Smile for Me
One was as stubborn as a mule. The other had the intelligence of a Styrofoam.
Chapter one: Lost
There are only so many times one could accept being rejected, time after time, day after day.
She was so tired. So damn tired.
So, Sakura Mikan washed her hands off Hyuuga Natsume.
Many things have changed since the fateful day a certain brunette had her skirt whisked off by a smirking flame caster and screamed bloody murder.
New school year, splitting of classes and they had taken their first steps into the majestic building that housed the high school division.
Some things also never change, like the fact that Natsume was still in the same class as Mikan, and that Natsume only had to utter a word to get Mikan utterly mad, or the fact that Natsume still insisted on being alone.
Sunlight streamed through from the tall glass windows that graced one wall of the airy classroom. Fans whirled lazily overhead, churning a much welcomed cool breeze that battled valiantly against the heat of summer.
Excited chatter and laughter filled the classroom as the students cluttered in their individual groups, making most of the time they had before the first class of the day started. For these teenagers who have spent most of their lives living together, there was absolutely nothing that they couldn't talk about. And most naturally, the talk turned to the longest standing gossip to circulate the academy grounds.
Academy heartthrob Hyuuga Natsume and klutz Sakura Mikan.
Slouching in one corner of the classroom, Hyuuga Natsume ignored the attempts of several girls trying to make friendly talk to him. Instead, tipping his head backwards, he studied the ceiling above without much interest. It looked like any other ceiling in the school, white and blank. Like his life.
"I heard that Mikan was the one who broke up with him." The whisper carried over the talking of the students.
Natsume rolled his eyes. Inwardly, he snorted in disgust. We were never together, for that matter.
There was no mistaking who the 'him' referred to. After all, the queer relationship between Mikan and Hyuuga Natsume was the subject of much speculation. And why wouldn't it be? After all, she had been the only one able to tease a smile, however small, out of the flame caster and the only female presence he tolerated around him for more than one minute.
And of course, it had brought about the highly entertaining news that they were a couple.
Then, high school had dawned. And Mikan simply stopped being around Natsume.
No one ever knew, and Mikan never talked, simply smiled and changed the topic neatly. Natsume burned anyone who asked.
So it simply remained a rather interesting topic to nimble on, for these teenagers who had nothing more to do, coped up and shut from the world as they were.
The door slid open smoothly, causing some conversation to lull before continuing.
"Hey Natsume." The quiet greeting reached his ears as someone sat next to him.
"Ruka-kun!" The enthusiastic greetings from their female classmates interrupted even before Ruka had managed to get his whole sentence out.
"Ruka." He nodded in acknowledgement before shooting the blonde a look.
Ruka hadn't changed much except for the fact that he no longer carried Usagi around with him. His good looks had matured over the years, even though he kept the boyish haircut. A light blush stained his cheeks as he tried to politely greet all the girls who were falling over their feet to reach him.
"Go away." He drawled out, sending a look to the girls.
In this classroom, just like before, Hyuuga Natsume's words were rule. Subsided, and disappointed, the girls drifted away, leaving the duo alone.
In the relative quietness that followed, one sentence broke through loud and clear.
"Nah, it was Natsume who broke up with her."
Ruka slanted a look towards Natsume, who simply continued staring indifferently towards the ceiling.
"Natsume," He started tentatively as he always does when broaching the sensitive topic about Mikan.
"Don't." The crisp word stopped him.
Ruka never knew what happened between the two of them. He only knew it happened the day he had found Mikan crying outside in the night, under the sakura tree, blood splatters on her night gown.
He was concerned. Yet, all he could do was to stand by one side. And watch.
The door eased open then, and a beaming brunette entered the room.
"Ohayo minnasan!" She sang out jauntily, a wide grin on her face.
At seventeen, Mikan hadn't changed much. Less of a klutz perhaps, still as absent minded as she had been before. Her determination to help others had quickly won over for her a lot of friends and the relentless sense of happiness she exuded was still there, like a gold aura around her.
She headed over to her seat right in front of the ones occupied by Natsume and Ruka, pausing to greet the two.
