Prompt #1: Midnight: "Nothing is open. Why are we wandering about so late?"
Word count: 2,403
Synopsis: July Prompt Challenge #1. With their graduation day looming closer, the class makes a secret trip back to Central Town for one last hurrah. A night of howalons, promises, and goodbyes under the Sakura tree.
Author's Note: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm back! For now, at least HAHAHA.
Yas (Vanilla Coated Love) and I have been talking about the fandom lately—and lurking like ninjas—and was inspired by your works and our older favorites. Plus, one of our fave authors came back with an awesome new fic.
Since it's summer and we want to get our creative juices flowing, we came up with a writing challenge for this month. Write four stories (three oneshots and one three-chapter story) inspired by four dialogue prompts. At least one story should be a non-NatsumeMikan fic.
Here's the prompt list in case you want to join in on the challenge!
Prompt #1 (oneshot): "Nothing is open. Why are we wandering about so late?"
Prompt #2 (oneshot): "I hate you but I love the coffee you make."
Prompt #3 (oneshot): "That's not the face of someone who should be surprised. Who told you?"
Prompt #4 (three chapters): "Fun fact, I picked this up on the way home."
Hope you enjoy!
"Remind me again why we're doing this?"
It was close to midnight when the high school seniors sneaked out of their dorm rooms to go on one last trip to Central Town. It seemed like a great idea when they were talking about it in the classroom; not so much when they were stuck at the bus stop, wondering how exactly they were going to Central Town without walking twenty miles to go there.
"Are we really surprised this isn't completely thought through?" Sumire asked, crossing her arms in irritation. "Sakura's the brain behind this whole 'go to Central Town' thing."
Mikan made an indignant noise in her throat. "Hey! Don't blame this all on me, Permy! I never said we should go to Central Town in the middle of the night. I only said we should go together again before graduation day!"
Sumire merely rolled her eyes and looked around the small crowd. "Where's Iinchou and Hotaru, anyway? If there's anyone who can think of a solution, it's those two." When she spotted Natsume standing in the corner beside Ruka, Sumire blushed and spluttered, "And of course, Natsume and Ruka, too!"
Before the others could grumble and complain, a vehicle that looked a lot like Hotaru's Pigula III invention suddenly and swiftly made its way to them. The students spotted Hotaru sitting at the helms and Yuu beside her.
"Hotaru, Iinchou!" Mikan rushed to her best friend's side when the inventor and Yuu stepped out of the massive contraption that looked like a crossbreed between a bus and a pig. "How'd you use this without alerting the staff guarding the tech inventions?"
Hotaru patted the pink pig bus. "Meet invention number 433, Pigula X. Its newest function—stealth."
She pressed a button no one realized she was holding and the bus's facade slowly disappeared. Hotaru patted the empty spot where the bus once was and it made a small clanging sound, kind of like when someone slaps their hand on a hollow, metallic surface.
When the class was sufficiently impressed, Hotaru pressed another button and the bus came back into view. She opened the door and gestured for everyone to get in.
The bus was buzzing with excitement as the students talked about what they were going to do in Central Town. While the high energy was infectious, Mikan couldn't shake the heavy feeling she's been carrying for the past few days. After a long talk with the faculty last week, she accepted a position as a teacher's aid in the academy. She'd take online classes for the credits she'd need to become a full-fledged teacher.
It was an exciting endeavor knowing she'd have the chance to help students the way her father once did, but staying inside the academy meant she and Natsume would live apart. She wasn't sure how he would take it, so she kept it to herself.
She told Hotaru to ask for advice, but her best friend wasn't exactly helpful. The only thing she said was, "Are you even smart enough to teach?"
Mikan would have to break it to Natsume soon enough.
"I'm going to buy as much Howalon as I want," Mikan said, forcing a grin. She nudged Natsume. "You want to get anything, Natsume? We don't have to wait in line too long since it's just our group tonight."
"Right now, I couldn't care less," he grumbled, eyes closed as he crossed his arms and moved to find a more comfortable position. "I want to go back to bed."
Mikan stared at his sleeping figure and pulled his head to have it lean on her shoulder. Natsume complied, too sleepy to argue. After defeating the elementary school principal and subsequently dissolving the AA Organization, the academy stopped forcing the DA students to go on missions. It took months to help Natsume cure his insomnia, but the former Black Cat has finally found a decent sleeping habit and Mikan wasn't going to get in the way of that.
He'd just have to wake up when they arrive, of course.
