entrance of that small forest. My friend's parent wants a nice refuge with a natural nature surrounding. There's also a cliff at the end of that forest, so please be careful."
"Where are they now?" Yasu asked. It's only typical for an info researcher.
"They're on a tour and they won't be back until they're satisfied with their second honeymoon." She giggled. "Right now there are only four people living in this house. Me my friend and two other helpers." Ayane stopped in front of a closed door. "Here we are." She opened it and motion for them to go in.
The room is perfect for their equipments. Since it's summer, the two windows would be enough to prevent their equipments from overheating.
Naru turned to his team. "Hara-san please do a feel in the surroundings. We need to know if that ghost is staying in one place or not. Takigawa-san and John, help Lin with the equipments. Ayako and Yasuhara will do the temperature reading."
All of them scattered and started their work with one goal in mind. 'Finish this immediately!'
"Oikawa-san, I want to make an interview with you and your friend."
She smiled sweetly. "Yes, I'll go get her."
When Oikawa Ayane is out of sight, Naru fish out a small enveloped from his pocket. He gazed at the crumpled paper. It was the letter from Mai. He closed his eyes and did a reading.
He saw pen writing on that paper. After that, Naru almost smiled when he saw her in front of the mirror and practice a speech she would say when she hand him the letter. She's making funny faces while talking to herself. And when frustration gotten the best out of her, Mai pulled her own hair.
Naru opened his eyes and looked outside the window. And for the first time in years, he didn't hide the small smile that formed in his lips.
She was completely mesmerized by the sight of the man leaning on the wall while looking outside the window. His all black clothes complemented the room's light color. Giving distinguish mysterious effect to the picture. He's handsome and looks cool like he's someone who's gotten out from a painting.
And just when she thought that's all to it, the man smiled. She felt her heart skip a beat and that's when she decided, he like this man.
"Ne, Ayane. Who is that guy?" She asked her friend standing beside her.
"Oh! That's Kazuya Shibuya-kun! The general manager of Shibuya Psychic research. Isn't he so handsome?"
"He is handsome, unlike the guys I knew. He is refined." She frowned when she realized something. "Wait, why are you addressing him with a 'Kun'?"
"Well. . .uh. . .hehe!" Ayane gave her an awkward smile.
"If the two of you wish to stand there all day, do it in silence." They heard Shibuya says. "Better yet leave so I can continue my work without any obstructions."
She scowled. He was indeed handsome but he has a sharp tongue.
"I'm sorry? Kazuya Shibuya-san."She said. "I believed you called us here for an interview, so why are you telling us to leave?"
"Seeing you prefer chatting and me being the topic, I assumed that you're not ready to be interviewed."
"What?" She raised a brow at him.
"Do you think I'm handsome?" Oliver asked.
"O-Of course not! Who would?" She denied.
No wonder Mai is different. She didn't lie to him when he asked her the same question. She gave him a straight and honest answer.
"I thought you said 'He is handsome, unlike the guys I knew. He is refined.' If you take those words back now then, it was like lying isn't it?" He said nonchalantly.
The girl's face color turned red like a tomato. The nerve of this man! Embarrassing her in front of her friend! Aside from that he dared tell her to leave, in her own house! Does he not know who she is? "You! Don't you know who I am?"
Shibuya looked at her, his blue eyes shows boredom. "I don't think I need to answer your question." He turned to Ayane. "Shall we start the interview?"
Ayane stiffened and nod. "Y-Yes!" She quickly stepped inside and sat on the sofa. She called her. "Come on, Ruri!"
She rolled her eyes and walked towards Ayane but she chooses to sit beside Shibuya instead. He didn't seem to be baffled and that add fuel to the fire.
"Seriously? You really don't know me?" She asked once more.
Naru sighed in frustration. "What is this? Is there a law in Japan that says every citizen and foreigner here should know who you are?"
Ruri was taken aback. "T-That's. . .there's no such thing-"
Naru didn't let her finished. "My job here is to hunt ghost and put them where they should belonged." He said. "Unless it's something that could help me to solve the case, whatever my clients do in life, even their jobs is none of my concern." He scribbled something in his notebook. "I'm an investigator and my work includes gathering information of my clients. And the last time I check, Oikawa-san is my client not you."
