This took far far too long to write... I'd been writing on and off throughout the document all day, adding something when an idea came to me and it ended up far longer then I'd originally planned it to. It is heavily based off the Fortune in Persona 4 and I did my best to follow it as such while at the same time throwing in my own flair without completely going out of character which I still feel I did...

This is my first Pesona story every (of all 4 games) although I doubt it will be my last. I hope you'll all help in as far as getting Naoto in character goes and you'll forgive me for not going well on my first shot. Should OOC annoy you...please turn back, but I made an effort to try and stay in her personality...

As for why the time between posting this here and on my DA [same user name there as here] took so long... I was debating which section (Megami Tensai or Persona series) to put this in. In the end, I decided Megami Tensai because it seems that more people go there.

WARNING: Spoilers for Naoto's all of it. Other than that… nothing much as far as the game goes. There is a slight spoiler for Naoto's shadow towards the end and a mention of an event at a club… but nothing huge.

Also, take note that this is a SoujixNaoto fanfic. If you're looking for another pairing... you'd best turn back now.

Edit (1/17/09): I've had this BETA'd now and I've gone through and fixed most of the previous errors. Thank you to RadicalRebel (my best friend) for all your help.

A detective is one who uses their mind to solve problems. They are trained to let logic and theory control their actions rather than their emotions, and they know to trust their gut feeling when it screams for them to do something. When it comes to making a choice in a split second, one is trained to quickly and logically weight the results of each decision in their mind in a manner of seconds, then act upon the conclusion they come to. Never trust anyone… and don't let anyone close. The greatest minds of the world are often those of detectives. They notice the small details in everything and can notice the things a normal person wouldn't even bother considering as evidence, carefully creating a conclusion-- which is almost always right-- to provide an answer that ends up helping a single or group of persons.

At least, that was how I saw them. Men of amazing talent, who could take even the hardest of puzzles and solve them in a matter of minutes. They were strong, brave and above all, brilliant. They were respected and listened to; looked up to, and not down upon. They were treated as adults, people of value, and were never left behind. Even if someone didn't agree with that which was said, they always listened to what the detective had to say, and the detectives were always the first to be called when an answer couldn't be found. That respect; the strength and bravery; the admiration. It was that that I wanted

The Shirogane family has been well known for generations for having the smartest and most skilled detectives of their time. My grandfather had told me countless stories about himself and my parents – the cases they'd solved and the people they'd helped… Every time I heard one, it made me want to raise myself to their level that much more. As a child, I'd never been interested in dolls or the other things girls my age would enjoy, and perhaps it was the lack of others to compare myself to that caused it.

I was almost always alone. I grew up with my grandfather, but there is a line between family and friends that the other can never cross. My 'friends' were the detective novels in my grandfathers study; I threw myself into each story with more passion then the next. What served as my 'best friends' were the 'tools of a detective' I'd built and modified myself. I was young at the time and they were nothing compared to that of a real detective, but my grandfather still supported me in all I did, allowing me to help him on all the cases he took. Eventually, people started calling me the 'junior detective'. They'd laugh about it and call it 'cute' whenever I was around, but it didn't matter. No matter how smart I was or how my grandfather showed me off, it wouldn't change anything. I was still nothing to them.

'Detective Prince' is what they call me now. One might see this as a title of utmost respect, and I'd be questioned for looking at the title as a curse more-so then a blessing, but it was just a title. A combination of two words. Nothing more than a name. The only time it would stand out among others or shine was when my brain was needed. Through hard work and sheer will I was finally able to earn myself a sliver of respect. When there was a case to be solved, or a detective was needed, both my title and family name would prove my worth. They'd come to me, wanting my help… but no matter how many cases I solved, no matter how hard I worked, I was still nothing but a child to them. When all was said and done, they'd cast me aside, taking most of the credit for something they didn't even do.

I was always cast aside. Thrown back into the 'playpen' when my usefulness to them had dried up. Always, always left behind. It never changed, and I never believed it would change. When I was asked to help solve the mass-murder cases in Inaba, I knew it would be just the same. Not more than a week after I'd been put on the case, I was already being looked down upon as a bother and a child, but I didn't stop. I threw myself into the details of the mystery, taking in everything I could to find the answer. Still, nothing would work. It would never change, and it was long ago that I'd lost hope that it ever would. Until I met them…more specifically, until I met him.

