Disclaimer: The author rightfully respects the genius of Tachibana Higuchi, creator of Gakuen Alice
Author's Note: Complete and utter nonsense, created just for fun, so much that if I get any technical comments on this one, I just might give up on Humor. Ü Set before Compromise, written to cap off the month with a few more laughs.
It started as a harmless conversation. The boys were playing poker one late night and the discussion turned to girlfriends and dating. It wasn't something they normally talked about, but since three of them were now seeing someone, there was some merit in sharing secrets on how to navigate the intricacies of keeping a girl happy. However, because this was the Alice Academy, ordinary talks just wouldn't cut it and too soon the subject was turned into a novelty theme.
They almost turned it into another bet. Then it became a silent competition. By the end of the week, it became a full blown contest that resulted to—
"Test papers!" Mikan said in disbelief as she flipped through pages of what could only be called invasive but thorough information. "Vital statistics? Blood type? Hobbies? What is this?"
Hotaru raised the barrel of the baka gun higher, forcing Kitsuneme to lift his chin and Yuu to back away against the wall. "Speak up."
"It's not what you think—"
Sumire crossed her arms over her chest. "Oh, it better not be what I think. Have you been spying on us?"
"Not exactly," Yuu gulped. "It's really just harmless fun."
Hotaru's arm shifted and the gun came to rest on the Class Representative's chest. "Still think it's harmless now?"
"Hang on," Sumire said, reigning in Hotaru. She read over Mikan's shoulder then her eyes narrowed. "Sumire Shouda dances to techno music when she's in a funk— oh no, he didn't!"
"Who are you talking about?"
Sumire's eyes turned to steel. She turned her full-on glare at Yuu. "Only one person could possibly know that and he wouldn't dare write it down unless he had a reason."
Kitsuneme sighed in defeat. He and Yuu exchanged a glance then they turned back to the girls with helpless smiles. "What are you three doing tonight?"
"So what do you think this is about?" Nonoko asked Mikan as they took their seats inside one of the smaller auditoriums of the Alice Academy.
"We're not really sure, but Yuu said we wouldn't want to miss it."
Anna looked at the card their Class Representative had given them. It was plain black and only indicated a date and venue. "This looks intriguing. Thanks for asking us to come along."
"Who else would we bring?" Sumire put in. "He gave us six passes."
Wakako looked suspicious. "That was nice of him."
"He didn't exactly have a choice," Hotaru scoffed.
After Yuu had reluctantly given them the invitations, he wouldn't reveal any other details. He only mentioned that he would have to work harder since they would be sitting in the crowd. He also said the boys would kill him for letting them come, but since other people from their grade were going to be there, they had the right to attend too.
"So any guesses on what they're up to?" Anna prodded. Before anyone could respond the overhead lights began to dim and the bright lights at center stage came to life with a single switch. Their jaws dropped when they saw the set-up.
There were three podiums on one end that were lit in psychedelic colors. On the other side, Yuu and Kitsuneme stood behind a wide lectern, beaming at the crowd. Near the foot of the stage, Koko and Otonashi sat behind a table with separate microphones and water glasses. As if that wasn't enough to explain what was about to happen, uppity music started blaring over the speakers.
"It's a game show!" Sumire exclaimed then she began to laugh hysterically. Kitsuneme and Yuu's voice boomed over the song as they alternately delivered their lines.
"Welcome to the game show where points are arbitrary, prizes won't be given away and contestants are battling it out for nothing but male pride!"
Mikan recovered from her shock. "Oh, now I see how they got Natsume to do this."
"Our judges for tonight are Koko, whose Mind-reading Alice will know the contestants' answers before they even say them, and Otonashi, whose Divination Alice will give us historic and imminent perspectives for scenario questions!"
"Scenario questions?" Hotaru repeated. "I don't like the sound of that."
The audience applauded.
"Based on a preliminary exam, we have assigned noise-makers to our three contestants. First up, our top scorer, using the reputable buzzer, in a relationship with Sumire Shouda for twenty-two months, please welcome Mochiage!"
Mochu entered the stage, running and pumping his fists in the air.
"Next, using a decent bell with the second highest score, in a relationship with Hotaru Imai—the Ice Queen herself— for four months, Ruka Nogi!"
Ruka entered next, waved to the crowd then took his place on one of the platforms.
