The set-up: Natsume refuses to share his cake with a starving idiot. A starving idiot with a sweet tooth. Words are Had, Natsume saves his cake by stuffing the whole of it into his face (which, mind you, is quite a feat), and Mikan sees her chance to Have Her Cake and Lick It, Too in the messy aftermath of his cake-shoveling project.

Which brings us to the story:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Without thinking, she closed the remaining distance between them and shortly, cleanly, licked a thin, wet line extending from the corner of his mouth to the middle of the corresponding cheek.

Natsume suddenly went very still.

Across the table, Ruka's eyes were the size of saucers, Hotaru was disaffectedly removing her tea cup from an actual saucer, and Mikan was absently rolling the spongy cake around in her mouth, her face yet lingering near the point of attack as she mulled over the flavor, and, apparently deciding that it was suitably delicious, beamed once at the statue-still Natsume, and plopped obliviously back into her own chair beside him.

Hands clenched painfully around the fabric of his pants, Natsume mulled over a few things, himself, in an attempt to quiet the violent reaction her small tongue against his skin had unwittingly elicited. He tried to pull his thoughts away from the darker, more dangerous avenues in his mind, wherein heinous urges lurked, lending advice that would, at the very least, lose him a best friend, and at worst, gain him a brief stay in the Alice Community Jail. He wasn't entirely certain that his repute meant that he was above the Law, and he understood that said Law typically frowned upon such things as the fervent molestation of haplessly idiotic school girls, most especially in public venues, and particularly in broad daylight.

What was really frightening was that he almost didn't care enough about the consequences to stop himself from standing up, throwing the stupid girl against the shoppe wall, and having his way with her.

He wasn't sure if it was Ruka's presence that held him fast, or Imai's, or simply the (rapidly-disintegrating) concern for the well-being and continued happiness of the object of his more debauched attentions, who was sitting to his immediate right, shoveling tantalizing-looking sweeties into her small mouth, entirely oblivious to the increasing complexity of his plight.

The image of her drawing nearer to him, long lashes shuttering cinnamon-hazel an instant before dreadful, dizzying anticipation sank into his stomach like lead would not leave him in peace. And the split-second (interminable) sensation of that pink, pink tongue rolling delicately across the side of his mouth (at which point the anticipation ripened into Something Else entirely), the curve of his cheek, tasting his flesh, hovering puckishly near his lips as her face melted slowly into ephemeral euphoria, mercilessly teasing him with extrapolated images and sensations of that very same digit curling around his—

Natsume's head smacked against the table top abruptly, startling his three companions into a brief silence.

Ruka posed a hesitant question that Natsume couldn't understand beyond the emotion behind the inflection, Hotaru said something that must have been snide –though, doubtlessly, with more subtle tact than he would ever bother to manage—and Mikan…Mikan, he predicted (with no little amount of horror and outrage), was probably reaching out to touch him (he tensed, his body now taut as fixed wire), in what she would probably figure to be a comforting gesture.

He was going to kill her.

Instead of the expected catalytic warmth of her palm against his shoulder, or head, or (heavens forbid), the exposed part of his thigh, Mikan spoke, her voice somewhere in between joy and confusion.

In the fog of his brain, he discerned that she'd said Someone's name.

Someone's name that wasn't "Hoooootaaaaruuuu!" or "Ruka-pyon!"

Someone who had intercepted her attention and refocused it on someone other than himself.

Someone whowas going to die.

He lifted his head slowly (blinking in the harsh light of the yet-merrily-shining sun), pointedly avoiding looking at the bubbling idiot beside him, and turned his claret glare on Someone he hoped could properly appreciate staring their Imminent Demise in the face.

"Natsume-kun," Kokoroyomi began brightly, and suddenly the fire-wielder went from Very Cross to Very Mortified. "I've brought something for you." Natsume marveled still at how the mind reader managed to pull off such an impressive combination of blithe indifference and perpetual amusement when he was privy to such thoughts as his, but the boy seemed largely unaffected by what had been zipping heatedly through Natsume's skull no more than ten seconds before.

While Koko rifled through his pockets, Natsume espied Kitsuneme approaching from his periphery and mentally swore. Was the whole academy coming to watch him fall apart? All he needed now was for that shadow freak Andou to show up and make some crude remark, and his life would be decidedly complete.

"Ah!" At around the time Kitsuneme appeared by his side, Koko located whatever he'd been searching for, but instead of handing it to Natsume, he spun on his heel and walked behind him to deposit the object on the ground. Then, grinning madly, he turned to traipse away.

As one, everyone at the table turned to behold what Koko had left on the floor behind Natsume.

Kitsuneme chuckled and ran to catch up with his (wisely) retreating friend.

"He wanted to give you a pebble?" Mikan wondered, bewildered.

Ruka, too, appeared to be baffled by the strange gift.

"I don't get it…" He confessed, one blonde eyebrow cocked attractively.

Natsume glowered –if possible—even more heavily than before, and attempted to remember how breathing was supposed to work.

He wasn't sure he could be patient enough to explore all the many, many ways Kokoroyomi could die.

Hotaru smirked.

"Stuck then, are you?"

Get it?

Koko's a dead man.

As soon as Natsume can safely get out of his seat, anyway.


The full version of this story can be found here: h t t p / p h r e n i c - e n t r o p y . l i v e j o u r n a l . c o m / 3 8 0 2 . h t m l # c u t i d 1 (remove the spaces, or clickie the link on my profile page)

I cut out a pretty large chunk of the story for ffnet. The entire introduction, actually.

Mostly because I really feel that it doesn't flow very well, and because Mikan seemed...OOC, I suppose. And there isn't enough lead-in to the climax (the climax being the face-licking), so I just skipped it all and went straight to the event that inspired the Natsume-boner, and subsequently, the very bad pun.