Disclaimer: Sad that IS didn't do anything to help Persona 2's popularity. Sad Christmas...

A/N: Die, Sky Museum. Nobody likes you.

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Wearing the Inside Out

Chapter Seven

The Sky Museum Must Die

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As we stepped through the glass doors, my eyes immediately went to the children dashing in and out of rooms. I cursed under my breath.

"What are all these children doing here?" but I already knew the answer. However, it didn't stop me from wishing that none of it had come to this. It was nearing late into the day when all the children were going to be let out of school. Nonetheless, that didn't stop the situation now. "We have to get them out of here!" I turned to my comrades.

My eyes suddenly caught the attention of a young Kasugayama student with short black hair coming toward us. Maya and the others followed my gaze and I watched the raven haired woman. The boy stopped, hesitant, but overcame whatever it was that he was feeling and continued in our direction.

"Um…" His eyes hit the floor and then slowly traced back up to Maya, "I'm Jun Kashihara. Forgive me for asking such a question...but...have we met somewhere before?"
"Hmmm…" Maybe Maya had been thinking the same thing. Maybe she was just trying to answer a question. I never found out. She brought a hand up to her chin, musing, and finally concentrated hard on him. She suggested, "In front of the station?"

Jun immediately stepped back, face pale and eyes wide, as though he hadn't expected that answer. He paused for a while longer before speaking.

"Eh…?" His face brightened, "Ah…That time! You bumped into a tall guy from Seven Sisters High School, right? I knew I saw you somewhere!" His excitement wore down and he turned his attention to a pocket on his sky blue uniform, "…So that's where…" Reaching in, he withdrew a letter and pushed it slowly towards Maya, "Then, did you give me this letter…?"

The dark haired woman looked from him to Ulala and then back to the letter. "What?" she asked, dumbly.

"Someone gave me a letter asking me to come here and meet a 'friend,'" Jun explained. "I don't know who it can be, though…"

Before Maya could respond, Ulala stepped in and interrupted their conversation of mysteriousness.

"Hey, that stuff doesn't matter now," she reached out to push him towards the door. "Hurry up and bail!" When Jun wouldn't budge, she turned her anger to Maya, and pointed a sour finger in her direction. The reporter looked away, sheepishly, "What are you doing even listening to him? You're so vulnerable to younger men!" I flinched, but didn't know quite why. "We still don't know where the Voice Man is! He should be our priority."

Ulala was interrupted by a large vibration that hurled us from where we stood. I was sure the entire building was going to collapse. Forcing myself to stay balanced, I grabbed hold of the edge of one of the glass cases and looked to the opposite wall. After that moment, the massive quake became the least of my concerns. The room had been set aflame, fire feeding across the walls, carpets, and monuments of the museum.

I can't believe this…Not now…

Static followed and then a voice came over the intercom. I knew exactly who it belonged to.

" I set some bombs to start a fire," Tatsuya Sudou bragged. "First ones go off in the stairwell and the other floors are timed to follow." I looked back to see everyone panicking. Then I realized that the children were no longer on the bottom floor. "You remember? It's just like the 'Other Side.' If you don't take the kids up top, they become barbecued!"

His voiced trailed off for a moment and I was certain that he had been disconnected. Then I heard him give the most demonic shrill of a laugh I had ever heard from any person. It started out slow and grew louder and louder until I, myself, was convinced that my ears would split.

Sudou's voice cut out and I ground my teeth against each other.

"Damn…" I looked back to my teammates and shouted, "Hurry up and get the kids upstairs!" Turning to Jun, I asked, "You're Jun, right?" At his nod, I continued, "Find the teacher in charge and head for the roof! Let's go check all the floors and make sure no one failed to escape!"

"Y-Yes," he agreed, following my comrades' nods.

He started off first, the others fell in step behind him, and we dashed toward the stairs. I willingly kept in the back to keep an eye on everyone. Despite the time lapse, the Joker was still after Maya, and I wasn't about to let anything happen on my watch.

