This was going to be quite a bit longer...but then, that seemed like such a nice place to stop. The next chapter should be up soon, because this has been bouncing in my head all day. Plus, I just stated watching/rewatching episodes. I almost forgot how cool Naru is.
Kazuya Shibuya, otherwise known as Naru, never changed his daily greeting. It drove his part-time worker, Mai Taniyama, absolutely nuts. Of course, due to the nature of their work, she felt like she was going nuts most of the time anyway. After all, sane people didn't have dreams about past events, or sense strange things when they walked into a house. No, those sort of creepy things were saved for special-but-not-crazy people, like her.
"Hai, Naru." Sighing, the young woman began making her boss' tea, something she could do in her sleep after working for him for over two years. By this time, she knew exactly how he liked it, as well as what occasions might cause him to change his preference for the moment. He drank black coffee when he hadn't gotten much sleep and espresso on the days when she had time to stop by a certain little café he liked before coming in.
Mai sighed again, thinking about how much she knew about her boss. Sometimes it seemed like she knew everything, but other times she felt like he was as mysterious as the day they'd met. He was as closed-mouthed about his past and his life as any super-hero with a secret identity.
Putting the tea on a tray, along with a small plate of sandwiches, Mai headed for Naru's office. She opened the door without bothering to knock. He wouldn't answer a knock anyway.
"I picked up some of those sandwiches you like at the deli earlier, Naru. You have to stop skipping lunch; it's not healthy. And I know that it's not that you're not hungry. You always finish off whatever's put in front of you!"
In the past Mai had waited for her boss' acknowledgement before speaking, but eventually she'd realized that all that would get her was inquiries about her staring problem. So, she'd finally realized that it was much easier to just interrupt whatever he was doing and assume that he listened. Even if he still ignored her, it was much less frustrating than waiting for the 'thank you's that never came.
"Oh, and while you were out, Madoka-san called. She said that you'd regret not getting back to her right away." Well, that caught his interest. Mai found herself staring into cool blue eyes that, even after all they'd been through, all the ghosts and curses and spirits, still managed to make her breath catch in her throat.
"Did she sound worried or upset?" Almost worse than his eyes was his voice; deep and fluid, with more than a hint of arrogance, it was all lord-of-the-manor.
"No, actually she sounded like she was laughing. She talked to Lin for a few minutes, though, and he turned a little pale."
As petty as it was, Mai loved it when she could see the hints of panic on Naru's face. When they'd first met, and for a long while after that, she'd thought that he was in control in every situation. It was a long time before she'd known him well enough to read his face even some of the time.
The other workers found it hilarious that, instead of using her ability to read his moods to make sure he was never angry with her, she preferred to use what she knew to annoy the heck out of her narcissistic boss. After all, he had made sure to make remarks on her lack of knowledge and skill in their field from the first day. If she teased him now by baiting him in public, well, then, she figured that it was an even trade. Both of them did their very best to annoy the other.
Sometimes Mai wondered why she enjoyed it so much. She had grown to like her boss very quickly, and by now, it was more than like. However, somewhere along the way, she had finally decided that if she couldn't have his heart, she'd at least have his respect. And if he refused to respect her for her skills, well, then, she would make him respect her as a worthy adversary.
When she'd voiced this thought out loud, Houshou Takigawa, who she called Monk-san, had rolled his eyes and asked if she didn't worry about being fired. He and their resident Miko, Ayako, had cracked up when they realized that the thought of being fired had never entered her mind.
Strangely enough, it had been Lin-san, the stoic full-time worker, who had defended her, saying that Naru wouldn't dare fire her when she had just learnt exactly how he liked his tea. Of course, his next remark, something about her stalking abilities, didn't make her feel any better.
But it was sort of true, she had to admit. Even Masako had given up, stating that perhaps Naru just wasn't the type to fall in love. Mai wanted to give up on him, she really did. It would have been more comfortable if she could just think of him as her boss, or even just as a friend. But no, no matter how much they argued, no matter how little he seemed to care, Mai couldn't help her feelings for the dark boy.
So, she stuck around, didn't leave no matter how much he pushed her, and eventually, she'd found herself…comfortable. It was odd, one look from Naru and her heart would pound, accompanied only by the sound of the blood rushing to her face. However, a good portion of the time, it wasn't the pulsing of what Ayako had, blushingly, defined as 'physical' love that Mai felt, but the warmth that the older woman had said implicated something more real. His presence, for whatever reason, made the part-timer feel safe and happy, even through their battles.
And now, that might be ending, along with her time here.
Sitting back at her desk, she glanced at the papers that had been tormenting her for the past week. Acceptance letters to universities. Scholarships. Everything she'd worked for, no matter how many times her boss called her stupid. All the schools her mentor had suggest had accepted her, just like she'd known they would.
There was only one small problem: accepting any of them would require that she move to another city, meaning that she would have to quit working at Shibuya Psychic Research. She would have to leave the friends who'd become her family, and the work that meant she was helping someone.
She would have to leave Naru.