MBP: Okay, so I was reading about Jaycee Lee Dugard's kidnapping and thought, 'How can anyone possibly claim to love someone that they kidnapped and raped when she was ELEVEN years old, and keep her hidden for eighteen years?', and this came out. Of course, this was inspired by that story, and not based off it. Only a few things are based off it, small things that impacted me more.

Rini: What happened to Jaycee Lee Dugard was completely wrong, and what happened to her could happen, and likely has happened to other people. This is a tribute those who have gone through it, and have to live with it everyday.

MBP: I own nothing, and truthfully, would never want to.

Warning: concerns kidnap and rape.


A Perfect Nightmare

Alisa sat on the bench outside the apartment she shared with her caretaker, Aoi, waiting for him to finish getting ready for Sakura's masquerade ball. She'd gotten ready early, too excited to listen to Aoi tell her that getting ready early wouldn't make them leave earlier.

So now she sat outside in a light purple gown trailing to her knees, her mask lying next to her as she looked at the sky. It was a quiet night, the scent of roses roaming in the air, and fanciful Alisa could imagine it was a night of romance. A night for confessions and true love.

Alisa saw people walking up to the gate, a young woman and who she assumed was the woman's boyfriend, though as they walked up, she saw the rings on their fingers. "Good evening!" Alisa waved as they came up, just to be polite, wondering what they were doing here. "Do you need anything?"

"We're a bit lost," The woman said sheepishly, standing outside the gate. "Could you give us directions?"

"Sure!" Alisa stood and walked over to the gate, not concerned over the stranger's nervousness. She just assumed that they had somewhere to go, people to meet and didn't want to be late. "Where do you need to get to?"

"Well, we..." The woman's husband suddenly grabbed Alisa and started dragging her to the car. The woman instantly jumped towards the front seat as Alisa tried to fight against the larger man's grip, screaming loudly, realizing what was happening.

"No! Let me go! I'm not going with you! Someone help me! Aoi!" Alisa's panicked screams caught Aoi's attention as he was standing in his room, fixing his tie. He immediately ran to the door, seeing Alisa forced into a dark red car that sped off as soon as the car doors were closed. He didn't even have to time to notice a license plate number, he just grabbed the first mode of transportation he could, Alisa's bike, and started riding to try to catch up.

Seeing the car had disappeared, Aoi went to the nearest house, asking to use the phone.

"Miss Alisa's been kidnapped."

~~()~~()~~()~~

The story was all over the news within minutes, but Alisa didn't see any of it. In fact, she didn't know much of anything going on for the first few hours of her abduction. She spent those hours nearly-comatose from the amount of drugs they'd forced into her to keep her quiet and agreeable.

When she was able to think again, she was in a dirty shed, unable to open the door and unable to escape. Her phone was taken away, no windows, and screaming wasn't doing anything. Alisa collapsed on the ground, wondering what was going on. Ransom? Wouldn't she be safe if this was all ransom?

Her captors came a few times to bring her food, and each time they came, Alisa made a dash to get outside, resulting in being tied to the small bed they had in there. Alisa was nearly crying in frustration. There was nothing that she could do, a helpless little doll, and she hated it. She didn't know it, but taking away her power to do anything was just one of the tactics her captors would use to completely control her.

Alisa collected information those few times they brought food, hoping that even being held like this, she could maintain some power. She discovered that the couple actually were husband and wife, and that the wife, Karin, was completely in her husband's control. Takashi, her main captor, was a supposed ex-drug addict, but Alisa wasn't too sure about that with how often he seemed to freak out.

Her nightmare began three days after her kidnapping. Takashi Konomi entered the shed, calmly shedding his clothes. Alisa screamed, trying to get off the bed, eyes horrified and scared. He murmured quietly in her ear, worthless reassurances that never met their mark. She fought him every step of the way, crying and screaming in pain as he took her virginity as if it meant nothing to him.

Alisa lay sobbing on the bed as he rose, realizing that this was no ransom kidnapping. He'd taken her just to have sex with her, and when he was done with her, he'd likely murder her. "Why?" She asked, not even knowing she was asking it as he walked out of the shed whistling as if he'd done nothing wrong. "Why me? Why are you doing this?" Her screams were heard by no one, the soundproof shed built to perfection in preparation of this very event.

Each night he returned, each night raping Alisa relentlessly, sometimes only once, but sometimes much more. He often used sex toys, fond of the bondage scene, forcing Alisa to various poses and positions until he was pleased with the result. Sometimes he'd masturbate in the room, others he'd force his penis in her mouth and make her please him before actually having sex with her.

