Title: Riding the Roller Coaster (Part I)
Author: ficeler37
Note: Don't own Mai-Hime. I'll let Sunrise take the credit.
Rating: PG
Word count: 1119

Summary: Sequel of The Challenge. The next day ...

A/N: Hi everyone, I'm back. Wow, I think I'm addicted to writing Shiznat fanfics. Thank you for your support for The Challenge. I hope you'll enjoy Riding the Roller Coaster just as much. (squeal) On with the story ...

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Today is Wednesday, a day that holds not much significance to most people. Yes, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, but today is still the middle of the school week. Most students on their way to school are dragging their feet, wishing that by the time they reach the school building, the day will magically turn into Friday. Just when they think that it is the same old boring Wednesday today, well, are they in for a big surprise …

"Is that Kuga-san walking towards us?" Girl A pulls Girl B over to whisper in her ears.

"That can't be … She is smiling?" Girl B stares in awe of the sight of the blue haired princess whose lips are indeed shaped like a crescent pointing up.

Witnessing the once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenon, Girl A decides to try her luck. It's now or never. You can do it, xxx. "Goo … Good morning, Ku … Kuga-san."

Hearing her name being called by a girl who she does not recognize, Natsuki stops in her track slightly confused. Well, it seems like she knows me though. Oh, what the hell. "Good morning." After the terse greeting, Natsuki continues on her way.

"xxx, are you ok? Hey! Don't fall over!" Girl B is now struggling to support her swooning friend. After making sure that Girl A is not going to fall flat on her face, Girl B looks longingly at the departed figure a couple steps away. Kuga-san is more approachable than usual today. Soooo cool! (Imagine big hearts covering up her eyes)

Coincidentally, a helicopter flies past the clear sky above Fuka High School. The pilot is shocked to see a trail of swaying uniform-clad girls leading towards the high school. What is going on today? Is there an earthquake going on down there?

Natsuki has no idea that her terse greetings towards her female classmates (only female because Natsuki ignored all the greetings from her male classmates) have doubled her fanclub's membership in a morning's time. Not to mention, the previously male-dominated fanclub now has a healthy balance of both sexes.

In class, the professor is afraid to call on her due to her odd behavior. Kuga, smiling, staring at the birds and zoning out? She looks just like a teenaged girl in love … wait, no, that's impossible, what guy will have the guts to ask out the girl who can give people frost bites with a mere glance? This is too weird … did I step into the twilight zone today?

Before you know it, it is lunch time. Natsuki does not notice that she is almost skipping towards the school garden where she will receive her daily bento. I can't wait to tell Mai that I'm hanging out with Shizuru again.

Mai and Mikoto are sitting underneath their favorite cherry blossom tree, waiting for Natsuki. Mai tips her head towards Mikoto and watches her 'pet' greedily finish her bento. Mai gives out a happy sigh and thinks back to her hime days. I never would have guessed that peaceful days like these would ever arrive when we were all fighting against each other as himes. If only Natsuki can find peace in her life also …

"Mai!"

Mai turns her head to the right and sees Natsuki jogging towards the tree with a flushed face. Oh my, someone is happy today. Kaichou must have saved Natsuki's butt just at the nick of time. "What's up with you, Natsuki? Excited about your date this weekend?"

Mai expects Natsuki to show her a revolted look at the mention of going on a date with Takeda. But to her surprise, the shade of red on Natsuki's already flushed face darkens to a new level, and Natsuki has turned her head to the side.

"It's not a date." Barely audible words reach Mai's ears a second later.

"WHAT? You're really going out with Takeda this weekend?" Mai is stunned that Natsuki will have such a girly expression on her face. And of all people, Takeda? Did an evil spirit possess Natsuki while I wasn't looking?

"HUH!" Natsuki swings her head around and stares horrifically at Mai. "Why are we talking about this creep again? Going out with him? Ewwwww." Natsuki wraps her arms around her waist and shudders. "No, I'm going to the amusement park with Shizuru this weekend."

"Oh…Ohhhhhhh! That's great, Natsuki. So I guess Kaichou kicked ass at the pool hall yesterday, right?" Mai nudges Natsuki with a raised eyebrow.

"Yea, she was amazing." Natsuki's mind drifts back to the game and a smile creeps onto her face without her noticing. I never knew that Shizuru could look so cool …Ahhhh, now I'm just acting like one of her fangirls! What's wrong with me? Natsuki's screaming inside her head brings her back to reality. "Wait, how did you know that Shizuru was at the pool hall yesterday?"

"Uhm … Uhm …" Mai realizes that she has nowhere to escape as she is leaning on the cherry blossom tree and Natsuki is standing directly in front of her. Mikoto, sensing the anxiety of her 'owner', identifies Natsuki as the cause. So she grabs Natsuki's ankle and pulls as hard as she can. Mikoto's sneak attack catches Natsuki off guard and sends the blue haired beauty in the air. Natsuki lands on her butt with a thud.

"Ow! What did you do that for?" Natsuki rubs her tender behind and growls at the stuffed face Mikoto. "I wasn't going to hurt Mai, jesus." Natsuki then turns to Mai. "I think you owe me an explanation." The one thing that I cannot just brush off as a sheer coincidence is Shizuru's timely arrival at the pool hall.

"Fine, I admit. I text messaged Kaichou asking her to bring someone who can play pool to go save you. I'm sorry for doing this behind your back. I know that you didn't want me to contact her." Mai lowers her head for fear that Natsuki will be mad at her for doing exactly what she was told not to do.

"Ow!" Mai screams after feeling a pinch on her leg. But the pinch is followed by a soft patting on the sore spot.

"Thank you, I'm glad that she came." Natsuki stares at the pink spot on Mai's leg that she is patting, too embarrassed to look her friend in the eyes.

Delighted that her stubborn friend shows signs of expressing her feelings finally, Mai is not going to let Natsuki get off the hook just yet. "So … do you need help picking out an outfit for your date with Kaichou?"

"IT'S NOT A DATE!" Natsuki's scream echoes loudly in Fuka High School.

TBC.