"Ruka-pyon!" She greeted Ruka cheerfully, still keeping the nickname she had given to him during elementary division.
"Mikan." Ruka smiled back.
Amber eyes trailed over almost hesitantly to Natsume, who was still looking determinedly at the ceiling.
"Ohayo Natsume." Her greeting the flame caster was much more subdued, her smile having waned slightly at Natsume resolute disinterest in her.
Crimson eyes flickered once to her before Natsume nodded once, coldly.
Mikan turned back and sat down in her seat, a shred of sadness in her amber eyes. Almost immediately, a crowd of Mikan's own friends gathered around, chattering and laughing.
Ruka couldn't help but notice the number of guys making up the crowd around Mikan.
Together with time, Mikan had flourished from a flat-chested girl who had her panties seen more times than she could count with her ten fingers to a slender teenager with a beautiful smile. She had allowed her long auburn hair to flow free instead of tying it up in the customary ponytails.
Sakura Mikan was undeniably pretty, both inside and out.
And Ruka wondered if Natsume cared.
"Ruka. Who is teaching?" Natsume drawled out.
"Narumi." Most of the teachers who had been with them through elementary school had followed them up to high school/
Even before Natsume replied, Ruka knew that Natsume planned on skipping the lesson. He knew that Natsume disliked the blonde teacher and had made it a point to skip his lessons.
There was a loud scraping of metal against cement as Natsume pushed away from his desk and marched towards the door.
Ruka followed behind, though he did send an apologetic look to the searching amber eyes that followed their path.
Mikan simply smiled sadly, and watched Natsume go.
"You are staring, Mikan."
The quiet observation had the brunette immediately turn a bright red and issuing a loud protest that one usually gave when one was guilty.
Imai Hotaru, principal student, Student Council Head-candidate simply raised a brow and bit calmly into the soft bread of her sandwich.
They were seated at a white picnic table in a quiet corner of the school during lunch break. Now that they had been segregated into different classes, Mikan insisted on spending what little time they had remaining together.
Usually, their small group consisted of the old elementary class B people, including Iinchou, Anna, Nonoko, Koko, Kitsuneme, Mochu, Sumire and occasionally Ruka and Youichi.
But today, it had whittled down to only the two of them.
"I wasn't staring." The brunette got out adamantly.
Hotaru simply lifted her gaze knowingly to land on an area not far away, where a sakura tree stood and where a raven-haired flame caster sat together with his usual crowd of admirers.
"Really." Hotaru sipped from her cup as she commented uninterestingly.
The blush on Mikan's cheeks deepened and she concentrated on finishing the sandwich she held in her hand.
"Patch things up with him, Mikan. Isn't that what you are good at?"
Hotaru noticed the shred of unhappiness that flirted across Mikan's expressive amber eyes before the brunette forced a smile onto her face and replied, "He hates me."
Hotaru decided the hot tea in her cup deserved to be dumped straight on Hyuuga Natsume's head.
"Hyuuga Natsume hates everyone." Hotaru pointed out matter-of-factly. "Except for that Nogi and Youichi anyway."
"You don't understand Hotaru. He really hates me."
Hotaru had seen the look in Natsume's eyes when he thought no one was looking, staring at the back of Mikan's head as she was surrounded by her suitors. And it wasn't hate she saw.
"He prefers their company to mine anyway."
The 'they' referred to the girls who crowded around Natsume like bees around honey.
Hotaru pondered on whether to tell Mikan Natsume looked more like he would rather take to jumping off a cliff than being accompanied in such a manner.
One glance at the despondent picture the brunette made, Hotaru knew no matter what she said then would not matter at all.
"Hotaru, Mikan, did you hear?"
The excited cry broke through the little tableau. Both glance up to find Anna hurrying towards them, panting heavily as she stopped suddenly, hands palm down on the table.
"Anna?" Mikan prompted, blinking in surprise.
"Didn't you hear? Natsume got a girlfriend!"
A/N: Yup, new story -cowers-. I'll update the others soon :) Tell me what you think )