Chapter 10

Montana

"What did she say to you?" Mr. Montana repeated, taking another step forward.

"N-nothing, sir," Alli stammered. She took a step back, almost unable to believe that Mr. Montana was actually right here, talking to her, after what had happened that Saturday. How could he even face her and act as if nothing happened?

"Nothing?" he whispered dangerously. "What nothing?"

She stopped, thinking of a suitable lie to give to her teacher. "Sir, I—" She thought quickly, rejecting most of the ideas that popped inside her head. They're all too far-fetched, she thought in disgust, shaking her head at the hopelessness of the situation. What now? Do I have to tell him the truth? She glanced at Mr. Montana helplessly, giving up.

Mr. Montana, though, had turned around, and was busy glaring at someone behind him. "What do you want?!"

"Why, you're in a foul mood today, Gabby."

Alli peered behind Mr. Montana, and saw her eccentric History teacher, Mr. Al Moran. Beside him was Sam, who was standing slightly off to one side.

"Gabby?" Mr. Montana spluttered, glaring at Sir Al. "Didn't I tell all of you to stop calling me Gabby?"

Sir Al shrugged. "Well, Principal Villanueva calls you that, so I thought—oh, hello there, Allisana," he added, smiling at her. He turned to Mr. Montana again. "Having a bad day, huh?"

Mr. Montana glowered at him. "It just became worse."

"You should cheer up, Gabby. It'll be good for someone as old as you."

"Do you mind?"

"Oh no, sir. It's perfectly all right."

Mr. Montana looked as if he was ready to strangle Sir Al at this point. "Will you please just tell me what you want with me right now?" he exploded.

"Of course," Sir Al said, still with that grin on his face, "Actually, I thought I heard Old Mrs. Luna out here. Did you see her?"

"Yes. She left just a moment ago, though."

"Oh," Sir Al murmured. "That's too bad. I was hoping I could ask her if today's lunch in the canteen would at least be edible." He pouted, looking thoroughly disappointed.

"I told you to stop bothering her, Moran!" Mr. Montana yelled.

Sir Al covered his ears with his hands. "All right, Gabby. You don't need to yell."

"But I already told all of you not to keep treating her like some circus animal, you fool! And stop calling me Gabby!"

It all really did not make any sense. Alli stared at Mr. Montana and Sir Al, her frustration and bewilderment getting worse by the minute. Sam went over to her, and said softly, "Hi."

"Hey," Alli replied, managing a small smile. "So what brought you back here?"

"Sir Al told me to help him get the Overhead Projector for our class," Sam explained, "We just passed by the door, and Sir Al just suddenly rushed outside, looking excited."

"So what else is new?" Alli sighed. "Do you have any idea what they're talking about?"

Sam shook his head, and a slightly mischievous smile appeared on his face. "Well, teachers have always been weird."

"I couldn't agree with you more."

"What are you two whispering about?!" Mr. Montana exploded at Sam and Alli, making them jump.

"It was nothing, Mr. Montana," Alli ventured bravely. "We were just wondering about what you two were talking about, sir."

"Oh, about Old Mrs. Luna, you mean?" Sir Al said with boyish enthusiasm. He pushed Mr. Montana aside, and went over to them. "You mean, you didn't know about Old Mrs. Luna and her ability to see the future?"

"She can see the future?" Alli's eyes widened.

"Of course!" Sir Al exclaimed. "My goodness, Allisana, I know, and I've only been here in this school for three months! You really should listen more to what people say about this school."

"Well…I never really liked to listen to gossip, Sir Al," Alli said, wrinkling her nose, "And I've always dismissed things like that as urban legends."

"Oh, but urban legends can give us such wonderful insight into the human psyche, Allisana," Sir Al said. He rubbed his hands together, his eyes gleaming in excitement. "Well, let me tell you all about it. Wow! I haven't had this much fun in years!"

Mr. Montana clenched his fist, and actually began gritting his teeth.