"And finally, with a dismal score in the exam and using the tolerable oinker, in a relationship with Mikan Sakura for six weeks, Natsume Hyuuga!"
Natsume came in with a scowl. He didn't acknowledge anyone and stared at the hosts as though he wanted nothing more than to annihilate the whole stage.
"Oinker?" Mikan questioned.
"Contestants, please test your noise-makers."
Bzzzt! went Mochu's buzzer.
Ding! Ding! replied Ruka's bell.
Oink! Oink! came Natsume's bleeper, followed by a ferocious growl that Kitsuneme and Yuu pretended not to hear.
"Ohh, oinker," Sumire said tongue in cheek. "Natsume looks furious, doesn't he?"
"And we've only just begun." Hotaru snapped a picture. She pulled out the Polaroid and handed it to Mikan. "For your scrapbook."
"For the First Round," Kitsuneme grinned, obviously enjoying his role. "Questions will come from basic school subjects such as Math and Science. Please always provide your answers in association with your girlfriend."
"Points, however useless they may be, will be awarded as follows," Yuu read off his cue card. "Fifteen points for the best answer, ten points for second best and five points for third best. No answer, no points."
"For questions with specific answers, only the first person with the correct answer will be awarded points," Kitsuneme added. "Did you get that?"
"Wow, they did work hard on this," Nonoko giggled while the contestants nodded.
"Contestants, are you ready?" Kitsuneme asked gleefully. The contestants placed one hand over their noise-makers. "Let's begin."
"First category, Math," Yuu cleared his throat. "If you leave your classroom after third period at 10:05, and your girlfriend leaves hers at 10:07, what time should you arrive at the tea pavilion for a 10:30 date?"
Oink! Oink! "Ten-thirty," Natsume said incredulously.
Ding! Ding! "Ten-fifteen," Ruka asserted. "I have to get there first."
Bzzzt! "Ten-oh-six," Mochu said confidently.
Ruka raised an eyebrow. "That's a minute after you left the classroom."
Natsume frowned. "You're saying you can make it to the tea pavilion from the Main Building in one minute?"
"I've done it before and I'll do it again. I can do forty-five seconds on a good day."
"Wow," Kitsuneme gave a thumbs-up sign. "I like that answer. Fifteen points, Mochu!"
"Ten points, Ruka," Yuu added.
"Five points, Natsume," they said together.
The crowd cheered.
"Hang on!" Natsume protested, "I wasn't late for the date!"
"Best answer Natsume," Yuu reminded him. "Those are the rules, and Mochu kind of outdid you on that one."
"Next question," Kitsuneme went on before Natsume could argue, "For Science, what cup of tea would soothe your girlfriend's soul if the store didn't have the sweater she wants in her size?"
"Why is that Science?" Natsume demanded.
Bzzzt! "Chamomile and lemon."
Ding! Ding! "Jasmine and honey."
He blew out his breath. Oink! Oink! "Chai tea?"
A siren sounded from the judges' table and red lights began flashing. Otonashi took the mic, "Wrong answer." She raised a hand to her forehead. "Mikan says, it's honey and lemon."
"I concur," Koko said gleefully.
"I didn't say anything!" Mikan protested from her seat but the other girls only laughed.
"Take another fifteen, Mochu. Next question," Yuu said anxiously avoiding Natsume's lethal gaze. "For Social Studies. It's your second anniversary. It's also your girlfriend's best friend's birthday. What should you do?"
"That is not my problem," Natsume grumbled.
Ding! Ding! "I'll talk to the best friend to make sure our plans don't clash."
Bzzzt! "I'll bake a cake."
"Please be specific," Yuu said sternly. "For whom?"
"Her best friend."
"Fifteen points, Mochu! You've got this boyfriend thing down pat."
Oink, oink! Oink, oink! Oink, oink!
"Natsume, your hand is on your oinker."
"Point of contention. How in god's name will Mochu bake a cake when he doesn't know his way around the kitchen?"
"It's the thought that counts," Mochu and Ruka chorused. They high-fived then simultaneously ducked when a fireball whizzed over their heads.
"No Alices! No Alices!" Koko cried beating his gavel loudly. "Don't make us deduct points, Natsume. You'll be in the negative zone— hey! No firing at the judges table either! Jeez!"
"If I can't challenge the answer, I challenge the category," Natsume griped. "That's not Social Studies. That's Politics."
