Author's Note: I wanted to try writing a MikanXNatsume fanfic that is not a oneshot :) But I have to admit, my ideas are rather cliche, so sad :(
Disclaimer: I don't own Gakuen Alice, and I never will.
It's Just an Act, Right?
Chapter 1: Too Many Surprises
Who am I? It's an idiot-proof question, I know, but somehow I can't answer it.
'Miss Sakura, I wish to express my greatest apologies to you. I did not want to do this, but this is really my last resort. Your possessions have all been placed outside your apartment. Please pick them up as soon as possible and please do not bother to contact me. I will not listen to your pleas about letting you pay your rent as soon as you have the money.
I stared blankly at the slip of paper pasted on the front door of my apartment. Oh, wait, it should be 'of my ex-apartment'. Boxes filled with my possessions (my books, shoes and clothes, but honestly, I don't have much of those) were dumped outside the apartment. My polka-dotted suitcase looked like it had been hurled on top of the boxes. 'Placed outside your apartment'? Oh, please, it was more like 'thrown and possibly kicked out of your apartment'. That landlord was such a cow. A horrible, bad-tempered, crabby cow. I inhaled sharply, screwed up the slip of paper into a ball and hurled it at the apartment's door. Feeling humiliated, I picked up the handle of my suitcase. How in the world was I going to carry all that stuff? It wasn't as if I was an octopus with eight legs!
In the end, I managed to balance two boxes on top of my suitcase and carry the others tucked under my other arm. I felt dizzy and groggy and pissed, walking under the boiling sun with my arms full of luggage. I knew I was attracting many stares from by-passers, and I felt my face burn. It wasn't my fault I was fired and couldn't pay my rent, was it? Was it? That bitch Sumire Shouda stole my job! I felt my eyes prick with tears, with the injustice of it all. I was a pathetic homeless woman; jobless, homeless, boyfriend-less and everything-less. I had nothing. To my horror, tears were streaming down my face. Great, just great. Now besides being jobless and homeless, not to mention boyfriend-less, I was a 24-year-old woman with bloodshot eyes and a face streaked with dried tears. I struggled along the streets, clutching my luggage in my hands. I had no idea where I was headed. I didn't even have a home to go back to. My parents died when I was young.
"Oh, God, please help me!" I muttered out loud, looking up at the sky.
The sun almost blinded me.
"Please... help... me..." I murmured, and suddenly the world spun around me and turned pitch-black.
I struggled to open my eyes, but my eyelids felt heavy. I finally managed to peel my eyes open, but the world was still spinning, so I shut them again. What happened, exactly? Was I mugged? Oh God, that must be it! The mugger must have hit my head with a baseball bat or something. Ow.
"Misaki-san? Are you awake?" a female voice said.
My eyes flew open and I jumped up as though I had been scalded. A pretty girl of about 20 with shoulder-length black hair and mesmerising crimson eyes was standing in front of me, a concerned look on her face. Instinctively, I glanced around and inhaled sharply. Where in the world was I? Behind me was an expensive-looking cream-coloured couch which I had been lying on. The room I was in was posh and modern. There was a wall with ceiling-to-floor windows and the floor was carpeted in black. There was a king-sized black and white bed on a raised platform and a glass-topped study table in a corner.
Okay, this must be a freaky dream, I tried to convince myself. Or else, how would I end up in this posh place with a pretty stranger calling me... what was it again? Oh, right, Misaki.
I twisted the flesh on my arm and yelped in pain. So it wasn't a dream. I tried not to freak out.
"Um, excuse me, but... you must have made a mistake. I have no idea where I am and who you are," I managed to say.
The girl's eyes widened in horror. "Misaki-san, did you have a concussion or something? Are you suffering from amnesia? Oh my! We must get Dr. Yamada here as soon as possible!"
"No," I answered, confused. "Seriously, I'm not... Misaki. I'm Mikan Sakura."
