Chapter 1: Home Away From Home
Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Day Time, Yu's POV
I got off the train in my hometown, the city of Minagi, and saw throngs of people waiting at the station, carrying various signs to get the attention of those they recognized. The station in my hometown was much busier than the one in Inaba, since several different rail lines passed through it. I scanned the crowd, searching for those who were waiting for me.
"Yu!" a familiar voice called out to me- that of my mother, Kanako Narukami (formerly Dojima). Even after a year, she still looked familiar, from her shoulder-length silver hair to her business suit- a charcoal gray pantsuit with a white blouse- which suggested that she had come straight from work. She looked almost like a similarly dressed woman who stood nearby, but that woman had a sign saying "Mr. Iwasaki", and greeted a man in a suit with a bow as he approached.
"Hi, Mom," I said, as I walked over.
"It's so good to see you after so long," Mom said, as she hugged me for the first time in a year. "All things considered, have Ryotaro and Nanako-chan been well?"
"Yeah," I said. "I suppose you heard about my uncle's accident, and Nanako's... illness... but he's on the mend and she's all better now."
"That's good to hear," Mom said. "Since your father and I couldn't come all the way back to Japan to see them, I'm glad that you were there for them in those trying times."
I thought back to what had caused the incident- chasing the man who kidnapped Nanako- and realized how much I could not tell my mother about what had happened there. Apart from what she would never believe, there were some embarrassing situations, painful memories and secrets I had promised to keep. All those experiences had changed me in many ways, even if my parents would never understand why.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012, Evening
I returned to the Dojima house for what I believed would be the last time in a while, having every intention of returning someday. I felt it was good to come home, in a sense, after the epic battle against Izanami, the mastermind behind this whole incident.
After dinner, my uncle had me sit down across from him at the kitchen table while Nanako was occupied. This was clearly a prelude to a serious conversation with him, one that would prompt Nanako to ask whether we were "fighting" again, but I suspected that it was one that we would have to deal with sooner or later.
"Once you get home, my sister's probably going to ask you all sorts of questions about what you were up to in Inaba," my uncle said. "I'm going to leave what you disclose to your mother up to you, but first, I'd like to discuss your scrapes with the law."
"Shoot," I said as calmly as I could manage. My uncle wasn't the best at talking about difficult matters, but he could respect people who wanted to get straight to the point.
"The first is the time you got hauled in for the weapons at Junes," my uncle said. "Like I said back then, it's not going on your permanent record, and there's no need for your folks to know about it. Besides, it's mainly the Hanamura kid's fault."
"Yeah, classic Yosuke," I said with a nervous chuckle.
"I know, but he's not a bad kid, even if he's a bit short on luck and common sense," my uncle said. "He reminds me of the more embarrassing side of myself when I was your age, although he has better taste in friends than I did."
We shared a laugh at that, but my uncle's expression then turned more serious. Both of us knew where this was going- as the incident in which Kanji was suspected of extortion had been resolved without anyone being arrested, there was only one other he could have in mind- and while neither of us found it pleasant to talk about, we knew that we had to confront the issue.
"The second is the incident in November when I brought you in for questioning," my uncle said, pausing awkwardly as if he was unsure of how to talk about what came after that.
"Oh, that," I said. "I don't blame you for not believing me, since from a normal detective's point of view, I seemed pretty suspicious to you, and the true story was absolutely ludicrous."
Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I was ever angry with my uncle, per se. As I sat in the police station alone, I was frustrated that we couldn't get him to understand the truth, worried about Nanako and a bit hurt that he didn't believe me, but I didn't take it personally. Having spent several months with him and talked with him on many nights, I knew that he had struggled with his duty to serve and protect the public as a detective, and to provide for and raise his daughter, and believed that pursuing a possible lead would achieve both ends.
"No, it's not about you," my uncle said. "How do you think your mother would react when she learned that I brought my nephew in for questioning, and so exposed my only daughter to danger? How do you think she'd feel about something like this happening while she was away?"
I paused to think about what all this meant, remembering that if my uncle had last seen me as an infant, and rarely had much time for his daughter, he saw little of his sister and brother-in-law, and they knew little about his struggles apart from what he chose to say to him. Of course, even if my uncle kept in touch with my mom and dad over the home, it wasn't quite the same as living in his house and waiting for him to come home late at night.
My uncle, construing my silence as a less than favorable response, let off a mournful sigh and hung his head.