When I first met him and his friends, it was by chance in the textile shop of one Kanji Tasumi, whom I believed was going be the next victim in the kidnapping and murder cases (and I had been right). I saw them come into the shop, wanting to ask about the same boy I'd gone in there for. A spark of interest had flickered in the back of my thoughts, but I paid it no mind. No matter how interesting their group was, I was here on business. To solve a murder, a detective doesn't let their emotions get in the way of what they need to do.

Time and time again I'd run into them, and I was easily able to conclude that they were trying to solve the case as well. It had taken them months to come to the same answers I had within half the time, but still, they were all putting their efforts into the case and it interested me. I'd follow them in the little spare time I allowed myself, watching their actions closely, but I became careless. Because of the time I spent following them, I'd stay later and later at the station, trying to find an answer that wasn't there. Shortly after, everything changed.

It was after I'd been removed from the case that the boy named Mitsuo had appeared, claiming that all the murder victims had been his own. In reality, he'd only murdered one teacher from Yasogami High, where we all attended, but something about what had happened then bothered me. It didn't add up, and something that one of the group, Yukiko Amagi, said bothered me. She spoke of a world inside the TV.

I had looked this over as a joke when I'd heard Yukiko-senpai talk of such unrealistic ideals. Jumping into the TV and fighting with "personas"? The idea was like something out of a science fiction novel or a dream. I couldn't believe it, so I did what all detectives would do: I set myself up to try my hypothesis out. I already knew that they had the same thoughts as me, that those who suddenly became famous on the TV were taken, so I knew, should something happen, they would most likely come after me. They'd saved three so far, or rather, that's how it had seemed. Four if Mitsuo was included into the counting.

My plan had been to set myself up in the same manner that all the victims had been in before being taken. I arranged for an appearance on TV and I was rather surprised when they media proved eager to show me on TV. It was most likely just to gain more ratings for their channel, but whatever the reason, they allowed me to do so and that's what I'd wanted. I wasn't out for fame – I was out for an answer. I wanted to know how the killer was able to both kidnap and murder victims leaving no form of evidence or a trail to him or herself. Needless to say, when I did end up being taken, what happened next was not what I'd had in mind.

Unfortunately, I was unable to remember any of the major details of how I'd gotten into what I now know is called the "TV world", or much else that happened afterward. I could only provide minimal details of my capture, and other then the fact that it was a man doing all this, and that I'd felt an impact before passing out, everything else was fuzzy to me even after I woke up.

I remember waking up and talking to my "other self" for a few minutes and it was after it, rather, I, had started speaking of everything I'd spent years denying and trying to hide that I'd protested loudly that, whatever was in front of me, wasn't me. I vaguely remember hearing Yosuke-senpai shouting at me not to say it…but it was too late. I was already in a rage that I couldn't control… The thing in front of me began to change, taking its own form after I'd unintentionally given it a new life. It was after that I lost consciousness again.

The next patch of memory after that is seeing my "shadow" back in its original form, looking down at me, waiting silently. I knew what had to be done, even if I didn't want to admit it. That shadow, that person…it was still me. Everything I'd hidden away. All of my elder classmates had seen it, and found out the truth about my gender and my reasons for hiding it. There was no use denying what they already knew. It was after I'd accepted that which I didn't want to admit that the shadow changed again, this time into something known as a "persona". They welcomed me warmly into their group without question, not caring about anything they'd just seen or heard, almost like a silent agreement. "We won't tell anyone what we say, so please, help us."

I'd expected our relations to be nothing but casual at best, but I was thrown yet another curve ball as another mystery presented itself in front of me, in the form of a simple, white card.