As long as she is the next target, I will be able to take him into custody.

But slowly…I could feel myself becoming attached.

Attached to what? The situation? Probably. I have been pretty tense lately…

There was something creeping up on me like the night to the sky, pulling the sun away into an existence far into outer space.

This was unlike me.

I didn't like poetry either.

"Let's check this room!" Maya suggested, tearing open the door.

I was swept back into reality as I searched the exhibit hall, flames abound. The heat was intensifying. Sweat gathered at the back of my neck and underneath my heavy clothes. Several times my vision became blurry as my glasses fogged, and I had to clean them thoroughly. The smoke was rising and the inside of my nose grew irritated and sore from having to breathe it in. No matter how low I stayed, it didn't seem to make a difference as far as my body was concerned.

The brightness of the inferno kept me from moving at all.

Keep moving, Suou! The lives of others are in danger!

Besides…I knew that Sudou was still in the building somewhere. With the bottom floors collapsing beneath us, there was nowhere to go but up. And I would be the one who took him in. Maybe Sudou didn't realize that he was tightening the noose around his own neck.

Staggering in behind Maya, I attempted to regain my composure, tracing the brilliant blaze up the walls before turning my eyes to the center of the empty exhibit room.

"Miss Amano," I pivoted back to her, almost pushing her out of the room, "it doesn't look like anyone is here. Let's go on to the next room!"

I was already out the door when I heard Baofu shout from across the hallway.

"There!" he pointed to a second exhibit room down along the wall. "Over there! I can hear the kids screaming!"
Maya dashed ahead of Ulala and me as we desperately tried to keep up, all the while of avoiding leaping flames and thick clouds of smoke. Maya was defter than I, maneuvering around broken debris and flaming monuments. She kicked open the doors on the other side of the wall to avoid having to grab the knobs, and, sure enough, the children were all together crying in fear.

"Found them!" Ulala breathed, relief washing over her face.

"It'll be okay," Maya consoled them gently, though ushered them to come forward. "Run to the roof!"

They obeyed, still crying, but followed in a single line out of the room. Maya was still directing them with her hand. Once the last child was out of the room, I was the first to turn and search through the thick plume for the next exhibit hall. Baofu fell in behind me, keeping the two girls behind him.

Suddenly, Baofu sprinted down one end of the corridor, and left us alone. I could still hear the crackling of the fire feeding off the wood and artifacts of the Sky Museum, and my heart pulsed faster and faster until I could profoundly feel it rising up against the base of my neck. Baofu disappeared behind the veil of smoke, earning a frown from me. What does he think he's doing! This is no time to be running off!

"This is preposterous," I whispered harshly, motioning the girls to follow after. "We have to stick together!"

He hadn't gone far by the time we'd caught up to him. I rounded the corner tightly in order to avoid the fiery wall on the opposite side. Baofu was staring off into space, as though something else had distracted him.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, successfully holding in my temper for after we had managed to get out of this place.

"…Nothing," he said, his trance broken. "I thought…nothing, it was nothing."

"What?" I persisted. "Did you hear Sudou?"

"No," he said. "Look, I told you that it's nothing, Suou. Now, let's move on ahead." Baofu brushed past me and started on another jog down the hall. I looked at the two girls, gave a shrug, and followed after him.

He waited for us at the exhibit room down the hall. Eyes glued to mine, he said, "You go first, Suou. I'll be right behind you."

"Thanks," I replied, dully, but went ahead anyway.

I tapped the knob several times—it wasn't hot—and then opened the door cautiously to be sure that it was safe. I jumped inside, gun in hand. The first thing that hit me was the heat followed by blinding flames dancing along the walls. I peered over the railing to the first floor, a lump forming in my throat.

We were just down there only minutes ago. If we had stayed any longer, the flames would've surely consumed us. It's hard to believe that the bottom floor is gone now.

Mesmerized by the loss of time, I hadn't even seen Baofu and Ulala come in until the other man tapped my shoulder and pushed me along.

"The second floor is gonna look just like the first if we don't bust ass, Suou. Keep moving."

