In Memoriam

Disclaimer: The author rightfully respects the genius of Tachibana Higuchi, creator of Gakuen Alice.

Dedication: To teh-crazeh-one, Sinfully Innocent, Tearless Sonnet and rukaru-romancepassion

Author's Note: Set far into the future. In fact, I don't think I should go further than this in the Gakuen Alice universe. Cross reference with Compromise and All in a Day's Work.

It was a beautiful ceremony. Many people would say so for years. The family tried to keep it simple but mourners came in droves and so the final service that was to take place in a small chapel was moved to a bigger parlor, a pristine building that the deceased would have chosen himself.

Friends arrived first, clothed in respectful white. Those dear to him would not wear black because they knew this was a time of peace, not grief. The friend closest to his heart sat at the front pew. He had taken care of everything, aiding the widow in her time of sorrow. Other friends who had survived the years sat in the next rows with their kin, acting as an honor guard so that none of the stragglers could break the ranks and reach the family.

The speeches were made one after the other. People of different ages, of all walks and backgrounds, shared words of love and esteem. It brought the room to tears as orations were delivered with admirable aplomb. They all said the same thing. He was a great person. There was no one like him. His death was a loss, a tragedy for this century.

Then came the final speaker and an unnatural hush fell over the room. He had stood at the side for a long time, opting not to sit with his mother. His aura was formidable but his appearance more so. The raven hair, the deep red eyes and the austere expression left no question of who he was. He walked to the lectern calmly. He didn't carry papers. He would speak from memory, from the heart. When he began, the audience was immediately rapt.

There are many who could be standing here to close the service; Uncle Ruka who knew my father best or Uncle Youichi who could always make him laugh. But mom said, no, this honor belonged to me, the eldest of the family. She said I'd do a good job and I look enough like dad to scare the heck out of everyone.

Good morning. My name is Little August or at least that's what my father used to call me— in jest or in severity or even when I wasn't very little anymore. I wasn't born in August but when he used the nickname, it suited me just fine. He was a funny man that way and I'm proud to be able to say that because not a lot of people can. To many, he was a frightening man. He was an exacting boss. He conquered empires with a single look or with a word that was as sharp as his wit. That is the legend of my father. But I tell you, that wasn't the best thing about him.

Few people know that dad used to cancel board meetings to attend my soccer games or my sister's play or the twin's concert— even at a moment's notice. Or that sometimes, he would disappear for whole weekends to go fly-fishing with his friends from the Academy. It's not often told, but he was the one who drove Aunt Anna to the hospital when her second child was born. He was also the first to arrive there when Uncle Yuu got into an accident, beating out all of us all the way from Beijing. Whenever dad goes on a business trip, he'd call mom at ten o'clock every night just to tell her to lock the doors. Then he'd call me to make sure she did.

These aren't the stories that built his legend but these are the stories that make him my hero. Growing up, people kept telling me what a great man my father is. But I didn't need to be told because I knew it for sure and not for the reasons everyone thinks. Yes, my father was strict. He was severe. But he also cared. Deeply. Wholly. And unashamedly. I wonder how many people knew that about him.

They said my father wouldn't survive to thirty. He married mom and had me then turned thirty the following year. They said he wouldn't reach forty. He saved the Prime Minister, founded a company and forty came and went. They said he wouldn't live to see fifty. He welcomed his first grandchildren then bought a small island in the Caribbean. Fifty never looked so good.

Eventually, people stopped counting and the last decade filled him with more triumph and familial bliss. He became an even bigger name. He was an icon. He was a character. He was a maverick, a genius. A pillar. A patriarch. He was ageless. He was larger than life.

For me, he was real.

Today, I lay my father to rest. But I haven't lost him completely. Natsume Hyuuga is survived by four children, twelve grandchildren, countless friends and a legacy that will never die. He is survived by a lovely and devoted wife that I promise to take care of until she meets my father again.

My father's passing is a tragedy only for those who did not know him. I stand here, blessed, at peace and ready to say goodbye— because I knew my father. If I cry for him on any day after this, it is only because I miss him and because I honor him by shedding tears.

The walls shook with the crowd's applause, but it was mingled with the sobs of people who had loved his father. His gaze went to his mother, beautiful, regal and serene. Her eyes were shining but there was no anguish there, just as his father would have wanted. He nodded subtly and she brought her hands to her lips to blow him a kiss.

He stepped off the podium then walked over to the coffin, imperial enough for his father's repose. He gazed upon his dad, and in a moment of weakness his expression cracked. Grief wrapped around his heart, enough to squeeze the life out of him. He took a calming breath then stepped back with the composure of a true Hyuuga.

The people began to quiet down when he walked past the candles flanking the casket and stopped in front of red incense sticks set on a wooden table. With a lighter that no one can see, he lit the incense then watched the fragrant smoke race up to the heavens, where his father would be looking down with a smile. He returned it, imagining the face of his mentor, his greatest hero, and thought he heard that reassuring voice he would always remember.

Goodbye Little August.


Additional Note: Considering the eulogy, it's safe to assume Kira Samushiro (from my other story, His Dark, Kind Soul) eventually found a cure for the fourth form Alice. ;-)