Through the Years
*I looked at you like the stars that shined in the sky, the pretty lights*
The sound of the back door slamming shut echoed throughout the large farmhouse and a young child’s shriek quickly followed it. Yuka Azumi-Yukihira set down her teacup gently before exchanging an exhausted look with her best friend. “Those two,” the mother murmured as a girl of about five came running into the kitchen with big tears streaking her cheeks.
Kaoru Hyuuga laughed, picking up the crying child before the girl’s mother could. “Mikan-chan, what did the big bad boy do now?”
“Wahhh!” was what the black-haired woman received in response. Kaoru chuckled, handing the girl over to Yuka who had her arms open and ready.
“He said – he said!” the child couldn’t even form a sentence her sobs were so loud. Instead she buried her face in her mom’s shoulders, “Mommy!”
The door slammed open again and they could hear forcefully loud footsteps heading towards the kitchen. The boy was speaking before he even entered, in his own defense, “I didn’t do anything! She’s just a big baby!”
Kaoru smiled. “What was it this time? You didn’t make fun of her adorable pig-tails, did you?”
“Mom!” the five-year-old snapped stomping his foot angrily. Instead of feeling scolded, like her son had obviously intended, Kaoru had to hold in a laugh.
“He said Santa-san isn’t real!” Mikan ratted lifting her head from her mom’s shoulder long enough to do so.
“Did not!” the boy immediately protested at his mother’s scornful look.
“Did too!” retorted Mikan with large watery eyes.
“Natsume-kun, you shouldn’t tell such lies to Mikan-chan,” Kaoru said bending to her son’s level. “You know she believes things so easily.”
The boy scowled. “I didn’t say anything,” he persisted. “I suggested it. It’s not my fault she’s gullible,”
While Kaoru should have still been upset with him – or pretended to be – instead she turned a proud smile on him. “When did you learn the word ‘gullible’?” she looked at Yuka who shared her smile. “He’s such a smart boy!”
Yuka nodded in agreement before setting her daughter down and crouching before her. “Mikan, how many times have we told you not to believe Natsume-kun?”
“I know,” her mother smiled. “You want to believe him. But Natsume-kun didn’t mean to say that Santa-san isn’t real. Natsume-kun believes in Santa-san too, don’t you?” Yuka turned a pointed look to the raven-haired child who scowled again.
“Yes,” he grumbled when Kaoru placed her hand on his shoulder.
“See?” said Yuka with a smile. “Santa-san will continue to come with presents every year, don’t you worry!”
Mikan giggled and nodded eagerly. “Okay, I forgive you Natsume,” she said with a smile at the boy.
Natsume smirked, “What kind of underwear will Santa bring you this year, Polka?”
“Agh!” the girl took off after him and moments later the screen door slammed open and shut once more.
Yuka shook her head with a smile. “What will it be next time?”
The other mother rolled her eyes. “They just can’t get along,” she agreed. “It’s cute though.” And Yuka nodded.
* And our daddies used to joke about the two of us growing up and falling in love*
Mikan, eight years old now, stomped her foot while glaring at the boy in front of her. “My mom said boys tease you when they like you! So you must like me!”
“As if!” retorted the crimson-eyed boy immediately. “Your mom wishes I liked you! How does that make sense, even? Why would you tease someone you like?”
The girl frowned, thinking over his words before she stomped her foot again. “I don’t get it,”
“That’s because you’re stupid,” said Natsume tauntingly.
She gasped. “That’s a bad word!”
His eyebrows lifted, “So?”
Izumi Yukihira waved from where he stood beside the barbeque in the Yukihira’s large backyard. He glanced over, saw his daughter locked in a headlock by Natsume and shook his head. “Your son’s done it again, Taka,” he said to the dark-haired man sitting in one of the lawn chairs.
Takashi Hyuuga looked up with amusement and snorted. “He won’t hurt her,” he murmured. “I think. Kaoru-san is convinced Natsume-kun’s in love with Mikan-chan.”
Mikan’s father laughed weakly, “My wife is convinced too. Someday they will be, though. When my little princess grows into the beauty her mother is and Natsume can’t take his eyes off of her. I’ll be ready for it though,”
“Please don’t hurt my son,” Taka joked amiably. “He’ll take care of her, you know he will.”
Mikan bit Natsume’s hand, forcing him to release her, and hurried over to her dad. She hugged his leg for protection and turned to stick her tongue out at her tormentor. Natsume shook his head and stuck his tongue out back at her. Both fathers’ released an amused chuckle.
*I dared you to kiss me and ran when you tried*
“I don’t understand, Natsume. Do you like her or don’t you?”
The crimson-eyed preteen sighed at his best friend’s question, “Why do you care?”
