Disclaimer: I do not own Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, or Devil Summoner as most of the characters within this story as they belong to Atlus.

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Veluti In Speculum

Chapter 24: Mirror

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"Daddy! Mommy said you have mail from a friend!"

Souji blinked, turning his head. Sure he got mail every day, but for his daughter to say it was specifically from a friend... He walked into the house and found his daughter standing there with the said envelope in hand. She giggled as he took it and then ran off. He looked down, surprised at how heavy it was and opened it without reading the return address. He unfolded the letter and began to read:

Greetings Senpai:

It has been a few years, hasn't it? I'm afraid training has kept me busy. You'll be surprised how much needs to be done and how many are attending these seminars. We study methods of capturing demons, sword techniques, and how to properly care for guns. There are too many things to really list right now and they become quite difficult as we progress. The Herald's training too seemed simple at first, but she really didn't have to toss those first couple of binds on me while I was trying to focus.

I'm surprised how well the school out here is. I say it could equal any private school in a major city. Detective classes focus on both simple and complex analyzes of very basic things like a person's body language. I'm ashamed to admit this, but during class, I realized that Kanji-kun was infatuated with me by several demonstrated nervous gestures our teacher showed us. He showed all of them in our first-year. Don't you tell anyone or else Rise will be on my case.

Moving on from detective classes, we've been studying gods and demons as well as taking simple cases such as capturing new demons and recording their data. Gouto introduced me to an interesting and very eccentric man who goes by the name Dr. Victor. He taught me about demon fusion which he has supposedly perfected over years beyond my comprehension. Do I dare try finding out how old he is? I'll leave it for someone else to dig into. Still, if Gouto knows him very well, then he must be very old.

Here in the village, I met my cousins for the first time. Geirin Kuzunoha the 23rd is a foreigner from Australia. He speaks with a heavy accent and he's been hitting on the current Naoki Kuzunoha. I don't know how long they've been at it, but Geirin needs a few more years of training. I don't want to be the one telling him that while Naoki has a very feminine face, he's definitely male. Kyouji and I can only look on and sigh. That reminds me; Kyouji is female as well. She's currently the 15th in line and she's like a very close sister to me. Minato seems jealous about it.

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you how he's doing. Besides still being trapped as a demon, he's doing well. We request for every March 5th to return to Iwatodai and visit his friends. They can see him surprisingly, but I suppose it's because they were persona-users. Yes, were. Their souls have settled and they can't summon Personas anymore. I suppose it was inevitable or can you still summon Izanagi if you try?

Well, as I write this (wrote since you're reading it now I suppose), I'm heading towards Inaba. I wish to speak with the fox at the shrine. One of my newly acquired demons will assist in the communication; mind reading and that entire sort. By the way, I require everyone's updated phone numbers. I'd like to stay in communication more often now that training is almost over. By the way, have you heard from my grandfather? I have a terrible feeling that since he's now retired, he's trying to find a betrothal for me. Looks like you got lucky by getting married.

Wishing you and your family the best,

Raidou Kuzunoha the 19th

Naoto Shirogane

"Lucky…" Souji murmured, but then sweat dropped. Married or not, her grandfather had come by last week. Oh boy…

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She brushed a few strands of hair behind her ear as she stepped off the train, resetting her hat upon her head. Her arms disappeared under a black cape draping her shoulders, obscuring the tan vest she wore and the sword fastened to her waist. A gun was snugly placed in a holster on her vest as well, several sealed tubes stored nearby. From under the cloak, a black cat padded out, unnoticed by the traffic coming from the train and looked around.

"So, the Tatsuhime Shrine. It's in the Northern Shopping District if I remember correctly."

"You want me to check a map?"

Her eyes darted over to a small, bug-like boy hovering next to her shoulder, butterfly wings fluttering occasionally to keep him airborne. Silently, she nodded and he flew off, not even bothering to dodge the people. He just flew threw them like a ghost, going ahead to scout. Fur brushed against her arm and she raised a hand, setting it upon a giant wolf's head, "Calm Fenrir… I know you don't like being ignored, but we can't speak in public."

