Disclaimer: I don't own Gakuen Alice or Febreze. I am, however, the proud owner of the Encyclopedia Amazingia, and will give out a free page to anyone who feels so inclined to plumb its intellectual depths.
Written for crimsoneyes44.
One o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, and Mikan Sakura was studying. Most of the other students in the school felt it more appropriate to play football, or sunbathe on the field, or sneak out to Central Town and go shopping, but no. Mikan was studying. She had just found the perfect place for revision a few days ago, and she was determined to put it to some use and get some good work done. So she sat down on the nearest crate, took off her jacket, and opened her revision guidebook. Today, the rest of Chemistry and then the start of Biology.
"Boo," said Natsume. Mikan screamed.
"Natsume! What are you DOING here?" she shouted once her heartbeat had slowed a bit. She was in the super secret studying room, for crying out loud! The one place where annoying people couldn't find her!
"This is the broom cupboard where Luca's bunny got lost, so I'm trying to find it," said Natsume in a bored tone.
"Oh. That's nice of you," said Mikan. Although she was normally a talkative sort of girl, at the present moment she was too busy trying to figure out if there was any difference between a melting point and a freezing point to be in a chatty mood.
"Yeah. I am nice, you know, uh-" he glanced over at her and scanned her body, "-banana-print."
"What?!" said Mikan after approximately five seconds, as she was rather distracted by her textbook. "How did you know?"
"You always wear matching underwear and I can see your bra through your shirt," he replied with a rather smug smile. Mikan felt like punching him.
"Hurghhhgh..." she grumbled. "Look, Natsume, I'm trying to cram for the science exam on Monday! If I get below 35 percent again, Misaki-sensei's going to actually kill me this time! I promised I would get a D at least..."
"You got below 35? Moron. And hey, you started it."
"I'm not a moron and I didn't start anything! Did I?" she paused, thinking about it. "Whatever! What did you get then, O great one?"
"Didn't do it," said Natsume, kicking aside a few mounds of material. For a broom cupboard, it was pretty large.
"That means you got zero," Mikan said, sticking her tongue out at him.
Natsume hmph-ed with a hmph that meant, 'Your thoughts are so immature and idiotic that I'm not even going to bother replying to that.'
"Anyway," said Mikan, going back to her science textbook, "I think you should stop looking at my bra and underwear every time you see me. Do you think that's cool or something? Because it's not. It's stupid."
Natsume pretended to consider that. Then he said, making sure to inject the right amount of sarcastic drawl, "Ohhhh. I get it now. My devious molester ways have been changed for good."
"Get what?" Mikan did not like multitasking. It was incredibly confusing. "And you know Hotaru thinks it's a sign of affection."
"Huh, come on, banana-girl. It's not like I have any interest in going out with someone like you."
"So who would you go out with?" said Mikan absentmindedly, trying to concentrate on what the phrase 'ionic bond' meant.
Natsume was saved the bother of having to say something scathing to Mikan by the door bursting open to reveal Luca, looking very flustered.
"Did you find him?" he said, ducking into the cupboard to speak to the pair inside.
"Nope," said Natsume. "Mikan was distracting me."
"No I wasn't," Mikan said. "Don't believe him, Luca! Anyway, I was here first, so that means I can kick you two out of this stupid closet whenever I want."
"No, you see, morons who think that quicksand means 'sand that runs away really fast' don't deserve that kind of authority," said Natsume. "Isn't that what you wrote on the last paper?"
Mikan gasped in outrage. "You cheater! You read my exam paper!"
"How can I cheat off someone as dense as you?"
Mikan crossed her arms and made a "hmph!" noise. "I refuse to be baited," she said.
"Look, guys, I know you're worried about Monday's test, but can I just try and find my rabbit? Natsume, stop annoying Mikan, please ..." said Luca, standing up and looking even more worried. "I can't find him anywhere in this cupboard!"
"Are you sure it got into here?" said Mikan.
"Yeah," said Natsume and Luca together. "I know I saw him run into here about a half hour ago, so I tried looking, but then he just wouldn't come out. So I got Natsume to look for him a bit later, and now we still haven't found him ..." Luca continued.
"But what if it ran out just before I came and just after you came?"
"That," said Natsume, prodding Luca in the shoulder, "is a good idea."
