Living and the dead

Chapter 25

"Because..." Shibuya put a hand inside his pocket, after a while he showed her a small round object made out of nickel that she could only call a coin. "I'm the one who gave you the name Mai."

Her gaze immediately locked on Shibuya's face. "Coin...san?"

A moment of confusion.

"But ... how? I thought..." Her brow furrow. "I thought it was just a dream."

Naru didn't budge for a while. Choosing his words carefully around Mai is a must. "I know this would be hard for you to take in all at once, however, you have to believe everything I say so we could avoid any risk that is threatening to come." He paused. "It certainly isn't a coincidence. There is no coincidence in these kinds of situations. If you should decide to stay here at my house, I'll tell you everything you have to know."

"I promise! I will not leave." she blurted out. Well, she doesn't have much choice either. After all this is much better rather than being a stray.

"Good." He replied. "Three months ago, I received a case concerning the disappearances of female mediums all over Tokyo and these past few months, we've been investigating, we've been planning, organizing, mapping out strategies on how we can find the culprit."

"But ... what's this has got to do with me?" She frowned. "Wait a second, I don't know who I am and my memories were already missing when I woke up inside that cell. Then does that mean ... I'm also a medium?"

"I see, you are quick on the uptake." For now Naru will have to make her believe that she's a medium. If he tells her that she's not, it will only make her confused.

"He also abducted me, making me lose my memories in the process."

"That's a fact but you have to learn something about the culprit." Naru said.

Mai tilted her head and gaze at Shibuya, waiting for him to speak.

"Kurogane Kagiri, has the ability to manipulate ones' mind. He uses hypnotism to erase his victim's memories."

"That's ... horrible!" She remarked. "Then he erased all of my memories?"

"Indeed."

"Then is it possible that I still have a family? Could be there someone out there looking for me? Answer me Shibuya-san."

Naru hesitated for a while. It will surely hurt her if she learns the truth but it will hurt more if she finds out that he lied. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"Please…" Mai is scared. Scared to learn the truth about her yet it won't stop her to learn anything about herself. "I already made up my mind a long time ago. No matter how painful those memories are I still want to know what it is, because it's a part of me. Forgetting it means denying who I really am."

"Then if you really want to, I'll tell you what I know." Naru sighed inwardly. He's not good at these kinds of things. "Mai is an orphan. His father died when she was little and her mother followed him when she was in middle school. She has no relatives and only survived up to this point using her own strength and hard work."

Even though she doesn't want to believe it, Shibuya Kazuya looks like he's not lying and telling her the truth. What would be his reason for lying to her anyway? "I see … so there isn't a single person who's looking for me."

"You're wrong." Naru said. "If you're thinking that you're alone in this world then you're wrong. You might not know who it is but there's someone waiting for you to come back. And that someone is doing everything to find you. If you think of any self-pitying thought, I'm sure that person will only be disappointed in you."

"What do you mean?"

"Because of Mai's strength that person admired her. Because Mai's always smiling that person thought that maybe living like this wasn't bad at all and because of her that person continued to live as a person."

Mai moved closer to Naru. "Really!? There's someone like that waiting for me? Will I meet that person soon?"

Naru looked away and nodded. "You will. You just have to wait."

"Knowing all of this ... Are you perhaps a detective?" Mai asked.

"More accurately, a paranormal investigator. I investigate cases connected to any mysterious phenomena related to ghosts."

Mai's eyes widened. He said 'Ghost'. Perhaps...perhaps...She couldn't believe it. The key to help Chou and the others is right in front of her!

"You said that I'm a medium but what exactly do we do?"

"In your case," Shibuya said. "You have an ability of an astral projector."

"Astral projector?"

"A person who is capable of traveling the astral world using only their spirit." He explained. "Your spiritual strength is much more powerful than others. That's why you can show yourself but unfortunately, in a spirit form. In other words: a ghost."

She gaped at him. These are totally hard to take in. Is this for real? "Then...then I wander in that office at my ghostly form?"

"That is correct." Shibuya confirmed. "But there's no need for you to be scared. You're not the only one who is not normal." Shibuya opened his palm and showed her the coin. Seconds later the round thing levitated into air. "I have a high level of Psychokinesis." He said. The coin dropped in his hand and he took it back in his pocket. "My power is so strong that my body wouldn't be able to contain it, so I can't use it without hurting myself."

Mai hugged both her legs and rested her chin on her knees. Everything seems surreal and she felt like she's still inside of a dream. But if this is indeed a dream, she doesn't want to wake up. She's scared that if she blink, everything will disappear and she'll end up inside that room-cell again.

'An astral projector huh?' Which means those different places she traveled back then exists in the real world. If so, the wisps were also spirits of dead people. Maybe the places they showed her were important to them. It could be the place where they died or the place with their most treasured memories.