And each night, when he finished with her, he'd always apologize to her, and tell her she was the most beautiful girl to him, and that he didn't want to do this to her. He said he had a problem, and this was the only way he had to get past it.

Each night, Alisa lost more and more of her will, trapped in her own helplessness and the belief that no one cared enough to search for her, ideas enforced by Takashi and Karin.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Aoi was beside himself, always making new posters, calling new investigators, getting involved himself daily, ignoring his other duties to find the young girl he'd been put in charge of.

Everyone else had helped, never giving in to the idea that she had been murdered by her kidnappers, seeing as there had been no ransom call. To the world, she was gone forever. To her friends, she was out there, and whoever took her was going to pay.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Takashi entered Alisa for the fourth time that night, forcefully, this time having her handcuffed to the bedposts. She lay there, just waiting for him to finish, her formerly bright eyes dead and blank. She'd been in that soundproof shed for months, the only visitors being Takashi and Karin.

She'd discovered her purpose in the Konomi house: sex slave. Karin was unable to bear Takashi's children, so he'd decided to take a young girl to take her place in that. Every night, and now he came during days as well, he came with the sole intent of getting her pregnant.

Alisa began to wish she would get pregnant, just so he'd leave her alone for a while. He wouldn't risk his child by raping her when she was carrying his child for nine months... and she might gain a reprieve afterwards.

Six months, two weeks and three days. That's how long she'd been gone, a fact she knew because Karin had brought her a variety of things to read, one of which was the day's newspaper. She'd long lost hope that her friends would come for her, long lost the slight hope that she might manage to escape her prison. She was trapped, without any hope for anything but to survive another day.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Takashi Konomi and Karin Konomi would pay. It was something all of Alisa's friends swore when they pooled their information together and found out who had taken the girl. Eight months after following false leads and fighting people trying to stop them from investigating had finally paid off. At the moment, they'd all squeezed into two cars, heading towards the remote farm that the Konomi's owned and were presently living in.

Kei knocked on the front door, eyes dangerously cold as Karin opened the door, wondering who could be there so late at night. She recognized them the moment that she opened the door. They'd never once given up on finding her husband's sex slave, always looking for new clues.

She thought maybe she could throw them off the scent if she could just get rid off them this one time. She tossed back her long hair and smiled, wishing them a good evening.

"We know it was you," Kei said, holding the door open, letting the SA and company inside. "Where is Alisa?"

"The young girl that was kidnapped?" Karin said casually, her heart pounding in her chest as she was surrounded. "No one knows. Are you investigating it?"

She found herself pinned against the wall by Aoi, whose eyes were dangerously emotionless, looking as if he wouldn't mind killing her right them... and that he wouldn't regret it. "Don't play with us," Yahiro said, calmly checking under his nails. "We've all got the money to cover a scandal, but you... you wouldn't get out so lucky."

"Shed... out back..." Karin wheezed out, getting dropped by Aoi, who ran outside as soon as he heard her. He didn't hear anything from the shed, but as he opened the door, he found Takashi pinning Alisa to the bed, intent on another round of sex.

"You fucking bastard!" Aoi slammed Takashi into the wall, coughing as his body rebelled, weakening even as the adrenaline rushed through him, offering new strength. His body wasn't meant for this, but the anger was so strong that he was able to knock the older man out after a momentary struggle.

"Miss Alisa, are you alright?" Aoi reached out a hand, watching with fresh fury as Alisa recoiled from his touch.

"Don't touch me! Don't touch me, don't touch me..." Alisa sobbed as once again everything changed. Aoi watched, feeling as helpless as the girl until she gained the composure to grab whatever cover she had and leave.

The cops soon arrived, arresting both Konomi family members and taking their statements. Alisa remained justifiably quiet, responding only to a female officer, unable to stand having any male near her.

Finally, the crucial question came up. "Would you like to press charges?"

The answer came from all of them, including Alisa, all at once when the question was asked. "Yes."

~~()~~()~~()~~

Alisa was still living with Aoi, unable to handle being near him, and always locking her door at night, something she'd never felt she had to do. Sometimes Aoi was so frustrated at her behavior that he was tempted to just drag her out like he'd used to, but he always managed to restrain himself in time.

