Author's Note: Thank you for all your wonderful reviews, they made me so bloody happy. *sniffs* My mom's obsessed with the alleged doomsday on 21 Dec and it's kind of rubbing off me. OTL.


Chapter 5

BOOM! Lightning tore across the sky and the thunder that followed made me jump an inch off the ground. Okay, so the rest of the world was catching up with us again. My purple/red ankle was not making things better.

His eyes crinkled at the corners, which was apparently his version of a smile. "No shit, Sherlock."

"Um..." I trailed off awkwardly, uncertain of what to say. I wished I could whip out my phone at that moment and Google "how the hell do you talk to a hot guy without sounding like a half-assed bimbo?"

"What do you want?" Natsume crossed one arm over his chest, the one that was not holding the umbrella. I suddenly wished he wasn't wearing all those layers of clothes just so I could catch a glimpse of his biceps...

"Err..." Boom! "It's kind of... wet here. Um, want to head to my place to, er, talk instead?"

"Thought you'd never ask," he drawled.

I followed him to a sleek black motorcycle parked by the side of the road, flinching when another bolt of pain shot through my ankle. I distracted myself from it by staring at Natsume's sexy back, the ripple of muscles in his shoulders as he closed his umbrella and dumped it in the little storage compartment. He tossed a black helmet at me and pulled one over his tousled hair.

I was struggling to buckle the strap when he leaned over and helped me with it. I tried not to notice that he was so close that I could feel his breath on my neck, and that he smelled really nice— aftershave, shampoo and a musky scent.

"There, all done," he said, releasing the strap and stepping away, his eyes twinkling, as though he knew what I was thinking.

He hauled himself onto the motorcycle easily, and I followed suit, although not as effortlessly as he had made it seem. Soon, the motorcycle rumbled and came to life. Thrill and anticipation shot through me. I had never been on a motorcycle prior to that. Never. It had always been limousines, posh cars and, at the very least, taxis. As we zoomed along on the road, leaving a trail of smoke behind us, I yelped.

"Hold on tight," Natsume raised his voice over the roar of the bike. The bike jerked and I quickly wrapped my arms tightly around his hard torso.

"This is amazing!" I shouted as the wind whipped at my hair. The exhilaration— it was something I had never experienced before. I felt free, like a canary being released from its cage and finally being able to soar into the bright blue sky, the future, freedom. As Natsume took a sharp turn, my face slammed into his back and my arms instinctively curled tighter around his stomach.

"Woohoo! This is awesome!" I didn't know what came over me. It was as though Natsume had tore away my mask. I could stop pretending, stop hiding. Like I was a normal teenager. A teenager who was able to have fun, have tons of friends, let loose and relax. I wanted this moment to last forever.

When we pulled up at my house, I felt disappointment tug at my heart. We slipped off the bike and I handed my helmet to Natsume. His hair was even more messy and ruffled, thanks to the helmet, but he still managed to look as though he had just stepped out of the silver screen.

"Nice house," Natsume commented.

"T-Thanks," I mumbled. It hadn't occured to me how he had known my address. I was pretty sure I didn't tell him that. I peered curiously at him.

"How did you know where I live?" I inquired, cocking my head.

He looked a little startled, as though he wasn't expecting my question. A tiny frown appeared on his flawless face. He managed to turn it into an easy, heart-stopping half-smile.

"You told me," he said lightly.

"When?" I frowned.

"Before we got on the bike, remember?" he said casually, doubt no longer clouding his eyes.

"If you say so," I conceded. It didn't even matter, for God's sake. I must have told him, and forgotten about it. Yes, it must have been the exhilarating ride clouding my head. Who even cared how he knew where I lived?

"A-choo!" I sneezed, and mucus started dripping out of my nose. Damn, I was catching a cold from the rain.

"Easy there. Let's go in," Natsume suggested, a hint of anticipation creeping into his voice.

I suddenly let out a little scream as a though popped into my head. My father had said never to let anyone except Hotaru, the lady who cleaned the house for us every other day and his business partners and friends into our house. He had even made me sign an agreement. Jesus.

"Oh, wait. About that." I fiddled with the hem of my coat. "I'm not supposed to let anyone in there. My father is worried about me."

"Oh." He nodded, looking surprising not surprised. "It's okay. I'm a stranger, after all."

"No, not a stranger," I hastily amended. "You're a friend to me."

"Hmm, I see." I didn't know what I was expecting. I guess perhaps I was hoping he would say something like, 'Oh, you're my friend too!'

