Night has arrived on Alice Academy; specks of light from the moon shine down on the school park, particularly on the trees surrounding it. The lamp posts began to light the compound, guiding everyone who was in the park back for dinner.
Those students gathered there earlier to do their assignments which always keep them until the final streaks of red from the sun depart the sky. The absence of the sun hence darkness, silent signals them that whatever business they're going about, done or undone must be continued at another time or place.
The spacious pond of the school park is now illuminated by fireflies fluttering to and fro while some stay immobile on lilies, giving a romantic effect of lit candles magically floating about. Wonderful this scenery really is, for even a hard to please person named Natsume took satisfaction in it.
It happened that a male firefly was attracted by the light flashes a female firefly sent that it flew away from the rest, emanating a faint but enough glow to let someone notice the two figures under a tree, silhouetted both by the firefly and the light of the moon seeping through the branches of their tree.
The silence that hung in the air when the students left, was merged with the coalesced noises of various insects and nighttime animals. This silent noise is enough contentment for Natsume Hyuuga, who just asked his accompaniment to keep quiet so he could continue his sleep, triggered by the serenity of their current location.
Apparently for Mikan Sakura, being silent is not to be found in her features.
She is a preppy Alice student who still loves those howalons and if there's anything she's famous for, they're her cheerful attitude and quirks that bring her loads of friends. While on the contrary, Natsume is tranquil and serious which made him maintain top of their batch. He also has friends he can count on, most of them he won through their respects and fears for him and they all understand everything about him except for a single thing.
"Oh these fireflies are simply amazing! Don't you think so too?" Mikan finally broke the silence.
"Ngh." grunted Natsume, who disliked to the intent being disturbed in his sleep.
"Is that a no or a yes?" Mikan asked, opening the topic Natsume effortlessly closed.
"Ngh." came another grunt and not his last.
Mikan wished the grunting stop. It's all she ever got since she sat with him under that tree.
'It's unfair', she thought, 'especially when he was the one who asked me to stay.'
Mikan averted her thoughts to the reason ofher presence there. She stayed because his tone was rather a request than a command. And to her, that only meant he wanted to talk. But since he told her to keep quiet, maybe this wasn't what he really wanted.
She tried to work things out in her head earlier. She thought of the facts. So:
Fact One. Was asked to stay.
Fact Two. Commanded me to keep quiet.
Fact Three. Been receiving nothing but grunts.
Fact Four. Had me in this position.
She kept reshuffling the facts in her mind until she finally got an idea.
Maybe he just wanted to show her something.
Yes, that's most likely what he has in store for her. But if she did hit the jackpot, what is that 'something' he wanted to show her?
She shook her head after a few minutes of pondering. She just can't guess what goes on in this boy's mind. She was about to give up when the fireflies began to glow in the dimness around them.
Various thoughts flooded her mind fast. Was this what Natsume wanted to show her? Wait, she's not even that sure if Natsume really wanted her to see something. There might be another reason why he asked her to stay by his side that late afternoon. But what?
It made her mind hurt to think about all of this at once. But she has to make sure because the least thing she wanted to happen was be humiliated. Much isn't even enough to define how much she had been embarrassed publicly and privately. It always has something to do with Natsume for some reason...that's why she definitely had to be certain.
Mikan thought she ought to stir things up, maybe that would get him to talk since she very well know that he's not good with it. It even crossed her mind one time, that maybe Natsume was letting her guess in purpose. And she hated it, because she knows how hard it is to guess. Especially when the subject is Natsume's mind.
That's why she opened her mouth to speak, breaking the silence Natsume yearned for.
But she still received those grunts and they're not even much of a reply so she tried again, feeling a little ticked off already.
"I heard that fireflies emit their light as a mating signal."
He thought that if he pretended he was interested and close it, she would get the idea that he wanted to sleep. 'Or if she's dense enough,' he told himself, 'that would give me at least enough time to doze off'.
One of the few simple things he wanted to chuckle about was the uneasiness of Mikan around him. He knows she's not that dull to figure out that he had accepted her ages ago. Come to think of it, she's not really stupid. It's only that he's smarter than average compared to his batch that are still bedazzled by this truth.