"I'm sorry, Yu," my uncle said. "I don't have the right to ask this of you, since you're probably still mad at me for everything that happened that night."
"Not at all, Uncle," I said. "I think I've come to understand you well over this past year, particularly what it means to raise Nanako by yourself. The only thing I'm telling my family about you is that I had a great time with you and Nanako."
"Thank you," my uncle said.
Another pause followed, and my uncle turned his head, seeing Nanako coming in. He then checked his watch, and as I followed suit, I realized that Nanako had half an hour left before her bedtime.
"You know, this really isn't the note on which I want to conclude your final night here," my uncle said. "We have our best times when we're talking about things other than the case or you leaving, so why don't we do that?"
I nodded. Perhaps I'd had the misfortune to come visit my uncle and Nanako during what might be the worst year of their lives, but there were happy moments, and I hoped to enjoy one more with them before I returned home.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Afternoon,
"Yu?" Mom said, as I fell silent for a few moments as we loaded my bag into the car and I got in the passenger side.
"Ah, sorry, Mom, I was just thinking about some things," I said.
"I see," Mom said. "You probably want to talk about something more pleasant than everything that happened last November."
I nodded and took Mom up on her offer, quickly making a mental checklist of what i could and couldn't talk about with Mom, and began a redacted history of my time in Inaba.
After getting off the train, I met with my uncle and cousin, not with the ancient goddess of the Japanese underworld or one of her fragments. Shortly after I got to Inaba, the murders occurred- they were hardly international news, but Mom and Dad learned about them by checking the website for Inaba's local newspaper. Yukiko went missing for a few days, but she was not kidnapped, and if she was, we didn't have anything to do with her rescue. The same went for Kanji, Naoto and Rise- the fact that the latter was an idol was a fairly titillating bit of gossip that helped sate my mother's appetite for details. When one of my teachers was murdered by a copycat killer, the culprit wasn't anyone we knew, and, yet again, we didn't have a hand in bringing him to justice. The same went for Namatame and Adachi-san, and to even suggest that any gods or goddesses were involved would be unthinkable.
In spite of everything I wasn't telling my mother, there was a fair amount to say about my studies, my friends and my life in Inaba. All that went surprisingly quickly, but I suppose anything can be made into a short story if you boil it down enough.
The one other thing I didn't mention was my girlfriend, Yukiko. Officially, and by mutual agreement, I'd tell anyone who asked that she was just a friend... for now.
Wednesday, March 20, 2012, Afternoon
Immediately after Izanami's defeat, my friends and I emerged from the TV world into the electronics department at Junes. As usual, no one was around, and there were a few hours left until closing time, so we could exit the TV without arousing suspicion.
"Wow, that took a long time," Yosuke said, checking his watch. "Good thing- we don't want Yu to be too rushed packing up."
"I actually finished yesterday," I said. "My uncle wanted me to get done ahead of time so that I could spend one final day relaxing and saying goodbye to everyone."
"Sounds like a good plan," Yosuke said. "I put most of my packing off until the last minute, and was pretty rushed from the night before we left until I went to bed the first night in Inaba."
Chie couldn't help but crack a grin, not at all surprised that Yosuke would be so disorganized.
"I've moved enough to know how it works," I said. "This isn't the first time I've had to transfer schools, you know."
Yosuke, Rise and Naoto, all of whom had come to Inaba within a year of my arrival, nodded in agreement. Meanwhile, Yukiko, Chie and Kanji, all of whom had lived in Inaba all their lives, seemed solemn; perhaps they realized what they had taken for granted as a result of living in this town for so long. As for Teddie, he seemed lost in thought, still trying to come to grips with the concept of moving when he could come and go from the TV World as he pleased. He could choose which world was his home, so the fact that I didn't have that privilege was probably a foreign concept to him.
"So, what's it like for you now, Sensei?" Teddie said.
"It's something I ultimately have to get used to," I said. "Right now, I'm at that point where, even if I want to stay- and I do- I've already made all the preparations. My stuff is packed, I've quit all my part-time jobs, I've submitted paperwork to transfer out, and we've finally wrapped up the last loose ends from the case. Leaving may not be my choice, but even if it's the only thing left for me to do at this point, at least I can do it with no regrets."
"Then that's probably as much as we can hope for," Yukiko said.