“I’m confused! You always complain about her and you drive her crazy when we’re with her but just now you said you like teasing her! Doesn’t that mean you like her?” Ruka continued his blue eyes wide and bewildered.
They were eleven now and Mikan and Natsume had just had yet another argument. This time the brunette had run away instead of staying to fight. Natsume had said ‘well that’s no fun’ and this brought on his friend’s questioning. “She doesn’t usually run away, that’s all. I enjoy making her mad and hearing her stupid answers, okay? It doesn’t mean I like her, jeez Ruka.”
Ruka frowned, “I don’t know. Were you really going to kiss her?”
Natsume snickered and avoided the question. “Did you see how fast she ran away?”
The blonde sighed. He decided to give up on the whole ‘does-Natsume-like-Mikan?’ subject. He didn’t think he’d ever know for sure.
*Well, I was sixteen when suddenly I wasn't that little girl you used to see*
Their parents would get together every weekend and it was something that Mikan used to look forward to, even when she was a kid. Natsume was a bully but she enjoyed his presence, especially as of late. But she hadn’t seen him for a while now. Every time Kaoru and Takashi showed up with Aoi, Natsume was no where to be seen. When Mikan asked why he didn’t come Kaoru told her he had a lot of homework.
As disappointing as it was, Mikan tried not to let it get to her. She noticed the amused looks her mother and Kaoru would send her and it drove her nuts. It wasn’t like she wanted Natsume to come. What did they know? She just enjoyed having the company. Sure, Aoi was fine to hang out with but… Aoi wasn’t Natsume. Why was he staying away? Was he mad at her? He couldn’t really have that much homework. It was obviously an excuse.
She came down the stairs, dressed plainly with her hair in a side-pony, already knowing it would just be three Hyuugas’ that night. Thus, she emitted a startled shriek when her eyes connected with the red eyes of not Aoi or Kaoru but him. She knew his eyes were different from theirs. Aoi’s were warm and cheerful. Kaoru’s were teasing but kind. Natsume’s were… teasing like his mother’s but sharp enough to pierce right through Mikan. Her breath always seemed to hitch when she looked at him, though she wasn’t quite sure why yet.
Natsume seemed to blink at the sight of her and a hand rose to rub the back of his neck. “Still awake, Polka?” he said after clearing his throat.
For a moment, Mikan said nothing and merely returned his gaze. Then what he’d said clicked in and her face reddened, “Don’t call me that! Jeez! I don’t even wear polka dots anymore!”
A dark eyebrow quirked as the two of them forgot the presence of their parents who had gone oddly quiet when Mikan entered. “Strawberries, then?” the sixteen-year-old boy tried with a smirk.
Mikan puffed her cheeks, something she’d done since she was a child, and shrieked, “Don’t try and guess, you disgusting pervert!” She turned and ran.
Natsume chuckled glad that even though her looks had changed, she hadn’t. As he headed up the stairs after her, with his sister trailing behind him, their parents all sighed.
“Soon,” said Kaoru to Yuka.
Izumi shook his head. “I’m not ready,”
*But your eyes still shined like pretty lights*
“You’re an idiot,” Natsume drawled lying on her bed with a manga in his hands.
“Why?” she snapped glaring at him. “And will you put that stupid thing down and look at me?”
“What for?” the boy said lazily but did as requested and reluctantly set aside his manga. They were at her house on a Saturday night and he’d kicked his sister out, telling her to go play with the dog or something. Mikan demanded to know why he had been so mean to Aoi and Natsume had called her an idiot. Why? Because it should have been obvious that he wanted to be alone with the brunette. “You’re so dense.”
“Stop insulting me!” Mikan very nearly shrieked as she stomped her foot. “I’m tired of it! Just answer my question normally, for God’s sake!”
“Oh, is someone grumpy today?” Natsume teased as he stood. He slowly walked over to where she was standing with her back against her closed door.
“Natsume,” Mikan whined tired of his evasive manner. “Will you tell me what you’re thinking? For once?” He had stopped in front of her and raised his hand to rest on the door beside her head. She merely raised an eyebrow, used to his taunting smirk and flirtatious attitude. But when he ran a slender finger along her jaw she froze in shock. “W-what are you doing?”
“Telling you what I’m thinking,” he replied softly as his finger traced her lips. “You should have figured it out when I stopped coming along with my parents, silly.”
“What?” she couldn’t think very well herself, not with him looking at her so intently, so differently. She was used to his heated gazes, sure, but those were usually during one of their arguments. This was different. He wasn’t annoyed or teasing her. He was staring at her like… like he had something important to tell her. She swallowed. “Why did you stop coming?” she whispered feeling brave. “I… I was wondering…”
His mouth curved into a half-smile. “I’m glad you were,” he murmured in response. “You changed, Polka.”
“Don’t call me that,” she said absently. “What do you mean I changed?”
