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The Mystery and Our Destiny

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April, Thursday

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛
Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.
✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "So then, they say that the girl brought a policeman back to the public restroom. Then, shortly after she went inside as the policeman told her to, she heard the creepy voice once again! Do you want me to cover you with a red coat? Without realizing it... Y-Yes... the girl answered. And then... suddenly the policeman heard a loud scream! The policeman hurriedly opened the door, and the girl lying dead, covered in dripping blood, almost as though she were covered in a red cape. There were small holes all over her body as if someone had repeatedly stabbed her with a knitting needle."

        "No!"

        "Mai, don't use that scary voice!" That day, in the audiovisual room, three students had stayed after school again to tell ghost stories. Every time one of them finished a story, they would turn off their flashlight, and then, when counting off at the end, there's supposed to be an extra person. Supposedly, that extra person will be a spirit.

        "You're up last, Michiru," Mai said. Michiru let out a sigh, reluctant to go on after hearing Mai's story.

        "Okay, I'm going to tell you about the old schoolhouse."

        "The old one? You mean that half-collapsed wooden one?" Keiko asked. Michiru nodded in confirmation.

        "It didn't collapse. Construction work on it was stopped. Because of a curse. There have been a lot of people that have died in that old schoolhouse. Frequent fires and accidents, a student's death, a child's dead body, including a teacher, who committed suicide. So, when they were going to build the new school, I heard they were working to knock it down, but then... the roof fell through the second floor and everyone on the first floor was killed. So, the work was suspended. When the new school building was built, they tried to completely demolish the old building again but many of the demolition workers became sick or got into accidents. Equipment broke down... Last year, they started again, to rebuild the gymnasium, but then, a truck went out of control, and crashed onto the field where they were having class and a student died."

        Mai and Keiko backed up a bit in fear. This story was just getting more creepy and terrifying with every word that came out of Michiru's mouth. She wasn't done yet, though."What's more, and I heard this from one of the senpai's, but one night as she was passing by the old school... She looked up and saw a ghost staring down at her before it disappeared."

        Mai and Keiko gasped. That was just creepy. "I'll turn it off," Michiru warned. With a small click, the light went out and they were engulfed in darkness.

        "Here goes... One." Michiru started off the countdown, her sight focused on Keiko.

        "Two..." Keiko added on as a bead of sweat slide down the side of her face.

        "Three..." Mai said, cautiously glancing around the room.

        "Four." A deep, unknown voice echoed in the pitch black room.

        "Five..." The next voice that spoke up was more soft and quiet. All three girls skin started to turn into a sickly pale color. There was more than one ghost in the room.

        "Eeeh! Kyaahhhhhh!!"

        "Nooo!"

        "A ghost is here! It's here!" All three girls began to scream and panic, scrambling around the room to keep away from the spirits. Mai's movement was restricted, however, as Keiko latched onto her as if she were her safety line, squeezing her so tightly that Mai was starting to have trouble breathing properly. The lights were turned on in the room and seeing that there wasn't a pitch of darkness anywhere Keiko released her grip on Mai, allowing Mai to fill her lungs with sweet, sweet air. Keiko and Michiru glanced towards the door to see who had flipped the light switch. Standing beside the door, with his hand still on the switch, was a handsome man with dark black hair and dark indigo eyes.

        "W-was that you just now?" Michiru questioned.

        "Was I out of line?" He replied calmly. He examined each of the girl's faces, watching their expressions. Each of them started calming down except for Mai, still trying to catch her breath, before she realized something the rest didn't seem to notice.

        "W-Wait, then whose five?" All of the girls tensed up again, but he quickly dismissed it.

        "That would be her." He answered. Each girl looked at him confused about who "her" could be. He couldn't be mentioning one of them, right? Sensing their confusion, the boy stepped to the side revealing the person behind him. A beautiful girl with long black hair and blue-grey eyes. She wasn't much shorter than him but with his height, he towered over the girl enough to cover her when she stood behind him.

        "I'm sorry for the small scare." She replied in a soft tone.

        "Oh... I was so scared, I couldn't move!" Keiko exclaimed, releasing Mai and putting a hand to her heart, feeling it's steady beat. Mai gave her friend a look. If that were true, she wouldn't have been struggling for her life earlier when Keiko grabbed her. The thought of it made Mai cringe a bit and massage her sore neck, letting out a sigh of relief.

        "Excuse me, it was so dark, I didn't think anyone was in here, but then I heard voices, and couldn't help myself." The boy in black responded, with a small smile. He stepped into the room more, the light showing his face more clearly. Forget, handsome, he was gorgeous. Having a proper look of his face, Keiko and Michiru were instantly charmed by the mysterious boy dressed in black.

        "Not at all! That's okay!" Keiko exclaimed. Both Keiko and Michiru quickly got up and rushed over to him, both relieved that there was actually no spirits in the room, but also that they were lucky enough to speak to such a good looking guy. "Are you a transfer student?"

        "Sort of." He answered in a nonchalant way.

        "What year are you?" Michiru asked.

        "I'll turn 17 this year." He replied, in a polite manner. He glanced over at the girl, who stayed quiet the whole time."She turned 16 not too long ago."Michiru and Keiko looked over to the girl who came in with him and suddenly felt conscious of themselves. Seeing her in the light, the girls could clearly see how beautiful she was. Compared to Kazuya dressed in all black, she wore a white, short-sleeved cheongsam blouse with light pink cherry blossom patterns from her waist to the hem. Along with it, she wore a matching pink skirt and white Mary Jane's with a three-inch heel. She looked like a doll.

        "Then, you're one year ahead of us, huh?" Keiko said, breaking out of her trance and breaking the silence from staring at the girl. Mai, however, had a suspicious look. Huh? Wouldn't you usually say you're a second year or first year? Mai glanced at her friends watching them fawn all over him. They didn't find what he said even a little suspicious. Ahh... Just because you think he's cute, you guys don't have to get so excited. Mai looked at the boy out of the corner of her eye and felt her cheeks heat up a bit. Ahh... He is actually kind of cute... Maybe very cute... But... I don't know... Something about them bothers me...

        "We were telling ghost stories." Michiru pitched in.

        "I see. I wonder if you'd let us join in?" He asked politely.

        "Huh? Senpai, you like ghost stories, too?" Keiko asked, her eyes filled with excitement. A good looking upperclassman that also likes ghost stories. Can the day get any better?

        "Sure." He replied. Keiko and Michiru squealed in excitement.

        "Of course not, please do," Michiru answered. "Um, could you tell us what your name is?"

        "Shibuya." He answered back." Shibuya Kazuya." Kazuya looked down at Mei-Lin and nudged his head towards them, signaling her to introduce herself to them.

        "Lin. Lin Mei-Lin. "She answered, her cheek going a bit red in embarrassment. She didn't hate her name but in Japan, her name could be misinterpreted. From the looks on their faces, she was right. Keiko and Michiru looked at each other in confusion. Why did this girl say her surname three times? Not to mention, her surname was a bit weird.

        "Um, Shibuya-san, Lin-san, what is it you're doing here?" Mai asked. She didn't know why, but she felt something off about the two of them. Mei-Lin and Kazuya both turned and looked her in the eyes. On the outside, they might have been smiling but his eyes said it all. They weren't really smiling. Just as I thought... That's a fake smile! He's not really smiling, just faking it... That means... He must be scheming something. When Mai stared into Mei's eyes, she felt a chill run down her spine. Her eyes seemed so cold, as if she couldn't stand being near them, I better not say anything... If she thought Kazuya was up to something bad, there's no telling what this girl was up to. And the thought scared her.

        "There's something I needed to take care of," Kazuya answered.

        "Then, shouldn't you get to it?" Mai asked, unlike her friends she refused to let some guys good looks hide the truth.

        "Ehhh?!" Michiru and Keiko gasped. They couldn't believe that Mai was going to waste this golden opportunity to get to know a handsome upperclassman? The two of them weren't even bothered about Mei-Lin, she looked a lot like Kazuya so they believed it was safe to assume they were siblings. The things that the human mind will do to you...

        "Mai! Please ignore her, senpai. What errands do you need to be done? We'll help you!" Michiru suggested, with Keiko eagerly nodding her head in agreement.

        "Uh..." Mai looked over at her friends and couldn't believe their complete change in attitude.

        "Nah. Instead, would you let us join in the next time you tell ghost stories?" Kazuya asked, adding a charming smile for more of an effect.

        "Of course! You're most welcome!" Keiko exclaimed, they may have another girl but at this rate, they will do anything just to spend some time with him. "How about tomorrow after school?"

        "That's fine. Where?"

        "In our classroom. It's 1-F." Michiru spoke, her grin never leaving her face. The girls chatted amongst themselves in excitement as they parted ways with the mysterious upperclassman and his friend. They were so busy talking with each other that neither of them noticed the look Mai gave them over her shoulder. There's definitely something fishy here. Something's up with these guys...

        When all three girls were gone. Mei-Lin glanced up at Kazuya from the corner of her eye. "Kazu, are you positive that this is a good idea?" She asked, speaking for the first time in a long while since they're conversation.

        "You heard them too, Mei. The story about the old schoolhouse." Kazuya replied, dropping the charade, revealing his true self to his assistant. He turned around and looked at her properly. "We need to investigate everything we can about the school, even what the students say about the rumors surrounding the place." Mei-Lin sighed and looked away from his gaze, her hand unknowingly turning into a fist.

        "How long do you think this investigation will take?" She asked. Kazuya let out a small sigh, that was barely noticeable. He should have expected this though. Mei-Lin takes right after his other assistant, Lin Koujo. Her father. Just like her father, she didn't exactly like the Japanese and being in a high school in Japan, she was bound to feel annoyed.

        "As long as it takes." A small pout formed on Mei's lips before she let her hand relax and picked at the ends of her hair. As long as it takes less than a week...

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

Friday
✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛ 

          "This weather is great!" Mai cheered, stretching her arms over her head. The sky was clear and blue, a gentle breeze blew softly, and the cherry blossoms in the trees were in full bloom. "I was right to get out early. I've got the cherry blossoms all to myself." Mai came to a sudden stop when she looked to her side and saw the old school building. The stories she heard from last night started coming back into memory. Her once good mood was starting to drop until it almost reached zero. A nervous smile graced Mai's lips. Slowly she took a chance and started to approach the haunted building. As long as she didn't enter nothing bad would happen... right? 

        Looking at it like this, those stories sure do ring true, huh? Mai thought to herself with a sweat drop. Mai stood in front of the door and leaned closer, taking a peek of what the inside looked like, through the dirty glass. Inside, Mai saw a stand and what appeared to be a camera on it. What's that? A TV camera? The camera appeared to be professional but also very expensive, Did someone accidentally leave it behind? Mai slowly opened the door and glanced around her surroundings as she entered the creepy building. Upon closer inspection, sure enough, the object she spotted through the window was indeed a camera.

        "That's what it is, all right. This? But why would it be in a place like this?" She wondered out loud. "Did someone leave it behind? No, that can't be right." Still, it was probably for the best to bring it to the school in case someone did leave it. Mai slowly reached out a hand to grab the camera...

        "Who's there?!" A deep voice called out suddenly in the dark room. The sudden cry of the voice startled Mai and made her jump. Mai let out a small yelp as she backed into one of the old shoe lockers with a force strong enough to make it sway.

        "I'm sorry, I was just, um..." Mai stuttered, trying to think of a reason for why she was here. Mai didn't seem to notice the swaying shelf until she felt the pressure of it on her back."N-No way!"Mai let out a small scream when she suddenly felt a force push on her shoulders and out of harm's way. Mai slowly replayed what just happened, as though it only happened in slow motion. She was perfectly fine... She couldn't say the same for the camera and her savior, however.
        "A-Are you okay?!" Mai asked in concern as she rushed towards the strange man's side. He let out a small groan but made no movements. Oh no, what should I do? Somebody...

        "What happened?" Kazuya demanded as he stepped inside the old building. Not too far from him was Mei-Lin, however, instead of the blank canvas she expressed yesterday, her face was full of concern, and anger. Why was Lin on the floor? Why was the camera broken? Why was a student here? So many questions but no time to ask them.

        That guy and girl from yesterday? Mai stared up at the two, wondering why they were here. "Fùqīn{1}!" Mei-Lin shouted as she rushed to his side, quickly moving parts of the shelves off of him.

        "Lin, what happened?" Kazuya asked once more when Mai didn't answer his question, kneeling down to check on the older man with Mei-Lin fretting over him. Mai watched with wide eyes as blood dripped onto the floor when Kazuya and Mei-Lin helped him sit up. "You're a bit cut up. Can you stand?"

        "Yes," Lin replied in a calm manner, despite being in pain.

        "U-Um, I'm really sorry." Mai cut in quickly. "I suddenly heard him call out to me, so I..."

        "Never mind the explanations. Are there any doctors around here?" Kazuya asked in a calm manner, taking control of the situation at hand.

        "There's one as soon as you get out of the school gate," Mai explained. She reached out to help the two pick up the older man, but as her hand reached out, Mei-Lin slapped her hand away, glaring at her harshly.

        "No thank you. I do not need your help." Lin stated coldly, glaring at the girl.

        "I believe you've done enough," Mei-Lin added, no longer looking at the girl, but rather the injured man in her arms. Huh?! What?! Mai stared at the two in shock as she held the hand that Mei-Lin slapped away. Never had she received such a harsh glare? She knows it was her fault but they didn't have to be so rude.

        "You're the girl I met yesterday, right? What's your name?" Kazuya asked Mai, breaking her thoughts on the duo.

        "Taniyama Mai." She answered with slight hesitation, holding her hand close to her chest. The slap it got earlier still stung a bit.

        "Well then, Taniyama-san, out of the kindness of my heart, I must tell you that the school chimes sounded a moment ago," Kazuya informed her. Mai's eyes widened a bit as she stared at him in shock. With everything that went on, she completely forgot about school, not to mention it most likely rang when the shelf fell over.

        "Y-You're kidding! I'm tardy!" She yelled as she ran towards the school and hightailed out of the old building.  Aw, man! What's with those guys? That's one unlucky place all right! It's true! That building is cursed!


✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        Mai let out a sigh as the final bell rang and quickly proceeded to pack her bag so she could go home and forget this day ever happened. "Mai, you're going home?" Michiru asked. She had to admit she was a little surprised that Mai was packing up. She was in a hurry to go home today of all days. "What about our engagement with Shibuya-senpai? Don't you want to stay?"

        "I don't care," Mai answered. In fact, she would rather avoid him for the rest of the day, the same for that girl.

