JC: Ahem…So, Mikan and Ruka did it, and I'm about to nag myself to death for not being able to come up with anything recently lately. I'm not inspired like I used to. I'm experiencing writer's block and school has been getting to me. I'm sorry if the story turns out wrong. I know I'll be able to get my motivation back. I can't guarantee this chapter being any good and all. But I tried. Okay, let's begin.

Disclaimer: Gakuen Alice characters belong to Higuchi-sensei. Sugita Aya is a cross-over character from Kodocha. My own characters in this fic are Kawashima Kyo, Kawashima Asuka, and Hibiki Ryou.


Chapter 44: Mirror and Love

The genius flame-caster was walking back towards his hotel room when he felt a sharp stinging pain in his heart. It was not caused by his Alice or any sickness at all. It was caused by something else—something he couldn't explain. At this point, Mikan came into his mind. He wondered if something bad has happened to her to make him feel perturbed. He knew that the organization will not kill Mikan because they needed her, so her life was assured. And Aya was so fond of Mikan that she'll keep her from harm's way. He took a deep breath and willed himself to calm. He had to stay focused if he wanted to save Mikan. He wasn't going to get sidetracked by his emotions.

He headed for his room. But before he could reach for the doorknob, Tsubasa opened the door and ran out. Natsume's face suddenly got hit with a telephone. The one who threw it was none other than Misaki. As the phone dropped to the floor, there was a big red mark on his face. Naturally, it hurt a lot. Since Natsume was always the type to be cool and collected, he pretended it didn't hurt but he looked vastly irritated.

Misaki, the one responsible, didn't look the least bit sorry for what she did. Just like Natsume, she was irritated as well. Crossing her arms over her chest, she approached Natsume. She was emitting a fiery aura, and a certain guy standing a few distance away from them shivered in fear. The tension was brewing as she stood there in silence. She and Natsume were most likely having a staring contest. Most people would fear Natsume's blood-shot eyes, but Misaki wasn't most people. She was like an active volcano.

Unexpectedly, Natsume first broke the silence between them. "Aren't you going to apologize for throwing that phone at me?" he questioned nonchalantly.

With a shrug, the red-head shook her head and pointed a finger at him. "It wasn't my fault you got in the way," she said in a firm voice. "Besides, I wasn't aiming at you. I was aiming at that moron over there." She turned to Tsubasa, who was hiding behind a plant.

Natsume shot a dagger glare at him, emitting a dangerous aura at the same time. "Let me guess… That moron did something stupid again and you were trying to hit him." He saw Misaki nodding her head and sighed. "All right… Let me have the pleasure of skinning him alive."

Tsubasa paled white as he chuckled nervously. "Oh, come on, Misaki…" he said, swallowing hard. "Can't you take a joke? You know I was only kidding about having 12 children with you or letting you be a housewife."

The doppelganger's eyes burned in anger. "You should stop making those kinds of jokes, idiot!" With blinding speed, she charged towards him and kicked him so hard, sending him flying to the end of the hallway. "Geez, why can't you be serious for once, huh? You're annoying as usual." Yes, her boyfriend was annoying and was always carefree, but those were the things she liked about him.

A bead of sweat trailed down Natsume's cheek. Once again Misaki was able to impress him with such brutal female strength. He was lucky that his girlfriend was sweet by nature. He won't have to handle her fists like Tsubasa. He wanted to pity Tsubasa but decided not to. He was about to step into the room and leave the couple to settle things out when Sora came flying out in a rush. Nobara followed after it.

"I think the portal's open," Nobara said. "We have to hurry or we'll lose sight of Sora."

Tsubasa managed to recover from Misaki's attack and moved towards her side right away. "Okay, let's go!" he said cheerfully as he placed an arm over her shoulders. Because of that, he received an uppercut from Misaki, sending him towards the ceiling. Everyone then ran off, leaving him behind. "Ouch… Hey! Wait up!" He stood up and began running.

The bird led them to the janitor's closet and it was urging them to open the door. They all found it strange for a portal to be hidden inside a closet, but they didn't make a fuss. Tsubasa took the liberty of opening it. Truly there was a portal, and the smile on their faces couldn't be measured. Well, Natsume wasn't smiling, but he was relieved to finally found the portal that would take him to Mikan.

