Hey, it's me and another one of my pointless rambles. I'll start with the usual rant—I need more reviews! I can't be inspired if I don't have reviews. So I'm on my knees and begging…And though I thank those of you who favorite-ed this story or put me on author alert, please don't do this without leaving a review. Please. And also, a big thank you the three of you who did review. One of those kind reviewers advised me to be patient about reviews, so I'll try. But patience isn't my strongest point…and I'm going to gripe about it anyway. I like griping and ranting and moaning. ( I'm weird that way)
The inspiration for this story was a cover of the manga, the one that said 'Azumi Yuka: A mother, a woman, a warrior.'
And yes, I'm a stickler for using 'I' as in 'someone and I'. I don't think 'someone and me' sounds right. Also, I'm a proud supporter of 'they' as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. (I'm a proud supporter of many other things too—Lance Armstrong, side characters, getting rid of so-called 'authors' who write in text talk, reviews (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*), school holidays, Rio +20, the International Red Cross …the list goes on and on)
And, just so you know, I suck at Japanese names. Taekeshi is one of the popular given names for Mr. Hyuuga on GAFFn (the other being Ioran). Hiyori is my grandfather's suggestion. The three Emilias and Makihira are from the manga. (The Emilias are Yuka's classmates. Makihira is the present Elementary Class B's social studies teacher) Imane is a play on Amane, Rui's family name (Rui as in Rui the Gay. The one with the Curse Alice, who has a crush on Tsubasa). Nakamura is 'borrowed from' Ethan Nakamura, the one-eyed demigod in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Keichi is a real Japanese name(don't be too impressed, I watched the Olympics and there was a Japanese badminton player called Keichi Tago). I invented Wasakira and Kikiashi, so their names are crap. Mitsumi is the only decent made-up name in this whole, uh, oneshot? Drabble? Whatever.
Disclaimer—I'm a Sri Lankan teenager whose Japanese vocabulary is limited to about twenty words (ten of them are numbers 1 to 10) ,whose wealth consists of the tiny sum of 2000 US dollars, and who's shit at drawing. Does any of that translate to 'I own Gakuen Alice'? I thought not. And, also, the names in the story, if they're not owned by Tachibana Higuchi, belong to the people named in this A/N.
Sorry for such a looong A/N. And now, on with the story!
'Yuka-chan, Yuka-chan, come and play with us!' Yuka's cousins, Taekeshi and Mitsumi cry.
'Coming, Mi-chan, Tae-chan.' Yuka closes her eyes and teleports herself to where her cousins are.
Taekeshi glares at Yuka.
'What's wrong, Tae-chan?' Mitsumi, who is the same age as Yuka, asks.
'She's an Alice.' Even as a three-year-old, Yuka cannot forget the loathing with which Taekeshi—her cousin—speaks.
'Yuka-chan, your mother said that you're going on a long trip soon.' Mitsumi says, more than a year later.
'Didn't know.' Yuka replies absently. She is absorbed in helping Kazuki, her younger brother by a year, build a brick-tower.
'To Alice Academy.' Taekeshi says knowledgably. 'It's a place for weird people with weird powers. Like you.'
'I'm not weird!' Yuka cries.
'I don't think you're weird, Yuka-chan.' Mitsumi says. 'She's just like us, right, Kazu-chan?' Kazuki is silent. Mitsumi coughs uncomfortably.
'Thank you, Mi-chan.' But Yuka never helps Kazuki to build a tower again.
'You have a little brother, Yuka, Kazuki.' The nurse says.
'What's his name, Mama?' Kazuki asks.
'Daiki.' Yuka's mother, Hiyori , fondles the baby.
Yuka reaches out to touch him. Suddenly, she looses control of her Alice, and starts to teleport.
Hiyori snatches Daiki away. 'Don't hurt him, brat!'
'Mama…' Yuka has managed to stop herself from teleportation. 'Mama, I'm sorry. Mama…'
But Hiyori turns, refusing to look at her daughter.
'Mama, Papa, look what I found!' Yuka runs up to her the door of her parents' bedroom, clutching a dead moth. She stops when she hears voices.
'That kid is really troublesome. The people from the school are always asking us to give her up, and who knows what they'll do if we refuse?'
'Yes. And I hear that they'll pay us if we let them take her.'
'We could do with the money. My job doesn't pay well, and you don't have one at all. Besides, keeping her will put the other children in danger.'
'Yes. I'd rather give her up than be chased like a criminal. It's not as if we owe her anything. And she's a girl. She's of no use.'
Yuka drops her moth and runs away, fighting back tears.
'We're going on a trip to Tokyo, Yuka, Kazuki!' Yuzuka says cheerfully.
'Tokyo? Yay!' Kazuki exclaims.
'Why, Mama?' Yuka asks.
