Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Tachibana Higuchi. The plot is mine.

Author's Note: Sorry for the wait. This definitely took far longer than it needed to, but it's done now right on time for May Madness. Enjoy all, and again, happy belated bday, dear Romantically Loveless. :)

Shaken, Not Stirred

Romantically Loveless


A person like me should not be allowed to be alone.

It's dangerous.

Because immediately after I make the decision to pursue Natsume, I grab another slice of pizza from Luna and walk home. I'm about to go up to my room after I drop off my equipment bag at the end of the stairs when Grandpa calls my name and I follow the sound of his shuffling into the study to see that he's got the fire going. He sees me and ushers me over with a smile.

"Mikan, did you wear a jacket over that t-shirt as you walked home?" Grandpa asks sternly.

I pout and flex my arms a bit to show him how tough I am and I know my display has the desired effect. Grandpa laughs. I sit down by his legs and tell him about my volleyball game until he pushes errant brown strands of hair away from my face and taps the area between my eyebrows softly. "What's got you frowning, child? And don't you dare say 'nothing'. Grandpa's old enough to know."

I don't think about lying. Grandpa knows me well enough to know the smallest mannerisms I have when I'm hungry or I'm distracted or, in this case, when I've got something on my mind. So I dawdle a bit and pick at the hem of my t-shirt until I finally pluck up the courage to say, "There's a boy…"


"Grandpa! You asked!"

I turn to look at him incredulously and see that his lips are pressed into a thin line and he's frowning, making his wrinkles appear prominently around his eyes and forehead. I put a hand on his knee and pout. "C'mon Grandpa. You asked me what was wrong."

"You're too young to be thinking about boys," he says uncompromisingly, crossing his arms with a frown. "You know what young boys want these days. They're very…what was that word…one track? You know when I was your age we couldn't be alone with our fiancé until we were married. Now I hear from the auntie down the street that you young ones are actually—"

Oh my God.

"I'm sixteen!" I interrupt him sharply. "And the auntie down the street likes all kinds of scandalous gossip. You shouldn't believe everything you hear, Grandpa. Do you think I would…that…with some random guy I just met two weeks ago?"

"You…met him two weeks ago?" I blink up at him and nod, wondering why he sounds both worried and relieved. "Mikan…make sure he's a good boy before you get yourself hurt, ok?"

Do you want me to make sure he can roll over too, Grandpa?

I feel guilty for thinking that and immediately lean over to kiss him softly on the cheek. He smiles, his paper thin skin wrinkling over the sharp angles of his cheekbones. "You taught me to be a smart girl, Grandpa. So I promise."

But after that, the quiet of my bedroom makes silly thoughts ricochet off the corners of my brain. What the hell am I doing? This isn't like me at all. Natsume isn't that great, is he? How am I supposed to know? Why am I so smitten with him when I've met him only two times and talked to him for less than ten minutes? I'm shallow, I decide. That's the only way to explain. I think he's pretty and my brain was tricked into thinking that was enough in a relationship.

But no more. It's not like there are any soulful stirrings in my heart when he talks to me. It's just… clammy hands and a racing heartbeat that come to pass after I catch a glimpse of him.

Grandpa's right.

Shouldn't I know a bit about him before I jump head first into something I might not be able to handle?


It takes a night of restless thoughts for me to come to one question: should I go to him or wait until he comes to me?

"Obviously you're supposed to wait until the guy goes to you, you idiot!" Sumire exclaims, as if I've just offended her in the most unforgivable way. "It's so not romantic if you like the guy more than he likes you. Wait it out, make him want you, and he'll come crawling to your feet if he's really into it. Trust me. I know guys."

"Do you honestly think Hyuuga will come to you?" Hotaru says frankly, without looking up from the book she has open on her desk. "If you want to talk to him so badly, you're going to have to go to him. He doesn't look like the type that would drop everything for some girl he barely knows."

My head throbs. I nod and begin processing these two pieces of advice when Sumire stops filing her nails to raise an eyebrow and snort, "You were talking about the cute guy with the red eyes from yesterday?"

"Well yeah," I furrow my brow. "Who did you think I was talking about?"