Scolding myself, I gave him a silent nod and moved away from the rail.

Now's not the time to get distracted.

"Sorry," I told him. "You're right." Forcing myself to focus, I looked around for the exit.

"Up the stairs," Ulala told me.

We hurried along, lifting our legs until we were past the hanging mobiles. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I gave another look to the surroundings. I feel like I'm going to pass out. Don't the others feel it as well? The smoke is too much.

Coughing into my closed fist, I used my other hand to point across the room. "There," I shared my discovery. "The exit."

My comrades bolted ahead of me, but it only took me a few steps before I realized that Maya wasn't with us.

"Where's Miss Amano!" I asked in a panic.

Ulala stopped at the sound of my voice, turning in my direction.

"Where is she!" I called out again.

She must have recalled our absent member because her eyes widened and her mouth fell agape. Whirling her body in a circle, Ulala instantly stopped and threw herself against the railing, staring down at the lower level in which we had just come from. I followed her gaze and spotted Maya, who was looking to one of the hanging mobile planes below us.

Flames were dancing along the underbelly of the plane. It wouldn't be long until that plane caught flames.

"Hey, Ma-ya, what are you doing!" Ulala successfully broke the trance Maya was in and the reporter looked over to us.

"Can't you hear a girl's voice?" Maya called out over the crackle of roaring flames. It took Ulala a moment to comprehend as she fought against the sound of burning wood and her friend.

"Huh! Did I hear a girl's voice, you ask!" Ulala became irritated, "I didn't hear anything! Hurry up and get over here! It's not safe!"

She brushed past me to the open exit and disappeared through it. Baofu was gone, too.

So that's how it is, eh? Every man for himself? I can't do that.

Stepping back from the railing, I backtracked to the stairs and met Maya halfway. Her face was drenched with sweat and her hair had stuck to her skin. She was as tired as I was. Her cheeks were blackened from the ash.

"Are you all right?" I asked.

She appeared to still be in a daze, but answered me nonetheless.

"Yes," she nodded. "I'm fine. Just more Déjà vu, I suppose."

"Are you sure?" I pressed. "I know that we don't have time to stop and rest, but if you're feeling ill…"

"I promise I'm fine."

I gazed at her skeptically.

"All right," I turned my head to the open door. "Let's catch up to the others before they leave us behind."

Giving another nod, she moved ahead of me and escaped out the door frame. I followed her up the spiraling stairwell to the third floor, looking back every so often to see more and more of our path becoming victim to the merciless fire. We would soon be joining its fate if we did not hurry.

Ulala and Baofu were waiting at the top of the stairs with Jun. His face showed intense worry as he looked from them to us. "The children seem to be split into groups. There are two groups that haven't come back. They must be hiding somewhere on this floor."

"Don't worry kid," Baofu assured, "We'll find them. Let's start at the elevator since it's the closest to our position."

We did, but found nothing.

It was like that for several more minutes. I could sense the fire catching up with us. We were wasting precious time and if we didn't find the kids soon...

What? You'd leave them behind?

No. No! I...

Seconds...more seconds...Not in that room...Not around that corridor...

"The door to the back," Ulala pointed. "We've passed by that four times."

Not waiting for us to respond, she turned and blazed a path for us to follow.

"Here," she said, stopping in front of a door. "Let's check here."

I took it upon myself to step forward. Pressing my ear as close to the door as much as I could, I caught the sound of shrills and screams. I grabbed the doorknob and pulled it toward me. Indeed, there was a group of weeping children, too frantic to think about escaping. Trying to ease their anxiety, I called for their attention.

"Hello boys and girls," I greeted, trying my best to stay calm. "Listen up. Have no fear, your police hero is here! Cover your mouths and keep low. Run to the roof, and try not to breathe in any smoke. Understand?"

At first they appeared to be confused, but Maya helped lead them out of the room as Ulala brought up the rear. I watched to make sure every child was safely evacuated. From out of the corner of my eye, I saw Baofu arch his eyebrow and stare at me awkwardly.

