Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own Gauken Alice. If I did, the ESP would be dead by now. I do not own the quote used either (belongs to William Williams).

Warning: This story has very dark themes and is not for people who only read happy endings. Everything is not what it is seems...

Author's note: I didn't think I would ever be able to write a continuation to this but somehow it happened. No promises about whether its a three-shot or a real chapter-ed story but I haven't run outta ideas just yet. And Reo will definitely be back soon, just like he is in the MANGA which is at such a interesting twist right now!

I wrote this chapter with my amazing bestfriend Silvermist76 who writes awesome stories and she deserves just as much credit as I do (if not more)!

The descent beckons

As the ascent beckoned

—William Carlos Williams, The Descent


It was a hot June night, the halls of Alice Academy were barren; not a soul could be seen save for a slinking shadow. A feminine figure was illuminated by the meager light of the street lamps, for the sky was dark this new moon night. She made her way circumspectly through the academy, constantly glancing over her shoulder. Her heightened senses told her that she was being followed but her eyes said otherwise.

Anxious to reach her destination she quickened her pace clutching the silver key in her right hand tightly. As she reached the narrow staircase, she halted abruptly. The petite brunette was positive she heard the faint whisper of cloth behind her. Sick of letting her paranoia get the better of her, she made a mad dash up the stairs not stopping till she nearly slammed into a door. Catching her breath, she fumbled with the key a little before shoving her way into the room. She slammed the door behind her letting out a sigh of relief as she secured both the locks. Mikan flopped down on the bed, prepared to stay there for the whole night.

Oh how she hated June. It was far too humid for her liking. Ugh, who was she fooling? If only that was it. As the temperatures had risen, so had the tensions between the ESP and Shiki, to the extent that AAO was the least of their worries. The Dangerous Ability class had regained its active status with compunction. It was an unspoken obligation amongst her friends to fight this impending threat but Mikan never understood why they had to jump into the heart of the battle. It was just last week when Youichi got nicked by a bullet on his right shoulder. Even though he was the one injured, he suffered the least. He wrote it down as just a mere scratch for a just cause.

This so called 'just' cause was the very thing tearing all of them apart. Tsubasa and Misaki couldn't even tell each other about the truth anymore. All the lies and secrets were eating away at their love. They both risked their lives on a weekly basis but couldn't say it out loud, not wanting to dismay the other.

Natsume had gone missing two days ago but no one seemed worried. Not that his friends didn't care but they were used to his unannounced disappearances and his nonchalant demeanor when he returned. Mikan was the one who stayed up in his room those nights, waiting for him to return so she could nurse him back to health. She was the one who saw him at his weakest and she knew that the 'I don't give a damn about my life' was just a front he put for the rest of the world. He had once told her that he didn't want to die anymore, he wanted to live his life with her by his side. It made her heart clench when she thought about his condition.

If things were this bad now, she wondered how much worse it would get when the ESP finally retaliated with deadly force. Perhaps it was better not to ponder about all these things but she couldn't help it. Every night when Mikan went to sleep she'd be grateful that she had survived through one more day and when she wakes up, she acknowledges that today might be her last.

She heard a great sob coming from the next room, which was a great testament by itself as the walls of special star rooms were nearly sound-proof.

She'd bet anything it was her friend, Sumire Shouda who had every reason to spend her nights weeping, whether it was about her nightmares or her agonizing memories.

What had happened to her a month ago was almost too astonishing for Mikan to believe. Life before the "incident" seemed like a whole other life.

Alice Academy, 1 month ago

It took them all by surprise, the ambush from the AAO during the Christmas party. Everyone was caught off guard, save for Natsume and Hotaru. Natsume was always on high alert, he knew the most unexpected things could happen should he let his guard down. He had fought far too many battles to not be aware of that. Hotaru on the other hand just seemed to have the right gadgets for each situation, although how she managed to do so was still a mystery.

In the midst of the chaos, people were running left and right trying to avoid the onslaught of alices. Unprepared as they were, Mikan and her friends still put up a good front. Their chief objective was clearly to kidnap the multi-alice brunette but when things didn't go as planned, the AAO agents reassessed their priorities and decided to fall back to cut their losses. What better way than to take a hostage...or two?

A gun to Sumire's head and a knife to Yuu's neck changed the rules of play. It created a chasm between the two sides as the strike team retreated. Usually hostages are left behind after the enemy has used them to cross the gates but this time the head of the operation, Ishimori who still remembered the time he had been captured and drugged by the Academy, decided to keep them.

It was a hard hit, to say the very least. The first week was pure agony- not knowing where they were or what was happening to them. According to Natsume, who knew from experience, they were probably better off dead. Mikan couldn't stop crying for hours after hearing his blunt statement.