Sumire smirks and shrugs her shoulders. "I don't know…some dork? If you're talking about Natsume, then you'd better give it up, Mikan. You really don't have a chance with a jerk like him and if you want my opinion, I don't think he'd be good for you. He seems like a snotty, arrogant asshole."

"You think he's cute," I argue, feeling blood pound in my head.

"Well duh," Sumire gives me the bitch brow. "I never said he wasn't. He just looks like a heartbreaker. Don't get me wrong, I think he's fucking hot but I don't want you to get hurt and he looks like the type to leave a trail of broken hearts in his wake."

My heart swells when she says that and she scowls away when she sees it.

I wring my hands together nervously as an image of him flashes under my eyelids. "I just think…that if I don't get him out of my system, I'll always have this mindless infatuation with him. I don't think he's that great either, trust me, but if I don't at least give it a chance, I think I'm going to regret it." I turn from Hotaru to Sumire, look at them emphatically and hope they understand. "I mean, the sooner I realize how unimpressive he is, the sooner I'll get over him, right?"

Hotaru closes her book and swivels around to look at me appraisingly. "That's true. I suppose it's worth a shot. You mentioned Hyuuga is best friends with Nogi, correct?"

I nod. "That's right."

"Then you'll get your opportunity to talk to him soon," she says, getting up from her seat and stuffing her books inside the book bag she swings over her shoulder. "Now leave me alone. I have a chemistry test to study for." She raises a brow, half-turned, and says, "Drink some tea, Stupid. You look a little green."

Ignoring her last words, my eyes widen incredulously. "Wait. What do you mean my opportunity will come soon? Are you going to do something to Ruka-pyon? Wait! You have to tell me when so that I can prepare myself! Hotaru Imai!"

Hotaru merely waves a hand in the air without turning around and enters the school without an answer.

Sumire snickers. "I would love to see you try to seduce him. You have less tact than an awkward turtle."

I bang my head on the table as I try to figure out what exactly Hotaru Imai could possibly have planned for me.


When the bell rings for fourth period, I gather my books and slink into the library for free period. I sign in before I duck into the small window seat nestled in the back corner of the library and watch as rain pounds against the glass. It doesn't take Ruka-pyon long to come waltzing in with a grin on his face.

As I spread out my homework, I raise an eyebrow at his dazed expression. "Are you high?"

His grin doesn't falter. "I might as well be."

He hums under his breath, a song that sounds like something from Shrek and grins as he flips his notebook to a fresh page and opens his Chemistry textbook to read the questions to his assignment. He chuckles low under his breath like some love struck school girl and says, "Hotaru and I have chemistry together." Then he giggles.

I roll my eyes. "Aren't you going to tell me what's got you in such a good mood?"

His blue eyes light up as if he's been waiting for me to ask. "Hotaru asked me out on a date tonight."

My jaw drops. "Hotaru Imai asked you out on a date?"

"I can barely believe it either!" His grin is infectious and I high five him with a grin of my own. "You're free tonight right?" he continues. "Because I called Natsume at the end of lunch and he said he was fine to go out tonight too. It'll be fun. You can put the moves on him and seduce him with your…uhm…charms. If that's what you want to call them."

My vision goes black and I can feel the blood drain from my face. "You'd better explain what you mean by that," I say in a deadly whisper.

His face pales. "Okay, don't be mad."

I prepare myself to be really fucking mad and I think Ruka can tell because he rushes into an explanation. "Hotaru and I were doing some last minute studying for our Chemistry test at lunch today and while I was talking about the reactivity of alkali metals, she cut me off with that…you know…no nonsense tone of hers and told me to call off my plans for tonight. So I asked her, 'what for?' And she raised an eyebrow and her big violet eyes just made my heart race and then she said I was going to take her out to dinner tonight and that she expected me to pick her up at seven o'clock sharp. So I nodded and rambled a bit about how I was supposed to hang out with Natsume tonight but that I could call off those plans easily because, you know, I can hang out with Natsume any other day but when am I ever going to be asked out on a date by the Hotaru Imai ever again? And then she smiled this really sweet smile and said that it was no problem, he could come along too and bring you along and we could all hang out together and you know, I figured because you like him so much you could take advantage of the situation and she seemed to really want you to come along and well, I really can't deny Hotaru anything and she was just being so nice. I mean, she wants to get to know us all better! Isn't that nice? She didn't want to exclude anyone and…ah…um…I'm sorry? …I love you?"

