One Fine Day:
Naru placed his chopsticks down and sighed contentedly. Now that he was dating Mai, he ate dinner in her apartment several times a week. It meant he was able to eat something that wasn't take out or ramen with the added bonus of seeing her. Usually Gene managed to invite himself once a fortnight.
"Was it good?" Mai asked. "It is the first time I have made Dobin Mushi."
"It was good," Naru told her warmly.
Mai stacked the dishes and took them out to the tiny kitchen. When she returned Naru had moved from the kotatsu to the sofa and she sat down to join him.
"What should we do now?" she enquired and blushed once she realised how it sounded.
Naru was having a similar problem. Acclimatising to having a girlfriend had its difficulties. Especially when he had no interest in girls or being pleasant to people not related to him beforehand. His eyes fell in Mai's schoolbag which was hanging on a hook on the wall.
"I can help you with your English homework," he volunteered. "It will help you in the future- we will be getting married one day and my parents are English."
Mai's face colour turned even brighter. "That's true."
She retrieved her schoolbag and Naru gave her assistance with the homework questions. He gave her an unrelated test at the end. It was partly just to hear her say the words that he wanted her to and to see how long it would take her to catch on.
"Mai, how do you say hello in English?"
She hesitated briefly due to the difficulty of pronouncing words with Ls in.
Naru smirked at her and that was when she realised what she had been tricked into saying.
All she got was a smile in return. She closed her English book and desperately tried to think of a way to outdo him.
"Do you want a Japanese character test to show off how much you've improved?"
Naru was slightly suspicious, but an opportunity to demonstrate his intelligence was too much to pass.
"I'm going to start off easy with Hirigana," she warned.
She drew out a character on a spare sheet of paper and held it up so her boyfriend could see.
Mai drew another one.
Now she held up a Kanji character. This was a little harder for Naru.
"Rearrange them and put the word together," she instructed.
Naru felt like he was missing something significant as he stared at the characters. Then he understood. Mai had got him back for tricking her.
Mai beamed at him and he leaned in towards her.
"For tricking me, you can have a reward."
He kissed her lightly on the lips and deepened it after she had recovered from the surprise.
"You did not have to trick me into saying I love you," Naru whispered to her as they parted to breathe.
"You only said it once and you looked so embarrassed. You also didn't have to trick me into telling you that you look good."
At breakfast the following morning, something that Gene told Naru caused him to spill miso soup down his school uniform.
"What do you mean, Mum and Dad are arriving tomorrow for a visit?"
Gene nodded. "It's true. I saw it briefly in a dream last night and I overheard Lin talking on the phone this morning."
Both teenagers turned to stare at the omnouji who had his best poker face on and looked like he would refuse to answer any questions. Madoka giggled.
"I told Luella and Martin that they wouldn't be able to surprise Gene."
"They're coming to check on the progress between you and Mai," Gene said.
Naru managed to spill even more soup down himself. It was fortunate he had a spare gakuran. If there were going to be any more surprises, he was never going to be on time for school.
"Progress?" he asked. "We are still young. What progress can we make?"
Gene shrugged."Knowing Mum, she's probably expecting you to have a ring picked out."
"Mai is still 15," Naru complained. "I cannot propose to her yet."
He should have realised that his mother would start interfering. She had been disappointed with his lack of friendliness towards girls when he was younger. If she saw him kissing Mai, she would probably throw a party to celebrate.
"You should ask Gene what he dreamt Luella was going to do?" Madoka winked.
Naru was saved from answering by Lin pointing out that he needed to leave if he wanted to get to school on time. It was better if he didn't find out from Gene.
"Mai, my parents are arriving in Japan tomorrow and they want to meet you," he informed Mai over lunch.
Mai's response was to freeze with an octopus wiener halfway to her mouth.
"Naru! My English isn't good enough and I don't feel ready now," she answered.
"My mother speaks Japanese. They have already have already accepted you as my girlfriend anyway. If they had not, they would have never sent me to Japan."
Mai looked noticeably calmer for a moment. "That was when they knew nothing about me besides my name," she countered.
"They are only concerned with your effect on me. They probably wouldn't care if you smoked and had 10 piercings."
"You should try to have a dream about what will happen tomorrow," Keiko chipped in.
The psychic looked thoughtful. "I could try. I haven't got complete control of it yet though."
"Ask Gene for help," Naru grumbled. "When I got back last night, he asked me if I enjoyed the Japanese lesson."
Mai covered her blushing face by leaning her head down to pick up the last grain of rice from her bento.
Outside the school gates the next day after school was the ubiquitous black van. Naru saw nothing strange about it as it was the usual routine for Lin picking him up from school. Any impression of normalcy was ruined when the passenger door opened and his mother stepped out and rushed over to him.
"Noll! I finally get to see you in your school uniform!" she exclaimed in English.
"Mum, you are making a scene," he griped and looked pointedly around him where people were giving him strange looks. He was relieved when his father came out and half dragged his mother away.
"Sorry about that, but you still have to come with us. Bring Mai too," his father ordered.
Naru turned round to look for Mai and found her right behind him, looking unnerved for a girlfriend seeing her boyfriend's mother acting like that. Then again she was a psychic girlfriend.
"You have a dream about this?"
Mai smiled secretively before grasping his hand walking towards the van where his parents were waiting. He saw the look on his mother's face when she spotted them holding hands. She looked the happiest he had seen her and she had been very happy when he had gained his PhD.
"Does she faint with happiness later?"
"More tea, Mai-chan?" his mother enquired in Japanese.
Mai replied in the affirmative and Luella poured more tea into her teacup. They were sat on a picnic blanket in the park for some reason. Naru could only assume his parents had taken Mai there due to her familiarity with it so she would be less intimidated by them.
"How is school going?" his father asked. "I know you are probably finding it dull."
"Occasionally I learn new things. My Kanji is improving," he stared pointedly at Mai who picked up on the word "Kanji" and blushed. His gaze slipped to his mother who had noticed his glance at Mai and looked thrilled.
"That's encouraging. We were concerned that you might drop out after the truth was revealed. However Luella thought you might be inclined to stay because of Mai."
Naru twitched. His main motivation for continuing to attending high school was the presence of Mai and their after school club. Bou-san regularly brought in stacks of unsolved ghost cases that he could solve just by reading the file. So it wasn't just Mai keeping him there.
"There is the ghost story club too," he replied.
"Are you going to stay there until graduation?" Martin questioned.
Naru stared at him suspiciously. "I was planning to. Although I draw the line at attending university."
"I didn't mean to imply you couldn't. It's just that we would like to see you occasionally. Gene is planning on staying here too. As he doesn't attend school here, he had to help us on cases in the UK by phone."
Naru was relieved. For a moment he had been afraid he would be told that he wasn't allowed to stay in Japan.
"I'll visit England in the summer," he promised.
"Wonderful," his father said and picked out a biscuit from the tin. "We brought some of your favourite tea with us as a present."
"That was tiring," Naru commented once they were alone by the lake and his parents were packing up the picnic.
His mother had dropped hints constantly about proposals and rings in both Japanese and English to the extent that Mai had noticed it.
"I don't wish for you to propose to me yet. I'm 15. It can wait until later on," she assured him.
"Thank you," Naru said gratefully. "I do plan to ask you one day and it had been guaranteed that I will."
Mai smiled at him and he put his arm around her. Someday they would be married with children and there was no use in rushing it now as the future had already been foreseen.
I hope you have a good new year.
In case people don't know, Aishiteru is one way of saying "I love you." It isn't the only way to say it before anyone leaves a review saying I am wrong.