By Dragon's Daughter
Rated G
Warnings: Naru/Mai, Spoilers for the light novels, and Naru's own personal traumas. Un-betaed.

Summary: Sometimes popular psychology is popular for a reason.


Naru has only ever truly feared Mai once and that was the day he looked at her and the unbidden thought came to him that Madoka must have been very much like that when she was young.

The idea that one day his assistant might grow up to be something like his mentor, the one person on earth besides his departed twin brother that Naru could never ever win against, quite literally chilled him to the bone.

If anyone noticed that he retired to his office after having that thought and didn't come out for two days, especially not to summon Mai for a fresh cup of tea, they didn't comment on it. Lin never questioned him unless things were rattling on the shelves and Mai was so very inured to SPR by that point that Naru suspected that he would have to destroy a building before she'd start to get nervous around him.

When he did emerge -calm, collected, and perhaps just a little resigned- Mai greeted him with her normal sunny smile and a tray bearing a bone china cup of his favorite Prince of Wales tea with delicate wisps of steam still drifting up from the surface of the brown liquid. The only indication that she might perhaps be slightly worried about him was the addition of a small plate of cookies stamped with tiny smiling faces to the tray. Naru eyed the cookies (biscuits, his Anglophone subconscious continued to insist) as she set them down on the coffee table in front of him and followed it up with a few invoices for him to sign.

"Anything else, Naru-chan?" Mai asked, arms clasped behind her back and clearly itching to do something.

"No." Naru replied and nodded pointedly in the direction of her desk where a stack of filing awaited her.

Mai stuck her tongue out at him and went back to her work. Naru watched her go out of the corner of his eye, unashamedly enjoying the swing of her short uniform skirt as he sipped his tea. Perfect. Just the way he liked it.

If he had it to do all over again Naru might have reconsidered offering Mai her position, however what was done was done. There was no point in being upset about things that it would be stupid to change.

After all, why would he go to the trouble of teaching someone else how to make his tea?