Disclaimer: Alice Smalice. Whatever it is, I don't own it. [But I do own this pretty epic Naruto cell phone charm that you guys are probably jealous about.] :)
Dedication: those that don't think they stand a chance when they should just take that one step forward and find out for certain. [AHEM.]
Inspired by: Chapters 52, 110 and 118 of the Gakuen Alice manga, yeeeheee. [I swear, the Graffiti scene is actually in the manga!]
Title: Where the Road Leads
He saw a soul just as lost as his.
Shiki knew where he stood when it came to Yuka.
From the moment he met her, he knew he'd never have her. There was just something within the depths of her eyes and the trouble spelled out in the lines of her eyebrows and the set of her jaw that told him he never stood a chance.
But that didn't stop him from falling for her.
The first time he met her, she'd been pulled in by Kaoru-senpai who had told Hi-sama that she'd be attempting to put Alices in his body. This had intrigued him greatly, which was the reason as to why he'd agreed in the first place. What intrigued Shiki the most, however, was the color of the Alice stones and the eyes she had that showed him, there was a world far greater than what he'd ever known. And even though, his whole life, he'd known the expectations and the responsibilities set out for him, in that one moment their eyes connected and she'd inserted that first Alice stone in his body, he knew, there was more than one choice he could make.
The choice that had stood out, so brightly against the others, was toward the road Yuka was unknowingly beckoning him.
Though she was a couple years younger than him, that didn't stop him from taking one look at her and her determination and her earnest, heartbreaking expression of mixed pain and confusion for him to realize he would never be able to leave her side.
She was enchanting.
Shiki didn't know the meaning of the words, "Give up."
Many likened him to a scary person, with his unapproachable aura and the eyes Kaoru had once described as, "You never know when I'm going to punch the shit out of you."
It wasn't news to anyone that Shiki liked his quiet. He liked the wide berth everyone left for him and he liked knowing everyone treated him as royalty, never expecting him to listen but knowing he'd bear responsibility anyway. He had gone from revered student to the Student Council President in the blink of an eye and everyone's awe seemed to multiply tenfold for him.
His priorities changed, slightly, when he'd tried to pursue Yuka.
There was just something very… natural in being by Yuka's side.
Though he'd caught her wayward glances at Yukihira-sensei with those big, hopeful eyes of hers, Shiki hadn't been deterred in the least. For weeks, he hadn't known for certain if he liked her at all. He'd never had any preceding feelings to compare them to.
But there was no doubt in his mind that Yuka was special.
Kaoru liked to describe him as an "angsty bad boy".
At the time, Shiki hadn't really known if she was serious or if she was joking. When it came to his senpai, nothing could really be too certain.
Shiki was, however, very attuned to himself.
He wasn't the type of person to confide in other people. He wasn't the type of person to speak, period, unless the situation absolutely called for it. It almost made him… uncomfortable talking and though he preferred solitude than frequently dallying with his classmates, sometimes Shiki was aware of the dull ache in his chest and the cold feeling of withdrawal.
He didn't know what to make of it, exactly.
If Shiki were being totally honest with himself, he'd had the dull feeling in his chest for so long, he'd almost gotten used to it. He would've never even been aware of his unhappiness if it weren't for Yuka. There was something about Yuka's presence that made his body relax, almost like it was relieved; having her there, even if she was right across the room and unknowing of his presence, was enough to ease his body's tension.
She eased the desolation right out of him.
And though Shiki had never felt like he needed anyone before—
His parents were nothing but a distant memory. The only relative he'd ever really known was Hi-sama and even she treated him as if he were a stranger. Loathe he was to admit it, his classmates could never hold his interest for very long. Whenever he thought he found somebody of great interest, he'd always been sorely disappointed. They were normal enough and pleasant enough.
But Shiki had never really gone for what was pleasant and normal. And Shiki being Shiki, he never liked to be disappointed.
The teachers within the school couldn't relate to him very well and it seemed like wherever Shiki went, somebody was marveling at him or was intimidated by him or just couldn't understand him. He'd be lying if he said Yuka hadn't given him that impression as well; but after the reluctance in her eyes and the nervousness passed, Shiki saw something that intrigued him for the first time.
He saw a soul just as lost as his.
—he could feel it deep within his bone, he needed to be by Yuka.
Shiki had always been told that he was far more mature than others of the same year. Whereas his classmates would've immediately shirked and denied and run and cowered and hidden away from the fact that they cared or liked somebody for the first time, Shiki was not intimidated in the least.