"Police hero? And did you notice you were talking in rhymes, Suou?"

I may as well have been flushing from embarrassment, but I also knew that there was no way Baofu could tell because of the heat and smoke.

I shrugged and replied, "Children don't respond to situations like these as well as adults, Baofu. Someone has to look out for them."

"Yeah, but that was just…corny. And stupid."

I frowned. "It makes it harder for me to believe you were ever a child at all."

I heard him chuckle and he moved out the door to catch up with Ulala. Maya entered as he exited and I watched her look back at him.

"What was that about?" she asked when I approached her.

"He thought my speech was corny."

She laughed. I frowned again.

"Just ignore him," Maya patted my arm. "Are all of the children out of here?"

"Yes. Let's find the last group and head to the rooftop."

Ulala and Baofu were already down the hall by the time Maya and I had made our exit. Baofu made eye contact with us and motioned us over. I coughed a bit, cursing the merciless smoke.

"Here, here…" Ulala's voice perked my ears up. "Stop crying like babies and run!"

The children looked at each other and ran past us, screaming.

"Well…that was…inspiring…" Baofu said slowly, looking after the crying children.

"Yeah, well they were acting like little five-year-olds." Ulala argued back, "Sheesh, kids these days have no common sense."

"It's a state of reaction," I stepped in. "It's natural to behave like that in situations like these. Though it's not the wisest way to be, they're just children, Miss Serizawa."

Ulala stood there for a moment, glaring at me, and looked for comfort from Maya, who had none to offer.

"I hope Jun finds them before something bad happens," the other woman shrugged.

The redhead growled. "Let's just find the staircase, okay?"

I prayed that that woman would leave childbirth out of her forthcoming dreams. At least…until she understood the way children worked.

The staircase took us a good few minutes to find it because of the worsening smoke. I stumbled once into a wall, and Baofu repeatedly tripped over overturned chairs. Ulala didn't help the situation, leading us in circles, and Maya was just as confused as the rest of us. Every so often, Tatsuya Sudou would come on the air and whisper in a raspy voice, "Time is ticking, better move faster. The bombs go off in seventeen minutes," then "fifteen minutes," and, "ten minutes."

Baofu directed us around another corner, ushering us up the stairs with his arms. When we reached the top to the fourth floor, Sudou came on for the last time.

"Hyaaaahahaha! Starting to recall the 'Other Side' yet?" He laughed and abruptly sobered up, "I know…that this sound, this color, and this heat is the way it's supposed to be! I don't care if the Grand Cross has passed! I'll kill, burn, and destroy everything! To hell with this fake world!"

His voice was more grave than I had ever remembered it being, as though he were truly convinced of what he was saying.

Or is it an attempt to be convincing? Then again, watching him talk about his father the way he did, it doesn't really surprise me that his emotions would be less controlled around something that he believes to be true. It's even in the same manner when he refers to his "Voices."

"If you still don't understand what I'm saying," Sudou continued after a moment's pause, "I'll make you go through the same thing again. From this floor, there will be demons—Just like the 'Other Side.' Remember?" There was a brief pause before I clasped my ears to his cursed, "Hyaaaahahahahahahahahahaha!"

Baofu's face grew distorted and he pointed to a shadowy corner, "He sure wasn't joking. Look over there!"

I felt myself gasp. Surrounding us in a half circle was a hoard of monsters, and there were far too many to even figure an estimate.

They hadn't noticed us yet.

"Well, what do we do?" I asked. "There's no way we can take them all on. We'll be crushed for sure."

"Ch…" Baofu didn't pull his eyes from the sight before us. "Suou's right. Not to mention, we'd get caught in the explosion long before we finished them off. We need another strategy."

"Or another route…" Ulala's eyes were elsewhere and she was grinning...A grin that terrified me. "Look! Over there!"

"What?" Baofu squinted.

"There's a hall that the fire's only begun to burn in. If we're quick enough and can jump high enough, I think we can get to the other side. I'll just bet there's a stairwell over there, too!"