Rise nodded. She, like Kanji and Naoto, had another two years to go at Yasogami, but none of them were oblivious to the fact that they'd have to graduate and leave one day. It didn't make my impending departure any easier on them, but they couldn't deny it.
"You're not alone, Senpai," Rise said. "I might eventually have to leave Inaba, and maybe Naoto-kun will, too, so we've got those things on our minds."
"I'm actually not so sure I'll have to leave, Rise-san," Naoto-kun said. "Perhaps I might be called elsewhere for a case, but I can still live in Inaba."
"Well, for now, that's good news," I said. "I've got to get going, so I'll see you all at the train station tomorrow morning."
I waved goodbye to my friends and headed for the elevator, stepping inside and pushing the button to the ground floor. The familiar feeling of fatigue set in as I stood there while the elevator descended, as our battle with Izanami had been no less arduous than any of our other forays into the TV world.
I walked out of Junes, into the streets of Inaba, and looked up to the sky. The rain had stopped ever since Izanami's defeat, and the sun was starting to set.
After a little while standing there, I heard quick footsteps coming up behind me, and saw Yukiko running to catch up with me.
"Oh, Yukiko," I said. "Did you want to talk with me about something?"
"Not exactly, Yu-kun," Yukiko said. "I just wanted to walk back with you and talk with you one more time before you leave."
I nodded, and started walking side by side with Yukiko. A great many of our encounters, as classmates, friends, and boyfriend and girlfriend, had involved us talking about nothing in particular. The conversations back then weren't completely meaningful, but they were enjoyable moments that gradually brought us closer, so it wasn't hard to see why Yukiko appreciated having them.
"So you haven't seen your parents in a year," Yukiko said, out of idle curiosity. "Is it at all awkward to go back after all that time?"
"Maybe," I said. "In the end, though, they're still my parents, and we have that connection, even if we didn't see each other as much as we'd liked."
Yukiko nodded. Having spent so much time around Nanako, she found it easy to imagine children who didn't see much of their parents, even if she was lucky enough to see her mother at work.
"I probably should have asked this earlier," Yukiko said, "but have you told your parents, Dojima-san or Nanako-chan about... us?"
I shook my head. My uncle had seen me together with Yukiko many times, since the day we first walked home from school together, and had guessed that she was the friend who had taken me to Tatsumi Textiles, but he didn't think she was anything more than that.
"That's good," Yukiko said, "since I'm not quite ready to tell my family about you. Even with my parents and all the staff at the inn thinking of you as my boyfriend, it would be something else once they actually do find out. They'd probably insist on finding out if you're up to marrying into our family, and I'd rather not subject you to that this early on."
I nodded with a hopeful smile. Even if I was leaving, it was pleasant to know that Yukiko didn't think of it as the end to our relationship, and that she was thinking seriously about the possibility of us getting married someday, even if most would see it as a distant dream. Of course, that also meant that she'd considered the various difficulties we'd have to overcome, from maintaining a long-distance relationship to telling our families and friends.
"I think my uncle said the same thing about meeting Aunt Chisato's family once," I said. "He still had a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker back then, which is why Aunt Chisato was a bit worried about how her family would take to him."
Yukiko let out a chuckle.
"Dojima-san... was a troublemaker?" Yukiko said, then laughed uproariously for several seconds in one of her characteristic laughing fits. "I'm sorry, I just have a hard time imagining that."
"Unfortunately, his in-laws didn't," I said. "By all accounts, they only reluctantly gave their blessing. After Aunt Chisato died, they gave him grief over not picking up Nanako that day. A heated argument then ensued and he hasn't heard from them since."
Yukiko's expression turned somber.
"And what about your aunt?" Yukiko said. "How did she feel about her in-laws?"
"She also held off on meeting my uncle's family," I said. "She hit it off pretty well with them, especially with my mom, but she wanted to wait until she was ready for the serious questions they had about their relationship."
"I think she had the right idea," Yukiko said. "Our families will have more than a few questions for each of us, so perhaps we should hold off until we're ready to face them."
"I agree," I said. "There's no need to rush into things, after all."
Shortly thereafter, we reached one of the streets near my house, and Yukiko stopped in her tracks- close enough to the house that we could tell it wasn't far off, but far enough away that those inside couldn't see us linger there.
"Just one second," Yukiko said. "I'm... not ready for you to go in just yet.".
