Shironeko-pyon: Hiya, guys! XD Sorry for the very long wait. I'm busy with all the homework and projects I have to do as a graduating student. So, yeah. (is tired) This is the very last chapter, I hope you guys like it. XP

Natsume: (is forced to read a piece of paper Shironeko-chan handed to him) This wonderful author doesn't own Gakuen Alice or any of its characters. (grumbles)

Shironeko-pyon: Enjoy everyone! x'3

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kiss by the book

By: Shironeko-pyon

Chapter Nine:

Closing the book

It was as if colors were sprinkled all throughout the huge academy as the annual festival took place. Smiles, giggles and laughter filled the festive air of the academe, making the school a bright place. Past events that took place seemed forgotten as Mikan and the others trudged through the merriment jovially. Typically, Mikan pointed and gawked over wonderful items that, unfortunately for her, she couldn't buy due to her low allowance.

As they walked past shops and restaurants, Mikan spotted a very familiar store. "Guys, look! It's the Fluff Puff store! I wanna buy one!"

"Err, Mikan, you don't have that much money." Ruka reminded her. True, when Mikan reached for her skirt's pocket, she only had two rabbits left.

Mikan's lively attitude sank. "This can't be! I've waited for this day and I don't have enough money!"

"Idiot, you already spent your five rabbits on that talking pen that doesn't even have any ink." Hotaru reprimanded her, pointing on a pink pen that was clipped on her skirt's pocket.

Mikan got the pen and held it for everyone to see. "Well, I didn't know that this pen doesn't have any ink! The saleslady told me it does!"

"Didn't you read the tag that came along with that stupid pen? It said it's for talking purposes only," Natsume chimed in, his voice as nonchalant as ever.

Hotaru snatched the pen from Mikan's grasp and looked at it unwaveringly. "I think its even mute,"

"WHAT? THIS DARN THING IS MUTE?" Mikan screamed in skepticism. She just couldn't believe she wasted five rabbits on a useless pen when she could've bought herself a small box of Fluff Puff.

"Seems so. It's been quiet ever since you bought it," Hotaru replied.

Mikan grabbed the pen from Hotaru and threw it while shouting something between the lines, "YOU'RE SUCH A USELESS GARBAGE!"

The pen landed on the foot of a Class A student. Inquisitive, the lad grabbed it and shook it violently. "Hey, what's the big idea?" The pen whined.

"Yay! A talking pen! Wait 'till my friends see this!" The boy cheered not knowing that there were splurges of ink on his school shoes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The group entered the Alice auditorium just in time to see the somatic types' presentation. Unlike before, where they displayed a play about a twisted Snow White, they showcased a movie this time around. Fortunately for Ruka, he was not in it for he refused to do any more embarrassing role switches.

Mikan was happily munching on her Fluff Puffs—courtesy of Natsume—when they sat on their seats. The lights started to dim and the movie started. To their surprise, the movie was a horror one and Mikan frequently screamed whenever there's a monster or a ghost popping in each scene. She found refuge in Natsume's arm, though, as she took hold of it every time there's a scary scene.

The boy didn't protest as he viewed the movie apathetically. When the movie ended, Mikan was somehow bewildered. Where was Sumire's big dramatic scene?

"IT WAS CUT! WAAAH!" Sumire wailed when the group decided to go backstage where she was hiding. "They replaced it with a horror movie instead of my dramatic movie! They told me the horror one would attract even more people inside the auditorium!"

"And it did," Natsume replied.

Sumire sobbed even more. Mikan nudged Natsume's arm. "Don't make her feel even more miserable!" She whispered.

"Well, its okay, Sumire! I think you're acting in the movie was quite realistic!" Mikan comforted the crying lass, remembering how she got fooled by Sumire's dramatic scene.

Natsume together with Ruka started to exit the backstage as the fire caster grumbled something about wasted time. Hotaru dragged Mikan along while the latter was still comforting the weeping lass.

"Hey, Hotaru! That was rude! I was still making Sumire feel better!" Mikan protested as the two reached the boys outside the auditorium.

"You don't have to. It's her fault."

Mikan placed her hands on her hips. "And why is that?"

Hotaru just kept her composure firm. "Because she's a stinky-bag actress,"

The brown-haired lass almost fell.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Alice festival went on like forever in Mikan's opinion. The Special Ability types failed to have an attraction this year because Mr. Jinno suggested (or in their case, forced) a new challenge—if the Special Ability types will be able to make him cry, he'll agree to let them join in this year's festival. And, of course, they failed seeing as though nobody on this Earth knew how to make him cry or had an alice to make him cry.

So, Mikan had no other choice but to stroll around the different attractions for this year's festival together with her friends. Natsume was nice enough to be there for her but; of course, he occasionally insults her or teases her in his apathetic tone. In Mikan's outlook, his wisecracks were inevitable. Though, beneath that name-calling, Mikan knew that Natsume cared for her a lot.

After almost a full week, everything was back to normal. No more streamers, no more shops, no more weird attractions and no more freedom. The whole campus returned to its school-like atmosphere with its lessons and quizzes. For someone as adventurous as Mikan, the days grew wearier and she noticed she'd been seeing less and less of Natsume on the school grounds.