        "No way! I can't believe you!" Keiko whined. "This is a chance to tell ghost stories together with him!"Mai just ignored her friend's words. Why couldn't they see that there was something fishy about those two?

        "Do you think he'll really come?" Keiko asked Michiru when she noticed Mai was ignoring her.

        "He sure did scare us yesterday." Michiru replied ."I really thought he was a spirit." The two girls laughed together, deciding not to let Mai dampen their moods. Well, if it wasn't Mai, it was the thoughts of the other girl. "Wait, what about that weird girl who said her last name a bunch of times." Michiru and Keiko then started to look a bit worried. They convinced themselves that the two were just relatives but being in the same room with a beautiful girl... They didn't feel as confident now. Keiko was about to answer to bring up both of their spirits but before she could say anything a voice interrupted her.

        "Ghost stories, you say?" A voice with a somewhat annoyed tone rang out. All three girls turned to see who the voice belonged to and saw a girl with braided pigtails and glasses with an annoyed look on her face.

        "Oh, Kuroda-san, we were just leaving," Keiko said, smiling in a polite manner, as she tried to excuse herself and her friends.

        "Is that what you've been doing every day?" Kuroda questioned them. "No wonder my head has been aching for so long. I am very spiritually sensitive. When spirits gather together I get headaches."

        "You're saying it's our fault?" Mai asked, not liking the direction this conversation was going.

        "Of course it is," Kuroda answered. "Don't you know what you're doing? When you tell ghost stories, low-level spirits come together. Then, that summons stronger spirits and it's bad news when that happens. That's why you can't entertain yourselves by telling ghost stories."

        "You there..." Kazuya spoke, interrupting the conversation, of course, Mei-Lin was by his side as well. The two had arrived earlier to speak with Mai but held back when they started hearing Kuroda speak about spirits and being a psychic. "If you are spiritually sensitive, then do you sense anything about the old schoolhouse?"

        "Ah, it's Shibuya-senpai!" Michiru and Keiko squealed in unison, happy to see the boy in black once more.

        "Are you the one who put these girls up to telling ghost stories?" Kuroda questioned, turning her attention to Kazuya. "What grade are you in? What are you doing here? I would expect you to know better senpai, I'll exorcize for you just in case."

        "Will you please answer my question?" Kazuya said, gently."If you can really sense spirits, that is." He was provoking her, it was clear as day.

        "I can sense them! There are a lot of spirits of those who died in the war gathered in the old schoolhouse. World War II, of course. I'm sure that long ago, that place used to be a hospital. I saw a lot of injured spirits there, too."

        "I did not know there was a hospital here during the war," Mei-Lin spoke up. Kazuya looked down at Mei-Lin, curious on what she would have to say. As for Mai, Michiru, and Keiko, they stared at her in shock. This girl who didn't say a word the whole time was actually talking right now. "I had heard that the school had been here before the war. Perhaps it was a medical school then?" Kuroda's eyes widened, taken aback from the girl's knowledge about the school, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment and anger. The tone Mei-Lin used when she spoke sounded as though she was challenging her.

        "I don't know! But I did see them!" She snapped at the girl defensively. "Someone who isn't spiritually sensitive wouldn't understand!"

        "The principal mentioned that he's upset because the spirits in the old building are preventing him from demolishing it. Why don't you exorcize the spirits for him with your 'Psychic powers'?" Mei-Lin suggested with a sickly sweet smile. Mai sweat dropped and let out a soft sigh. The two of them were out of control, Mei-Lin may have been able to keep up the sweet act but there was no evidence of it in her voice. If anything, it sounded sarcastic.

        "Shibuya-senpai, how about we call it off for today?" Keiko said, putting an end to the argument.

        "I'm not really in the mood, either," Michiru added. Both girls were beginning to take Kuroda's words seriously. What if they really do end up summoning stronger spirits? Just the thought of it sent chills down their backs.

        "No? Well then, another time." Kazuya told them, putting on the nice act again, as he turned to leave. Before he could take a step outside, he turned his attention back to the girls in the room, specifically Mai. "Taniyama-san..." Mai tensed up, praying that this wasn't about the incident from earlier. "Might I have a moment?" Mai opened her mouth to say no, but the look in his eyes clearly said it all. No wasn't an option.

        "Sure..." She reluctantly answered, with tears streaming down her cheeks, while her friends looked at her with envy. If only they knew the trouble she was in.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Is she one of your classmates?" Kazuya asked when they were out of listening distance from the room.

        "Yeah, but... I've never really spoken to her today. She seems a bit weird." Mai confessed. She wasn't one to talk about people behind their backs but after what happened earlier, well...

        "I wonder if she's really psychic..." Kazuya said absently, saying his thoughts aloud.

        "I certainly didn't get that feeling," Mei-Lin said. It was only her opinion on the matter but an honest one.

        "That's what she says, so maybe she is," Mai answered with a small shrug of the shoulders. "Um, how is that man from this morning?"

        "Yes, about him. He's sprained his left leg." Kazuya spoke, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. Mei-Lin's grip on the black book in her hands tightened and was trembling. "He won't be able to stand for a while."

        "I-I'm terribly sorry..." Mai apologized, feeling guilty for being the cause of it all. "So, Shibuya-san, Lin-san, how was he involved with you?"

        "Assistant." Kazuya casually answered.

        "You mean, Shibuya-san, Lin-san, you help him with his work?" Mai asked, her curiosity getting the best of her.

        "The opposite." Kazuya corrected, stopping in his tracks and turned around to face her properly. "They're the assistants and I'm the boss." Mai stayed quiet and stared at him in shock. What?! This guy, who was only a year older than her, was in charge? Of what exactly? "Now one of my assistants can't move. I believe that you have an obligation here."

        "J-Just a minute! I happen to be a victim too! He scared the heck out of me and made me late for class!" Mai protested, but started regretting it when Mei-Lin turned around and glared harshly at the girl.

        "He got hurt... What happened to you?" Mei-Lin questioned in a dissonant tone, annoyed with the girl. The worst thing to happen to her was being tardy for class. As for Lin, he could have died, he was just lucky it only happened to be a sprain. Mai stepped back a bit, feeling guilty now for speaking up. As much as she would hate to admit it, and how deadly the girl's glare was, she was right. Kazuya looked down at Mei-Lin and noticed her annoyance and decided to cut in before an argument started.

        "The camera is broken too," Kazuya added in. "He was trying to stop you because you were touching the camera, and this is how it turned out." Kazuya's words were the same as putting in the final nail to her coffin. Mai shut her eyes and covered her face with her hands. She just couldn't believe how much she managed to screw up in a day. The entire situation was a tragedy. To make matters worse she had no excuse. "You may choose to pay me back for the loss, but..."

        "But I didn't mean to do it... Besides, you shouldn't have left a camera in a place like that... So that's... Why..." Mai started spouting excuses and protests but then she noticed the dark aura surrounding the two. Kazuya gave her a look that basically said should she really be protesting when it's all on her. As for Mei-Lin, it was a mix between annoyance and anger, mostly the latter. "By the way, um... how much was it?"

        "Probably more than you have," Kazuya stated bluntly.

        "In Japanese yen, approximately one thousand men yen{2}" Mei-Lin said the price in a blunt manner as if it were the cheapest price in the world. Mai started feeling faint hearing how much the camera cost before standing straight and facing the black-haired beauty.

        "No way!! How can a camera be so expensive!?" Mai shouted.

        "It was custom made. From Germany. I can show you the warranty if you like?" Mei-Lin calmly answered and held up her folder which most likely had the warranty for the camera inside of it. Mai quickly shook her head and looked down in defeat, her skin turning pale. A thousand man yen... A thousand man means... How many large orders of french fries would that get me... Let's see...

        "You mean, um..." Mai couldn't continue with the calculation. The number was just too much and it scared her.

        "You couldn't reimburse me, which means, there is only one course that you can take." Kazuya finished the sentence for her. "I want you to be my substitute assistant." Kazuya's words shocked not only Mai but Mei-Lin, even though she was told this was the best course she wasn't that fond of the idea.

        "Y-Your assistant? Shibuya-san you want me to help you in your work?" Mai asked, feeling a bit apprehensive. While relieved that she wouldn't have to empty out her bank account, still, to be suddenly told to become a substitute assistant.

        "Isn't that what it sounded like?" Kazuya asked rhetorically.  Mai backed up a bit, the whole situation seemed a little suspicious.

        "So, what is your work?" Mai asked.

        "Ghost hunting," Kazuya replied in English.

        "Huh?" Mai raised a hand to her ear, believing she misheard him.

        "The direct translation would be "ghost exterminator," I suppose," Kazuya explained. "I'm from Shibuya Psychic Research, which was hired by the principal to investigate the old schoolhouse.

        "'Saikiku Risachi.'" Mai asked. Kazuya and Mei-Lin looked at her with a look that clearly voiced their frustration. It was starting to become a pain to have to explain the simplest things to her.

        "Is that a question? Aren't you taking English classes? You have terrible pronunciation." Kazuya criticized. Mai sweat-dropped at the blunt statement and couldn't help but feel angry at why he was mean to her all the time. "'Psychic' means shinrei ("spiritual"). 'Research' means chousa("investigation"). In other words, Shibuya Psychic Research is a spiritual phenomenon investigation bureau." Kazuya turned around to face her, looking Mai directly in the eyes to show how serious this business was. "And I am its manager."

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛
Friday, evening
✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        The sun cast an orange glow over the school grounds and old school building. Kazuya opened the back of the van, revealing multiple screens, poles, camera's, and so much more. "Amazing!" Mai shouted in awe.

        Kazuya and Mei-Lin paid her no mind and focused on the job at hand. Kazuya began to explain the job description he received from the principal as they headed towards the old school building. "A week ago, the principal hired us." 

        "The thing is, there's this weird rumor that the old schoolhouse is cursed." The principal said.

        "When I looked into the records, I was able to verify that up until 18 years ago, while the old schoolhouse was still in use, there would be one or two people that died there, every year," Kazuya explained as he handed Mai supplies and Mei-Lin looked through her notebook and made small notes. Growing curious of what the black-haired beauty was writing, Mai slowly crept closer and peeked at her notebook. Wow! I can't read the writing!! Mai stared at the girls handwriting in shock, it was written neatly but also looked like it was in English. Before Mai could attempt to decipher what she was writing, Mei-Lin, walked over to Naru and gave him the notebook before grabbing a few supplies herself. "It's also true that when construction crews were tearing down the east side of the school, there was an accident where the roof collapsed. However, no workers, in fact, died as a result. The construction ended with only a third of the demolition that was originally planned ever completed."

        "There were five who were injured, but the cause was a workplace mistake," Mei-Lin added in. "Since then... And this was six years ago... The body of a dead child was discovered in the old building. She was a seven-year-old who lived in the neighborhood. She had been kidnapped for ransom. The criminal was caught and arrested one month after her body was found. And it's also true there was a teacher who committed suicide, but..." Mei-Lin picked up the notebook with one hand once more and skimmed through it before stopping at a page. "He suffered from Neurosis. They found a suicide note he left behind." She read.

        "Also the runaway truck last year was caused by drunk driving. That's when construction was brought to a stop. The stories that we've heard appear to have been a factor, too." Mei-Lin closed the book shut and gently placed it back down in the van before adjusting her grip on the supplies at hand.

        "According to my feasibility study, the presence of spirits here is nothing more than stories." Kazuya finished. "For a place as unlucky as this is, all the accidents have plain explanations."

        "Ahh... Excuse me..." Mai spoke up. The two turned around and looked at her with a questioning gaze. "Do I really have to help you...?" The two of them gave her a blank stare that practically said yes, you do. Mai looked down, tears streaming down her face at the blunt statement, even though they didn't really say it. "Yeah, I know... I obviously do. Okay, I got it, don't look at me like that..."

        "Take those microphones down and gather them up. I'll get the mike stands" Kazuya ordered, pointing to a set of microphones as he picked up a set of stands for the microphones.

        "What do you use these microphones for?" Mai asked, staring straight at the mike. Wow... It's big... "You're not going to sing, are you?"

        "I suppose microphones are generally used to collect sound," Kazuya replied in a sarcastic tone. 

        "That's not what I was asking... I know that much!"

        "It's dangerous to go into a haunted building that you're not yet familiar with. So it's important to first collect as much information as possible from outside the building." Mei-Lin answered, not bothering to look at Mai as she explained the situation. 

        "So... Aren't you scared of that haunted building?" Mai asked the two.

        "Not particularly," Kazuya answered. Mai looked between the two, a bit shocked at how calm and professional the two were about this. This is kind of different from what I expected. After gathering all of the microphones, they were all brought back to the van. 

        "Okay, I helped you, so was that enough?" Mai asked once everything was gathered. "I want to go now..." Both Mei-Lin and Kazuya ignored her as he opened the back of the van. Mai's eyes widened in slight shock at all of the equipment they had packed in the small van. Packed on sturdy shelves were several monitors, various control systems, camera's, etc.

        "Let's carry them out," Kazuya ordered.

        "You mean all of them?!" Mai asked incredulously.

        "We're going to need everything." He stated calmly. What part of this is "ghost hunting"...Mai wondered.

        "Do you really know how to use all this stuff, Shibuya-san?"

        "I'm smart, unlike you," Kazuya replied bluntly as he rolled up his sleeves. "Let's go." Mei-Lin didn't hesitate on the order and grabbed what she could carry from the disassembled set of shelves.

        "Are we going inside?" Mai asked in a nervous manner. The thought of her going into a possibly haunted or cursed building bothered her more than the insult.

        "Of course," Kazuya answered in a matter of fact tone. This should have been very obvious at least. "Don't worry, I won't make you go in by yourself.

        You say that now, but... Mai watched the two go ahead of her, heading inside of the building as if it were any other building or house. Why do I have to go through all this? The old building with the scary rumors... This weirdo that came to research the building who calls himself a "ghost hunter" or whatever... A girl who assists eerily looks like a doll and doesn't seem to like me...Wow... What have I gotten myself into?!

 

 


{1}Fùqīn=Chinese way of saying, father

 

{2}One thousand man yen=Hundreds of thousands of dollars

Chapter Text

Previously on Ghost Hunt:

"Are we going inside?" Mai asked in a nervous manner. The thought of her going into a possibly haunted or cursed building bothered her more than the insult.

        "Of course," Kazuya stated in a matter of fact tone. This should have been very obvious at least."Don't worry, I won't make you go in by yourself.

        You say that now, but... Mai watched the two go ahead of her, heading inside of the building as if it were any other building or house. Why do I have to go through all this? The old building with the scary rumors... This weirdo that came to research the building who calls himself a "ghost hunter" or whatever... A girl who assists, eerily looks like a doll, and doesn't seem to like me...Wow... What have I gotten myself into?!