"Does that mean, you controlled that coin to talk to me?"

"Exactly." Naru confirmed.

"But why?"

"Because you're at your ghostly form even though you are still alive, your senses were still in a different dimension. Mai can see the world but not the one who's living in it."

She nodded in comprehension. "I see. So, that's how it is."

"After a long time of investigating, we learned where the culprit kept his victims. In a mansion near the outskirts of Tokyo. That's where we found you." Shibuya paused. "Mai, I'll warn you beforehand, even if Kurogane is in jail right now everything is far from over."

"He's still out there to get me isn't he?"

Naru nodded. "It's imperative that you understand we are in a dangerous situation. But I will make sure that everything will be fine. Knowing how your brain works, you need someone to lean on anyway."

"Hey! I resent that!" She said. "I'm not slow!"

"Oh yeah?" Shibuya looked away. "Says someone who let the culprit inside her apartment and got abducted."

"What did you say?"

"Nothing, I was just saying how exhausted you are. You should consider getting some rest." He's sarcastic.

When the incident earlier flashed in her mind, Mai immediately blushed. How did he end up sleeping beside her anyway? Looks like it's a delicate matter for the guy. He even asked her to keep it a secret.

"Just a bit more." She told him. "I miss being outside."

"I will allow you for another five minutes. After that, go back and have some rest."

"No, ten minutes."

Shibuya glared at her. "Any person who is just merely recovered needs a rest. If you're an idiot and you want to die, say it clearly." He said. "So I won't have to take care of you anymore. Don't be a hindrance."

"And any person who just got out from being confined inside a four cornered room for a very long time need some time to breath to make sure that they're not dead! I'm not an idiot and I leave right away if you see me as a hindrance!" She replied.

"Great. You distorted my words." Naru said, heaving a sigh of defeat. He does not want to upset her in any case, not now because it would be a trouble if she run away. Making his arms a pillow he lay down the grass and closed his eyes. "Ten minutes."

Mai flashed a big smile. Looks like it's her victory. "But wait … this person you're talking about is he perhaps my boyfriend or lover?"

Naru was silent for a while, he was just looking at the scenery above and Mai thought he wouldn't answer. "Who knows … but maybe something like that?"


"Calm down you stupid monk!" Ayako growled at the hysterical monk who keeps insisting on going on Naru's house.

He's being an annoyance for more than a while now and Ayako the short tempered miko is close to her wits end.

Yasuhara who remained indifferent at the scene only watched them with pure amusement. Seeing them like that is totally entertaining for him. After all it's been a while since Bou-san became so fired up.

"I think, somebody must do something to calm Takigawa-san." John said with a smile.

"Shounen! Would you mind giving me a hand?" Bou-san pleaded, seeking for a comrade in their little game which Yasu refuses to partake. "I have to see Mai! She needs me!"

"Oh goodness!" Ayako rolled her eyes in frustration. Just a little bit more and she will have to give this idiot person a serious beating. "Quit whining Takigawa! Even if you go there, she will not recognize you."

"As much as I wanted to see her myself, Ayako have a point. Besides, didn't boss tell us to wait until Mai became comfortable," He said, putting another file on the filling cabinet. "Surprising her will be a bad idea and we don't want to give her a scare than she already had. But if you want to get your head off Bou-san, go ahead and make my day."

"Thank you for the good advice, Shounen." Bou-san said, full of sarcasm.

"You are very much welcome to come for another."

Ayako crossed her arms and sneer at them. "Don't try to do something that will enrage Naru, especially you monk!"

Bou-san sighed. "I know I don't have to worry since she's with Naru. However, that's also the very reason why I'm worried. What if Naru do something to her and-" A whack from behind startled the monk. He almost stumbled because of that damned good hit. He clutched his head to make sure it was still there.

"Takigawa-san? Are you still alive?" Yasuhara asked, stifling a laugh. "Did it crack?" He pointed his head.

"I'm so lucky to have a really thick skull!" He turned to Ayako who was now looking at her finger nails. "What the hell is wrong with you baba-keshou?!"

Ayako charged at him, almost grabbing the monk's colar. "You dare call me a makeup hag you thick skulled monk?! You deserved that for your stupidity! What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have any shame at all? Accusing Naru like that!"

"Can you blame me? Naru is also a guy! I'm just talking about the possibility."

"Your severe imagination deserves admiration. In a bad way." Ayako said, annoyed.

"Oh yeah? Don't think I didn't know that your hiding something from me, Ayako." Bou-san said. "You're the one who treat Mai back at Naru's house but you refused to give us the details."

"I was pondering about that too." Yasu second the motion.

"What happened back there?" John asked anyone who would answer.

