Disclaimer: I do not own Gakuen Alice.

Author's note: I wrote this story in 2012 and I think it's about time it finally sees the light of day. It was my 18th birthday yesterday and I'm done with high school now so I really want to get back to writing. We'll see how that goes.

Pairing: Misaki x ESP x Tsubasa (I take great pleasure in introducing this pairing to the world)

The Devil's Bargain


"He will see you now." The secretary said, dismissing the girl before her with a sweeping one-handed gesture after her intercom had beeped twice. She continued to type on the computer, briefly looking away from the screen to glance at the student sitting on a chair opposite her own desk. She had a feeling she wouldn't be forgetting the girl anytime soon.

The girl's distinctive features were not common; the ruby red of her eyes matched her duller hair-tone. Her layered hair was swept smoothly into a high ponytail and a few strands of hair framed one side of her face.

The secretary had been at her post for a long time and she liked to think that she had a talent for judging people, at dissecting who they were merely by picking apart their appearance. This girl was a rebel; with her loosened tie, tucked out shirt and the attitude she had displayed when her boyfriend- from the way he was holding her you could tell the boy was totally into her and vice versa so it didn't matter if they were officially dating or not -came to drop her off. The way she nearly feel asleep with her head against the wall, after she got tired of chewing bubble gum, showed how she didn't really bother caring about the fact that she was at the principal's office- only that wasn't true and they both knew it.

Her boss was rightfully feared and respected. He believed strongly in justice and punishment but she was sure that he was a just man. If she did not believe that she was safe from discrimination, despite the incredibly satisfying salary, she'd resign immediately.

The girl opened her eyes and blinked rapidly a few times. She licked her dry lips and spoke to her for the first and last time in a curt, polite manner, "Thank you." She stood up, choosing to leave her bag on the chair beside her and took a deep breath, muttering something inaudible. The girl let herself into the office adjoining the waiting room and closed the door behind her. The sound of a lock clicking in place promptly followed.

The secretary reconsidered her opinion of the girl. Perhaps she did know how to behave and had some maturity after all. Or maybe she'd just been in trouble enough times to know how to escape the brunt of it. It was definitely the first time she came into this office. She wondered if it would be the last briefly, before turning her thoughts back to her pending work.

"Lock the door behind you." A voice instructed as soon as she had stepped into the room. She did as asked.

"Please," The person standing near a large bay window said, his back to her. "Have a seat miss...Harada I believe. Misaki Harada."

She walked up to the sofa, the closest seat near the window, and sat down. She crossed her legs and observed the wine set-up on the nearby side tables during her casual sweep of the room. It was hard to guess if there were any cameras or not. On one hand no one would want their every move accounted for, on the other it would provide plenty of blackmail footage. Maybe they were only switched on sometimes. That's what Misaki would do.

"Is there a reason you called me here?" She asked bluntly.

He half-turned towards her and she saw the profile of a man who appeared to be but a harmless boy; the epitome of the phrase 'appearances are far from the truth'. "Miss Harada it was more of an invitation."

Invitation her ass, she had no choice in the matter and he knew it. She tilted her head as she prompted with a bit of sarcasm, "Because you desire the pleasure of my company?"

"Which I believe I haven't had before," He pursued gamely; certain that use of such formalities were more to his advantage than hers. "However I can not say it was what interested me the most."

"Do tell." She encouraged, her lips pressed slightly as she gave a forced small smile. Her tone held a hint of hatred and her eyes sparkled with challenge.

He looked her up and down, and as much as she tried to stop herself, she couldn't help but feel disturbed. It unsettled her; that he was scanning her body openly with his eyes– gauging her, weighing her, infringing on her privacy somehow. The gears in her head turned restlessly. She wondered what he saw when he looked at her. After that she wondered why she even gave a damn. Misaki wasn't sure what bothered her more– the fact that she cared or that she couldn't pin down why.

Misaki had never been more thankful that she had the ability to entertain simultaneous thought processes while still maintaining focus on what was happened around her. The skill had developed in association with her Alice.

"There was something I wanted to discuss with you Miss Harada," He clarified, walking to a side table and pouring out two glasses of wine. "Rest assured you're not in any trouble, though I hope there was no reason for you to have believed that you were." A clever jab and a subtle threat all in one, she noticed.

She accepted the glass he held out to her, a little perplexed that he was offering alcohol to a student. She wasn't worried that it would succeed in lowering her guard or hampering her focus however. Misaki had been quite familiar with the exact extent of her alcohol tolerance ever since her first few drunk nights. If she could handle acting completely sober after two shots of pure vodka, she could handle this. Refusal would only serve to make her look weak and seem rude.

He sat down beside her, leaving a one-foot gap between them. She sipped the liquor, quietly inquisitive about where he was going with this. It tasted sweet– she was expecting a wine this dark to be more bitter –and burned its way down her throat in a strangely comforting manner.