'Well, Yuka, you're a big girl now. You need to go to school, and there's a really good one in Tokyo. Alice Academy, it's called. It's a nice place, I hear. We're going to see what it's like. ' Yuzuka says uncomfortably.
'Alice? Mama, are you sending me away because I have weird powers?' Yuka remembers the conversation she overheard.
'No, of course not, dear.' Yuzuka pulls Yuka into a hug. But her embrace is cold, and Yuka, after a moment, pulls away.
'I thought you loved me, Mama.' she says sadly.
'Your name is Azumi Yuka, right?' the wavy-haired girl asks.
'Yes.' Yuka says quietly.
'I'm Emilia (The First). I love playing dress-up.' Emilia giggles. 'You?'
'I like playing ball.'
Emilia wrinkles her nose. 'Ball?'
Yuka smiles. 'Ball. I'll show you how to play it.'
'Alright. And I'll show you how to get boys to sit next to you.' Emilia offers.
'No thanks. Boys have cooties.'
Emilia stares at Yuka, shocked.
'Letters!' Emilia (The First) cries, on New Year's Day. 'Letters for everybody!'
Emilia (The Second) sorts through the various cards and letters. 'There's one for you, Emilia (The First), five for you, Emilia (The Third)—ooh, looks like one's from a boy—, two for you Makihira, four for you, Yuki, one for you, Wasakira, twelve for you, Keichi—goodness, you must have lots of relatives—, three for you, Nakamura, and one for you, Imane.'
Emilia (The Third) glances around, and spots Yuka. 'Don't you have any, Yuka?'
'No.' the nine-year-old says shortly.
'Idiot.' Makihira hisses. 'Everyone knows that she's never gotten a letter since she came to the Academy.'
'Yuka-chan!' Luna calls. 'Yuka-chan! Wait up.'
'What is it?' Yuka stops, obviously annoyed.
'Look what I made for you!' Luna holds out a cake.
Yuka frowns. 'Happy Birthday?'
'It's your birthday, right, Yuka-chan?' Luna's smile falters. 'Did I get the date wrong?'
'No…it's just…' Yuka shakes her head. 'You're the first person to give me a birthday present in a long time.'
Yuka stands before the almost-dead child, who is weak and pale, her eyes wide with fear.
'Please don't do this.' she cries. 'Please, please…let me live, please! Can't you give me chance?'
'I'm sorry.' Yuka whispers as she steals the girl's Alice. 'I'm sorry, Sensei.'
She knows Kuonji is watching her from the shadows as she moves on to yet another patient, listening to everything she says. She knows that he is there, ready to punish the slightest misbehavior.
She doesn't care, though. Suddenly, she doesn't care anymore. She doesn't want to be the Elementary School Principal's puppet .She doesn't want to listen to the rumors about her tomorrow. She doesn't want she doesn't want to kill yet another person. She doesn't want to see the faces of the people she killed in her nightmares, begging her to let them live. Most of all, she doesn't want to see Sensei's expression when he hears of the things she's been doing.
She stops, her trembling hand frozen over a screaming man. 'I'm not doing this anymore.' she says aloud, and walks away from the hospital.
The next day, there are scars all over her body. And, the day after, there are rumors that the Angel of Death struck again last night.
'I still don't know what you're talking about, sempai.' Narumi says.
Yuka sighs. 'Never mind, Naru.' She stares out the window, watching the raindrops falling onto the ground. 'Just leave it for now.'
'OK.' There is a pause, and then, 'Could you show me how to make paper boats, sempai?'
'You don't know how to do that?' Yuka stares at Narumi incredulously.
Narumi shrugs. 'Never had a chance to learn.'
'OK, I'll teach you.' Yuka looks around. 'Do you have any paper?'
'Here.' Narumi gives Yuka a sheet of newspaper.
'Just shut up and make the boat, sempai.'
Yuka chuckles, but complies, and they run outside together.
'Here.' Yuka bends down and pushes the boat into a puddle. 'Do you want to make another one?'
'No. I'd like to see where this goes.
So they stand in the rain, watching the boat as it floats away.
'Yuka…' Izumi calls. 'Yuka.'
'Sensei.' Yuka smiles. 'Hello.'
'Are you alright?'
'Wha…I'm fine, Sensei. What makes you think any different?' Yuka asks.
'Well,' Izumi pauses, pretending to think. 'I haven't seen you smile like that for a long time. Igarashi-san told me you're worried about something. And you've being avoiding someone, I know you have.'
'Oh…well…The thing is, Shiki-sempai…' she stops, embarrassed.
'Sensei, you heard the rumors that Kaoru-sempai spread, right? Well…Shiki-sempai seems to be taking them seriously. A bit too seriously. He's blackmailing me and stalking me! And no one listens when I tell them that the rumors aren't true, because he's forcing me to spend a lot of time with him, and he's got hold of a picture of me when Naru accidentally used his Alice, so I can't even tell him to go away!'