The second week was when they had lost all hope. Even Koko the epitome of positive thinking and best at making light of any scenario was dragged into a deep depression. No one said it out loud but they didn't need to. It was a silent agreement that Yuu and Sumire were almost certainly gone for good.

The third week was a mourning period and it felt like the emptiness would never go away. By the fourth week, the Academy was considering whether to set up tombstones for the two of them.

Alice Academy, 4 days ago

The fact that they happened to be walking by the gates when she returned was a startling coincidence. Sumire leapt over the barrier as if it wasn't there. Everyone was frozen in shock and disbelief, as they saw guards surround her. Her face was pale and thin, though her muscles had clearly developed. She was expressionless as the elite defense personnel shrouded her from sight. It was the last they saw of her that day, because despite their insistent demands, the Academy policy came first.

She was debriefed the next day and walked right into Narumi's English class.

The official line was that Sumire Shouda, a victim of kidnapping and torture, managed to infiltrate the ranks of the AAO, collect vital information and return back to the grounds of the Academy all on her own. This unprecedented achievement was rewarded highly; she received an award for special services and was given the rank of a special star.

The whole truth was far more brutal and biting. In order to prove herself loyal, she had to kill her friend Yuu Tobita as an initiation. The Academy called it collateral damage that couldn't have been avoided but they knew the real price was paid by Sumire. There's nothing like murder that rips away the shreds of humanity one has left at that point. On top of that, it was someone she knew and cared for.

The strength that Sumire had to do what she did was truly admirable, however no one wanted to be in her shoes right then. She told them every last detail, not holding anything back.

The story had been hard to hear. Mikan lost track of who had fainted, vomited, or nearly had a breakdown just listening to each and every gory minutiae.

Natsume had been pissed; it was quite an understatement. His hands were balled up into fists and his face was red with barely contained anger. "That sick son of a bitch, I bet he enjoyed this." He muttered under his breath through clenched teeth. When Mikan asked him where he was going, he replied that he was going to fix this. Neither had he come back nor did Sumire's condition improve.

Eat, sleep and cry; it was pretty much all Sumire did. It was like something inside her had been broken. They say that time heals all wounds but Mikan wasn't too sure about that.

Her eyes flickered towards the analog clock on the opposite wall which indicated that the time was 3:17 am. They started drooping and she was about to fall asleep when she heard the balcony door open. She jumped off the bed with renewed energy, fixed her skirt and half ran towards the balcony.

There he was; leaning against the railing with his hands shoved deeply in his pockets, looking her up and down. Ignoring the ever-present smirk, her gaze became fixed on his eyes. They were darker than usual and had a gleam of something indiscernible in them. Mikan ignored this in her haste to make he was alright. That was the first of many thing things that she should have noticed that night.

"Waiting up for me?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.

She nodded absently, her eyes still sweeping his body for any sign of injuries. The burn mark on his collar bone caught her attention.

"Are you checking me out?" He mocked.

Mikan rolled her eyes and stepped close to him to inspect the scorched skin. She was standing so close that their lips were just a few centimeters apart. Strangely though she didn't feel the urge to kiss him. Instead of feeling the warmth in her stomach which she usually felt when she was near him, she felt chills creeping up her spine.

"What's wrong Natsume?" She whispered softly, her eyes pleading him for an answer.

"Nothing's wrong Mikan," He replied leaning forward to crush her lips with his. Within a second, her arms were wrapped around his neck and he had a firm grip on her waist. As he deepened the kiss with his tongue she could taste a hint of copper; it reminded her of blood.

While he ravished her mouth possessively, his fingers dug into her skin and Mikan bit back a moan of pain. She wasn't used to this kind of roughness, Natsume was usually gentle with her, treating her like a delicate doll. By the time he let up her lungs were aching from lack air of air.

Then she reached an epiphany that scared her to death. Her body started trembling all on its own and a creeping sense of dread washed over her. Afraid to hear the answer yet unable to stand not knowing, she asked shakily, "Who the hell are you?"

Clenching his shirt in her fists, cold fury running through her veins, she demanded, "What have you done to him?"

He repeated her name chidingly three times, running a finger down the side of her face. "Oh Mikan, Mikan, Mikan. All in good time, my dear."

She recognized that odd incandescence she couldn't quite put her finger on previously for what it truly was; bloodlust.

To Be Continued...

Please let me know what you think! Should I keep it as Reo x Mikan pairing and write it that way or would you prefer if it was Mikan x Natsume or Mikan x ESP?

~Alexxis T. Swan