Post Reply Artificial Love
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Posted 8/22/09
Artificial Love
windlady


Summary: The Imais are stinking rich and because of this many are after them- either to marry or kill them. Now, after their parents died in a car accident, Subaru and his sister, Hotaru, are the only surviving heirs of their family’s vast fortune. Being the older, Subaru raises Hotaru in the best way that he can... But how on earth can he call it his ‘best’ when Hotaru believes everything can be made artificial? And a terrible secret of the past keeps on haunting them?

A/N: Hello, summer! Now here it is... the much awaited rukaru from windlady. This took me a long time and a long wait from you but I hope you’ll find this worthy. ^_^

Disclaimer: As much as I would’ve loved to but I really don’t own Gakuen Alice. The credits go to Higuchi Tachibana-sama.


Chapter 1: “A Dilemma”



Dedicated to: “Ryuamakusa4eva, candysquared, & CattyGothLoli…”

“If one is aware of what reality is, then one may either live or run away from it. And so, sometimes it’s a wonder how it would be like not to know and not to be aware of it… life’s harsh realities.”



Softly and gently as if done so artistically, the spoon went, stirring the coffee in a shiny porcelain cup. Suds formed broken circles at its center, growing bigger and bigger only to disintegrate when it touches the walls of the container. The smoke rising from the said cup slowly mingles with the scented air coming from the air conditioner. It is the rich aroma of an afternoon break. And for a moment or so, only the gentle stirring of the silver spoon as it bumps against the finely crafted cup could be heard.

Flipping another page of this month’s financial reports from the Imai Group of Companies, Sakurano brought the cup to his lips and took a small sip. There was a slight arching of his brows before he cleared his throat. “Even the coffee turns colder in just a matter of seconds when you’re around.”

Setting the cup back on the coffee table, he gave a short sigh and closed the financial record before walking towards a display cabinet. He placed a finger on the glass cover and slid it across, feeling the smoothness it offered. He inspected his finger. Dustless as usual. Shaking his head in amusement, he threw his best bud a glance. The man sat with his back straight and eyes focused on his laptop, typing something speedily. It was as if nothing else exists for that guy. Subaru’s like a top quality machine. And Sakurano believes that it is his best friend’s essence to be stoic as an empty shell. Subaru has always been prim and proper. Meticulous and stern in everything.

He, however, is an opposite of this man. While Subaru is 100% efficient in the department of poker faces, he remained expressive of all his thoughts. He is carefree while Subaru is always skeptic. And why they became best friends remains a paradox to both of them.

Turning back to the display cabinet, he pressed on the glass cover to open it. His eyes traveled to a certain picture held in an ivory frame with emerald stones stuck in each floral design which borders it in smooth curves. It is Subaru and himself during the inauguration of the Pineapple Computers Corporation. They were only small children of age 5 or 6 back then. It was the very first time he saw him. And he hated the young Subaru’s arrogance so much. He could even remember sticking his nose up while the child prodigy is being praised due to an excellent piano performance that genius rendered. Subaru, even as a child, is as composed as ever. The boy didn’t even react to his rude actions but simply ignored his presence throughout the whole evening.

“Subaru…” he called casually before facing the guy. A smile crept on his face when he saw the irritated Subaru looking at him nonchalantly. “How long has it been?” he left his question vague to see further irritation on his best bud’s face. “…since that inauguration?” inwardly he smiled as he saw the raven-haired guy furrow his brows.

“19 years, 4 months, and 16 days”, came Subaru’s precise answer. “Why do you wonder?” It was accompanied once again by the tapping of key board keys.

Waving his hand in a bored manner, he simply threw another question. “Why don’t you relax a bit?” No response came from the stoic man. “Look, you don’t have to worry so much about your finances and with the current stand of our companies; we’ll be swimming forever in bundles of money!” he declared so energetically and yet the man didn’t even bulge. “Subaru, we’re 25. Just when do you plan to settle down, huh?”

“I’m not a woman whore.” Subaru answered in defense and also as an insult to Sakurano who has been enjoying his good looks quite a lot.