"Neither am I," I said. "This won't be the last time we see each other, but it may be the last moment alone we get for a while, so let's make the most of it."
As Yukiko and I embraced, we realized that there would be great challenges ahead of us in the months and years ahead- maintaining a long-distance relationship, telling our parents and friends, and many others- but we chose to enjoy this moment together.
March 21, 2012, Day Time
As Mom started up the car, I gave her a brief list of my friends with their names, their basic personalities, and how I knew them. She nodded in comprehension, more paying attention to the number of names I gave than each individual one.
"I'm quite impressed, Yu," Mom said. "You were never this outgoing before you left."
"Well, I mainly happened to encounter all these people for one reason or another," I said, "as some were in my class, some were in my clubs, and I met others walking around town or working, although developing my relationships past that point is where i had to put in the effort."
It was somewhat amazing how I could essentially capture the spirit of my experiences without telling all about it. My friends hadn't opened up to me overnight, but that had happened as a result of my spending time with them, talking with them about important matters and trivial things, and being there for them. While there were certain things I wasn't yet ready to tell my parents, I felt comfortable talking about most of what happened while we'd been separated.
As I talked, I realized that I was starting to understand my own parents better. I never doubted that they loved me, but at times, I seemed like a secondary priority to their jobs; how else could I interpret their foisting me off on my uncle for a year because of work?
But even without considering that the year in Inaba ended up being one of the best things to happen to me, I found myself having more trouble judging them, even if I still had mixed feelings about the impact their work has on my life. When Aunt Chisato died, my uncle not only had to put food on the table for a grown man and young daughter on a detective's pay, but he also had to do all of the chores he had never learned to do while his wife was alive, while overcoming his fears of failing her and being there for her as her father. I'd told him that whether he was fit or not, he was family to Nanako, and while it had taken a while for that point to sink in, he had accepted it in the end.
Perhaps neither my uncle nor my parents were the best at raising children in the world, but they were the only ones Nanako and I had, and the simple truth was that I was glad to see mine again.
The drive from the station to my house was fairly long, partly given the afternoon traffic in Minagi. Having driven around Inaba on my uncle's motorcycle, (one more detail I was hesitant to mention to Mom), I gained an appreciation for how light the traffic was on those roads. In the country, a scooter gave you a great deal of freedom, but in the city, many found it more practical to use public transportation.
Since it had already been somewhat late when I got off the train, it was nearly dark out when we reached the apartment complex. Heading inside, we took the elevator up to the third floor, and walked toward our two-bedroom apartment complex.
My dad, Souji Narukami, was already inside, as I noticed his dark and graying hair from behind the newspaper that he was reading as he sat in his usual chair in the living room. The living room wasn't exactly spartan, and featured two chairs, a sofa and a TV, but my parents weren't used to having guests over, so anyone who visited might find their accommodations lacking.
"I'm home, Dad," I said.
"Welcome home, Yu," Dad said. "How was Inaba?"
"Far less boring than I initially thought," I said. "I'll tell you more over dinner."
"That's good to hear," Dad said. "You've probably told your mother all about it, but I'd also like to hear it. Your story's probably a lot more interesting than ours- at least the parts we can talk about."
Dad had a point. He and Mom worked for an international tech corporation with a wide variety of products, but their roles were vaguely defined apart from being middle management of some sort. Partly as a result of how their work was apparently not very interesting- at least the parts that weren't covered by non-disclosure agreements- I heard very little about it until they were reassigned overseas for a year. Even then, the details of why they were leaving were, in terms of importance, a distant fourth place behind the fact that they were leaving, how long they would be gone and where I would stay. That much was true for the many times I had to transfer schools, and was true for my temporary stay in Inaba.
Of course, when they did talk about their job, I sensed very little to indicate that they were passionate about or enjoyed it. It was prestigious, put food on the table, and the kind of job parents saw as a reward for those who studied hard and did well in school, but was not necessarily their calling in life, nor would it be mine.
Dinner was standard fare for our family- one of those meals that didn't take all that long to prepare- but my portion seemed a bit small. I wondered if my parents had been used to cooking for two all this time, or if they'd made do the same way my uncle and Nanako had.
Of course, I knew to appreciate having dinner with my family. My uncle was not regularly home for dinner in the best of times, and I was home alone when he and Nanako were hospitalized. Still, he did his best to be there for his family, and now that I thought about it from the perspective of a parent who had little time for a child, so had my parents.