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        Squeak.. The floorboards beneath Mai's feet let out a eerie creak or squeak with each step she took. ...Yikes. It feels creepy in here...Mai thought as she glanced around the hall. Kazuya opened the door to one of the nearby classrooms on the first floor and stepped inside with Mai and Mei-Lin trailing behind him. "We'll use this room as our base." The classroom that was chosen was a wise idea. The room was still intact and stable tables inside of the room for all of the equipment they were going to bring in, and it makes carrying the equipment there a lot easier.

        "Besu"?" Mai asked. Kazuya looked at her with a blank face but from Mei-Lin's view, she could see he was getting annoyed with all the questions.

        "Base" means Kichi("base")." Kazuya explained. "This is our commend center for our on-the-spot investigation."

        "Thank you for being so courteous." Mai spoke in a tone that was mixed between being sarcastic and annoyed. She just couldn't catch a break with either of them. Was it just her or did Kazuya in particular like bullying her?

        "Set up the shelves for me. I'll go get the materials." Kazuya ordered rather than asking nicely.

        "You're going to leave me here, by myself?" Mai shouted incredulously.

        "Would you rather carry them? They're heavy-nearly 40 kilos." Kazuya asked her. Mai sweat-dropped and calculated how many pounds that would add up to. It had to be half her weight. No way she could carry that.

        "The shelves will be fine." Mai didn't bother arguing any further, she was completely helpless against this guy.

        "Besides, Mei-Lin is here to help so you don't make any mistakes." Kazuya stated before he left the room to grab more materials. Mai tensed up quickly and stood completely still before looking over to the black-haired beauty, who was already setting up the shelves. Of all the people she had to be stuck in a haunted building with, it had to be the girl that seems to have some kind of grudge against her. With a reluctant sigh, Mai put the box of materials she had on the table where the shelves were going to be set up. What a stuck up attitude! I mean it was my fault his assistant got hurt, but even so...Mai looked out the window and saw the sun has was still up and the sky still having the same orange glow from when they were outside. It's still light out. Everything's going to be okay, isn't it...?

        Squeak~Mai gasped and tensed up, startled from the ominous creak. Mai looked over at Mei-Lin but saw she wasn't bothered by the sound and already halfway done with the shelf. Am I the only one bothered by this? But... I could have sworn the noise came from upstairs...Mai looked up as if the answer to what made the sound would just appear out of thin air or drop down and scare her even more. Suddenly, the lights came on startling Mai so much that she ducked down and covered her ears, letting out a small scream. Calm down. It's nothing. Nothing...

        Mai's thoughts were put to a halt and she froze when she heard something scratch at the door. With caution, she slowly turned to look at the entrance when she heard it start to slide open. When Mai spotted a hand holding the side of the door, she gasped and backed up, preparing for the worst. Instead of a ghost or spirit or any other horrible thing she thought would come out. It was only Kazuya. Mai sweat-dropped and let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "Ah... It's just you." She said. Better a human than a ghost. Kazuya looked between the two and could clearly see Mei-Lin did most, if not all, of the work on the shelves.

        "Stop goofing off, and get to work." Kazuya scolded her rather coldly as he set the cables down. Mai looked at Kazuya for a while and then looked at Mei-Lin to see she was almost done with setting up the shelves. I hate this guy. Mai thought as she grabbed the remaining pieces of the shelves and helped Mei-Lin with the finishing touches while Kazuya went to get more equipment.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Ah, what's that?" Mai asked when all of the equipment was in the room and the base was almost completely set up. Kazuya looked over at Mai, who was trying to peek in the small box that Kazuya brought in.

        "It's a tape recorder." He answered. The tape recorder looked different from the ones they had now. Rather it was one of the big ones in the 90's that was used for TV and radio stations, before CD's and recordings replaced all the cassettes and floppy disks. Even cell phones were used for recording videos."But this one is a little special. It can record for up to 24 hours. This is what we plug our mike into."

        "What's it for?" Mai asked, curiously. Kazuya paused in his work to look at Mai properly in the eye.

        "I hate having to explain everything to amateurs." He replied, furrowing his brow in slight irritation. Kazuya wasn't the only one annoyed though. He glanced over at his side and watched as Mei-Lin continued to do her work but he could see clear as day that she was annoyed through her eyes. Mai was equally annoyed at his answer.

        "You knew I was an amateur when you hired me. If you got a problem with that, then I won't help you." Mai stated in a defensive tone. Kazuya stared and looked down at Mai, who was holding her ground. Neither turned away from each other's gaze until Mei-Lin decided to intervened.

        "Go ahead if you want to, after all this is only to pay us back for the camera you broke. Since you don't seem to be worried about it, should we bill you the hospital bill as well." Mei-Lin stated in a sickly sweet tone. Mai tensed up at the reminder of why she was doing this in the first place. She wasn't smiling, but Mai can easily imagine a mocking smile on the girls face. Kazuya smirked at the small reminder, if he wasn't able to keep Mai in place, Mei-Lin will be able to do it. However, there's no doubt that there will be a lot of arguments while they work.

        "It's to record the sound of a ghost or anything else unusual," Kazuya answered to avoid a possible argument between the two girls, although reluctant. Both had a valid point and neither were wrong but he wanted to avoid wasting any more time with pointless arguments. "All day today we recorded the sound of the first floor through the window, just as a test."

        "Oh, that microphone from earlier," Mai said, hitting the palm of her hand.

        "Correct. Tonight, we'll set the mike and recorder in the room."

        "You don't stay overnight?" Mai asked with a bit of surprise. It didn't really sound like a good idea to leave all of this expensive-looking equipment left unattended at night. The building may scare people off because of the rumors but still, it was better to be safe than sorry.

        "Not yet. If there really is a ghost, first I'll need to determine how powerful it is." Kazuya explained patiently.

        "You're the type of person who looks before he leaps," Mai observed.

        "What?" Kazuya looked at Mai curiously. He doesn't remember hearing that saying before. Sensing his confusion, Mei-Lin decided to answer the meaning behind it.

        "It means you're extremely careful." She answered. 

        "Of course." Kazuya said in a matter of fact tone. "Sometimes you encounter great danger at a haunted house. If you underestimate it, you might never return." Mai gulped and slowly started to turn pale. Did he really say that when they were standing in haunted house?!

        "Don't scare me like that." Mai scolded. Mai looked down and spotted a camera but it looked different from the ones she usually saw and the ones she just set up. "Hey, what's this?"

        "I don't want to talk anymore," Kazuya stated rather sternly, not even bothering to face Mai as he adjusted the settings on the equipment they would need for the night. He was starting to get tired of answering Mai's question about every little thing they had.

        "Ah... I see." Mai said, sweat-dropping a bit. His face was nice but his personality was making it a complete waste. She didn't want to ask Mei-Lin though, she would just ignore her or give her a look. She knew just how to get a reaction out of them, however. "No problem. But I might make some big mistakes out of ignorance. Is this a camera or a fancy footstool?" Mai spoke innocently and lifting her foot and placing it on top of the camera. "Oops..." Kazuya quickly turned around and flinched ever so slightly, seeing what she was doing to his camera. It was clear she was threatening him with it. The girl had guts, but if she kept this up, he wasn't going to have anymore camera's.

        "Do that and we'll not only fire you but add more to your debt. Have fun looking for a job that pays as much." Mei-Lin sassed, pushing Mai's foot off the camera, making her lose her balance for a moment, and gently picked it up. Mai stayed still and shrank a bit at her own actions. The reason she's here was because of a camera, now she's trying to break more things and add more to her debt? Not a smart move."If you want to know so badly, this is an infrared camera and the one beside it is an ultra-high-sensitivity camera. They're used to shoot in dark places. Thermography is done with cameras that pick up temperatures. When spirits appear, the temperatures where they are drop. This gauges that."

        "It's amazing that you can use all of this stuff," Mai said, amazed at the explanation, even though there were a few things she didn't quite understand completely.

        "Of course I can, my brain works differently than yours," Kazuya stated coldly. If he wasn't able to do this much he wouldn't be in the business in the first place.

        "You don't say. Well, you are an office manager, at your age, so you could say that. But why are you exterminating ghosts?" Out of all the questions that Mai was curious about the most, choosing this as a job was the biggest question on her mind. Of all things, why ghost hunting?

        "Because it is needed." Kazuya gave a short and quick answer.

        "But there have been incidents that you couldn't solve, right?"

        "Nope. I am good at this, after all."

        "Amazing! Smart and handsome, too!" Mai mumbled quietly under her breath. As much as she hated to say it, if you take away the personality, he would have been the ideal guy.

        "You think I'm handsome?" Kazuya asked, looking away from the equipment to look at Mai. Mei-Lin raised a thin brow and turned her attention away from adjusting the monitors to Mai. Not only did this girl have guts but she was pretty bold too.

        "Well, aren't you? Everyone else was making a fuss." Mai said thornily, a small vein throbbing on her head. Why was that the part he focused on? While she did mean some of it, couldn't he hear the sarcasm?

        "Hmm, their taste isn't too bad." Kazuya said before turning his attention back to the work at hand. Mai stared at him in shock with her jaw dropped. Sure, I may think his looks and his title are amazing, but most of all, it's his narcissistic manner! She thought to herself, astounded by the sheer nerve of this handsome and smart jerk. From now on, you're going to be Naru-chan! Naru-cissistic Naru-chan!

        Mei-Lin watched Mai's strange movements from the side and could only shake her head. All she could ask herself was what did she get herself into?

        "Mai, take this and measure the temperature in every room," Kazuya ordered handing Mai a digital thermometer. With a sigh, Mai took the device and headed to measure the temperature in every single room, she could only hope there wasn't a lot.

        When he believed Mai was far away enough, he turned to Mei-Lin who was already facing him, expecting him to ask or order her to do something. "Have you sensed anything here yet?"

        Mei-Lin shook her head and leaned back on an empty table. "Nothing, when we first came here I sensed a bit of fear in one room and depression in another but it didn't last long. I'm assuming it must have been a while ago considering how faint it was. If I had to make a guess it was probably from the child and the teacher." She stated. "Other than that, there's nothing here. Unless we're missing something, I don't think there is a spirit here."

        Kazuya looked down in thought. "If it's as you say, it may be something else. For now, we should investigate as we normally do." When Kazuya looked up he saw Mei-Lin was looking down at her hands with a miserable look. He let out a small sigh before walking up to her and gently patting her head. "What's wrong?"

        Mei-Lin didn't look up and kept her gaze on the floor. Kazuya watched her in silence before he let out another sigh. "Lin will be just fine. It's just a sprain, he won't die from it." Mei-Lin looked up at Kazuya, her eyes shining with worry. Even without words, they were able to understand one another perfectly. It only took a single glance at her actions for Kazuya to figure out what the problem was. "If it bothers you so much, after we're done setting everything up, we'll head to the hospital."

        "Yeah... I'd like that." Mei-Lin said softly with a smile. Kazuya smiled back at her, though it was faint. The two sat in comfortable silence before the door was slammed open and they backed away from each other to look at the source.

        "I'm back." Mai announced upon her arrival with a look of annoyance. "I measured the temperature in each room like you asked. This digital thermometer is pretty handy." Kazuya took the list of measurements out of her hand and looked through them.

        "Nothing unusual... The temperature isn't lower in any particular area." Kazuya said. "The first floor's a little lower than the other classrooms... but not enough to matter."

        "Then that means there are no spirits here?" Mai asked, playfully tossing up the digital thermometer. Kazuya quickly walked over to her and snatched it midair, his eyes narrowing at her in disapproval for once again messing around with his equipment.

        "Stop playing with that. We don't know that yet. Ghosts can be shy." Kazuya stated."It's normal for a psychic phenomenon to stop temporarily when an outsider comes in."

        "Anyway, this isn't helping us gather information. First..." Mei-Lin interrupted and pulled out a small notepad. "Let's position the infrared cameras: Four of them on the first and second floor hallways and one at the entrance."

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Ouch. Ah. Oh..." Mai groaned as she rested her head on the table. She had no idea how Kazuya and Mei-Lin were completely fine after carrying all that heavy lifting and still had energy to move.

        "That's all for today, you can go," Kazuya informed them coming back from checking the camera's settings one last time and jotted something down on his clipboard.

        "For today"? You don't mean..." Mai's eyes opened and she hoped that what he said next wasn't what she thought it was.

        "I'll see you tomorrow." Kazuya answered, confirming Mai's worst fears. Mai stared down at the ground and tears before looking up at Kazuya and Mai whispering in secret with one another.

        "Are you serious?" She grumbled to herself. "Seriously. You really don't look like a psychic."

        "Ghost Hunter." Don't confuse me with psychics." Kazuya corrected her.

        "Same thing." Mai mumbled under her breath. "Well, I'm leaving now. See ya." Mai then proceeded to limp her way out of the building and away from the two ghost hunters. When she had gone past the gate, she slumped down and sighed in discontent. How did I get myself into all of this? She thought to herself. A bright light had shined on her and Mai had to cover her eyes from the sudden brightness.

        "Mai..." The owner of the flashlight had turned out to be Keiko and Michiru, with Michiru being the one holding the flashlight. "You were here with Shibuya-senpai until this late? What were you doing?"

        "Keiko? Michiru?"

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Huh? Spirit investigations?" Keiko shouted incredulously.

        "Then Shibuya-san isn't an upperclassman?" Michiru asked in confusion.

        "Mm-mm, he says he's a Ghost Hunter," Mai answered as she rested her head on Michiru's shoulders. The three were seated on a bench far from the haunted school house as Mai explained to them who Kazuya and Mei-Lin were.

        "A Ghost Hunter?" Keiko and Michiru questioned her in unison.

        "Taniyama-san!" Kuroda suddenly appeared and spoke up, bringing attention to herself. Oops... Mai thought to herself. She could already tell this was going to be troublesome...

        "So are they psychics?" Kuroda asked. "I heard he came here to do research on the old school building."

        "He says he's not a psychic... He's a 'ghost hunter'." Mai replied. She wasn't sure if it was a smart thing to tell her the truth about the two but then again she would probably go up to Kazuya and Mei-Lin herself and find out she told her the truth. Either way, it didn't look good for her, and she was already in enough trouble as it is.

        "A ghost hunter?" Kuroda mumbled to herself, skeptically.

        "So what's the difference," Michiru asked. In her mind, the two weren't that different from each other.