"Old Mrs. Luna was just an ordinary woman, Allisana," Sir Al began. "It was said that she was a big busybody, though, and also a very snobby and arrogant woman...but let's not go into that. It never really is good to say bad things about people, I mean it's probably what's stopping the human race from attaining world peace—"

Alli tugged at his sleeve, unable to contain her impatience any longer. "Um, sir…?"

"Oh, of course," Sir Al said. "Where was I? Oh right…in any case, life went ordinarily for her. That is, until certain, well, extremely peculiar things started happening approximately ten years ago.

"Nobody can really explain what happened, but during that time, she just had this—great enlightenment, they said. Some also say that a powerful witch—some say a mangkukulam, or a dwende, even—gave her the ability to see the future—either as a reward or as a punishment, my sources already begin to contradict each other at that point.

"But they all agree on one thing…that that ability eventually drove Old Mrs. Luna insane, and most of her predictions—though sometimes accurate, mind you—have always been hard to understand, because they always seem like gibberish to an ordinary person." Sir Al sighed. "It's too bad that she went insane, though. She might have been useful to society."

Alli stared at Sir Al's excited, but completely earnest, expression. He was really strange, she knew that, but…could he really be right? Was that old woman she met earlier telling the truth, and that she really was warning Alli of a possible danger that could befall her? She suddenly shivered, and inhaled deeply to calm herself.

Mr. Montana was certainly not calm. "The thing is, Moran," he said, "Is that she's just a poor old crazy woman, and you should do well enough to leave her alone." He scowled. "Do you have to believe all that local gossip? It's all just superstition, and you're all ruining that woman's life."

"The whole story just sounded really fascinating when I first heard it, Mr. Montana," Sir Al said, grinning. "Absolutely brilliant. Sheer genius! –But I really didn't mean to be a bother to her. I do feel sorry for that old woman, too."

"Then just leave her alone!" Mr. Montana yelled.

Alli stared at him, confused. Why was Mr. Montana actually being a bit…overprotective over Old Mrs. Luna? Did he really care for the old woman that much? Affection was an emotion she had never seen in her Biology teacher, but it certainly seemed as if he reallywas concerned about the welfare of Old Mrs. Luna…

But then, Alli thought, it also could be that Mr. Montana didn't want other people to talk to Old Mrs. Luna, because the she could easily reveal some things he'd rather was kept hidden. If that was true, then, what was Mr. Montana hiding? And did it have something to do with Alli?

She sighed. What was the truth? Who could she believe in now?

"Don't worry," Sir Al said comfortingly, startling Alli out of her musings. She soon realized that Sir Al was talking to Mr. Montana, and not to her. "I won't bother her again, Mr. Montana. I promise."

He glanced at Sam, and nodded at the young man. "Well, we do have to get going, don't we? We still have that OHP to get."

"Yes sir." Sam nodded briefly at Alli, and smiled at her, as a way of farewell. He and Sir Al soon entered the school door, and Alli was left alone with a sulking Mr. Montana.

"Sir," Alli stammered, "Was—was that really true, sir? About Old Mrs. Luna, I mean?"

"It's not any of your business," Mr. Montana said absent-mindedly, his eyes focused on something else beyond the trees.

Alli suddenly felt angry at Mr. Montana—so angry that her fury finally overpowered her fear of him.

"What is my business, then, sir?" she snapped.

Mr. Montana turned to her, looking as if he had just noticed that she was there. "You—" he gasped, and he suddenly laughed, mockingly. "Frankly, Allisana, that's what I would like to know, too." His dark eyes narrowed, and he gripped her arm.

Alli stared at him, and she felt her anger ebb away, only to be replaced by a cold dread. "What do you mean? I've done nothing wrong!"