Sakurano frowned at his reply and decided to continue what he was trying to point out. “You’re pushing yourself too much even when everything’s already good for us. We-“

“Hotaru…” Subaru cut him off. “It’s for her, not for me…”

For a moment, Sakurano just stared at his best friend who also paused for a while before continuing what he was typing. This is because both of them knew it too well. Hotaru, who grew up as a fine lady or needless to say an ideal lady, has a certain flaw which makes her invalid as Subaru’s best. She grew up distant to people, believing that everything can be made artificial!

Sakurano slowly turned to face the display cabinet again and gently, he reached for another picture frame. It is a portrait of a small girl around the age of 2, with short raven hair reaching till her shoulders, and an amethyst pair of eyes sparkling with life. She was wearing a colorful summer dress and a beach hat. Held in her hand is a yellow plastic shovel while a red plastic pail sat on the sand. It seemed like she’s building a sand castle. Behind her was a banner saying: “Happy Birthday, Hotaru!” and also countless boxes of gifts.

It is a priceless moment that the camera has captured but then what actually made it very special is not the background of a splendid party. It is her soft smile. It is something as deep or maybe also classified as superficial like an ordinary expression one should see in almost anyone’s face but not in this girl’s anymore. Not anymore for in that very same year, that smile and warmth died together with the vehicular accident which stole the young Imais’ parents from them.

‘And they were so happy back then…’ Sakurano thought to himself. “It’s not your fault, Subaru.” He said all of a sudden while spacing out. “…why your sister grew up thinking that way.” He continued but the young business tycoon didn’t seem to hear him out. “I have always thought…” he paused as he returned the frame back. “…that it was because of ‘her’.”

The tapping took a sudden halt, leaving the room in another meaningful and deadly silence. And if it weren’t for the honking of a car from the front gate, then that deafening silence would have lasted for a lifetime.

Subaru gazed out of the window just in time to see the driver opening the door to the passenger’s seat. Hotaru came out, looking as elegant as a princess. Fondness grazed her brother’s features, as he watched her. With the wind blowing her silky black bangs so tenderly and her short straight hair carried along by each wave of the air as her lavender tinted dress sways in the same rhythm with the baby pink Sakura leaves; it has become a dance which could only be made even more enchanting if a smile would be painted upon that girl’s lips.

“No…” Subaru said causing Sakurano to stare at him in confusion. “This does not concern ‘her’… anymore.”

“You have 16 messages,” came the mechanical voice from her phone.

Hotaru has just entered her room and pressed the button on her phone to retrieve the messages. Pulling the curtains together, she engulfed her room into a darker privacy.

“BEEP. This is Imai, Hotaru. I’m probably out or I simply wouldn’t want a bother. Leave a message after the beep if urgent. Bye.”

She heard her own voice and as always it sounded blank; void of any expression she could decipher.

“BEEP. Ms. Imai, this is the Electrovolution Batteries Company. We would like to inform you that the latest product you’ve ordered has arrived today in France. We shall have it delivered in Imais’ residence tomorrow. Thank you for your patronage.”

‘So it’s there already, huh.’ Life came easy for her. Everyday luxury, richness and power showered her. Living in an enormous mansion as big as their country’s top university for the wealthiest citizens in Japan; being cared for by her own bodyguards 24 hours a day in 7 days a week; and having 3 personal maids to attend to all her wishes, isn’t it such a dreamy life? What’s more? Her bed is soft and wide enough for 2 persons to share it. The former cover which she had her servants changed into cotton was then made of silk and every pillow case is covered with raffles and laces. This could have been every girl’s fantasy but then she hated it, being pampered that is.

“BEEP. Imai-sama… Imai-sama, please tell your brother that we’re having a grand opening next Saturday. We have made it a point to invite you and your brother as our guests of honor. I beg of you. Please persuade him to come. We’re the New Fuel Corporation.”

Sliding her fingers on her back, she dragged the zipper down to open her dress. ‘This is power…’ her mind stated. She is keenly aware of it. People look up to her family as if they are celebrities all because of the power their surname holds. The very presence of her brother could turn a simple party into one of the most glamorous gatherings one has ever attended. And for Hotaru, they are leeches.

They also came up with a different strategy to get Subaru to favor them; to use her as well. She hates it even more than raffles and laces. But she can understand it too. When you’re at the bottom of a food chain, you can’t chose who you want to be friends with. You’ll just grab anything to save yourself… even if it means doing things that kill your real sane spirit.

