I love writing weird stories! This, for instance. Pointless conversation, lots of italics, and totally OOC character. (Does that sound right? Out of character characters)

Oh, and by the way, 'Imai' is Imai Subaru. Somehow, I keep thinking of him as 'Subaru', but I use 'Sakurano' for, well, Sakurano Shuuichi. I had to be consistent, though, so I decided on replacing the Subaru in my original copy with Imai. Shuuichi doesn't sound right, somehow. I know that Shakespeare said that a rose by another name smells as sweet, but I cannot, will not, think of Sakurano as Shuuichi. But I used their given names when they were talking to each other, so Subaru is Subaru in conversations, and Sakurano is Shuu. But Goshima uses their surnames because he isn't that close to the two. I know, it's confusing. Sorry.

Disclaimer-I am not, and never will be Tachibana Higuchi. Also, the title was 'borrowed' from Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings. (It's a chapter heading in The Fellowship of the Ring)

'Yes, you're right, Subaru. Sneaking into the building is the only way.'

'But the Principal said we have to be careful!' Goshima said.

Imai sighed. 'I know this isn't the best plan. There are other ways, but…' he stopped and glanced at Sakurano. 'Shizune, what about Hii-sama?'

'I can't drag Hii-sama into this sort of stunt. You're on your own.' Shizune replied.

'I don't think it'll work, Sakurano, Imai. Anyway,' Goshima added, 'They're talking about a new student. Apparently, she's Kuro Neko's partner.'

'Yes. She's a no-star, isn't she?' Shizune asked.

'They say it was because she ran afoul of Jinno-sensei. Apparently, she used her Alice to block his. Don't know how, though.'

'What?!' Sakurano stopped. Both he and Imai were thinking the same thing: How can that be?

'But I don't understand. Why...' Shizune pushed her glasses even further up her nose.

'Jinjin didn't like her.' Goshima replied matter-of-factly.

Shizune smiled. 'In spite of the ranking, Hii-sama is thinking of accepting her in the Hana Hime Den. I don't know how, though. It won't seem fair to the other girls. Maybe we can hide the selection ball on her…I don't think such a little kid can really be accepted, but Hii-sama says the girl is very much like a friend of Red Rose's and also a lot like a teacher who once worked here.'

'Hey, you guys alright?' Goshima asked. Both Sakurano and Imai were looking pale.

'We're fine.' Imai said. Then, 'What's her Alice?'

'Ah.' Goshima smiled. 'Nullifying. Pretty unusual…Sakurano, Imai, are you sure you're OK?'

Neither of them replied. They were standing as if struck, a strange mixture of joy, relief, triumph, fear, and anxiety on the faces.

'Sensei…nee-chan…' Sakurano said at last, in a dazed voice.

'I know. So long…waiting, hiding, and now…' Subaru's voice was equally dazed.

'Hey, you two, snap out of it.' Goshima waved his hand in front of their eyes.

'Huh?' Sakurano shook his head. 'Sorry, Shizune, Goshima. We were just…surprised.'

'Zonked out, more like.' Goshima joked.

Shizune ignored him. 'Is it anything to do with that matter?'

Imai sighed. 'I don't know, and even if I did, I couldn't tell you. You understand, Shizune. My sister…she's here, and if anything regarding that matter comes up, me and Shuu will be suspected immediately, because of our past…and if I'm suspected, she will be, too…'

'I understand perfectly.' Shizune nodded.

'What on earth are you guys talking about?' Goshima asked.

'If you don't know, we can't tell you.' Shizune replied cryptically.

'It can't be that classified.'

'It is.' Sakurano said quietly. 'I'm sorry, Goshima, but there it is. We can't tell you unless you know.'

'Oh, come on!' Goshima wheedled.

'Goshima.' Imai said sharply.

Goshima opened his mouth to say something, but closed it again.

A little girl from the Elementary Section had tripped and wounded herself, and was wailing.

'That was her!' Sakurano said excitedly later that evening, in the privacy of their study.

'Of course.' Imai sighed. 'Now that she's here Kuonji is going to want to do that again and nullify what nee-chan did, too.'

'He doesn't know about her Stealing Alice…not yet, anyway. But it's a matter of time.'

'Yes…but he has to find out that she's nee-chan's daughter first.' Imai got up and drew the blinds. 'That doesn't sound right, somehow…we're still in school and nee-chan has a kid who's in the same school.'

'Yes…I suppose we were really young then. Anyway, going back to the matter of her being nee-chan's daughter…'

'It's easy enough for anyone who knew nee-chan to find out.'

Imai nodded.

'Subaru…those eyes, they're just like nee-chan's. When I looked at her, it was like going back 10 or 12 years, only nee-chan didn't wear pigtails.'

'But from the, ahem, reports I'm getting, her personality's more like Sensei's. I have a feeling that she's got nee-chan's heart, or spirit, or whatever, though.'

'Reports?' Sakurano looked at Imai. 'You've been keeping tabs on your sister, haven't you?'

Imai sighed. 'I have. She's my sister, and, yet, I have to cut her out like this. I need to know what's going on in her life…I can't let her take the same path as we did.'


'Getting back to the subject, do you think anyone else knows?'

'I think Naru-sempai—I mean, sensei—does, considering his history with nee-chan. If we realized who she was, then he would.'

'And Jinno-sensei, too.'

'Yes… I heard the same rumors Goshima did, and it seems like he realized the connection between Sensei and her. Otherwise he wouldn't be so harsh. And the HSP too, obviously.'

'And Persona…but he would have done everything to forget about nee-chan and Sensei, after what he did, and what that beast of a Kuonji did to him.'

'Speaking of Kuonji…I don't think he knows yet, but he'll soon find out. What will we do then, fight or stay underground?'

'I don't know. The AAO is still a criminal organization, Shuu.'

'Nee-chan isn't a criminal, and neither is Shiki-san.'

'You and I know that, but the rest of the world? The rest of the school, for that matter. Even that little girl hates the AAO, for goodness sake! I think it's better to stay put.'

'Yes, I suppose so.'


'I know.'

'But still, we have to keep an eye on her, you know. And nee-chan, she wants to come to the school through the warphole. We said no all this time but…'

'If Kuonji's on the move, we should be, too.'



'Yes. We should open the warphole.'

You're probably thinking 'This sucks', but, let me tell you, it's better than the original. In that, the HSP knew Goshima was a traitor and still trusted him, Sakurano and Imai kept finishing each others' sentences, and they way they talked—ick! Waaaay too emotional. Plus, Subaru—Imai in the story—and Sakurano kept calling the HSP 'Kazu-nii', I don't know why. Blame my pen.

Oh yeah—review!