Misaki pulled out her cell phone and called the high school principal. She informed the principal about the portal and asked him about what they were going to do next. For five minutes, she listened to the orders. When the call ended, she put away her cell phone and faced the group seriously. "Kawashima-san and Matsudaichi-kun had an intense battle with some AAO members. They were lucky enough to escape. The principal told me that there might be AAO goons waiting for us after going through this portal. We have to be extra careful and expect the unexpected, got it? We can't afford to make mistakes." She spoke like a true leader.

"I will do anything to get my precious junior back," Tsubasa said, placing a hand on Misaki's shoulder. He was aware of getting hit again, but he didn't care. "Plus, you can take those goons easily."

"I'm counting on you to watch my back as well, Tsubasa," Misaki said, smiling confidently at him.

Nobara clamped her mouth with a clenched hand and took a deep breath. "Although I'm a bit afraid, I'm willing to fight the AAO and save Mikan-chan," she said timidly.

Natsume shrugged. "Stop this nonsense talking and get a move on," he said icily. He looked at the portal first and went in without hesitation.

A few hours had passed. Regaining her senses again, Mikan sat up on the bed with a splitting headache. Not only was her head in pain but her body as well. She thought she could feel loose in her head as she rubbed her temple. She noticed she was wearing nothing underneath the sheets. Before she could wonder why, she recalled something disturbing in her head—something she didn't want to happen. She hugged herself as she started to tremble. She shook her head rapidly, trying to get rid of the upsetting images in her head. But she couldn't. The memory was still fresh—the memory of Ruka forcing himself inside her.

The bathroom door creaked open. Ruka came out fully dressed in his middle school uniform. A malicious grin appeared on his face as he set his lifeless eyes on Mikan. He walked to the bed and leaned down towards her. He stared into her eyes for a long moment and then he kissed her on the temple. "Thank you for giving me a wonderful time, Sakura," he said, and then turned and walked to the door. "It was the best." He went out of the room, making sure to lock the door behind him. He was long gone before she caught her breath and began sobbing. Because of the aphrodisiac, she was able to do such a thing with Ruka.

And as she walked slowly into the bathroom, covered with the sheets, her hair disheveled, her head pounding, her body covered with love bites, she knew she truly couldn't blame Ruka for what he did. He was under control again. What happened between them was inevitable. She opened the shower and fell on her knees. She soaked herself there as tears kept streaming down her face. "Natsume…" she muttered. She felt tormented. She wondered if she could still face him after what has happened. "I'm sorry…" Although no one's to blame, she felt like she betrayed Natsume.

She managed to stand up again. Emotionally she was still weak. The marks were still present on her body. She could still feel Ruka's warmth within her. She told herself to stay strong, but the tears kept coming out. She walked back to the room, clutching the only thing covering her body tightly. She was thinking about a lot of things at this point, especially about her friends who were in danger.

"Did you enjoy yourself, Sakura Mikan?" Mihara smiled at her evilly, with a look of cruel amusement. "I'm sure Nogi Ruka was more than enough to fulfill your thirst for lust." She wore no expression as she turned her head away. She had nothing to say to him. She knew at that moment that he had control over her. One small mistake could be the end for her friends.

Mihara conjured a small energy sphere in his palm to show Mikan his new power. "I stole this from one of my agents," he said, making the sphere disappear from sight. "Because of your Stealing-Alice, I'm able to contain so many Alices inside me. You have my thanks for that, little girl."

She gritted her teeth, looking serious, and yet there was some fear in her eyes. "Are you going to kill me now?" she asked. "There's no reason for you to keep me alive any longer since you have my Alices."

"I have no intention of getting rid of you yet," he said with a grin that most people hated. "I still need you for my revenge against your mother, Azumi Yuka."

"Don't you dare!" she exclaimed, meeting his eyes squarely, and he could see her hands trembling. It was as though he was a monster in her eyes. "I'd rather die than let you use me to get Okaa-san." In the past, her mother betrayed Mihara in order to save her, so she knew how much hatred he has inside of him.