Hotaru Imai…you've got my best friend wrapped around your little finger.

I shove him off the window seat and watch as he rubs his butt with a pout. "But you told me you liked him! I thought you'd be happy!" he exclaims before glancing around the library apologetically.

I open my mouth to tell him off but it's technically true and I can't fault him for succumbing to Hotaru's ploys. He's just so whipped, it's insane. But on the other hand, I am not ready for this. At all. Not in the least. I don't know whether or not to be angry or sick. I actually feel faint. "Aefhiadshfkasfnndfnadnggg! I think I'm going to be sick."

"If it helps at all," Ruka gets up and sits gingerly on the window seat again. "Natsume only agreed when I said it was you."

Blood pounds in my head but rationality flashes clear. "That doesn't mean anything if he turns out to be the pigheaded jerk I hope he is."

Ruka opens and closes his mouth several times before composing himself and asking with an edge of incredulity, "What is that supposed to mean exactly?"

I flush a little. "Oops, he's your best friend. I kind of forgot." I half-grin and shrug my shoulders before looking at Ruka-pyon earnestly. He looks nothing but curious. "He's dangerous, Ruka-pyon. He can't possibly be good for me." I look down at my hands. "You know me. I'm usually so careful. I go out with nice boys like you, Pyon an—"

"And that didn't quite work out, did it?" Ruka interrupts. "Mikan, you can't just be afraid to go after somebody just because he isn't what you're familiar with. That's not the way these things work. If you only keep associating yourself with things you find 'safe' you might never achieve your goals. Go wherever your dreams take you. Wouldn't your gramps say something like that?"

I hate when people speak sense.

Ruka grins knowingly.

He looks around us, even though he should know we're in the most secluded area of the library, and pulls out his phone. He dials quickly and puts it to his ear. "I'm calling Natsume," he answers my unasked question.

I dive for him and end up tumbling off the seat in time to hear him whisper, "Hey Natsume? I'm not interrupting class, am I?" I bolt onto my knees and gaze at mischievous blue eyes with my mouth ajar. "You're skipping again? Okay, remember the dinner plans I called you about earlier…yeah, well Mikan wants to talk to you about that…"

"Ruka!" I hiss horrified. "I'm gonna kill you!"

He tosses me his phone and it totters in my hands before I clutch at it like a lifeline and slowly press it to my ear. I close my eyes, hoping Natsume isn't actually on the line. "Uhm, hi. Natsume? Er, Hyuuga?"


I breathe out a sharp breath and feel my heart start galloping in my chest. I square my jaw stubbornly. "We need to talk."

"We are talking."

"Don't be infuriating," I scowl, finding it easier to talk to him when I'm not looking him in the face. "How could you agree to some random double date with me? You don't even know me!"

"When do you get out of class?"

I blink. "W-what? Why does that matter? I'm trying to talk to you about something important here!"

"You're in Ruka's study period. Meet me in your school parking lot if you really want to talk." He has a really nice voice. "Right when the bell rings. Don't be late, Sakura."

My surprise melts into faint amusement at his demands. "You're a bossy little thing, aren't you?" I muse softly, looking out the window. "What makes you think I'll listen? I could just as easily leave you waiting in the parking lot with your boyfriend from the other day."

I feel his amusement translate through the phone when he responds, "I just know. An hour then," he says with finality and clicks the call to an end.

I hand Ruka his phone and glimpse the smug look on his face.

I smile at him pleasantly, "I'm telling Hotaru you wear embarrassing chicken pyjamas to bed and that you have a teddy named Piyo you hug every night."

He squawks indignantly as the pounding in my head intensifies.


I take far longer to finish a perfectly easy psychology assignment than is necessary and spend the next fifteen minutes tapping my pencil against my knee and gazing nervously out the window. I think I even break out in a sweat. I can feel Ruka's amused gaze on me, but I'm too high strung to acknowledge it as a million thoughts and scenarios flit through my brain.

The ringing bell to signal the end of the school day sounds like a death toll.

I pack my bag and head to the parking lot with my heart in my throat.

