Mai stirred on the couch and opened one eye. Naru stood over her, already in his slacks, his shirt undone. Only Naru could make yesterday's outfit look more than passable.
"Five more minutes," she said, starting to burrow back under the covers.
"Taka-san wants to talk to you."
Mai sat upright, the blankets falling off of her bare shoulders. "Is she here?"
He shook his head and placed the cell phone in her hand.
Mai glowered at him. She had been certain Taka had just walked into the office. She shook her head to clear away the sleep and said "Hello," into the phone.
"Good morning," Taka replied, much too cheerful, in Mai's opinion, for so early. "The streets look clear, so I was on my way out. I wanted to know if you needed me to bring anything."
"A change of clothes would be great," Mai said. She couldn't see herself going to the case in yesterday's clothes. She untangled herself from the blankets and stretched.
"You have a spare outfit in the closet," Taka reminded her. "I had you put it there when you kept ruining your clothes during investigations and stealing my backup outfits."
"Oh yeah," Mai said. "Thanks, I hope they are not too wrinkled." She had forgotten, because she had ended up never using the clothes after she had put them there.
Taka laughed. "See you in a bit."
Mai surveyed the blankets that were clearly occupying only one couch, and her jeans and underclothes piled on the floor. 'A little bit' was going to be much too soon.
Mai put away the blankets and retrieved the outfit that was on a shelf. After getting dressed in the slightly creased knee-length denim skirt and light blue shirt, Mai hunted down yesterday's blouse. She found it outside Naru's office, innocently resting on the floor.
She peered into the office. Naru was silently and quickly working on the paperwork for today's case, which he was supposed to have finished yesterday.
He looked up, and she grinned, earning herself a slightly impatient, "What?"
"It's just funny to see you behind in something," she said. And knowing I was the cause of it, Mai thought.
Mai left before he could answer so she could unite the blouse with the rest of the clothes she had folded the best she could. Mai didn't want Taka to come in and wonder why Mai was carrying it around.
She even managed to make tea before her co-worker arrived. Mai could only imagine how suspicious it would have looked if there had been none made.
But in the end, it was all in vain. Taka entered the office, looked at her friend's bright face, and knew.
Taka's eyes widened and Mai was afraid she was going to squeal in excitement. Taka glanced over to Naru's office, and casually walked over to Mai. She whispered in Mai's ear, "You look pleased with yourself."
"Hu-hush," Mai stammered.
Taka narrowed her eyes. "Details later, then?"
Taka put her hands on her hips. She was too short to look imposing, but Mai had seen over the years what she was capable of when miffed.
Naru stepped out of the office and said, "Mai, I'm going to pick up a change of clothes at my apartment."
"Then we should go now," Mai said quickly, leaping for her coat. "See you later, Taka."
Taka nodded, a faint smile on her face.
Once outside the office, Mai realized that Naru had not actually asked her to come with.
"Uh," she said, "Do you want to take my car? I guess we can just go straight to the case afterwards."
"You'll need to give me directions," she admitted. Mai had only been to the apartment Naru had moved to once, and that had been with Madoka.
The apartment was in a nice, upscale neighborhood. Mai figured she could probably afford the rent with her salary – she just would have to give up necessities like food.
She parked where Naru indicated, and turned off the engine.
Mai felt like she was standing at the brink of something. She didn't know if she was supposed to step back, or jump.
"I love you," Mai said.
"Why?" His tone was more serious than she expected.
"Why," she said, "Do I have to have a reason?" She leaned over and brushed her lips against his, pulling back before he felt he had to respond. "I don't care if you call it love," she said. "That's just what I call it."
Naru opened the door. "Are you coming in?"
Mai blinked at him. "Me, in a place like that? I'm going to feel out of place."
"You're going to want to get used to it. Wait until you see my parents' place."
Her lips parted slightly in shock, and she got out of the car. "Was that an invitation to meet your parents?" she asked, her voice teasing. She had met Martin and Luella multiple times.
He leveled a look at her. "You don't have to worry about that. I think Luella had been planning our marriage since she first saw you."
I guess, she thought, everyone knew except us.
"If I come in with you, we might end up being late for the case," she said.
"I'll blame it on the weather," Naru said.
She looked at the blue sky, and the lightest dusting of snow on the ground. The flakes glittered in the winter sun.
When her eyes came back to him, she realized he was offering his hand to her. She felt the significance of the gesture. She took his hand, slightly hesitant, and then intertwined her fingers with his.
This story was inspired by two songs: Far Away by Nickelback and Call it Love by Poco.
Thanks for reading. ^_^