“BEEP. Hotaru-sama… It’s me, Senri. How’s school? I always worry about you. I want to protect your pretty face, your vulnerable emotions, and fragile life with my own hands. Sincerely, I really like you. The moment I saw you, I knew I already have fallen for you. I hope we’ll see each other soon. I really have missed you even though it’s only been a day since our family’s meeting. Take care always.”

‘Mechanical words.’ Hotaru’s brows twitched as her dress gracefully fell off from her body. Indeed, she was a beauty. She’s a well-sculpted lady in her blossoming teen years. Yes, she is currently 17 and few months from now, she’ll turn 18. It is something many rich bachelors are looking forward to which is something she dreaded. It is awareness… it is what causes fear in one’s heart. If one is aware of what reality is, then one may either live or run away from it. And so, sometimes it’s a wonder how it would be like not to know and not to be aware of it… life’s harsh realities. How would it be if she isn’t an Imai?

She loathes it the most.

9 more messages of similar contents passed as she dressed herself in her comfort clothes- a loose shirt and ¾ pants. She hates how everyone should be living up to society’s standards. Norms. She has observed how everyone should act and there is always a standard reaction which she would see as if it is a skit or is acted upon cue. Even emotions are trained to obey commands. Tamed. Cultured. Artificial. Her eyes narrowed when she heard the word ‘love’ in one of the 9 stupid lovesick messages she received. It’s a pity, really. That one should trick a heart into believing it could exist.

“BEEP. HOTARU!!!” a female voice sniffed. Hotaru’s eyes widened as she heard the caller snuffled.

“He said he… h-he loves me!” Another parade of sobs and tissue blown here and there decorated the call. Hotaru gently closed her eyes. She has always believed that life has a plain color and yet this girl would always prove her she’s wrong. Yeah. It’s Mikan, her best friend since third grade.

“I just wanna die!!!” Loud sobbing came again from the other line but it doesn’t worry Hotaru. She knew what Mikan would say next.

“But I can’t!!! I don’t wanna leave you alone! HOTAARUUU! Call me later!” She gave a sigh of exhaustion as she walked towards her bathroom for a shower.

“BEEP. It’s me again. Call me back when you’re there. Oh! And what I actually mean is call me as soon as you stepped in your room, ‘kay?” Hotaru knew that Mikan would say that and that she would call again for one last time.

“BEEP. HOTARU!!! Are you sick?!! Don’t worry me too much.” See? ‘Life really has a pattern.’ Hotaru thought as she entered her bathroom, taking her sweet time.

“BEEP. Please don’t die, Hotaru!!! I’ll be there in a minute! HOLD ON!” Hotaru tripped on her own feet when she heard the last message.

“BEEP. You have no more messages.” Hotaru looked back at the phone still in her slumped position as, silently, she asked. “…Or maybe life has its own exceptions?”

“Oh come on, Subaru…” Sakurano continued with much exasperation in his voice. “You’ve been working on that for the last 8 hours which had passed. Will you stop it for a while?”

There was no response from Subaru but a certain female voice yelled from outside the front gate just before a bicycle came; speeding towards the main entrance. “HO-TA-RUUU!!!” shouted a brunette for the second time. “I’m coming to save you!!!”

Sweat drops formed on both Sakurano’s and Subaru’s heads as the monitoring camera showed Sakura, Mikan who was storming her way to Hotaru’s room. Sakurano, then, walked towards the office table where Subaru is for a better view.

And as soon as the door opened and the brunette saw Hotaru, she practically darted towards the expressionless girl and cried on the raven-haired girl’s shoulder as she embraced her tightly. “I feel so sad, Hotaru…” Mikan sobbed while, inwardly, Sakurano asked to no one in particular ‘I thought she was going to save Subaru’s little sister, eh?’

Then the tapping of the keyboard keys resumed, wholly catching Sakurano’s attention.

“S-Subaru that’s a-a—“ his eyes widened as big as saucers when he saw what it is that Subaru has been busy about all this time.

“…A M-MARRIAGE INTERVIEW?!!!”


**END OF CHAPTER***

A/N: I’ve been told that this story’s title sounds too familiar. If you ever know any other thing that has the same title/name then kindly inform me. I just formulated this title on my own but if you feel odd about it, I can always disclaim whatever it is that I needed to disclaim. I’ll always be grateful for the help. Thanks!

Anyway, how is this story? Do you like it? Or perhaps hate it? Tell me what you think about it. Review by clicking on the button just below this crap. Thanks again! ^_^

~windlady

(May 2009- Hard work delivered! I shall be proofreading some more when I’m better. Now, do I deserve a review? *winks* ^_^)
Member
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F / Over the rainbow
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Posted 11/14/09
YOU ARE AWESOMEEE!!! YOU SHOULD PUBLISH A BOOK ALREADY xD Moree pleaassee!!
Posted 11/30/09
"I'm not a woman whore" XD that made my day
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25 / F / In your mind!!!
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Posted 4/5/10
Artificial Love

windlady

A/N: Hey there! I'm really happy for all the wonderful support coming from you guys. Thank you! I'm a bit sad though that the number of those who reviewed is quite low and is less than 2% of those who visit and read this everyday. They just don't seem to like this enough to leave a review and so, I'm a little down. If I have anything I can do to improve this then kindly tell me. Thanks again!

Disclaimer: I would've died of flattery after seeing the number of fan fictions for Gakuen Alice… if I were its genius creator, Higuchi Tachibana-sama.

Chapter 2: "The Puppet's Puppeteer"

Dedicated to: "Ryuamakusa4eva, candysquared, & CattyGothLoli…"

"Obedience is one of the hardest lessons a person has to learn on his own."

Thunder roared angrily as the quick flash of lightning tore the heavens apart.

It is raining.

Clouds, pregnant with rain water, blocked the grayed sky like dirty cotton balls. And minutes later, the sound of dripping water was filling his ears. He remained still. He never liked the rain. It makes him feel gloomy. But don't get him wrong, he doesn't hate it he loves the nature just as it is. His eyes are shut close and his breathing is even, all as if he is sound asleep. Shrouded in darkness, he is lying on his bed; alone in his empty room. Yes, it isn't literally empty. In every inch of his room, richness can be found coating it. All the comforts one could ever ask for. Anything he could want shall be followed by a stroke of his pale hands. For within his veins, runs the very precious blood of the only heir to a royal family. He is living the life anyone would trade his soul for. But, still, in his world… he felt so lonely and confined.

He is a lover of freedom. That makes sense to why he wouldn't want to inherit what is his. He doesn't hate his family. He doesn't hate his ancestors. He is blaming neither his duties nor his fate. What he loathes is himself. He has always known and has been aware all along that the only thing he wanted the most is something he can't own. All this time, he has longed for a dream which is beyond his clutching hands. He wanted a different life— a life of a commoner. Light knocks coming from the other side of his well-carved door disturbed him while a female attendant's voice surfaced, announcing that his mother's personal secretary needs to have a word with him.

Hotaru stood up and walked slowly towards the door. Her amethyst eyes were turning into narrow slits when she pulled her door open. She hates being disturbed when she's doing her hobby. "What is it?" she inquired with Mr. Hans, their butler.

The old man in his early 60's replied, "Subaru-bochama wanted to meet you in the rec. room." The raven-haired lass nodded and muttered a silent "thank you" before gently closing the door as the butler took his leave. Normally, Hotaru would have glared at the disturbance during her precious moment of working on her hobby. But she's unexpectedly kind to this old butler since she has actually been considering him a part of her family. After all, he has been with them ever since she can remember. In fact, Mr. Hans has been in service dating back to the time when their parents were in their adolescent years.

Her amethyst eyes closed as she rested her head against the smooth carvings of the wooden door. An exhausted sigh slipped her lips. Running her fingers through her silky raven hair, she walked towards her laptop and made a brief skimming of the results she's come up with. 'All that is left would be that new battery from France.' She thought triumphantly. She's almost done with her hobby, which she'd refer to as 'inventing'. Yes, my dear readers, even though without magical abilities she is still a genius at creating new things. Hotaru's hands pushed the laptop's lid close and slipped it under her pillow. She's quite pleased within but her face shows none of that disposition. She straightened her blanket out before making her way to the recreation room where her brother should be waiting.

He huffed and puffed while beads of sweat trickled down his neck. God, it feels so hot. He clutched his tie and rashly removed it as he grasped the buttons on his coat and began undoing them. His face is all red from the intense heat emitting from his body. He can't bear it anymore! His mind almost drove him insane at all the images swirling in his head. He can't hold on anymore. He knew that if he should do it, he might end up regretting it. But this alluring devil is too hard to resist! He can't fight this urge anymore! Natsume thought as he finally broke free from the protection of his black coat.