"Um, well... Maybe we could just sit around and talk for a bit?" I pointed to the outdoor rattan table with a huge open umbrella plopped in the middle.

He seemed to consider this for a while. "Yeah, sure. Whatever."

I hobbled towards the table and the matching chairs surrounding it, wincing at my stupid swollen ankle. At times like this, I would lament, 'Why the hell is my freaking garden so big? What do I do— eat grass every day? Maybe then I'd like a garden this big.' In the middle of my mental cursing, I accidentally slammed my right foot into a ceramic pot filled with soil, overflowing with lush green leaves and purple flowers. I couldn't help the loud groan that escaped my mouth. I sank down on the soft grass in pain, clutching my leg.

"You okay?" Natsume was by my side in five seconds flat, his face a mask of concern.

"Y-Yeah. Nothing wrong," I forced a smile, but the traitorous tears that leaked out of my eyes contradicted my words. Damn.

Natsume shot me a dirty look and pressed on my leg, which was clad in my sopping wet tights. "What is it?" he demanded.

"M-My ankle." I pointed at my right foot.

He removed my shoe gently and ta-dah, my ankle which was decorated with purple bruises was on show. He touched a finger to it gently and I flinched.

"It should be twisted," he said in a severe voice. "Come on, I'll bring you to the hospital."

"Hospital?" I yelped. "No!"

"You must get it checked, you stupid girl!" Natsume shot an Arctic glare at me. "I don't give a shit, I'll drag you to the hospital if I must."

"My Dad doesn't let me go out unnecessarily. I always sneak out if I need to go out," I mumbled.

"This is fucking necessary! And what's your Dad, the fucking Nazi?" Natsume retorted, after a three-second pause. I wondered what that pause was all about. Maybe he was letting the fact that my father didn't let me go out, like I was a criminal or something, sink in.

"Don't swear, damn you!"

"I will fucking swear whenever I want to," he grumbled.

"You owe me 100 yen whenever you swear," I scowled bitterly at him, trying to ignore the searing pain.

"Fuck you," the raven-haired hottie swore.

"100 yen!"

"Whatever! Just go to the fu—" he stopped when he noticed my killer stare. "—fudging hospital." He finished lamely, giving me a pointed look. I grinned smugly in return, despite the stupid tears on my face.

"Can you even stand?" Natsume grimaced.

I tried to haul myself to my feet, but all I succeeded in doing was to put more pressure on my foot and make more tears spill out of my eyes.

Grumbling under his breath, Natsume slid his arms under my body and hauled me up easily like I was a sack of potatoes. I was enjoying the sensation of his muscular forearms tucked in snugly just beneath my butt and my back so much that I forgot all about my purple ankle for a moment. Gosh, wasn't this just romantic? A super gorgeous guy carrying me bridal-style because I hurt my foot, rushing me to the hospital? It was just like in sappy Korean dramas that I spent hours watching online, stuffing myself with endless Kit-Kats and cans of diet Cokes when I should in fact be doing my homework.

"God dammit, you're heavy," Natsume muttered as he made his way to his motorcycle, making a show of staggering beneath my weight.

Oh, yeah. Talk about shattering illusions.

An hour and a half later, I was seated on a blue plastic chair at the nearby hospital. By then, the rain had stopped, but it was still freezing outside. Honestly, I would never have thought that Natsume was such a mother hen. I could have easily taken care of my ankle using the first-aid kit which was collecting dust in the antique cabinet in the living room.

"Miss Mikan Sakura?" the petite, pretty nurse at the counter called.

I limped to the polished wooden counter with my crutches tucked under my armpits, my ankle swathed in white bandage. I couldn't possibly wear my boots now. In fact, when I meekly suggested wearing it only until I get home (For God's sake, I didn't want to trek around barefooted like a tramp, regardless of whether my foot was covered in white shit), both Natsume the mother-hen and the doctor had stared at me as though I had just admitted that I was in fact a transvestite/drag-queen, and was suggesting that I should take off my pants and show them my (non-existent) dick.

Therefore, Natsume had very kindly agreed to run down the street and buy some sandals and socks, but not before grumbling and cursing like a sailor. So far, he owed me 800 yen for swearing.