"Well if we wait here long enough, he should come back to look for me," Luca said. "So I'm staying here."
Natsume and Mikan were not quite sure if that logic worked, but they both shrugged anyway. Luca was at least a better companion than Mikan, Natsume thought, not realising that Mikan was thinking exactly the same thing about him.
"Okay, well, you know I'm trying to revise, so be quiet. Hey, what's the definition of a bubble? I swear this book doesn't tell me!" she said.
"A thin film of liquid filled with air," said Luca.
"Like your brain," said Natsume helpfully.
Mikan glared at him. "At least ONE of you is helpful. I hate science!"
They sat in semi-silence for a while - semi being semi as Natsume and Luca were still talking in a quiet undertone. Luca was just about ready to give up and go wait for his bunny elsewhere when the door opened again.
"Oh great," said Hotaru. "Why are all of you in here? Have you ever heard of the world outside?"
"Working hard!" said Mikan cheerfully, while the other two said, "Waiting for a bunny. What're you doing here then?"
"Mikan asked me to come by, so I came. Oh. I didn't know you wanted me to study with you."
"Is that bad?"
"As I always say, there's no point studying with someone if they're not on your level of intelligence. So, in answer to your question, yes."
"Oh ... but as you're my best friend and all, can't you help me?"
Hotaru looked at her watch and then back at Mikan, obviously running time-money-friendship calculations in her head. "Fine. I need to be at a sales conference in an hour and I want some preparation time - so be quick."
"Okay! Hotaru, can you ask me these questions?"
"Seeing as we're here and we're bored, can we ask questions too?" said Natsume, stretching lazily.
"Luca, I saw your bunny in the field eating Mr Bear's cabbages," said Hotaru to Luca in a blank monotone. Luca jumped up, gasped a quick thank you, and ran out of the room.
"Aren't you going to follow him?" said Mikan to Natsume.
"Nah, I want to see your density for myself. I bet he's gonna come back here in a few minutes anyway."
"I'll just prove you wrong then. I am not dense! Okay, not that dense." She blew a raspberry at him.
"What is the difference between evaporation and boiling?" said Hotaru, completely ignoring Mikan and Natsume's little argument.
"Uh ... one of them happens at 100 degrees C," said Mikan, looking up at the ceiling in an expression of deep thought.
"See?" said Natsume to Hotaru.
"Shut up," said Hotaru without looking at him. Natsume made a "pah" sound and got up to look at the textbook.
"Boiling happens at a certain temperature," she said to Mikan, who nodded and screwed up her eyes in memorising concentration.
"What specific enzymes and toxins are found in snake bites?" interrupted Natsume.
"I haven't got to biology yet!" said Mikan. "That's just mean."
"Wrong answer. Zero marks. How about this one - illustrate and explain the adaptations of this-" he rummaged through the nearest junk pile, "-highly specialised and evolved football sock to its habitat."
"Natsume!" growled Mikan. "I'm going to-"
The door opened yet again before Mikan could explode in the direction of Natsume, and Luca stepped inside holding a sheepish-looking rabbit.
"How did you get past Mr Bear?" said Mikan cheerily, her mood drastically changed with the arrival of Bunny Boo. She reached out to hold the rabbit.
Luca let it bounce into Mikan's arms, and said, "He wasn't in Mr Bear's garden when I found him - Mr Bear kicked him out, literally, and then I ran into him in the forest. And, um, I think you should put something else on over your shirt. It's, um, kinda ..."
Mikan looked down and immediately put on the jacket that she had been holding in her lap. "Damn it, so that's how Natsume saw! I thought he just had x-ray vision!"
"Idiot," said Natsume. "Hey, science girl, what's the average concentration of molecule moles in one gram of Febreze?" He shook a sloshing bottle of liquid, probably the Febreze, as he spoke.
"I can't believe you boys," said Mikan, still fuming. "Always trying to look at girls like that! Hotaru, don't you agree with me?"
"But I was just trying to help!" said Luca in indignation.
"God, calm down, Mikan," drawled Natsume. He was still playing with the Febreze bottle. "You girls were the ones who suggested it was a sign of affection."