All the boys understood his predicament in some way. Alisa had always been the one to run around hyper and talk to all the boys, always comfortable with being able to be close to them, sometimes preferring their company to girls. But since she'd been found, she'd been physically unable to be near them without the company of the girls without panicking and freaking out.

They all missed the old Alisa. They missed the Alisa that would try to get Ryuu's love before she found out Finn was a girl, the girl that would try to rival Akira's cooking. They missed their old friend, and felt helpless to help her.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Alisa was up early, cooking herself breakfast listlessly, listening to the news at the same time, not really comprehending what was going on. She never did anymore, always blanking out unless she was actively involved in something.

"...and we have a special message from Takashi Konomi, straight from prison, regarding his trial for kidnapping now seventeen year old heiress, Alisa Appleton..." Alisa turned and ran directly towards the TV, eyes wide with terror, sure he was about to say something horrible.

Takashi's face appeared on the TV, and Alisa jolted back instinctively onto the couch. She sat there shaking the entire time he was speaking, pulling her body as tightly around her as she could. It felt as if he was looking right at her, back in that shed.

"This is all just a misunderstanding on all our parts. I love Alisa, as does my wife. She was alone, and she wanted to come with us. We know Alisa loves us, and more than anything, wants us to be a family. Alisa, if you're watching this, we know you didn't do this, and we forgive you. We know you're being dragged along, but don't worry. We'll get past this and be a family again."

Alisa screamed at the last sentence, reaching for the remote and trying frantically to turn off the TV. Aoi heard her and went to the living room door where he watched the whole thing, even hearing a bit of the message from Takashi on replay.

Aoi watched helplessly as Alisa collapsed into herself, sobbing relentlessly into her hands, the TV finally silenced. Aoi smelt the eggs burning and turned away just before Alisa stood and returned to the kitchen, tears still running down her face.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Aoi made it his duty to make sure Alisa had food, even if she didn't leave her room. Every meal he made, he made sure to put some in her room, and then quickly retreat before she got frightened. Without either of them realizing it, it was the same routine she'd gone through for months, except that now she was free to come and go when she pleased.

This time, three months into the long, complicated trial, Aoi made the healthiest meal he possibly could. He knew Alisa needed her strength for what was going to happen the next day.

She was going to testify tomorrow.

Aoi sat the food on her desk as normal, asking her if she would be alright alone, just as he did every night. Normally Alisa made some kind of answer, just something to tell him that she'd be fine. Not tonight.

She was sitting on her bed, staring into space. "Miss Alisa?" She jolted and looked at him, and he made sure he gave her the customary five feet of space. Tears started running down her face and Aoi fidgeted, not knowing what he was supposed to do, just like he never knew what to do around Alisa anymore. "Should I go?"

Alisa shook her head and tried to stop crying unsuccessfully. "Can you stay?" She asked quietly, sounding like a child who'd just had a nightmare. Aoi nodded in response and sat down at her desk, waiting silently for her to speak first.

He didn't have to wait long. "T-thank you..." Alisa said, her eyes on her bedcovers.

"For what?"

"For coming to save me..." Alisa muttered, still refusing to look in Aoi's direction. Aoi scowled slightly, irritated at her attitude.

"We weren't going to give up." Aoi watched her nod slightly.

"It doesn't feel that way when you're trapped in a shed," Alisa said quietly, frowning slightly, lips trembling at the memories. "It felt like I was abandoned."

Aoi spoke quietly, trying not to frighten her. "I would never have abandoned you."

Alisa didn't respond, fiddling with her bedcovers nervously. Aoi remembered that movement, having seen her do it whenever she was sad or nervous when he first started watching over her. It had taken a long time to convince Alisa's grandfather that he was still qualified to do watch her without the extra bodyguards. However, now she was always nervous, fidgeting with her clothing or anything else she had on hand.

"I wanted to kill myself." The sudden confession had Aoi's head snapping up. Alisa still didn't look up from her covers as she continued to speak. "I felt helpless, like some little puppet. He wanted me to have his children since his wife couldn't do it, and I couldn't do anything about it. I kept thinking, 'I'd rather die than give him what he wants.' But I couldn't get the strength to do that or fight back."

"You wouldn't be here if you had," Aoi said rationally, heart pounding. "And if you fought, he'd have done worse to you."

"Worse? I was raped! For months! And every day they'd tell me no one cared!" Alisa snapped, angry at Aoi for his rational thinking.

"He'd have raped you anyways, and then killed you, leaving you in a ditch somewhere," Aoi said, calm next to her fury. "And you know that."