Not too long ago, his wit noticed what Mikan has carefully hidden when she's alone with him. She didn't want to let him see even just a glimpse of her shyness for that's what his fascinated fan girls would give if ever they face their fears and be alone with him.
They have to pluck up all of their courage and win over their petty disputes whether to approach him or not because when alone, Natsume is always asleep, or feigning one to avoid them. And being the number one fans as they call themselves, they very well know Natsume's preferences and whatnot so they keep reminding themselves that being interrupted from sleep is not included in their "Natsume-sama's Book of Wants", published (and sadly, present only) in their minds that swell of Natsume Hyuuga facts.
All this they say, is their love for Natsume and Mikan convinced herself that their relationship is platonic and will not find itself anywhere near what those avid fan girls kept on dreaming.
'No,' she discontinued herself, 'I will not fall in love with him' was her strict rule.
She also believed that she was doing a good job to prevent herself from falling for him, plus the fact that she's just as bashful as those fan girls.
Hoorah for Natsume, because if a bashful person opens a topic and someone closed it, it will take a minute or more to begin another one. Back to his plan, he opened his mouth to speak more about fireflies.
"Some fireflies mimic the light signals of other fireflies, capturing and eating members of other species that are tricked by this mimicry." There was an air of boast in his voice that Mikan never liked.
He often uses this tone whenever he impedes someone. Captivated by her thoughts, the only reply she managed was an "Oh."
Natsume realized that he has won and started forcing his ears to lose their senses for hearing is the last sense to stop before completely falling asleep.
While Natsume was catching his opportunity, a Photuris female firefly just devoured the same male Photinus one that gave Natsume and Mikan a faint glow awhile ago.
Mikan shivered as she felt the cold autumn wind greet the park, which caused the leaves with the color between red and yellow separate from their branches. They fell on the pond and made rippleswhichsurprised a few fireflies that they flew away, along with the disturbed ones (because of the surprised fireflies and unavailability of more female kind they can mate with) to find more females around.
Natsume was only at the third or second stage of falling asleep when Mikan gave a felicitous cry.
Thoughts like 'Is this what he wanted to show me?' or 'It's wonderful!' and even 'Why is he showing me this?' flashed in her mind abruptly.
Mikan couldn't help but give a dainty smile after realizing that this is what he really wanted to happen. He wanted to show her something and this is exactly what that 'something' is.
She didn't mind the position right now and decided to continue watching the little show the fireflies managed. She felt flattered because Natsume chose her to see this. It's only proper to show her gratitude since hey, it's one in a thousand days when Natsume is as thoughtful as this.
Natsume tried to hold on to the station but Mikan's squeak was like a spike that even his sense of touch awoke. He gave up and opened his eyes which wanted to shut so badly. What useless thing would make her this excited? Again?
Natsume had known her for screaming his and everyone else's ears out because of her narrowness for stirring up the emotions of pique over minor happenings and unimportant things which to her perspective, were wonderful and magical. That's why Natsume prepared himself to be reduced into more chaos than he is in ruins now.
His unbolted eyes shifted sheepishly from Mikan and to the cause why she sent that shrilly cry to his senses that infringed his half-awake state.
The fireflies glittered in the dimness, finally revealing the sixteen year olds sitting under the tree. Natsume is resting his head on Mikan's abdomen, his body flat on the grass and in between her pair of legs. Mikan has her back on the trunk of the tree, awed by the glossy feat of the fireflies.
Natsume half-opened his mouth in disbelief. 'Surely there are shows like this back to that rural place of hers,' he thought, very much annoyed now. He wasn't that prepared at all then, maybe because he was already irritated that time. He disliked this very much and wanted to get his rest.
And he knew he always gets what he wants, no matter what or who stands in his way.
At least that was how it looked like before Mikan was accepted in the academy…and as much as he detests recognizing it valid, his life.
Just what is that devious doing of hers that reclaims his way of doing things?
Natsume knows what it is; it's just that he's too stubborn to admit it. And because of that querulous feeling, as he always noted, recidivism is not likely to occur. He abhors it, but deep down he knows nothing can tear him away from it.
It is also because of this sentiment that he decided to just shut up and find another way to sleep. This was another good chance for him to snatch a natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which bodily (including Alice) powers are restored.
Great chance indeed.