Perhaps, he'd been on those missions again, perhaps not. All she knew was that she'd been missing his annoying face and sarcasm so much.

A giant cloud was covering the resplendent sun, casting a great shadow on the school grounds. It was one of those somnolent afternoons yet again when Mikan decided to take a walk inside the serene campus, holding a book with her right hand. The ubiquitous whistling of birds was slowly driving her insane.

She opened the book and read without actually reading. Her thoughts were scattered and she was too tired to even clear them all. Mikan was supposed to go with Hotaru to Central Town today but the latter's workshop was locked and there was a "Don't Disturb" sign hanging from the doorknob. She sighed as she shut her book close.

This is ridiculous, she thought, why did I even buy this stupid book anyway?

Mikan stared at the title. Instead of buying another self-help guide about love, she bought a love story. True, the book she bought last time was useless. It didn't even teach her what love was generally. It just gave her tips that she didn't even put to use because she didn't even know that was she feeling was love already. Well, some of it, anyway.

So, she was smart enough to buy a love story this time. At least, she would relate to the protagonist somehow. Mikan smiled. She sure felt wise.

But, even with the triumph she got from picking books intelligently, it was still not enough to alleviate the melancholy state she had now. The absence of a boy she hated and came to love was still making her disconsolate. Friends were asking her for the past week why she was woeful. The fact that she was not outside and laughing her voice off was definitely saying something especially for her.

All she would do when asked was smile. A smile that, even for her, seemed out of place.

It's been a full week now. Where is he?

Mikan opened the book again. She leafed through the pages she finished reading and halted at the page she left off. Her mahogany brown pools adjusted to the words written on that page.

- - - -

"Hey, Tsukiyo! Where are you?" Sachi called out in the dense forest. The sun was slowly bidding farewell whilst the clouds parted for its awaited departure. Crickets chirping slowly wafted through the chilly forest air. The lass was slowly getting terrified—its getting really obscure and she still hadn't find the boy anywhere.

The next time they play Hide and Seek, she would make sure Tsukiyo would be it.

"I'm just here, Sachi! Come and find me!" Tsukiyo's voice rang. It seemed his voice was everywhere.

Sachi placed her hands on her waist in irritation. "You've told me that for the ninth time now! Really, where are you?"

"If I tell you, it wouldn't be a game now, will it? I'm just over here!"

Sachi was getting infuriated. "We've been playing this stinking game for like two hours now! Can you like just show yourself, for the love of humanity?"

"If I do that, you'll lose and you'll be it again,"

It was dark now and thanks to the new moon, the sky seemed like a black tapestry sprinkled with sliver dust. The occasional rustling of bushes made every hair on Sachi's back raise. If there's one thing she hated the most, it was being in the forest during a frigid night.

"I don't care! I don't care if I lose nor if I become it again! I just want to see you and leave this scary place!" Sachi felt a tear escaping her azure eyes. The sound of an owl hooting made the poor girl jump from fear. "Show yourself already, Tsukiyo!"

"I'm closer than you think, Sachi!" Tsukiyo's voice rang again, this time oddly closer. Hope prevailed inside Sachi's heart and she began searching all over again. She searched every tree, every bush and every rock she could see through the darkness but, there was still no sign of Tsukiyo anywhere.

"Where are you?"

- - - -

Mikan's reading came to an abrupt stop when she collided with another person. Her book fell and she felt her whole body plummeting on the body she bumped into. In a matter of seconds, they were both on the floor with her on top of the person she had a collision with.

"Really, polka-dots, what's with you and bumping towards me while reading a book, huh?" The boy said, raising a brow at the flushed little girl.

Mikan couldn't believe it. Right here—inside the Alice Academy gallery during one of those slow afternoons while reading a book yet again—she bumped on the aloof Natsume Hyuuga, the very person she was thinking all this time. Fate really was peculiar. "WHERE WERE YOU?" She screamed, tears inexorably free-falling from her pools.

"Isn't obvious, little girl? I've been sent on a mission again," Natsume stated simply.

"Why didn't tell you me? I've been worried insane!"

Natsume just smirked. "I guess I forgot,"

Mikan's brows furrowed from sheer anger. "You dumdum! You deserve to be punched if it weren't for the fact that I'm so tired!" She fired back, standing up and picking her fallen book. Natsume got up as well and took a peek at the title.

"Another love book?"

Mikan grinned. "Yeah!"

Natsume shoved his hands inside his pockets. "Aren't you tired with these things? You do know that you can't learn about love by reading about it through a book?"

"Yes! You learn by experience!" Mikan declared with a determined look.

"Then, why are you still reading about it?"

"Because, Mr. Hyuuga," Mikan said all-knowingly. "Love is one of the many things I don't understand. It's something really unexplainable! So, even though I already know that what I'm feeling is love, I want to know just how strong my love for you is!"

Mikan blushed after saying those last few words. Natsume almost lost his composure and he sure hoped that he wasn't looking very flushed. "That's deep, Mikan. Even for you," Natsume muttered under his breath, loud enough for Mikan to hear.

