Chapter Nine

"My name is Youichi Hijiri. I would say it's nice to meet you all, but honestly it's not." The teal eyed boy crossed his arms and looked around the classroom as they glared back in outrage.

These were my classmates? They don't even look like they can fight any better than me.

"Well, that's all! New student equals free period! Have fun everyone!"

Youichi's eyes widened in shock, "H-hey wait a moment!" but Narumi had already pranced out of the room. "Geez!" Did I really enroll into this school for this?!

"Mikan, let's go. We have to work on our alices. I found a discarded classroom in the high school grounds that we can use." Hotaru stood up.

"Okay." Mikan grabbed her bag and put her hood back on before following her friend out of the class.

Youichi glanced in surprise at the girls as they passed. This aura. It's very faint but it's there… The princess? I would know that aura anywhere! Maybe I should follow them…

"Hijiri." Kitsu placed his arm on Youichi's shoulder. "Just what exactly makes you think that you're better than us?!"

"Tsk!" Youichi glanced at him annoyed. "I don't have time to deal with you right now." A burst of ghosts came from the ground causing the other boy to jump in fright.

"Oh shit man!" He leaped over a ghost and barely dodged another's attack. By the time they were gone, Youichi was nowhere to be seen.

Natsume arched an eyebrow in amusement. What a curious new guy. He cringed in annoyance as he looked back down at the list of things he'd come up with.

Trust:

1_Love potion

2. _

Ugh. Why is it so hard to think of something?!

"Natsume. Do you think that you'll actually be able to accomplish this?" Natsume to his head to look at Ruka.

"I think it'll be worse if I don't. Man! There should be books to gain a girl's trust!"

"Oooh! Natsume! You want to gain a girl's trust?!" Natsume and Ruka turned their heads to look at the newcomer.

"Hoshio. What the hell do you want?"

"No need to be so rude Natsume! I thought that maybe I could help!"

"What do you know about gaining a girl's trust?" Ruka asked curiously.

"Absolutely nothing!" Hoshio grinned, his alice causing a small rainbow.

Natsume felt his eyebrow twitch. "Get out!" he prepared himself to kick Hoshio.

"But I know someone who does!" Natsume paused.

"Who?" Ruka asked.

"My best friend Google!"

The two boys looked at him blankly.

"Who? Is he in our class?"

Hoshio gave Natsume a shocked look. "You don't know who Google is?!"

"Are they a celebrity? Ruka, do you know any celebrities called Google?"

Ruka shook his head. "Maybe it's a band? They might specialise in 'trust' songs."

"Are you joking? I can't tell if you're joking or not."

Natsume glared at him. "Does it look like I'm joking?"

"Mate, do you know what a computer is?"

"Com-put-er? Is that another person?" Ruka asked.

"You're not joking. I don't think I've met anyone who isn't old and saggy that doesn't know what a computer is."

"Yes! Yes! So you've said! Get on with it! Take me to this 'Google' and 'com-put-er' and we shall see if they can help us."

"To the computer rooms we go!" Hoshio said with fake enthusiasm. Just what have I gotten myself into?

Hoshio led them through a maze of corridors before stopping at a door above which was a silver metal sign which read 'Computer Room'.

Hoshio opened the door and gave a theatrical bow. "After you." He gave a cheeky smile.

Natsume sent him a look of disdain before entering and Ruka trailed after him.

The room was quite spacious. A row of gleaming high-tech computers sat at each side along the wall against the dark blue wallpaper: each screen cleaned to a pristine perfection with no finger marks or dust. In the center of the room were multiple tables with chairs that were spaced out evenly across the entire length of the area. The black blinds on the grey paneled windows allowed the sunlight to light up the room enough to see where everything was.

"What is this? You've taken us to room filled with weird shaped boxes!" Natsume glared at Hoshio.

"Relax! These, my uneducated friend, are called computers."

"A box is supposed to help me gain a girl's trust." Natsume raised an eyebrow.

Hoshio nodded zealously.

"Ruka, we're leaving."

"Wait! I haven't even turned it on yet!" Hoshio protested.

"How can you turn a box on?"

Hoshio pressed the on button of the nearest screen and watched as it came to life.

Ruka jumped in shock and Natsume cursed colourfully.

"Is that an alice?" Ruka asked cautiously.

"Nooooo, didn't I already say that it's a computer?"

Hoshio logged in as Ruka and Natsume watched in amazement (Ruka) and distaste (Natsume).

"I don't get what you're doing, but as long as it can help me, I'll accept it." Natsume glared at the 'box'.

Hoshio turned to Natsume as he waited for the computer to load. "Come to think of it, how come you guys don't know about computers and stuff? Do you know about how to use any technology?"

"Tec-nol-ogy?" Ruka articulated thoughtfully. "What's that?"