"Yes, she is your client but I'm the owner of this house and I can decide on whatever I want. I can even dismiss you if I please."
"So?" He deadpanned.
"S-So what? I can end your service in an instant!"
"Indeed you can, but what may I ask is your reason for us to be dismissed?" He asked.
She bit her lower lip when she thought about what she said. She doesn't have any valid reason to dismiss them. She's afraid of that ghost that was why she ordered Ayane to find someone who could banish it.
"Umina-san, I value professionalism, you should to." Shibuya said with finality.
For the first time in her life Umina Ruri was lost of words. She couldn't find any right things to say. Shibuya's keen words cut her absolutely. Ruri was full of herself and she's not the kind of person that backs down so easily. That's why she became a famous model and actress not only in Japan, but also in other countries.
People called her 'the goddess of the land of the rising sun'. Yet with this person . . . She gaze at Shibuya who's currently talking to Ayane. This person only sees her as a client?!
'Just you wait! I'll make sure that you'll fall in my hands!' She thought wickedly.
"The hell I'm bored!" Nakai Saki exclaimed, spinning her chair while glaring at her computer monitor.
She and Hirota Seigi resolved to divide the victims they had to investigate in a half to lessen their workload. But more than one is still too many for her.
Every day she has to travel and make an interview to the victims' family and friends to find any lead. But aside from the same statements over and over again, she couldn't find any useful information to submit on their temporary boss, which is Shibuya Kazuya.
Saki sluggishly typed at her keyboard and the monitor displayed the list of the missing people from their current case. She sighed and scrolled down the tab.
"Mikado Inoue, Ukyo Chiisa, Miyafuji Saeko." Saki pouted and stopped the cursor on to the last victim's name. "Taniyama Mai." She clicked Mai's information.
Taniyama Mai got abducted the fifteenth of February. She wondered what happened to her on the days before her abduction.
"Hmmm..." She hummed. "How about trying something different?" She then unconsciously typed at her keyboard.
The screen flashed the reports, accidents and incidents filed near Mai's place. There's nothing interesting, just a pile of people's crap. Next, she typed the filed reports near her school. The moment the information flashed she scanned it.
Saki frowned. "Suicide? Hmmm. . ." She clicked the file and slowly read it. "The name . . . Nobunaga Arai..." She stiffened. "TODAI, medicine student?" immediately, Saki minimizes the tab and looked at Taniyama Mai's profile, her eyes widened in surprised.
She instantly reached for the phone and dialed some numbers. "Damn it! We overlooked this one!" She cursed, while waiting for the other person to picks up.
She has a feeling that Ibara-sachi is not the only one linked on Mai's case.
Her smile widen when the person on the other line picked up. "Good day! Yasuhara-keibu!" She stood up and talked to the other person.
Leaving the monitor of her computer displaying Taniyama Mai and Nobunaga Arai's smiling face.
"Do I really have to perform a cleansing?" Ayako asked the emotionless Naru who at that time leaning on the wall.
They're at the living room and preparing for the ritual. But she thought that it's not needed.
"The spirit maybe outside, nevertheless we have to take safety precautions to make sure that they will not come inside." He answered.
She sighed and gave Naru a difficult look. "I understand." She turned to the small altar that consists of a small box and two lighted candles. "Hmp! This is better than doing nothing." Holding the wand with white zigzag-shaped paper streamer, Ayako closed her eyes and slowly relaxed herself. She took a breath and uttered a prayer. "Gather here o humble gods that descended before us. I humbly ask for your aid and give me your divine protection. Make this place pure and protected from any harmful beings."
Slowly, the miko started to swing her shide on both sides. "In the name of kami and all of the gods that listening calmly."
The place fell in silence for a while. After that she opened her eyes and let out a light sigh. "I'm done." She said to no one.
But Naru spoke. "Good. We will just have to wait for that ghost to appear."