I expect to have to wait for him. He just strikes me as the type of boy to keep a girl waiting, but he's there and he's waiting beside his motorcycle looking ridiculously good looking. Of course, of course. But his face is expressionless and he's standing there like a gentleman with his hair wet from the rain and I can't think of anything but running to his side in one piece.

"How long have you been waiting in the rain for?" I say when I've stopped a few feet away from him.

He grabs my book bag and hands me a helmet in time to say, "Long enough."

I grind my teeth incredulously, blinking the rain from my eyes. "I have to talk to you and I'm not going to climb onto this death contraption. No way."

He turns to me with his lips set in a frown and I'm momentarily distracted by the shadows that accentuate the features of his face. He is still holding the strap of my book bag but pauses to scrutinize me and flick water from his bangs. "Don't you think you've been stubborn enough today?"

I immediately feel my defenses go up. "What is that supposed to mean?"

He looks around us pointedly. "We're both standing here, soaking wet, while everybody else is ducking for cover. Get on the bike, Sakura. No arguments." He looks at me sternly, red eyes narrowed in consternation when I refuse to move from my position. "Sit," he commands.

"I'm not a dog," I grate viciously. I tug my hoodie further down my forehead, close my eyes and take a deep breath. When I open them, I feel determined. "Go out on one date with me."

He blinks. "What?"

"You heard me," I don't budge. "I want one date from you."

His eyes are wide. "Why?"

I gently pry his fingers away from the strap of my book bag and haul it over my shoulder, handing him his helmet as a replacement. I step back and look at him pointedly. "Why else does a girl ask a guy out on a date? Don't make this difficult, Hyuuga. I'm asking for one date to prove to myself that you're not as great as the voice at the back of my head thinks you are so that I can eradicate you from my system and get over this meaningless crush or whatever I seem to have on you." He doesn't look impressed or pleased. "Where are my manners? Please," I say as an afterthought. "I'll even pay for the dinner, since you're kind of doing me a favour."

There's a small tugging at his lips that isn't quite a smile but not a full blown smirk. I don't have much time to analyze it. "You have a crush on me," there's amusement laced in his words.

I almost roll my eyes. "I've been told it's rather obvious. So…yes or no?"

"Are you giving me much of a choice?"

I can feel my lips turn up in a smirk. "Good point. Pick me up at seven?"

The amusement is still present. "Stop making it sound like a question."

I can't help the grin that spreads across my face. I dig around my bag and extract a pen before I take his hand—big and rough—and write my address on his palm. I smirk at him slyly as Sumire pops up from behind me to drive me home. I cap my pen and tap it lightly against his hand. "Don't be late."

He sighs as if he's got himself into some kind of situation but a corner of his lips quirk upward. "Catch you later, Sakura."

"Only if I fall."

I turn to follow Sumire, but not before I hear a small chuckle from the boy with the scarlet eyes.


Disaster strikes by five o'clock when Sumire and Hotaru are loitering at my place, wondering about what I can wear on a date with Natsume Hyuuga. Hotaru had merely smirked at the dark look on my face when she appeared at my door and casually commented on how "predictable Nogi" was. Then she walked into my bedroom and asked Sumire to pick out an outfit that wouldn't make me look completely hideous.

"I'm telling you, purple will bring out the brown in her eyes!" Sumire shrieks loudly, causing my head to pound some more. "Blue is so trite these days, Imai, get it together!"

"Trite or not, it's still a classic. You can't go wrong in blue," Hotaru says coolly. "Or black."

"She's not exactly going to win a second date if she dresses up like the crypt keeper," Sumire snorts, throwing my clothes around my room and mumbling about my lack of fashion sense. "Why do you have so many sarcastic tees? Nobody should wear a t-shirt that says I've got one last nerve and you're getting on it and I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person." She pauses and snorts a little. "Okay, that one was funny."

Hotaru looks at me with an amused eyebrow raised. "I like it."

I laugh through the fog in my brain and indicate the shirt I'm currently wearing that says if you don't want a sarcastic answer, don't ask a stupid question.

I take a step into my room and my vision tunnels. I feel my body crash into the dresser against my wall and I groan before sinking on the ground with my head between my knees. The pounding in my head feels like a band of drummers are smashing their feet against my skull.

Sumire's voice is murky when she asks, "Hey, are you ok?"

