Madness # 9 : Aoi-chan's 7th birthday

I gazed at my image on the mirror. I sighed as I stared at myself wearing a pair of light blue jeans, white sneakers, and an oversized, plain, white shirt with a plain, dark blue, zip-up, sleeveless hoodie jacket over it. I grabbed my wig and shoved it in my backpack. Afterwards, I headed out door.

"I'm going out!" I yelled as I wore my shoes and got ready to head out the door.

"Where are you going today? To the mall?" my mom asked as she came out of the kitchen.

"No, to a friend's birthday party."

"Oh! Do you have a gift for her already?" she asked me.

"Uhm…no, I forgot."

She placed her hands over her chest and gave me a stern look. "You know you shouldn't go to birthday parties if you don't have a gift!" she scolded.

"I know. I'll buy one before I get there," I replied and exited.

Okay, so I forgot to buy Aoi a present. I took a cab to Town Plaza, since it was the only place along the way to Natsume's house. I had the cab driver wait for me, while I ran towards the café and ordered a box of gingerbread man cookies wrapped up. Afterwards, I headed to the Hyuuga residence. On the way there, I took out the wig from my bag and put it on. I styled it with an ordinary hair gel, and I was set for the party.

When I got there, I noticed all the maids were lined up on the front door. I stepped out of the taxi, and they ushered me in. One of them told me that Natsume was already in the garden, looking over all the preparations. I haven't been to their garden, so a maid led me there.

Men carried balloons, while the ladies tied them to the chairs. The tables were covered with pink tablecloth, and the plates and utensils were set as well. There were vases of fresh and colorful flowers on the tables too. There was a small stage that was designed with a pink chair, with balloons surrounding it, and yards of pink and purple fabric. The place looked like it was ready for a big garden party.

"What took you so long to get here?" Natsume suddenly barked at me.

"Sorry, but I lost track of time," I replied simply.

"Here," he said, shoving a piece of paper on my shoulder. "I gotta go dress up. Make sure everything is ready."

He left me with a piece of paper that was the checklist of the items needed in the party. The boxes of cupcakes were delivered and set-up along with the birthday cake. I assured that the sound system was working perfectly well; the food and waiters were ready for the guests, and everything was okay.

Soon, the guests started coming in. I glanced at my watch and wondered at the same time what took Natsume so long to get dressed. Anyway, I decided to look for Aoi in the house. I made my way up the stairs and into her room. I knocked on the door, and she opened up for me.

"Onii-chan?" she questioned.

"Happy birthday!" I greeted ecstatically. "So, are you ready?"

She smiled and let me in her room. "I think I am ready!" she replied, excitement obvious in her voice.

"Well, you are looking very pretty. You're just like a princess, Aoi-chan."

She twirled around and placed her hands on her hips. "Shall we go?" I asked her.

She extended her hand to me, and I held it. We exited her room and made our way down to the party. There were children, boys and girls, running and playing around the venue. There were also adults, probably the parents of the children, and teenagers, maybe the siblings of the children. I left Aoi at the garden entrance headed for the stage to grab the mic.

"Guests, please welcome to Aoi Hyuuga's 7th birthday!" I said. That moment, the children were being hushed by their guardians. "I'd like you all to meet our princess, our celebrant for the day, Aoi!" I added as I flung my left arm onto Aoi's direction to welcome her.

She walked down the aisle and onto the stage. I had her sit down on the pink chair. "First of all, all children please go to the stage area," I announced.

The children gathered noisily to the stage area. I could tell most of them were excited already. "Everyone, our first game is "Bring Me" !" I told them.

The children became extremely noisy and ecstatic about the game. It took me a while to calm them down. I explained the mechanics to them, and then started the game.

After two more games, I decided that everyone should eat already. "Okay everyone, that wraps up the first part of the party. Guests, I implore you to help yourselves to the food. Afterwards, we'll be going on to the second part of our party," I announced.

Aoi tugged my pants lightly. I looked at her and asked, "What is it?"

"I'll be sitting with my friends over there," she said, pointing to a table.

I smiled at her. "That's great. Would you like me to help you get some food?"

She nodded her head in reply. I looked around, strangely, Natsume still wasn't around. I grabbed a plate and had a waiter fill it up with every food item available. Afterwards, I accompanied Aoi to her table, and I headed out the garden.

"Have you seen Natsume?" I asked the maid.

"No, sir. I haven't."