I hadn't seen it as anything special when Senpai had first given it to me. The description of the man who'd handed him the card worried me, but it wasn't the physical appearance of the man that bothered me. It was his motive, what he was after. I couldn't understand why the man was doing this. Clue after clue, and card after card…each one leading to another sign of my past. In the beginning, I couldn't help but feel excited. It was a case. It was a mystery that needed solving, and I already had a feeling how it was going to end. Or at least, an idea as to what I believed would happen. I asked Senpai Souji-kun to assist me in finding the answer, and he agreed without a second thought. He smiled at me warmly and nodded his head, saying that he'd he happy to help me.

For the first time in years I was truly excited about something. I wanted to solve this case, not for respect as an adult or to show I wasn't a child, but for another reason. Even now, I'm not sure what it was I wanted, but back then I was just thrilled to be doing it. I can't find what drove me to do it – perhaps it was his presence with me – but whatever it was, I had fun. Each time we solved the clue on a card and I found the 'treasure' left for me, he'd learn a little more about me and I'd learn more about him. Without realizing it, I'd completely let my guard down around him and by the time I'd noticed it was too late. There was always something about him that made it impossible to hold a fake appearance when I was with him. I trusted him. Without knowing why, I was just able to trust him, to place my own thoughts, secrets and self into his hands, and know that it would be alright.

"I'm glad you're a girl."

He said that to me. I barely remember how the conversation had come up, I just remember vividly what happened there-after. I had gotten flustered, not seeing how it had anything to do with what we'd been doing before, but still, I felt my heart pounding in my chest. I'd never imagined the day would come when I'd hear such a thing. 'Glad I'm a girl'… I couldn't understand it. I'd seen my gender as nothing but a burden for so long, yet here he was, telling me that he was glad I was who I was. That he was glad I was born female. It was like I'd been spun around and suddenly thrust into a new light. I looked at myself differently. Glad I was female? It didn't make sense. There was no evidence of anything I'd done that proved being a girl was useful to him. So why….why would he have said that then?

I'd tried to ignore what I felt that day, but day I spent time with him (huh?), the pounding in my chest would return and I'd find myself more flustered then before. I'd stumble over things I'd said before without a care, and I felt myself really caring about what Senpai thought of me. I wanted to please him, impress him. I didn't want to just be left behind by him like the others. The mere thought scared me. I feared the day we'd run out of cards to follow, because it would be the day I no longer had a reason to be with him – the day he no longer had a reason to look at me. Or so I thought.

Tatsuhime Shrine… a place I will never forget. The events that unfolded there, and the images that will forever play themselves over and over again in my mind.

The mystery had almost come to a close, and we'd rushed to the shrine, as I'd believed it to be the next location of the "phantom thief" who'd been leaving me all the notes. We approached the arch that stood a few yards before the offering box and, as I'd guessed, someone was there, dressed completely in black and wearing sunglasses. He turned when we approached, and even with his eyes blocked, I could tell he was surprised at our appearance. He reached into his pocket and pulled out what, at least by appearance, seemed to be a knife. But before I could so much as open my mouth, I heard shuffled footsteps, and before I could blink, black was all I could see.

I'd had a moment of panic. I couldn't speak. Words had failed me and all I could do was stare as Senpai threw himself in front of me without any regard for his own well-being. The knife was fake and I knew it, but he didn't. As far as he knew, the man in front of us was out for my life, and he'd just thrown himself in the line of fire.

"D-don't!" I finally managed to speak, stumbling over my words. "That knife is a toy! Don't hurt him, please!" The tense feeling that I felt from Souji fell as he turned to look over his shoulder, giving me a surprised gaze. Behind him, the 'phantom thief' stepped back, dropping the knife as he ran away, leaving us alone in front of the offering box.

Silence fell between us as I picked the knife up, looking down at it and knowing I was frowning.

"This knife… I knew it. It's another one of the seven tools I made. It's a knife-shaped radio. As I said, it's just a toy."

I watched as Souji opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. His face was red and I could tell he was embarrassed. Normally, one might find the situation comical, or be flattered at such a gesture, but all I could feel was fear. Anger. I was furious and terrified at the same time. What was he thinking?!

Before I could think any further, I was shouting at him. I ripped my hat from my head, throwing my arms around in gestures a child throwing a tantrum would make, my voice still trembling as the images of what could have happened should the knife have been real flashed before me.

"Why?! Why would you do such a thing?!"