"Do you drink often?" He asked her, sounding aloof.

"If the things I could get my hands on tasted more like this, I worry that I might." She answered frankly. Being underage and confined within the grounds of the Academy didn't make it easy to attain access to alcohol and on top of that, good quality was rarely affordable.

There were two reasons she responded to the question candidly; firstly it was not like he'd bust her for it when he just gave her some and secondly it wouldn't do her any good to lie. Besides it was obvious she did, or else she would've turned it down.

"Maybe if you had the right connections, you would." He suggested.

She caught the double meaning; he was implying that her friends weren't relations that paid off well and suggesting that there was an alternative method available. Was it merely advice or a proposition? It didn't matter; she didn't want this if he was offering it. Having access to liquor wasn't that big of a deal to her. It sure wasn't worth associating with him for. It'd be easy- and expected –for her to say there was nothing that could buy her cooperation but that'd just be big talk. Misaki was smart enough to consider her options pragmatically and at the very least play along to avoid outright antagonism.

"It wouldn't be worth it," She said with a small smile, quietly confident about this. She prodded the conversation forward, "You wished to discuss something?"

"I have a cloning Alice, as I'm sure you know Misaki, if I may call you that." He announced, scaring her with the inference that he knew that she knew. "It's different from your own doppelganger Alice in that I can't create and reabsorb them instantly, they are not temporary. It takes energy to make a clone and effort to control them. They can live, age and die like normal humans unless their alices are removed; some of them don't even look like me. But ever since twelve years ago when Yuka Azumi inserted the death Alice and nullification Alice into my body, I've been unable to do so. It is also why I look like this."

"Why are you telling me this?" Misaki asked him, secretly afraid to hear the answer.

"A thought struck me the other day and I wondered if your Alice stone could help me." He finally revealed his goal.

Misaki's stomach squirmed at that. She couldn't help him get better; making him stronger would only put in her friends in more danger. There was no guarantee it would work but still. And if she didn't agree… who knew how far he'd go to force her hand? Formality went out the window at that point.

"And why would I do this, for you?" Misaki questioned. 'Why would I help you hurt the people I care about? ', she thought leaving the words wisely unspoken. Her throat was dry and clenching on its own. She took a swig of the wine.

The ESP narrowed his eyes. He was hoping he didn't have to blackmail her into this, that he could just gently bribe her. The girl was making it difficult for herself. He smiled coldly like someone who knew they had the upper hand, "Don't do it for me, Misaki. Do it for Tsubasa."

She froze at that despite herself but soon she regained her footing, questioning just what this had to do with her boyfriend.

"He's been going on missions with Dangerous Ability class. Of course he's still classified as a 'special' at his own insistence but that's trivial and we both know it. You do me this favor and I'll pull him off of missions permanently. You have my word."

Her eyes glassed over with gathering tears and her mouth opened of its own accord. It took will power to close it, swallow and blink back the tears. She suspected it vaguely when he started insisting she sleep in her own room instead of sneaking into his every night but to have it confirmed by this man of all people… it hurt her in a way she didn't see coming.

This was a chance to save her boyfriend, to get him off the front lines- how could she not take it? It meant betraying her side but now that she thought about it; it wasn't a solid division was it? It wasn't like they were a rebellion force or anything. She shook her head trying to clear it. The line between right and wrong was blurring. She was being backed into a corner.

"That's not fair." Misaki whispered, looking away unable to meet his gaze. "I…"

The ESP sighed, dropping all pretenses. "Just say yes and we'll all walk out of this safer. I won't hurt either of you unless you defy me."

"And why would I believe you?" She turned on him, with shining eyes- filled with both tears and turmoil.

He reached out, gently palming her cheek. "Because I'm the best shot you have at saving him and you know it."

She shivered at the cold truth of it but didn't bother to fake a flinch when it didn't come naturally to her. His touch made her skin tingle with a lightness she wasn't fond of. She had never felt helplessness like this before, it was like her inner fire had tempered by a cold wind. She was afraid for Tsubasa's life. She was afraid of this man who held so much power over her and what he would do with it.

Today he asked her for an Alice stone. Who knew what he'd ask from her tomorrow? "And this is all you'll ever ask of me? One Alice stone?"

His lips curled up at the edges, knowing the battle was won. "If the technique works I might require more stones of course."

Concern rose up at that but she ignored it in light of a greater threat that plagued her mind. "Nothing else?" She asked again, stressing the need for her to know that.

He blinked, wondering what she was so frightened he would ask of her and seriously contemplated the possibilities. He was looking her up and down again as he thought it over, trying to look for some sign to give her away. When he met her eyes there was more of the same dread she exhibited as she asked the question and he deduced it wasn't because he was taking so long to answer. That meant… oh.