"Would you stop being so calm and rational for once!" Alisa finally looked at Aoi, her eyes filled with furious tears. "Every time you do that it makes me want to do it, and I just want to feel something!"

"Then feel something."

Alisa glared, wrapped in her blankets, angry at him and the world for making her ordeal a public event. "I can't feel anything when I'm talking to a rock!"

Aoi flinched, more than a little hurt at what she said. She always said that he needed to show emotion more, but she'd never insulted him the way other people did. "I'm quiet, and don't show my emotions," he replied quietly, running his hands through his hair. "But it doesn't mean I don't have any. I'll leave if you need to scream at something more responsive."

"No!" Alisa cried out, her voice breaking as she reached out slightly. "Please, don't leave me alone!"

Aoi sat down again silently, feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. They sat in stifling silence for a few more minutes, Alisa sniffling and holding back tears. "I'm sorry," he said, breaking the silence.

"For what?" Alisa asked, sniffling again as she looked at him.

"For letting them grab you. For not stopping them. For not seeing the license plate. For not finding you sooner." Aoi was the one avoiding eyes now.

"It wasn't your fault..." Alisa muttered, once again fiddling with the covers. "You couldn't do anything."

"And neither could you to get away," Aoi said, trying to reassure her about what she'd freaked out earlier.

"I know that... in my head I do, but..." Alisa's tears were back. "I feel so dirty... like I did something wrong."

"You did nothing wrong. It was the Konomi's who were wrong, and they will pay for it," Aoi said quietly vindictive, knowing that even if they somehow managed to avoid jail that they wouldn't be able to get past the SA without retribution.

"Will this ever just go away?" Alisa asked, suddenly changing the subject. She turned to Aoi, the pain evident in her eyes. "Will I ever just be able to be me again?"

Aoi thought about it for so long Alisa probably gave up on getting an answer. When he did answer, she was surprised and stared at him. . "I think... just talking to about it to us... I think if you talk about how it made you feel, you'll be able to get past it."

"Really?" Aoi didn't pretend he was sure and gave a noncommittal grunt in response.

Alisa smiled sadly at him, understanding what he meant. "It's always going to be there, won't it?"

"Yes." Aoi didn't mince words. He knew she needed the truth, not some pretty lie. "You just have to decide how to live with it."

"What if I can't?" Aoi was reminded just how young she really was, only seventeen and living in this terrible nightmare. She needed the advice, and needed someone to lean on without being afraid they'd leave or take advantage of her.

"You will. You're stronger than you think Miss Alisa," Aoi said quietly, longing to reach out to her and comfort her. He held back only because he didn't want her to pull away from him like she had the past few months. This was the first time since she'd gotten back that she was opening up to him.

"Am I? I can't even tell anymore..." Alisa muttered to herself. She looked up, her eyes glimmering with unshed tears, staring at the photos of before the kidnapping.

"You are... and in time, you'll find that strength," Aoi said, rewarded with a gentle smile.

"Thank you," Alisa said simply, laying down in the bed, eyes closing. "Will you be there tomorrow?"

"Yes." Aoi watched her fall asleep, completely forgetting the food he'd brought for her. He'd just have to make sure that she ate well for breakfast and give her the support she needed.

~~()~~()~~()~~

"I was there for a little over eight months."

"And how did you know that?"

"Mrs. Konomi would bring things for me to read while I was in the shed."

"And what exactly was your relationships to the defendants?" "Mrs. Konomi brought food during the day, never staying long enough to talk. And Mr. Konomi... I was Mr. Konomi's... I was his sex slave."

"And you're sure that the ones who held you captive are in this room?"

"Yes."

"One last question Ms. Appleton... did you want to go with the Konomi's as they have claimed?"

"No."

Alisa answered the questions, fighting to remain calm as the questioning continued.

"Ms. Appleton, why didn't you ever try to escape?"

"I did... the first few days I was there I tried to get out every time the door opened until they started tying me to the bed."

"Can you be sure that it was the defendants that held you?"

"They were the only people I saw for months. I'm sure it's them."

"If you don't mind me saying, you seem rather calm about this whole thing. How exactly were you affected by this?"

"Calm? You think I'm calm? You don't know anything! I can't go near most boys unless there's another girl with me! I get near my friends and I panic because just having a boy touch me without telling me ahead of time makes me think I'm back in that shed! Back in that soundproof shed, tied up and raped daily! You want to know how I was affected? There you go!"