He was silent, simply staring at me for the longest time. I could see the internal struggle going on in his mind. He was trying to pick the right words to say, but there were none I wanted to hear. There was nothing that could be said that would have calmed me down, or assured me that his actions were valid. He could have died! He could have been seriously hurt! He-!

"Because I love you."

Once more the conclusions I'd drawn for myself were proven wrong. How many times had I come to the wrong conclusion now? I was a detective! I should have been able to predict these things. I should be able to see them coming. But this… I didn't see it coming at all. I didn't. Of all the people, all the girls… Not Yukiko, who was beautiful and elegant; not Chie, who was strong-willed and a brilliant martial artist; not even Rise, the beautiful idol who boys all over the country admired and pinned after, who constantly threw herself at him, hoping to gain his affections.

Me. He'd said those words to me. I, who he'd thought was a boy until only a month earlier. I who had told him straight forward that I didn't have time for 'love's follies,' and who he had seen throw away numerous love-letters coldly without a second thought. I, who hated being a girl, who was selfish, straight-forward and spoke the truth even should it end up hurting someone. Socially awkward and distant… I wasn't even pretty in the slightest. But still, he…

"W-what?" I'd sputtered. I couldn't even look him in the eye. I tried, so many times that day, but I could barely hold my voice, let alone look at him. I was a mess, sputtering and blushing. I didn't know what to do. My heart was pounding harder than ever before, and nothing would come out how I wanted it to…

So I ran. Ran away like a child. I apologized and bolted, running away from him as fast as my legs would allow. Ran to my house, through the door and to my room, ignoring the cries and pleas of the estate secretary. I couldn't face him or anyone right now. Not after I acted like such a coward…

I'd stayed up all night, staring at my wall as I pulled the covers up higher and higher until my head was completely covered. I lay there in the dark. I don't know how long it took, or when the truth hit me, but I remember the moment it did, I was crying. Shuddering and crying. Senpai… I loved him, I wanted him – more than anything else. Being accepted as a detective, proudly holding myself as woman, everything: all of it was suddenly meaningless unless it was him who was there to share it with me.

He. Senpai, Souji. He who accepted me, even after seeing my worst before he knew who I was. Who never looked at me as a " man or woman," but simply "Naoto." Who claimed and truly meant that he was glad I was a woman. Being an adult or a child, successes or errors – none of it mattered to him. He just saw me. I wasn't something of use to him, or something to be dropped when I wasn't 'useful' anymore. My brain and instincts were things he admired, but they weren't all he cared about. He…he truly cared. How was I going to face him again?

During lunch the following day, I asked him to come to the gazebo at the riverbank with me, telling him I wanted him to meet someone and once again I was surprised as he agreed with a simply nod and smile. He hadn't said a word about what he'd told me yesterday, and at the time, I was grateful for it. I don't know how I would have handled myself if he'd tried to speak on the matter.

When we arrived, Yakushiji-san, the secretary of the Shirogane estate was waiting for us. He introduced himself to Souji and apologized for dragging him into the events that had stemmed from him handing Senpai the card in the first place, but Senpai simply smiled and shook his head, saying that he'd enjoyed it. Yakushiji-san thanked him again for his help and quickly began explaining himself, saying that the set up had been by both himself and my grandfather. They'd hoped to remind me of the reason I'd wanted to become a detective in the first place. Listening to everything he'd said, and looking over all that had happened over the past few weeks, I had to agree with them. I had forgotten my reasons for wanting all that I did in the first place. I'd been so busy trying to something I wasn't that I no longer had the motive I once held. But still, of all the people Yakushiji-san could have seen as 'trustworthy,' I could never be more grateful that he'd picked Souji.

After Yakushiji-san left, we both took a seat at the picnic bench, silence falling between us. Senpai watched me with gentle eyes, waiting until I was ready to speak and hardly making a sound even as he breathed. Watching him from the corner of my eye, I pulled a white card from my pocket, setting it on the table.

"I received this from Yakushiji-san. It's the final challenge," I muttered, pushing the card towards him.

"I did what you can't stand in a place you'd be fond of. But rather, underneath then inside." He read the card aloud in a soft tone, and raised an eyebrow slightly as he read it through again, several times.