"I CANNOT BE WITHOUT ACTIVITY FOR TOO LONG," the wolf demon replied, unnoticed too by public eye as well.

"We have to speak with the Inari spirit at the shrine. The Herald said it was of top priority," the woman replied, resting a concealed hand on her hip. "If it's nothing of too great importance, we'll go find something to entertain you."

Fenrir howled, satisfied just as the small, butterfly-like demon returned, "Yes, it's still in the Northern District. Our memory after all that training isn't as bad as first thought, is it, Naoto?"

Naoto raised her head, gazing at the blue bug, "Come now, Minato. It's been years since we've been to Inaba. I had heard rumors that the shrine might be taken down as a child. I never received news it was still intact."

"The Herald would've said if it had been destroyed or moved," Minato replied, sitting down on her shoulder. She just rolled her eyes and stepped off the station platform.

"I do sense a slight disturbance in the air here… what about you Gouto?"

The black cat that had been tailing her blinked calmly, ears twitching.

"I do smell the weak presence of a demon, but several linger as well. I have a feeling it might be your friends with their personas."

"Mhm… that's a possibility. Could be the dreg remainder of Izanami as well," she whispered as they walked down the side walk. What little people around stepped out of her way as she walked, gawking at her appearance and attire while others raised eyebrows questionably. As they passed a gaggle of schoolgirls, they gasped, whispering hurriedly. A few had red blooming onto their faces. Naoto shook her head, smirking, "They've mistaken me for a male. I have been gone for too long…"

"Well, you're hiding an excess amount of hair behind your cloak collar and you bound your chest. What do you think they'll assume?"

"Just like old times if you ask me…" Minato commented.

She smiled, but then Fenrir let out an irritable growl. She rolled her eyes, "Right, right, back on with the mission. You need to go into your tube for now anyway."

"YOU SHOULD'VE DONE THAT EARLIER!" the wolf snapped. Naoto grumbled under her breath and pulled out Fenrir's tube. In a blinding flash of green, he withdrew to his tube. She slipped it away and drew another, the top unsealing at her touch. More green as another demon appeared, a snake draped over this female figure's shoulders.

She smiled, "Ah, summoner. Is there something you need of me?"

"In time Lilith…" Naoto replied and trailed as her phone started to go off several times. Text messages? She reached into her pocket and drew it out, flipping it open. Seven messages from several unfamiliar numbers. She started reading with the first one.

Hey Naoto. Got your letter. So, are you in town now? Should we have a get together at the 'headquarters'?

-Souji

Naoto-kun, Souji-kun told me about your letter. You should stop by the Inn and visit, or are you staying for a while? We always have a room open for you.

-Yukiko

Just heard the news! Coming back to Inaba, eh? Make sure you swing by Junes I'll definitely give you a discount.

-Yosuke

Really, you're back! Wow! You'll have to tell us everything you can about your training! Oh, and we need to tell you about everything that happened here too!

-Chie

Omg! Naoto, r u seriously coming 2 Inaba!? We need 2 get 2gether and do sumthing! Btw, I have sum new songs 4 u to hear!

-Rise

Senpai said you were back in town or coming back… something like that. I-I mde something. Maybe I can give it to you while you're visiting?

-Kanji

HeY! Yosuke is teching mw how to txt! How r u Nao_chan? Its ben a bear-y long tiem. Lets hav a party!

-Teddie

"Seems like they haven't forgotten at all about you," Minato said quietly as Naoto stared at the phone. Lilith giggled.

"With our summoner's charm, how could anyone forget her?"

"… Naoto, why are you silent over this?"

"… Is it strange for me to be as such? I guess I'm just surprised… it's been several years; I figured they would've moved on instead of waited. Now we're just dawdling… hurry, to the shrine," she said suddenly and continued forward. Minato, Lilith, and Gouto exchanged glances, but followed after Naoto.