        "Don't know." Mai answered honestly. She was going to search up the difference but felt that there was no need and truthfully, she didn't feel up to it. She would ask Mei-Lin or Kazuya to bug them though... "Ah, that reminds me, you guys may want to give up on him." Kazuya and Mei-Lin didn't notice but Mai had saw them together and heard their conversation. Mai may not have seen it for long but she knew they were having a moment. She saw how close and how differently they treated each other compared to her. Mai hated to say it but they looked good together. From the look on Keiko and Michiru's face, they thought so too.

        Kuroda stared at the three girls who were chatting amongst themselves. Were they trying to ignore her or simply forgot she was there? "I wonder if you would introduce me." Kuroda spoke a bit louder to get their attention back.

        "Introduce you? To Naru-chan and Mei?" Mai asked. Keiko and Michiru looked at Mai with shock, she was already so familiar with the both of them that she was calling them by a first name and nickname.

        "What do you mean by "Naru-chan"?"  Michiru asked. "Since when did you get so close to calling that girl Mei?"

        "Well, that guy is an extreme narcissist." Mai started explaining. "What's more he's incredibly ill-natured. Mei is even worse and her name is confusing so it's easier just saying, Mei."

        "Look, I have some spiritual sensitivity, too, you know. So maybe I could be of some help to him." Kuroda suggested.

        "Then again, maybe you'd better not get too involved. He is a pro. Also, Mei seems to be spiritually sensitive." Mai said, attempting to reason with the girl.

        "I'm no amateur myself!" Kuroda snapped. If Kazuya was fine with having a phony and amateur like Mai, then surely he would want a real psychic! Mai's eyes had widened at the sudden change in behavior. Mai was going to explain how Kazuya was a true professional, he even had an office and assistants working for him.

        "Let's go, Mai." Michiru said. She grabbed Mai's wrist and ran off in the opposite direction, with Keiko following after them, away from Kuroda. Kuroda took a step forward, but when she saw they weren't going to come back, she stared at the ground. Look at me...

        When Michiru and Keiko thought they were far enough, Michiru released Mai's wrists and started to catch her breath. "She's always been weird." Keiko remarked. "Ever since middle school, she's been famous for being trouble."

        "Was Kuroda-san in the same class track as you, Keiko?" Mai asked.

        "Yeah, she says she has spiritual sensitivity and stuff." Keiko said, nodding to confirm Mai's question. Mai hummed softly to herself, taking in the new information as she glanced back to the direction they came from. So this had actually been going on for a while...

        "Hey, you don't think she's fallen in love with Shibuya-san at first sight, do you?" Michiru asked Keiko.

        "Yuck! Stop that!"Keiko laughed. Mai looked at her friends and chased after them without looking back.  Hmm, I can't quite figure her out. I'd probably be better off not getting involved with her...

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

Saturday

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "What are you doing?" Mai asked as she approached the van. Kazuya was sitting in the back of the van with Mei-Lin, standing beside him holding a clipboard, looking over... something. Mai had to admit she was a bit shocked, believing that they had already done and checked over everything yesterday. That didn't seem to be the case. She even wondered if they even went home because Kazuya was wearing practically wearing the same attire from yesterday; black shirt, black pants, and black shoes. However, Mei-Lin was wearing a short navy blue cheongsam dress with a open chest collar and cap sleeves with long black see-through sleeves. On her feet she wore navy flats with two straps wrapped around her ankle.

        "Checking yesterday's data. Doesn't seem to be anything unusual." Kazuya elaborated, for Mai's sake. "Either there are no ghosts or they're hiding for now... So there doesn't appear to be any danger at the present time."

        "Well, that's some fancy equipment you've got there." The voice of a woman commented loudly from behind the three. All three of them turned to see who was approaching them. "Those toys seem to high-class for a child to be playing with." The woman added, smirking. She had long, dark red hair and brown eyes wearing clothes that were far more sophisticated than your average teacher or office worker. Standing right beside her was a rather tall, casually dressed man with ear piercings. His hair was a light shade of brown and pulled back into a small low ponytail.

        "Who are you?" Kazuya inquired, unfazed at the sudden appearance of the two.

        "I am Matsuzaki Ayako, the shrine maiden. The principal said he wasn't sure about you, so he called me in to drive out the spirits." The woman named Ayako introduced herself in a smug manner. Mai's eyes had widened in shock as she processed the information. This chick is a what? This woman, who looked old enough to be a mother, and had perfume and makeup on, was a shrine maiden? Mei-Lin raised an eyebrow at the woman. Even she had a hard time believing this woman, unfortunately, she could tell she wasn't lying. This was too serious to be a joke.

        "I thought only chaste virgins could become shrine maidens." Kazuya stated dryly. Mai snickered and covered her mouth with her hand to avoid laughing out loud. Mei-Lin looked away to cover a smile that she had on her face. She may known Kazuya longer but he still surprised her at times with how blunt he is.

        "My, don't I look that way?" Ayako asked, her tone showing her obvious anger.

        "At the very least, I'd say you're getting a bit old to be calling yourself a maiden." Kazuya retorted. "And you wear too much makeup to be pure." Ayako's face turned red in either embarrassment or anger as Mai and the man beside Ayako both burst into laughter, unable to hold it in anymore. Even Mei-Lin giggled a bit, trying to keep her composure, but failing

        "Y-You're quite a smart-mouthed little boy, huh?" Ayako muttered under her breath, clearly irked.

        "And you?" Kazuya asked, turning his attention to the currently laughing man. "You don't appear to be Matsuzaki-san's assistant."

        "No kidding." The man said, regaining his composure so he could properly reply. "I'm a monk of the Koyasan sect, and my name is Takigawa Housho."

        "When did they start allowing long hair among the Koyasan?"Mei-Lin asked skeptically with a brow raised. First a self-proclaimed shrine maiden, and now a monk that had hair.

        "He's an apostate," Ayako answered, not looking at the small group after Kazuya's insults.

        "I-I've just come down off the mountain for now!" He retorted agitatedly, flustered over being called out. "At any rate, children's playtime is over. Shibuya, you may have been hired because your office is in a prime location, but the principal said it seemed like a scam to have a child as its manager."

        "Did he?" Kazuya asked in a calm manner, opening up his laptop and resumed viewing the data as if he wasn't bothered by the comment at all.

        "That's all?" Housho muttered in confusion. He wasn't expecting the kid to act so calmly if anything he thought he would throw a bit of a tantrum over his age and professionalism. Should he be relieved or insulted that he didn't think he was worth the trouble?

        "The principal makes too much of this, calling so many of us out to this run-down old school," Ayako spoke up in a casual manner, placing her hands on her hips.

        "Yep. All he needed was me." Housho said, smirking.

        "My, I wouldn't be so sure," Ayako replied in a sly tone. "By the way, little boy, what's your name?"

        "Shibuya Kazuya," Kazuya replied.

        "Never heard of you. Must be third class." Housho said.

        "I've never heard of Takigawa Housho, either," Ayako commented.

        "Well, you need to study harder. Actually, I've never heard of Matsuzaki whomever, either." He retorted.

        "Maybe you'd better study harder!" She snapped, glaring at him. Hey, hey... Are all psychics this twisted? Mai thought to herself as she watched the so-called adults, bicker like children with Kazuya and Mei-Lin acting as if they weren't there.

        "Taniyama-san," Kuroda called out to Mai, raising her hand in a weak wave. Mai groaned internally. Of all people who could have shown up, it had to be Kuroda. "Who are these people?"

        "Oh well, a monk and shrine maiden. They came to check up on the old building." Mai answered. Mai thought it was best to answer honestly, hoping it was a sign that things were serious here and it would convince Kuroda to leave. However, when she saw the relief in her eyes she knew it wasn't going to be that easy.

        "Ah, thank goodness. The old schoolhouse is a nest of evil spirits, and I didn't know what I would do." Kuroda exclaimed, sighing in relief, as she approached them.

        "What did you just say?" Ayako asked, furrowing her brow slightly, as both Housho and her stared at the girl with spectacles.

        "I'm very spiritually sensitive, so I've really been tormented by-" Kuroda had started to explain but Ayako wouldn't hear any more of it.

        "You grandstander." Ayako cut her off. "You just want to make yourself conspicuous. Is this how badly you want people to pay attention to you?"

        "Y-You don't have to say it like that!" Mai shouted out in Kuroda's defense, getting in between the two. She may not be a big fan of Kuroda but she didn't deserve to be talked to like that.

        "I'm only telling the truth," Ayako replied nonchalantly. "That girl has no spiritual sensitivity. She just wants to stand out."

        "You can't mean..." Mai looked down not knowing what to say. She wasn't psychic so she wouldn't be able to tell if Kuroda was an actual psychic or putting on a show for attention. Ayako on the other hand was a professional so there's no doubt that she has run into Kuroda's type multiple times. Those types were by far the most annoying. Just then, they heard a low, maniacal laugh behind them coming from Kuroda.

        "I'm going to summon a spirit and have it posses you," Kuroda said, her eyes fixed on the shrine maiden completely, as she glared at her eerily. The glare may not have been directed at her but Mai felt chills go up to her spine.

        "Kuroda-san..." Mai said timidly, feeling a bit intimidated from the girl's glare.

        "You false priestess. Very soon, you're going to regret this." Kuroda told the shrine maiden ominously as she turned to leave. That was a seriously scary look in her eyes just now, wasn't it? Mai thought to herself as she watched Kuroda walk away. Mai remembered the deadly look in Kuroda's eyes and quickly shook the thought out of her head. For now, she had to forget about Kuroda and focus on finishing her job.

        " Say, Naru-chan, what should I do today?" She called out to him. Kazuya and Mei-Lin froze, visibly stiffening at the nickname, Mei-Lin had even dropped her clipboard.

        "What did you say?" Kazuya asked, glancing up from his laptop to look at Mai.

        "Heh..." Mai said in a confused manner. She didn't realize the blunder she did just yet.

        "Did you just call me "Naru"?" Kazuya asked sternly, taking a step towards Mai.

        "S-sorry, um..." Mai stammered nervously, taking a step back.

        "Where did you hear that?" He demanded.

        "Huh? You mean, other people call you that, too?" Mai asked in surprise. Mai started to feel relieved and regained her confidence. "Sure they would! It would occur to anyone, Naru-cissistic Naru-chan!"

        "...Huh?" Naru asked, feeling slightly chagrined. What on earth was this girl talking about. Mei-Lin watched Mai repeatedly pat Kazuya on the shoulder and sighed in relief. She may not know what Mai meant but it wasn't what they thought it was, thankfully.

        "Anyway, what are we going to do today?" Mai asked, changing the subject.

        "Well..." Kazuya began, deciding to let the nickname go for now. "Because there's been no reaction from the spirits, there's not much we can do at the moment... but Mai's sempai..."

        "Ah, you just called me by my first name." Mai protested.

        "You mentioned that earlier too, didn't you?" Kazuya pointed out. Mai grimaced and kept quiet, not wanting to argue with the narcissist. "Do you happen to know which classroom your sempai saw the human silhouette in?"

        "I believe it was in the far west corner of the building, on the second floor," Mai answered thoughtfully, she really hoped she wasn't wrong.

        "Okay, let's set the equipment up in there," Kazuya said decisively. He was about to start taking out the equipment but was stopped by Mei-Lin's hand.

        "No need, I already set up the equipment in that room." She said, looking up at Kazuya. Kazuya stared at her before reaching a hand up and gently patting her head.

        "Good work." He complimented. Mei-Lin looked down, a small blush on her cheeks, smiling softly. Mai felt a bit irked watching the two of them together. It was clear that he treated Mei-Lin completely different from the way he treats her.

        "Oh. Hey, that's..." Housho trailed off, puzzled when he saw the principal heading towards them with someone walking right next to him.

        "Hey, everyone. I see you're all here." The principal greeted. "This is John Brown-san." The handsome blonde smiled kindly at them.

        "How's tricks?" He attempted to greet them with a heavy Kansai accent, bowing at 45 degree angle. For a second, everyone just stared at him, speechless by the odd saying and accent. "My name is John Brown, and I come from Australia. I hope you'll treat a stranger kindly." John continued with a small smile as he straightened up his posture, oblivious to how odd his speech sounded to them.

        "Uh, you see. Brown-san seems to have learned his Japanese down in the Kansai area." The principal explained feeling a bit sorry for the young man when he saw the others trying to cover up their obvious laughter. The only people who weren't affected were Mei-Lin and Kazuya.

        "I'm busting a gut!" Housho shouted, no longer able to contain his laughter.

        "So then, you're a spiritualist, too?" Ayako manages to ask through her laughter.

        "Yes, I'm you'd call an exorcist," John said, not minding, or probably not noticing, that their laughter was directed at him. Housho and Ayako had both frozen up, looking serious once more. Even Mai had gone silent, staring at John.

        "You're not supposed to be able to drive out evil spirits unless you're a Catholic priest or better," Kazuya remarked. In order to be ordained one had to be at least 18 years old. "You're pretty young for that."

        "You know your stuff. You're right, I'm 19 years old. I can't help but look young." John said in a delighted manner. He was glad to know there was someone who was familiar with his religion. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

        He's 19? So he's older than Naru? Mai thought to herself. Mai only let out a sigh, the day had barely begun but already she could tell it was going to be a long day.

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        "So you're equipment... you have quite a collection of expensive gear." Ayako commented as she, Housho, and John followed Kazuya, Mei-Lin, and Mai to their base. "How unfortunate that all your efforts have been in vain." Mai frowned at the shrine maiden, annoyed with the way she was casually trying to dismiss their efforts. Just who did she think she was? She worked her butt off trying to set up all of this equipment and she was here because of one of the said equipment. 

        "I'm impressed. The president of a research center, with all these professional equipment. He must know what he's doing." Housho complimented, re-evaluating his thoughts on Kazuya as he watched the stoic boy and his assistant work, checking all the monitors and making notes of any changes if there were any.

        "An exorcist, an apostate priest, and a Ghost Hunter?" Ayako questioned, "To call in this many people, that principal has no faith in me, huh?"

        "Did you come here to play around or to find a ghost?" Mei-Lin asked coolly.

        "This is why I don't like kids! Hmph, just you watch! I'll clean out this run-down schoolhouse by myself!" Ayako ranted as she stormed out of the room. Housho sighed and decided to follow the angry woman out of the room.

        "I'm going to work on my own, too," Housho announced and gave a small wave as he left the room. Unlike the others, John had decided to stay in the room.

        "Um, can I..." John called out to Kazuya timidly but was unsure of how to continue.

        "You go ahead and help yourself, too," Kazuya replied, not looking back at the young priest.