The lass laughed nervously. "I'll take that as a compliment!"

"I don't do compliments, tangerine panties."

Natsume calmly walked past Mikan while the latter was letting those words sink in. After almost five seconds, Mikan's face grew bright red in rage and embarrassment.

"PER-VERT! COME BACK HERE, FREAKIN' MORON!" Mikan shrieked, chasing after a retreating Natsume.

The two later admitted that theirs was a love-hate relationship. Mikan settled for the Natsume she came to know. After all, the Natsume she came to know was the one who introduced to her the subject she was so perplexed about. The lass contented herself seeing Natsume less and less due to all those darn missions he was often forced to go through. Frequently he was in the hospital or he was always sore but, that didn't bother Mikan. For her, just being with him was bliss enough.

Mikan was still reading books. She developed a certain fondness with romance novels she barely understands. Perhaps it was just her hopeless romanticism acting up. As a born romantic, Mikan Sakura believed, through all she had experienced, the famous childhood adage: The more you hate, the more you love.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Central Town was kind of glum today maybe for the fact that there were a few students who visited today. Exception to that fact were Nonoko and Anna for they were now merrily trudging through the many shops of Central Town.

The two girls, after squealing over awesome items, halted just outside the bookstore.

"I need to buy a new Chemistry book. Come on, Anna, help me look for one!" Nonoko said, dragging a reluctant Anna inside the bookstore.

The bookstore was large enough for Anna to go and get lost in the cooking section. Nonoko sighed and went to the Science section. While browsing for books, Nonoko spotted a pink book hastily placed in one of the shelves in the Science section. Curious of why such a colorful book was in this section, she got it and the title made her eyes widen like saucers.

"Anna! Anna! Look at this!" Nonoko shouted, running at the pink-haired girl.

Anna was bewildered. "What? Did you suddenly develop an interest in pink?"

"No, silly! Look at the title!" Nonoko excitedly placed the book inches from Anna's face. The pink-haired lass read it and she, too, was aghast.

"This is Mikan's miraculous Love Tip book!"

Nonoko nodded. "Exactly! If we read this, maybe we'll get a hot boyfriend like Natsume or maybe even hotter than him!"

Anna's face lit up. "It'll give us tips on how to conquer a handsome dreamboat we always wanted! Oh, this is so exciting!"

"I know! Come on, forget that stinking Chemistry book and let's buy this one instead!"

The two girls hurriedly approached the counter as their thrilled giggles filled the bookstore. Neither of them noticed their teacher stifling his laughter behind one of the shelves inside the bookstore as he watched the two girls paying at the counter.

"I hope they learn a thing or two about love from my book," Mr. Narumi whispered to himself as he gazed at the retreating form of the two ecstatic girls.

Owari

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shironeko-pyon: Tada! I hope you guys liked the ending. Please don't sue me if you're not contented enough, hehe. XD; I didn't know how to patch the ending so, I hope you guys find this to your liking.

Natsume: I don't like it.

Hotaru: Second the motion.

Mikan: Oh, you guys are so mean! I loved it, tee-hee, Nonoko and Anna's scene was hilarious!

Natsume: It's because they're both idiots.

Mikan: They are not! Take that back!

Natsume: Make me.

Shironeko-pyon: Stop fighting, you two or else I'll include a kissing scene in this chapter involving you both! (diabolical laugh)

Mikan: (blushes)

Natsume: (grumbles then shuts up)

Shironeko-pyon: Good. XD Anyway, please comment, shannaro. Suggestions, friendly advices, constructive criticisms and violent reactions are always welcome. :p This is the last so, please comment. X3 I'm gonna miss you all! (huuugs) THANKS A LOT FOR EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTED THIS FANFIC OF MINE! You guys are the best! (: A trillion thanks to you all! I don't know if I'm still gonna write a Gakuen Alice fanfic after this or something but, keep your fingers crossed. If I get bored during summer then, no doubt I shall write again, yosh! Again, Sankyu! Arigatou Gozaimasu! (gives you all love)

Mikan: Aaww! (hugs Shironeko-pyon) I'm gonna miss you! (wails)

Shironeko-pyon: (hugs Mikan back) Itsumo wasurenai, watashi no tomodachi! (wails) Take care of Natsume and you (points at Natsume) take care of Mikan!

Natsume: Whatever.

Hotaru: (plays an overly melancholy song)

Shironeko-pyon: For all those who are kinda confused about the ending, well, it wouldn't be nice if I placed an "I love you," dialogue between Natsume and Mikan now, would it? It wouldn't be very consistent and it would be very OOC. Just imagine if Natsume-kun said that in the series, wouldn't it be very repulsive? I know it would be sweet, but, it would also mean breaking his character. So, I just maintained everything as it is—with the ending almost similar to the first chapter and with their constant bickering. XD Let's face it, if they did end up together (which I know they will) it'll result to a love-hate relationship, don't you think?

If you're still confused, visit my Livejournal. XP Just click my homepage in my profile page. See you there. (: