Like a Fan Girl
Disclaimer: The author rightfully respects the genius of Tachibana Higuchi, creator of Gakuen Alice
Dedication: For sherville7 and Masshou no Tenshi because, on a whim, I googled my handle and was surprised to get a hit. Thanks for getting me out of my slump. You two rock.
Author's Note: I'm trying to identify an acceptable level of OOC so bear with me while I experiment. Besides, stuff like this is fun to write. Ü Set before Compromise, finished in three short chapters.
Chapter 1: Car Wash
The man simply did not know how to play fair.
This was Mikan Sakura's thought while she watched Natsume Hyuuga lean across the hood of the red sports car to wipe it in a wide arc. Completely unconcerned with the female crowd he had drawn, he concentrated on a particularly stubborn smudge then when he had wiped it clean, he smiled faintly. Behind Mikan there was a thud as another girl hit the sidewalk in a dead faint.
Oh for heaven's sake, not again…
It was driving her crazy. Natsume wore the same brooding look, under the same naturally disheveled black hair, with the same piercing red gaze. But there was nothing— absolutely nothing— everyday about the way he went about his job. He worked swiftly, at twice the pace of his peers. He lifted water buckets with one muscled arm, taking them from one end of the street to the other without difficulty while most of the other boys heaved and gasped. He moved smoothly, as though he did this thrice a week and by god he looked gorgeous doing it.
Natsume stood out from everyone and to Mikan's annoyance every girl seemed to notice. Even though he was dressed simply in faded denims and a scruffy v-necked shirt, his tall, lean body glistening with hard-earned sweat and that handsome face no amount of filth could mask, more than made up for it. As if he walked under a natural spotlight, the sun shone upon his upper body while he finished his tasks accentuating strong arms and the body of a model.
It was sheer torture.
"I said wear jeans and a plain white shirt," Mikan hissed to Nonoko when she passed by, sponge in hand. They watched helplessly as two of their classmates lifted the unconscious sophomore and brought her to the clinic.
Nonoko glanced back at Natsume and had to hold back her smile. "Well, he is wearing jeans and a T-shirt."
"There is nothing plain about the way he wears that shirt!" Mikan said in exasperation. They watched Natsume splash the sports car with a pail of water then wipe his brow with the back of his hand. Nonoko found that she couldn't quite repress a sigh of pure feminine delight then she shrugged weakly at Mikan.
"Ah, but it is white."
Wakako walked by and winked at Mikan. "You know Natsume. He'll throw anything on and come out looking like a god." She slid another glance at her attractive classmate who had practically every girl on the block distracted. "Ahh… heaven."
"He's ruining my car wash!" Mikan exclaimed as Natsume walked to the pump to refill his bucket and some groupies following in his wake.
"Actually," Hotaru popped up next to her. She fanned out a thick wad of bills. "He's bringing in the rabbits with all the female customers. If we keep this up, we'll only have to hold this fundraiser for one more day."
"I don't care!" Mikan cried. "I want him off the team!"
"You brought him here," Hotaru reminded her. "You told him to show up… or else."
"That was before I realized he'd cause a heat wave!" Mikan lamented as yet another female Alice collapsed at the sight of Natsume drawing water. "This is getting ridiculous!"
As the afternoon wore on, Mikan had to clench her teeth to keep herself from lashing out at Natsume. Of course, in hindsight, she ought to be grateful since he was turning out to be the most valuable person in their business. He was the crowd favorite and he didn't complain no matter how many times his services were requested. Plus, he hadn't taken a break since seven o'clock that morning.
But Mikan wasn't stupid. God, she knew she was dense but she wasn't blind and the fact was Natsume was teaching her some kind of lesson that day. They were seventeen and they've been playing this game back and forth for years. Natsume didn't join her car wash to just help her. Oh no. He was here to prove a point and that was why every car he washed, every smile he put on and every teasing gaze he threw in her direction was well calculated.
"Ever think that maybe I don't find you as attractive as you believe?" she had said just yesterday in a moment of irritation.
Natsume had looked stupefied. "What?"
She rolled her eyes. "I'm way too used to you to fall at your feet like a fan girl."
"Is that so?" he said musingly.
"Yes! So just come already. Contrary to what you seem to think, you are not too good-looking to wash cars…"
So here he was and the man had been absolutely insufferable.
