"Do you shave?"
If it had been a conversation between two dudes, he wouldn't have thought much of it. Throughout the cases he became acquainted with his fellow males' bathroom habits, some of it he didn't dare to recall, but when it pertained to shaving he could tell that he had the most facial hair among the men, Lin followed him closely, if not shaved at least. Yasuhara was beginning to show, similar to the latter, while Naru and John were mysteriously absent from this. Either they barely shaved or the hair had yet to come. Anyway, usually guys don't bother with these kind of questions.
However, as he heard Masako asking the question, his eyes went wide open as he sat up. Lin was resting on his back in his futon and John was reading his bible. Naru and Yasuhara were still awake as they were reading up for something on the case. The latter shot Takigawa, who shrugged, a brief look of surprise.
A confused voice came from the room they sided with.
"Wha, what did you say?"
A much shyer voice repeated.
"Mai, do you shave?"
"...Um, my armpits? Yes, I do."
Speaking of which, the walls were really thin, they could hear some muffled sounds of bed sheets, a stream of water pouring down and the brushing of teeth. Later, a door opened and someone entered. The guys didn't make any sounds because they had been busy with other things.
"Masako, you look red. What's wrong?" Ayako asked.
"Well, Masako asked if I shaved my armpits before you came in," Mai mumbled almost inaudibly.
"Mai!" The girl called indignantly.
"That doesn't explain the blush across her face..." Ayako said, and then after a short pause she yelled all of sudden, "Wait, are you and Yasuhara planning to get it on with each other?!"
All guys simultaneously looked at Yasuhara with their own brands of 'what the hell?!' look, without trying to make any sounds. Naru and Lin just... stared, John flushed a deep red with his eyes widened and Takigawa could barely contain his laughter. The embarrassed college student made some negating gestures to the other men.
They all heard Mai spitting out water and coughing loudly.
"Ma-Matsuzaki-san, not so loud!" Masako cried out.
"Yeah, someone could hear us!" Mai forced through her throat, and said, "What's with that question anyway?!"
"Don't worry. The guys are in room 14, and rooms 11 and 13 are empty!" Ayako declared.
They heard the girls sigh of relief, but Naru had the urge to facepalm at Matsuzaki's stupidity. If Mai was stupid, she surely got it from her dear 'mum'. In fact, they roomed exactly next to each other, except there was a custom thin walling in the hallway, preventing them from knowing which rooms they were at. The hotel owner believed that the number 13 was an unlucky number, thus it was entirely left out from the count.
"Don't be daft, Mai. She was talking about pubic hair," she explained, but no response came, "Hey, why are you looking at me like that? I was right, ne Masako-chan?"
"As for what I'd just said. Well, you know, girls usually shave their hair off in their private parts if they wanna sleep with a gu-"
"Matsuzaki-san, stop it! I wasn't planning to!" She interrupted.
"...'cause it make things easier," she finished.
"I don't want to hear anymore! This is so embarrassing."
Yasuhara fiercely nodded at his girlfriend's words. The older woman gave up.
"...what a prude."
Masako cleared her throat for a comeback.
"That is very strange thing to hear coming from you, miko-san."
"It sounds like you're doing it all the time, Ayako," Mai laughed.
"Hey hey, only for hygienic reasons," Ayako insisted, "speaking of that, I really need to get myself shaved soon, it's growing in bushes. Hahahaha!"
'Too much information, too much information, Ayako!' Takigawa mentally cried, and from the look of it the others thought the same thing. Both Yasuhara and Naru seemed unable to concentrate on the case's information files, John abruptly quit reading his daily devotional and Lin started to sleep on his side, facing the wall and hiding his ears in the blanket.
"Mai, you didn't answer the question."
"...I have to answer?"
"Well, I just gave my answer and it seems like Masako doesn't do it, so..."
Mai's reply was quick and concise.
"Just as I thought," the medium said.
"I thought I was seeing things last week..." She sounded stricken.
Ayako's excitement went through the roof.