He couldn't help but smirk as he found the demand she was so terrified of facing. She would have been right to fear such a thing if he was in his original form but with this child body he was trapped in, lust didn't factor. "That isn't something you have to worry about while I am in this body." He answered honestly.

Did that mean if he returned to his 'normal' body he would ask it of her? If he did, he would be let down. She was Misaki Harada and she would not bow to him in that way. Nevertheless she sincerely hoped and prayed the day for that confrontation would never come.

She made an attempt to calm herself and assess the situation with facts. Neither of them knew if her stone would help him in any way. If it didn't, he wouldn't blame her and Tsubasa would still be safe. This was just a random hunch. If it worked, then she could worry about whether to comply with giving him more. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Misaki decided that the right decision was making a decision. She could comply and buy Tsubasa's safety or she could refuse and prompt him to force her somehow.

"Okay," Misaki said her voice not as strong as it was at the beginning of the meeting, letting out her breathe in a huff. "I'll do it." She leaned back into the sofa and drank more of the wine. It felt like a huge weight was off of her shoulders.

"One day you will learn to appreciate my mercies. Tsubasa is a very efficient operative and I suspect that you yourself are highly qualified. I just sacrificed both of you for the sake of a mere Alice stone. Believe me Misaki I could have gotten what I wanted and left you far worse off. I always win, and I always get what I want. Opposing me will lead to nothing but pain for you. I suggest you reconsider your company. Now that we have an understanding if you dissent against me I will take it personally. Don't give me the chance to show you what that means."

His speech hit her hard and she stared straight ahead doubting that she'd forget a word of it anytime soon. He casually stroked her face with the back of his hand. "I wouldn't want to scar such a pretty face."

And that made her blood boil. How dare he condescend her by regarding her as nothing more than a Barbie doll! Misaki Harada looked on anyone who wasted their time fussing over their looks, she was anything but vain.

She set down the nearly empty glass and stood up in anger, intending to leave the room as calmly as she could. His hand grabbed her wrist, "Don't forget to bring me the stone tomorrow."

Even as he let go, she became irked with how casually he invaded her private space and touched her. Did this man already think he owned her? Because he did not. He had merely forced an unprepared girl who had nothing else to bargain with into a deal she couldn't turn down in good conscience. That didn't make him her master or anything.

She left the room, snatched up her satchel and passed by the secretary angrily, confusing the other lady immensely. What the hell had happened in that room?

Misaki was on her way back to her classroom when a voice called out to her from the trees, "Harada."

She turned to find Natsume Hyuga sitting on a tree branch with his feet up. "Whatever happened in there, whatever was asked of you, don't tell him. It's easier that way."

"What so he can use me against Tsubasa and get another deal with him?" Misaki asked cynical of this policy. "I know he's been doing missions with you."

Natsume glanced away. "He didn't want you to worry about him."

"And how does he think I'll feel if he doesn't come back one day? I won't be worried, I'll be broken and he wouldn't be around to fix me." Misaki argued, letting out all her pent up frustration.

"You're stronger than that." He replied.

She scoffed at that then smiled sadly at him. "Everyone breaks Natsume, it's a question of when not if." She left on that note, the Black Cat pondering the truth behind her words.

That night she insisted on staying with Tsubasa in his room.

"What's gotten into you?" He asked as she laid against him, her head on his chest.

"I don't want to lose you." She answered distantly.

Now that confused him. Did she know? How could she have found out? "So why did you get called to the principal's office?"

"He wanted to talk about Alices." It wasn't a lie.

"Really now?" His tone told her he was skeptical of her reply.

"Yeah, he thought his Alice and mine were slightly different versions of the same thing." She elaborated.

"Oh… wow I never thought about that." Tsubasa admitted. "What else did you talk about?"

"He gave a warning- several actually. He doesn't want either of us to fight him and he's made it clearly we won't be treated as lightly as others." Misaki revealed, wanting a second opinion on this.

Tsubasa frowned, "Why us?"

"Maybe because we make it so obvious," Misaki sat up and looked down at him with expressive eyes. The vulnerability left Tsubasa stunned. Misaki wasn't usually like this. It made him worried about what the ESP did to her. "What are we really fighting for- fairness? The world isn't a fair place. I… oh god I'm scared Tsubasa, I'm scared enough for the both of us. I don't want to feel like this."

He sat up and embraced her trying to offer what comfort he could. "Hey hey it will be alright. I won't let anything happen to you."

She pulled back and kissed him deeply, needing a reassurance against everything that was looming up against them. He responded just as passionately, knowing that this felt right. And that moment… that was what gave her the strength to make an Alice stone, get up out of bed the next morning and face the world for another round, or in this case the ESP.


I would love to get some feedback on this so please feel free to review and let me know what you thought!

This story is very much complete though. I am not continuing this. To me, this is a good point to stop at. You guys can imagine what happens after- each to their own!

~Alexxis T. Swan