Mihara turned around and reached for the doorknob. "We'll see about that," he said in a cold voice, sending shivers down her spine. "I will let Azumi Yuka experience hell. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go steal the Copy Alice."

Mikan gasped. "C-Copy Alice…?"

"That's right…" Mihara peered over his shoulder to look at her with such malevolent eyes. "I will steal the Copy Alice, which belongs to none other than Aya."

"What?! Why her? I thought she's your best agent."

"She is the best. But now that I have the power to rule over anything, I don't need her services anymore." Mikan was startled about that. She didn't think the leader would be crazy enough to betray Aya, one of the strongest Alice-users she had ever seen. "After Aya, I'm targeting your beloved uncle next. The Alice of Longevity will be mine." Without saying anything further, he went out of the room. Mikan was left to ponder and worry about the upcoming danger.

"This place doesn't look like their headquarters," Misaki commented, as Sora perched on her shoulder.

"But it's pretty creepy here," Tsubasa said.

Standing over the stone bridge, Natsume surveyed the solemn cave on an island in the middle of the lake. It was too quiet. He found it suspicious. He had a feeling there were traps around the area. He noticed Tsubasa looking around, taking in the area. Looking down, Natsume noticed there were no shadows on the ground. He figured that the area was created by someone with an Alice than can manipulate areas. But he wondered if the AAO knew they were there. Not only that, he also noticed that their Immunity Bracelets have disappeared.

The group walked toward the cave. The cave felt ominous silhouetted against the light of the sun. It created a gloomy atmosphere.

"What a dark place…" Nobara muttered.

Natsume sighed and lit up a fire in his palm. He received a grateful yet timid smile from Nobara, and he just shrugged and continued forward. As soon as they stepped into the cave, several bats came rushing out. He heard Nobara letting out a small shriek and noticed Tsubasa shielding Misaki from the bats.

The group ventured into the cave, with Natsume leading them. As they continued further, they noticed that the place was getting lighter and lighter. It seemed like there was a light source coming from somewhere. Keeping their guards up, they looked around carefully for any booby traps or Anti-Alice members.

"It doesn't seem like anyone's here," Tsubasa said, scratching the back of his head, as he looked at Misaki. "Do you think this is the right place? That portal could've led us anywhere."

"That's why we're taking a big risk here," Misaki replied.

They were now in the center of the cave and it was nothing like they could have imagined. The place was well-lighted and it was surrounded by crystals that acted like mirrors. They were more or less impressed with the place. It was beautiful and mysterious at the same time. Since they've been walking for an hour and a half, they decided to take a break. The place seemed safe enough, but they were still on high alert. Anything could happen at any time. Knowing the AAO, they loved doing surprise attacks.

Natsume sat down, bending one leg to rest his arm on it, and leaned back on a large crystal. He wasn't keen on taking a break, but he knew better than to rush things. Sora flew over and landed on his head. He didn't mind the bird's company. At least the bird was a lot quieter than Tsubasa and Misaki, who started arguing again in one corner. The couple sure knew when to pick a time to bicker. They acted like husband and wife already. Seeing the couple so close together made him more eager to save Mikan. He wished to hold her again in his arms.

Sora started bouncing up and down on his head. It was all right at first, but when Sora started pecking him, Natsume got annoyed. In an attempt to grab the bird, Sora dodged his hand swiftly and went to peck his forehead. Natsume controlled his urge to burn the bird into crisp, knowing how dear it was to his girlfriend. The bird flew behind his head and pecked him again. Gritting his teeth, he turned his head and came face to face with his own reflection in the crystal. The bird had already flown away. He was about to stand up when he noticed his reflection disappearing from the crystal.

Weird, he thought as he placed his hand on the crystal. Why would his reflection disappear? Before he could think of any answers, the crystal suddenly showed him an image of a room. In addition to that, there was a familiar girl crying beside the bed. "Mi…Mikan…" he muttered softly. "Mikan!"

Tsubasa, Misaki, and Nobara shifted their attention on the flame-caster. They thought strangely of him the moment he started banging his fists against the crystal and yelling Mikan's name. Wondering what Natsume's problem was, they all approached him.

"Hey, is something the ma—" Tsubasa wasn't able to ask anymore when he saw his junior in the crystal. "Mikan? That's Mikan, right? Please tell me that's not an illusion." He rubbed his eyes to make sure.