"Fantastic. I feel like I'm frolicking on fucking clouds," I garble, blinking my eyes and seeing nothing but grey spots.

Hotaru snorts and I feel her pulling lightly at my t-shirt. "I told you to drink tea, stupid," she says with an edge of consternation. "Get up. I'll help you downstairs."

"Wait," I can hear the hope in Sumire's voice. "Does that mean you're calling off the date with Natsume? Can I replace you?"

I snort as Hotaru helps me up to my feet. "Don't make me puke on you, Permy."

"Hey! You might as well share the love," I can tell that she's joking.

We make it down the stairs and I lie down on the couch with a hand over my eyes to block out the bright lights searing into my closed eyelids. As if she knows exactly what I'm thinking, Hotaru dims the light and orders Permy to make me a cup of tea. The latter mumbles a bit before tinkering in the kitchen. I smirk at the thought of girly Permy in the kitchen trying to figure out the workings of the kettle.

"She's probably going to burn the house down," I muse softly, as Hotaru snorts in agreement. We ignore Sumire's squawk of protest and vaguely, I can hear Hotaru shuffle to sit by my feet.

"Where's your Grandpa?"

"Probably getting groceries," I mumble. "You know him. He's always on the move. He'll be back soon though." I feel my face heat up and groan. "He's going to go crazy if Natsume comes to pick me up. Pass me my phone, will you?" She slips it into my hand, since I've yet to open my eyes and I blink at the contraption blearily until I can make out the number pad. Then I realize I don't even have his number.

I groan again in disbelief. "Why do I have the worst luck ever?" I punch in Ruka-pyon's number and wait until he picks up. "Hey, could you text me Natsume's number? I'm not feeling too hot."

"Mikan," Ruka sighs into the receiver. "C'mon, you know you're beautiful."

I snort and can't help the grin from appearing on my face. "Thanks Casanova, but I meant I wasn't feeling good. I think I'm sick. I'm going to call off the date."

He laughs, "Trust me, Mikan, they're just nerves. I feel like throwing up too."

I can feel Hotaru's disgust when she drawls, "Greaaat."

There's a rustle and the bright sound of his voice filters through the phone. "Is Hotaru there with you? Is she calling off the date too? Are you sure you want to cancel the date with Natsume, because that would be a shame an—"

I roll my eyes. "Don't worry, Ruka-pyon. Just because I'm cancelling my date, doesn't mean Hotaru is too. She's definitely going. Now give me Natsume's number."

The sigh of relief makes me laugh a bit but the movement makes my head pound even further. "Okay, I'll text it to you. I can just call him to tell him you're sick, if you want."

"No," I sigh. "I asked him out. I should be the one that tells him. Have fun on your date and don't puke on Hotaru!"

"Gee thanks," he laughs over the phone. "Feel better!"

Once Sumire sets my cup of tea on the coffee table and Ruka's texted me Natsume's number, I look back from one girl to the other and inquire reluctantly, "How do I look?"

"How do you feel?" Sumire counters, looking at her nails. She mumbles something about chipping it.

"Like shit," I say honestly.

"Well that's how you look."

I growl at her, but she merely smirks and tilts her head slightly. "So you're really bailing out on the date?" I nod and she sighs. "Well, that's a shame. If you weren't looking so shitty, I'd call you a wuss but as it is…"

I snort and look to Hotaru. "Beat her?"

Hotaru smirks and looks at her watch. I stop her before she says anything. "I'll be okay. Grandpa's coming home soon and he'll spoil me rotten. He hates it when I get sick." I look at Sumire and raise a brow. "You might as well help her out with an outfit or something since it's not like you're going to be doing anything tonight anyway."

She scowls at me. "You suck. C'mon, Imai. Let's leave the gargoyle to herself." Before they leave, Sumire pops her head back into the room. "How's the battery to your phone?" I tell her it's practically full and she nods, satisfied. "Call if you need anything, loser."

I grin in amusement, feeling the disappointment ebb as my eyelids fall and I drift off into darkness.


I wake when the door creaks open and I blink my eyes blearily when I see Grandpa's face peek around the corner. He's a wrinkly old thing with a devilish smile on his face and I watch suspiciously as my sleepiness makes way for clarity. He's carrying a package in his thin arms. He walks over and puts the package on the coffee table beside my untouched cup of tea and pushes my hair away from my face.

