Me: Whee! I'm happy! I changed my major, my hairstyle, and my wardrobe. One) I like it, and Two) Bring on the classes!

CTE: I don't like the clothes, but damn. This hairstyle does cover my left eye. I could probably get the demonic eye now.

SAN: … I like the clothes.

Me: Hey! How about changing your clothes? Let's say… I'll make it level 2!

CTE: …

SAN: …

CTE: … Go ahead.

Me: I don't own S.A, and don't expect this story to be updated too much.

Chapter 9: Is this home?

It was eight o' clock in the morning, and birds were chirping as the sun was rising. The maids and butlers were cleaning up the rooms, and the windows were fixed, removing the bulletproof glasses and concealing the holes of the bolts. In a certain room, one resident was still sleeping under the warm covers next to a neatly, clean bed. A knock was heard from outside, and the resident jerked awake before throwing the cover off from her upper body.

"Hanazono-sama? Are you awake?" A maid's voice called out from behind the thick doors. The black-haired woman sighed in relief and flopped back to her bed.

"Hai. You can come in." The door opened to reveal a maid coming in and holding a tray of breakfast: a plate of Sunnyside eggs with bacon on the side, a small plate of toast, a cup of water, and two pills of painkillers.

"Breakfast is ready, Hanazono-sama." The maid said as she placed the tray on the small table beside her. Hikari sat up and raised her arms to stretch the stiff muscles, feeling the strain off of her shoulders. She glanced at the food beside her and observed it. Before she could tell the maid that she could eat in the dining room, the maid explained to her.

"The elder Taishou-sama asked me to bring a simple breakfast for you before she left for a meeting. It was her order."

Oh.

So that's why. It was a simple meal, but Hikari would have to keep her strength up a bit. Hikari nodded, thanking her and asking her to leave. The maid shook her head and answered her confused look.

"Takishima-sama has requested to me to provide you any help you need or any questions to answer." The Hanazono woman sighed and nodded in defeat. Well… at least that she wasn't tied down to the bed like the few missions that brought her wounds and scars. Hikari threw the covers off of her body and swung her legs over. The Hanazono woman was wearing light blue pajamas, and newly replaced bandages were around her healed leg. Hikari tried to reason them that she was all right after the recovery, but Kei said that it is a precaution just in case the wound opens again.

Yeah, right. Hikari huffed at her thought and clapped her hands together, saying her thanks. She immediately grabbed the fork and knives and began to devour the meal. While she was eating her breakfast, Hikari pondered about what to do today.

I don't have any plans today or any objectives assigned to me since Obaa-san and Onii-sama said to take a break. I'll just think about what to do next. Let's see. Obaa-san and Onii-sama are out of the country for meetings, and Namaka-chan is in Sui's elementary school as a transfer student. I wish good luck to them, especially Namaka-chan. I heard that Tony-san is back to his hometown to see his folks, but I don't know the rest of my team. Hikari sighed and berated herself for being so pathetic to know where her comrades were.

"Is there something you need, Hanazono-sama?" The Hanazono survivor totally forgot that the maid was beside her and mentally kicked herself for wandering in her thoughts. Hikari glanced at the maid and nodded.

"Hai. Do you know where my teammates are? I know where my family are, but I don't know where are my other teammates." The maid answered.

"Very well, Hanazono-sama. Tony-sama is with his family in another town for the rest of the vacation. Nicky-sama is currently in the hospital, treating others who were injured in the recent mission. David-sama and Sean-sama went back to America, and Michael-sama went with Taishou-sama for the meeting." Hikari nodded, but she felt a little disappointed and sad. She was hoping that some of her teammates would keep her company, but they have some things to do or left the residence. Hikari took a bite out of her eggs, not savoring the flavor like she used to. A sudden image of Kei popped up in her mind, and Hikari asked the maid.

"Where is Takishima?" The maid smiled.