Izumi chuckles. 'Don't tell me he's gone and fallen in love with you.'
Yuka blushes. 'I refused! I refused when he asked whether we could exchange Alice stones! There's no reason to think we're engaged!'
Izumi's smile falters. 'He…he proposed?'
'I'm fifteen!' Yuka says. 'I haven't ever kissed a boy, and then Shiki-sempai proposes!'
'I told him he was going to fast.' Kaoru appears suddenly. 'Most men propose a lot later than that.' As an afterthought, she adds, 'What about that Pheromone Kid? Isn't something happening between the two of you?'
Yuka jumps. 'That's…that's different. He forced himself on me.'
'And before that…didn't that man…' she trails off.
'That was before!' Yuka snaps. 'Besides, he didn't have a chance to do much. He forced me to, as well. I didn't want to.'
'Of course you didn't.' Kaoru says sweetly.
Yuka glares at Kaoru. 'I didn't, sempai, so stop being sarcastic.'
'I'm not being sarcastic. And what's with the never-kissed-a-boy-before? You know very well that Pheromone Kid…
'Shut up, sempai! That idiot has nothing to with this. You know we're only friends.'
'He doesn't seem to think so.'
'He's just a kid. He doesn't know what he's saying.'
'Idiot Yuka. You know that half the boys on the campus are in love with you, even that man.'
'Like I said before, he has nothing to do with me now! I'm never going to be as stupid as I was then again.'
'You better not be, because I'll kill you, seriously. I don't want all my efforts to go to waste. And anyway, there's that other guy, the one whom you really like.'
'Oh yeah, I forgot. He's supposed to going out with someone. Never mind. At least he's not the one chasing after you, unlike Pheromone and Shiki and that bastard.'
'If you bring that matter up again, sempai…'
Izumi scratches his head. 'Would you two mind explaining what you're talking about?'
'Oh, you wouldn't understand, Sensei.' Kaoru winks. 'Yuka's love life is too complicated to talk about. And Yuka, Hii-sama's been looking for you. Something about inserting more longevity stones into her body…'
And she drags Yuka off to the Hana Hime Den, leaving Izumi standing alone.
'Sempai, where's nee-chan?' Sakurano asks.
'Nee-chan?' Kikiashi raises an eyebrow.
Yuka pokes her head out of her room. 'What are you guys doing here?'
'Nee-chan, we have something to show you!' Imai cries.
'OK, OK, I'm coming.' Yuka closes the door of her room.
'Come on, nee-chan!' Imai and Sakurano grab her hands and pull her towards the Elementary division.
'You guys…I'm not going there.' Yuka exclaims.
'Nonono. The Nothern Forest!' Sakurano says.
'The Northern Forest?'
'Nee-chan, stop asking questions and close your eyes!' Imai says.
'Alright.' Yuka closes her eyes obediently.
'Where are we going?'
'Don't be so nosy, nee-chan. It's not far away.'
Yuka shakes her head, but allows the two children to guide her along a path.
At last, they stop.
'You can open your eyes now, Yuka-sempai.' a new voice says.
'Naru?' Yuka turns around. 'Shiki-sempai?'
Narumi smiles. 'Surprise, sempai!'
'But what—?' Yuka stares at the clearing. A stream flows through it, and there are great, shady trees ringed around it. A blanket of wildflowers and grass covers the ground. 'I haven't seen this place before.'
'I found it ages ago, before I met you. It's amazing, isn't it?' Narumi waves his hand around.
'It's beautiful.' Yuka breathes. 'But why have you brought me here?'
'For a picnic.' Sakurano says proudly.
'You seemed down, recently.' Shiki explained, 'And we wanted to cheer you up.'
Yuka smiles. 'Thanks. You guys are amazing.'
She doesn't see Izumi watching from behind a tree.
'Mikan…' Yuka murmurs. 'Mikan.'
The baby in her arm tries to grab her hair.
Yuka laughs. 'Don't, Mikan. It'll hurt Mama if you pull too hard.'
Mikan gives up, biting Yuka's finger instead.
'Oh, Mikan.' Yuka presses her face against the baby's. 'I don't want to let you go.'
Mikan stares at her mother uncomprehendingly.
'I know that I'll have to leave you someday,' Yuka continues. 'As long as you're with me, you're in danger. And when you get older, I won't be able to protect you all the time. I wish I didn't have to, but…maybe it won't be too bad. Maybe I'll leave you with Kaoru-sempai, and go somewhere else. She's going to have a baby, you know. Maybe you two will be best friends when you're older, like me and sempai. But when I have to leave you, I'll miss you so much. You won't forget me will you? Mikan…' Yuka pauses, fighting back tears. 'I wish we could be together forever.'