The girl stared at me as the way Abraham Lincoln might have stared at an astronaut. "Oh dear! You must have hit your head pretty hard!"
I gritted my teeth in frustration. "I'm telling you, I'm Mikan Sakura and there's no mistake about that. I'm not suffering from amnesia or anything. I just fainted from heat stroke or something while walking in the streets and when I wake up, I find myself in a room with a stranger who keeps telling me that I'm suffering from amnesia and that I'm Misaki, whoever she is!"
I panted slightly from the long rant. The girl blinked a few times.
"But, if you're Misaki-san, you don't have to pretend! I won't tell my brother that you were here! You can confide in me, and tell me why you chose to leave my brother! I will try to get him to change, really, I promise you!"
"For God's sake, I am not Misaki! And I have no idea what the hell you're talking about!" I snapped in frustration.
I stuck my hand into my pocket defensively and whipped out my wallet. I guess I was not mugged, then. I pulled out my identity card and shoved it under the girl's nose.
"There, you see? Mikan Sakura and not Misaki," I said triumphantly.
The girl crossed her arms across her chest and frowned. "Oh, I must have made a mistake then. I'm extremely sorry. But you know, your face looks exactly like Misaki-san's, except for your hair... Anyway, I found you on the streets unconscious and just brought you back here, thinking that you were Misaki-san. She's my elder brother's fiance, you know. I mean, she was."
"Was?" I wondered aloud.
The girl nodded and flopped onto the cream-coloured couch, gesturing for me to sit beside her. "Yeah. Oh, and by the way, my name is Aoi Hyuuga. Nice to meet you. So, anyway, Misaki-san was my brother, Natsume's fiancée, until she ran away a couple of weeks ago. We never heard from her ever since."
"That's kinda sad," I mumbled.
"It is," Aoi shrugged. "The trouble is, Natsume-nii doesn't care. Not even a single bit. And I can tell he's not pretending that he couldn't care less. I know him inside-out, practically, though sometimes I really can't tell what's going on in that head of his."
"Aoi!" a deep voice suddenly boomed out and the doors to Aoi's room burst open. "What the hell is going on? I heard from one of the maids that you've brought Harada here."
A drop-dead-gorgeous guy around my age was standing at the door. He was clad in a long-sleeved black T-shirt faintly showing his abs and faded blue jeans. His features were the closest thing to flawless I've ever seen and he had beautiful but slightly scary crimson eyes and tousled, jet-black hair. Just one thing that stops him from being best-boyfriend-material-ever: his mouth, which was curled downwards in an annoyed way. His ruby eyes flickered past Aoi and rested on me skeptically. Spots of red appeared in my cheeks and I had to drop my eyes from his too-intense gaze.
"Natsume-nii, they made a mistake. I made a mistake," Aoi retorted, rolling her eyes. "Although Sakura-san here might look the spitting image of Misaki-san, but she's not Misaki-san."
"Oh?" Natsume's eyes narrowed. He stared at me intensely. Well, more like glared, actually. "Come with me, young lady over there."
"What?" I gasped. How dare he order me about!
Natsume walked up to me and grabbed my arm, dragging me up from the couch.
"Natsume-nii!" Aoi protested, but Natsume shot her a death glare and she shut up, giving me an apologetic smile. "Don't worry, he won't hurt you," she mouthed to me.
Natsume dragged me from the room and down a long hallway. The walls on either side of me were decorated with a few framed pictures and paintings. He pushed open a heavy wooden door at the end of the hallway. The room was his office, I supposed. There was a big, smooth black table facing away from the glass wall and three bookshelves piled with thick books against another wall. Framed diplomas, certificates, pictures and whatnot were hung above the bookshelves and the other walls. He pointed to a black swivel chair which was facing the glass wall in front of the huge desk and commanded me to sit. Reluctantly, I sank down onto the soft black leather. He threw himself into a matching chair on the opposite of the mahogany desk and placed his elbows on the desk, leaning forward.