The raven haired boy made a mad run towards the truck of delicious and, definitely, refreshing cold ice cream!!! He doesn't really like sweets and he knew that it would be bad for him. He might get caught because of this. Yet he just can't hold back any longer after seeing a four year-old girl pass by his side while nibbling a tempting, REFRESHING and COLD chocolate ice cream with bits of hazelnuts and marshmallows all over it!

Natsume can't believe that Tokyo would be this hot! He has returned from the United States after 6 months of arduous studying and social festivities. And after running away from his family's guards for about 3 ½ hours now, he thought he found a sinful oasis, the ice cream truck. Oh, Grand Heavens! Finally, here's something to cool his tense body down. With his white long-sleeved polo drenched in his own sweat, his attaché case held by his left hand together with his coat, and a cup of ice cream held in his right hand, he nestled on a nearby bench and began devouring his errant treat.

He almost moaned in satisfaction when the icy sweetness spread in his mouth. Savoring the little treat, he thought it would be the most delicious ice cream he has ever had in his life. Can't blame him. He's been running for more than 3 hours now and the ice cream is the first thing he's taken since that slice of French toast on the plane. He was just starting to relax when he heard someone yelling.

"He's here! I found Hyuuga-sama!" a bald male guard wearing a black suit and dark tinted shades yelled to his fellow subjects. It was not even half a second when a large pack of what seemed like duplicates of that baldie came rushing towards the raven haired lad.

"Damn!" Natsume cursed under his breath as he picked up his attaché case and coat beside him before sprinting towards an alley, leaving the unfinished ice cream cup which is peacefully sitting on the bench.

After stuffing another slice of the blue berry cheese cake in her mouth and drinking her banana and melon shake up, a discreet sigh escaped her lips. Her face showed no distinct emotion but she's really tired. She's even more tired now than she was after doing her hobby. Home used to be a great sanctuary for her but right now it has become more like a torture chamber.

Hotaru shook her head as she fondled the fork held in her hand. She's aware that it's all in her mind. It's not really that home has changed. She just can't accept the truth that her stupid brother, Subaru, will make her attend marriage interviews with some crazy bastards who belong to their so-called 'social circle'.

Hotaru's hand quavered in distaste. She had just finished meeting 3 of the 5 heirs from different companies, whom Subaru has chosen as candidates for being her future fiancé. The raven haired lass, even though she never really cared about 'love', despised these kinds of things. She actually knew that someday she'd end up forced into an arranged marriage for business purposes— a marriage for convenience. And yet, deep down she felt protests for this fate. She was never really the type who's easily dominated anyway. But this time, she can't do away with objections.

Her teeth clenched but her face remained blank. She'd have to do something or she might end up with someone 'lesser' than her. She can't let that happen. And she, absolutely, won't let that happen. Her strong grip on the fork slowly bent the poor thing, earning sweat drops and scared looks from the other customers nearby.

"What may I serve you today?!" a beaming Mikan in her waitress uniform, complete with frills and a white apron hugging her body tight using a big ribbon, popped in front of her annoyed face.

Really, now. It is rather clear to Hotaru that her best friend is a 'complete' idiot, so as she says. However, she just can't help but wonder how her dim-witted best bud could be so happy and energetic the next day after a shattering heart break. According to her calculations, this immature sea oater, A.K.A. Mikan Sakura, should still be wallowing in misery. But this silly face is actually right here in the café, working as if this idiot's invasion of her room didn't happen last night. Just last night, an uninterested listener named Hotaru was forced to listen on Mikan's laments. She was crying buckets of tears and venting all the anguish in her heart then. But right now, she is as frenzied as a newly charged battery. It was as if those rolls of tissue blown all over her room while the brunette cried her eyes out never happened at all.

"Get lost, idiot." Hotaru muttered in a dead tone. "And get a better uniform." Yes. Today she's drowning herself in a weird-looking café known as 'Trance Café', which is already her family's property because Subaru bought it for her last year when he thought she liked the café a lot.

Mikan pouted. "Hotaru," she began as she started tugging her apron here and there; probably to fix it a bit. "This is the café's uniform and—" The pigtailed brunette twirled, trying to let Hotaru see the whole uniform. "Don't you just love it?" Mikan's hazelnut eyes even blinked several times for an added effect.