Otonashi smiled wanly. "Fine, let it show on the record. Can we move on?"
Natsume gave a curt nod. Kitsuneme flipped through his cards. "Our next two questions will be for Chick Math. Pencils and papers ready."
"I have in my hand your respective anniversaries," Yuu began. "If today is February 26 and you missed your last anniversary, what will you celebrate with your girlfriend come the next weekend? Please answer to the precise monthsary."
"No freaking way!" Natsume threw his pencil down in annoyance.
"It's a trick question," Mochu said confidently. "We won't be celebrating a monthsary. Instead we'll be having a conciliatory dinner for the last anniversary we missed."
"Security! Security!" Koko cried when Natsume suddenly left his podium and marched up to the judges' table. He snatched the question card from Koko then read through it. Afterwards, they had a heated conversation, which Otonashi cleverly muted by placing a hand over the microphone.
Sumire sing-songed, "Pass the popcorn, please."
"Exactly what kind of training did you put Mochu through?" Anna laughed when they saw that Sumire was in a very good mood.
"I was just being myself, darling."
"Well it worked. Mochu's got this game in the bag."
"And we're back," Kitsuneme said after Ruka managed to wrestle Natsume away from the judges and Yuu coaxed him back to his place.
"Still on Chick Math," Yuu said, straightening his coat. "I missed a date to hang out with friends. How many boxes of chocolate will it take before my girlfriend takes me back?"
Mochu raised his hand to clarify, "Was I slapped?"
Kitsuneme turned to the side table. "Judges?"
"No, you weren't slapped," Koko called out.
"Yet," Otonashi threw in.
Natsume stared at the blank paper in front of him. Ruka and Mochu were scribbling furiously but to his knowledge there was no algebraic equation ever formulated to produce a solution to that ridiculous math problem.
"You have got to be kidding me!" he exclaimed.
"Twenty-two," Ruka said into the microphone.
"Wrong," Yuu said and Natsume threw up his hands.
"Correct!" Kitsuneme said gleefully. "Natsume, no answer?"
"Yes, because I'm sane."
"Moving on to the Lightning Round," Yuu said hastily. "We will be asking a series of random questions. Feel free to buzz in any time. First question: True or False, I bid my girlfriend good night last night."
Ding! Ding! "True."
Oink! Oink! "False."
"Points for all except Hyuuga."
"But I didn't say good night!" he snarled.
The audience gasped comically. Kitsuneme shook his head with regret. "I'm sorry Natsume, but the correct answer to that is always 'True'. Better luck next time, buddy."
"Better greet me 'good night' next time," Mikan called out. Natsume sent her a dark look and she saucily blew him a kiss.
"Next question: Does this dress make me look fat?"
Oink! Oink! "No."
Ding! Ding! "Don't be ridiculous."
Bzzzt! "You look beautiful no matter what you wear, hon."
"Fifteen to Mochu, ten for Ruka," Yuu awarded with a sheepish smile. "Five points, Natsume. Survey says, 'no' just doesn't cut it anymore."
"Oh, come on—"
"Next question: What do you think?"
"About what?" Natsume asked blankly.
Ding! Ding! "You're absolutely right."
Bzzzt! "I was wrong."
The audience laughed at their impulse answers. The look Natsume gave the two hen-pecked wusses next to him was absolutely venomous as Yuu awarded him zero points again.
In the stands, Mikan was having a ball. Sure, the questions were outrageous and the expected answers were borderline chauvinistic, but it was still fun seeing her boyfriend battle it out with the others for something so silly. She knew he was trying his damn hardest down there, even if he was failing miserably, and she'd be an idiot not to find that endearing.
"Next question: Were you checking her out?"
Oink! Oink! "Of course not."
Ding! Ding! "There's nothing to see there."
Bzzzt! "Yes, but she's got nothing on you."
At that answer, Ruka and Natsume turned to Mochu at the same time. The girls began to cheer loudly at the gobsmacked look on the top two.
"Honest and flattering," Hotaru nodded. "I actually like it." She slapped hands with Sumire. Mikan giggled softly when her boyfriend finally snapped out of it and returned to the contest.
"Final question for the First Round: What makes your girlfriend smile?"
Ding! Ding! "Million-dollar inventions."
Bzzzt! "Perfume, specifically fragrance number 5 of Imperial Mist."