The first thing I thought of was to go to his room. I opened the door and saw him laid down on his bed. He suddenly sat up upon realizing that someone just opened his door.

"Knock," he said.

"Oops," I muttered in embarrassment. "I forgot."

I took a few steps towards him as I asked, "What's taking you so long to go downstairs? The party started half an hour ago!"

He then glanced at the wall clock, "I lost track of time."

"What have you been up to?" I asked, anticipating a reply. The reply didn't come though, and I took a few steps towards him and looked around. I noticed notes on the table about meetings and all that. "Cut yourself some slack; it's your sister's birthday!" I told him.

"Otou-san forgot it was Aoi's birthday today," he told me, as I saw him take ahold of his cell phone as if he was attempting to crush it into a million pieces.

I sighed. "My father left us when I was 10 years old. Since then, he never ever greeted me 'happy birthday' again. Naturally, I was devastated. However, I was even more devastated when I found out that he took half of our savings to run off to another country. "

He turned to his study table and placed the cell phone on top of it. "I could tell that Aoi is already sad with the fact that her dad isn't here. The last thing Aoi needs today is something to make her feel even more devastated because her father even forgot her special day."

I turned the knob and decided to exit the room. "I'll see you downstairs." With that said, I left.

I returned to the venue and somehow, I lost my excitement. I hated remembering and dwelling on the past memories of my father. I wasn't angry at him for some reason, but rather, I was so disappointed and heartbroken. I just couldn't accept the fact that of all the people I would trust, he had to betray not only me, but my mom as well.

I felt someone lay a hand on my neck. I turned and saw Ruka. "I'm not that late, am I?" he asked.

I turned my frown into a smile and replied, "Not really."

He placed his hands on his pockets and looked around. "Where's Natsume?"

"Here," Natsume replied, coming out of the door.

"You guys should start eating," I told them, grabbing a plate for the three of us.

After we got our food, the three of us settled down in an empty table and started eating.

"Natsume," a girl said.

The three of us looked at her. She was just so…pretty. She had long, brown, wavy hair tied in a half-ponytail, cherry red lips, and fair skin. She wore a white, flowy dress and a pair of silver heels. She looked really rich or at least just about Natsume's level of standard.

"Sophie," Ruka blurted out.

Who is she? I thought to myself, gazing at her elegance.

"Ruka, it's been a while," she answered coolly.

"What are you doing here?" Natsume asked, with a slight hint of irritation in his voice.

"Well, our sisters are friends after all. In addition to that, our families happen to be friends!" Sophie replied, stroking her long, elegant hair.

"Mikan Sakura?" I heard a male voice call, or rather, ask my name.

I looked around and saw Reo Mori along with his manager and bodyguards at his side. I didn't want to leave the table, I wanted to know more about who this Sophie was. However, "Excuse me; I have something to attend to," I said, standing up and leaving the table.

"Mi-kan." Reo greeted, trying to sound loving and cute.

I bowed down and said, "Mori-san." And I greeted this manager and bodyguard as well.

"Are we late?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Not at all." Some guests started diverting their attention to us; I quickly grabbed Reo by the shoulders and pushed him into the house.

"What's wrong?" he asked, smiling.

"You're supposed to be a surprise for Aoi-chan!" I answered, placing my hands over my chest.

"What time do I come out then?" he asked.

"I'll be starting the second half of the games now. After that, I'll be picking you up here."

"You'll escort me to the stage?" he asked with a grin.

I rolled my eyes at him, "Yeah, whatever. For the meantime, I'll have some waiters attend to you." I turned my back on them and sighed. Honestly, Reo was starting to creep me out. I'm not sure why though.

On my way to the stage, I couldn't help but glance at Natsume's table. Sophie was already sitting down on the seat next to Natsume. They were talking, well, mostly Sophie was. I grabbed the mic and tried my best to be in a hyper mood.

"Alright everyone, it's time to play the next game. Brace yourselves! It's going to be challenging and fun!"

The second part of the party ended and I hurriedly walked back to the house to fetch Reo Mori. "I'm sorry if I took so long," I apologized.

"It's no big deal," he replied as he stood up from the couch.

"What are you going to sing?" I asked him.

He held my chin and winked at me. "Just you wait," he said.

"Stop that!" I yelled, pushing his hand away. He pouted a little, and I have to admit, he's not bad looking. He was actually really cute, although the things he did to me was a total turn-off. Especially since he sees me as a guy.