Ayako froze, completely loss at words. Her mind reverted back on the day when Lin called her to take care of Mai. The girl was sleeping that time and Ayako was the one who changed her clothes and treated her wounds. She looked so hapless and vulnerable. After that, she brought the basin on the kitchen. Upon returning to her room-which she learned to be Naru's room-she was astounded.

Her cheeks flushed bright red when she saw the view inside the room. There Naru was. Sleeping beside Mai and tucking her close. Suddenly, Lin was standing beside her.

"Please don't tell anyone." The Chinese man said and gave her a small smile.

"I ... I won't." She replied, still blushing. "He really did missed her so badly."

Lin nodded in agreement. "He is actualy really happy to see her, yet he can't helped but to be frightened. More than being happy Naru is torn between emotions he doesn't know how to handle."

Ayako sighed. "I can see that. Being with the person you truly treasured the most is the happiest thing one can feel. And being happy always comes with a price, being with her for a second only to find out that she will be gone in the next." She turned her back at the scene and looked down. "I admire Naru for being so strong."

Her thoughts pulled back by a loud snapping finger. She absentmindedly looked at the person in front of her.

"What's with that troubled look on your face?" Asked the monk.

"That's none of your business." She replied.

"But it is! Everything about Mai is my business! I won't hand her to that sneaky boss!"

"And here comes the dotting father." Yasu said, grinning widely. "You call boss sneaky when it is actually you who's full of sneakiness."

John let out a nervous laugh, looks like no one is fond of answering his question.

"Well, our dear miko here decided to keep some interesting detail that happens in Boss's house." Bou-san said. "I doubt that it was something nice."

"The truth is hidden in the dark, huh?" Yasu said. "If you really want to find out, why not ask Lin-san instead? I'm certain he also knew what had happen that time."

"E? As if he'd talk!"

John smiled at them. "Whatever it might have been, I'm sure that it's not something bad." He turned to Ayako. "Right Matsuzaki-san?"

"Don't you find this unproductive? If you keep your eyes averted from something like this, you won't be able to obtain the answer to your question." Bou-san was saying as he put his one hand on his waste.

"You really won't give it a rest do you?" Ayako asked the monk.

"No."

"Takigawa-san." John called the monk. He's amazed at his persistency.

"Fine! I'll tell you. BUT! A violent reaction is the last thing I want from you Takigawa." The miko finally decided to disclose it to them.

She might appear a little guilty for she told Lin that she won't tell anyone, however, she find it rather unfair to them not knowing what happened when they're also waiting for some progress between Mai and Naru.

Of course this is also her chance to get right back at Naru for his previous teasing.

"Well ... I just saw Naru beside Mai." She said slowly.

"And?" It was Yasu, already standing in front of her.

"Tucking Mai close. Sleeping."

"Where?" John asked. He's also intrigued by this.

"Oh geez John do you really have to ask? Of course in bed!" The miko said, face all red.

A loud EEEEEEEEeeeeeee echoed inside the whole office from John, Hoshou and Yasu. A moment later the three guys bombarded Ayako with so many questions. Details, but she just shut her mouth. That's enough information for now.

"I told you! I told you! This is the reason why I'm worried! I'm going there right now!" Bou-san declared.

She wacked the stupid monk's head. "Oh stop it already! He has his own reason and I find it reasonable enough for his actions."

"You find hugging a helpless girl without her knowledge reasonable?" Takigawa asked.

"She has a high fever! And her body kept on shaking. We feared the worst that's why I agree on it."

Takigawa fell silent but after a while his own face gone red. Lifting his both hands the monk covered his face and turn his back at them.

"Hey? Are you okay?" Yasu inquired.

"I just couldn't believe that Naru would do something like that." He replied.

"Adolescence is wonderful, isn't it?" Yasu said in a playful tone. "My respect for boss reaches another high level! I like him much more now! Giving our dear Mai his own body heat and sleeping beside her without worrying he'll catch her cold." Yasu clasped his hands. His eyes twinkling as he looked up. "How brave, how bold, how romantic!"

"I'm happy for Mai-san." John said. "Because, a guy like Shibuya-san won't go to that extent just to make her safe if she's not someone important, moreover putting his life on the line. He truly cared for her and he treasures her."

Everyone agreed to John. Takigawa might be hysterical right now but they knew he's also happy for Naru and Mai.

The office bell chimed softly. Still that sound was enough to stop the four people inside the room from whatever they were at at that moment and turned to the door to see who came.

And every each of them-expect John who always remains neutral, of course-is anything but delighted to have this person in their office.

Umina Ruri was beyond adamant. Giving Naru her extreme affection just to please him and caught his attention. Nevertheless, the said guy stays unfazed and acted like she never exists.

It is still a mystery to them as to why Ruri act like this when it's clear as they that Naru has no interest in her or whatsoever. But Yasu on the other hand have a clue. He was sure that Ruri hired a private investigator to find out Naru's real identity. Therefore she got wind of who Naru really is.