"Yeah, sure, Ms. Hopelessly Optimistic," the tap buster snorted. "We'll be charbroiled." Baofu glanced back at the demons, mouth twitching. "But then again, staying here isn't a very wise decision either. I say we risk it." He looked at Maya and me, "You guys in?"

"Definitely," Maya nodded. "I don't want to be food for these guys."

"I suppose so," I answered, a little uneasy. "But standing here won't help find the children any faster, so let's hurry."
Baofu volunteered to go first and dashed down the hall, dodging the burning flames.

"C'mon!" he shouted, picking up speed. "The flames are rising higher!"

Ulala took a deep breath and followed after Baofu, mimicking his every move.

"Let's go, Miss Amano," I said as I waited for her to move first. When she wouldn't budge, I became concerned. "What's the matter?"

"All of a sudden, I feel really uncomfortable." She whirled her head around to stare at me, "I don't have a phobia of fire, but I feel scared right now."

I shook my head.

"But you were fine before. What's the difference now?"

"I..." she began to fidget. "I don't know. It was like...after he mentioned the 'Other Side,' my chest began to hurt, and a feeling I've never known has overcome me. I'm too scared to move."

"That's exactly what he wants, Ms. Amano," I told her and took a small step back. "He wants us to be afraid. I'll be right here, so don't worry about it. I won't leave you behind."

A sincere smile crossed her face. "Thank you, Katsuya," she put a hand on my arm, which took me by surprise. Reaction took hold of me and I pulled away, although I hadn't meant for it to be so rudely.

My eyes looked away.

I knew she was hurt, and I didn't have the gull to face her. Instead, I muttered an incoherent apology, and encouraged her to make the first move while I followed closely behind.

Ulala and Baofu were at the end, hailing us as we lunged over a slowly elevating flame. I fought hard to keep my balance, landing on the balls of my feet and using my arms as propellers when I came to a less than graceful halt.

At last, the end had finally come.

"Good job, Suou," Baofu congratulated with undeniable sarcasm. "You looked like you were running away from your mother."

I didn't even have the strength to scowl at him. "Let's…find the…kids…now…" I replied instead, catching my breath.

"Hey, those demons are chasing us…" Maya observed.

I forced myself to look back down the hallway in which we had just come from. Indeed, several groups of demons had spotted our retreat and were quickly making their way toward us.

"No! No more running!" Ulala exclaimed.

"We don't have a choice," Baofu grabbed her arm and pulled her along down a nearby hall.

I cursed and followed after them, Maya next to me.

"Hurry, Miss Amano!" I called over my shoulder.

"Here! Hide in here!" Ulala swung open a pair of doors on her left and shut them as soon as we all were in.

Silence enveloped us, save our raspy breaths from running, and we listened hard for the sound of violent footsteps. I couldn't hear any, and, apparently, neither could my comrades.

"So how do we know if they're gone or not?" Ulala asked.

"Open the door and check," Maya suggested. Ulala wasn't fond of the idea, but turned back to the pair of doors. I watched her, mouth slightly agape to keep the air flowing into my lungs easier.

Sounds of sniffling fell upon my ears.

"Hey, it's the kids." Baofu whistled and then called out, "Hey, hey! Just sitting there crying like babies will get you killed. Hurry up and run to the roof. And don't lose sight of your friends."

"Baofu, the demons!" I reminded him in a sharp whisper.

"They're gone," Ulala breathed, swinging open the doors. She turned and motioned for the kids to come out with her hand. "It's safe now, children. But be careful on the way."

I helped her lead the children out of the room and pointed them in the direction of the stairwell. Baofu and Maya ventured down the hall to check for any demons, but none were to be found, as they told us minutes later.

"We found the stairs back that way," Baofu told us. "If we hurry, we might be able to get out of this place unscathed."

Maya and he led us to their discovery, which wasn't far from our current position, thank God. The smoke seemed to be thinning out as we began to climb, too. That could only mean…

"We're almost there!" A smile broke out on Ulala's face. "And about time!"