When the students discussed their midnight rendezvous to Central Town the day before, they missed one important detail—everything was closed at midnight. When they arrived, they were welcomed with nothing but darkness.
"This is stupid," Natsume mumbled, moving to stand behind Mikan and wrapping his arms around her. "I could be sleeping right now. We could be sleeping right now."
"Stop being such a party-pooper, Natsume," Mikan said, patting him consolingly on the arm securely holding her waist.
He buried his head in the crook of her neck. "Nothing is open. Why are we wandering about so late?"
"Koko said midnight," Kitsu said, pointing towards Koko who was pulling on Sumire's hair. "We've never been to Central Town at midnight."
"Because everything is literally closed," Natsume said, rolling his eyes, getting annoyed by the second. "With the street lamps and stores closed, you can barely see Central Town."
"Maybe we can go take a dip in that lake we passed by?"
"Maybe you can bite me." Hotaru retorted coldly, and Kitsu and everyone in close proximity save Mikan, Natsume, and Ruka moved back in fear.
"Look," Mikan said, clapping to get everyone's attention. "I know this isn't what we imagined when we planned this, but we can still make the most out of it. How about…uh…"
"We can share our scariest Academy stories," Natsume suggested, and Mikan knew without looking at him that he was sporting a shit-eating grin. "Loser gives their allowance to the winner."
"Absolutely not!" Mikan said, pulling away and glaring at him. She wanted to protest, suggest something else, but apparently, others took Natsume's suggestion seriously. Some were already sitting on the ground, forming a circle, while the others looked around for twigs and leaves for a bonfire.
Natsume blasted a small fire—to which he gained another glare from Mikan—and the bonfire roared to life. Mikan clung to Natsume's side as Koko and the others shared their scary encounters in the academy.
"One time, I went to the cafeteria to get Usagi something to drink," Ruka said, holding a flashlight underneath his chin. "And I saw Mr. Narumi in a sheer nightgown."
It wasn't what they expected, but the group was filled with laughter and a few screams that reminded them of the last time they had this kind of gathering.
Just as Mikan was getting comfortable, a loud noise made her jump out of her seat. The whole class went quiet as they looked around in concern for the source of the noise. Suddenly, Central Town came back to life one street lamp at a time. The fountain worked, stores opened, and the soft jazz music playing on the PA systems filled the air.
It was a little eery the way Mr. Narumi came out of one of the shops wearing a frilly purple poncho and a porkpie hat. "Good evening, everyone! I see you're out tonight."
A few students, including Koko and Kitsu, screamed when they saw the teacher—both in fear and jest.
"Mr. Narumi!" Mikan exclaimed. "How did you find out we'd be here tonight?"
"Why, Hotaru and Yuu told me, of course."
"Do you honestly think Yuu and I would've gone along with this trip without planning?" Hotaru raised her brow at Mikan. "We went to the faculty room as soon as you guys started getting too excited for your own good. If we didn't talk to the teachers, Takahashi-san would've already caught us before we left the dormitory."
"Then why did you make us believe we sneaked out?"
"You guys sounded like you wanted to rebel one last time." Hotaru shrugged. "I think telling the authorities defeats the purpose of 'sneaking out', so we kept you in the dark."
Mikan launched herself at Hotaru and beamed. "Aww, Hotaru! You really do love us!"
"Not really," Hotaru said, shrugging Mikan off her. "I just like it better when you're not whining like a baby."
"So, how is this going to work, Mr. Narumi?" Sumire asked, tapping her foot impatiently. "Can we go around Central Town now?"
Mr. Narumi nodded. "Of course. Central Town will be open until three, so you can enjoy it to your heart's content. Don't tell the younger students, but the faculty has a soft spot for you bunch. And it helps that Mikan is connected to people in high places. So, if there's anyone else you should thank, it's Mikan. The high school principal lobbied for this to happen."
Mikan poked her tongue out at Sumire when she refused to acknowledge her, but the two walked around together with Hotaru, Yuu, Anna, Nonoko, Kitsu, Koko, and Mochu. Ruka went straight to the pet store while Natsume left without even telling the others where he was going. As he usually did, new relationship status or not.
When Mikan was finished looking around shops with the others and buying the things she wanted, which basically consisted of a few boxes of Howalons and some trinkets she'd been saving up for, she left the group and went to look for Natsume. She went straight to the Sakura tree where she knew he'd be loafing around, most likely with a new manga in hand.
Sure enough, Natsume was there reading. She grinned at him and showed him one of her boxes of Howalons as she made her way to him. He merely nodded at her and went back to reading his manga.