He need not open his eyes to know why he couldn't sleep. He was just as dense as her. Why didn't he notice her small frame quivering? Was the autumn breeze harsh? He was too busy pinpointing the way to acquire his repose that he didn't notice these.
If she is cold, all he has to do is set a miniature furnace to warm her up. He is an Alice of Fire after all and a bonfire is not much of a chore.
He smirked, for everything is happening his way now. It's as if he's hitting two birds with one stone.
With his flames, he and his talkative pillow will be warm and the lion's share: he finally gets his sleep. He was about to manipulate the blazing flames within him, when a sudden frustration crept up to him.
He just remembered giving free rein to Mikan's obstruction within his life and one of the things she affected (or to Natsume's choice of words, infected) him with, was to swear to keep his promises. Just by realizing this, his plans dissolved into nothing, just like a sugar cube. He's not going to have his forty winks after all…
"It's gotten colder hasn't it?" Mikan spoke, stroking Natsume's dark hair. Natsume was already irritated that he thought Mikan was patting him. It made him feel as if he's a cat (a black one of course) and by that, he only had committed to memory his failed attempts to do what cats usually do…nap. He unsheathed his eyes and muttered "That's it," in his breath.
It was only a second after he swore he'd make her compensate when he grabbed her caressing hand and began delivering his scheme.
"Oi, shut up already. I'm trying to sleep."
"I said I'm trying to sleep. What do you think this position is for in the first place? Dense little girl."
Mikan was taken aback with his iniquity. Is this what he really wanted? She blushed fiercely as she blamed herself for thinking of such impossible things earlier. Mind the position she considered to keep when she thought he was being thoughtful.
She felt so mortified that she was ready to stir up a hornet's net to make Natsume take back what he held. He had cast the first stone and she'll do him a favor by flinging it back.
But then she never wins any argument with Natsume that she began to think about her already low ebb. She knew skirmishing with a bully was not worth the candle, but Natsume had already double-(triple, quadruple, who knows?) crossed the line.
She has to mend him and force him to wear sackcloth and some ashes. Yes, this is the only method to halt him to sow wild oats.
"Move," she gave him a nasty shove but Natsume appeared unaffected.
"No." was Natsume's firm answer and Mikan felt him tighten his grip of her hand. She still refused to yield.
"Oh yes you will. Stop being a sour grape; I'm already cold-OW! Let go of my hand! I demand you return it now!" And Natsume did as he was told. Mikan nursed her hand which was warm now, thanks to her adversary's grip. She was about to push him away when she heard him say something.
"I can't warm us up because you very well know that Alices are off limits here." As he alleged this with an icy tone, he laced his hands and settled them above his stomach.
"So you follow rules NOW?" Mikan spurred in a teasing voice.
"It's not my fault you asked me to swear to abide by them." Natsume spat, now shutting his eyes. Mikan's mind was racing and her thoughts were struggling. What's up with him now?
"Look, why don't you just go back to your room? No noise will disturb you there for sure." Mikan replied, now with a calm tone. She just noticed that she wasn't wintry anymore, much to the effect of that distinctive heat he gave off with that grip of his.
"My beddings back there may be hushed, but they don't give much warmth as you do." Natsume said while rising from his position, which resulted into a sit.
If it was only a little brighter, the pink tinge that garnished Mikan's cheeks would evidently show. Natsume and Mikan both knew who lost this discussion. Mikan gave an exasperated sigh. Natsume rode a higher horse again.
"Oi," Natsume called, turning to see Mikan's face. They both gaped at each other's eyes and only one has blushing cheeks. And then something happened in a quick succession. Natsume pinned Mikan to the tree and pecked her lips gently with his.
"That's payment for not letting me sleep." With that and Mikan's puzzled look, Natsume stood up and strode off for dinner.
Natsume thought that this wasn't his unlucky day after all, because even though he didn't get his sleep, he still got something in return. 'Even better than sleep,' he mused.
Mikan stayed there, retaining that quizzical look. She swore she wanted to curse him but she can't even find her voice to call him names. She reached for her lips and as she touched them, she was reminded of the sensation that Natsume bestowed upon her. She could still feel the blood rushing to her cheeks and finally located her voice that seem lost just a split second ago.
"Pervert." she bawled, disgusted with herself and her erroneous thoughts earlier.