"Someone's gonna give Mikan lots of kisses tomorrow at the school rooftop!" Or so the rumor says. Natsume's out to kill the bastard before that even happens. And Ruka discusses the pros and cons of being Natsume's best friend. Mikan/?

Zero*Clue: Hm… I don't have much to say, really. It's kinda predictable. Really. And pathetically so.

Warning/s: Uhm, OOC Ruka! Pissed off Natsume. And some OOCness in his part too.

This story has been sitting around for, like, two years now.

I'm serious.

I just always lose inspiration to write it. But now it's here. FINALLY! It actually came out longer than I expected, so instead of a 6000 word oneshot, I'm splitting this into three parts. Yay? Anyways, enjoy!


To say that Natsume Hyuuga was, at the moment, mad, was an understatement. Ruka knew that much. He was not mad. He was not angry, either.

He was furious. Infuriated. Seething. And, for lack of better words, beyond pissed. Natsume was any and every adjective that was synonymous to states of great annoyance and rage combined.

"Natsume…" Ruka gently brushed his hand through his ferret's fur. "You're burning your essay."

Natsume ignored his bestfriend and continued to glare a hole through his assignment paper. Literally. Ruka sighed. Sad to say, this was not even the beginning of Natsume's manifestations of anger. Even sadder still, Ruka was stuck sitting through all of Natsume's rage episodes.

It came with the 'bestfriend' thing.

"Maybe what Mochu said was just a nasty rumor." Ruka tried again, coaxing the fire caster to converse with him. "I mean, this is Mikan we're talking about. Lots of false rumors have been flying about her ever since she started to get secret admirer notes."

Natsume's left eye twitched, though his eyes never left their piercing gaze at his essay. It was as if it was the paper's fault. Ruka will have to remind him later (when the kuroneko is in a better mood – Ruka wondered when that will be) that said paper was due tomorrow. But that was for later. Now, he opted to ask his friend, "You didn't know?"

Natsume shook his head. The silence made Ruka continue talking, if only because he had nothing better to do. Getting Natsume to calm down was a tough job, even for Ruka. So instead, the Ruka decided to humor the Black Cat with what he (Natsume) silently pleaded to know (well, he was pleading in Ruka's mind – on knees and all).

"Hm, well it's not that bad. She only got two or three admirers, from what I heard. She didn't answer any of 'em, though." At this, Ruka risked a smile. "It's a wonder how oblivious you can be about the girl you're stalking."

Ruka immediately regretted saying all he said when he saw the fire seeping through the paper and burning the wooden table that innocently stood in front of them. How unfortunate for the table.

"If it helps…" Mochu started. He should have escaped Natsume's wrath a while ago, but he was held down by said kuroneko's orders to stay, and the boy never left his side since. He did not want to die early, after all. Natsume glared at Mochu.

"Repeat everything you heard." Natsume ordered, cutting Mochu in mid-sentence. Though his voice was in a tone that would strike fear to many, Mochu was only a little more than intimidated. Natsume was a friend, after all. He would not kill poor Mochu…

… Right? It was hard to tell when Mikan was in the picture.

"W-well… I was walking in Central Town with Kitsuneme. We were looking for Koko and Yuu. They had been missing the whole morning." Mochu internally winced at the annoyed look Natsume gave him. Really, was it so hard to give Natsume the news without making yourself seem like the criminal? And besides, Natsume asked to know everything. Mochu couldn't just skip directly to what he overheard Mikan was talking. It ruins the story!

"Then?" Ruka asked.

"Uhm... We couldn't find them in Central Town so we stopped at a café for a while. Then I saw Mikan sitting at the table near us." At this, Natsume's interest intensified tenfold. Mochu gulped. It was hard being the narrator. Why couldn't Kitsuneme have eavesdropped as well? "She was talking to Hotaru excitedly about some guy who was planning to give her kisses tomorrow. But that was all I heard. They left shortly after that."

"Are you sure it was a guy?" Ruka asked. Then he internally facepalmed. "N-nevermind. I suppose it would only make it worse – if not awkward – if it was a girl."

Silence resumed after that. Natsume decided to glare at the wall this time. Thankfully, Natsume's fire couldn't burn through the cement. At least not yet (because Ruka knows Natsume's fire is a different kind of fire. It burns through water, for heaven's sake.). A few more moments later, Natsume stood up.

