His Dark, Kind Soul
Disclaimer: The author rightfully respects the genius of Tachibana Higuchi, creator of Gakuen Alice
Author's Notes: While mostly set five years ago, present day Alice Academy takes place a little after My Best Friend's Girlfriend. It's a little more serious than my other stories but I hope you enjoy reading this as well.
Chapter 1: The White Wolf
In the records of the Alice Academy there is a student held in the highest esteem. He was everything an Alice should be and few could equal the feats he had achieved. He was smart and talented, charming and down-to-earth, compassionate and honorable. He was kind. He was different. He was quite perfect.
He hung out with the Special Ability types and would often extol what they could do. He was the Senior Class Representative and sought ways to use their talents even though the other Class types ridiculed him for it. He refused to prejudice against anyone and the Special Ability class was grateful to him for this kindness. Yes, that class respected him and looked to him for encouragement.
But no, he wasn't one of them.
While a student he constantly delved into different fields. During his stay, he studied Metagenomics and furthered the Alice research for forty years. His contributions made it to the record hall and the Technical Class lauded him. He was also a musician, an accomplished violinist, and he played so sweetly that birds would often come to sing for him. His music carried a spell, identical to how Somatic types weave their Alices to hypnotize many a creature.
But no, he wasn't Technical.
And no, he wasn't Somatic.
He was of another class; and the Latent Ability group would've proudly taken him as one of their own. Why not? He was very clever, often cracking puzzles others could not. It came easy because he had a photographic memory; a gift that also allowed him to capture images in his mind which he could later put down on canvas in a brilliant masterpiece. While the finished painting had no extraordinary attributes, it astounded all who beheld it.
And once again, the Technical types could claim the art as their ability but the Latents saw his genius as a brother talent. They could argue and bicker but nobody would win because foremost he was not in the school for such paltry skills. And they all knew it.
For he was of the last type— the most feared and most revered of all. But the class he was part of hardly gave him joy. Those that had the right to him gave him little credit for they were just as bright and capable. They were all esteemed. They were all different.
But perhaps not as loved as he; and in the records of the Alice Academy there remains only one student that is exalted above all the rest. His name echoed for years after his abrupt departure from the school and many grieved his parting though not all knew the true reason behind it.
There is only one—one with the name, one with the legend, one with the Alice kissed by winter— the White Wolf: Kira Samushiro.
Present day, Alice Academy Quadrangle, Natsume Hyuuga at age thirteen
It was an incredible sight and a lot of students stopped to point and stare. Their group occupied only one table but they were taking up a much larger area of the quadrangle. This was thanks to all the visual aids Kitsuneme and Koko had set up for their mock presentation of their History assignment. Obviously, the two of them had put in a lot of effort into this report. They were using flip charts and computer images, simulated graphs and a very disturbing diorama of the Alice Academy as it looked ten years ago.
But the real shocker was the script they had come up with. It was the core of their report, the heart and soul of their research. Or so they said when they eventually convinced Natsume, Ruka, Yuu and Mochu to sit for the trial run.
"And so Kira shouted, 'You'll never take me alive!' and started fending his attackers using the broken fluorescent lamp." Kitsuneme gestured wildly with his hands. "Then he ran for the perimeter wall—"
"And he cleared it with a single jump," Koko interjected.
"Like Superman," Kitsuneme mentioned.
"Oh yeah, like Superman," his friend agreed then they continued talking alternately to their very vexed albeit somewhat fascinated audience.
"Then Kira started running and running…"
"And his hunters were chasing and chasing him, until— seeming out of nowhere— they reached a cliff."
"But I thought they were in the city—" Mochu tried to cut in but they slid over him.
"It was incredible," Kitsuneme threw in.
"Out of this world," Koko went on, "Then without hesitation— and you'll never believe this—"
"I'm sure I won't," Ruka muttered.
"Kira jumps!" Kitsuneme cried leaping off the bench he was upon in his excitement. He somersaulted in the air then remained aloft while he narrated, "Without even stopping! He jumps into the ravine and it's a vertical fall in hyper speed."
"Of course," Yuu said in amusement, "Hyper."
"It couldn't possibly be anything less," Mochu said wryly.
"Exactly!" Koko exclaimed. "So he falls going whoosh! against the wind then he lands in—" He drum rolled on the table. "—the river."
"The river," his partner repeated, "Right into its black depths."
Ruka blinked. "A river that came out of nowhere."
"Just like the cliff," Yuu smiled.
