Disclaimer: I do not own Gakuen Alice nor its characters but the story is entirely mine.
"If you're just pitying me, then leave me alone," Natsume growled at Ruka who only needed to take a look into his eyes to understand.
"If you don't go to see Aoi-chan, you'll never see her again. I know you're upset but you can't-"
Natsume glared at his reflection in the mirror. "Just leave me alone."
"Alright Natsume," he sighed. The pain in his best friend's eyes shut him up. "I'll see you later." Then he headed off to see his best friend's sister one last time.
Mikan finally uncovered the lifeless face. She sniffed and wiped her tears. The nurse chapped the door gently.
"Sakura-san is Aoi-chan ready?" she asked. "It's almost time."
"Please… give me five more minutes," she pleaded.
The nurse was unsure but decided to agree. "Just five more then…"
"Thank you very much," Mikan bowed as the nurse left. She brought out the Christmas necklace and tied it around her neck. "Aoi-chan, I'm sorry that Natsume isn't here. But I can tell you that we're finally a couple now. Natsume really loves you, please watch over him. I'm sorry I couldn't do anything for you. Thank you so much Aoi-chan… You suffered for so long. Take a long break… bye."
"Mikan-chan, is she still here?" Ruka asked as he hurried over.
She answered was a shaky nod. She hiccupped, "I've just said goodbye to her. I'll… go. I'll see you later."
Assuming that Natsume was asleep, Mikan crept into his room. He was hidden under a thick blanket on the sofa. She sat down on the wooden chair Natsume had thrown some letters on. Scanning through most of them, she noticed a particular one.
Without thinking, she instantly started to read:
Thanks for the letter a week ago. Aoi is the same and so am I. Nothing much has been going on.
Thanks for your offer Dad but honestly, you're being naïve. They won't just let us go so easily – Persona especially. With Aoi in the medical department and all, we won't be safe. It's obvious we won't be coming home anytime soon so be you'll have to be extremely careful.
Mum isn't around and we won't be either. Also, you're still sick so don't push yourself to work or do anything stressful.
I'll write again, Natsume.
She had difficulty reading, and it wasn't because of the writing (in fact, every letter was really neatly written) it was because it had the word 'REJECTED' scribbled over it. Why would their dad reject their precious letters?
"Oi Polka, it's rude to go through people's stuff without their consent."
"Natsume! You're awake. So… will you explain to me what's going on? I really don't like the idea of you hiding everything from me," Mikan finally burst out. She sat down beside Natsume and took his hands. "You've been stressing them out again…"
"No I haven't." But he didn't move his hands.
"Don't be stupid. I'm your girlfriend; you can always share your thoughts and troubles with me."
"My thoughts would traumatize you," he snorted.
Mikan rolled her eyes, "So would mine. Now will you please tell me about that letter?"
"...You know about last summer right? Well, after that, I sent a letter to my dad. He was worried; he quickly sent a coded letter back. After that, we never managed to contact him again…"
"Well, now you can go home! They can't threaten you with Aoi-chan anymore, so use this opportunity to escape."
"It's our class isn't it?" Mikan sighed. "I know you care a lot about us but remember we have parents and we're capable of protecting ourselves."
"I so am!" she pouted. "Don't worry. It's just one year Natsume. We'll do fine. After one year… It's a waste for you though. You're such a great pianist but you'll be free when you're out."
"I am not going to leave you all here under Persona for another year," he glared at Mikan.
"Natsume, calm down. It's January tomorrow, that means we only have… six months plus another… ten. That's only sixteen months!"
"Yes way. Listen, I'll figure out a way to contact your dad. Hotaru has got to have some type of gadget for that. After that, you'll just have to stay hidden." The determined look in her eyes shone through. This time nothing would stop her. She gave Natsume a passionate kiss and then scurried off to find Hotaru.
Natsume rubbed his temples. His girlfriend was… She knew him too well. "January tomorrow?"
"Iinchou, did you get the tape?"
"Yes." He placed the stolen CD onto the desk. She put it into her laptop and let it load.
"Nogi, did you take the pictures?"
"Yes." He placed the heavy file onto the desk. She opened it and took a glance then smiled.
"Well done. Now get Yomi to me."
"Alright, Hotaru-chan," Yuu smiled and went to the dorms where he guessed Koko would be.
"Exactly how are you doing this without attracting attention?" Ruka sighed, "You're scarier than Natsume sometimes."
"But you're doing this for Hyuuga aren't you?" she questioned him and pinned Persona's picture up on her board.
"It's best for everyone…"
"Good. Now get lost. I need to do some research. Next, I need you to make sure the activities of Persona's class aren't active."
"That's for you to work out." Hotaru typed things rapidly onto her laptop. "Go away."
Mikan appeared seconds later just after Ruka left. "H-hotaru!"
Baka, baka, baka.
"What is it? I'm really busy unless you haven't noticed."
"I- I need a favor."
"For who?" Hotaru turned to looked at her best friend. Her face was serious and that turned her serious as well. Even without guessing she knew who the girl would ask a favor for.
Hotaru turned away again, typing once again. "And what is it you need?"
"Some kind of contact with his dad. I really need this. Please Hotaru. I'm begging you."
"Why are you so desperate?" Hotaru asked as she searched up Mr. Hyuuga.
Mikan took a deep breath, "I can't let Natsume be alone anymore - not after what just happened. What he needs now is his family and I want to at least give him that. I want to help him but i can't do it myself, he needs his dad."
"Don't you think you'd be attacked if he left? You'd be the talented pianist and Persona would look for one after he's gone. Heck, he would go after Hyuuga," Hotaru explained as the website popped up with a 'REJECTED'.
She shook her head, "I know but I have you guys and I don't think Persona is interested in me. Do you think it's possible for Natsume to... hide from him?"
"Alright. Pay me 2000 rabbits, get out and come to collect your information tomorrow."
She smiled gratefully and held out her money, "Thanks."
Koko was the next visitor. "I've finally got it," he grinned, feeling accomplished.
"Good. Start talking," Hotaru pressed record on her device.
"I've checked every single car – only three has been touched by him. Also, on the same day Mrs. Hyuuga died, the truck driver also died. On the day of the Christmas Dance, he bought poison from an unknown company. Then I tracked down a janitor who noticed him in the kitchen at two in the morning. He didn't see what he was doing but it was definitely suspicious. Today, he was gone," Koko reported.
"The car DNA experiment results are here, I got the truck driver's death confirmation, poison evidence I couldn't get, I got a recording from the janitor and… That's all." He put down the things he collected with so much hard work.
"Good, you can leave now."
Persona felt no pity for the death he caused. He needed to sacrifice for the greater good. Once the girl was gone, Natsume would concentrate on practicing.
Now he planned for another death. One that would spur his pet on even more...
End of Chapter 26
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