"Natsume?" Mochu and Ruka watched the boy walk away. He stopped at the doorframe.

"Let's go Ruka." Was Natsume's simple order before walking out. Ruka obediently followed. How he dreaded being the kuroneko's bestfriend right now.

It was around 1 p.m. when Natsume actually decided to hunt the guy – or the "soon-to-be-dead bastard", as Natsume would have it. Well, 'decided' was a strong word. It was more like Ruka forced Natsume to eat some lunch before actually hunting the guy.

"You can't kill a bastard with a conflagration of flames and embers on an empty stomach!" Ruka cheerfully added (Mikan was seriously rubbing off on him) when he was able to make Natsume sit down and actually chew on something edible. Well, it was more like Natsume reluctantly and violently chomped down on the poor vegetables and meat. Hurriedly, Ruka might add. Ruka was definitely beyond amused; all fear of being incinerated vanished when he reminded himself that he "was, is, and will always be Natsume's bestfriend." It was one of the one-way tickets to a safe life in Alice Academy.

Of course, one of the other tickets would be stealing Natsume's heart. Although Ruka would have to double think that someday. How was that working out for Mikan's hair again?

Anyway, back to the hunt. Natsume's hunting squad consisted of four brave soldiers. Or rather, one enraged general, one amused second-in-command, and two unwilling privates. The five-star general was, of course, Natsume; all of his rage was focused on the current mission: find the soon-to-be-dead bastard, kill the soon-to-be-dead bastard, and burn the by-then-dead-beyond-recognition bastard's body. His second-in-command was his loyal bestfriend Ruka, who was always and eternally thankful for the privileges of being Natsume's bestfriend (such as having an automatic anti-fire immunity). The third and fourth members were the unwilling privates, Kitsuneme and Mochu. Kitsuneme and Mochu tried to escape (of course), but Fortune had not been so favorable on them. Oh well. More amusement for Ruka's pleasure.

Three hours later…

"Natsume, there's nothing you can do about it..." Ruka bravely spoke after a while of pointless searching. Natsume gave him a deadly glare, but that was all. No blood was shed on Ruka's part. Once again, the benefits of the 'bestfriend' label. "... unless we have some way to find out who Mikan's meeting tomorrow."

"But Hotaru and Mikan won't talk. They were avoiding any chance of ta;king with us at least." Kitsuneme said. Natsume hissed. "But I think Mikan's oblivious as to why Hotaru wants to avoid talking. Seems like she doesn't know we're on to her."

"And Mikan has a lot of admirers. Well, not as many as you guys, of course. But there's a good few." Mochu pointed out. At this, Natsume walked away. He suddenly had a brilliant idea.

"Let's go Ruka. I know what we're gonna do." He said without glancing back to see if his follower (ahem, I mean bestfriend) would come along. Natsume wasn't going to give him a choice, really.

"Where are we going?"

"We're gonna eliminate a few people."

("Does this mean we're free?" Mochu whispered. When no answer came, he and Kitsuneme quietly took off to the opposite direction.)

"Tsubasa Andou, Ken Hiroto, Akira Hikari…" Anna's voice trailed off. "Oh! And there's this exchange student from Britain's Alice Academy. His name is John Smith, I think."

"Thank you, Anna!" Yuu said, his shoulders slumping down as if a huge burden had been lifted. He let out a sigh of relief. "You don't know how much my life depended on this!"

"Well, they're not exactly secret anymore, so I don't see the harm in telling you." She said. "Why do you need to know, anyway? Don't tell me…"

"No!" Yuu cried. "It's not me. It's Natsume-kun."

Anna blinked. "Natsume...? Oh, I see. He must have heard the rumor."

"What rumor?"

"You didn't know? But Natsume hired you…" Anna stopped to think for a second. Yuu shook his head in response to her question. "Well, there's a rumor going around that someone's gonna give Mikan a kiss at the school rooftop."

"What?" Yuu paled. He knew it wasn't his responsibility, but it felt like another burden weighed heavily on his shoulders. Perhaps it was just Class Rep instincts. "Who?"

"I don't know." Anna said. "Nobody does. And Hotaru's dragging Mikan somewhere safe from prying people, although Mikan doesn't seem to know that she's being talked about."

"Oh dear. Natsume's gonna kill someone!"