"What's your name?" he asked in a husky voice.
"M-Mikan Sakura..." I answered, enthralled by those scarlet orbs of his and slightly frightened. What was he going to do to me? Why was I even here in the first place?
"Hn, same as me," Natsume rolled his eyes and he leaned back in his chair. "I saw a whole bunch of luggage in the living room. Polka-dotted suitcases. Do they, by any chance, belong to you?"
"I reckoned. I mean, polka-dots? How matching for an immature girl like you," he smirked.
"What?" I gaped at him.
"Oh, shut up. I won't beat about the bush, then. I'll just tell you what I want you to do," Natsume said as he rooted about inside the drawers of his desk and pulled out a slightly dusty colour print. He pushed it across the table to me.
I picked it up and studied it. It was a photograph of a pretty pink-haired girl who was around my age. She was sitting on a tree trunk and smiling at the camera, but I could tell that the smile did not reach her eyes. It probably took her a lot of effort to put it there. I'd always been rather sensitive to things like that. Also, she really looked a lot like me. No wonder Aoi mistook me for her initially.
"Who is this, and why are you showing me her photo?" I inquired.
"She's Misaki Harada, my... ex-fiancée," Natsume said slowly. "And I'll tell you the reason soon, be patient."
"O...kay...?" I said doubtfully. "Aoi told me about her. She said that she ran away a few weeks ago."
"Yeah. Glad that you know that. That means I don't have to waste my precious time explaining all these to you." He leaned back in his chair. "I want you, no, I need you to impersonate Misaki."
My jaw almost fell off my face. "You want me to impersonate her?"
"Do you have a hearing problem?" the raven-haired dude rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I said that, didn't I? And I feel no need to explain it to an idiot like you. I'll tell you the reason when I feel like it, but right now, I don't. Get that through that thick head of yours. Don't say anything unless I tell you to, is that clear?"
I nodded, still too stunned to open my mouth to protest.
"Good. Judging from all those luggage you were carrying, you're homeless, aren't you?"
Once again, I nodded.
Did I just hear him correctly? Very good? Who says that to someone when he's told that the person is homeless? Well, I guessed that a blasted sadist like Natsume Hyuuga would.
"If you agree to impersonate Harada... scratch that, when you agree to impersonate her, you will no longer be homeless. You'll live in this house, because she used to live here too. And you heard that right, I'm not giving you a choice. You have to agree, or else you'll get it," he ended in a dangerous voice. "Also, if you agree, you'll have loads of benefits besides getting to live in this state-of-the-art mansion. You'll get a well-paid job, more... feminine clothes..." He glanced at my outfit from head to toe and smirked when he said the word 'feminine'. I blushed. I was clad in a white T-shirt and shorts.
"Well, you'll get to know more about this whole thing as this little pretense goes on, so don't get your panties in a twist about it," Natsume dead-panned. "Like I said, you have to do this. You don't have a choice."
"What if I don't want to?" I challenged.
He just smirked and pulled out a stiff rectangular card from a card holder on his desk. I took it from him gingerly and my eyes just about popped out of their sockets. Vice-CEO of... HyuugaRashi Co.? HyuugaRashi was a big, scratch that, humungous company which manufactures electrical products. It was like the most famous brand of electrical products ever. Well, I had a oven manufactured by them in my old apartment, now that I thought about it. But I'd rather not think about that stupid apartment and that idiotic landlord who deserved a good kick in his groin.
"We have connections. If you don't want to, well, I'll make sure you become a wanted man, or rather, woman, and drive you into a corner until you agree to," Natsume shot back in a I'm-the-boss-and-you-listen-to-me voice.
"You're blackmailing me?" I stared at him.
"Do people who are blackmailed get to live in a huge house, have maids wait on them and a high-paying job?" he asked in a fake innocent voice.