"I'm staying out of this," said Hotaru calmly, sat down on the nearest chair, and found a nice book to read. The broom cupboard was really a really cosy room, if there perhaps weren't so many piles of junk lying around. And the brooms.
"Well, I wasn't being serious. I bet you wouldn't try to, I don't know, comment on Luca's banana-print underwear whenever you got the chance. If he has any banana-print underwear. Do you?"
"Uh huh, I do that too," said Natsume with enough sarcasm to kill an elephant. Luca huffed with some emotion between amusement and embarrassment and continued indignation, and said, "I don't even like bananas!" in response to Mikan's question.
"You do? Hey, would you go out with Luca?" Mikan asked curiously, talking to Natsume. Hotaru looked up. She'd always thought there was something going on between those two. "And I thought you did like bananas," Mikan said to Luca. "Or maybe that was Natsume. It's difficult talking to two people at once!"
Natsume rolled his eyes. "There's only a certain amount of stupidity I can take," he said, and sprayed the Febreze onto a nearby mannequin's trousers.
"Yuk! I really hate Febreze," Mikan said. "Ew, get it out of my nose!"
"Then get out of the closet," said Natsume. "I like it in here now. At least it smells nice 'cos of this odour remover." Hotaru and Luca made non-committal sounds of what might or might not have been agreement.
"It does smell better than that weird smell before," said Luca after a while.
"Hotaru, can you help me again? I have to learn all these bones in my body. And just because it's biology doesn't mean you can ask me stupid snake questions," Mikan said to Natsume after they had sat in Febreze-induced silence for some time.
"Wonderful," said Hotaru. "Skeletons will always be my passion." Natsume and Luca weren't quite sure if she was saying that sarcastically or not; who knew with Hotaru? Mikan didn't really seem to notice.
"Cool! Okay, test me!"
"What does the ribcage protect?"
"Um ... um ... ribs are the chest, so that's the heart and lungs, right?"
"Easy question," muttered Natsume.
"Very good. Where ..." Hotaru continued with the testing training.
Natsume and Luca soon tuned out of the conversation. "I'm bored," said Natsume.
"Yeah, same here. D'you want to read this encyclopedia that Hotaru was looking at?"
"... Not really." Luca, however, did kind of want to read it, so he did. Natsume was just about to get up and tell Luca that he was going to get something to eat and would he like to play tennis when a sudden noise disturbed him.
"What?! There are apparently over 300 different types of germ in our MOUTHS!" screeched Mikan, obviously in great shock.
"What's that got to do with skeletons?" Luca asked, going back to reading about "V - Vesuvius". Natsume and Hotaru, being closer to Mikan, were still shaking their heads and trying to unblock their ears.
"It's not - it was this 'Phact Phile' thing on the next page! Apparently they also cause bad breath in the mornings as well, because of the, um, an-e-roe-bik bacteria."
"Anaerobic?" said Hotaru.
"Never mind," said Natsume and Hotaru together.
"But I don't think so because one time I kissed Hotaru in the morning and it tasted okay." Mikan seemed not to notice the stunned silence that followed these words, instead carrying on with her reading of the Phact Phile.
"... you what?!" said Luca, looking up from his 'Encyclopedia Amazingia part 26 - Velvet Worm to Wot?'.
"Huh?" said Hotaru, looking surprised for perhaps the first time in her life.
Natsume simply stared.
"It was just to test something out!" said Mikan defensively. "And I shouldn't have told you guys, hmph."
"I don't think I remember this," said Hotaru, still looking surprised. Luca momentarily wished that he had a camera handy like she always did just so he could take a picture of this moment.
"You were asleep," Mikan explained. "Or maybe that was the other time. Are you sure you don't remember? I think you ended up hitting me with that hoof thing and shooting me at the same time. But I think you were still a bit funny after drinking Nonoko's chemistry experiments."
"Ah," said Hotaru. Now that she thought about it, she could remember something. Maybe. Mikan would pay for it later. Again. But first she would have to formulate some plan to give the best revenge. Hmm ...
"So what happened? And what was the other time?" said Natsume. This was getting interesting.
"Nothing much," said Mikan. "It felt a bit wet, and then Hotaru hit me, so I went back to my own room."
"That's it?! What were you testing out? Describe it!" said Natsume, possibly looking the most energised that Mikan had ever seen him as. "Come on, we want to know more about your secret lesbian affair!"