We savored our victory, Maya grabbing Ulala's hand and giving it a playful squeeze. Baofu chuckled and withdrew a cigarette.

Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks.

My head is beginning to ache and my eyes are stinging.

My comrades stopped their chattering and looked back to me, puzzled.

"What's up?" Ulala asked.

I shook my head.

"Sudou and…someone else?" My eyes fell to the stairs "But, this feeling…No, it can't be…" I adjusted my glasses, trying hard to listen to the voices in my head.

Tatsuya…

Is this feeling…you?

Without waiting up for the rest of my team, I darted past them and climbed the stairs. Throwing myself to the top, I cupped my hand around the knob and swung the rooftop door open.

"Suou! Wait for us, man! Geez, you want us to get killed or something!" I heard Baofu call out behind me.

I couldn't speak. What my eyes beheld…I couldn't stop shaking. I quickly continued out the door to see Tatsuya Sudou holding Jun hostage, a sword to his throat. In front of him was another boy wearing red garments with a distinct, black cross on the front. His brown hair was ruffled by the wind. He clutched the sword in front of him, protectively.

I recognized him without pause.

"Tatsuya!" Confusion kept me from saying anything more. The shaking continued, and the blender of thoughts evolved into a hurricane in my head. He merely looked at me from over his shoulder, and then turned his attention back toward Jun and Sudou.

The children and their instructor were backed up as much as they could against the wall. They were crying and screaming. The instructor appeared sick with fright.

Maya came up behind me, Ulala on her heels.

"Jun, are you okay!" the raven-haired woman shouted, oblivious to the boy who stood in front of Jun.

Ulala, however, noticed him right away.

"Wh…Who is this tall kid over here?" She looked at Maya, who had just caught Tatsuya's eyes. Her face thinned in colored by at least three shades.

"That's the…'Déjà vu Boy'…" she breathed silently.

"Huh!" Ulala pointed to my brother, "This is the 'Déjà vu Boy!'"

"What!" I shouted, shaking my head. "What's going on…!"

But I didn't get any answers.

"Hyaha…At last, you're here, Maya Amano!" Sudou threw his head back and laughed. He pulled on Jun's shoulder tighter and pointed his own sword at her. "Don't you remember this scene…?" He didn't give her time to reply when he hissed, "Hurry up! Remember!"

"Stop!" Tatsuya shouted at her, eyebrows skirting the tops of his eyes in an arch. "Don't try to remember anything!"

"Idiots! You can't resist your destiny!" Suddenly, I found myself losing my balance. Sudou grinned as the rooftop began to crumble beneath us, "Five, four, three…"

The ground resisted me and violently tossed me from its back. I let out a shout as I toppled off balance and my body rolled toward the center. A giant mouth opened in the center of the roof, which quickly brought my attention back to the matters at hand. Thrusting my foot out, I slowed my descent into the black hole and used my hands to scrape along the roof. I was mentally screaming every prayer I could think of—thinking of the things I had done and hadn't done—things I had left unfinished—

I was no longer moving.

Somehow, I had managed to catch myself, miraculously, and I wasn't about to question how. I looked down and my face widened with horror.

Across the way, I could see Tatsuya's had, too.

"Jump!" he cried out.

My body found unexplainable strength as my reflexes automatically did as I had been commanded. Using my arms, I pushed my body backward like a propeller and landed on the far side of the roof that hadn't collapsed yet. I looked up briefly as my comrades mirrored my actions.

Tatsuya tripped over himself and plummeted into the hole that had formed on the rooftop. I quickly panicked, but could do nothing as I watched my brother tumble through. I wanted to scream—thought I had—but no sound would come. Instead, I flung myself to the ledge of the gaping hole.

Automatic relief embraced me. It was only by the grace of mercy that Tatsuya had been able to grab the ledge. He dangled by one hand, his other grasping his sword. Maya gave a heavy gasp and crawled over to the ledge to help pull him up.

