Disclaimer: I do not own Gakuen Alice. [:

The Best Man

"I guess I should say congratulations."

Mikan looked behind her and saw a dark haired man walking her way—the best man. His confusing ruby eyes wandered from the trees, to the fountain, to the swing, and then to the brunette sitting on it.

Moments ago, Mikan exchanged vows with Ruka. Not just vows; rings, "I do"s, kisses... everything. And all Natsume could do was watch and try not to walk out of the church.

"Only if you mean it," Mikan answered when he finally looked her in the eye.

"Well, then…" Natsume took a seat beside her on the swing in the gazebo. "Never mind the congratulating."

Mikan sighed and shook her head at Natsume's choice of response. He couldn't possibly have felt bad about this. Or could he?

Mikan hesitated for a while, but when she looked at him and saw the lonely look in his eyes, she rested her head on his shoulder and wrapped an arm around his.

"I love Ruka, Natsume," Mikan said.

"I know," Natsume looked down, fiddling with the cuffs on his rented tux. He didn't want to play the victim in this situation but he couldn't help but feel like he was. "So what was it that made you say yes to him?" He couldn't help it; he just had to ask her.

"I have been waiting for that question for months," Mikan exhaled a laugh. She closed her eyes for a moment, her eyebrows curled before opening her eyes once more. "Let's not fight, Natsume," was all she could get out of her system.

"I'm not here for a fight," Natsume sighed. A fight with his best friend would have been fulfilling, but this was an important day for Mikan and he didn't want to ruin it for her.

"I just knew," Mikan answered. "I just realized one morning that it was the thing I've always wanted."

"Funny how you used to say getting married was overrated," Natsume looked down, "which was why you said no to me two years ago."

"That was, as you said, two years ago," Mikan played with the veil that she wore an hour ago, "I guess my views changed and that's when I realized that getting married was something I wanted to do."

"You wanted to get married?" Natsume asked, wondering if Mikan meant what she said, or if she'd only said those things for the sake of having something to say.

Mikan pondered on it for a moment and finally said, "I wanted to be happy with someone I love."

Natsume was left speechless. It's not that he was miraculously touched by what Mikan said, but he just couldn't find the right words to say. Nothing simple, nothing nice, nothing sarcastic, not even anything mean.

They remained silent for what seemed like forever, but that didn't matter; Mikan was tired, and Natsume wouldn't be having her for himself anymore, time alone together was all they could both ask for. The silence was comforting and the autumn breeze was calming. The gazebo they were in sat under a dozen Sakura trees, which was nostalgic for them both.

"So are you happy?" Natsume asked. Though extremely delayed, his follow-up question for her last statement didn't seem as awkward as he expected it would be.

"Yes," Mikan responded at once, "yes, I am." She smiled.

Natsume held his emotions back, but wasn't able to fight the urge to wrap an arm around the brunette and kiss her on the forehead.

"Mikan," another man's voice called from behind them, "Hotaru's been looking all over for you. She says you have to change for the reception."

Mikan turned to look at her husband. "Coming," she said chirpily.

"Thanks for the time, Natsume," Mikan gave him a hug and walked to Ruka, carrying her dress, not wanting to get grass stains on the white material.

"You haven't been cheating on me already, have you?" Ruka joked.

"You wish," said Mikan, giving him a light punch before heading back inside with him.

"We'll see you in a while, Natsume," Ruka looked back at his best friend who now sat alone on the swing.

"Sure," Natsume nodded.

The couple made their way inside. But before reentering through the sliding door, Natsume called out again. "Oh," his raspy voice managed to travel quickly enough. The newlyweds looked at him. It wasn't easy for him to get the words out, but he managed to say it clearly enough. "Congratulations."

His insides felt lighter now that he finally got it out of himself. He regretted it, and he didn't know if he meant it himself. But he was able to say it, and that was saying something.

Mikan was surprised. She looked at him intently, and, after finally realizing how much it might have meant for him to say that, she smiled.

Things were never going to be the same again.

Author's Notes: The idea of the first bit came to me one night before going to bed, so I wrote it down on my notebook. I kept writing and writing and ended up finishing a whole one shot in less than an hour. It's a miracle, really. Usually, I don't even manage to type up a five hundred words in an hour on the computer, never mind with pen and paper. :P

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