"Nothing wrong?" Mr. Montana murmured, although it might as well that he had yelled, for the anger in his tone was unmistakable. "Either you're just very naïve, or you think I'm naïve enough to believe you." A chill smile suddenly crossed his lips. "I will stop you, Allisana. And I will get the ring back…from all of you…"

"I don't have the ring anymore, for your information," Alli said, wresting her arm away from him, "Sir." Inside she was already shivering at her directness, but she was too angry now to stop. "You took it and replaced it with a fake one last Saturday, remember, sir? What did you do with it?"

"I did?" For a moment, his eyes widened, but his expression soon cleared, and he laughed.

Alli flushed, for it was obvious that he was laughing at her. "I…"

"Now I think I understand a little of what's going on, Allisana," Mr. Montana said, smiling mirthlessly. "I really do pity you."

"What—"

"He's certainly keeping you ignorant, isn't he?" he continued. "Typical. If you wish to know what's going on, why don't you go ask your protector? He should know."

"My protector?" Alli's eyebrows shot up.

"You know who I mean." He looked straight at her, his dark eyes piercing into her own. "I don't know if you really think you can fool me, or maybe you really don't know any of what you are doing. In any case, I don't trust you…

"Well then, I'll see you in class, Miss Silvano. Have a nice day." He turned his back on her, and left.

Alli stared after him, shivering in anger. Sudden tears came to her eyes, but she shook them away, willing herself not to cry.

Nothing made sense anymore. One thing was clear, though: she really, really hated Mr. Montana.

"By the way, mom, whatever happened to dad?"

Mrs. Silvano looked up from the cheese omelet she was making, and turned to Alice. "I really don't know," she replied, pursing her lips. "He wouldn't talk to me at all last night. I tried explaining things to him, but…" Her shoulders dropped, and she weakly removed the pan from the fire. "All he said that we were just going crazy."

"Poor dad," Lisa murmured. "He never really could handle these sort of things well."

"I was like that, before, too," Mrs. Silvano said. "And to tell you the truth, I'm still not very comfortable with this whole situation we're in."

"None of us are, mom," Alice said with a grin. "I guess we should just convince dad that it was all just a dream. It'll be better for him, for I seriously doubt that he's ready to accept the truth yet."

Sunlight streamed inside her bedroom window, and Alyssa clamped a pillow on her head, groaning at this uncalled-for interruption of sleep.

"Wake up, little rosebud!"

"Go away," she said. The nerve of that person to wake her up!

"Why, Alli dear," the person said, feigning injury, "How cruel of you to say that to me! I only wanted to wake you up so you wouldn't be late for school."

Alyssa opened one eye with much reluctance. "Dear father," she said, "Alli's always late for school, and shouldn't you be used to that by now? And besides, I'm not Alli. So leave me to sleep." Alyssa firmly clamped a pillow down on her head to keep out the sound of her father's voice.

Mr. Silvano sounded faintly amused. "Whatever you say, dear daughter."

Alyssa didn't even bother to reply to that.

She heard the sound of the door closing, and she muttered a few choice oaths under her breath. What in the world was her father thinking, waking her up? She was having such a wonderful dream, and he just suddenly barged in, without even a thought on how she must have been—

She sat up, instantly awake.

"Dad?" she exclaimed, running out of bed. As far as she knew, her father still hadn't accepted the truth about her and the others, so he must have thought she was Alli. And all those things I said… she thought, shaking her head. He must have managed to convince himself that it was all just a crazy dream. But what if he sees the real Alli downstairs? She had to hide somewhere, and hope that Alli could find a suitable excuse. Or maybe Alice would.

She ducked inside the bathroom, hoping that her father wouldn't be pushed to yet another bout of hysterics.

"The sun is shining again," Mrs. Silvano said, looking out the window. They were all now in the dining room, eating breakfast. "And to think it was raining so hard a while ago. You think it might have some sort of significance? I mean, especially with all the things that has happened to us so far?"

"You never know," Alice said, shrugging. She took another bite off her bread. "But the weather's always unpredictable, mom."

Mrs. Silvano laughed, feeling a bit foolish. "With what we've all been experiencing so far, I'm already beginning to attach meaning to everything that happens. I'm even beginning to erase the word 'coincidence' from my vocabulary already."