"Kei-sama is still here and working upstairs. He is currently waiting for you after you finish your meal and your dental hygenes." Hikari nodded and ate the last piece of bacon. She took the painkillers and swallowed them, grimacing at the difficulty of taking the medicine. Hikari rarely took any medicine because the doctors told her that her quick recovery would heal her wounds. If she really needed to take medicine or painkillers, then she would have to go through intensive surgery that would really involve a fifty percent chance of survival. Therefore, those wounds she endured left scars on her body, especially one on her forehead. Hikari removed the tray from her lap and placed it on the small table. Hikari tried to stand up, but her bandages tightened around her leg and let her fall back on the bed.

"Hanazono-sama? Daijoubou?" The maid was immediately at her side with a worried face. Hikari sheepishly smiled and held her hand out.

"Gomen nasai. I need a little help until I'm used to walk on my own." The maid smiled gently and held her hand, pulled Hikari to her wobbling feet, and let Hikari lean on her with her arm wrapped around the maid's shoulder.

"Arigatou gozaimasu." Hikari said as she took each step slowly but correctly. The maid smiled at Hikari.

"Iie. I should be thanking you for bringing Kei-sama's smile again."

0000

Kei pondered, wondering if he made the correct decision. He was staring at his computer with a window that had sent his email to important people, and Kei was debating whether it was a smart thing to do. He also wondered about Hikari's expression to the news he would be giving her. He reminded himself that after Hikari's mission is complete and a chance for her staying in Japan for a few days or months he would make a welcome back party with others. Knocks interrupted his thoughts, and a voice was heard from outside.

"Kei-sama. Hanazono-sama is here." The maid stated, and a slight shuffle and mutter was heard outside. However, he knew that the muttering voice belonged to Hikari who sounded like she was nervous around the maid.

"Come in." He commanded, and the door opened. The maid opened the door as Hikari was holding onto the maid's shoulder for support. The sight of Hikari always surprises him to no end, and sometimes, he would think it was a dream. She was no longer wearing her uniform like she would usually does a week ago. It was just a simple red t-shirt and grey sweatpants to move easily. It would be just like those normal times in their high school days.

"Do you still need me for support, Hanazono-sama?" Hikari smiled gently and released her shoulder.

"It's all right. I'm fine. I can walk by myself. Arigatou gozaimas." The maid bowed to both Kei and Hikari and left, closing the door for their privacy. When the maid was far from their hearing range, Hikari looked at Kei straight in the eye and smiled at him.

"Ohayo, Takishima!" Her smile was still contagious as ever. Kei stood up, walking toward Hikari and smiled at her. This smile was genuine, but he just smiled innocently just for fun.

"Ohayo, Hikari. Did you have a good sleep this morning?" Hikari seemed to irk at his face but nodded. Something about that smile seemed to piss her off like he was planning something behind her back, but this smile seemed to piss her off in a good way. Probably, she missed him pissing her off like when they were in high school. She smiled back but purposely put a forced smile to test how long she could put up with his attitude.

"Hai. It's been a while since I had a decent sleep." Kei repeated the word in confusion and sounded worried.

" 'Decent?'" Hikari blinked and nodded, no longer putting up the forced smile.

"It's because of the recent mission. I had to stay up all night to take watch for my team and to prepare for the enemy's entrance. Therefore, the only sleep I had been after the missions." She laughed it off like it was just a trivial problem. For her, it might be her daily routine when she was living with the Taishou family. For Kei, he felt like he wanted to kill Kimajime with his bare hands for letting her living like that.

"Oh…" He didn't recognize that his tone was sending out a dangerous vibe, but when he spotted Hikari flinching, Kei immediately regretted from losing control of his emotions. Hikari stepped back a little and looked scared like a little rabbit.

"Gomen, Takishima. Was there something I said that made you mad?" Kei shook his head and stepped closer.

"Gomen nasai, Hikari. I wasn't mad. It's just that… I'm upset that you have to go through all this without anyone to help you." Hikari smiled and walked close to her former rival. Her hand lightly touched his cheek before cupping his face.

