Author's Note: This fic is based on the games Persona III: FES and Persona IV. It's a crossover, but centers on the P4 cast and includes spoilers flying in from every direction. It's based on the best endings for both games and takes place in 2016. Also, to make it clear, it's written under the assumption that Souji dated none of the four main girls. Amazing or pathetic? You decide.
A note on Japanese culture: I am sure I got details wrong. Feel free to let me know. I may or may not change the details depending on how it affects the fic, but I always like to know where I goof up.
Disclaimer: The Shin Megami Tensei series is the property of Atlus. Rating is for language, strong violence and suggestive themes. Some content may be disturbing and/or triggering.
The kid came from the city, Michaels decided as he watched him step off the train, one shoe making a light tap against the pavement. He was overdressed for a casual outing, a blue peacoat over his thin frame, a cap pulled low on his forehead. Crisp black collar and silver tie, pressed black trousers. Platform boots that, with the hat, were probably worn to make him appear taller (kid was barely five feet to begin with). A black cord swung from the right pocket and belt loop, hitting the thigh as he walked. For a kid who was that good at staying hidden, he sure didn't know how to blend in.
Michaels waited, watching as the boy made his way through the outflow from the train into the dirty red-bricked station. The kid didn't move his head from left to right as he searched; the cap's visor hid his eyes. As he drew nearer, Michaels took in the dark hair that fell to the back of his collar, the fine-lined jaws and lips. How old was this brat? Sixteen? Fourteen? Michaels tapped the toe of his boot, then made himself stop.
And he waited until the boy was within twenty yards before breaking into a grin and strolling forward. "Well, Josh, looks like you made it in one piece."
The boy didn't even check his stride, putting on a slight smile. "Hello, Uncle Mark." His voice didn't give Michaels much clue to his age; it was deep enough that his voice had obviously already broken, but...it somehow didn't seem really that deep. He spoke with a British accent and the precise inflection of a non-native English speaker. That was something of a surprise. Suspicious even. One didn't want to find surprises when meeting a contact.
A real uncle might have clapped his nephew on the shoulder, but Michaels decided to forgo that note of authenticity, keeping about two feet between himself and the boy. "Car's this way," he said, leading them under the train station's arch, between walls ragged with old advertisements. "What did you think of the city? How's your mom?"
"The city is intriguing," Josh said smoothly. No one they passed seemed to stop to listen to them, but the kid knew enough to keep up the act, hands in pockets, shoulders angled with relaxation. "And Mother's well, she sends you her love."
"Good, good." Michaels escorted the boy to his small gray sedan, gesturing for him to get his own door. The boy hesitated - or did he just pause to take in the view of the parking lot? - before sliding inside. Michaels didn't speak as he started the car. In the silence, he could hear, just barely, the boy's heartbeat going too fast. Well then. Kid was nervous. Served him right.
This place would be some letdown for a British brat just come from the city. Michaels didn't comment as they drove through the decrepit industrial center. Small townhouses crouched in the shadows of abandoned brick factories, their roofs dingy, small front yards dotted with bright plastic play sets.
"Good trip?" Michaels asked, his voice pitched lower. The only chance of them being overheard was if the kid were bugged, were in fact an enemy plant. Still, it signaled that it was time to drop the pretense.
"I was followed," the boy said flatly, facing forward.
Michaels already knew that, but he showed no sign of it. "How far?"
"At least to the train station. I don't know if they got on when I did."
"What, got distracted? Checking your hair in the mirror?"
No trace of annoyance in the boy's voice, just that smooth recital. "It seemed imprudent to seek them out. It would only draw attention to myself."
Michaels fell into silence, half planning his next move, half trying to think of a jab that would hit home. "Might've tried fitting in better. I don't know how they dress in England, but you look like a girl."
Maybe that jab hit. At least, the boy turned slightly towards him. Glancing, he finally saw the boy's eyes under his visor - long and blue with thick, short lashes.
Michaels cleared his throat. "The information you have better be worth it."
"I confess, this is out of my normal line of work," the kid said softly.
"Hell, I don't want to know what your normal line of work is." He again glanced at the handsome boy, then away.
"If my client were not so insistent, I wouldn't have come at all," the kid went on.
Without preamble, Michaels turned down a narrow street between an empty video rental store and a silent daycare. He pulled into the parking lot behind both buildings. Aside from a rusty minivan, they were alone. Michaels jerked his key out of the ignition, gesturing for the boy to get out. He was quick to oblige.
Michaels snapped his fingers - stopped himself - and took a deep breath. "Okay, kid."
The kid was watching him warily, moving to keep the car between the two of them. "Okay."
"You're here because of the Kirijo bitch."
"Yes. I assumed the same could be said of you." The kid sidestepped around the sedan's bumper. Aside from that, he wasted no movement.