"That's right," Koko averred. "So his pursuers fired a rain of bullets after him."
"But they all missed. They went down to look for him but they couldn't find a single trace, not even blood." Kitsuneme's voice grew lower as he prepared for the dire finish. "They spent days looking for him, maybe even months, but Kira just vanished." He paused melodramatically and Koko started nodding very solemnly next to him. "He never came up."
Koko looked grave. "And the Alice Academy never saw him again."
They stopped talking and waited expectantly for a reaction. There was a long, awkward pause. Yuu cleared his throat. Ruka exchanged a glance with Mochu and the latter scratched his nose needlessly. Natsume was the only one who looked unaffected. He continued reading his manga after rolling his eyes at the dynamic dorks.
Ruka glanced at his best friend then finally spoke, "I don't think it happened that way."
"I don't even think it could happen that way," Yuu tried to reason.
"I don't think your story could happen at all," Mochu said bluntly.
"Skeptics," Koko sniffed in offense. "I'll have you know, that story came from painstaking research."
Yuu tried to be open-minded. "So your sources were…?"
"Alice Urban Legends dot com," Kitsuneme grinned. They stared then, "Hey, hey! Come on! Don't walk away! Look! Natsume's not complaining."
The three of them turned to Natsume who remained seated at the benches. When he realized the gang had grown silent, he looked up from his comic book.
"Don't you have anything to say to them?" Ruka prodded.
Natsume shrugged before saying in a bored tone, "What makes you think Kira Samushiro would pull all those dangerous stunts?"
"Oh, that's the best part!" Kitsuneme said gleefully. He flipped to a page in his notebook and showed them two hastily drawn timelines. At the top of the page were the words Legend of the White Wolf. Natsume reached for it at once."We went through the Alice Academy student records—"
"You were allowed to do that?"
"Allowed? Let's not get technical," Koko said promptly. "The point is we identified all the students who were in the Alice Academy during the Samushiro era— that's what we're calling it— and guess what?"
"What?" Ruka asked automatically.
"His stay coincides perfectly with the most celebrated student of the Dangerous Ability class—"
"Natsume Hyuuga?" Mochu ventured.
"No," Kitsuneme said, sounding highly affronted. "The other one, the bigger one— no offense Natsume— the one with all the stories."
"The White Wolf," Natsume voiced.
"Have you heard of him?" Koko asked eagerly.
"Yeah, I've heard of him. His last year was the year Ruka and I entered the Academy." He handed back the notebook then suddenly stood. "I'll see you guys around."
"Wait! Where are you going? I want to ask you more about Kira and this amazing theory we have of him being the Wolf—" He cut himself off when Natsume raised one hand in a wave. It was a goodbye and a dismissal and it was best not to ignore it. So instead, Koko turned his attention to those who remained. "Kitsuneme and I were thinking that since Kira seemed to fit in with all the classes, it made perfect sense that he'd be from the top secret one!"
"Oh, perfect sense," Ruka said dryly then finally, Mochu couldn't seem to take it anymore.
"You two are so going to fail this report," Natsume heard him comment just before he rounded the corner. This caused the other two to argue even more heatedly about their hero.
They have no idea how close they are to the truth, Natsume thought with a mixture of amusement and irritation. It was a bit unnerving how two single-star students could come this far with just a little investigation and a far-fetched imagination. Maybe the secrecy surrounding Kira Samushiro wasn't so foolproof after all. Or maybe people just weren't taking the directive five years ago as seriously anymore.
He remembered that command well. Kira had left them in the dead of the night. The following morning his mixed class was told to keep quiet about the disappearance. They weren't supposed to talk about the events surrounding Kira's last mission nor the deaths that came with it. They pretended to know nothing and so they said nothing. Thus, all the other class types were left guessing. At the time, he was the only elementary student who had to keep his mouth shut.
But what really struck him in those days was the fact that people seemed less interested in knowing what became of the White Wolf than they were about Kira. They were more concerned about their friend— the person not the legend. In time, the students even stopped looking for the White Wolf altogether. They just spoke of Kira the model student and they always did so in venerable terms. That's how all his feats and his incomparable kindness came to be remembered.
Years passed and soon the high school division that had known him graduated, leaving behind many narratives but very little facts. So what most people remembered about him now are the good things and those stories marked Kira Samushiro as one of the greatest students of the Alice Academy— Koko and Kitsuneme's deserving hero.