~~()~~()~~()~~

"Miss Alisa, are you alright?" Aoi asked, bringing in a glass of hot chocolate for her to drink. "I know today was taxing."

"Taxing?" Alisa gave a mirthless laugh, tossing her bag into her room. "No, only my private nightmare becoming public entertainment... not taxing at all!"

"I apologize." Alisa sighed at Aoi's apology and shook her head.

"No, I'm just being rude," Alisa replied, sitting at the table weakly. "I'm just... tired..."

"I see..." Aoi placed a blanket around her thin shoulders and then retreated, sitting across from her. "If it helps, you put them away for life. They won't be able to hurt another girl."

Alisa smiled weakly and nodded. Somehow Aoi always seemed to know what to say to make her feel better, even though he seemed the last choice for that. "It does make me feel better... thank you."

Aoi watched her wrap the blanket tighter around her. "Are you going on your blog tonight?"

Alisa blushed slightly, shifting uncomfortably under the blanket. "You knew about it?"

"It certainly helped you," Aoi stated in response, nodding towards her laptop. "And I think it helped other people understand."

Alisa nodded back. "I talked to someone else who was kidnapped, and hearing about how she got past it really helped me... and it got a message across."

Aoi watched her stand and grab her laptop. "I think I will go on tonight... spread the news."

"I'll see you in the morning," Aoi said, watching Alisa walk to her room, new confidence in her step now that she was sure she was safe.

Alisa's Blog

When you're kidnapped, just grabbed away from a place you thought you were safe, your entire world changes. You begin to be afraid of everyone and everything that used to be safe, that used to be home, and nothing is ever the same.

Sometimes you get away on your own. Sometimes you have someone who cares fight for you until they manage to get you back. Sometimes your captor releases you when he gets what he wants, whether that's money or sex.

And sometimes they get away with it. Sometimes, even if they're caught, something goes wrong and they're set free to do the same thing to another person.

The only thing that's important to remember when you're free is that you don't need to live like something's going to happen to you. You need to realize that people aren't all the same, and there are people close to you who care about you. They're there for you to lean on, and they're there for you.

You need to love with your whole heart, and learn to trust the people near you. The ones who matter won't care how long it takes for you to open up to them, they'll be there when you do.

Even if you yell, or vent at them because you're stressed, they'll be the ones that stay there for you. They'll be the ones who make you realize you're stronger than you thought, and you can protect others by getting the one who hurt you put away.

Takashi Konomi and his accomplice, Karin Konomi have been sentenced to life in prison, put off the streets and protecting other girls from going through what they put me through. It was, in part, due to my testimony of what they did to me for those eight months.

But I couldn't do it alone. So when you're going through some tragedy, or some living nightmare, don't be afraid to lean on those that love you. I want to ask all of you that are going through something to tell someone, even anonymously, just so you can get it out and talk about it.

Because as someone told me, talking about it is the first step to getting past it.

I got past what happened to me, and I'll live with it. Let someone help you.

~~()~~()~~()~~

"I saw the blog. You got some good responses," Aoi noted, eating the breakfast Alisa had prepared. She had maintained a steady distance from him, but nowhere near as drastic as before.

"Yeah... I'm surprised so many people cared about it."

"I think they cared more about the bravery of the girl who wrote it," Aoi said, freezing her in her tracks with the gentle words.

"I couldn't have done it without you," Alisa admitted, looking at her food shyly as she sat at the table with him. "I was terrified."

Aoi didn't reply, eating the food which, as usual, he didn't comment on. He'd gotten past the point of actually tasting the food, only eating for nourishment.

"Um... can I ask you something?" Alisa raised her eyes as she spoke and Aoi nodded. "Was I perfectly horrid?"

"Afterwards? Yes." Alisa smiled at his dryly sarcastic tone, knowing he was, in his own way, teasing her to lighten the mood.

"Seriously!" She protested, wanting an answer.

Aoi nodded. "Seriously... no, you were honest with how you felt."

"But I was always yelling at you and being nasty!" Alisa wasn't eating, something Aoi noted and pointed out silently.

He waited until she grudgingly began eating. "You were entitled after what you went through," he said, eating his own food. "And I knew you needed to vent."

"Oh... Can I ask something else?"

"Of course."

"Can people really love someone scarred like me?"

Aoi looked into Alisa's worried eyes. She had always been romantic, and no doubt thought she'd never get it now. "You are loved by a lot of people, even though you consider yourself scarred."