"It's all right. I understand. I did make everyone worry when I left…" Hikari looked down, and Kei could see her cheeks turning red without looking into her eyes.

" … especially you, Takishima." Kei felt his heart melting and pumping faster, and the Takishima heir felt more alive. He was first relieved that Hikari was alive and safe, but now hearing her talk about him made him happy to some extent. He smiled and hugged her without reason. He felt her stiffen a bit, but she later relaxed and hugged him back. His breath hitched at her response to his hug, and his mind was in a sanctuary that he never knew. For a long time, that hidden sanctuary was his peace and quiet place.

"KEEEEEEIIIII!!" He felt pain under his chin and later a tight squeeze on his lungs.

" YOU BASTARD!! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?! WHERE'S HIKARI?!" Kei cursed at the voice under his feet, not expecting them to come here earlier than usual. He looked down at the Hanazono survivor who looked toward the door and chuckled. She looked surprised, and Hikari was clinging to Kei like a small child scared of a small puppy. Hikari looked at him and pointed outside.

"Was that…" Kei nodded with a smile and pushed her back to the door.

"Come on, Hikari. Let's see our friends."

0000

"GET OVER HERE AND TELL ME WHERE HIKARI IS, YOU SHAMELESS BASTARD!!" That said person was screaming so loud that everyone was quivering in fear behind objects around the place. Panting and breathing harshly, Akira Toudou stood in the middle of the entrance in rage and determination. She still wore her hair short and wore her casual clothes fit for the Spring season: a light violet tank top, blue jeans, and high heeled sandals, but her eyes had the fire that would make spring into a hot summer. They could remember the young master's friends and how they act, but seeing this woman's beyond angry expression made them having shivers down their spine.

"A-Akira? Kei's coming, and Hikari's here as well. Don't worry. We're going to see her today." The adventurous young man tried to calm down his girlfriend from tearing down the place. Tadashi Karino wore a forest green suit, brown dress shoes, and a loosen tie since he was going to take over his mother's place as director of Hakusenkan Academy. He couldn't remove the suit, so he loosened the tie and ruffled his hair back to his wild state. Without a warning, the Toudou woman began stomping on him in rage. Therefore, he was gaining pain from the tempered woman.

"We didn't see Hikari for years and were worried about her if she was dead or not, and you are telling me to calm down?!" Akira screeched, as she mauled her boyfriend for being an idiot.

"A-Akira! Itai! Okay! Gomen nasai! Yeow!" Tadashi was no longer beaten up, but he seemed to be unrecognizable on the ground. His hand was twitching in pain, and the only source of him being alive was the sound of painful groans. Sounds of knocking on the entrance doors caught everyone's attention away from the Karino man, and a maid courageously opened the door and answered.

"H-Hai?"

"Ah… sumimasen. Are Akira Toudou and Tadashi Karino here?" Immediately recognizing that voice, the maid nodded and opened the door fully.

"H-Hai! They just arrived here, so come inside." Three figures appeared behind the bright sunlight, and Akira huffed, scolding them.

"Where were you, three? I thought you were coming to meet us at the entrance." The older person of the group gave her a nervous smile and answered.

"Ah… gomen nasai, Akira. I had to pick up Jun and Megumi from the concert, and the drive took longer than we expected." Ryuu Tsuji apologized to his friend while patting his childhood friends on the head. Grown up as a handsome young man, Ryuu has distinguished features as an adult such as losing his baby fat and having a slightly longer hair. He wore a brown suit with black dress shoes, but he didn't wear a tie since he was just picking up his childhood friends.

Jun Yamamoto and his older twin sister, Megumi, grew a little taller, but they were still short since they stood up where Akira's chin is. Jun was taller than his older sister, but he still had the young face like when he was in Hakusenkan Academy. He wore a light violet-buttoned collar shirt and brown pants since he changed back into his casual wear instead staying in his suit for his own concert. Megumi wore a baby blue blouse and a yellow frilled skirt that reached under her knees, and she was carrying an erasable pad to speak instead of her voice.