Why would he run away from something that made him feel so light… free and at ease?
"Let me stay by your side," he'd told her quietly, so quietly, in fact, he saw her blink four times before comprehension dawned and she'd sputtered a questioning syllable. He felt the need to clarify. "I like you."
"I'm sorry, I can't. I… I—that is, Shiki-senpai, I… don't like you that way."
He had never really remembered ever feeling so disheartened by a handful of words. But when a week went by and she hadn't spoken a word to him, he'd sought her out by heading to the Special Ability's class with Noda as an excuse. She had been hanging by the bookcase near the back of the classroom by herself when he'd walked into the door and he was well aware of the sharp tug in his chest when the winsome smile on her face was wiped clean from her lips the moment her eyes fell upon him.
"I remember refusing your offer, Shiki-senpai," she said softly, when he'd stood behind her as everyone else left the room.
She looked hurt and confused and even though he didn't wish to cause her any further discomfort, Shiki said what had been bothering him for a while, "Yes, that's true. But I never said that I'd be giving up. Giving up is something I don't know how to do."
And even if he did know how to give up, Shiki knew Yuka was something worthy of holding on to.
They'd shared several more words. Hers were complete with hurried apologies and adorable sputters of confusion and innocence whereas his were smooth, succinct and deliberate.
Then, she had all but fled the room and Shiki had stood back and watched as her back slowly disappeared from view.
She never looked back.
And he never stopped watching.
Shiki hadn't known what had possessed him but he had always relied heavily on his intuition and the instinctual whisper in his mind that had never led him astray. His instincts told him to keep moving forward, even with the minor setback of Yuka's rejection. His intuition told him not to pry into her business or he'd be sorely disappointed.
Shiki knew disappointment very well, but he hadn't been expecting this.
His gut instinct had told him to walk the thirteen paces to the bookcase at the back of the class and, when he could see nothing out of the ordinary, to move the bookcase four floor tiles to the right.
And then he saw it in black and white and under an innocent, one dimensional umbrella.
Sensei | Yuka
Rumors flooded the school about Yukihira-sensei's death and Shiki, though he'd known just how dangerous liaisons with the Elementary School Principal had become, had barely been able to register the news.
He thought it was a sick joke but when he stood at his post as Student Council President on the stage with the Principals and some teachers, and he'd caught the glimpse of horror on Yuka's face, standing stock still and pale as a ghost, he knew.
He'd never felt so disgusted and so helpless in his life, especially when she appeared a few hours later in the hallway with bruises on her arms and legs, scratches all over her body and a stream of tears running down her face.
And when he'd run over to help her to her feet, she'd looked up at him with the most heartbreaking expression he'd ever seen and Shiki could've sworn, his heart stopped beating until he'd hefted her into his arms and felt her heart murmur through her shirt and into his chest.
He'd never been so relieved to see her.
That is, until they'd moved her into the High School Principal's office and she'd started crying like there was no stopping her. And then Yukihira-sama said the one line that almost killed him,
"I can do something to stop them while you escape to the outside."
If that hadn't hit him hard enough, the next few words dealt the finishing blow. He remembered the sound of wonder and the strain in the Principal's voice when he asked, "Yuka… are you, by any chance, carrying Izumi's child?"
The next few moments were a whirlwind of activity. Shiki couldn't have recounted the events in his mind's eye, even if he wanted to. He could've sworn one moment he was in the process of absorbing the fact that Yuka was pregnant, and the next moment, he was trying to absorb the fact that she was leaving.
… leaving him.
All of it was too hard to bear.
So when she neared the portal hole with the Principal's final instructions and wishes in mind, he'd moved on instinct and grabbed her hand. And despite the fact that she'd just lost the one she loved and that she was pregnant and that those of greater authority were in the process of tracking her down and despite the fact that she'd just gone through what could possibly be the worst year of her life, Shiki was stunned that her hands could still feel so warm and that her eyes could still hold such fire.
He would never be able to let her go.
She had called his name and asked him to "let go of my hand" but even as he watched her disappear with tear stained cheeks and a tender hand on her stomach, despite the fact that every teacher and student and Hi-sama expected him to become the successor of being the Academy's protector, Shiki knew deep in his heart, the minute he was finished his final year, he'd follow her road and help her in whatever way he could.
Because even though she'd shown him several roads he could take, the only one that mattered was the one that led back to her.
If you want to squee about Shiki, check out Chapter 110 of the Gakuen Alice manga. I practically died with fangirl glee. Again. :)