"I am scarred..." Alisa murmured, thinking out loud. "It's going to take a while for me to ever trust anyone."

"But someone that loves you will wait for you," Aoi said, standing up and taking his plate to the kitchen, washing it.

"And I'll wait for you Alisa... I'll wait until you're strong enough to know how I feel..."

~~()~~()~~()~~

Two years later

Alisa's Blog

I started this blog after my own kidnapping, and I'm astonished at how many people started reading and talking about their own experiences with violence and crime, and how many of them never got the closure I did.

Exactly two years ago my kidnappers and rapist were sentenced to life in prison. Two years ago, my friends were in the courtroom as I gave my testimony, silently giving me their strength and support.

I can't be there in person, but to all of you who've told me about your own court cases coming up and your own need for closure, I want you to know I'm here to give you any support and strength you need. I want you all to know that even when you think that you're alone, there are people that care about you and your well-being.

Do your best everyone!

Aoi walked in on Alisa putting up her latest blog, exactly two years after Takashi and Karin Konomi were put in prison for the rest of their lives for what they put her through. The blog had been her form of therapy, and gave her a purpose.

Now in college, the nineteen year old girl was studying psychology to become a psychiatrist to help others who'd gone through what she did. She excelled in her courses, and rarely did she need to reach out for Aoi.

Aoi was still required to watch over her until she was able to pay for her own well-being, so Alisa joked that they might as well have been together. Aoi wished that was the case so that he didn't have to pretend she was just a job anymore.

Alisa had grown in the last two years, occasionally talking to some new boy who'd be interested, but she made it clear that she preferred to spend her weekends at home, either studying or talking to Aoi. Her blog was a regular thing for her now, helping her to open up and get on with life. It became her purpose, helping others online, giving her unconditional support to people who needed it.

Aoi watched her live her life, giving advice and surviving, putting on a smile and looking on the bright side. He saw her portray such strength during the day, only to hear her scream out in the middle of the night from a nightmare.

They came less often, but there were nights Alisa sat up sobbing into her pillows, Aoi by her side, silently offering his own way of comfort.

"Hey Aoi..." Aoi snapped to attention as Alisa spoke, chewing the end of a pen as she thought. "Why don't you date?"

"What?" Aoi blinked at the casually asked question.

"I'm doing a survey on relationships and why people don't have them," Alisa explained, scribbling on her paper. "I want to see what percentage of people don't date for what reasons."

Aoi shifted, slightly uncomfortable. "No time."

"Don't use that! You've got tons of time now!" Alisa protested, looking up and frowning. "If you don't answer, I'll... I'll... I won't cook dinner tonight!"

Aoi hated kitchen duty, so Alisa had taken charge of most of the meals. On days she didn't cook he had to resort to take-out or actually going out to eat. He sighed. "The only girl I want to date doesn't want to."

"You like someone?" Alisa leaned forward, her eyes wide. "Who is it?"

"Is it part of your survey?" Aoi returned, not wanting to answer.

"Oh come on! Why wouldn't she want to date you?" Alisa asked, frowning at the anonymous girl. "She's an idiot!"

She's you! Aoi decided not to answer, choosing to pick up her latest book, Lost and Found, by John Glatt. Alisa noticed and smiled sheepishly.

"It's interesting," Alisa said, taking it back. "I thought it might help me understand Stockholm's Syndrome more if I read about someone with it."

"Jaycee Lee Dugard, held captive for eighteen years, had two children by her kidnapper," Aoi said, saying the basics of what he knew about the case absently.

"Yeah... puts stuff in perspective if you read about it," Alisa said, scribbling again. "So, can you help me with my survey?"

"I answered the question."

"Yeah, I know, but I need to ask at least a hundred single people!" Alisa said desperately. "And I don't know anyone else that's single but you!"

"Ask yourself, then you've got two," Aoi suggested, getting a book thrown at his head. He ducked to avoid it, chuckling to himself when Alisa glared.

"I can't do that!"

Aoi gave in. "I'll bring you to work and you can ask around."

"Really? Thanks!" Alisa dropped her head into her hands. "Did you read the blog?"

"I always do," Aoi admitted as he did every time she asked. He'd read it since she started, always trying to say something on it, but unable to.

"Well, one of the girls on it... she testifies against her rapist next week and..." Alisa looked at her feet, shifting nervously.

"You want to go?" Aoi asked, understanding perfectly. She had a break the next week, and he had a large amount of vacation time built up. It was a perfect time.