        "No, I mean, let me work with you." He offered. Being in an unknown place with possible spirits around wasn't the best idea, and separating may make things even more complicated than it needs to be.

        "Please do," Kazuya replied calmly.

        "Hey, what's this? This image..." Mai asked Kazuya, pointing at one of the monitors noticing the strange color on the screen. The answer Mai received was a palpable glare of irritation from Kazuya and when she looked at Mei-Lin, she saw the girl was merely ignoring her existence. "What's their problem?" She muttered under her breath, softly enough that she hoped they wouldn't hear.

        "I believe it's a thermographic image," John said, answering Mai's question, as he leaned over to take a look at the screen. "Yellow represents higher temperatures, and in contrast, blue represents lower temperatures."

        "I see." Mai said, nodding her head in understanding. "Thank you. You're kind, Brown-san." She told the priest while sending a small glare in Kazuya's direction. Unfortunately, he started following Mei-Lin's attitude and just ignored her.

        "It was nothing... and you can just call me John." John said humbly, his cheeks burning a bright shade of red in shyness while he rubbed the back of his neck. Mai couldn't help but giggle at the timid boy's action. You're kinda cute. She thought to herself. Suddenly, all of them were broken out of their thoughts by a sudden scream. "That was Matsuzaki-san's voice!" All four of them started to run in the direction of the scream with Mei-Lin leading the way. As they got closer, they began to hear the sound of someone banging on the door.

        When they arrived at the scene they saw Housho already at the scene, standing in front of the banging door. "Open up! Open the door!" Ayako's voice shouted from the other side as she repeatedly banged her fist against the door. Housho attempted to open the door, but it wouldn't budge an inch.

        "I'm kicking it in!" Housho called out. "Stand back, Ayako!"

        "Don't you drop name-honorifics with me!" She snapped at him. Even in this situation, she wanted to be treated with respect.

        "Here goes!" Housho backed up so he could swing the front of his foot up at the door and kicked the door down. Mai flinched and covered her ears, as the door gave way and fell to the floor. Inside the room stood a somewhat startled but unharmed Ayako.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "As I was looking around the classroom, the door suddenly closed, and when I tried to open it, I couldn't," Ayako explained as she took a seat and rested one of her elbows on the table.

        "You're sure you didn't close it yourself?" Housho asked her, raising a brow in question.

        "Yes, I'm sure!" Ayako snapped. "There really is something here, after all."

        "No, there isn't. I don't sense any presence." A voice spoke out. Everyone paused and looked towards the direction of the voice and saw a petite Japanese girl with dark grey eyes and a bob haircut with blunt bangs wearing a maroon kimono with a flower pattern.

        "T-there is it!" Mai shouted and clung to Kazuya's arm, eyes shut tightly in fear.

        "She's human," Kazuya said, not taking his eyes off the girl as she started to enter the room and her appearance came into the light. "Hara Masako, the spirit medium."

        "Spirit medium?" Mai asked.

        "This is a surprise. He called in a famous personality like you, too?" Housho questioned, hiding his irritation. How many more people were going to come.

        "What is this? You're just a pseudo-medium, who gets the TV star treatment because you're a little bit pretty, aren't you?" Ayako criticized.

        "It is an honor to receive such praise," Masako responded drolly. Ayako turned to glare at the girl and grit her teeth in anger.

        "W-Why, you little..." Ayako growled. This girl was completely underestimating her!

        "I wonder, have I ever had the pleasure of meeting you before?" Masako asked softly, approaching Kazuya. Mai's eyes widened as they watched the scene in astonishment as it unfolded before them. Was she seriously hitting on him? Now? Mai glanced over at Mei-Lin, and while the girl may have had an emotionless expression, she was holding onto Kazuya's sleeve.

        "No, I believe this is our first meeting," Kazuya replied calmly.

        "I see..." Masako said, looking somewhat depressed.

        "In any case, there is a spirit here." Ayako interrupted, not liking that she was being ignored. "I think that all of this is the work of an earth spirit."

        "I think it's a site-bound spirit," Housho said, announcing what he thought. "Something must have happened here in this old school, long ago."

        "You mean, the spirit of someone who was killed in a certain place, and then is trapped there forever?" Mai asked, turning her attention to Housho. The first thing that came to her mind in that sort of situation was the little girl who was kidnapped.

        "Yes. I think that it's afraid that it's going to lose its home, so it's blocking the construction work." Housho explained.

        "John, what do you think?" Kazuya asked the priest. Mei-Lin looked over at Kazuya and noticed the nail in his hand. She lightly shook her head and took out a handkerchief before using it to take away the nail in Kazuya's hand. Kazuya looked down at Mei-Lin in question but didn't say anything as he waited for John to answer his question.

        "I don't really know, but usually, a haunted house originates from it having a ghost or a spirit," John answered.

        "A spirit- a "seirei," or a ghost-a "yurei." Kazuya mused. "Are you listening to this, Mai?" He asked, glancing at his amateur assistant.

        "Thank you for caring!" Mai grumbled as her eye twitched in annoyance. Why was she always getting picked on?

        "I've had enough! I'm driving it away right now, and getting out of here!" Ayako huffed in annoyance as she made way for the door. "I can't hang around with you people forever."

        "Are you sure you can drive it out? There is a very strong spirit here." Kuroda said, suddenly appearing before Ayako and the rest. Mai tensed up and felt a chill run up her spine, Kuroda still had that dark look in her eyes from before.

        "Kuroda-san?" Mai timidly called out.

        "Out of my way!" Ayako's eyes narrowed and she pushed Kuroda to the side and left. She had enough of these people, especially Kuroda. Kuroda slid down against the wall and winced in pain from the rough shove. Mai quickly ran to her aid and steadied her. 

        "I was attacked," Kuroda told Mai.

        "You're kidding!" Mai's eyes widened in shock completely appalled at the declaration. Everyone in the room looked at the girl, some looked at her in shock while others looked skeptical.

        "It's true. I was walking down the hallway when suddenly, someone pulled my hair with incredible force." Kuroda started to explain.

        "Your spirit sensitivity is too strong, so you must leave!"

        Mei-Lin eyes narrowed and turned her attention to Kuroda. She didn't want to jump to conclusions but this sounded very far fetched. "When was this?" Kazuya asked,

        "Just a moment ago. It happened in the 2nd floor hallway." She answered. Kazuya looked at Mei-Lin and nodded his head towards the computer. Mei-Lin sighed and went to the computer and went to work, Meanwhile, Masako decided to step up.

        "Untrue. There is no spirit here." Masako stated. Kuroda turned to the dark-haired girl and glared at her, her hand clenching into a fist.

        "Yes, there is!" She managed to say in a calm manner but you could hear the anger and annoyance in her tone. "There is a spirit here. A strong spirit."

        "The second floor hallway, you said?" Kazuya asked, interrupting both girls from saying anything further. "Mei." Mei-Lin nodded her head and pressed enter as all the monitors powered up. As everyone gathered around behind her, she started to play the video of what the camera recorded in the second floor hallway and rewinded it until Kuroda popped up on the monitor. Everyone watched the screen as Kuroda walked inside from the main entrance. They watched as Kuroda started heading up the stairs to the second floor and just as she entered the hallway, the screen suddenly became static.

        "What happened? Is the camera broken?" Mai asked, alarmed.

        "No, but this is significant." Kazuya informed them. "When spirits appear, equipment often stops working correctly,. Which one might this be? A spirit? EM interference? Or perhaps..."

        "Obviously, it's a spirit! I was attacked, at that spot!" Kuroda protested.

        "But Hara-san said there were no spirits," Mai said. While she didn't want to jump to any conclusions, she had to admit she believed the TV medium more than her classmate.

        "I wonder is she really has any spiritual sensitivity." Kuroda sneered as she glanced at the girl.

        "It's common for a female medium to run extremely hot or cold," Kazuya stated calmly. "Even if she wasn't able to sense it earlier, we can't say for sure that there isn't one here. If what you say is true, then it's possible that the spirit here is quite in tune with your wavelength."

        "That could be it," Kuroda said thoughtfully, her expression brightening up with hope. Mai, on the other hand, started to grow pale and began to look guilty. If that really is so, then, is it all our fault? 

        "When you tell ghost stories, low-level spirits come together.Then, that summons stronger spirits and it's bad news when that happens. That's why you can't entertain yourselves by telling ghost stories" Mai started recalling what Kuroda had told her about what happens when ghost stories were told. This is all because me, Keiko, and Michiru were telling ghost stories! Mai looked around the room in fear, as if a spirit were going to appear out of nowhere.

        "Just for confirmation, Mei, I want you to do a sweep of the area and let me know if you saw or felt anything," Kazuya ordered, looking down at the black haired beauty.

        "Eh?" Kuroda said, confused by the sudden order for the girl. Everyone looked at the girl as she only looked at Kazuya, not bothering to give them a glance. Sensing, everyone's confusion, Kazuya gently placed a hand on Mei-Lin's hand and looked at the rest of them.

        "There's one more psychic here, and it's Mei-Lin." Everyone's eyes widened in shock as they looked over at Mei-Lin. There was another one all along!

Chapter Text

Previously on Ghost Hunt:

        "Just for confirmation, Mei, I want you to do a sweep of the area and let me know if you saw or felt anything," Kazuya ordered, looking down at the black haired beauty.

        "Eh?" Kuroda said, confused by the sudden order for the girl. Everyone looked at the girl as she only looked at Kazuya, not bothering to give them a glance. Sensing, everyone's confusion, Kazuya gently placed a hand on Mei-Lin's hand and looked at the rest of them.

        "There's one more psychic here, and it's Mei-Lin." Everyone's eyes widened in shock as they looked over at Mei-Lin. There was another one all along

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Hold on! You're saying your little assistant here is a psychic!" Ayako shouted at Kazuya after Mei-Lin left the room and went to do a search around the school. When Ayako left for a breath of fresh air, she saw Mei-Lin walking around the school touching the walls, with her eyes closed. It wasn't until that she came back into the room that the rest decided to inform her about Mei-Lin being a psychic."Why are we hearing of this now?!" Kazuya didn't bother looking at Ayako and instead focused his attention on the screen where they all watched where Kuroda was supposedly attacked.

        "What kind of psychic is that girl anyway? Do you know?" Housho asked looking at Mai. Mai quickly shook her head and hands.

        "I'm just as clueless as you are," Mai answered then looked at Kazuya. Honestly, she wasn't expecting Mei-Lin to actually be a psychic, not to mention, there's a chance that Kazuya could be hiding something else.

        Kazuya was slowly becoming agitated with the questioning stares. "If you want to know so badly, then ask Mei," Kazuya said, never taking his eyes off the screen.

        "B-But..." Mai wanted to protest. While Mai didn't know a lot about Mei-Lin, one thing she knew for sure was that Mei-Lin did not like her. Just as she was going to state exactly why she couldn't ask Mei-Lin, the said girl opened the door to the room and walked in.

        "I'm clairsentient," Mei-Lin answered and made her way towards Kazuya.

        "Cl-Claire..."Mai attempted to pronounce the word but Mei-Lin said it so fast that all she could get out of it was Claire.

        "Clairsentient." Housho corrected her. "It's one of the five abilities in clairvoyance. There clairgustance, clairolfactus, clairaudience, claircognizance, and clairsentient." Housho saw the confused look on Mai's face and decided a further explanation was needed for the girl. "Clairvoyance is the ability to give information about an object, person, location,  or physical event through ESP. Clairsentience is when you acquire psychic knowledge primarily by feeling."

        "So if she touches something then she can sense a spirit?" Mai asked. She was slowly starting to understand the ability but there were still some things she was unclear about.

        "Close but not completely. Clairsentience also allows her to feel the emotional states of others. So if there was a spirit here, she would most likely feel their pain or hatred." Mai nodded her head and looked at Mei-Lin. This girl, who was the same age as she had such a complex ability. If Mai had that type of ability, she would honestly feel a bit scared of going near haunted places because there's no telling what she would feel in there.

        "I went to every room and circled the building many times but I didn't get anything," Mei-Lin told Kazuya. "It's as Hara-san says there really isn't anything here." Kazuya leaned back against the desk and looked down in thought. Two out of three girls had confirmed there aren't any spirits here. Another thing is that Mei-Lin no longer sensed the fear and depression she mentioned yesterday, which means the spirits who were here before are most likely gone now.

        "We'll need to look more into this then," Kazuya said aloud. He turned around to face the screens and resumed examining them for any strange actions. "Good work Mei."

        "Another thing, it seems like Matsuzaki-san is going to start an exorcism. The principal and a few other men are there too." Mei-Lin added.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Ok, pay attention. I'll exorcize it, no problem." Ayako said, announcing she was ready to begin the exorcism. She held a confident smile as she stepped toward the Shinto altar she had set up earlier.

        "I wonder if she's really able... I guess I may as well check. What about you?" Housho asked looking at Kazuya.

        "I've never seen a Shinto-style exorcism. I guess I'll check it out too." Kazuya decided after thinking it over. If anything it could be worth seeing, from a cultural standpoint.

        "I've never seen one either." Mei-Lin agreed. She would have seen it many times if her parents weren't so protective of her livelihood. She wasn't allowed to be a part of any type of ghost hunting until she was 13. Everyone stayed on the side and watched in silence as Ayako began to wave her harai-gushi{1} back and forth, chanting her distinct version of Norito.

        "I reverently pray for thy presence." She chanted. "Deign to ensconce thyself in this unhallowed place, and purify its many vessels. I ask that my humble plea may be heard, that peace and calm may be granted unto this place."

        "What is she saying?" Mai asked curiously.

        "You don't know about norito?" Kazuya chided her. He didn't know if it was amazing or annoying how clueless she was about many things.

        "Norito?"

        "They're like Shinto incantations." Housho summarized. Mai and the rest continued to watch the demonstration, no one noticing the menacing glare from behind. Kuroda watched everyone from the classroom, her eyes focused on the priestess and psychic assistant. They're fakes... I know it...

        "May this place be as the High, Heavenly Plain. May the kami{2} from all around come together. Praise be to the goddess Marishiten. I pray thee, descend and grant ys thy divine protection." Ayako waved the harai-gushi one last time and completed the norito prayer. "There will be nothing to worry about now." She declared in a confident tone, turning to face the principal and vice-principal who witnessed the entire ritual. Both men let out a sigh of relief.

        "My, very impressive!" The vice principal praised her.

        "The expression "divine" fits most perfectly." The principal added. "How shall I put it... it felt heavenly."

        "What would you say to a party in your honor tonight?" The vice principal asked her.

        "After I've banished spirits from a place, I spend the night there, to keep an eye on it so..." Ayako politely rejected the vice principal's offer.