Alice patted her on the back fondly. "At least you're taking all this better than we hoped," she said. "You always were a skeptic. But I'm really glad you're in this now, mom. You've helped us a lot, and your presence is really reassuring in times like this."

Lisa smiled adoringly at Mrs. Silvano, and laid her head down on her mother's shoulder.

Mrs. Silvano smiled at her. "It'd be better if your dad could learn to accept this, too, though," she said ruefully. Her eyes twinkled with mischief, and she added, "We really need some comic relief."

"That's all you need me for, Adie?"

Mrs. Silvano's eyes widened, and they turned around, and Mr. Silvano feigned hurt at his wife's words. "You've hurt me beyond imagination, my dear. What is the point of living now?"

"I…I didn't mean…" Mrs. Silvano floundered.

"I was only giving you some of that 'comic relief' you so badly need, my dear," Mr. Silvano said. "Although it appears I wasn't entirely successful." He sat down at the table. "That omelet looks heavenly. You girls wouldn't mind if I finish it all, would you?"

"Of course not, dad!" Lisa exclaimed, smiling. She turned to Mrs. Silvano and Alice, who both looked wild-eyed. "Right, Alice? Mom?"

"I…" was all Mrs. Silvano was able to say.

"Yeah," Alice said, recovering from her initial shock. She was still staring at her father, though.

"Please don't stare at me like that," Mr. Silvano chided her. "Alice, I presume?"

Alice could only nod.

"And you're Lisa?"

"Yes, dad," Lisa said, and she clapped her hands in delight. "That's really wonderful! How'd you know?"

"Your mom described you all to me last night," Mr. Silvano said. "I just took a guess."

"You were actually listening to me last night?" Mrs. Silvano burst out. "I thought—"

"Of course, dear," Mr. Silvano interrupted, "It's really hard not to listen to your voice. It's so penetrating."

Mrs. Silvano let that pass. "But you said you were just going crazy."

"I really did think I was going crazy," Mr. Silvano admitted, "But then you seemed to be seeing these things, too. So maybe I wasn't going crazy after all…but all this still seems like the product of a demented mind!"

"It is unbelievable, isn't it?" Mrs. Silvano admitted.

"But, well…" Mr. Silvano continued, "I thought that…if you don't think I'm going crazy, then it's all right. What do I care what the world thinks? I wouldn't mind going crazy, just as long as you're still there for me."

Mrs. Silvano's eyes filled with tears, and she threw her arms around her husband. "Oh you dear, dear man!"

Mr. Silvano's eyes widened, and all he could do was pat his wife on the back. "W-what did I say?"

Mrs. Silvano wiped her eyes with her hand, and let him go. "I was just worried about you," she said. "You should have said something."

"I just did," Mr. Silvano said. "So where's Alli? The one upstairs is Alyssa, right?"

"Yes, dad," Lisa said, wiping tears in her eyes too.

"Where's Alli then?"

"She already left a while ago," Alice said. "She decided to just walk to school today."

"At least she was early, for once," Mr. Silvano said, and he flushed. "It's really my fault she's always so late. Alli really is growing up, don't you think?"

"Now the only thing missing is for her to get a boyfriend," Mrs. Silvano added impishly.

"It's a little bit too early, don't you think?" Mr. Silvano said, raising an eyebrow.

"Why? You and Anna got together when you were both fifteen."

"Are we starting with that again?"

"Something tells me our lives are going to be much more exciting now with mom and dad both in on all this," Alice observed.

"That's good, right?" Lisa said.

"I suppose," Alice said deprecatingly, then she laughed, throwing her arms about Lisa. "This is such a wonderful day, don't you think?"

This is just not my day, Alli thought. She was only in her second class that day, and she already had enough. And to make things worse, she also had a terrible headache. She barely restrained herself from glaring at Morgan, and for the umpteenth time this day, said in carefully controlled tone, "Yes, Morgan? What is it?"