Misaki grimaced as she saw the tears streaming down Mikan's face. "Definitely Mikan…" she muttered. "Why is she crying? And why isn't she wearing anything?" The young brunette was only clad in bed sheets. Misaki had a bad feeling about it.

"Mikan-chan must be in pain right now," Nobara said, looking very nervous and worried.

"Mikan!" Natsume exclaimed, hitting the crystal harder than before. He didn't know whether the image shown was real or not. He didn't care if he was shouting out her name for nothing. Deep inside his heart, he knew that Mikan was really crying. He knew she was in a lot of pain. He wanted to see her. He couldn't stand waiting any longer. "Mikan! Mikan!" He wished she could hear his voice.

"Natsume…?" Mikan spoke, raising her head. "Just now… I think I heard him calling out my name…"

Natsume widened his eyes. Did his voice reach her? It seemed like it. "Mikan, I'm here!" he uttered. He didn't care if he was showing some emotions. All he cared about was Mikan at the moment. "Can you hear me?"

Mikan started looking around the room. "I can hear him… I can really hear him… Where is it coming from?" She slowly stood up, careful not to let the sheets fall. And when she heard the voice again, she turned to the direction where it was coming from and saw a full-length mirror. Finally, she was able to see him in that mirror. There was no doubt about it. Crimson red eyes and unruly raven hair—it was definitely Natsume. "Natsume!" She ran towards the mirror and dropped on her knees. Her hands trembled as she touched the mirror. She was afraid his image might disappear.

He positioned his hands against Mikan's and gave her a warm smile. "Mikan…" His voice was soft and silky. There was a sheer amount of happiness in his heart. But his heart almost broke when Mikan started crying again. "What's the matter?"

"You're real, right? Tell me this isn't an illusion…"

"It's no magic trick. It's really me."

Mikan's lips curved into a tender smile. "I'm glad… I'm so glad that I'm able to see you again," she said between her sobs. "But how—"

"I have no idea as well," he replied nonchalantly. "Don't try to ask."

"Are you coming to get me?" she asked.

"What kind of question is that?" Natsume said, sounding a little cold. "I will definitely get you out of there."

Mikan heaved a deep sigh as she lowered her head. "Natsume, I'm sorry…" she muttered under her breath. "I couldn't stop the AAO leader from taking my Alices. I feel so useless. I'm so sorry…" She began to tremble miserably.

"Stop talking nonsense," Natsume retorted. "You're not useless."

The brunette looked up at him again. She looked like she was about to break any second. "Natsume, you have the right to know about…" She swallowed hard. She was hesitating to tell him about what happened between Ruka and her. She knew that the news would shock Natsume so much. "Ruka-pyon and I…we… we…" She couldn't say it. More tears only spilled from her eyes. It was harder than she thought.

If it was possible, Natsume would've held her in his arms. "Stop crying… Just wait a little longer. I'll come and save you and Ruka. That's a promise." Although he wondered what she was trying to say about Ruka and her, he figured that the AAO may have used his best friend to force Mikan to give up her Alices. Of course, that was only a possibility.

"Natsume…" She felt guilty for not being able to say it. The memory of doing it with Ruka was still fresh in her mind. "I'm sorry… I'm sorry… But I want you to know that I love you. I love you…" She leaned her temple against the mirror and shed more tears.

"I love you too," Natsume replied, making her look at him in surprise. He can't blame her for that. He rarely says those three special words. He would rather show his feelings through actions. At this point, words counted more than anything else. "You're the most important to me, Mikan." Natsume treasured her well with his eyes.

Mikan treasured him as well. "Natsume…" she muttered his name with such importance.

Gazing at each other's eyes, they felt like they were in their own world. They leaned their faces closer and closer, closing their eyes, until their lips have finally met. The mirror between them, separating them, seemed nothing. They could feel each other's warmth and love. In their hearts, they were together.

"Mikan-sama?" a familiar voice came from behind the brunette. Turning her head around, she saw Hibiki Ryou. He approached her slowly and then he noticed Natsume in the mirror. "Hyuuga?! Wait a sec… Are you actually talking to Hyuuga right now? I can't believe this!" Activating his Alice, he lifted the floor lamp and crashed it against the mirror. He was careful enough not to hurt Mikan in the process. He had good control over his Alice of Magnetism.