"A place I'd be fond of…?" I frowned. It was a very vague hint, but the smile on Souji's face told me he knew something.

"Someplace high," he chuckled softly. "You told me you liked high places, didn't you?"

"You remembered that?" I'd said it so long ago. The fact that he remembered… I felt myself nodding and smiling, urging him to keep going. "The highest place around here would be…the hill. Next, something I 'can't stand' to do…That could be several possibilities, but…"

"Throwing things away?" It came out as something of a question and suggestion at the same time. My cheeks felt warm as I nodded, looking away, once again unable to meet his gaze as I felt my chest tighten again. He's remembered all that? Most people wouldn't even bother to remember something that sounded so useless.

"That's right! Did I mention it before?" It was a stupid question; I'd known I had. But I took joy in the fact that he nodded his head and recalled even the date of the day I'd told him. "Considering what's at the hill, the answer is most likely a trashcan. I have an inkling of what might be there. Let's go, Senpai." I stood up, glancing over to already see him on his feet and walking around the table to meet me.

Arriving at the hill, we quickly made our way over to the trashcan, all too eager to see the final item. He picked the metal basket up with ease and held it for me as I looked at the bottom and pulled off the item that had been taped there.

"I'd forgotten this even existed. The last of the seven tools of a detective." He looked at me curiously, setting the trashcan down to peer over my shoulder. "The 'detective's pocket book,'" I muttered, holding it up for him to see. "All the things I'd forgotten about are packed in here. I think Grandpa wanted to remind me of them. This childish game…He's selfish indeed, forcing me to recall all this now." I felt my throat tighten and heard my voice shake. "I'd been trying so hard. Not to be underestimated, not to be condescended to…" My voice gave away again as my grip on the notebook tightened.

"I…S-Senpai?" In an instant he was at me side, carefully leading me over to the bench and easing me down, a hand wrapped around my waist the whole time. He didn't remove it until he was sitting as well. How he managed it so quickly, I still don't understand, but within minutes I was calm again and talking to him once more. Everything that I hadn't already told him came pouring out. My reasons for wanting to be a detective, for wanting to solve this case; if my shadow hadn't said them, I was letting it all come out now, and he listened to every word, not interrupting, not once. I'm glad he didn't. Had he stopped me, I wouldn't have been able to keep going to the very end – when my own feelings slipped out before I could stop myself.

I loved—no, love – Senpai, more than anything else I could have ever imagined. I'd never thought I'd see the day when I fell in love with someone. I'd told myself love was pointless, that I didn't need it, and yet there I was, a flustered mess with my heart screaming in my chest as I sat next to him in the hill, completely oblivious to the cold breeze that blew over us. I sat completely still, head bowed as I waited for him to say something, anything. To be upset with me for running off; to reprimand me for rejecting him at first; or even the answer I dreaded the most – to hear him say it was all a joke. But nothing came. My nerves were already completely shot, yet I forced myself to dare a look and the moment I'd moved, a hand was cupping my chin, raising my gaze to his own.




"Souji. My name is Souji, Naoto. There is no need to be formal with me anymore. There never was." I couldn't help it; I blushed again. Hearing my name from him made me happy, giddy almost. I was so accustomed to hearing "Shirogane-san" that to hear something as simple as my name… I felt like a child who'd just been handed a new toy, and i acted like it to. It was foolish and silly, but I couldn't find reason to care. I was happier than I'd felt in years and I wasn't going to push the new emotion away, even if I was nervous and I didn't know how to handle it. I wasn't going to run or hide. Not again. Not this time.

The next day, I asked him if I might be allowed to visit his room and I was welcomed quickly with a smile. During the walk home, I felt my heart starting to speed up yet again as the anxiety of what might possibly happen when we arrived flew through my mind. I hardly understood half the ideas that popped into my head, but I focused on them as I tried to figure out what it was that I'd wanted and why I'd asked to come in the first place. And then we were there. I don't ever remember the walk to his house being so quick before.