As such, I told my mother about all my uncle and Nanako. I told them about how for them, going to Junes was an eagerly anticipated family outing, but one that could be canceled at a moment's notice. I told them that my uncle was desperate to see Nanako when her condition turned for a worse in spite of the fact that he was still recovering from his own injuries- although I didn't say that the car accident had happened while he was trying to save Nanako from Namatame. Still, the truth of my matter was that my uncle loved his daughter and would do anything for her within what his circumstances allowed.
"I see," Mom said. "Ryotaro has changed a great deal in this past year, and even more so since we were both your age."
"You seem kind of surprised, Mom," I said. "Shouldn't you know this by now, since he's your younger brother?"
"He is," Mom said, "but back when we were kids, we didn't have much in common. I'm not sure how much he told you, but Ryotaro was about as rebellious as you could get without getting into trouble with the law, while I walked the straight and narrow path. As such, he resented me somewhat for being a goody-two-shoes, while I was somewhat exasperated with his antics. He grew out of it by the time he fell in love with Chisato-san, of course, but we remained somewhat distant into adulthood, which is why you didn't see much of him or Nanako-chan."
I sighed. Having come to see Nanako as a younger sibling, and having learned of the close relationship the Konishi siblings had before Saki-senpai's death, it was somewhat depressing to hear of two siblings in my family not getting along, or at least not being close.
"I can only imagine what he thinks of your father and I palming you off on him for a year," Mom said. "He probably thinks that after all these years, the shoe's on the other foot, and I'm the irresponsible one now."
"He had a pretty good sense of humor about it," I said, "but in the end, he and Nanako were happy to have me around. They even made me a mug with my name on it, signifying that I was a member of the family."
I fondly recalled how, while I was packing, my uncle had been adamant that my mug was the only possession I had that I could not take home under any circumstances, and said that it would remain there for as long as I could come back. I consented, and with a bittersweet smile, my uncle put my mug up in the cupboard, next to Adachi-san's.
"That's good to hear," Mom said. "My hope was that even if Inaba wasn't home for you, it would become a home away from home. As such, even if you're glad to be back, I hope you also have some good memories of your year in Inaba."
My dad nodded in agreement, and I soon did so as well.
"Yeah," I said. "I'm glad to be back."
On a surface level, I agreed with Mom enough to say this reflexively. Inaba had turned out to be better than either of us anticipated, something my mom was happy about, and I was happy that she was happy about my enjoying my time there.
However, when I thought about it, I realized that I had no desire for my experiences to be consigned to my memories just yet. Would I one day think of the friends who had fought alongside me to save the world as nothing more than acquaintances? Would Yukiko ultimately be nothing more than a fling I had as a teenager? Perhaps life ultimately takes people down separate paths- Sayoko-san had gone to Africa to serve as a nurse, Hisano-san was now living with her children, and Margaret and Marie's whereabouts were unknown- but there was a difference between accepting that and doing nothing about it. Yukiko had taught me that when she had embraced her role as heiress of the Amagi Inn, but now, things did not seem quite so clear.
No answers were coming, so I was glad when my parents asked me about school. While both my parents proud of my marks, Dad reassured me that it might be harder to achieve head of the class at my larger school, given the greater competition. As I smiled confidently- as I had not done as often until now- and said, "Where there's a will, there's a way, Dad," I realized I had found the first step I needed to take.
I went back up to my room, which seemed foreign after so long away from it. The touches that seemed the most "homey" were the things I had acquired most recently, mainly books, models and other souvenirs from Inaba.
More than anything, my room seemed empty. My bookshelf was larger than my collection of books back in Inaba, but I'd had much longer to expand it, and had done so at a much slower rate. I'd also never fished, caught bugs or made models before going to Inaba, thanks to the fact that there were no good fishing holes or bug catching spots, and the only model store I knew of was run by people who had a talent for making model building seem more intimidating than fun. I thus realized that while I'd become more confident and broadened my horizons this past year, the fact that I wasn't always this way was not the only reason why I didn't try new things in Minagi.
After everything I'd been through while in Inaba, the life I'd lived before seemed small and hollow in comparison, but even so, it would be my life once again, at least for the next year. If nothing else, I'd learned that one year is not too short of a time to establish a meaningful connection with someone, grow as a person or make a difference, so there was no reason for me not to try.
