One week later, afternoon.
"Coming!" Mai called back, and then sighed. Really, Naru was an addict. He drank at least ten cups a day, and she was sure that there was research on the damaging effects of too much tea somewhere out there. Beside, it was the second time he was asking for tea and interrupting her in the middle of reading a very important passage on the Wisdoms of Buddhism for her upcoming test.
But still, Mai couldn't help but smile. After having solved their case and saved the Toyama residence from evil spirits, Naru had finally taken Mai on a date. True, it had been to the Tokyo National Museum, but he was kind and they had held hands while walking and Naru made sure that Mai understood everything, especially the Buddhist concepts. And, as much as she hated to admit it, it did help her in her understanding of the stuff she was currently learning in her Buddhism course.
Mai marked the page she was reading, threw a questioning glance at Yasuhara, who signaled her that he didn't want tea at the moment, and entered the kitchenette. She filled the kettle with water and put it on the stove to boil, pouring the tea into Naru's cup in the mean time.
Mai wished she could have said that things were different after the Toyama case, but in truth not much had changed. Naru still bossed her around and he was still a rude man and a workaholic, but it was him that reached out to hold Mai's hand when they were in the museum and he had smiled three times in one day, so Mai couldn't really complain. Having Naru all to herself after work was well worth putting up with him during working hours.
Her friends, on the other hand, had now taken a completely different approach. Bou-san and Ayako both couldn't stop teasing Mai about the passionate kiss she had shared with Naru during the case. They were so delighted in asking her all sorts of intimate questions that even Naru's most severe glares didn't deter them. John, predictably, was happy for his friends, and Even Lin seemed a bit more relaxed. Yasuhara had joked once (carefully away from Naru's earshot) that maybe it was because Lin didn't have to put up with Naru's moods now that he was a bit happier. Mai privately thought that he might be right, but didn't reveal this to any of her co-workers or her boyfriend. Simply imagining the glare Naru would give her if he ever heard was enough to chill her to the bone with fear.
Masako, predictably, was cool in her attitude towards Mai. She was always a sore loser, Mai knew, but she had also caught Masako looking at Naru and her one day at the office and smiling a little, and knew that her friend would eventually come to terms with the change in the team dynamics. It wasn't as though Mai could blame her, because when she had thought that Naru had chosen Masako, she discovered that she couldn't be happy for them herself. She could only hope that it wouldn't take Masako long to get over losing Naru to Mai.
Naru had explained to Mai what happened with Masako on that fifth night of the investigation, and seemed genuinely surprised that Mai had thought what she did. And if Masako was aware of Mai in the window when she allowed Naru to inspect her scratch, there was no evidence of it in her behavior and Mai wanted to believe that she didn't so she was content with leaving the matter be.
Without that worry in the way, Mai was truly happy. She now really had a part of Naru all to herself, and she was unwilling to share it with anyone else.
She was also happy to have met Asagiri Sanae despite the horrible things she had done, because her own love for Naru felt like it was compensating for the tragic end of Asagiri Sanae's. She and Naru were slowly learning to be with each other in the physical sense as well as the emotional one, and every time they discovered a new way to fit together it was bliss. If he was any normal person Mai would probably be able to relate to Asagiri Sanae's words about rediscovering their love every day anew, but he was not and Mai was fine with that.
It wasn't easy, being with Naru, because most of the time Mai couldn't read him well enough to know whether he had finally truly believed her words about how she felt for him. Nor was it easy to wrestle out of him the admission that he hadn't kissed too many girls in his life and was therefore not as skilled in that area as he was in others. Mai thought that his disgruntled face when he had said that was quite endearing, and the kiss she had given him then was more than enough to make up for the hardships that she knew she was about to face when loving him.
Masako had no reason to be so disappointed, Mai thought when she checked on the temperature of the water. The two of them wouldn't have lasted more than an hour before killing each other. She never really understood how difficult he could sometimes be, and was still looking at him as someone that it's ridiculous to love but a pity to hate(1). Mai was someone who knew how to compromise and when to stand firm on things, while Masako was too much like Naru and was ruled by her pride.
The water finally boiled, and Mai made Naru his favorite black tea before putting it on a small tray and carrying it to his office. She had come to like that smell early on since she always associated it with Naru, and now she breathed it in deep before knocking on his door.
"Enter," Naru called from the other side of the door, and Mai opened it to find Naru standing next to his bookcase and leafing through a book.
"I've brought you your tea, Naru," Mai said and made her way to his desk to put the cup next to his data pad. It was scribbled in his unreadable connected scrawl but some of the Japanese on it Mai recognized as the names of some of the books they had in the reception area and mentally prepared herself for replacing them once he was done. Even though she was now a part time investigator and Yasuhara was the one who did all the administrative work, he was still compiling the report on the Toyama case and Mai knew he would appreciate it if she would do the replacing herself.
"Just leave it on the desk," Naru said without even looking up from the book he was reading. He was so absorbed in it that he hadn't even noticed that Mai had already done as he had asked before he even asked it.
Mai stared. He was still working? It was a very quiet day, even by their standards. There were only a few relatively sketchy articles in the paper, and once Naru had picked the two most promising ones to investigate Mai and Yasuhara made quick work in eliminating the possibility that the rest had anything to do with the paranormal. Knowing Naru, he should have long been finished researching his share, how did he manage to find so many other things to do?
Mai frowned. He was simply trying to escape from saying something polite like 'thank you', wasn't he? There was no way there was so much work to do. He simply didn't want to say things like 'sorry for interrupting' or 'thank you for the effort'. The big jerk. She was his girlfriend, she expect that he would at least acknowledged her tea making services, especially since he seemed like he couldn't live without it. She had, after all, left her studying to brew him the tea. She didn't expect it every time, but once in a while a kind word would be nice.
Mai sighed. She might as well wait for the cherry trees to bloom in August. Some battles were simply lost.
"Mai," Naru called after her when she turned to walk away, and Mai turned back with a pounding heart. Could he-
"You forgot my afternoon snack," Naru reprimanded her lightly, eyes blue and severe when he raised them from the book he had been previously preoccupied with.
"What aftern-" Mai began bemusedly, but was cut off when Naru moved forward and easily captured her mouth in a searing kiss.
No way, he couldn't have called her for tea now only to kiss her, could he? Because that would be… Mai didn't know what that would be because her brain stopped functioning as Naru deepened the kiss.
Having had plenty of practice in the last week, Naru now expertly slithered his tongue into Mai's mouth and flicked it against her sensitive roof before slowly pulling out and licking her stinging lips. Naru knew exactly how Mai wanted to be kissed, and he was now stepping back with a smug look on his face while Mai attempted to get her bearings back and recover from the onslaught.
"It was actually quite delicious," Naru remarked composedly, stepping back to take his tea before settling in his desk chair to smirk at Mai and enjoy the sight of her face rapidly changing colors, not even bothered when Mai finally got her embarrassment under control and slammed the door to his office shut after her when she stormed out.
That jerk was simply unbelievable!
Thank you all who read and reviewed. I hope you enjoyed reading this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it! And of course, once more a big thank you goes to Enedre, my wonderful beta.
(1) A manga reference, and isn't it sweet… poor Naru, with that kind of an attitude he would probably be better off with Ayako.