"Just making sure that you still remember what the cell membrane is for."

"It separates the inside of the cell from its environment and regulates the flow of nutrients—it also carries out a large number of necessary cellular functions, including energy generation, protein secretion, chromosome segregation, and efficient active transport of nutrients. Yes, I know, Morgan. I've read through my part of the report thrice."

"With someone like you, three times isn't enough. How about going through it again?"

"I'm not stupid, Morgan."

"Oh, really?"

That did it. "Look, Morgan," Alli murmured, although she was actually imagining her hands upon Morgan's neck, "I didn't sleep at all last night just reading through my report, and we even practiced it all before Homeroom today, so I know what to do."

"I'm just nervous about the whole thing!" Morgan said. "And so is Reina. Why did Mr. Montana choose you to be our group mate, anyway? He's bound to be very strict about our reporting, since he hates you, for some reason."

"You noticed too?" Alli sighed.

"And he'll probably look for all sorts of mistakes in our reporting!" Morgan continued. "And I have to get a high grade in that subject! If I hope to study in America I really need a good grade!"

"And if you hope to study in America, Morgan, you need to listen to my lectures, too," Miss Belen said, from behind Morgan. Alli and Morgan were so deep in discussion that they didn't even notice her. "I hope I wasn't being too boring."

"Oh, no, ma'am," Alli said. "Sorry ma'am."

"Perfectly all right, Allisana," Miss Belen said, with a hint of a threat in her voice, "Just don't do it again."
The bell rang, and Miss Belen made his way to the front. "Well, that ends our discussion for the day. I'd like all of you to read up on the Special Theory of Relativity, and answer the exercises on pages 567 and 568." And, with a perfectly straight face, she added, "And be ready for a surprise quiz."

The whole class erupted into laughter at that, but her steely glare silenced them all. "Do you have any complaints?"

The class hastily shook their heads, and they hurried out of the room before Miss Belen could think of anything else to add to their homework.

Stella was waiting for her at the door, and they headed towards the next class, Biology. Alli's heart was already pounding inside her rib cage, and she felt weak, all energy drained from her. Stella smiled reassuringly at her. "You'll do fine," she said. "You did study hard, didn't you? Then nothing will go wrong."

"Mr. Montana hates me," Alli grumbled. More than you possibly can imagine, she thought.

"He may not personally like you, Alli," Stella said, "But he's still a teacher, and he's bound by certain rules too. He still has to be fair in grading his students, and he can lose his job if he doesn't do that. No teacher can ever flunk a student on the basis of personal dislike."

"There have been some cases where that has happened, though."

"If it does, then you have every right to protest," Stella said. "But I don't think that can happen. I really don't like him either, but he does seem to have a high sense of honor, at least. He might have treated you terribly, but he would never go that far."

"I hope you're right about this, Stella."

"Me? I'm always right." Stella grinned at her. "Good luck on the report."

"Thanks. I have a feeling I'd really need it."

Mr. Montana was already inside the Biology lab when they got there, and he seemed to be in a hurry. He was already putting away various documents inside his case. He looked up at the two girls, and Alli couldn't help but flinch under his gaze. He didn't say anything, but his dark, piercing eyes did not waver. That unnerved her even more.

He's just like a vulture, she thought, just waiting for the right time to swoop in and feed on his victim's carcass…

Alli blinked. Where in the world did that come from? Darn, she thought ruefully, Writing class is beginning to affect the way I'm thinking…

"Good morning, Mr. Montana," Stella said, although there was a hint of a question in her tone.

"Nothing good about it today," he said under his breath. He shook his head, and turned to Stella. "Yes, good morning. Please tell your classmates that we're not going to have that reporting today, since there's something I need to attend to. We'll have the reporting on our next meeting, instead."

"Yes, sir," Stella said. "Um, sir, if you don't mind my asking, why—"

"A family emergency." He frowned, and closed his case with a loud click. "I'm really sorry. But don't worry, Mrs. Perez would substitute for me today."

