A/N: Last chapter! This is not really a plot thing, but a little timestamp of sorts that takes place a few months after they get together. A mini epilogue to close things up!
I love this story. I've loved each and every update and working on this plot while making sure I don't end up fucking it up has been as fun as it has been difficult. I have another project planned for GA - hopefully a longer and fuller fic. I have a lot of it developed, but it might take a while to get it all typed up. I feel posting each chapter as I write it is masochistic and sadistic (for you guys) so I'll post it all when I've finished it 3
See you guys then!
October 14, later that same year
"Wait, Natsume, slow down!"
Natsume didn't want to slow down. He was ecstatic, for some fucking reason. This was, after all, the first time Mikan would meet Aoi and he wanted them to get along.
"Hurry up," he snapped in response. She grumbled something behind him when she caught up, and he opened the door for her quickly before jumping over the hood to get in too.
It was some sort of bitter fact that his excitement came out as frustration and anger. He couldn't help it - with all his wishing that time would go by faster and he'd get closer to whatever it was that he wanted, he took this out on others when they seemed to get it the way of it.
He was maybe speeding. Like, a little bit.
Mikan got that annoying, terrified look on her face, but Natsume pretended not to see and kept going, cursing at every red light and every stupid song on the radio.
When he pulled into the Buca di Beppo parking lot, Mikan sighed in relief, and he told her to shut up before parking and running out to open the door for her.
"I don't know, Natsume," she teased as she followed him up the path to the restaurant. "I don't know if I'll like your sister so much if you get this mean when you have to go see her."
"Shut up," he murmured.
He found Aoi immediately upon entering the restaurant, sitting in a booth, slurping her lemonade obnoxiously. He told her to dress nice, but she must have ignored him because she was wearing her overalls and Spongebob T-shirt instead of heeding his request.
She saw him and immediately jumped up, pushing him out of the way to extend an overly friendly hand to his girlfriend.
"Hey!" she greeted cheerfully. "I'm Aoi! Natsume talks about you all the friggin' time." She dropped her voice low to hiss, "It's really annoying. You're all he ever talks about."
Natsume glared at her darkly, but she ignored that in favor of inviting Mikan to sit down beside her in the booth. He begrudgingly sat across from them.
Half an hour in and he was already regretting this whole thing. Aoi and Mikan got along like peanut-butter and jelly and he was feeling bitterly excluded. Aoi made it a point to only ever talk about Natsume if it meant embarrassing him by telling Mikan every horrible detail about every shameful story from their childhood.
"And then there's that one time he peed in the public pool. Daddy told him he could, you know, and that no one would know, and he got confused so he stood by the side and took out his thing and just peed. In front of everyone. That was hilarious!"
Natsume tried to ignore Mikan's snort of laughter at his shame in favor or slurping up more of the soup. He should've brought his iPad or something so that he could distract himself from this sort of judgment.
Aoi was only two years younger than him, but had the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old boy in health class. She was sweet and innocent - but also kind of full of it, and Natsume was really starting to regret this whole fiasco.
Ruka had warned him what might happen. He should have listened to Ruka. He always should listen to Ruka.
Scratch that, telling Ruka that would be detrimental to everyone, especially Ruka. His ego would inflate and he'd go around wearing disgusting frilly turquoise tuxes again.
When their meals finally came around, Aoi and Mikan stopped chatting so much and Natsume was relieved when he saw his girlfriend look up happily to beam at him.
The food was good right until Aoi decided to tell the story about Natsume and the ravioli incident from middle school, and he excused himself to go to the bathroom.
In reality he went to call Ruka.
"I can't do this," he told his friend.
He could already see a stupid sympathetic look on Ruka's face through the phone when he replied, "Sure, you can, Natsume. She's your sister. You know she wants you to be happy, right? Just make sure to stay engaged and it'll all work out."
That was terrible advice. Engagement would just fuck him over. He didn't want to hear what Aoi had to say about him anymore. He "mmhmm"ed anyway, just to appease his annoying life coach on the other end.
"You're lucky you don't have any siblings," Natsume bit out angrily.
Ruka chuckled. "I mean, you're kind of like my brother, if that helps. You know you've embarrassed me on plenty of dates, right? Especially with Hotaru -"
"No, Ruka, you embarrass yourself."
"But she still loves me, you know?" Ruka mused. "So don't sweat it. Mikan likes you just the way you are, embarrassing stories and all. So just go back out there and have a nice dinner with the people you love most. Excluding me, obviously.'
"Why you went with that alien to Berlin in the middle of October is beside me."
"It's her birthday in a couple of weeks," Ruka announced.
Natsume decided he'd had enough of talking about that robot and hung up.
Listening to Ruka was nearly impossible.
It seemed like Aoi was out to get him, talking about every wet bed, every dumb exclamation his two-year-old self had made, every snaggle-toothed smile.
Fuck you, Aoi.
But Mikan made it easier. She just smiled and once even caught his hand over the table.
And that made all the difference.
"Shut up, Aoi" was how he started. Then he worked up to stories of his own. "Aoi peed on the swing in school" or "Did I tell you about the time she ran away on a train 'cause she thought it'd take her to Hogwarts?" and soon Aoi was giving him a death glare instead of the other way around, threatening him to shut his mouth or so help her she'd claw out his eyes.
Nice try, Aoi.
By the end of the dinner, Aoi and Natsume started squabbling over who'd pay - Natsume pinning it on Aoi and vice versa - until Mikan paid the bill without either of them noticing. Natsume scolded her but she shrugged it off and Aoi stuck her tongue out at her, biting out some remark about how much she wanted to get "brother dearest" in piles of debt to make up for embarrassing her tonight.
Natsume thought that was ironic.
Mikan all but made up for that embarrassing evening later than night.