But that wasn't how Natsume remembered him. Not at all. He had the chance to actually know Kira both as a student and the Wolf; and he wasn't nearly as faultless as they made him out to be. Nor was he as gentle or as kind. In fact, his first glimpse of the renowned White Wolf spoke very little of kindness…
Five years ago, Alice Academy, Natsume Hyuuga at age eight
There were thundering footsteps on the staircase. Two or three people were running in the halls. There were angry voices and some shouting. Someone was livid. That whole building was a restricted area so it was no wonder they took no care in hiding their conversation.
"They could've gotten all of us killed! You tell your team to clean up their act or they'll answer to me!"
"The next time this happens—"
"Next time?" the first voice thundered. "There's going to be a next time?"
"I only mean they're new to this and so they're liable to mistakes," the second person answered, sounding abashed. Natsume couldn't see their faces but even beyond the door he could tell who was in charge and who was only an underling.
"Then don't send them out unless they're no longer a liability," the more senior one said in anger. "It's not only their lives at stake out there."
"Kira," a third voice intervened, "You know it's not up to us."
A pause. "I know but I wish to heaven it were."
A couple of more steps sounded then stopped in the hall to join the noisy crowd. By the way the persons halted, it was obvious the group that had been talking looked even far more alarming than they sounded.
"What the devil happened to the three of you?"
"Accident at the train station."
"Oh, was that you?" The voice this time was female and rather disdainful. "Davies is going to be furious. You're getting sloppy Wolf. Sloppy… and soft."
"You'd have done the same."
"They weren't one of us."
"How long will you keep doing this?" another voice jeered. "Or maybe you're not sorry to send the rest of us to our death—"
There was a crash and Natsume willed himself not to look at the door. The man in front of him hadn't moved. His hands were still resting on the wooden desk that separated them. His attention was on the conversation outside and his expression was very difficult to decipher. There was a skirmish in the hall and some more yelling.
"Samushiro! Let him go!"
"Your life wasn't worth saving. I should've left you out there!"
"Alices stand together, you idiot! It's us or them!"
"You arrogant son of a—"
"Back off Kira!" another voice interceded then calmly went on, "You don't have time for this. Davies wants to see you, remember?"
"Well, I'm here aren't I," Kira snapped and the group momentarily fell silent.
"You didn't say he was in there!"
"Scared of him, are you? Spineless lot," Kira said sardonically then in afterthought muttered, "Damn these hours. Can't I even clean up first?"
"It won't make a difference. You're due for a punishment anyway."
"Jackass," Kira hissed.
The knob twisted then and the group outside rapidly dispersed. Inside the room, Natsume braced himself for the newcomer. He kept his back to the door and focused on Davies who now wore an expectant smile on his face.
"I was told you wanted to see me."
The student's appearance brought Davies to his feet. Natsume didn't dare turn around. He refused to show any interest though part of him was burning with curiosity to see what the other person looked like.
"Goodness Kira, couldn't you have washed up?" Davies exclaimed, rounding the table to welcome his ward.
"I was told you wanted to see me with all haste."
"Well, you certainly know how to follow instructions," Davies said grimly. "But then the incident today… at the train station."
"I wasn't going to leave them like that," he spoke boldly.
"How many times must we remind you that civilian welfare is not your concern?"
"As many times as you should remind those who are in charge of it that it is theirs. The team was late again. The girl could've died by the time they arrived."
"You disobeyed. Punishment is in order."
"I'm well aware."
Davies kept silent and Natsume knew they had arrived at some sort of understanding. He didn't know what it was. He was still uncertain of how these things were done. In any case, the two finally turned back to him. "Come over here Samushiro, there's someone I want you to meet."
Natsume took that as his cue and stood to face both men. It was an early shock to him when he finally laid eyes on the White Wolf.
The boy in front of him couldn't have been more than sixteen years old. He had a messy mat of hair that on another day may have looked white or silver. He was tall and lean and he wore glasses that perched loosely upon his nose. People could describe him as scholarly except that at the moment he wore so many trinkets on his ears and arms that it belied his bookish nature. However, the most disquieting feature was that the teenager in front of him was caked in blood. It ran down his left cheek and splashed across what would have been a white shirt. The red stain trickled down his pants, spotted his shoes and almost covered his left hand.
If it hadn't been dry, he would've thought that the guy was bleeding to death and the sight was rather sickening. It gave him a most sinister look and just then his eyes flashed dangerously as though he had just spotted Natsume as a new enemy. Unperturbed by all this, Kira merely looked down at him then frowned deeply.
"Who the hell is this?"