Nanako-chan wasn't home when we arrived, which was a relief to me. To know that I wouldn't have to think up an excuse for her and Dojima-san as to why I was there calmed me. He led me into the hallway and up the stairs, gesturing to a door that led to the bathroom on that level. Then he gestured at another door, muttering that it was another spare room and that Dojima-san's and Nanako-chan's rooms were downstairs. Finally we stopped outside the far door, and he said it was his own.

My mouth suddenly felt dry as I followed him inside, yet the adrenaline rush from the excitement of it all urged me forward. I felt silly and childish still, but looking around the room…Heh, it was nothing I hadn't expected. Emptier than I thought it would be if anything. The way Yosuke talked, I expected it to be something more of a teenage boys room, but reflecting on that, Senpai never seemed the type of person who'd take pleasure in such disagreeable means of entertainment.

What happened from then to the next event was a blur and speaking honestly, I don't believe anything important happened. He invited me to sit on the couch with him, and I walked over without thinking about it properly until I'd already taken a seat. He was close – too close. I voiced this to him quietly and I heard him chuckle.

"Would you like me to move?"

I shook my head, stubbornly refusing to admit vocally that I rather enjoyed how close he was. We sat there in complete silence and with each passing second, I felt more awkward. What could I do? What should I do? Was I supposed to do anything at all? I turned to look at him and that was the magic that broke the spell that had fallen over us.

Arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me closer, causing me to panic, but I didn't protest. I knew what was coming. Half of me told me to pull away and run, but the other half, the more dominate half, told me to stay put, let it happen. It was what I'd wanted.

His lips were a lot softer then they looked. Warm and gentle, he didn't force anything on me, leaving his arms in a weak-enough grip that I could have easily pulled away and only adding enough pressure to assure me that he was, in fact, kissing me and not just lingering his face near my own. It was…nice. My body knew what my mind did not, as my arms took control of themselves and wrapped around his neck, giving me something to support myself in order to pull closer, almost desperately. He seemed almost too happy to oblige to my responses, tightening his own arms around me.

I believe, at least based on what I'd read before, the feeling I'd had then was something like being on a 'high'. Senpai, Souji, he is not a drug in any form of the word…rather, not the literal sense, but should he have been one... I would have been addicted. Terribly and horribly addicted, and I'd never want the cure. I didn't care about 'being an adult' anymore. If I was childish for wanting this, then so be it. That is what I was after all, was it not? I was still just a child, even if I'd had a hard time admitting it up until now. I was happy, and that's all I cared about.

I'd spent so many years alone, only to be given attention when my brain was needed for something. I'd be pulled out, used, and then tossed aside again. So many years I kept away from others, hiding away in my grandfather's study with my nose in a book or my hands busily tampering with something I'd learned to make in a manual. I told myself that I was happy, that it was what I'd wanted. I thought that if I solved enough cases, they'd stop seeing me as a child and treat me like an adult, like the men in the novels I'd read. But no matter what I did, or do, I will never become them. They are fictional, characters in a book and even I must admit they were portrayed in a much brighter light then they actually shined. But now, all of that – the loneliness; the sadness; the feeling of having my hand slapped away each time I reached out – it all seemed worth it. Had one thing gone differently than it had, I might not be where I am today.

I no longer looked at my gender with distaste. I was glad that I was a woman. I wasn't displeased with the idea of being a teenager anymore. There was nothing I could do about my age and there never would be. I was a high school student, a woman, and a detective.

"Why? Why are you leaving me here?! Why am I always left alone?! It's so lonely! I don't wanna be alone!"

That's what my shadow had said when I tried to walk away from it, from myself, and all that I'd denied for so long. That's what it – I – had cried out silently in desperation, pleading, wishing, hoping, that someone would hear me and take the hand I'd extended. For so long I'd been alone. But I'm not lonely, not anymore.

"What can I say? I'm fortune's fool."

It was Senpai. Meeting him wasn't just something that'd happened by chance. It was just… good fortune. A blessing. Everything that happened up until now – all of my life – I'd been walking down a path alone, and all this time it was leading to him.

"I…I want a reason for me to stay."

My reason. A reason to stay. A reason to never be alone again. I'd finally found it.

"Because I love you."

And I'll always love him.