There are still others coming since they just left their own meeting. Megumi wrote on the erasable pad, and Akira sighed.

"I know those two would immediately come, but what about her?" Ryuu seemed to know whom Akira was talking about, and he reassured her.

"I'll tell her about Hikari. She'll understand." Akira nodded, feeling somewhat relieved to know that she would understand Hikari's situation.

"So… where's Hikari?" Jun asked. Right after Jun asked, they heard rapid footsteps echoing the mansion.

"Akira?! Where are you?!" They knew that voice in a heartbeat.

"Hikari?!" Akira shouted and ran up the stairs with Tadashi following behind her.

"Akira! Wait up!" Ryuu shouted as he followed after the two, and the Yamamoto twins followed them because they want to see Hikari as much as Akira does. When they reached to the top floor, the door where it leads to Kei's room slammed open to reveal their long lost friend who had her hair flowing to her current speed. They all gasped at the sight of her being alive and well, and Hikari seemed to hold her breath and to shake in happiness and anxiety.

"Akira? Tadashi? Ryuu? Jun and Megumi?" The moment she spoke out their names in a shaky breath caused Akira to run straight at her best friend, wrapping her arms around her and crying on her shoulder in relief and happiness.

"Hikari! You're alive!" Jun and Megumi ran up to Hikari and hugged her with tears in their eyes, crying with Akira to join the moment.

"Hikari!"

We were worried about you! We all thought you died! Megumi wrote out for Hikari to see, but Hikari's eyes had a gentle shine. She didn't smile, but she did had the happiness and sadness mixed together in her eyes. Hikari hugged her friends and whispered.

"Gomen nasai. I did make everyone worry." Akira and the Yamamoto twins hugged her tightly, responding to her apology and being glad to have their friend back. Tadashi and Ryuu stood back to see their friends reunited after the long separation, but they too were glad to have their friend alive. The small group broke up from their joyful event, and Akira asked in worry.

"Where have you been, Hikari?! Everyone was worried about you, including me." Tadashi nodded in agreement.

"It's been three years, and all of us though you died in the fire. You could have written us or call us that you are alive somewhere." Hikari smiled sheepishly and rubbed her neck.

"It's a long story and a lot of complications."

"Like your adopted family preventing you from contacting us?" Everyone's attention was on the Takishima heir, and Hikari screeched.

"Takishima! They were protecting me, not preventing me!" Without a warning, Akira stomped up to her childhood friend with a murderous glare.

"You!" The tempered woman grabbed Kei's collar and lifted him up. Even though she was shorter than the man, the Toudou woman had the strength of a bear that would take anyone down if it involves with Hikari… and it does involve the survivor.

"A-Akira? Calm down." Hikari was about to pry her away from her former rival, but Akira growled out like a lioness that just caught her prey.

"Hikari, stay away from this." Everyone froze on the spot when they hear Akira, the best friend of Hikari, growled at the Hanazono survivor. Hikari was surprised from Akira's reaction and stepped back, letting Akira do what she wanted. Kei understood what Akira was going to do, but he blinked in surprise when Akira had that tone in her voice. Akira would never tell Hikari to stay away, but she sounded very serious when she actually told Hikari to back off.

"YOU BASTARD!!!" Akira screeched right in front of Kei's face, and everyone, except Kei, jumped in fright. Maids and butlers dived back to their hiding spots, and the courageous maid who opened the door hid behind the large vase. Jun and Megumi hid behind Ryuu, and Tadashi took cover behind Hikari. The two people who didn't hide anywhere stayed in one place to be the pillar of strength, but even sometimes the pillars quake in fear.