"If it's okay..."

"I'll drive you down," Aoi said easily, sitting on the recliner they'd bought a few months ago.

"Thank you..." Alisa murmured, smiling at him happily. Aoi fought the urge to blush at her attention.

"Hey Miss Alisa... why don't you date?" The question was out before he even noticed it.

Alisa cocked her head to the side as she thought. "Well... the guy I want to date doesn't like me like that." Aoi felt both jealousy and anger rise discreetly. How could any boy not like Alisa? And what boy dared to even get near his Alisa?

"He's an idiot," Aoi muttered, earning himself a grin he didn't understand.

"Yeah, I think so too," Alisa said, rising to head to the kitchen and start dinner. "But he's worth waiting for."

~~()~~()~~()~~

"She was so grateful, and I gave her my private email so she could talk to me without other people seeing it," Alisa said to Aoi as he drove them back to the apartment after the drive. She looked tired, but happy that she'd been able to help another frightened girl find the courage to take a stand.

"She did well up there. Reminded me of someone else," Aoi replied, eyes flickering to the young girl next to him.

"I couldn't have done it without you," Alisa put the seat down so she could lay down. "I never really understood that until I helped her."

Aoi shook his head, marveling at how mature Alisa had gotten over the past year. "You'd have done it because you knew you had to."

Alisa sighed. "Would you just take the gratitude without pushing it away?"

Aoi shook his head and kept his eyes on the road. Alisa often got irritated out how modest he could be, but the truth was he didn't want recognition. His only thought had been on how to help her, and that was his own selfish desire to make her smile.

Alisa spent the rest of the ride on her phone, chattering cheerfully to her friends, squealing when she called Megumi. Aoi listened to the one-sided babbling, wondering exactly what was going on.

"She got her debut!" Alisa explained as they pulled up to the apartment. "And a duet with only the hottest new superstar in the universe!"

Aoi pushed the irrational envy down. "Who's that?"

"Hisoka Sugisaki! You know, the one that's always on TV now because his songs always instantly hit the top of the charts!" Alisa ranted about the boy for a few minutes before concluding, "I can't think of someone better for Megumi to debut with!"

"I see..."

"Plus, Megumi can put on the whole innocent charm thing and make him fall for her! Or make it seem like he is so that Yahiro can get jealous and confess to her!" Alisa giggled at the idea. Megumi had gotten close to her in the first few months, during her trial, and they'd never grown apart. Alisa was protective over the girl, and never once stopped trying to get Yahiro to realize he was in love with Megumi.

Aoi wished she spent less time making Yahiro fall in love, and more time realizing he was in love with her.

"He's too rational for that," Aoi noted.

"I know, he's just like you! Never realizing how a girl feels!" Alisa ranted, covering her mouth as Aoi looked at her. "Um... ignore that!"

"No, I want to know," Aoi sat at the table, pulling out the food they'd bought on the way home. "What feelings have I missed and from what girl?"

Alisa hesitated for a moment and let it blurt out. "Mine, you stupid idiot!"

Aoi stared in shock as she continued. "Sure, you can be an emotionless rock at times, but you're always there for me, and I don't know when I started falling in love with you, but I am and you're too dense to realize it!"

Alisa blathered on some more while Aoi tried to comprehend the whole first part. Finally he got it.

"Alisa." It was the first time he hadn't used the 'Miss' in front of it.

"What?" Alisa snapped, irritated that he'd cut off her rant.

"I love you too."

Alisa gaped, her mouth open like a fish. "What?"

Aoi looked at the ceiling, sighing lightly. "I didn't tell you because..."

"Because of the kidnapping?"

"No!" Aoi sat up straight and looked at her. "That had nothing to do with it... well, almost nothing. Let me finish," he said, noticing her open her mouth to yell. She grudgingly obeyed, sitting down. "I didn't tell you because you were so scared, not just of him, but of anyone. Even as you started not being afraid I didn't tell you because... because I didn't think you felt the same way."

"Oh..." Alisa's temper had deflated greatly, and she sat limply now. "So, when I asked you about my survey last week... you were talking about me?"

"Who else? You really think I'm an idiot?" Alisa laughed quietly at his serious question.

"Yeah, but you're my idiot," Alisa said, her voice almost a whisper. She stood and walked to Aoi, who'd stood at the same time she did. "You really love me? Scars and all?"

"I love you Alisa," Aoi admitted, his voice as quiet as hers. "Those scars are a part of that."