Hoshio's jaw dropped as he looked at the two boys in shock. "You have no idea what a computer or technology is?! Do even know about phones?!" He asked hysterically.

Natsume's eye twitched again. "Of course we know about phones! We have a landline at the castle!"

"No! Not that type of phone! A smart phone!"

"Smart phone? How can a phone be smart?"

"H-how… Why… you…" Hoshio sniffed before taking a big breath and placing a hand onto Natsume's shoulder. "I feel for you."

Natsume's eye twitch and he kicked Hoshio's leg.

"Ow! Oi! What was that for?!"

"Being an idiot!" Natsume glared at him. "We've seen the com-put-ers now show us Google."

"Yeeees!~" Hoshio clicked the google chrome icon and the other two watched in awe as the 'Google' symbol appeared on screen. "What was the question?"

Natsume pulled up a chair and looked over Hoshio's shoulder. "How am I supposed to gain the trust of a very important girl who may or may not be the key to everything?"

Hoshio sweat-dropped and instead typed: How do I gain a girl's trust?

"That's not what I said." Natsume pointed out accusingly.

"What you said wouldn't have worked so I had to modify it a bit." Hoshio eyed him nervously.

"Hmph."

Hoshio breathed out a sigh of relief. I'm not going to die just yet… He looked at the results. Oh god. I spoke too soon.

~~~~~~~~With Youichi ~~~~~~~~

Damn that stupid student! Youichi jammed his hands into his jacket's pockets. He'd lost track of the hooded girl and her friend! It should have been impossible considering they'd only had a few seconds head start! Well, obviously walking around aimlessly has no chance of bringing me closer to them!

He raked his memory for some sort of clue.

"Mikan, let's go. We have to work on our alices. I found a discarded classroom in the high school grounds that we can use."

That was it! They were going to an unused classroom in the high school section! Now, how to get there…

Youichi looked around. There didn't seem to be any students in sight. He sighed. I hate to use my alice for something as trivial as this. He called up a dead ghost. It was a girl, she had black hair tied into a side pony tail with her bangs cut just above her eyebrows, her eyes were round and a dark shade of brown and her cheeks were slightly flushed.

Youichi looked in surprise unthinkingly spoke. "I've never seen a ghost blush."

The girl looked at him in surprise before smiling. His cheeks tinted pink at the realisation of what he just said. "You summoned me, master?"

"Ah. Right. Do you know how to get to the high school section?"

The girl smiled at him in response. "Yes! Please follow me!" She hovered a few inches off the ground but she still moved her legs in the imitation of walking.

"Why do you do that?" Youichi furrowed his eyebrows.

"Hmm? Is there something I'm doing wrong?" The girl asked confused.

"No. Never mind." He unfurrowed his eyebrows and took longer strides. "Let's just keep going."

After a few minutes of silence, the girl spoke up. "Master, what is your name?"

"Youichi Hijiri. And yours?"

"My name is Buta! It's a pleasure to be under your service Youichi-sama!" She smiled cheerfully.

Youichi looked at her confused. "Don't you have a last name?"

Buta shook her head. "I was an orphan. I don't know who my parents were. But I used to be under the service of Hīmemiya! My name in those days was Tachibana no Kimi!"

He nodded silently. He could tell by his alice that she had died little over a year ago.

"We're here! Beyond this gate is the High School division! I wish you well, Youichi Hijiri-sama!" Buta dissipated into the air leaving Youichi at the gate.

"Finally." Youichi said under his breath. "At least I'm a little bit closer to my goal."

He stepped through the gates and observed around him. There wasn't any major difference between the two sections. Both had grey pavement winding in every direction with little pockets of grass everywhere and the abundance of trees.

After a fair bit of wandering, in what seemed to be in circles, he came across a student. It was only by chance that Youichi had looked up and seen him sleeping in one of the tall oak trees.

How the hell am I meant to get up there? Why is it that the only person I find, happens to be in a tree?

He looked around. He'd no experience climbing trees and made a mental note to learn how to later, but for now, he had to get that person down.

"Oi!" he shouted at the sleeping boy.

Tsk! He probably can't hear me from down here! He looked around him again before crouching down and picking up a rock. It was small, but when thrown right it could inflict a bit of damage.

He pulled back his arm before whipping it forward. The rock smacked into the boys cheek and the momentum of his head moving caused him to fall out of the tree.

Oh shit.

Youichi cringed as he heard the thud of the body hitting the ground. Hopefully he would still be in fit condition to direct him to the main campus where, hopefully, he could find the hooded girl and her friend.

"OW! WHAT THE HELL?! MISAKIIIIIII! I SWEAR IF THAT WAS YOU AGAIN I WILL PUNCH YOUR… brains out?" The blue haired boy straightened his beanie from covering his eyes and looked at the boy standing before him.

"You're not Miskai."

"Is it that obvious?" Youichi rolled his eyes.

Tsubasa smirked. "Then who are you?"

"New student. Transferred today. My name is Youichi Hijiri."

"Youichi, huh? So what are you doing in this section? Your uniform obviously doesn't match and I don't think that a teacher would send you considering your treatment of throwing rocks at unsuspecting sleeping boys in trees."

"I'm here for a mission of my own. Do you think you could help me?"

Tsubasa's eyes twinkled. I wonder if your mission is anything like mine…"Sure, but just a warning, I'm fairly new here too."

Youichi stared at him. Useless. But until I find someone else, I've got to put up with this guy. Might as well be nice about it. "Not a problem. If you could just take me to the main campus or building that should be sufficient."

"You use pretty big words for such a small dude." Tsubasa smirked at him.

"Looks can be deceiving, now if you would please take me there now, you would have my deepest gratitude." Youichi supressed an annoyed glare whilst he laid on the formal words. This guy sure likes to talk a lot. I hope I get there soon because from the looks of it, I won't.

"Hai. Hai. Follow me Youichi. We'll get there in no time!" Tsubasa held his hand up in the peace sign over his shoulder as he began down the path that would (hopefully) lead Youichi to the main campus and closer to his 'mission'.