They both nodded, and he lifted his case from the desk, and headed out of the room. He stopped at the door, and turned, his eyes meeting Alli's own. She could feel the hatred, and even a strange blaming, seeping out of his eyes.

"You better get ready," he said. "Allisana."

"For…for the report, sir?" Stella cut in, looking first at Mr. Montana, then at Alli.

He only smiled, and went out the door.

Stella stared after him, then she turned to Alli, who was looking down at the floor, her eyebrows furrowed.

"What did he mean?" she asked, her lips pursed in a frown. "Did you understand what he just said? The way he was looking at you a while ago, it was as if…as if you did something very, very wrong." She paused, then continued. "Is there something you're not telling me?"

Alli looked up, and she knew by the sudden heat she felt on her cheeks that she gave herself away by flushing. "I don't know, Stella," she said, and that was the truth, at least. "I really don't understand Mr. Montana either…" Her voice trailed off. She shook her head, and managed a smile. "I'm sorry."

"Well…" Stella put a hand on her shoulder, and sighed. "Just in case you'd need any help, you know you could always run to me." She smiled. "Cheesy as it may sound, it's true."

"Th-thanks, Stella," Alli said. "And it's not cheesy at all."

"Well, here come the others," she said, looking out the door. "At long last."

Morgan and Reina almost collapsed in sheer relief when Stella told them the news. The class soon drifted from the room in groups, and Stella and Alli walked away into the cafeteria.

Alli knew that her friend knew that she was keeping something from her, and she couldn't help but feel guilty. Stella would probably believe her if she told her, and would even help her, but—

I'm really sorry, Stella…I just don't want you to get involved in this whole mess too…

"Hey! Watch the ball, Alli!"

Alli managed to kick the ball out of range of the goal, almost falling to the ground with that maneuver. They were all now in PE class, playing soccer in the wet, muddy field, despite the objections of some of the others.

Alli now was out of breath, although she didn't really run much, being only a defender. Her headache had now gotten worse, and she leaned on one of the goal posts, cradling her head in her hands.

Stupid rain, she thought, as the light drizzle that began a while ago worsened to a steady downpour of rain. Their PE teacher was relentless…she wouldn't even let them out of the rain, unless "we start hearing thunder", she said. Alli usually wouldn't mind, but the rain worsened the cold she was feeling.

"You okay?" Neil, who was their goalie, asked her, looking concerned.

"Yeah," she said, managing a grin. "Don't mind me." She looked back at the rightmost side of the field, where Celena and Jim were both trying to gain control of the ball. "Go Jim!" she shouted, then turned back to Neil. "We just have to stop those guys from scoring again!"

Neil grinned at her. "Don't worry," he said. "We're still three goals ahead, aren't we?" As Jim finally managed to kick the ball away towards the other team's goal, he laughed. "We're going to win again, see? Hey, we have practice again today, right?"

"Practice?" Alli said, then suddenly remembered the play they were still supposed to be practicing for. She resisted the impulse to groan. Usually she would be excited because she was practicing with Neil again, but she really just wanted to go home and sleep—

"Are you really okay, Alli?" Neil said, leaning over at her, apparently noticing how her face fell. "You look a bit sick. Maybe you should go home instead…the skit's still on Friday, anyway, and—"

"No, Neil," Alli said, shaking her head. "It's all right."

"Well, I guess if it's really okay with you—oh, Alli, watch out!"

"What—?"

The ball went flying straight at Alli's face, and hit her, making her fall into a large puddle of mud right beside the goal. The ball rebounded off her face, and went flying towards the other side of the field.

"Are you all right?" Neil asked her, holding a hand to help her up.

No, I'm notall right, she wanted to scream at him. She took his hand anyway, and stood up, dripping with mud all over. "Yeah. Sure. I'm fine."