"How are you feeling, child?" he says softly, a smile still evident on his lips. His hand feels my forehead. "Feels like a fever. You're sweating."

I shift experimentally and feel like my body weighs a thousand pounds. I groan and he smiles. "Ah, that bad huh? Well I've got something nice here for you. Soup! And movies!"

I close my eyes and smile softly. "You didn't have to Grandpa. I'm not that sick."

"Nonsense. You look…" he pauses and grins, making crow's feet appear at the corner of his eyes and wrinkles appear around his mouth. "You don't look like yourself."

I scowl half-heartedly at the grin on his face and try to look around him. "What movies did you rent?"

He grabs the blanket hanging over the back of the couch and tucks it around me before patting my cheek. "I couldn't tell you," he says finally. "But I'm sure that young man by the door could. He's such a nice boy, that one."

My eyes widen and he merely grins like a child and pats my knee. My heart starts galloping in my chest and I can feel the heat on my cheeks spread. Grandpa merely laughs before standing up and moving aside. I know it's Natsume before I see him.

I can only stare at him, mortified, as Grandpa bounces into the kitchen with a hum in his throat. When he's tinkering away in the kitchen, I finally squeak, "What the hell are you doing here? And how did you brainwash him? He seems to think you're some kind of saint when I swear he almost had a coronary yesterday when I mentioned the idea of a boy."

"You told your Grandpa about me?" He sounds amused.

His hair is wet so it's kind of messy and glistening and he's standing by the entrance to the living room like he's unsure if he's welcome. Pushing back my surprise, I clear my throat and try to push myself up into a sitting position. "You can come in, you know."

He takes off his leather jacket and I suck in a tight breath at how good he looks in a simple long sleeved blue shirt and dark jeans. I glimpse the small smirk on his face and immediately turn my face to the wall with a scowl, still trying to sit up. His footsteps against the floor beg for my gaze and I look up at him in surprise when he leans down to pull me up into a sitting position.

The only thought I have is that, for a badass, he's incredibly gentle. And he smells good.

"You're such a baby," he says softly, eyes dark red as he subtly pulls the blanket up higher.

I think I might be hallucinating. "Why are you here?" My voice is quiet.

He sits at the other end of the couch by my feet and looks at me dryly. "Ruka told me you were sick. You didn't cancel, though—"

I groan and hit myself in the head for being so stupid. "I got your number from Ruka and I fell asleep before I could call you to cancel," I mumble, feeling the blush inch up my cheeks. I look up into his eyes and gesture to myself. "As you can see, I'm not exactly up for a date. Did you…did you buy all of this?" I gesture to the package of soup.

He nods after a moment and begins to pull the stuff from the package, handing me the soup carton and a spoon.

The steaming hot soup is in my hands and I blow on it before taking a small taste. It smells delicious and tastes just as good. As I blow on the next spoonful, I watch Natsume curiously. He came here with soup and movies even though he knew I was sick. Did he expect us to have a date in…? "Is this supposed to be a date?" I say finally, swirling my spoon around inside the container.

He thinks about it for two seconds and shrugs. "It can be, but I don't mind having our first date some other day." He raises an eyebrow and smirks slightly and it takes me a second to understand what he's just said.

I plunk my soup in my lap and resist the hiss that wants to escape when some of it spills over onto my hands. I narrow my eyes at Natsume. "Wait a goddamn minute here! What are you trying to do?"

He pretends to look innocent. "I don't know what you mean."

Hot anger flares up in my chest, or it might be the hot flush of my fever, and I look at him with a glare. "You're making fun of me, aren't you? That's not funny. Do you even like me?"

"You're very honest," Natsume says with amusement laced in his words.

I scowl at him. "I may not be very bright, but don't think I didn't notice your lack of a response."

He looks at me with glowing eyes and grabs the movie from the table. I drink down another spoonful of soup before my curiosity gets the better of me.

"What movie is that?"

He turns it to face me and grins at my horrified expression.

I squeak and break out in a cold sweat. "We can't watch that," I whimper urgently. "I watched a bit of it with Ruka-pyon and I almost threw up."