~~~~~~~~15 minutes later~~~~~~~~

Youichi's eyebrow twitched. "Oi. Why the hell are we in a forest?!"

"Um… I think that we might be kinda lost." Tsubasa rubbed the back of his hands sheepishly.

"KINDA?! WE'VE BEEN WALKING IN THIS FOREST FOR TEN MINUTES!" Youichi smacked the back of Tsubasa's head.

"Sorry! I'm really sorry!" Tsubasa whimpered.

"DAMN RIGHT YOU SHOULD BE!" Youichi closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose with two fingers. WHY OF ALL PEOPLE DID I HAVE TO FIND THIS GUY WITH NO BLOODY SENSE OF DIRECTION?!

"Uh… Youichi… is it just me or is there a building behind those trees?" Tsubasa squinted.

Youichi looked up raising his eyebrows. There was, in fact, a building in what looked to be a clearing.

"Hey, can you hear something?" Youichi inclined his head towards the building. He could hear a muffled noise getting closer.

Tsubasa shook his head. "We need to get closer. Maybe we'll even find someone who knows the way back."

Yes! That would be the best! If I spend any more time with his guy I'm afraid I might go insane! "Let's go. It's pointless to stay here."

The closer the got towards the building the louder the muffled sounds became. Youichi could make out thumps and bangs and what sounded like swearing. The features of the building also became clearer. It was a one story building that was the same colour as vomit made out of bricks. It blended in with the leaves of the surrounding trees. Unless you knew it was there it would have been difficult to see or find.

Youichi looked up at Tsubasa. How was it that this idiot could see it before he could? He narrowed his eyes. There must be more to the idiot than on the surface.

Tsubasa turned towards Youichi, feeling his gaze on him. "Hmm?" He then tripped over a rock, landing face down in a pile of leaves.

Youichi turned away. There is no possible way that this idiot could have more to him! It must have been a fluke!

They were now on the edge of the perimeter of the building and the sounds were no longer muffled.

FWACK-CK… FWACK-CK … FWACK-CK … FWACK-CK …

"Ow!" A shrill shout was heard.

Youichi and Tsubasa shared a look before creeping the edge of the building and peering around it.

"Did the string slap your finger again?"

There were two people, girls by the sound of their voices.

One of them was holding a bow, a quiver of arrows in a quiver slung across her back.

"I didn't do it intentionally!" The bow girl said defensively cradling her fingers.

"I don't think anyone would it intentionally." Her friend rolled her eyes. "Now give me your hand."

Without waiting, she reached over and pulled the other's hand and began putting some type of salve on it.

The bow girl hissed. "Ow… What if they were a masochist?"

"In that case, they'd get you to hit them instead of a bow." Her friend put the salve away. "Take a five minute break. It'll give some time for the salve alice to work."

"Yes!~"

"Also, next time, focus on your aim. The arrows are far from the bulls eye."

"Hey! You try firing two arrows at once!"

"Stop complaining or I'll make it three."

"You're so cruel Hotaru!"

Youichi frowned. Hotaru? As in Hotaru Imai? That's impossible. The Imai family were loyal only to the Yukihara family-

His eyes widened and he looked at the other person. Could it possibly be? Then it's true: Mikan is still alive! And that means that that person with Hotaru must be Mikan!

Mikan straightened up suddenly. Someone's watching me! She turned to Hotaru as she walked by.

"Are you an idiot? Did you only just notice their presence? Follow my lead." Hotaru whispered by her ear.