Mikan crossed her arms again. "It was not a secret lesbian affair! I just wanted to see what it would be like to finally kiss Hotaru, seeing as I love her so much."
Natsume, Hotaru and Luca were not sure whether to think 'I'm just too freaked out now' or 'is she really that thick?' or 'lucky I didn't end up asking her out' (in Natsume and Luca's case - the thought had never really occurred to Hotaru) or something in between.
"But the point is, there are like FIVE HUNDRED different types of germ in our mouths right now! Aren't you guys weirded out by that?"
"Three hundred," said Luca automatically. And I'm more weirded out about your sudden revelation, he thought.
"Whatever. Now I'm getting grossed out even thinking about kissing someone else, ew, all those germs..."
"So you're gonna spend the rest of your life never kissing your boyfriend? Or girlfriend, I guess," said Natsume.
"I'm not gay," said Mikan, scowling. "I knew I shouldn't ever have said anything. I always thought that everyone did it anyway. Haven't you ever kissed Luca?"
"Not yet," said Natsume, glaring at her and getting up.
Luca did not particularly like how he just had to be the butt of all Mikan's comebacks to Natsume. Seriously. This was the second time in less than half an hour, not to mention that one where he had been accused of 'always looking at girls like that'. He took in a breath for a planned huff, this time in annoyance and embarrassment and indignation. Unfortunately enough, his carefully timed "hff" was interrupted halfway by something soft and rather wet pressed against his mouth.
Natsume pulled away and looked carefully at Luca, who was staring at him with his mouth agape.
"Why the bloody hell did you do that?" Luca said after a few seconds had passed.
"Does Luca ever swear?" whispered Mikan to Hotaru, who shook her head. Natsume and Luca ignored them.
"You taste weird," said Natsume by way of an answer.
"And you taste of Febreze," said Luca before he realised what he was saying. "No, wait, you just kissed me! What were you thinking?!"
"Just testing something out."
Natsume sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Just shut up and calm down, will you?"
Luca obediently shut up and calmed down, although the look of stunned confusion remained on his face. "Natsume, do you like me?"
"... uh," said Natsume, privately thinking that Luca's expression was the cutest that anyone had had or ever would have on their face. "I guess?"
Luca shook his head in a despairing gesture. "I think we need to talk about this later," he said, with a pointed look at Mikan who was almost squeaking with excitement, and Hotaru who was holding a video camera.
Natsume shrugged. He knew Luca would eventually come round; after all, he wouldn't have taken the chance otherwise. "At least I got something done today."
"Eeeeeee!!" squeaked Mikan suddenly. Her self-control had been overcome. "I can't believe I basically got you two together!!"
"You did?" said Natsume in mock surprise. "I'm sorry, but I thought it was me who kissed him - or am I wrong?"
"Not that, stupid, but I was like the cause of all this!" She grinned widely and drummed her legs on the box she was sitting on.
"Just let her have her moment," said Hotaru, carefully adjusting the focus on the camera. "It's easier that way."
"Hotaru, why aren't you more excited? This is such a wonderful moment! Hotaru, will you go out with me?"
There was another silence.
"As you've already stolen my first - and second - kiss without me even knowing about it," said Hotaru coldly, "I suppose I'm going to have to."
Natsume could've sworn that Mikan's subsequent squeal of joy had disabled his hearing permanently.
"Great," said Luca after the ringing died away, still looking a bit confused and lost. "Now that we've all been kiss-raped, can we get out of this stupid closet and play tennis? And ... where's my rabbit?"
"Sure!" said Mikan, grinning from ear to ear. "I love tennis! And I think your rabbit was playing with that evolved sock Natsume found."
A/N: Challenge prompts:
Mention tennis, encyclopedias, quicksand, bubbles and snakes
"I really hate Febreze" (it's a brand of odour eliminator)
"Skeletons will always be my passion"
So I didn't have that much to work with, and after a non-productive brainstorming session ended up writing this blather straight off the top of my head with no planning whatsoever. Except for the generic idea, "Mikan is studying". I didn't even mean to put in those stupid cringy closet jokes until after Luca came in, and I was like, "Hmm... a cupboard is sometimes called a closet!".