Oink! Oink! Natsume looked wearily at the audience then caught his girlfriend's gaze. He rolled his eyes before leaning towards the microphone to say, "Me."
Kitsuneme whooped, then he and Yuu high-fived. "Fifteen points, Natsume!"
Nonoko clapped appreciatively when Ruka and Mochu reached over to give Natsume a pat on the back. "I think he's learning, Mikan."
But Mikan shook her head and grinned. "No, he's just being honest."
"And that concludes the First Round," Yuu said with relief. "We'll be taking a ten-minute break then when we come back, we'll go straight into the Intermediate level questions…"
After the 'program', Natsume sat on the front steps of the main building with a towel over his head. Having taken a mean beating inside the auditorium, he was in no mood to be around other people. Even now his head swam with nonsensical information that he wouldn't hesitate to dismiss, if only he was sure Mikan wasn't expecting him to remember everything.
A girl can't have too many pairs of shoes. A boyfriend who says otherwise should be ready to have his ass kicked.
Anniversary dates are sacred and cannot be cancelled for any sporting event, except the Superbowl, the World Cup and any championship game of a team you worship.
You're not allowed to give relationship advice to her best friend, unless the best friend's boyfriend happens to be your good friend too.
"I did not sign up for this," he muttered.
Behind him there was a chuckle. Natsume straightened and pulled the towel down to his shoulders. He nodded mutely to the champion of the game, Mochiage, twenty-two months in a relationship and declared supreme wuss of Class B.
"It wasn't that bad, you know."
"Were you in there?" Natsume asked derisively. "Before I had the chance to register Mikan's favorite color, she was shouting from the audience, 'It's the color of your eyes, stupid!'"
"All right, but it wasn't all bad," Mochu insisted. He sat on the steps too and grinned. "You sure shut me up when you said you made your girlfriend smile."
Natsume looked away. "Mochu, if I wanted my answers repeated to me, I'd be sitting with Youichi right now."
He laughed again. "You'll get the hang of it."
"I'm not sure I want to," he grumbled. "It sounds like a lot of work."
He shook his head. "That's just it. It's not. To tell you the truth Natsume, all my answers in there were practically second nature."
"How is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"I'm saying that one day you won't even have to try. You'll be asked the same questions and you'll know what to say. Not because you studied hard or because you interviewed your girlfriend beforehand. You'll just know."
Natsume raised an eyebrow. "Mochiage, are you seriously dishing out relationship advice?"
Mochu gulped. "Uh... yeah?"
He snickered. "Well, how about that?"
Behind them the door opened and Mochu immediately stood up. Mikan approached her boyfriend with a devilish smile. When Natsume spotted her, he groaned.
"Someone shut her up."
Mochu gave him a hearty pat on the back then left them alone. Mikan took his place then breathed out. "That was entertaining."
"I'm breaking up with you if you make fun of me."
Mikan laughed. "Don't be so drastic. You got a couple of points in. I particularly liked the part when you said you'd burn the goddamn restaurant down if they didn't give me my dessert."
"Stupid scenario questions," he spoke grimly. He draped an arm around her shoulders. "Think your boyfriend is a loser?"
"I think my boyfriend needs a lot of work," she said diplomatically. "But I already knew that before this stupid contest."
"But it doesn't matter Natsume." Mikan turned to face him. "I'm not with you because you know me so well. Actually, I'm more interested in what I learn about myself because I'm with you."
Natsume stared. "When did you become smart?"
She laughed. "You wouldn't want to date a dumb chick so I'm trying really hard."
Natsume laughed quietly to himself. He brushed a stray lock away from her face. Mikan didn't even flinch when he leaned closer to claim his reward for suffering public humiliation. It was a snapshot moment: Natsume Hyuuga sat at the front steps of the school kissing Mikan Sakura, his girlfriend of one month and two weeks. And counting.
When they broke apart, she smiled brightly. "Hey Natsume, what's my shoe size?"
Her boyfriend blinked then swore under his breath. He realized he had to try really hard too. "I'll tell you tomorrow."
Additional Note: The fandom was sweet on me this month so this is dedicated to everyone who celebrated November with me through their reviews and PMs. I may not reply very often but believe me when I say I have a strong recognition for handles so I'm pretty familiar with the regulars. So thank you.
November Romeo signing off in three… two… one… — Ü