Mikan plopped down beside him and read over his shoulder. "The latest issue?"
"Don't make me read it," she said, moving back a little to avoid looking at the comic. "You haven't lent me the previous issues yet."
"You have a key to my room, polka. I think it's obvious you can get whatever you want when you want it."
"I don't want to be rude," Mikan said, smiling sheepishly.
Natsume rolled his eyes. "Like that's stopped you from taking my food at lunch."
"Hey!" Mikan slapped him playfully on the shoulder. "Food is fair game."
Natsume placed the manga beside him and moved to lay on her lap. He rested his arm over his eyes and said, "Says you."
The two enjoyed their solitude together as Mikan played with Natsume's hair. She stared at him. "Hey, Natsume."
She took a deep breath. "I'm staying here after we graduate."
It made Mikan stop with her ministrations. "What do you mean, 'I know'?"
"The teachers told me after I rejected the job they offered me." He removed his arm from his eyes but kept his eyes closed.
Mikan frowned. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"That you knew about my plan, and that you rejected an offer you didn't tell me about."
"I was waiting for you to tell me yourself," he said as calmly as he always did. Mikan didn't know how to feel about it. "And you know I'm getting out of here. My plans have not and will not change. I'm going to Tokyo University no matter what."
She continued playing with his hair. "Are you going to stop me from working here?"
"Do you want to work for the academy?"
"Then no," he said, finally looking straight at Mikan. "I'm not going to stop you."
He frowned. "As if I could even stop you from doing something once you've decided to do it. I should be asking you the question now. Are you going to stop me?"
"I guess it would sound selfish now if I do it," Mikan said in jest. When Natsume's frown deepened, she went on to assure him. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding! I know how much you want to go to med school. And right back at you, you meanie! As if I could stop you from doing anything either. But aren't you worried we won't make it?"
This time, Natsume scoffed. "Polka, we've suffered through worse things and we're still together. We'll be fine. And stop acting as if you don't know I'd give up anything for you. I just know you won't ask that of me."
Mikan forced herself not to dwell on the last thing Natsume said because she knew she'd start blushing and he'd tease her for it. Instead, she said, "What if you meet someone gorgeous? One with big breasts and legs for days. If you want to be with her, break up with me first, okay? For your sake and mine. Hotaru will definitely kill you if you cheat on me, and my conscience won't take it."
"I know what I want and it won't change just because of something as trivial as breasts. You're it for me, polka."
Natsume said it with such honesty and little fanfare that Mikan couldn't even pretend not to be flustered over it. She was about to give him a small kiss on the forehead when Natsume reached up to squeeze one breast and said, "Besides, your boobs are enough. They fit my palm perfectly."
"Natsume, you pervert! I—"
Natsume sat up and kissed her swiftly on the lips. When Mikan didn't fight back, he placed his hands on her cheeks and tilted them to kiss her properly. What started out as small, quick pecks turned into longer caresses and touches until Mikan was putty in his arms. They've been together for more than two years, but Natsume's kisses have never failed to ignite a fire in Mikan's heart.
He pulled away, and without saying anything, handed Mikan a red rectangular box she didn't notice was lying beside the manga. He waited for Mikan to open the box before speaking again. "You're it for me, polka-dots. If we'll be apart for a few years, I'll wait."
For once, Mikan couldn't speak. Inside the box was a simple necklace with a heart-shaped ruby stone. The stone felt warm on her finger when she touched it.
"Your alice stone?" She asked.
He nodded and took the box from her. He took the necklace and said, "C'mere."
Natsume made quick work of putting the necklace on her, then pulled her close to him with her back to his chest, as he leaned back on the tree. Mikan caressed the stone seated safely just above her heart and whispered, "We'll make it, won't we?"
"Stupid," Natsume whispered back. "Of course we will."
So, obviously, this is just a fluffy AU. No deaths (except the ESP and Z), no time-travelling glitches, and no erased memories. Just happy, fluffy Gakuen Alice. Their talk by the tree was inspired by episode 26 in the anime when Mikan asked for Natsume's advice. The horror story-telling scene was inspired by a scene in the manga, too. I think it was when they were cleaning and there was a blackout. A lot of this fluff-piece was inspired by the original work.
I don't know how long I'll be back; all I know is I have three other works you can expect this month. That's all I can promise right now.
P.S. I know it feels short and abrupt, but I was supposed to write a mini-epilogue for this one-shot but I don't know. If I feel like it, I might post a follow-up for this oneshot. I'll try writing it for now and if it's not complete trash, I'll share it with you guys.