"No. I don't." came Hotaru's cold and precise answer as she spooned the last blue berry piece into her mouth.

"But it's really cute!" Mikan insisted totally disregarding the disgust on her best friend's face.

"Whatever." The raven haired girl replied. "Just get me a crab shake and a crab cake."

A groan of disgust arose from the other eavesdropping customers but they quickly looked away after Mikan's version of an 'I-will-protect-Hotaru' death glare. "Hotaru," Mikan called in a weird playful tone as she sat on the chair parallel to her stoic friend's. "Don't be upset. Look it isn't that bad."

'What isn't bad anyway?' the unresponsive Hotaru's mind countered in sarcasm.

"Your brother just wants the best for you." Mikan's somewhat monologue continued. "Isn't it that he raised you up? He's just concerned." Hotaru quietly looked on to some other place, pretending not to listen but in her mind floats a unique thought. Today, her best friend finally seemed to be saying some sensible things. "He probably thought that, this way, he can find someone good enough to protect you when he's gone." The raven haired girl never thought that her best friend can actually be this deep. She almost swore that she was only dreaming. Hotaru took a last sip of her fruit shake as Mikan grinned. "Look on the bright side. You'll also meet new friends!" the brunette ecstatically said which almost choked the raven haired girl.

Hotaru's brows twitched in irritation. "Idiot. What do you think are we having? A friendship convention?" Sarcasm topped every word she threw but Mikan looked on her face expectantly for a follow-up statement.

Blinking innocently when the raven haired lass remained quiet, Mikan queried in a confused tone. "Eh? But aren't you going to make friends then?"

That's it! A flying saucer, in literal sense, hit Mikan's face as Hotaru stood up and took her leave still as graceful as she usually is while ignoring her best friend's whimpers. The last thing she needed is to be annoyed especially when she has finally thought of a good plan to discourage Subaru's moronic marriage interview agendas.

Yuu Tobita, who is also working in Trance Café, walked towards the whimpering Mikan while handing over a tissue for her to wipe off the blue berry cheese cake's icing on her face. Mikan pouted as her hand began cleaning her face off the dirt. "Hotaru, you meanie…" she whispered in her most 'I'm-hurt' voice.

Fixing his eye glasses, Yuu gave the brunette a pat on the shoulder as he shook his head. "Mikan-chan," he began consoling her. "I think Imai-san will be okay." Mikan simply nodded to this. "Let's not keep our customers waiting or Mr. Misaki will tie us upside down using those squash vines from the backyard when he returns."

Just then, a raven haired guy entered the café in haste. All eyes from the customers were drawn into this handsome being. He is wearing a long-sleeved white polo, over his black pants and held by his hands are an attaché case and his black coat. His back is facing those within the café and only his raven hair is being offered to the audience's scrutinizing eyes. Mikan slowly stood up and walked towards the mysterious looking guy.

She called his attention once, "What can we do for you, sir?" The lad didn't even bulge and is still busy looking from where he came from as if he is hiding from someone. "S-Sir?" the brunette tried again but her efforts were in vain. She was about to poke her fingers on the guy's arm when he suddenly turned to face her. Lo and behold! God's top dazzling creature has finally graced on the marbled floor of Trance Café! Sighs filled with awe and admiration arose from the customers as the dazzling creature seemed to be sparkling on his own. Those enticing bloody orbs, well-sculpted nose, pale but radiant skin, well-built sleek body, amazing height and silky raven hair just proves to be the dream enigmatic prince of all daydreaming princesses!

Mikan was taken by surprise on the guy's sudden turn. She, instantly, fell down on the floor when she lost her balance. She landed on her butt while her legs were slightly propped up and her skirt was pulled a bit upwards. A groan of pain came from her crumpled lips. Her right eye closed as she was cringing in the subtle ache while an empty tray for getting orders is still held tightly by her arms.