"Oh, I know." Natsume smirks and pops the DVD into the little player and turns on the TV. I pale, abandoning the empty carton of soup on the table and pull the edge of the blanket closer to my face. "It's not real," his voice is amused.

"It's based on a true story!" I hiss, narrowing my eyes at him as the eerie music starts. Natsume turns off the lights and I scream. He chuckles lowly and I whimper, "I hope you know that whatever ploy you're trying, it's not going to work. I'm not going to snuggle up to you so that you feel like the big man on campus. I'm just going to sit here and cry under my blanket. I hope you realize watching horror movies won't make me feel better. In fact, I'd say this is making my health decline. You should be ashamed of yourself. What kind of guy does this to a girl when she's sick? You're despicable and jus—"

A blood curdling scream on-screen makes me scream in return and I burrow under my blanket with a whimper.

My head is pounding, my muscles ache and my throat is dry. I peek out from the blanket and look toward Natsume who is watching the screen intently. His hands are in his lap but a second passes before a smirk tugs a bit at his lips and he moves his arm so that it's stretching the length of the back of the couch. I pout at him and call him dirty names under my breath, which I think he hears because his shoulders shake slightly with laughter, and slowly inch my way over to him.

When I'm settled under his arm and tuck my face into his shirt, I tell him how I feel about him. "You're a low down, dirty-handed jerk. I'm only sitting so close to you so that I can puke when the time arises. Because I will, you know, puke. And it might as well be on you."

He looks down at me with dark eyes. "You're a clueless, polka dot wearing girl that jumps to conclusions." He looks down, away from my face, and smirks. "Nice t-shirt."

"Why aren't you fazed by my puking threat?"

"Because fevers just make your muscles ache and your body feel weak. Are you cold?" he asks lowly, looking almost concerned. He grabs the blanket and curls it around my body before pulling me closer into his side. He's incredibly warm and I try not to sigh and burrow into him. My head still feels as though I've got my brain stuffed with cotton. "You'd better not be pretending to be sick just so that you can touch me," Natsume says dryly.

I elbow him pleasantly in the side. "You're the one inviting me to snuggle, you faux badass."

He snorts. "Did not."

I look at him incredulously. "Yes you did! You smirked and put your arm out for me. Don't lie."

"I tend to smirk a lot," he shrugs. "And I was stretching."

I laugh. I can't help it. Because he's not kidding anybody. "Is that how you got your boyfriend to fall for you? Your completely believable lying skills?"

He doesn't seem affected by the jeer. Instead he looks back to the television and says casually. "I've been told it's the smile."

"Your smile?" I yawn into his chest. Clouds are drifting behind my eyes. Sleepily, I mutter, "I doubt a smile could do it."

He turns with a cocky edge to his eyes. "Well, I could show you but I wouldn't want to foil your plans. You were so adamant about not falling for me."

I sit up now, ignoring the pressure against my skull, and look at him unimpressed. "Lay it on me, tough guy. I'm immune to masculine charms."

"You won't be able to handle it," he says with a certainty that almost makes me believe him. "Forget it."

I sit back beside him, not as close but close enough to feel his heat, and shrug. I close my eyes and feel my body ache for sleep. "I knew…you were all talk—"

Before I know what's happening, his palm is cupping my chin and soft lips meet mine. It's quick and soft and I think I might have imagined it. My head's throbbing and my fever is making me shiver and then I hear his voice saying, "You talk too much, Polka Dots. Now sleep."

I touch my lips with heavy fingers and whisper sleepily, "Did you just kiss me…I barely… felt it."

His hand is cool against my forehead and I'm moved until I'm pressed against his side once again. "Go to sleep, Loud Girl."

My eyes are warm and he's warm too. "You never answer my questions…don't think that…I don't…know." I yawn and burrow closer. "Not loud…shh."

I think I feel his soft lips on my forehead and I smile before the sounds of Paranormal Activity fade into nothingness.

I've written a mini-epilogue to this entitled Panty Dropping Smiles and it should be posted in a few days on The Space Between Dream and Reality so come take a look within the week and I hope you like it :) Thanks a lot for following this story and for being patient. I'm a fail at updating, I know…

I posted this today to make your Friday the 13th not so bad :)!