        "I see. You are indeed a pro. Well then, how about lunch somewhere?" The vice principal offered. Housho stretched his arms into the air letting out a small yawn.

        "She's finally done." He said. Mai yawned as well as unable to help herself after he did it. Mei-Lin glanced over at them and was going to make her way back to the base before she paused mid-step. Her arm was covered in goosebumps and she felt herself trembling. She was feeling a strong emotion and it was malicious. She looked in the direction of where it came from and saw Kuroda watching Ayako from afar with a dark look in her eyes. Her eyes widened and she quickly turned her attention to Ayako.

        "Get down! Now!" She shouted. The three of them looked over at Mei-Lin in confusion before they heard a loud crack. Everyone in the room paused when they heard the ominous sound, their eyes beginning to widen as cracks started to spread across the glass on the windowpanes on the front entrance in front of Ayako and the two men.

        Ayako quickly got down along with the older men but it was too late as the glass shattered with an explosive force, covering them with shards of glass. Ayako was able to shield her head from the shards but the same couldn't be said for the principals. Quickly, all of them started running towards the victims. "Hey, are you all right?" Housho shouted. Ayako sat up and looked up at him, clearly shaken up. Ayako managed to come out unscathed but the same couldn't be said about the principal and vice principal.

        John quickly crouched down and checked on the man, his eyes widening at the sight of blood. "He's bleeding!"

        Mei-Lin looked over at the vice principal and saw multiple cuts on him. "Him, too." Hearing that both men were injured, Housho checked on Ayako.

        "Are you hurt?" He asked her.

        "No," Ayako answered. Mei-Lin looked over at Ayako before she saw the vice principal shift.

        "Are you all right? Can you stand?" She questioned him.

        "Yes, I'm all right." The vice principal answered. Mei-lin quickly took out her phone and started dialing an ambulance. During the situation, Mai was watching from the side along with Kazuya. Her hands were trembling, shaken up from the incident. What was that?

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "'There will be nothing to worry about now,' huh?" Kuroda asked in a mocking tone. Mei-Lin sat at the computers letting out a small sigh. Currently, it was only Ayako, Masako, Kuroda, and her left at the base while the rest decided to make sure the ambulance got to the area quickly and to make sure the principal was in good hands. However, the moment they stepped into the room the first words that were spoken was Kuroda mocking Ayako's attempt at the exorcism. "Your exorcism didn't take, did it? You even got the Principal hurt." Ayako glared at the girl and grit her teeth in anger, as badly as she wanted to retort she couldn't deny what had just happened.

        "That was an accident," Masako stated calmly.

        "That's true. I did my part right-" Ayako agreed, relieved to have someone on her side before she was cut off by Masako.

        "I did not mean your exorcism worked." Masako clarified. "There were no spirits here, to begin with."

        "There are so!" Kuroda retorted angrily. "I was trapped by one of them!" Mei-Lin glanced over at the girl before looking back at her arm, the goosebumps already gone and the trembling stopped. The malicious intent was gone but there was something still there. One thing is for sure, that intent didn't come from a spirit.

        "Could it have been a coincidence?" John questioned as he and the rest entered the base.

        "Maybe there really is something here. Something strong, that the priestess isn't able to handle." Housho suggested, earning an irked look from Ayako.

        "If so, there ought to have been more readings on my equipment," Kazuya explained. Mai leaned against the table, being careful with the shelves and let out a heavy sigh. Man, if only I had some spiritual sensitivity. If I'm the one who summoned the spirits here, I want to be the one to do something about them.

        "Huh?" Mai said in confusion, gaining the attention of the others. "That classroom didn't have a chair in the middle of it, did it?"

        "That's the classroom on the eastern edge of the 2nd floor," Kazuya said, glancing at the screen.

        "Mm-hmm. Yesterday, when I set the camera up there, it wasn't there." Mai explained. "I'm sure of it. I'd remember"

        "Did anyone go inside that classroom today?" Kazuya asked, directing his attention to everyone else.

        "Nope," Housho answered, glancing over at John. He definitely didn't touch it and it couldn't have been the priest either since he was with them.

        "Me, either," John answered. Kazuya looked down in thought before glancing at Mei-Lin. Mei-Lin felt his gaze and turned away from the screen to look him dead in the eyes.

        "I only went into the room for a few seconds to see if I sensed anything. I didn't touch anything." She answered, her gaze never leaving his. Kazuya cupped his chin in his hand in thought, looking back at the screen. Kazuya then pressed a button rewinding the tape to see what really happened.

        "-Well then, how about we get lunch somewhere?" The vice principals voice played out from the speakers as the footage replayed what happened.

        "Get down! Now!" Mei-Lin's voice shouted before the sound of glass breaking and their's scream rang out. That's when the chair started to move. It slowly skidded across the floor into the camera's view before it finally stopped. Mai gasped along with Housho and John as they watched the footage.

        "What's going on?" Mai asked Kazuya nervously. Could this actually be...?

        "Couldn't it be a poltergeist?" Kuroda asked, but with the way she said it, it came out more like a statement.

        "Poltergeist?" Mai questioned, unfamiliar with the foreign word.

        "I think it means "noisy ghost" in German," Kuroda said knowingly, adjusting her glasses. "These spirits move things around, and make noises, and such."

        "You know your stuff. But I don't think it is." Kazuya responded. "Objects that poltergeists move feel warm to the touch, after all. I don't see any increase in temperature from that chair."

        "There's also the fact that there isn't a motive," Mei-Lin spoke up, everyone's attention turning to her. "Poltergeist or not, a spirit often has a motivation for what they do, they have something driving them, an emotion. Yet I didn't get anything from that room. No hatred, no sadness, not even indifference. There aren't any spirits here." Kuroda's eyes narrowed at the girl and opened her mouth to respond but her words were cut off by John.

        "Maybe not, but going by Tisane's conditions..." He said. "Is there any other evidence that would let us categorize is as a poltergeist?"

        "Tisane?" Mai asked, unfamiliar with the name. Kuroda herself also seemed to be quite confused with the name.

        "E. Tisane. He was a French policeman, who classified poltergeisting." Kazuya answered. "Shaking objects, opening, and closing doors, making noises, knocking, and so on. Nine of them in all. If we apply them to the phenomena that have occurred in this school, we have doors closing by themselves, objects moving, and glass breaking, which makes three conditions. I think we lack enough evidence to assume that it's a poltergeist."

        "Then what about Kuroda-san being attacked?" Mai suggested, that alone should have been enough to suggest there was something here.

        "Yeah, what about that?!" Kuroda demanded. When was this going to be brought up? How could they forget something like that happening to her?!

        "She did?" Ayako asked, her eyes widening. "Why didn't anyone tell me that!?" She demanded. This kind of information is important to know, especially right before an exorcism! Kazuya and Mei-Lin looked over at Mai, glaring at her with clear disapproval. Mai flinched at their harsh glares and stepped back. Uh... what are they glaring at?

        Mei-Lin sighed and replayed the tape, revealing Kuroda's whereabouts before the screen went back to static. "So now what?" Housho wondered aloud. He glanced over at the famous medium who looked a little uneasy after viewing the footage. "Ah... Masako-chan, what would you say?"

        "It was her imagination," Masako replied, keeping her cool.

        "Why don't you admit it, already? There is a nasty spirit here!" Kuroda exclaimed, bristling at how the other girl tried to dismiss her. Seeing that Masako was giving her no reaction Kuroda turned her attention to Mei-Lin. "And you, you say that you can't feel any emotions from them but that's a lie! There is a spirit here and you just won't admit-" Kuroda was cut off with Mei-Lin slamming her hand against the desk and standing from her seat. Mei-Lin looked over at Kuroda with a cold look in her eyes that sent a shiver down her spine.

        "I'm lying," Mei-Lin asked in a cold tone. "I've said this once, and I'll say it a hundred times. There are no spirits here and there is no motive."

        "T-Then why did you shout earlier! In that footage, we could clearly hear you shout at them to get down. You felt something, didn't you?!" Kuroda retorted, her words catching the attention of the others. Mai looked over at Mei-Lin and recalled that she did, in fact, shout to get down before anything even happened.

        "At that time, I felt a malicious intent," Mei-Lin answered.

        "See, so you di-"

        "It didn't come from a spirit though." Mei-Lin cut her off before Kuroda could say any more. Mei-lin slowly walked up to the girl and watched as Kuroda took a step back. "I seem to remember that feeling coming from the same person earlier directed at Matsuzaki-san just earlier today." Ayako's eyes widened and she looked over at Kuroda, recalling what happened earlier. How could she forget, this girl had threatened her? I'm going to summon a spirit and have it posses you... "While you may not have done anything, excuse me for having a heart and giving her a warning. Spirit or not, you can't tell what would happen when someone lets their anger control them."

        No one seemed to say anything as the atmosphere grew tense. The tension was cut off when Masako walked towards the door. "I will go look around once more." She said. "If there are spirits here, I should be able to sense something." With that being said, Masako left the base. Mei-Lin sighed and looked over at Kazuya.

        "Do you want me to check as well?" Mei-Lin asked him.

        "No need, you've already checked twice and you still didn't sense anything," Kazuya answered. He walked up to Mei-Lin and gently placed his hand on her head. "You can go on a break now if you want." Mei-Lin glanced up at Kazuya and nodded her head before following Masako out of the room. When Kazuya saw that she was gone, he turned to face the others who appeared to be shocked at his gentle behavior towards the girl. Those two have to be dating... They all thought to themselves.

        "If there really are spirits here, and Hara-san or Lin-san can't sense them, that would be a shock, huh?" John spoke up.

        "Of course, a psychic is a psychic because she can see or sense spirits that an ordinary person can't," Kazuya stated. "If you mess that up, you will no longer be considered a psychic. We can't be certain that they are still here." Mai glanced over at Kazuya. Oh, he's sticking up for them, isn't he? Could it be that Naru is a sucker for a pretty face? Not to mention since Mei is his girlfriend he's being biased too.

        "Shibuya-san, you're just biased and a sucker for a pretty face," Kuroda said out loud, nearly making Mai panic. "You're sticking up for her quite a bit, aren't you?" Huh? I thought I might have accidentally blurted that out... Mai thought to herself, letting out a silent sigh of relief.

        "I know her profession, and her talents are highly regarded, so I am only offering her the proper respect," Kazuya replied in a calm manner. "As for Mei, she wouldn't be here if I didn't trust her abilities. She hasn't let me down then and I trust she won't now."

        "Then I wish you would show me a little more respect, too," Ayako told him, crossing her arms.

        "Matsuzaki-san, what is it about you that I should regard highly?" Kazuya retorted.

        "What did you say?!" Ayako shouted, insulted at the fact that this brat didn't seem to respect her, unlike the others. Just as she shouted a sound that resembled the sound of several branches snapping resounded through the room, causing Ayako to flinch. They all looked up at the ceiling, the noise sounding like it came from the floor above them.

        "Rapping noises?" Housho asked, furrowing his brows.

        "That thing they say that ghosts make?" Mai asked nervously, flinching with every sound the building made. The noise sounded like it was coming closer, making everyone turn towards the chalkboard as they say cracks slowly beginning to form on it, getting bigger and bigger as if something was smashing into it. Just as the rapping seemed to cease, it was replaced with a shrill scream. John quickly looked at the screen and saw Masako fall out of a hole in the wall.

        "Hara-san has fallen out of the classroom!"

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        "The part of the eastern wall that had been demolished was boarded up with weak plywood, to keep the elements out," Kazuya explained. Everyone, including Mei-Lin, had gathered back in the base after the ambulance had arrived and took Masako to the nearest hospital. "It split under her weight when she got close to it. Hara-san says it was an accident." He recalled what Masako had said to him right before the ambulance took her away. "It was an accident. There aren't any spirits here after all."

        "I also saw it from outside, it really did look like she fell from the lack of support rather than being pushed," Mei-Lin added. Since she was outside, Mei-Lin had a better view of what happened to Masako than anyone else, she was also the one who dialed the hospital.

        "There's no denying it any longer. There are evil spirits here." Ayako said determinedly, crossing her arms.

        "Yep, the same ones you failed to exorcize," Housho added in. Ayako looked away, gritting her teeth in annoyance. As much as she wanted to talk back, she couldn't deny it. "This is dangerous. An unsuccessfully exorcized spirit is just like a wounded bear."

        "Then, Masako's injuries are the fault of the priestess, aren't they!?" Mai concluded, shooting the priestess an accusing look.

        "What?!" Ayako exclaimed, glaring at Mai for accusing her of the injury of the medium.

        "Don't be hasty." Kazuya scolded Mai. Things were already serious enough, he didn't need anyone throwing accusations on who did what. "As far as what I saw on the video, it was an accident. There was a witness too."

        "They keep happening over and over, which is why they say this place is cursed, right?" Mai argued. It's not normal for so many accidents to happen in the same place. "How did those objects move anyway? That's what doesn't make sense!"

        "That is true, but just there aren't enough readings on the equipment we have set up," Kazuya said. "There aren't any temperature drops or ionic polarization, and electrostatic charges are normal. The data shows completely normal values."

        "Then, what was it that trapped the priestess?!" Kuroda demanded. "What was it that attacked me!? What erased the video, broke the glass, and moved the chair!?" Mei-Lin's eyes widened and she looked over at Kuroda, narrowing her eyes. Something about what the girl said bugged her... but what?

        "As I said, I'm not convinced," Kazuya replied calmly.

        "It could be a spirit strong enough to pretend it isn't here, couldn't it? It could also be masking its emotions so your assistant isn't able to sense it." Housho suggested. Kazuya went silent for a moment and looked up in thought.

        "What do you think, Monk?" Kazuya asked Housho.

        "As I said from the start, it's a site-bound spirit," Housho stated with confidence.

        "And you, John?" Kazuya questioned the young exorcist.

        "I don't know. Though I agree with you, it is dangerous here." He answered.

        "So, what do you think?" Housho asked Kazuya, curious about what the young ghost manager thought of the situation.

        "I will reserve opinion for now," Kazuya said. "I want to investigate this from a slightly different angle. Mai, I'm going to the van. Watch the equipment. This mike is connected to the van, so if something happens just talk to me. Mei, come with me." Mei-Lin looked at Kazuya in confusion before following him out of the base, away from the rest. When they were gone, Housho tilted his head with an amused smirk on his face.

        "How about them?" He asked John. "He makes a grand show with all of this high-falutin' equipment, but is he really capable of anything? Not to mention he has his girlfriend working with him. She says she has clairsentience but so far she's been the same as Hara-san, not picking up anything." Housho may not know much about them, but he knew relationships in the workplace can lead to some trouble, especially in this business.