"Here are some painkillers if the pain gets too unbearable." The small gold badge on the nurse's blue shirt read 'Nonoko Ogasawara'. She pushed a small zip-lock bag with little white pills in it. "Take it whenever is necessary. Here's your medication. You have to take it three times per day, after meals. Take two p—"

"Oi, heavy-ass, your sandals." I heard Natsume's Converse slap on the marble floor as he jogged towards me. I took the opportunity to enjoy the view of his long, muscular but lean legs. Mm, God bless whoever invented tight jeans. I was enjoying the "scenery" so much so that I didn't even mind him calling me a heavy-ass.

"Sir, please maintain silence in the hospit—" Nonoko began to say, but Natsume placed the sandals on the counter and raked a hand through his dark, damp hair, pushing it away from his gorgeous face.

"You were saying?" A corner of his lips curved up by about a millimeter, emitting that cocky aura all over again.

"Er... Um... Nothing..." Nonoko giggled, her cheeks pink. She twirled a sliver of dark blue hair around her index finger. I screwed up my nose in disgust. Just as I'd suspected, Natsume Hyuuga was a flirt. But of course, most guys who were even half as good-looking as him always flirted with giggly, gorgeous women who blushed and flirted right back. I sure as heck didn't have a flirty bone in my body.

I grabbed the plastic bag filled with my medication and the pair of ugly brown sandals off the counter, scowling, and ambled over to the seat and sinking into it grudgingly. I let the crutches rest across my lap and watched as Natsume flirted with the nurse. It was weird how he could flirt without smiling, like really smiling. The only thing he did which was close to a smile was curving a corner of his lips. That was it. What was his problem, really? Why couldn't he truly smile, just for once? I watched with disdain as Nonoko covered her mouth and giggled, and then scribble something on a piece of paper. She raised the paper to her lips and kissed it before passing it to Natsume with a flirty little wink. Ugh. Somehow, watching their PDA made me want to chuck my crutches at their heads, one at Natsume and one at the nurse. Which was weird. Why did I even care if Nonoko looked like she wanted to tear off her clothes, rub herself all over him and snog Natsume's face off?

"Let's go." Natsume strode towards me, waving the piece of paper with Nonoko's number, lipstick print as well as 'call me maybe? ;)' written in an extremely girly handwriting, what with the unnecessary curves and little hearts.

"Looks like you had a lot of fun," I said as we walked across the parking lot, trying to sound casual, as though I didn't give a rat's poop whether or not he messed around with the nurse.

"Guess so. She's pretty sexy, what with the nurse uniform and all," Natsume said lewdly, wiggling his eyebrows, his red eyes shining with humor.

"Pervert," I chuckled and raised one crutch, giving his leg a playful, light swot while scanning the parking lot for his shiny black motorbike.

"Fuck, you smashed my nut!" Natsume ground out, crossing his arms across his waist and bending over. I would bet my precious heart-shaped plush toy that I had since I was a toddler that he would have cupped himself if he weren't in a public place with so many people around.

His choice of words was so funny that I almost burst out laughing, but I turned it into a cough at the last minute. "Oh God, I'm so sorry. About your... smashed nut." Another burst of laughter threatened to leak out of my mouth, and I pursed my lips tightly, trying to keep a straight face on.

A minute later, Natsume stood up, still wincing slightly. He gave me a dirty look. "Oh, I'm glad I amused you."

"Well, it serves you right for teasing me. Heavy-ass, huh, Mr. Oh-You-Smashed-My-Ball?" I taunted right back, though I still felt a twinge of guilt eating at my heart. I had heard that getting hit in the balls was like being struck by lightning or something.

"Well, well, well. Since you're such a smart-ass, I guess you can get home fine. Goodbye," Natsume smirked and raised a hand in farewell.

He strode away towards his bike, leaving me standing in the middle of the parking lot with my damp hair and clothes, freezing in the cold. I figured he would come back. He wouldn't be so mean, surely? After all, I knew he had a kind and soft heart beneath that aloof, touch-me-and-you'll-die, muscular exterior. He wouldn't just leave me in the nine degrees Celsius outdoors, with a twisted ankle and wet clothes, would he? Would he?

I got my answer when a loud, familiar vroom interrupted my train of thoughts, and a familiar black bike zoomed by, spurting out a cloud of smoke. And on it sat a fashion-mag-cover worthy male, giving me the finger.

"Aaah!" I screamed in frustration, and spewed all the foul words that I knew inside my head.

I knew, somehow, that my encounter with Natsume Hyuuga was not over yet. But first, I had to figure out how to get home with only sixty yen in my wallet.

Not proof-read. Review if you like. :)