'Yuuuu—kaaaaaa! Yuka, where are you?' Kaoru pokes her head into the kitchen. 'Yuka? I've got the latest news from the High School Principal.'
'Sempai.' Yuka looks up from the stove.
Kaoru stops, staring at the kitchen. 'What on earth are you doing?'
'Making pancakes.' Yuka laughs, waving her arms around. 'I don't have free time often, but Mikan's asleep, and I wanted to do something fun for once.'
'You too, sempai. Leave the reports for later. Come on.'
Kaoru smiles. 'Oh, alright. Just once won't hurt, I suppose.' She drops her files on a chair. 'What do you have to do first?'
'I made the batter. We are going to fry them.' Yuka throws the spatula at Kaoru. 'Catch.'
'Argh! Yuka!' Kaoru makes a face as the spatula crashes onto the ground.
'I know, I know.' Yuka says. 'I'm so clumsy.'
'Never mind.' Kaoru taps the frying pan with the end of a spoon. 'Let's just do it.'
Yuka pours the batter into the pan and places it on the stove. 'It's supposed to be 'fried until light brown in color'.'
'Light brown…I wonder how you can tell what color it is unless you have a Seeing Through Solid Objects Alice.' Kaoru scratches her chin.
'You haven't made pancakes before, sempai?'
'My job doesn't leave me much time for cooking. My husband usually does it all.'
'You abuse that guy shamefully, you know, sempai.'
Kaoru chuckles. 'He enjoys it. Besides, what else is a husband for?'
'Sempai! Your views on marriage are shocking.'
'Yeah. I know.'
'I'm surprised that guy hasn't divorced you already.'
'Me too. But then, he's used to being bossed around.'
'Well, he's certainly a devoted husband.'
'Make sure to get one like him to do all your odd jobs.' Kaoru winks.
Yuka turns away. 'I don't think I'll be getting a husband for a long time.'
Kaoru stares at Yuka for a moment. 'Yuka, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize.'
'It's OK, sempai. Not your fault.' Yuka wipes her tears. 'What's that smell?'
Both of them turn towards the stove.
'Damn.' Yuka stares mournfully at the mess. 'Stupid, stupid stove.'
'Come on. Let's make another one.' Kaoru dumps the pan in the sink, rummaging for a fresh one. 'And this time, we'll actually concentrate on the cooking.'
'Azumi Yuka' the man in the car murmurs. 'Cornered.' He chuckles. 'Wonderful.' He turns to his men. 'Look. She's just a girl. Not even fully grown yet. Anyone can take her out. This is the so-called 'warrior'?'
Outside, a woman wearing shades stands in an alley, completely surrounded by men in black. One man's orders and they'll shoot.
'Free to go.'
And the rifles all go off. But what happens is not what has been expected. Yuka dodges the bullets, and leaps to the nearest man. She knocks the gun out of his hand and sends him sprawling. Before the others can take their aim, she proceeds to the next man, and the next. Soon all the men are on the ground, out cold. She stares at them for a moment. 'Sorry.' she says, and teleports away.
'Shit.' the man in the car curses. 'Shit.'
A bodyguard sighs. 'Sir, if you want my opinion…'
'I don't.' the man snarls.
The bodyguard subsides, but the whispered words are still audible: 'You shouldn't have underestimated a warrior.'
'Come on, Yuka.' Shiki says impatiently. 'Let's go.'
Yuka doesn't respond.
'Come on!' Shiki turns around, only to find her with her face pressed against a shop-window, a sad smile on her face.
'That dress…isn't it a dream?' she points to an evening gown. It is made of soft white cloth, a white net-like material draped over it. Red rosebuds are sewn into the netting, and similar rosebuds are sewn onto the belt, made of bunched-up netting, that goes around the waist. The dress has a V-neck, and Shiki can't help catching his breath when he imagines Yuka wearing this.
'It's lovely.' he agrees 'But it's not worth our lives.' That is what they will have to pay with if they are caught.
Yuka nods, but she can't tear her gaze away from the dress. 'That's just like the wedding dress Sensei and I used to talk about. It's…it's just what I wanted, and what Sensei wanted too.'
Shiki fights back the jealousy burning in his throat. He's jealous every time Yuka mentions Izumi ; he can't help it, even though he knows that her heart will never be his.
'Yuka…come on, we have to go.'
'I know.' But Yuka can't help gazing longingly at the dress as they walk away.
After all, even though she's at the heart of the anti-Kuonji movement, she is a woman.
The Seeing Through Solid Objects Alice is a random invention…it seemed to fit the situation. The picnic scene is set after Izumi touches Yuka.
You know that box down there, the review box? It's for you to use, morons!
And have a great day :)!