Her PE teacher blew her whistle, signaling the end of the game. "I'm really sorry," Neil said, "I wasn't able to see that ball in time. That was a pretty cool save, though…although that must have hurt…"

Her other teammates were already running towards them, cheering, for they had won the game again. Alli sighed, and turned to Neil.

"Um, about that practice…"she said, "Maybe we could have it tomorrow, instead?"

Alli collapsed onto their couch when she finally got home. Alice and Lisa both rushed towards her, while Alyssa only stood at the side, trying not to look too concerned.

"Oh, Alli," Lisa cried as she threw her arms around Alli. "What's wrong? You don't look well!"

"I'm fine, really." Alli smiled weakly at all of them as she tried to stand up. "It's only a flu of some sort."

"A cold, actually." She looked gravely at Alli. "You better get some rest."

"Oh, Alice," Alli said, standing up, "A lot of really weird things happened today. Old Mrs. Luna was warning me about someone, and Mr. Montana is acting as weird as ever, and he spoke of a protector—"

"You really are sick, Alli," Alyssa observed. "You're getting delirious."

"I'm not!" Alli protested. "Really, I—"

"Alli," Alice interrupted, "Don't tire yourself further. I'd like to hear the whole story, but some other time. You really need some rest."

"Alice is right, dear," Mrs. Silvano said, walking in, with Mr. Silvano at her heels, who was carrying Alli's things.

"Thanks for carrying all those for me, dad," Alli mumbled. "I'm really sorry…" Alice and Lisa sprang forward to help him, and Alli smiled at that, amazed that her father was actually taking the whole situation pretty well.

"It's okay, really," Mr. Silvano huffed, smiling at the other three girls, "Honestly, what sort of books do you carry to school? In my day they weren't all that heavy!"

"You're getting old, dear," Mrs. Silvano put in. She turned to Alli, and put a hand on her forehead. "Go to bed and get some rest. I'll bring your dinner up for you, and medicine."

"Mom, I'm really just fine..."

Mrs. Silvano sighed, and looked at her, and Alli was surprised to see tears glistening in her eyes. "You don't always have to pretend that you're all right, Alli."

"But I really am—"

"Not another word, Alli," Mr. Silvano cut in, putting a hand on Alli's shoulder. "Come on."

Alli allowed herself to be pulled by her father towards her bedroom. Mr. Silvano smiled at her, and patted her hair. "Are you really all right?"

"Yes, and…" Alli's voice trailed off as she looked at her father. His eyebrows were raised, although he was still smiling.

"No, I'm not, really," Alli mumbled, looking at the floor. "I feel terrible."

"That wasn't so hard, was it?" Mr. Silvano said. "You really don't have to pretend, Alli. Your mother was just like you, once…"

"Really?"

Mr. Silvano nodded. "And she's really worried about you," he said. "Especially now with all these…" He shook his head, and opened the door to Alli's bedroom. "…unusual turn of events."

Mr. Silvano silently tucked her inside the bed, and sat down beside her. "And I'm really worried too, Alli."

Alli's eyes began to fill with tears, and she clasped her father's hand. "I'm really glad you're also in on all these too, dad," she whispered.

"I'm still a bit in shock, I'm afraid," Mr. Silvano said ruefully. "I'm still finding it hard to believe all these. And I don't think I'll be of much help to you, too." He looked at his daughter pensively, and stood up.

"Get some sleep, all right? You really deserve a break. Alice told me all about how you've barely gotten sleep this past couple of days…"

"But dad," Alli protested, "If I go to sleep, we might get another Allisana…"

"More of you is good, right?" Mr. Silvano grinned at her. "Whatever she's like, we'll deal with her tomorrow. What's more important right now is your health."

He looked so serious at that last statement, that Alli wasn't able to work up the nerve to protest anymore. "You have to get better soon, Alli," Mr. Silvano said. "And…get ready."

That's what Mr. Montana said too… Alli thought, her eyes wide.