“Or maybe I changed,” he mused curling a lock of her hair around his finger. She had to swallow again. Why was her mouth so dry?
“Natsume, what are you trying to say?” she demanded but her voice wasn’t as strong as she would have liked. Where had her anger towards him gone? Why could she never stay mad at him whenever she did manage to get angry? Why was her heart racing?
He moved his mouth to her ear and she shivered at his breath along the back of her neck. “Mikan,” he ignored her gasp and summoned his courage. He had to tell her – it wasn’t like she would figure it out on her own. She was too dense for that. “I like you,”
While most boys would have expected the girl to either admit her feelings to him in return or at least politely decline, Natsume knew she would do neither. He expected the laugh he received instead. Mikan pushed him away from her, shaking her head. “Why do you always tease me!” she exclaimed holding a hand to his chest to keep the space between them. “You have no idea what your stupid jokes do to me, do you?”
He smirked, “What do they do to you?”
“They –” she froze, cheeks reddening at what she’d been about to admit. “I… nothing. They don’t do anything to me,”
“Liar,” Natsume drawled pushing her hand away from his chest in order to step closer once more. “Do you remember when you ran when I told you I was going to kiss you?”
Her face was practically scarlet as she shook her head. “I don’t remember that,” she said shakily.
“Are you going to run this time?” he continued, ignoring her lie.
“What are you –” she broke off as she finally raised her eyes to meet his. Gone was the teasing glint and she realized with absolute horror that he’d been dead serious this entire time. “Na-Natsume…”
“Well?” he murmured picking up a piece of her brown hair once more.
He was going to kiss her. Natsume was going to kiss her. “Why?”
“Idiot,” he said on a sigh. “I told you already. Are you really that dense?”
She pursed her lips angrily. “Don’t insult me!” she repeated.
“It’s not an insult,” he mumbled lowering his forehead to hers. “Will you just shut up and let me kiss you?”
Ah! I’m dreaming, she realized suddenly. No way would Natsume have feelings for her. She’d loved him for far too long for her wishes to actually come true. So if it’s a dream, she rationalized, then it won’t matter what I do. She tilted her face up to him and met his sharp eyes bravely. His mouth curved into another half-smile as he took her silence as permission. He lifted his free hand to the back of her neck and met her lips with his.
Mikan found herself wondering if she really were dreaming. Natsume’s lips against hers felt too real, his hand on her face felt real, the fingers that undid her hair to let it fall around her felt too real and the tongue begging entrance to her mouth definitely felt real. When the Hyuuga pulled away to breathe, Mikan whispered, “I’m not dreaming, am I,” and it wasn’t a question.
Natsume smirked, his eyes closed. “Not a dream, Polka. You’re wide awake. Shall I pinch you to prove it to you?” he added as he opened his crimson orbs to stare at her teasingly.
“N-No, that’s all right,” she murmured feeling his hand on her hip.
“I stopped coming because I realized I liked you,” Natsume said nonchalantly as he played with her hair again.
Mikan’s eyes were wide and she removed her hands from where they had misbehaved and clutched Natsume’s shirt during the kiss. “R-Really?”
“I wouldn’t say so otherwise, idiot,” he said and sighed.
“I…” Mikan frowned. Why couldn’t she say it? Why couldn’t she admit to him her feelings like he had to her? Because she was afraid? “You’re not just teasing me, again, are you?”
He rolled his eyes. “I knew you were going to react like this. I’m dead fucking serious, okay?”
“O-okay,” she murmured. “Then… I… like you… maybe… too…”
Natsume snorted, having barely heard her. “Can you say it again?”
“I… I like you too!” she said quickly, surprised to find her hands had once again made their way to his shirt. She was clutching him so tight her knuckles her white.
“I know,” he replied cupping her face with both hands and forcing her to look at him. “And our parents know as well,”
She giggled. “They’ve always known,”
“From the first day we fought,” he added.
“My mom always told me you liked me,” Mikan said smugly, her courage and wit back where it belonged. “She was right!” she continued and resisted the childish urge to stick out her tongue.
Natsume nodded but rolled his eyes again. “I didn’t like you back then, okay? Geez,”
“I did,” Mikan admitted with another giggle. She smiled softly as she repeated herself, “I did.”
“Of course you did,” he murmured and caught her lips for another kiss. He inwardly dreaded the moment their parents found out.
Unfortunately, their parents found out much sooner than the two would have liked due to the fact that an annoying sister of Natsume’s had been eavesdropping the entire time.
“MOM! DAD! MIKAN-CHAN AND ONII-CHAN FINALLY ADMITTED IT!”
Natsume cursed and Mikan reddened as Kaoru’s boisterous laughter flooded up the stairs followed by Izumi’s loud oath.
*They never believed we'd really fall in love*