Another vehicle stopped in front of their stand and though it was Mochu receiving the customers, the female driver was ogling Natsume. But Mikan wouldn't allow herself to interfere. That would end their little game prematurely. She had known Natsume long enough to last against him in a battle of wills. She wasn't going to let him win that easily. But damn it he was pulling out all the stops.
"How are you holding up?" Ruka asked, walking up to her just when she was ready to slam her clipboard against the table.
"What do you mean? I'm fine. I'm perfect."
He rolled his eyes. "Come on Mikan. I'm his best friend. I see what's going on."
"Your friend is evil."
He laughed. "He's just trying to win back your affection in the way he knows how." She looked at him quizzically. "Cool guys can be pretty insecure sometimes. You see how much he's suffering to get your attention."
"Suffering?" she repeated doubtfully.
"Oh yeah," Ruka said with an encouraging nod. He turned her around to face Natsume who was making his way back from the pump, throwing an ever so subtle gaze when he passed her. "It's a show he set up just for you."
"Well, he could bring it down a notch," Mikan grumbled before she could stop herself. She looked apologetic. "Sorry Ruka."
He chuckled. "No problem. I know you're having a rough day."
That exchange would have made Mikan feel better if not for the next events that transpired. As was their way, Koko and Kitsuneme were horsing around and were having some kind of water war. Koko was running after Kitsuneme with a pail half full. He heaved it up then cheerfully threw the whole thing on his friend. Kitsuneme flew up just in time and the stream of water splashed Natsume instead, drenching his shirt and the upper part of his jeans. The two of them looked horrified and complete silence ensued as everyone froze.
Ruka whistled. "That should cool him down a bit." Mikan giggled.
Now, on another day, Natsume would have made both of them pay for that dearly. But this wasn't an ordinary day. To Mikan's disbelief, instead of shouting at them Natsume simply clicked his tongue, put down his sponge then took off his shirt right where he stood to reveal a beautiful, well-toned upper body. Mikan couldn't move as she stared at the magnificent but utterly heartless man in front of her.
Sumire's eyebrows shot up to her hairline. "I hear music."
Hotaru immediately whipped out her camera. Some more girls passed out and Mikan was pretty sure somebody shrieked. Her mouth fell open and even Ruka looked stunned.
"Oh man, I never thought he'd do that."
Had he no shame? No modesty? No goddamn mercy?!
"Could someone get me a towel?" Natsume asked and at once there was a clamor as girls fought their way forward.
That's when Mikan snapped. In three strides she was in front of him, the throng miraculously parting to let her through. She shoved a towel and a free sized T-shirt in his hands, though she couldn't quite remember who among her friends had the presence of mind to provide her with the items. Mikan couldn't get the bite out of her voice as this incredibly gorgeous man stared down at her with a smirk that clearly said, Game. Set. Match.
"Go change," she seethed at her boyfriend. "Go home."
Koko once said that if Natsume and Mikan ever got together life in the Academy would be less interesting. Nonetheless, all of them had stood with bated breath as their two stubborn friends finally got together and actually made things official. That had been about two months ago and thus far Koko's comment had proven false.
If the two of them didn't fight at least once a week, it would've made the gang worry. They didn't argue about everything but they could certainly argue about anything. Just last week they were fighting over Mr. Narumi's beret. Mikan thought it fit his character. Natsume had blatantly called it stupid, to which Ruka secretly agreed. The argument was soon settled when Mr. Narumi serenely announced that he would never again don the feathered thing.
Ruka's worry was that Natsume seemed to be rubbing off on Mikan faster than Mikan could influence Natsume. His girlfriend had made some quick calculations and, at the rate they were going, Hotaru concluded that if the transformation was complete, they would have two incredibly short-tempered friends by graduation. Apparently, Mikan was not as infectious as Ruka originally thought. That or Natsume was just really talented at getting on anyone's nerves.
"Where's Mikan?" he asked when he reached their lunch table. He had left her with Hotaru a few minutes ago but now she was gone.
"I sent her away," Hotaru said simply. "She was being way too annoying."
"Wouldn't stop complaining about Natsume?"
She rolled her eyes. "I told her to just go confront him if she wanted to rant so badly. She was wasting her time telling us."
Ruka's eyes widened. "You sent her to Natsume?!"
"I thought I told you that Natsume was at the Sports Complex!"
"Exactly what I told her."
"I also told you what he was doing there," Ruka said dryly.
Hotaru smiled wickedly. "I forgot to mention that part."