"Mikan?" he called.

I walked with him to the stage. The teenagers shrieked upon seeing him. They called out his name with an "I love you!" or "Reo! Daisuki!" following afterwards. I grabbed the microphone once more and introduced him. I took a deep breath and smiled, "I could tell that everyone in here is such a fan of Reo Mori! Well then, I won't let myself get in the way. Let's all welcome Reo Mori!"

I gave Reo the mic and walked out of the stage.

"Thank you, Mikan," he said. "Now, I understand that the birthday girl is a big fan of my music?" he questioned.

"That's right!" Aoi shouted with glee.

Reo chuckled. "Well then, what's your favorite song?"

"Kiss Me, Baby!" she replied.

"Alright then, happy birthday Aoi-chan! I hope you enjoy this!" he responded, as the music started playing.

Teenagers and kids flooded the space right below the stage. They loved Reo Mori. They sang along and danced with him. I headed to my table, sitting beside Ruka.

After a few fast songs, Reo introduced his new song. "I'd like to introduce to you my new song. It's my first time to sing it in front of an audience. Everyone, I hope you enjoy my new single, Smile."

"I never knew Aoi liked Reo Mori," Ruka commented.

"I had no idea either until I heard it from Natsume."

"Ne, Natsume. You'll dance with me, won't you?" I heard Sophie ask him.

I took a glance and anticipated Natsume's answer. "Won't you?" Sophie asked again, pouting her lips and giving him her version of "puppy dog eyes".

Okay, first of all, seeing it live and just a few centimeters away left me thinking only one thing.

Yuck.

Natsume stood up, and they headed over to where the guests were slow-dancing. I looked at Ruka and said, "I can't believe Natsume said yes to her!"

He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "I guess it was out of respect, Sophie is Natsume's ex-girlfriend."

"Ex-girlfriend?" I clarified.

"That's right. They broke up about last year, I think."

I stood up after he said that. "What's wrong?" he asked me.

"Wanna get some dessert?" I asked him with a grin.

Ruka and I grabbed a piece of cupcake each and didn't even bother to use a plate. The two of us just stood beside the buffet table, watching the people dance to Reo's heavenly voice.

If only I could tell you, what your smile did to me.

It ripped my heart out of misery.

I don't even know if what I'm feeling is true,

But all I know is, your smile made me fall for you.

My eyes landed on Sophie, wrapping her arms tighter around Natsume's neck. I unknowingly grabbed another cupcake and took a big bite, savoring the chocolate filling inside. I then noticed Natsume wrap his arms around her waist. I clenched a fist, not minding the cupcake I was crushing in my hand.

For some weird reason… actually, I really don't know. I wanted to take my wig off and kick Sophie out, taking her place with Natsume.

…. That didn't seem right. I must be high on sugar.

I'm such an idiot.

"Uhm…Mikan, your hand," Ruka told me, staring at my chocolate and purple icing-filled hand.

"I know!" I impulsively said, as I unknowingly whammed my stained hand at his face.

I gasped at what I just did. "Oh no." I gulped. "I'm so sorry!" I added, bending down to ask for forgiveness.

"It's okay, Mikan," he said.

I stood up, and then he suddenly shoved a new cupcake directly at my face.

We both wiped the chocolate (well, at least tried to) off of our faces with our hands. Then, we both grabbed hold of another cupcake from the buffet table and started hitting each other. The music suddenly died and Ruka and I stopped to look around. Everyone stared back at us, and we felt more embarrassed than ever.

"It's a cupcake fight!" Aoi declared as she came running to the buffet, grabbing a cupcake and hitting her friends.

I laughed out loud when I saw Aoi got hit by two cupcakes at the same time. Ruka and I laughed even more when the two of us were hit by others we didn't even know. The party had turned out to be a really messy but fun one. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw Sophie got her clean white dress ruined by the multiple colored icings from the cupcakes. Natsume though, looked obviously bored and indifferent with what was happening.

When the party was over, all the guests went home sticky, with the tracings of icing and chocolate on their clothes and faces. Well, all of them except Ruka, Sophie, her sister, and Reo had gone home.

"I sure didn't expect that to happen," Reo suddenly told me, as he crossed his arms over his chest.

I placed my hands together as I said, "Gomenasai! I really didn't intend to ruin your performance, honest!"

He placed a hand on my cheek, wiping of the traces of pink icing. "It's alright. The song was about to be over when the cupcake fight started anyway."