"Masako, what did you see? Tell me tell me!"
"Why does that have to do with-"
"She didn't wear any underwear when I saw her at the office!" Masako blurted out.
At this point all guys went wide-eyed.
'Holy-!' Takigawa thought, and he proceeded to put an ear against the wall, along with Yasuhara who had climbed out of his futon to hear more of these particularly enlightening stories on their female workers. Naru showed a mild disgust. John uncomfortably made strange muffled sounds from underneath his blanket. Lin appeared entirely asleep.
"Wha-whaaat?! Masako are you-" the girl reacted in shock.
"In this tiny miniskirt," Masako added, and called her out, "Mai! I never thought this would be your way of flirting. How crude!"
"F-flirting?! Excuse me!"
"Haha, so that's how girls nowadays try to get some attention."
"No, not me!" Masako defended.
"I wasn't talking about you, old woman!"
"Old woman?! Matsuzaki-san, you do realize-"
"Argh, shut up shut up everyone!"
Silence reigned for a short moment, before Ayako spoke up.
"Don't worry Mai, your secret is safe with us."
"If the others ever find out, I'll-I'll-" the girl sounded as if she almost teared up.
So it was true. The men were most shocked at her response.
"Even so, Naru doesn't realize it and I don't think he'll ever do with the way he is, so you're safe from being fired or whatever."
There were some affirming sounds from the younger girls.
"...wait, but what if he knows?"
'He does now,' Takigawa thought, while shedding a tear, and looked at the mentioned boy who didn't seem very keen on the gossiping.
There were some pensive sounds.
"I bet he doesn't care."
"No. If he knows, he would definitely say something about it," the miko said.
"Wait, what if he does know and cares and likes it, because with the panties out-of-the-way you're easily.. uh," Ayako frowned a little, hesitating a little in what she was about to say. "Um Mai, are you actually doing it with him?"
There were a loud gasps from the younger girls. All faces faltered in shock, except for Lin's who remained unseen. Takigawa Houshou's head turned sharply to the right facing Naru who grimaced at what the miko was proclaiming. 'What kind of reasoning is that!' the boss thought.
"No. NO. What the hell Ayako."
"Well. What kind of boss wouldn't give for a cute secretary wearing no panties?" The miko teased.
"That's so gross!" Masako exclaimed.
"If it was him, having sex in the office wouldn't get you reprimanded, you lucky girl!"
There was a howling laughter from the woman.
"I never thought...!" The young medium sounded horrified.
"It's not true at all! Oh my gosh you guys. Stop saying things like that-"
John and Yasuhara proceeded to prevent Takigawa from beating up Naru, who eyed the outraged monk cautiously without moving one inch.
"I never said it was true. It does explain why you're wearing no panties in the office, why else! It's not like you're fetching tea all day."
"Seriously, are you drunk or something?! You're saying weird things today!" Mai said angrily.
"Maybe! ...Sheesh, it was just a joke!"
The bantering wouldn't stop, and he had a long day ahead of him, so an ever annoyed Lin coughed very loudly all of sudden. He should have done so much earlier. The other guys froze at once, Naru hid himself under a blanket before shooting Lin an unseen glare, while Yasuhara and Takigawa returned to their futons.
"...did you just hear that?"
"Oh no... no no no, someone heard us."
"Damn it, lets just go to sleep, we need to get up early."
First thing Takigawa noticed when they woke up was that Naru refused to talk to Lin for some reason. Then he quickly caught on that Ayako had been right and at the same time wrong during her yapping, and it highly disturbed him, but he didn't even dare to bring it up with that certain person. Much less, beating him up.
When Masako and Mai entered the base, Yasuhara gave a kind smile to the first one, who returned the favor.
"Did my princess get her beauty sleep last night?" he left an exhausted impression.
"Good morning. Why yes, of course," she said with bags under her eyes.
"Morning everyone. Morning Naru," Mai said.