Natsume then looked at her, his face showing a blank expression. Mikan was expecting the said guy to offer his hand so as to help her stand. It's a common gentlemanly gesture, anyway. However, the guy in front of her doesn't seem to have the slightest intention of helping her up. Seconds, passed with them only staring intensely at each other's eyes. The deafening silence which engulfed the room continued on as their eager audience anticipated what this beautiful creature would do. Natsume, then, did the most unexpected thing for a dreamy prince to do. His lips curved into a smirk as he eyed the brunette! "What?" he spoke indifferently. "Get up by yourself and serve me..." Mikan's eyes widened in disbelief while she felt frozen under his towering form. Natsume then threw his attaché case together with his coat on Mikan's lap, before sitting on the chair by the corner of the café. His actions made Mikan's jaw drop in shock while girly squeals could be heard from the newly christened fan girls of this arrogant lad. "Oi, Polkadots!" The lad suddenly called Mikan attention while Yuu rushed to her side and helped her up.

"P-Polkadots?" Mikan uttered in confusion. 'What 'Polkadots' is he—' her eyes factually fell out from her sockets when she got the message from the smirking guy.

Natsume simply looked at her mockingly. "Hurry up and get my order." He continued while Mikan gritted her teeth.

"Subaru," Sakurano said as he put his mobile phone back in his pocket. "Are you really sure you're doing the right thing?"

Without giving any reply, Subaru pressed a button on his desk which immediately opened a drop-down screen and showed the butler, Mr. Hans. "Subaru-bochama, Hotaru-sama is currently seeing the fourth candidate." The butler began to report as Sakurano simply shook his head in disbelief. It really is impossible to win in a debate against the older Imai. "It seems like Hotaru-sama is complying with what you have asked from her and she's following as what the schedule says."

Sakurano is impressed. This monster of a brother actually managed to make the youngest Imai do his bidding. He was almost congratulating his best bud when he noticed that Subaru only looked on the screen as if waiting for further news regarding his sister.

"All the interviews went on smoothly. However, the candidates would sometimes show hints of embarrassment on their faces as Hotaru-sama occasionally throws in some rude comments." Mr. Hans ended his report as the screen showed Hotaru who is eating a plate of Crablets, looking obviously uninterested in what the guy in front of her is blabbering about.

"That's fine." Subaru finally spoke before turning the screen off.

The blonde man beside Subaru burst into laughter. Of course, that girl is Hotaru. She can't be Subaru's little sister if she is going to follow her brother submissively. "I almost believed that you have her under your control!" he chanted teasingly but Subaru remained indifferent. "So what will you do now?" Sakurano inquired, wiping some tears forming in his eyes due to his excessive laughing.

Subaru, then, closed the folder of the documents which he was reading some moments ago. His lips tugged upwards as a knowing smile formed on his face. "You know what, Sakurano?" he began in a flat note while Sakurano stared at him in silence, befuddled of his sudden change of disposition.

Hotaru unhurriedly strolled to her next destination. In her face, remains a blank façade. She's finally progressing with her plans. Plans that aren't going to backfire on her no matter what. Unless there's really an idiot who'd like being bombarded with her biting comments which is almost impossible and would only be possible when the day comes that the sun will mysteriously appear as a huge purple ball and turn into a giant source of amethysts. She is aware that Subaru is observing her every move but she is also very much aware of the fact that he can't do anything to make her stop. Inwardly, she is smirking in triumph. She complies with what she is supposed to do but what Subaru can't control would be her very own reactions. Her rude comments will definitely shoo those ignorant candidates away! Plus, she'll be sure to trim down the number of candidates to only the smartest ones she couldn't embarrass. No worries anymore regarding the dilemma of ending up with someone idiotic.

Hotaru is just about to cross the little distance to her next destination when she heard someone yelling from an alley.

"HEEYY!!! YOU DIDN'T PAY, ARROGANT BASTARD!!!!" yelled a pigtailed brunette.

"I SAID I"LL PAY YOU SOME OTHER TIME, POLKADOTS!!!" a raven haired man yelled back.

"PAY UP NOW!!! AND DON'T CALL ME 'THAT', YOU PERVERTED ARROGANT BASTARD!!!" she shouted angrily.

'Mikan?' Hotaru turned her face to the familiar annoying voice she heard. And it was really Mikan who's running after some raven haired guy who's still sprinting towards her direction. She easily dodged the raven haired lad as he passed her but unfortunately, Mikan who's just some feet behind the guy was unable to control her speed thus she bumped into Hotaru, causing an unpleasant thud. Both Hotaru and Mikan slumped on the ground as the Natsume spared them a glance and took a sudden halt. The brunette is whimpering in pain while the raven haired one seemed to have lost her consciousness. His eyes traveled to his pursuers, his family's body guards who were still a bit far behind, and back to the girls who are hurt due to their messy collision. He sighed in defeat as he practically flew his distance to those troublesome girls. He carried the raven haired one in his arms as the brunette glared at him in protest.