I pushed his hand away. "Sorry, Reo."

A smirk etched on his face, "You're not into this are you? You're straight, and I bet you have a girlfriend."

I chuckled, "Oh no, I don't. I'm not in any relationship."

Well, am I?

Does pretending to be Natsume's gay lover count?

Duh, Mikan. Of course not. That's why it's PRETEND.

Sheesh.

"Then you're just not into this." he concluded. He sighed, "That's such a shame. However, you should be honored that a guy like me likes you. It's a rare chance that I run into a boy and get attracted to him."

I bit my lip and my fingers fidgeted. "Gomenasai…" I said, almost in whisper.

"It's fine," he replied with a smile. "But you know, there's just something about you… that makes you too cute to be a boy."

I got alarmed when he said that. "But oh well, I guess you just really happen to be a pretty boy."

"Mori-kun!" his manager called him.

"Until next time, Sakura-chan," he said, walking away.

I sighed and decided to head for the bathroom to wash up. I bumped into Sophie's sister, who was also on her way to the bathroom. Minutes later, I decided to check out on Aoi, who was opening presents with Ruka. I passed by the living room and saw Natsume kissing Sophie.

Natsume. Kissing. Sophie.

I stopped on my tracks, and as if right on cue, Natsume pulled back from the kiss. You know the live street shows that you couldn't help but stop and stare at? Well, this was like one. I gaped at seeing Natsume kiss a girl, more importantly, his ex-girlfriend.

EX-GIRLFRIEND.

THERE'S A REASON WHY IT'S CALLED "EX", SO WHY WERE THEY MAKIN' OUT?

"What?" Sophie asked me with a big grin on her face.

"No-thing." I replied as I marched my way out of the room.

"What's wrong?" Ruka asked, as he saw me seemingly frustrated.

I sat down on the chairs with them and asked, "Didn't you say Sophie was an ex-girlfriend?"

"That's right," he answered.

My eyebrows furrowed. "Then why were they just making out?"

Then, someone slapped the back of my head. "We weren't making out, stupid."

It was Natsume. He pulled a chair and sat beside his sister, who was opening presents. "Aoi-san, thanks for inviting me!" Sophie's sister yelled.

"Sure!" she yelled back with a smile. "See you in school!"

"I'm gonna get some more presents!" Aoi beamed as she bounced over to the stage, getting ready to search for big boxes in the pile of gifts.

"You were making out with Sophie?" Ruka asked Natsume.

"I was not," he answered.

"He was. I saw him."

"She kissed me," Natsume told us.

Ruka smirked, "So she wanted to get back together?"

Natsume just looked away. "What did you say then?" he asked him.

"No."

"Why not?" I asked him.

"Because. I have a gay lover, don't I?" he replied nonchalantly.

"It's not like it's real!" I yelled at him in defense, but actually, I felt the muscles on my mouth closely form a smile.

"Right, but you're still my excuse for driving away stupid ex-girlfriends like Sophie. So, you still come in handy."

"Didn't you fire me?"

"You're hired again."

"What?! You can't just fire me then hire me again!" I complained.

"You're HIRED," he enunciated.

"I am FIRED," I barked back.

"I'll double the salary."

Suddenly, I felt the rush of the "Hotaru Sickness". I call it Hotaru Sickness when I get the urge to think of dollar signs in my eyes.

Double the salary means saving up for college money faster.

Double the salary means getting to buy things that I want, not just because I need it.

I bit my lip. It only took one word to seal the deal. However, I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. Oh well, WHO CARES? I NEED IT ANYWAY! And of course, I want to continue seeing Aoi and Natsume.

Scratch the Natsume part… I think.

"F-f-fine," I stammered.

"Oh, and STOP flirting. The media's going to doubt "our relationship" if they see you flirt with another person."

I crossed my arms over my chest, "I do not flirt!"

"As if. I saw you with Reo," he replied.

"… and it's not like there's a MEDIA PERSON in here!" I blurted out.

"… just shut up." he replied, crossing his arms over his chest as well.

Ruka chuckled. "Wow, you two get along pretty well!" he jested.


Author's note: So how was it? Hope you liked it. I hope you guys leave a review as well to let me know what you think. Sorry to post it so long, I've been busy with my summer job and theater classes. So, I'd just like to thank the people who reviewed the last chapter. I'm also glad that you guys liked the previous one. I hope this one too. I will try my very best to update soon! Till next time!