As I checked my texts, and saw that the friends who had helped me investigate the murders had all responded to the texts that I had sent informing them that I had arrived safely, I realized that I had not left my life or my friends in Inaba behind- and I need not do so. Our bonds were the kind that would survive being stretched over long distances, and I could only hope they would survive the flow of time as well.
This fic(formerly known as Homecoming) is, in a nutshell, a sequel fic to Persona 4, covering about a year after Yu's return to Inaba. It deals with his and Yukiko's relationship over the course of that time, as well as their and their friends' lives.
Here's what you need about how the game of Persona 4: Golden went in this fic
*The protagonist's name is Yu Narukami.
*Yu maxed out all social links. For the Sun Social Link, he chose Yumi/the Drama Club, and for the Strength Social Link, he chose Kou/the Basketball Club.
*As mentioned before, Yu is in a romance with Yukiko, and only Yukiko. He turned down all the other girls, and for Ai, did so when she confessed after the "Friendship" route. The approximate order is: 1)Yu stops Ai from committing suicide, but doesn't offer to become her boyfriend, 2) Yu says "I'm counting on you" to Chie at Rank 9, 3) Yu meets Rise, 4)Yu tells Yukiko that he "really like(s her)" at Rank 9, 5)Yu meets Naoto, 6)Yu refuses Yumi's confession, 7)Yu doesn't hug Rise at Rank 8, 8) Yu completes Ai's social link and rejects her 9)Yu completes Naoto's social link while telling her that her gender doesn't matter, 10) Yu finishes Marie's social link and says that he considers her a friend.
*Yu managed to get the True Ending plus the extended epilogue (which will be featured later on in the fic).
*Yu rescued/captured the people in the TV world at the first possible opportunity, but was able to continue to develop his Social Links in December after capturing Adachi (it's somewhat irksome that the game immediately fast-forwards to, at earliest, December 23, after you defeat Ameno-sagiri).
*Additional information will be provided as it becomes relevant.
I chose Yukiko as Yu's girlfriend because she's not only my favorite party member and pairing option from Persona 4, but she's also the most heavily tied down to Inaba (by comparison, Rise will likely leave once she resumes her idol career, and Naoto actually mentions having seriously considered the possibility of leaving Inaba). She has an interesting bit of character development on this regard- she's initially resigned to inheriting the inn, then wants to run away over the course of her Social Link, and finally embraces staying in Inaba, but what will she do now that the boy she loves has left her?
I won't include references to the Arena games or Dancing All Night, since I'm not all that familiar with either and from what little I know, I don't think they'd tie in well with this story, which largely deals with the more mundane aspects of life (You'll notice that most of the social links deal with fairly mundane issues, and even most of the Investigation Team's cases besides Yosuke's deal with their lives outside of the cases). Similarly, Persona Q is irrelevant, since Yu forgot everything that happened there. Yu's character will also be based on my own personal interpretation of how the game went, rather than the anime or manga (for several reasons, the most obvious being that Yu isn't canonically paired with anyone and in the manga, his name's Souji Seta). On the other hand, I may include Yu visiting Inaba in May, since it's referenced in the Golden epilogue.
A note on the honorifics. Persona 4 often uses Japanese honorifics, but sometimes uses Western courtesy titles, and doesn't use either in full names (which are in Western order), or in the cases when people wouldn't use them- between very close friends(e.g. Chie and Yukiko), one's younger siblings or children, or people one doesn't respect very much.
Let's give an example of dialogue between Yu, Yukiko and Mrs. Amagi
Yukiko: Mother, I'd like you to meet my boyfriend, Yu Narukami. Yu-kun, this is my mother, Natsuki Amagi.
Yu: It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Amagi.
Mrs. Amagi: The pleasure is mine, Narukami-kun. Yukiko told me all about you.
As you have seen, the italics indicate when a scene is set., A change in the date means a flashback or timeskip, while a change in the time means a change to later that day. They also indicate a character's POV, and continue in the previous character's POV unless indicated otherwise.
The part of the story in Yu's hometown will feature some original characters, mainly Yu's old friends, and you'll meet some of them in coming chapters. The short of it is that Yu wasn't nearly as close to them as to the Investigation Team, but hopes to reconnect with them now that he's back. It won't be all that long before you'll hear about what kind of people they are and how Yu will fare in his efforts.
Edited to fix a few minor mistakes, change the title and make a few other changes.