"Mai, make sure you dress properly. It's cold," Naru announced closing his eyes, as if it was the most normal thing to say. Takigawa heard it and shut his mouth with his hand holding back the laughter, looking away from the two.
"Uh sure," Mai looked at him and the monk oddly. Normally he didn't care about the way she dressed. "Um. Are we going outside?"
"Then why...?" she eyed the monk suspiciously. 'What's with Bou-san?!'
Naru didn't say anything in return and his assistant scowled at his way of treating her.
Ayako had entered the scene. The monk rose up as he spotted her going over to Lin, to check up on the screens.
"Morning Lin, seen or heard anything interesting from last night?" Her voice was so deadpan, she couldn't possibly be talking about that. As if a blizzard entered the room all guys froze in their places. It took Lin completely out of concentration and he coughed very loudly, half-choking on the bread he just ate. Ayako raised a thin eyebrow.
"Guess not then."
Masako yelped as she recognized that cough, and her face turned maroon in front of everyone.
"Um.. Masako?" Mai asked.
Then the monk strode courageously up to the miko with his face straight and serious, while taking out something out of his pocket. She gave him a curious glance, but the glance quickly changed into something else as she noticed the razor in his hand.
"Yo," he said, "wanna borrow?"
Chapter 2: Thief
Some of you brought various points up and it made me write an extra to the story, which should explain TMI (Too Much Information) in a whole. This is not chronological.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Reportedly it took months for the Shibuya Psychic Research members to recover from the infamous "razor drama".
Ayako stared at the razor in his hand with her eyes snapped wide open, then snorted before an insane and awkward laughter ensued. However, when the monk kindheartedly joined in – they were the only two laughing - she slapped him across the face. Hard. Then she proceeded to do the same to every other male in the room who listened in on them.
Fortunately for John, the exorcist had dismissed himself from the case early in the morning.
Humiliating. That was the only word she could describe the situation right now, but this took the cake:
"Mai, make sure you dress properly."
In other words Naru, of all people, was telling her to wear her panties in the office.
Naru nearly considered adding "wear your damned underwear in the office!" and "no flirting and no sex in the office!" to the job contract and let that girl and that man sign it. He had no reason to believe the miko was right, but Mai never flirted with him and the only other person who was available was Lin himself, who'd often have questionable sounds coming out of his room when he passed by.
He supposed he could add "the office is not a café!" as well to the contract, to avoid spilling of holy drinks on the ugly carpet and the breaking of his precious china teacups he had specially imported!
Lin didn't know why Naru never spoke to him after that incident, after all he should have no reason to be angry at him... right? He functioned well (better than the others if he could be allowed to believe that) and did his job properly.
Oh, but don't tell the boss he had a fairly great deal of porn on his computer.
Hara Masako was sitting down at the sofa in the main office – Naru refused to let her in his own – drinking the green tea the part-time worker had provided. Said girl was now standing on a chair to water some plants on top of a closet, and after having done that, Mai jumped off – her airy miniskirt didn't cover her up for a short moment.
The teacup elegantly slipped out of her hand and the hot tea promptly landed on her socks and sandals.
The medium had expected cute, pink panties.
Earlier that morning after Mai had a quick shower and removed her bikini line hair, then after drying herself with a towel she dressed herself, but stopped after she couldn't find any panties in the closet.
Oh right! She'd washed all of them yesterday and had them clipped on the laundry line outside! She had to be quick, Naru would kill her if she was late. There would be an informative gathering for a case starting in the upcoming weeks!
To her horror, she never found the panties there and she had no time to buy any on the way. Why did she have the ability to attract bad luck? She had to go out, like RIGHT NOW.
Then an idea crept in her head, and she truly wanted to dismiss it, but wearing trousers without any panties was extremely uncomfortable and she heard so many of the other high school girls did the same thing...
Clip! Huff. Clip!
In the middle of the night Mai had half woken up to the weird noises outside of her window and dismissed it as her imagination. It was that bastard's fault to have her clipping too many files after all.
Note: google "Japanese Panty Thief".
Google "Japanese Panty Thief".