        "Well, I'm..." John didn't know how to answer the question, He himself didn't know the pair that well and he didn't want to judge someone without getting to know them properly. Seeing how uncomfortable he was with the question, Mai decided to step in.

        "Oh! Are you going to start your exorcism?" She asked him. "Can I help you?" John smiled softly and let out a small breath of relief at the girls' consideration.

        "No thanks. But once I start praying, watch the screens." He suggested to her. "You may see some activity."

        "Sure," Mai said but she couldn't help but be worried at his words. If anything, she was hoping there wouldn't be any more activities.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        Mai was currently the only one in the base at the time since everyone was getting ready for John's turn at the exorcism. Kazuya and Mei-Lin still hadn't come back from the van just yet. I bet those two left to go on a date. Mai thought to herself, she couldn't help but feel a bit irritated at the thought. She and the others could clearly see the difference in how they treated each other compared to everyone else. Kazuya was cold, blunt, rude, and a complete narcissist yet when it came to Mei-Lin he was actually gentle with her and comforted her when she appears to be upset.

        As for Mei-Lin, Mei-Lin seems to have a strong dislike for Mai and Kuroda. The girl was quiet and a complete mystery. Even though she's like that Mei-Lin does seem to care about the well being of others such as when she admitted that she was worried for Ayako when she felt the malicious intent. However, whenever she was with Kazuya she actually seemed vulnerable, it was kind of cute. Mai let out a sigh and leaned back in her seat trying to forget her current employers. This is eerie... She thought to herself, recalling the two accidents that happened today and the stories about the school.

        Michiru's sempai saw the silhouette of a person, there was a moving chair, and Masako fell from the second floor. Just how many more accidents will happen before they solve this case. She looked over at the screens, focusing back on her job before one of the screens suddenly went off before it was replaced with static. "Ah, Naru! The screen is all static again!" Mai exclaimed, talking into the microphone that Kazuya had set up for her so she could speak to them in the van.

        "That's just because it's getting dark." He answered through the mike. "It's switching to over to night vision. How's everything else?"

        "John's about to start the exorcism. Ah, he's back." Mai looked at the screen and saw John heading towards the classroom Masako was in.

        "I see. Let me know when it's over then." With that order said, Kazuya cut off the mike.

        "Ah, hey!" Mai shouted, but when she didn't hear anything in return she gave up.

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Well, I'm going to get started," John announced. Mai and the rest were all gathered in the base to watch the young exorcist begin the process.

        "The exorcist finally makes his appearance, huh?" Housho said. After seeing Ayako's failure he was curious if the boy would be able to finish the job she failed to do. John opened up a small bottle in his hand before he started to spread its contents around the room.

        "Our father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name." He began to chant.

        "What is that water?" Mai asked, confused at what a small bottle of water had to do with an exorcism.

        "Must be holy water," Housho answered. They watched as John put the bottle away before opening the Bible in his hands.

        "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Before John could continue the sound of snapping branches happened again, distracting him and everyone else.

        "What was that?" Mai asked.

        "Rapping noises, aren't they?" Kuroda answered.

        "Turn up the sound," Housho told her, wanting a clearer sound of what was happening in the room.

        "The Word was at the beginning with God," John continued, not letting the rapping noises distract him. Mai turned up the volume and they could hear as the rapping sounds got louder and louder. "All things were made by the Word, and without the Word was not anything made that was made. In the Word was life; the Word was in the world, and the world was made by the Word,  and the world knew not the Word. The world came unto his own, and his own received him not."

        Mai watched the screen very closely and her eyes widened the more she watched. It was faint, but she could see the ceiling starting to curve upwards. "The ceiling..." She mumbled to herself.

        "But to as many as who received the Word..." John continued on, not noticing the strange movements of the ceiling. Without warning, Mai dashed out of the room heading towards the classroom John was in.

        "Hey, Little Lady! Where are you going?!" Housho called out to Mai. This is bad! This is really bad! Mai thought to herself. She ran as fast as she could, urging herself to move faster to warn him about the danger. She knew she was close enough when she started to hear his voice.

        "...gave he the power to become the sons of God. Which were born, not of blood..." Mai urged herself to move even faster. She ran up to the classroom and was relieved to see that he was still unharmed but it didn't mean he was out of danger.

        "John!" She called out his name. John looked up in confusion and looked at the entrance to see Mai standing there, practically out of breath.

        "Mai-san?" He said in confusion.

        "Hurry! The ceiling is coming down!" She warned him. John gasped and looked up at the ceiling but it was too late, the ceiling had started to break and fall down.

        "John! John!!"

 


 

{1}Harai-Gushi= A wooden wand to which folds of paper is attached. It is used for purification ceremonies.

{2}Kami= a divine being in the Shinto religion.

Chapter Text

        Previously on Ghost Hunt:

        "Hey, Little Lady! Where are you going?!" Housho called out to Mai. This is bad! This is really bad! Mai thought to herself. She ran as fast as she could, urging herself to move faster to warn him about the danger. She knew she was close enough when she started to hear his voice.

        "...gave he the power to become the sons of God. Which were born, not of blood..." Mai urged herself to move even faster. She ran up to the classroom and was relieved to see that he was still unharmed but it didn't mean he was out of danger.

        "John!" She called out his name. John looked up in confusion and looked at the entrance to see Mai standing there, practically out of breath.

        "Mai-san?" He said in confusion.

        "Hurry! The ceiling is coming down!" She warned him. John gasped and looked up at the ceiling but it was too late, the ceiling had started to break and fall down.

        "John! John!!"

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "What a disaster. How can this be?" Housho questioned himself, looking at the once undamaged room.

        "If Mai-san hadn't called out, I would have been in real danger," John added in. Mai, fortunately, had been able to take John out of the room quick enough before the ceiling could collapse on him. Mei-Lin and Kazuya were currently in the room, searching for anything out of place with a flashlight in the dark room. Everyone else was standing outside of the room, watching the two work, so they wouldn't be in the way or accidentally ruin evidence if there was any.

        "Maybe it's best if we pulled out of here for tonight," Kazuya spoke up, staring at the hole in the ceilings. "Mai, you can go home."

        "Really?" Mai perked up, hearing that she was finally released from her duties today. After today's constant scares, she needed it.

        "Yeah."

        "Right, I'll be going, too," Ayako said. "While there's life, there's hope."

        "Just be honest and say you're scared." Housho teased the Miko with a small smirk. Ayako glared at him, unamused by his comment. Instead of retorting back, she turned her back on him with a small hmph and walked away. Housho's smirk grew as he followed her out, heading back home.

        "I will follow your advice as well, and call it a day," John announced to the two. After almost losing his life, it was enough to call it a day for that night.

        "What about you and Mei, Naru?" Mai asked the two, as Kazuya continued inspecting the ceiling while Mei-Lin was taking a look at the scattered pieces of wood, being careful with the sharp edges.

        "There's still something I want to investigate," Kazuya answered her.

        "But what if the ceiling comes down again?" Instead of answering, Kazuya inspected a piece of debris brought to him by Mei-Lin. Mai watched the two for a bit before deciding to take Kazuya's advice and head home. Kuroda watched the two interact for a bit, her eyes narrowing at how calm Mei-Lin was. With a small huff, she eventually left as well, leaving Mei-Lin and Kazuya alone in the building. Mei-Lin glanced around at the surrounding debris and damage done to the room. All she could do was let out a silent sigh and continue working, doing whatever it was Kazuya needed her to do. It was going to be a long night...

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

Sunday

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        The next day was bright and cheerful, different from the dark and ominous night from yesterday. Mai had woken up early and quickly made her way to the abandoned school buildings. She barely was able to get sleep last night from constant thoughts and concerns about last night. As much as she trusted the two to be careful her mind couldn't help but think what would happen if the ceiling caved in again or worse. "Naru!" Mai shouted into the base, expecting to find the narcissist and his assistant working there early, like usual, but there was no sight of either of them and the room had less equipment than there originally was. What's happening!? What's going on here?

        "Naru! Mei! Are you there!?" Her worst fears felt as though they were being confirmed. If they aren't in the base, then the only other place they could be in is the van! Mai ran out of the building and headed for the van, hoping that the two were okay and uninjured. She slowed her pace when she saw the trunk of the van was wide open and a familiar figure dressed in all black was sitting inside of it. What are they doing out here?

        Kazuya had fallen asleep inside of the van with a black blanket covering him and Mei-Lin, who was fast asleep with her head on his chest. Mai couldn't help but feel a bit irked and felt a small pang in her chest seeing the two so close and intimate with each other even though they were asleep. "Naru! You slept out here!? You're going to catch a cold!"

        Mai's shouting had awoken Kazuya, as he let out a small sigh, and opened his eyes. "Is that you, Mai? What do you want, this early in the morning?" Kazuya asked the girl, his voice deep from sleep, looking at her with eyes that showed he was still half asleep, pushing his bangs slightly out of the way. Mai blushed hard seeing this side of Kazuya but grew more irked. D-Damn it all, he really does have a handsome face! Kazuya looked away from Mai and looked down at the small pressure he felt on his chest.

        Mei-Lin was still fast asleep on his chest, snuggling more against him for warmth. A ghost of a smile could be seen on Kazuya's lips as he tucked a few strands of loose hair behind her ear, making sure to not wake her. The pang in Mai's chest grew as she gripped her shirt. Damn it, even when she is asleep she is beautiful. Mai couldn't help but feel a bit jealous that even asleep, Mei-Lin looked as beautiful as she is when she's awake. It's not fair that both of them could casually fall asleep in the back of a van and wake up still looking good. Watching the two together was like looking at a painting. If I was as beautiful as Mei-Lin or if I was her would he treat me like that?

        "M-Morning? It's already past 11 o'clock." Mai told Kazuya. "Ah, would you like a cup of coffee?"

        "Sure." Mai went back to the base and came back with a small cup of coffee for him.

        "Did you find out anything last night?"

        "Yeah." Mai stared at Kazuya for a moment as he sipped his coffee.

        "Really?!" She was gone for only less than a day and they managed to find something among all the debris.

        "Hey there!" Housho called out to them. Kazuya and Mai looked back and saw Housho along with Ayako and John. "What's up with your lab?"

        "What is it, boy? Getting ready to leave already?" Ayako asked.

        "Yes, I am," Kazuya replied, sitting up a bit more, but not enough to stir Mei-Lin awake. Kazuya gently lifted Mei-Lin up and lay her down flat, using his jacket as a pillow for her head, covering her with the blanket. The gentle way he treated her did not pass anyone as they all stared at the two. They have to be dating or something...

        "You mean, you're running away because you can't handle it?" Housho asked, raising a brow. He didn't expect this self-important kid to just give up so quickly.

        "That can't be right," John said in disbelief. He didn't believe that Kazuya would give up so easily. Was it his fault that he felt the need to leave?

        "No. I've determined that the case has been solved," Kazuya answered, disproving their earlier thoughts on him giving up.

        "You exorcized them all on your own?" Housho asked, surprised.

        "No, I didn't. There was no need."

        "There was no need?"

        "What do you mean?" Mai questioned him. Kazuya pulled out his computers and typed in a few keywords before showing the group a graph.

        "Last night, I compiled the results of all of my measurements. This is a graph of my survey levels. The old schoolhouse sank 0.2 inches overnight."

        "What?" Housho exclaimed, looking over the graph.

        "It's subsidence."

        "So, what? You're saying that was the cause of all of these strange phenomena?" Ayako asked dubiously. She found that hard to believe, the whole reason behind these strange events was something as simple as land subsidence.

        "This whole area is reclaimed swampland," Kazuya explained, showing the various graphs and charts to the group. "When I looked into the distribution of wells that were once in use, I found out that there was a large waterway that passed directly underneath this school but when Mei and I checked the wells around here, they were mostly dry."

        "Which means..." Mai asked, needing further explanation on the matter.

        "The ground here was weak, to begin with, and the water has dried up, so if it is hollowing out underground, then naturally, the old school that is built above it will sink, too."

        "So then, the chair moving, and the ceiling collapsing, was all caused by the ground sinking?" Housho asked.

        "Yes. The floor of the classroom at the eastern end, where the ceiling collapsed, was three inches lower than the west end."

        "Three inches is..." Mai tilted her head, trying to calculate how much that meant and how deep it was.

        "...about 7 1/2 cm, huh?" Housho finished the math.

        "Then, what about the rapping noises?" Ayako asked.

        "Probably the sound of the building warping," Kazuya answered, shutting his laptop closed. "We should have the area around the school declared off-limits. This building is going to collapse before long."

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "This can't be! Then, what is it that attacked me!?" Kuroda protested when she showed up later. Mai, with some help from the others, explained the truth behind the supposed hauntings of the school. Among hearing this, she immediately ran to confront Kazuya in the base, who was currently packing up any remaining equipment. Kazuya stopped what he was doing and faced her. Even with the evidence there, this girl was still going to protest saying there are spirits here?

        "If that really did happen, then maybe it's the work of a floating specter that was following you." He remarked with an emotionless face. He recalled the few times Mei-Lin say that she felt strong emotions from the girl and majority of it was negative. Kuroda grits her teeth and glared at Kazuya.

        "It was real! I really was attacked!" Kuroda insisted, stubbornly.

        "Are you really leaving, Naru?" Mai asked.

        "Uh-huh. The job is done." He said, getting back to work.

        "I see. I guess it is, huh?" Mai said, playing with the ends of her hair as she let out a nervous laugh. However, something didn't feel, right? What? I'm disappointed for some reason. Huh? Somehow, it just doesn't feel all cleared up.

        Mei-Lin walked into the room, wide awake from her sleep. "Kazu, I've put all the microphones and camera's back in the van."

        "Good, just help me with these last few pieces of equipment," Kazuya ordered her. Mei-Lin nodded and quickly went to work, disassembling the rest of the equipment as Kazuya put them into boxes.

        "There is a spirit here, really." Kuroda insisted.

        "No. The outcome of my investigation was completely blank." Kazuya stated firmly.

        "Maybe you just can't tell if it's here, right?!" Kuroda yelled at him in frustration. Mei-Lin pinched the bridge of her nose before looking at the girl.

        "Then you can drive it out. If you do have spiritual powers, that is." Mei-Lin told her, losing her patience with the girl. "Since you've been here all you've done is say spirits are here but you haven't done anything to get rid of the problem. You keep saying there here but is that all you're here for, to convince us of spirits that are not here? The whole time I've been here I've felt nothing but negative emotions from you and want for attention. Anything you say at this point is pointless, the case is closed."