"Why the hell didn't you tell us that Hikari was here and alive?! Do you know how much I… we were worried sick about her?!" Tears stung at the corner of her eyes, and she loosened her grip. She tried to wipe away the droplets, but they continued to fall.

"When we heard about the news about the fire where Hikari and her family lived, we all got so scared about her and drove all the way there. When we got there, the whole house was engulfed into flames, and the only source of Hikari was a pool of blood on the ground. We asked the police where Hikari was, but they couldn't tell us because someone made it a confidential case." Kei and Hikari knew that it was either the Taishou heir or the grandmother preventing information of her whereabouts, but they didn't know how much pain their friends were in.

"After the fire was gone, her family's bodies were charred so badly that they were unrecognizable until they were confirmed. The police wouldn't tell us where Hikari is, but we all knew that she was alive. Three years… for three damn years, we all were still mourning for her, and now you tell us that Hikari was here in a week!! Why didn't you call us when she came back?!" Akira's hands covered her face and sobbed. Kei looked guilty while watching his childhood friend break down emotionally for so long. Looking around to see his friends, they all reflected on how Akira felt during those three suffering years. However, Hikari was the one who was taking the hardest.

"Akira…" The Hanazono survivor whispered as her heart grew tighter. Hearing about the aftermath of her home and family, the despair her friends went through, and Kei's heartbreak when he heard about her disappearance… Hikari couldn't bear to withstand the pain. Hikari ran to her best friend and hugged her in comfort. Akira sobbed in her arms and hugged her in happiness, feeling that this woman was truly alive. Hikari looked at her friends and back to Kei, both relieved and happy to see their happiness.

"Come in, everyone. I have a story to tell you."

0000

"NYA!!! You are a meanie!!" A little girl's voice whined as she glared at the older boy beside her. The boy smirked and shrugged, pretending to not know what she was talking about.

"I have no clue what you are whining, but it's not my fault." It was in the afternoon, so all children are sent home. Wearing a middle school uniform and the little girl wearing an elementary school uniform, they were bickering like siblings would do after coming back home. However, this argument involved with an infuriated girl and an amused boy. The girl's cheeks puffed up and crossed her arms.

"You said that there was a kitty stuck on a tree! You tricked me there, Sui!" Sui Takishima shrugged.

"I did say that a kitten was stuck on the tree, and that kitten had a name called Namaka." Namaka Taishou screeched out loud and threw her backpack on the ground.

"That's it!" She tied her hair into high pigtails and got into a fighting stance that she learned in Judo class.

"Come here! I'll show you how bad a kitty bites and scratches!" Sui shrugged and threw his backpack on the ground.

"Well? Come here, kitty." Namaka's face was so red that Sui snickered in amusement. When she heard him chuckle, the Taishou child gave out a war cry and charged straight at the Takishima boy, preparing herself to show the wrath of a Taishou member. Before Namaka could pound the boy on the face and Sui catching her wrist without much movement, the two children suddenly saw their world falling to the ground and their whole bodies crashing down.

"Calm down, Namaka!"

"That's enough, Sui!"

Oh snap…

The two children recognized those older voices, and their tones meant that they were going to get into trouble.

"Hika-nee-san!! Sui-no-baka made fun of me!" Hikari huffed and scolded her younger counterpart.

"Don't 'Hika-nee-san' me, Namaka! You know better than to attack someone offensively. You got angry and decided to throw in the first punch without a reason why you would attack someone other than defending other people. Didn't I tell you that you are meant to protect people, not hurt them?" Namaka flinched but nodded. What Hikari was saying was true, and Namaka took advantage on those moves for revenge. It was selfish of Namaka, so she bowed.

"Gomen nasai, Hika-nee-san." Hikari sighed and glanced at Kei and Sui. Kei has been better acting as a mature older brother, and seeing Sui wince made her somewhat proud of him. When she heard that Kei scolded both of the children at lunch, Hikari was amazed that Kei took up the role as an older brother seriously, and she was happy that she wasn't the only person trying to keep Namaka in line. Now… she just need Kimajime to act as an older brother and watch over his little sister while Hikari would take a break.