"Tatsuya!" I leaned forward and held out my hand, even though I knew there was no way he could reach me.

We were on opposite sides of the pit after all.

"Stupid…" he growled at Maya and struggled to pull out of her grasp, "Let go!"

"Shut up!" she shouted back at him, "Just hold on, dammit!"

Tatsuya Sudou seized the window of opportunity and walked forward, forcing Jun along with him. I stood up, Ulala and Baofu in suit, and pulled out my gun. Sudou gave Jun a quick glance before pushing him off to the side.

"Hyaaaa—haha! The same as the 'Other Side,' right? Even if you do remember now, it's too late! Die, bitch!"

He raised his sword above his head, prepared to cut Maya into two. Maya whirled her eyes up at him in terror, my brother's face not much different. Ulala and Baofu stumbled back in fear, and I attempted to aim my gun at him. But I couldn't shoot him. The shock…the fear…it was too much. I couldn't even hold the gun steady.

No…Not now…Please not now. He's going to kill her…He's going to kill him…

He's going to kill them both…and there's nothing I can do…

"Noooo!" Jun shouted as he pushed himself to his feet and slammed his body into Sudou's.

Twisting uncomfortably, Tatsuya Sudou lost his balance, losing his sense of overwhelming victory, and fell deep into the dark abyss below him. Everyone gazed after him, jaw agape.

"Uh-Oooooooooooooooooooh!" Sudou's voice reverberated into the hollow abyss, his form eventually fading from sight. "Wh…Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

I edged nearer to stare down into the pit, not sure if what I had just witnessed was reality or a teasing dream. I prayed it was reality. Somehow, a giant weight had been lifted from me. The worst had come to pass, and no one was dead. At least, not anyone devastatingly important to me. If Sudou was dead, then it was for the best.

Except now…I'll never be able to get the answers I wanted from him…

Jun fell to his knees, clutching his head hard. Ulala rushed over to him and Tatsuya pulled himself out of the hole, brushing past Maya. I watched him glare at her as he went.

Breathing heavily and finding the strength to move again, I knelt by her side and asked, "You okay?"

"Yeah," she whispered, but her eyes were still on Tatsuya.

"Can you stand up?" I held out my hand to her.

She didn't say anything, nor did she take my hand. Instead, she pushed her hands against the surface of the rooftop, and pulled herself to her feet, dusting off her skirt. I slowly brought my hand back to my side and stood up myself.

Tatsuya put a hand on Jun's shoulder and lowered his face.

"Unh…unh…unh…" Jun grunted in pain, his hands still clutching his head.

"Don't worry," Tatsuya said softly. "It's not your fault…"

Tatsuya. So this is you. This is where you've been. To think, I've been worried sick about you. What is going on?

With so many thoughts running rampant through my mind, I was hungry for answers, and I wanted them now. Quickly regaining my composure, I stormed over to my brother, ready to force him to face me.

"Tatsuya!" I shouted. "Where were you! What is this all about!"

"Deal with it later!" Baofu looked down at the roof. The fire had finally broken through, much to my distress. "We've got bigger problems…"

Damn! I was so preoccupied with Sudou and my brother, I forgot all about the fire!

"But how do we get out of here!" Ulala cried, flailing her arms.

Tatsuya turned his head to the blimp behind him and began to walk towards it.

"Follow me…" he ordered.

"Hey, you don't think a model will fly…do you?" Baofu's protest was cut short when he saw Tatsuya's face and immediately understood, though he didn't appear convinced by his finding, "…A rumor! You're making it fly by a rumor, huh!"

Tatsuya didn't bother to answer and boarded the blimp instead. Baofu shook his head, sighed, and followed after him, my other comrades close behind. I stayed back and dashed over to the frightened children and their instructor.

"Quickly!" I shouted to the teacher. "Get everyone onto the blimp! This place is going to explode in a few minutes!"

Though I knew she was without understanding, she said nothing in protest, and we both quickly escorted the children onto the blimp.

\/\/\/

Yay. Action.

ML