"HEY! PUT HOTARU DOWN, PERVERT!!!" Mikan tried to punch him but he easily blocked her fist with his right hand.

Mikan was about to yell another protest but he glared at her as he hissed in annoyance. "Look! I don't want to help you but your friend here needs it. Talk later and just cooperate now!" Mikan stood still and uttered a silent protest that didn't escape his sharp ears but she seemed ready to follow his commands now. He, then, held her wrist tightly and dragged her along with the raven haired one still in his arms to an alley where he knew cabs would be passing. 'What a nuisance they are.' His mind complained and yet he knew that somehow he can't just leave them there.

"G-Greetings, sir." The baldie, who's chasing Natsume from before, greeted someone from the other end of the line as he signaled the rest of his comrades into a halt. "Hyuuga-sama has collided with Lady Imai-sama and is currently escaping with her as she has fallen unconscious." He reported.

A small chuckle could be heard from the background before a voice darkly replied. "It's just as planned. Well done, Dark Spade commander."

"B-But, sir, Hyuuga-sama is also with a brunette girl, whom we believe is a waitress in a café called Trance Café." The baldie tried to reason out his worries.

The silhouette of a man sitting on an office chair simply allowed a smile to creep on his lips. "It's fine as it is. Because you know what, Dark Spade?" the voice addressed baldie in a general term for their troop, amusement evident in his voice.

"Obedience is one of the hardest lessons a person has to learn on his own." Subaru continued while he stood up from his chair and walked passed his still-gawking best friend. "But always remember…" he said as he pulled the curtains from his office apart, revealing a splendid view of the city as the sky grayed and rain started to pour.

"The puppet is always one degree lesser than his puppeteer." Both Subaru and the man, who's seen only as a silhouette, said simultaneously while a cab drove Natsume, Mikan and Hotaru to somewhere farther from the bustling city's heart.

**END OF CHAPTER***

A/N: So, how is this story? Were there any OOCness? (*whines* I'm sorry Mikan is so OOC—eh? Not? Then, I'm sorry that Hotaru is very OOC! Huh?! She's still okay?! Waah! I'm sorry Natsume's really OOC! Please don't kill me! Please don't! *dies on her own*) Please do say if I'm going a bit over board. I really need help on preventing OOCness from this crappy story. Review by clicking on the button with green letters on it; just below these weird doodles of mine. Thanks again! ^_^

**Do you want me to update faster?? And do you want Ruka to show up already?? If you do, then kindly help me by describing his mother! (Appearance, attitude, status, and everything about the Nogis.) Thank you!**

Review reply for anonymous:

Hello, candysquared!! I was actually thinking that you didn't like this at all that's why you have not reviewed. It's very heart-warming to know that you like this. It made me a lot happier to know you're still around. (Why don't you make an account here in FFnet?) Oh! And about the OOC thing? Of course not, my dear. I'm not being grudged by that. Though I admit that I'm slightly worried of having that OOC disease, I'm not the type to get offended with someone who pointed out a mistake. I consider that action under the category of the verb: HELPING, which definitely means I'm too grateful to feel anything else. LOL

ON SOME ISSUES:

The reason for my slow updates is to be blamed on the issue of plagiarism. I am very much aware that my ideas are somewhat unworthy to be plagiarized and what actually bothers me is the possibility that somewhere here in the archives there might be someone whom I might accidentally have plagiarized?? (If that's possible to happen) See, my dear readers, I am not very much acquainted with all the different plots and quotes swimming here in the net so if you ever find something similar to what I've written (which came before I've ever published the content under that issue) then, kindly inform me so that I may ask for that author's blessing and disclaim what is needed to be disclaimed. Thank you once again and please REVIEW!!

P.S. Please vote on the poll in my profile if you like this story.

~windlady

(Revised: May 2009- Hello! I tried to improve this but I might have missed a spot or two. Don't worry I'll try again next time. By the way, important news is in my profile! ^_^)
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