The movie was fine. A silly romantic comedy where the cold, aloof hero fell for the feisty heroine. Really, there wasn't anything wrong with it. But as it drew to the end and the two shared a final loving embrace, Mai was fed up. Mr. Cold and Aloof had turned into an idiot, all in the name of love, completely abandoning his common sense.
Wait, was she sounding a bit too much like a certain narcissist?
She'd been trying to avoid thinking about him. And she'd been doing pretty well, no matter how much the movie man had acted like such a Naru.
"Mai, is everything okay?" Shinji drew her from her thoughts as they left the train heading back to her apartment. He was frowning, eyebrows drawn together in worry.
She smiled at him. No need to burden him with even more of her problems. After all, she'd already told him about Naru. He'd already said it was fine, and that he could wait. She was trying to forget that Naru the Narcissist existed outside of work. She could grow to love Shinji. "I'm okay. Just thinking about the movie."
"Yeah, it wasn't my favorite either. How come girls always go for jerks like that? He insulted her so many times and she still kept going after him."
This was not something that she wanted to get into with him. Not now. "It wasn't realistic."
"I wish you were right." The way he looked at her, she knew exactly what he was referring to. "Mai, he doesn't deserve someone as amazing as you."
"Thank you." She smiled again, unsure what else to say. This was all unfamiliar territory.
"I mean it. That guy may be good looking, but he's a jerk."
That reminded her, "What did he say to you before we left the office?"
"Nothing particular." After a moment, he added, "It's really better you don't know."
"Of course it'd be something like that," she said through gritted teeth, glaring at the unoffending sidewalk. Didn't the stupid narcissist have anything better to do besides insult her?
They walked in silence again, and when Shinji reached out and took her hand, she didn't pull away. It was fine. Everything was fine.
His hand was really dry, but he held hers loosely enough so that she could pull away at any time. "You're beautiful, Mai," he finally said as they stopped outside her apartment door. "That jerk boss of yours is an idiot for not seeing it, and treating you as he does. You deserve someone nicer than that."
When he leaned in, his eyes intent on her lips, she drew back, shaking his hand off. "I'm not ready for that sort of thing."
"You'll never be ready, if you keep letting that narcissist stand in your way." he ran a hand through his short hair, sighing. "You shouldn't let him suck all the good things out of your life. Weren't you the one who wanted to get over him? Let me help."
Was that true? Was Naru holding her back? Was kissing Shinji really the best way to get over it, though? Well, he was her boyfriend. And she was getting past that tea-loving jerk. And she could already feel her face heating up."But—"
"Please, Mai. It would make me really happy." He looked so sad. What was she supposed to do?
Really, she didn't have to answer, though, because he took her silence for approval, pulling her in and planting his lips on hers.
What. The. Hell.
Her first kiss was supposed to be something magical, wasn't it? But this was just. . . cold. And slimy.
She pushed him away, pretty sure her face was on fire. But seeing his face, she restrained herself from wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. "I told you I wasn't ready!"
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that," Shinji said, his eyes wide. "But you just looked so cute, and I didn't want you to have to think about him anymore."
Mai took a deep breath. It was alright, right? Shinji was a kind person. He was just trying to help. Her discomfort just proved that there was something wrong with her. "It's okay. Just. . . don't do it again. Not until I'm ready."
"He really hurt you, didn't he?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Shinji merely shook his head. "It's okay, I understand. You'll grow to love me. I just have to keep trying." Turning to leave, he added with a smile, "I'll see you on Monday, beautiful girl."
And Mai was left at her door, fuming, blushing, not sure who or what she was mad at, and absolutely hating the guilt knotting in the pit of her stomach.