One moment her mind was blank. The next, a working idea came to her, though she was chagrined at having to use force against Ryou, who was a good friend of hers. The more she thought about it, the more the notion appealed to her, until she finally embraced the negatives. Ryou wouldn't be easy to beat. Though she never approved of violence, these were desperate times. That settled, Mikan stood up and used closed the door using Telekinesis. And when Ryou started asking her why she still has an Alice, she simply pinned him against the wall with a mere gesture of her hand. "I'm sorry for doing this, Hibiki-kun, but you'll thank me later," she said.

"How is this possible? I thought you gave up your Alices to the boss."

"It's true that I gave my Nullification and Stealing Alices to that man," she explained, moving towards him in a casual pace. "But I didn't give him the Alices I stole from Aya." She wasn't able to use it earlier on Mihara because she was being cautious. If that man knew about the Telekinesis and Barrier Alices inside her, then her friends would surely die.

Ryou smirked. "Impressive… You really are something, Mikan-sama." As amazed as he sounded, Ryou laughed out maniacally. "What are you planning to do now? You won't be able to break Aya's control without the Nullification Alice."

Looking straight into his hazel eyes, she sighed. "I forgot to mention this to you, Hibiki-kun. When I said I gave my Alices to that man, I didn't mean all. To put it simply, I still have some Nullifying power inside me." Her lips curved into a lovely smile. "And this power is more than enough to return you back to your normal self." With that said, she clasped Ryou's hand firmly and activated her Nullification Alice.

"Leader, it seems like there are intruders in the Cave of Wishes," Reo said as soon as he stepped into the office. "They're four in total and one of them is the Black Cat, Hyuuga Natsume. I've already sent Aya to take care of them."

"It seems like the portal we set up around Japan has placed us in a disadvantage," Mihara said, cupping his chin with one hand, as he leaned back on his chair. "No mater… The academy is no threat to me anymore."

A sense of doom guiding his body, he brushed his hand through his auburn hair to calm himself down. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about the AAO leader. He hoped it was just a feeling. "Leader, are you planning on stealing Narumi's Alice as well? I know you've kept him alive for a reason." His senior was still in a coma. Truth to be known, he was seriously getting worried about him, even though he tried to deny it.

Mihara rose up from his chair and gave Reo a wicked smile. "Human Pheromones can be quite useful…" He walked towards Reo, without taking his eyes off of the singer, and stood in front of him. There was a moment of silence before he spoke up again. "But I'm more interested in Voice Pheromones." Before Reo could react, Mihara grabbed his arms and started using the Stealing Alice on him.

Eyes wide, Reo pushed the mad man away and backed up against the door. "What the hell are you doing?!" he yelled.

The leader snickered and adjusted his glasses. "Get down on the floor…"

With that command, Reo dropped to the floor like a block of cement. He couldn't control his body. It could only mean one thing. Mihara had successfully stolen his Voice Pheromone Alice. Reo went sick inside. Mihara was betraying him. "You bastard!" he uttered. "Give me back my Alice!"

Mihara stared at Reo, his sharp eyes devoid of emotion, his lips curled into a nasty smile. "By the way, I'm planning on Stealing Aya's Alice as well. I'm sure her Copy Alice would make me more invincible. It has really been a pleasure having you as a member of my organization." Using Voice Pheromones once again, he said, "For your final mission, I want you to die together with Narumi."

Reo did his best to resist the command, but his best was not enough. The Voice Pheromone Alice took over his body. The thought of death made him think of academy days with Narumi, the senior he looked up to the most, and Aya, the girl he treated like a sister. He remembered something Narumi had said about protecting what was important to him.

To be continued…

JC: This story is nearing an end, everyone. I'm happy to say that Natsume and Mikan will be reunited in the next chapter. But there are still going to have problems with Ruka. It's been revealed that the leader has been deceiving his own members all along. All he wants is power to rule. More fight scenes are coming your way. Remember that somebody is going to die. I'm not telling. But it will happen soon. Please review. No flaming!