Mikan flushed slightly. It wasn't her fault she couldn't detect peoples presence! She wasn't taught to do such things! Wait a moment. Follow her lead?

"Hey Mikan," Hotaru called, loud enough for the person to hear. "How confident are you with your aim with one arrow right now?"

Mikan hesitated before replying. "Fairly confident."

"So if I tell you to aim for the trees on the other side of the building, you'll be able to hit every target I tell you?"

Mikan's lips curled into a smile. "I'm positive."

Youichi and Tsubasa panicked. They knew they were there! Or at least if they didn't, they were about to find out!

Youichi quickly and silently summoned a ghost, motioning it to keep quiet as it opened its mouth. He somehow managed to communicate with it to get it to take him towards the roof.

As soon as he was up there he noticed the problem. Tsubasa was still down there, and panicking quite amusingly.

Youichi swore under his breath. This was bad. This was very bad. There was no way Tsubasa was going to be able to hide himself in time.

Tsubasa looked up at Youichi. It was obvious from the look on Youichi's face that he clearly had no idea what to do to help him.

Tsubasa bit back a curse and looked around. Shadows…SHADOWS! They were on the shadowy side of the building which mean that his alice could come into effect.

He activated it and felt the tingling sensation enter his body. He reached for the shadows and the enveloped him as if it were a blanket just as Mikan and Hotaru reached where he was standing just seconds before.

Hotaru narrowed her eyes when she reached the spot Tsubasa had been. I swear someone was just here. The fact that they're gone can either mean they were frightened by us or that they were our enemies. Taking into account the situation with Mikan being the Yukihara heir, there is also the case where they know her true identity and are instead planning to observe. This could mean that…*blah blah blah* …In that case, the best thing to do would be to continue training and see what happens: even if it does put Mikan at risk. (A/N: She thought all of this in 0.3 seconds.)

Hotaru leaned over to Mikan's ear and whispered. "Sorry Mikan. For now I need you to act as bait."

A slight inclination in the head was all that Hotaru needed to know. She reached into her pocket and wrapped her fingers around one of her new devices.

"Ah! I must have been wrong!" Hotaru proclaimed loudly. "It must have a stray cat or something."

Hotaru threw the floaty camera into the air as she pretended to stretch. "Mikan. Go continue training. I'm just going to go the toilet."

"Yep!" Mikan smiled in what she hoped was a cheery and bubbly manner. It was harder to act like yourself when you try to.

Hotaru entered the building and walked into the girl's lavatory. For good measure, she went into one of the stalls and locked the door. From her pocket, she pulled out another device which allowed her to see a live feed of the floaty camera, which was still floating in the air where she tossed it.

It showed Mikan practising her shooting by herself. (She noted that she'd have to scold the girl for shooting not two arrows but one.)

Hotaru toggled the camera's angle to face the building where she had previously been staring at.

Something was moving in the shadows, it had a human-like figure. As it emerged from the darkness, it took the form of an older boy with navy coloured hair wearing a beanie with a star shaped tattoo under his eye.

Was he a manifestation of shadow? Or did he possess a shadow alice or something of the like?

Hotaru continued to ponder this as she watched the screen. Wait. Why did that person look so familiar? Hotaru narrowed her eyes when the information about him came back to her. How could she forget? Tsubasa Ando: friend of Natsume Hyuuga. Came with him to Gakuen Alice and is possibly also looking to find out Mikan's real identity. That means that they know?

Tsubasa started making wild motions to something above him. Hotaru moved the camera's angle again and saw another boy floating.

Hotaru's eyes narrowed in recognition. The new student. Youichi Hijiri. Were these two working together? Come to think of it, Youichi had come later than Natsume and his posse. Could he possibly be back-up that Natsume sent for? But that would mean that they had discovered Mikan's identity. But then he would have had to acknowledge Natsume. He didn't seem to have had that kind of expected reaction.

Wait. Hijiri? Where have I heard that name before? Hotaru skimmed the information inside her head until she remembered.

The Hijiri family. They were a generations old family dedicated to serving the Yukihara linage. Was this the reason why he transferred. The Hijiri's were famous for their ability to differentiate different peoples auras and could pick out who was who based on it.

That would mean that he was on their side. Hotaru smirked and pocketed the device before exiting the bathroom.

This should be interesting.

OMG! I am so sorry for not updating in so long! I have had more than half of this chapter written since when I posted the last chapter but I just haven't had any time to write the rest! I'm sorry! I've had to participate in a nation-wide testing program and I feel like I've died.

Also! This is IMPORTANT!
I'm looking for a Beta-reader! Although I am a Beta-reader myself, I tend not to be able to pick up the mistakes I make! I need someone who can do that for me and also push me to keep writing because I feel like if someone isn't hounding me down to write more, this story won't get finished until 2020!

Thank you!

-Author-san