"Then... kiss me," Alisa said, wrapping her arms around his neck gently. "I'm not scared anymore."

Aoi smiled at her, holding her to him lightly. "Would it be wrong of me to admit I am?"

"Of me?"

"Of not being able to stop."

Alisa rolled her eyes. "You're not like that. Are you going to kiss me?"

Aoi didn't answer with words, only leaned towards her and placed his lips on top of hers, the pressure light and almost non-existent until Alisa pressed herself towards him.

She pulled away abruptly, eyes wide. "Are you okay?" Aoi asked, worried he'd scared her off.

She nodded, kissing him again. "It felt like the first time," She whispered in his ear, her breath hot against his skin. "Like he'd never touched me at all."

Aoi kissed her forehead gently, wanting to hold her forever. Alisa had her arms wrapped around his neck, holding herself up. "Do you think everything will be like that?" He asked quietly.

Alisa leaned back with a slight grin. "Should we test it?" She returned, eyes flickering to the bedroom.

"Not tonight," Aoi shook his head, feeling Alisa laugh as he kissed her again. "Alisa..."

"Hmm?" She looked him straight in his eyes, pleased that she was the only one who could read the love in them.

"Will you marry me?" Alisa stared at him, and Aoi felt the need to continue. "I don't have a ring, or anything to offer you but me. I won't always have words for you, and you'll call me an emotionless rock, but I love you, and I want to be yours."

"Marriage can't all be about you being mine," Alisa interrupted, putting her finger on his lips. "We have to be each others."

"True..." Aoi turned her hand and kissed her palm.

"And... I'm..." Alisa wasn't able to think when Aoi kissed her, a feeling she liked and hated at the same time. "I'm sure you know the success rate of marriage..."

"It's something I don't care about now." Aoi looked into Alisa's eyes. "Statistics and percentages don't matter with you Alisa."

Alisa nodded, kissing him again in her happiness. "When?" The question was asked simply.

"Well, if you want a big wedding..."

"It doesn't have to be big," Alisa said, forgetting her childhood dreams of the big white wedding, realizing what it was all about. "As long as it's you waiting at the end of the aisle."

"I always would be," Aoi murmured into her ear. "I'd wait for you anywhere and forever."

"Forever sounds nice... but not if you wait that long," Alisa teased lightly, the seriousness evident. "How about loving forever?"

"I can promise that."

"So can I..." Alisa finally backed away from Aoi reaching for her phone. "So we can tell everyone to get to the church tomorrow?"

Aoi laughed with her, rejoicing in the blessing of what they had. It may have been small and irrelevant at first, growing with a tragedy, but now... Now it was the best thing that could ever have happened.

~~()~~()~~()~~

Alisa's Blog

Love can happen anywhere, and in any situation. It's silly, irrational, and impossible to explain. It's the cure to almost anything, and can make you the happiest or saddest person on Earth.

I didn't think I'd ever fall in love, not after what happened to me. Even two years after my kidnapping and rape, I still held onto the idea that I'd live life alone. But when one person is willing to wait until you're strong enough to let them in, then it's not impossible.

As of tonight, as of about two hours ago actually, I am no longer Alisa Appleton, but Alisa Ogata. And that may seem sudden, but it's something that's been building for years, something that grew and survived past my worst days.

So to those of you who have been heartbroken, or hurt beyond belief and think love's impossible, it's not. It's a matter of finding the one person who's willing to wait forever for you to find them, and will love and cherish you forever.

I wish all of you luck in finding love. As always, feel free to contact me and tell me anything, and you can be sure I'll try to help in any way I can, just as many of you helped me.

Good luck everyone!


MBP: That's the end of it. The end of my freaking out over something I definitely can't control.

Rini: We can't hope you enjoyed it, but we hope it impacted you and means something.

MBP: Not all kidnapping/rape stories end up this way. A lot of them end up in murder, and sadly, they can end in suicide because the victims aren't able to handle it. However, if we all reach out a hand to help another person in need, maybe these things can be prevented before they start. If we can all show that we care, if we all try to help any person struggling, just maybe these terrible things can end.

Rini: To those of you who have suffered through anything, a loss, or an act of violence, we want you to know you're not alone. Even if you feel that way, there's always someone there for you. And if you can't reach out to them, we're always willing to try to help the best we can, and there are anonymous hotlines you can contact.

MBP: Don't try to go through things alone, because in the end, there's always someone waiting for you.

MBP & Rini: Good bye!