"Whoa… I've never seen Kei mad in a way that leaves his victims alive- Oof!" All attention turned to the group of people at the entrance, and Namaka ran up to the group. She stared at the group of older people, as they stared at her with a surprised expression. Namaka tilted her head and smiled.

"Konichiwa! I'm Namaka Taishou!" The smile was so contagious that Akira squealed and scooped up the surprised little girl in her arms.

"Kawaii! She looks just like Hikari-chan!" Akira rubbed her cheek against hers. It was true. The group thought that the little girl who looked like Hikari was her daughter, but Hikari clarified that she was a cousin to her before they would meet her. Tadashi joked that there may be a possibility that Namaka could be Hikari's daughter, but the poor man learned to shut up when Akira elbowed him on the ribs, knowing that his girlfriend would kill him if he said so much about Hikari. Looking at Kei, he did have that murderous glare straight at Tadashi, and Tadashi would never joke around that involves Hikari or Namaka.

"Sugoi. Namaka-chan does look like Hikari when she was young." Jun smiled, and Megumi wrote on her board "You look like Hikari when she was young, Namaka-chan" to the young girl with a star. Namaka blushed and hid her face on Akira's shoulder, thanking them for the compliment.

"A-Arigatou gozaimasu."

"Aw… Namaka-chan is so cute when she's shy!" Akira patted her back.

"Don't worry! Nee-chan would take care of you like Hikari-chan does!" Namaka was still embarrassed when she didn't look up, and Hikari smiled.

"Hikariiii!!" The Hanazono woman turned around to see a pink-haired woman with a large stomach, running straight to her and glomping the woman.

"S-Sakura-chan?!" She looked at her friend and held her carefully to not hurt the fetus in her stomach. Sakura didn't look like she aged, but she did have that motherly look on her face. She wore a green sweater over her yellow frilled dress, and the frilled skirt covered her stomach. Sakura also wore a dark violet pants and white shoes to make herself comfortable from her pregnancy.

"Well… if it isn't Hikari coming back from the dead." Hikari knew that voice mean no harm and smiled at that source of tone.

"Yahiro!" The young man smirked as he waved a hello. He wore a white suit with black linings on his collar and pocket, and a black tie and jet-black dress shoes contrasted the brightness of his white suit. His hair was a bit longer like Ryuu's hair, but he still kept his hair into a small low ponytail.

"You should have told us that you were alive, Hikari!" Sakura shouted as she pulled herself away from the survivor. Hikari wanted to repeat her answer like she did with Akira, but Sakura continued.

"Ah… but that doesn't matter. Welcome back home!" Hikari smiled and nodded.

"I am home…" Everyone grinned when Hikari whispered those words to herself. For three years of disappearing from everyone's lives and coming back with so many struggles, she was indeed home.

"Oy! Minna-san! I got the stuff you wanted for-" Hikari's eyes widened as she looked beyond the distance to where Yahiro was standing. Short blond hair and emerald green colored eyes, this young man wore baby blue pants, an embroiled yellow shirt that had red-lined flowers the reached up to the woman's underarm, and a gray hooded zip-up sweater. However, Hikari knew that this man was actually a woman.

"Hikari?!" The young woman shouted in surprise, and Hikari said her name.

"Finn?" The group was surprised that Hikari and the woman knew each other, but what's surprising was that they had a history together without them knowing. Kei asked his former rival.

"Hikari? How did you know Finn?"

Me: Man… that was long.

SAN: I'm worried about our classes. We were able to get into two classes and one class in our waiting list, but we weren't able to get into the other two classes. What happens now?

CTE: Are you stupid? We have to go to a community college to fill up the classes!

Me: Due to complications and college work, we are currently putting up all stories into hiatus until we finish a chapter. When we update, it will be again put into hiatus. Don't expect this story to be updated a lot.