"Yeah, well you just made an ass of yourself, not me."
Uncertainty jumped in the boy's eyes. Ah, had the jab finally hit a nerve?...Or had the prick just not understood the English pun? Damn.
"I take it that you are a plant within the Kirijo Group?" The boy's eyes slid back towards the road, probably looking for an escape.
"Don't try to talk your way out of this. I have no problem with Mitsuru Kirijo. It's you I want to talk about."
The boy's tone shifted; less wary, it was suddenly businesslike, authoritative. "I am very interested in whatever you have to say."
"I know Ms. Kirijo has enemies in the UK. We had a brush with some of them half a year ago."
The boy opened his mouth, then seemed to change his mind and kept quiet.
Heat prickled along the back of Michaels' neck, irritating as a rash. "What?"
"There's been a great deal of turbulence in the Kirijo Group's international branches, particularly the American," the boy said. "I have very little information on you and so must assume you've only recently shouldered this new responsibility." He glanced around the parking lot. "Seeing as you're interrogating people on the same side as you."
"Cut the crap. You don't know anything about me because I don't want people like you to know. You, however, clearly were trained in the UK, and you clearly come from some other country, you're ten years old and -" And then he sighed and gestured dismissively. "Dammit, what am I doing?"
The boy arched his thin eyebrows.
Michaels shook his head and leaned forward, bracing his hands against the hood of the car, looking down into its lusterless surface. And trusting that the kid would be too surprised to try anything. The kid stayed put, watching him. Michaels let the silence build, then sighed more heavily. "C'mon, kid, tell me what I'm doing?" And when the boy didn't answer, Michaels straightened, shoving his hands to his pockets. "I'm grilling Encyclopedia Brown. I tell you, kid, we're going crazy here. Queen Bitch Kirijo changes her plans at a moment's notice, we've been in seven different cities in three months, and half our contacts are stooges when they aren't BSing. And what do I expect from you? C'mon, kid, what's going to be? Some false lead or just half-assed bullshit?"
The boy hadn't moved throughout, eyes narrowed as he processed the flow of English. After a moment, he raised one eyebrow. There was some wariness in his expression, but also - mostly, in fact - contempt.
Michaels narrowed his own eyes, dropping the casual persona that had failed to put the boy at ease and adopting one more suited to his present mood. "Shut the hell up. What information do you have? What's a kid like you doing in this business anyway?"
The boy's wariness shifted to impassivity. "Is my age really germane to this discussion?"
"It's like you're some sort of..." Michaels searched his mind, but he hadn't really been thinking clearly, ever since realizing the "nephew" he'd arranged to meet was a third of his age. "...poser. You with that cabby hat." He laughed. "Let me guess, you're carrying a switchblade. Or nail-clippers. Got a temporary tattoo under that jacket?" He stepped around the car.
To his surprise, the boy didn't move away. "This line of inquiry is entirely useless."
"All I know, kid, is that none of my people could dig anything up on you. Not where you're staying, not where you're from, or who trained you, or who you've worked for. Queen Bitch keeps dossiers on all her trusted employees, which means there's a little problem here. If there's no dossier on you, but you've got some of milady's secrets, I'm thinking there'd better be no information left about you. At all."
He was looking for some fear in the boy's response, but he didn't get it. The boy grimaced. "As I said, this is outside of my customary line of work. I wouldn't be here at all but for -" And he cut off.
"Out of your line of work, right? Is that how you got in with Kirijo? I hadn't pegged you as the type women would go for." The boy half-smiled at that, eyes grim. Michaels didn't like that smile. He had the distinct feeling he was being...lame. "Stop acting tough, bitch. You aren't talking your way out of this, and you sure as hell aren't going back to England. Forget seeing Queen Kirijo. You can drop the pretty accent and the Frankenstein shoes and the chain. I'm not impressed."
Impatience tightened the corners of the boy's eyes, and he glanced down at the black cord on his belt. "It's not a chain. And I see you're here to do nothing but waste my time."
That seemed to be a nerve - half a nerve. "Your watch chain then. Or -" Vaguely, he recalled some old movies he'd seen. "Or it's your monocle? Chip chip cheerio! All you Brits wear 'em?"
The boy drummed his fingers against his right thigh, just above the cord. "You're ridiculous."
Michaels' eyebrows jumped. It was past time to end this. He took a step forward.
Before he'd realized it, the kid had pulled a gun, the black length of the cord dropping from the grip.
And pulled the trigger.
The boy watched Michaels fumble backwards, almost as if he was slipping on ice, before he fell to the cement. The gun had been aimed at his sternum, the bullet lodging inside. The boy flipped the safety and dropped the gun back into his pocket, gazing down at the corpse.
As expected, it did not bleed.