"Your mother told me that she feels that something's going to happen, soon," Mr. Silvano continued. "Something really important. And you…

"You have a really big role to play in all this."

"Me?" Alli croaked. "But why?"

"Hey, don't ask me," Mr. Silvano said, returning to his usual demeanor. "Your mother's always had these feelings…these hunches, which she never really believed in. I never really took them seriously, either. But…now that I think about it, she's never been wrong, Alli."

He leaned on the door, sighing. "Strange things have happened to us before, too. I guess I just didn't want to believe then, and I managed to convince myself that they were just figments of my imagination…

"But it's time to face the truth," he added, shaking his head. "I really wish I could help you, Alli. But I don't think there would be anything I could do to protect you, if the time comes…"

"Don't say that, dad," Alli protested. "You're the best father anyone can ever have."

"Thanks, Alli." Mr. Silvano opened the door, and threw one last look at her. "Good night, Alli. I hope that everything will turn out all right…"

He closed the door, and Alli was left alone in the darkness. She closed her eyes, and slept came over her the moment she did.

Alli sat up in her bed, yawning. She could hear Alyssa's voice all the way from downstairs, with Lisa yelling excitedly every now and then. She smiled to herself. Life certainly is going to be exciting from now on.

She put a hand over her forehead, and groaned. She still felt hot. Her head was still throbbing with pain, but at least it seemed to have lessened, somehow. That was a good sign.

She got up from the bed with difficulty, her muscles aching all over. She opened the door, and went down the stairs. She waved to her mother and the three girls at the dining room, and went straight towards the bathroom.

The bathroom door was unlocked, so Alli let herself in. She stopped in her tracks, for someone was in the bathroom after all, as she could tell from the sound of water splashing down the floor tiles. The person was also singing, of all things.

Dad actually sings in the shower? Alli shook her head, and started to tiptoe out of the bathroom.

"And you don't care a thing about meeeeee…!" her father sung, and pulled open the shower curtain. He stepped out of the shower, still singing.

Alli froze in her tracks, mouth wide open in shock.

…this was certainly not her dad…

The young man also stopped, dropping his towel in alarm. He stared at her, unable to move.

"Who—who the heck are you?" he finally managed to blurt out.

Alli opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out of her throat. She honestly could not believe it.

This latest Allisana…was a guy.

Author's Notes:

There you go…^_^; I finally finished this darned chapter after almost a year! O.O I'm really sorry…

I really had a difficult time, since my writing style had sort of changed over the past months, and the story had really become more complicated than I originally meant it to be. ^^; So I get stuck on details every now and then. I'm really sorry for the cliffhangers…if I had more free time I could probably write faster, but… -_-;

By the way, the Dwende and Mangkukulam are part of Philippine mythology, and I've always wanted to make a story with elements from our country's mythology...but now I'll have to settle for brief insertions like that. ^^; Dwende are dwarves/elves, mangkukulam are evil witches. Err, I'm simplifying the definitions a bit...if you'd like more accurate explanations, you could just e-mail me. ^_^;

Okay, here we go again:

Krissy-chan: Hehe. That's what I'm actually doing right now…procrastinating. ^^; *bonks self* Tohru/Kyou forever! (And Ursus/Lisa too. XD) Whatever happened to Ursus? Err, he died. *gets attacked by her readers* No! Just kidding! He might appear at some point later in the story…I still have to decide, though.

Riisha-chan: Oh… that's Kira all right…^^; I really didn't mean to use his philosophy too…

Alli-sama: Now you see why this latest Allisana is my favorite. XD Sorry though…he's not exactly evil…^^;

Macabeak, midnight, Chavi West-Wind, Jay and DeathStorm: Thanks for reading story! ^_^ *glomps you all* Sorry for being such a slow writer. _ Blame college, and my stupid course. (Hehe, actually I like my course…I hate all the work we have to do…-_-;)

Sorry for the cliffhanger (again), but I hope I'll be able to finish the next chapter soon. -_-; Thanks for being ever so patient with me. ^^