A loud sigh of exasperation coming from the red haired miko reached monk's ears and he almost wince seeing her rude expression, consisting of a raised brow and narrowed eyes.

"What brought you here ... again?" Ayako ask Ruri, not hiding the annoyance in her voice.

"Is Shibuya-kun here?" Ruri inquired timidly and walks toward them. "I want to give him these souvenirs from Nagoya."

"Isn't coming here a little out of your work?" Ayako said. "I mean, it's okay to drop by every once in a while if you want to visit, except being here almost every day. Aren't you a little shameless?"

"W-What do you mean?"

"Oh come on! Isn't it obvious that this place is an office? People work here, this is not a cafe or a hotel of sort. Naru already got his hands full because of our cases. Don't trouble him any further. A little control if you please."

Ruri kindly smiled at her. "My apologies Matsuzaki-san but I've no idea what you're talking about because the way I see it. Shibuya-kun was not troubled at my presence at all. If he does, then it is to his convenience to tell me right away." She tilts her head a little. "As long as Shibuya-kun does not say anything, I don't care what others opinion about me."

Yasu whistle. "Exceptional self-confidence indeed from a popular one, but aren't you putting your confidence in a wrong way?"

"I'm not doing anything wrong that's why I'm confident that Shibuya-kun is not troubled with me." Ruri replied.

"Again, aren't you putting your confidence in a wrong way?" Yasu aligned his glasses. "We knew our boss much longer than you do and we know when he's angry and when he's not, when he's amused and when he's in 'I don't care about the world' mode. Honestly speaking, boss is so busy to deal with a brat like you right now. However, even a simple person like me could tell that he's not pleased of what you're doing."

Yasu was not used of being rude with girls but he have to do this in order to protect their office privacy. Umina Ruri is not an average person. She's a star, a celebrity. And celebrity means: rumors, scandal, camera and anything connected to the media.

Naru is more capable of handling this and he can get rid of her in a blink the girl will not now what hit her. However, he's busy with a more serious matter at the moment. Mai's life is more important than being involved with this love sick girl.

That's why as a part time researcher he ought to protect his working place and his boss. And sure enough, everyone felt the same way.

"Ano ... I have to agree with Yasuhara-san. Umina-san." John spoke with a half-smile. And oh my god! He chose a side for the first time! "Shibuya-san is indeed slightly troubled at your presence. H-He confines himself in his office much longer than usual when you're around."

"Hmp! You too?" She crossed her arms and pout like a child. "I don't care! And as I've said, as long as he doesn't say anything I can say that he's not troubled."

"What's with that joke? I'm not laughing at all!" Ayako sneered. She immediately grabbed her purse and came stomping toward the exit.

"Ayako!" Monk called. "Where are you going?"

"To see Mai of course! I just couldn't endure watching Umina Ruri's pathetic and honor less behavior." She said, not minding even if Ruri can hear her. She's totally pissed off. "It's too much for my womanly ego."

"What!? Wait I'll go with you." Monk said.

Ayako lift her hand in front of Monk's face. "No you don't. Don't worry, Naru promised he will bring her here tomorrow." She said. "So get moving and buy Mai her favorite food."

Bou-san frowned. "What's her favorite food?"

"You're pathetic."

"I think it's the chocolate chip cookies." John interposed.

'Shibuya-kun already ... found her ... ' Ruri shivered at the thought.

According to the miko, Mai will be here tomorrow. Finally, she will meet Mai. The Mai they always talk about. The Mai they were searching for and the Mai who's important to Shibuya-kun. She wouldn't miss it for the world.

After knowing about more of Shibuya Kazuya who is also the famous Oliver Davis in England, Ruri became restless. Shibuya is not a typical guy.

Oliver Davis is one of the most promising researcher in British Society of Psychic Research, also known as SPR who's affiliated with an another genius researcher named Joseph Gaither Pratt.

He's a psychic with an ESP called Psychometry, which involves using an object to get information about its owner or about the object itself. He wrote a book called Paranormal System and due to his work, he was awarded a doctor's degree in Parapsychology, established by the Londenberg Foundation and American Society of Psychic Research (ASPR).

Instated as a professor of a Parapsychology course at New York University at the age of fourteen and at the same time, awarded a grant by londenberg.

He was rich and famous. And it goes without saying that he was far more on a different level than her. Right there she thought that he is the one for her. Someone who is destined for her but it's clear the feeling is far-flung from mutual.

Because he already ... NO! She wouldn't give up just because of that. What if Mai doesn't love him? What if she only sees him as a friend? What if Shibuya is only confused? There're so many potential, even if there's none, Ruri will find one. What does he sees from Mai anyway?

That's what she has to find out.

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