I cursed under my breath. "Fine, okay? Jeez, just don't make me wanted all over the country. I don't want to be a fugitive on the run." Well, it sounds great, anyway, no matter how crazy it is, I reasoned with myself. I don't have to worry about having no home and job now, right?
"This is the only thing coming out of your mouth that I agree with," Natsume said, a grin tugging at his lips. "Stubborn, childish girl."
I was about to retort that he was a blackmailing jerk when he suddenly snapped his fingers and removed a small, black velvet jewellery box from a drawer. He pushed it towards me and commanded me to open it. Carefully, I opened it to reveal a beautiful diamond ring nestled in a nest of black satin. It was a princess-cut twist engagement ring. It was absolutely stunning.
"It was Harada's engagement ring. She left it behind. I guess she's not a greedy woman," I heard Natsume say in a monotonous voice.
"W-Wow, it's beautiful," I breathed.
"Is it?" Natsume rolled his eyes. "That's what Harada said. You two have pretty much the same personalities. Idiotic, clumsy, always smiling like there's no tomorrow, stubborn."
I was too mersmerised by the ring to argue with that jerk.
"What are you waiting for, idiot? Put it on," he sighed.
"M-Me?" I looked up at him, my eyes widening. I really had had too many surprises that day.
"Duh," Natsume snapped, as if it was the most obvious thing ever. "You're now my fiancée, aren't you?"
"B-But we're just pretending..."
"So what? All the more you should wear it, right? God, you're really an idiot," my fake fiancé muttered as he lifted himself from his chair and walked over to me. He removed the exquisite ring from its bed of satin, bent down, lifted my left hand and slipped the ring onto my ring finger. It fitted perfectly, as though it was always meant to be there. This is just an act, I reminded myself. I felt all giddy. During the morning of a perfectly normal (but it turned out to be otherwise) Saturday morning, I was thrown out of my apartment by my goddamned landlord, and by the end of it, I got... engaged (I found it so hard to process that word in my brain) to a drool-worthy rich young man. And okay, he was a rude and sadistic jackass.
"Hm, it fits you. Good, I don't have to waste time getting the size changed then." Natsume nodded in approval. "As I said, my time is very precious and I'm a busy man. I'll talk about this in detail with you tomorrow, including what you have to do. If you have any questions, ask them tomorrow. I've got the maids to bring your stuff to Harada's room. It's on the right of Aoi's room. You can use and wear whatever stuff in that room, it's all yours now. I might pop over later, if I have time. Now go."
I nodded, still in a daze. "Um, Natsume? Thank you very much. I was a wreck, I didn't know where to go and what to do. I was even planning to sleep on the streets, honestly. I thought I was going to end up as a beggar. I was jobless and homeless, but err, you helped me out. So, thanks." I finally managed to blurt out and smiled at him.
"You did me a favour too," he admitted grudgingly. "And good that you've managed to remember my name... Mikan..."
My eyes widened again, but I smiled softly. I'd had so many surprises that day that I should be immune to them already. My face turned a little pink. I'd noticed that he called Misaki-san 'Harada', but why did he call me by my first name?
"Um, sure, no problem," I said easily. No problem? Right, as if posing as someone you've never even met is a mere 'no problem' task. But I wasn't complaining, seriously. Natsume really did me a huge favour. I would try my very best to help him out, even though I didn't know why I was doing it. But he was going to tell me, right? And who would ask a stranger to pose as his fiancée if he wasn't desperate enough to do it? All the more I should help him.
I beamed at him and walked out of the room to 'my' room. I wondered whether I'd wake up and find that this was all a dream. And I had no idea whether I wanted this to be a dream or not.
That's it for the first chapter. :) Please tell me what you think by reviewing, pretty please? I need to know whether I should continue this. :3 Also, I know that Mikan and Misaki probably don't look alike, but there's this chapter in the manga where Misaki poses as Mikan to cover for her, right? So yeah, I decided Misaki is probably the one who looks the most similar to Mikan ^^ Don't hesitate to point out my errors as well. :)