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Calmly, Naoto approached the gold-plated offering box at the Tatsuhime Shrine. She looked around for a moment, but then pulled out a ten-thousand yen bill and slipped it into the box. At once, she felt a presence staring at her and looked up. An orange blur leapt from the top of the shrine roof, landing behind Naoto and her small party.

"Yip!"

"And good day to you, Inari spirit," Naoto said, smiling faintly. The fox raced around them before stopping and yowling with delight. Gouto jumped as a wet nose nudged him.

"The Inari spirit has kids… lovely. Hey! Ow! My tail is NOT a chew toy!"

The fox sat down and stared up at Naoto. She looked over at Lilith, "Please, translate her thoughts for me."

"As you wish, summoner," Lilith replied and raised her hands.

A soft voice started speaking, but it was hard to say if it was male or female as it said, "I'm glad my message reached Yatagarasu, summoner. There was a wish that I was hoping you could fulfill on one of my emas. It might seem very petty compared to many of your cases, but I assure you, it is vital to yourself as Naoto Shirogane."

"An ema? Well, I suppose I'll see if I can answer it," Naoto replied. The fox reared onto its hind paws, howling and dashed over to the Shrine. It disappeared for a moment before returning with a wooden ema. Naoto took it from the fox's mouth and examined the hand writing. It was clean, with a few loops. Wait, it seemed familiar…

This is my first time wishing, but here it goes. A young acquaintance has gone missing and some really close people are getting worried. Please, help us find her.

"... Where should we being Minato? … Minato?"

"It has already been fulfilled," the Fox said and yowled happily. Naoto blinked, but then stumbled as someone latched onto her back.

"I found Naoto-kun!"

"R-Rise-chan!" Naoto gasped, almost falling forward. Lilith laughed and disappeared into her tube despite not being un-summoned.

"Thank you very much, Kirijo-san. She didn't recognize it at all."

"Not at all, Seta-kun."

Naoto looked back, eyes widening under her hat as her friends stepped out from behind the trees. Souji, Yukiko, Yosuke, Chie, Rise, Kanji and Teddie, but her new friends were there as well: Yukari, Aigis, Junpei, Fuuka, Akihiko, Mitsuru, Ken, and Koromaru.

"W-What just happened?" Naoto asked, confused.

Mitsuru smiled as she cradled an infant with silver hair, "Your friends contacted us a few years back, mentioning that they missed you. We started planning this with Gouto, Koromaru and Aigis translating for us."

"Yatagarasu knows very well that friends are important amongst summoners. The Herald thought it would be good as well. You deserve a break just like any other human."

"… So, this was a set up mission?"

"Don't sound sour! Your grandpa and Yakushiji-san planned a party to go with it," Chie said, smiling, "And you gotta tell me what summoner training is like. Do you have conditioning like martial arts? Do you sit under a waterfall to work on concentration?"

"You have to meet Sakuya-chan too," Yukiko said, smiling, "She's been excited to meet one of her aunts for the first time."

"Shinji's probably shifty being alone with her," Akihiko commented, shaking his head with a grin.

Fuuka smiled, "I think his nervousness comes from you, senpai."

Naoto was silent, but blinked as she heard Minato's voice:

"Naoto, they are your strength too… you're hope to them. You're forever bonded with them…"

Regal, white uniform top, blue pants and black boots, the winged figure landed on the ground, rising to his full height, his helm glinting in the sun. Though the name 'Yamato-Takeru' came to Naoto's mind, as the gloved hands removed the large almost beak-like helm, Minato looked back at her, smiling as he tossed his hair a bit, "We're bonded too. Summoner and demon, Persona-user and Persona, brother and sister… however you want it to be. I'm part of your soul, a mirror and I can feel your bonds."

He turned, looking at his old friends, shock written on their faces. His smile never left as he turned, his eyes connecting with his sister's. It was repaired; the glass that always broke in her dreams. She smiled, nodding, "I understand… let's go."

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Me: This concludes Veluti In Speculum. I'll be back after working on a few other things. Until Next time my readers.