        Everyone stood there in silence looking between the two girls. Kuroda clenched her fist glaring hard at the girl, with tears of anger in the corner of her eyes. Some may have thought that what Mei-Lin said was harsh but unfortunately, it was the truth. The evidence was there but one person just keeps on insisting that it's not true. In this field, for Kazuya and Mei-Lin, it's not the people who don't believe in the supernatural or psychic abilities who are a pain but rather those who blame it all on that as well as going around claiming they were psychic. If it wasn't for people who had those sorts of outlooks cases that do actually involve the supernatural wouldn't be made fun of and progress regarding psychic abilities would have advanced years ahead of time. In their eyes, Kuroda was that type of person, someone who blames it on the unknown and making false claims.

        Kazuya sighed and placed a hand on Mei-Lin's head. Mei-Lin looked up at Kazuya but he was looking straight at Kuroda. "I've decided that our work here is done, so we're leaving." With that said, Kazuya grabbed the last control panel and packed it into the box.

        "It kind of feels like the dreams is over," Mai said, looking down at the ground, solemnly. Kazuya and Mei-Lin both looked at Mai, giving her a questioning look.

        "What do you mean?" Kazuya asked.

        "Here's an old building in the corner of the school, which really seems to have something about it- stories about it having ghosts and all- there's a certain sort of romance to it, isn't there?" Mai said, playing with her hands as she expressed her thoughts. "I mean, I wouldn't want someone to have really died or anything, but it would be nice if it had some, just for some harmless ghost stories."

        "Maybe so," Kazuya said thoughtfully. Mei-Lin glanced at Mai before looking down. Her words... they reminded her of him.  Mei-Lin paused and felt a dark chill go up to her spine. She felt a dark and malicious intent but it wasn't in one specific area, it was filling the entire room.

        "Kazu..." Mei-lin called out to him, shakily as she fell to her knees. The pressure in the room was suffocating and she felt like it was pressing her down. Kazuya's eyes widened and he quickly made his way to Mei-Lin. Everyone perked up when they started hearing the sound of glass breaking. They all looked back and saw the glass behind Kuroda shattered, nearly cutting her with the shards, causing her to scream.

        "Kuroda-san!" Mai shouted, running over to check on her.

         BAM! BAM! BAM!

        "What is this?!" Ayako asked nervously.

        "Somebody is hitting something!" Housho said, furrowing his brow as he looked around the room.

        "The sound of knocking! Another one of Tisane's conditions!" John exclaimed.

        "Naru!" Mai called out to her boss, looking for an explanation of what was going on. Kazuya seemed to be in shock, not moving and staring in one area with Mei-Lin slowly growing pale in his arms from the negative aura. This wasn't the sound of a creaking building, this was an actual knocking sound! "Naru?"

        Mai turned back and looked back when the doors leading to the hallway started opening and closing shut over and over again.

        "This is really dangerous!" Housho exclaimed. There was no way this was something as simple as the building sinking.

        "Outside! It's going to collapse! Mai!" Kazuya said, lifting up Mei-Lin into his arms as the girl was paralyzed and unable to move at the moment.

        "But the doors..." Mai shouted over the banging, How were they suppose to get past the doors without getting smashed between them. They also couldn't leave through the windows without possibly getting cut from the shards of glass.

        "Leave that to me!" Housho said, as he picked up a chair and threw it at the window pane. shattering them in the process so they could all escape. "We'll get out this way!"

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "Are you okay, Kuroda-san?" Mai asked the girl once they were all outside and out of harm's way. Kuroda didn't say anything except giving a small nod, her eyes never looking away from the floor.

        "You're bleeding. Hold out your hand." Ayako told the quiet girl as she started to treat her hand, fortunately, it was only a small cut. "It's okay, the cut isn't deep."

        Mei-Lin was sitting on the ground, taking slow and deep breaths as her skin started getting back it's natural hue. What was that... It wasn't a spirit but it was so bad that it caused me to nearly pass out?

        "What was that?" Housho demanded, looking at Kazuya with narrowed eyes. "You telling me that was caused by the ground sinking, too?! That was a full-on poltergeist, wasn't it?!"

        "Far from the sound of the building warping, someone was definitely knocking on the walls," Ayako added.

        "This makes four of Tisane's nine conditions that have been met," John added in regretfully. By no means was he trying to be cruel to Kazuya or say he was wrong but there was no denying what happened in there.

        "How can you say your data turned up blank? That's ridiculous!" Ayako continued, criticizing the young ghost hunter. "We were this close to being the butt of your childish joke."

        "It's time for us to show a little grown-up earnestness," Housho said decisively.

        "Good grief, I can't even stand to be near you." Ayako huffed, turning away from Kazuya and leaving with the monk. Mei-Lin glared harshly at the two as they left. She felt that it was a bit rich how Ayako failed and yet had the right to criticize Kazuya, not to mention the monk hadn't really done anything to help the situation.

        "What's with them?!" Mai exclaimed in anger. "Now they start getting along with each other!" Mei-Lin could only let out a sigh and looked at Kazuya before her eyes trailed down to his arm, seeing blood on his.

        "Kazuya, your hand." She gasped.

        "It isn't serious. It'll stop bleeding soon." He said calmly, not looking back at the girl.

        "Still..."

        "I'm fine. Mai, see to Kuroda-san. Mei-Lin, rest for now and don't push it." He insisted, leaving no room for argument.

        "Naru..." Mai took a step closer, concerned for her boss.

        "I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me alone right now." He told them coldly. "I'm so mad at myself, I could throw up."

        "Kazuya!" Mei-Lin called out to him, but the young teenager just walked away without looking back. Mei-Lin tried to stand up but stumbled, her body not fully recovering from the shock of earlier. Mai's eyes widened and she helped the girl avoid crashing into the floor. Mei-Lin watched Kazuya leave and grit her teeth, looking down. She was angry. She was angry at Ayako and Housho for saying all those things to Kazuya. She was angry that those things happened when she believed the case was solved. But most of all, she was angry at herself for not knowing what to say at this moment.

        Kazuya wasn't wrong but there was a part of this case that they were missing. Until he came back, she was going to find out what it was. However, she couldn't do it alone...

        "Mai... Can I ask for your help with something."

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "You're not going to watch our monk's exorcism?" Ayako asked. She thought that other than John, Housho, and herself the rest left so she was surprised when the two girls working with Kazuya were still sticking around.

        "No, thank you!" Mai answered, not looking back at Ayako. She was still annoyed how the woman was criticizing Kazuya earlier and acting like it was nothing. Mai continued to pack up pieces of equipment that Mei-Lin asked her to help with. She was genuinely surprised that the girl asked for her help, despite clearly not liking her for unknown reasons. However, the fact that Mei-Lin stayed around showed she must have had some kind of faith in Kazuya. If she had faith in him, so should she.

        "Are you sure about this?" John asked Mai, holding out a few cables to her. "Should you really be packing up?"

        "If I have to, I can always carry it back in," Mai answered, feeling better now` that the young priest was helping her, "Besides, Mei-Lin said it was best to pack up most of the stuff here."

        "In that case, I'll take this," John said, picking up a microphone.

        "Oh, hang on a second on that," Mai told him. "Mei-Lin may want to use that for a certain room."

        "Do you still believe the boy's explanation?" Ayako asked, watching the two from the side along with Housho. Mai's eyes narrowed, slowly getting fed up with the woman's attitude.

        "Do you have any proof that he's wrong?! If so, prove to me that there's an evil spirit here!" Mai demanded. Ayako flinched a bit and glared at Mai. The two stared each other down, neither tearing their gaze away until soft footsteps were heard behind them.

        "If there are actually spirits here, which I highly doubt, then what does that say about the person who failed to exorcize them?" Mei-Lin said from behind. Ayako's face turned red and she directed her glare at Mei-Lin this time, her glare harsher than it was before.

        "Why you...!"

        "Now, now..."

         Mei-Lin didn't seem to pay her any mind and walked past her. "Mai, would you and John mind setting some of the equipment on the second floor. I think we may be able to get a few decent sounds from there if anything happens."

        "Ah, sure!"

✛幽霊∞✛∞シリーズ✛

        "On sunba nisunba un bazara un hatta jaku un ban koku on dakini shara kyara heigi yaya shigi yaya nei." Monk had started chanting incantations for the exorcism. To those who knew what was happening, this was very common and normal. To people like Mai, on the other hand, this was nothing but gibberish.

        How is chanting that gibberish incantation going to clear out evil spirits? Mai thought to herself. Ayako glanced back at Mai, noticing the girls stare, causing Mai to flinch. Geez, Naru, you dope! Get back here quick, and tell these guys off! Mei is waiting for you! With a sigh, Mai left the room and started putting the rest of the equipment in spots that Mei-Lin said would be good for research.

        "I set up the microphone on the second floor," John told her as he came down the steps.

        "Thanks. Sorry to put you to work like this." Mai thanked him. She felt bad that she had the priest help her but she was really grateful for it.

        "I don't mind. Anyhow, I'm going to go look around inside some more and see if Mei-Lin-san needs anything." John said, not minding the situation.

        "Uh-huh. Be careful." Mai waved him as he walked to the other side of the building. She let out a small sigh once he was out of sight and leaned against the wall. Mai thought back to what Mei-Lin told her...

        "Kazuya isn't the type who would walk away from an unsolved case and have his pride damaged. He's not wrong about what's happening here but there is something we clearly missed. If I know him, he will come back, maybe not tonight but he will..."

        Deciding to wait for Naru is fine and all, but is he really coming back? Mai thought to herself. She couldn't understand how someone could put that much faith and confidence into one person. Mai's thoughts were interrupted when she heard the floorboard creak.

        "Naru?!" Mai said, looking in the direction of the sound, hoping to find the narcissist but instead found Kuroda, standing still. "Kuroda-san..."

        "Well? How's it going?" Kuroda asked, looking around. Mai immediately knew that Kuroda was referring to the exorcism monk was performing at the moment.

        "Oh, Monk and the others are making their rounds right now," Mai told her, she figured there was no harm in telling the girl since it was almost done, at least she thought it was almost done.

        "What about Shibuya-san?"

        "He's gone off somewhere. Mei-Lin says he will come back though." Mai let out a sigh and looked up. "Aw, man, are there really any evil spirits here?"

        "I saw them."

        "Oh, yeah. You did say that, huh?" Mai said. She completely forgot the girl said that she was attacked by the said spirits. However, she couldn't help but feel a few things were off with the girl, especially considering what just happened earlier.

        "They're not here anymore," Ayako called out to them. Mai and Kuroda looked at the older woman as she looked at them with a smug look. "The exorcism was successful."

        "You've said that before and it failed, didn't it?" Mai asked Ayako with a skeptical look. She bought this before and it resulted in glass shattering and multiple cuts.

        "This time will be okay!" Ayako exclaimed, blushing a bit in embarrassment. She didn't want that to be brought up!

        "They're still here," Kuroda said, pressing a hand to her chest. Ayako and Mai both looked at the girl in confusion. "I can feel them. There are still many spirits here."

        "Still pretending to be spiritually sensitive?" Ayako asked the girl, growing tired of this charade. "Give it up. We're pros, here."

        "You haven't done all that much considering, have you?" Kuroda sassed the older woman. Ayako's eyes widened and she glared harshly at the girl, opening her mouth to make a comeback before being interrupted.

        "It's okay," Housho told them, walking up to the small group with John right behind him. "Ayako may not have done it, but I did."

        "What did you say?!"

        "Well, it's true, isn't it?"

        "You think you can take credit for my work?!"

        "Same goes for you."

        "Oh, come off it!"

        "Now, look here!" Mai was in the middle of the two bickering adults and honestly, she was growing sick of it. Before she could tell the two "adults" off, John put a finger to his lips shushing all of them.

        "I hear something." He said. They all stood in silence, listening for any noise. They started hearing clattering and slight footsteps upstairs.

        "Someone's there..." Ayako said, looking up at the ceiling.

        "It couldn't be..." Housho said. He just did an exorcism, there shouldn't be any signs of activity or any activity at all.

        "M-Maybe it's Mei," Mai said nervously. The girl wasn't anywhere and sight and she would rather it be the girl than a spirit.

        "What are you going on about?" Mei-Lin said, appearing from behind. Mai let out a small scream and looked at the black-haired girl.

        "Don't do that!"

        "Shh!" Ayako, Housho, and John shushed Mai and looked at the direction of the stairs as the footsteps got louder and louder as if the source was getting closer. The footsteps stopped for a moment before they heard a loud bang. Housho ran up the stairs, searching for the source of the noise but there was no one in sight.

        "Monk!" Mai called out to the man. "Is anyone there?"

        "No. Must have just imagined it," Housho said hesitantly.

        "H-hold on! We imagined it?!" Mai asked incredulously. "I definitely heard something! Monk, you heard it too, right?"

        "It was just the wind," Ayako said, pushing the topic to the side. Mai, however, wouldn't let them off like that so easily.

        "Enough, already! You've failed to exorcize them!" Mai shouted in high school. "And after the self-important lecture, you gave to Naru earlier, too! Did Naru make up any such sorry excuses then?! For grown-ups, you're acting pretty disgraceful-" Mai had to stop mid-rant because the knocking from earlier began again, this time louder than it was before.

        "Knocking!" John shouted. The knocks were getting harder and louder, the lights in the room were shattering making the room pitch black. Along with the knocking, the sound of multiple footsteps surrounded the room as if they were running a marathon. "There are sounds of more footsteps than there were before!"

        "What is this, an indoor track meet?!" Housho asked, hearing the multiple footsteps.

        "Does it matter? Do you want to stay and find out?" Mei-Lin told the older man. Her body was trembling once more feeling the malicious intent, it was suffocating her to the point she almost couldn't stand anymore. Everyone noticed the girl was growing pale once more and her body was trembling. This wasn't a good sign.

        "Hey, it's too dangerous in here! Get outside!" Housho told everyone.

        "R-Right, Mei-san, Kuroda-san, hurry!" Mai told the two. She quickly took both of their hands and started running for the entrance.

        "Yeah..." Kuroda replied following the girl. Mei-Lin didn't reply and followed after the girls, barely managing to keep up. They were close to the entrance when one of the shelves started to fall over from the constant shaking in the building. Mei-Lin's eyes widened and with enough strength she pushed Mai out of the way, replacing her spot. With the last of her strength gone she collapsed to the floor holding her hands out to soften the impact of the shelf. There was a small tear in the corner of her eye as she squeezed them shut. At that moment only one name came to mind...

        "Kazuya!!"

        And like that, she faded into darkness