Summary: Life is full of second chances, but not all mistakes can be corrected. If you were given the opportunity to go back in time and save the one you loved most from dying, would you take it? Even if it meant that person lost their memories of who you are and couldn't return the love that only your heart remembers?
Warning: Long but fairly important Author's Note ahead.
The idea for this project came to me one Saturday after having spent the entire day (well, close to 24 hours) playing Persona 4 . Originally, I had considered not following through with this, as I felt I was copying the idea of another writer on that had written an AkiMina-New Game Plus version of Persona 3.
However, after looking back over the Persona 4 storyline and taking Souji's personality into account, I felt that I would be able to do this without copying what she did. After all, the Persona 3 and 4 storylines were quite different and Souji and Minato were hardly personality twins, so I was left with enough to play around with.
The story itself is somewhat slow at the start, but by chapter four is where things really start to pick up quickly and I start adding in more of my own events and extra scenes (though the 'zero chapter' and the other three before that have small twists to them) will begin to start and the fun begins (at least for me).
Saki Konishi was one of the biggest debates I had about changing around. Souji wouldn't needlessly let someone die, but I doubt he could get to the police station without Dojima being told. I also had to take into account that if Souji suddenly claimed he knew someone was going to die, a lot of questions he wouldn't be able to answer would be asked. So, to any and all Saki fans; I do apologize for not saving her. Yosuke would have lost a lot of his story and starting motivation for the entire case and I'd end up with a mess.
The debate to keep King Mor—ahem—Mr. Mooroka alive shifted both ways, and I wasn't sure what to do with him. I considered simply allowing him to die, but then I thought that would make Souji look bad. However, given that if Mooroka didn't die an entire arc and crucial part of the storyline would disappear, I had to come up with some form of a compromise. I can't say I'm perfectly happy with what I have, but it was better than Souji standing still and saying, "Screw it. Let the man die."
As for Nanako… THAT debate took me the longest. In the end, I figured something out that would work for the favor of this story, without making it look as if Souji didn't care about his cousin, which we all know he does.
This story is written assuming the BAD ENDING. The VERY bad ending, which ends with Nanako dying (and staying dead) and Naoto calling Souji in a panic about the Shadows and the last thing he hears… well… If no one knows what I am talking about, then PM me and I'll provide the YouTube link so that this story makes more sense to you. In fact, I'd recommend watching it… despite the eeriness of it.
Well, now that that is out of the way… Let us move on to what is more important.
Obviously, I don't own Persona 4. If I did, I doubt it would have been a story as amazing as the one we all know and love. However, had I come across the means of having some influence of the story, I can assure you, I would have attempted to make SoujixNaoto cannon (like Minato and Aigis are... sort of.) I only own the storyline for this, which I pray doesn't come out poorly (although the first few chapters will follow the game fairly closely until I have more characters to work with.) Once I reach the start of Kanji's arc, I'll REALLY be able to get into the storyline that I had planned for this.
Standard warnings: language, violence, sexual themes, etc. Nothing you wouldn't expect in a Persona game. This WILL be a SoujixNaoto story, so... yes. If you came here for that, you go Glen Coco. If not, ah, well, that's what you eventually find?
I apologize to anyone who wanted otherwise, but I do hope you are all kind enough to grace me with reading this story anyway… as it took up a good portion of my summer to write. I also neglected studying for a few finals because of this story… but I passed them regardless, in case you wish to know.
I believe I've said everything that needs said. Let's begin, shall we?
Prologue: The Journey Begins
The soft sounds of a car motor running filled the ears of a young silver-haired teenager. A black veil of darkness obscured his vision as he looked around, unnerved at the lack of sight. He was moving, that much he was sure of, but he was equally sure that he'd just been standing on the platform of a train station, surrounded by the smiling faces of friends.
He frowned as he pressed a hand to his eyes and tried to remember the faces clearly, but only blurred masses of color surfaced to his mind. He shook his head, as if willing the images to clarify and form correctly in his mind's eye, but the effect was like throwing water on a chalk drawing. He sighed in frustration and closed his eyes, startling as he leaned back and felt his back hit something soft.
What on…? Opening his eyes, the silverette blinked rapidly, looking around his new settings, clearly startled. He was in a car, a limo from the looks of it. The cushions of the seats were a deep royal blue, glowing faintly in the overhead lighting. Glasses sparkled next to half empty bottles of what appeared to be sake and wine on a table a few feet in front of him on the right side of the vehicle. More bottles sat sealed on two shelves that ran up the length of the left side of the car with a small counter above the shelves.
Looking out the window, the silverette's eyes widened faintly. Where he had expected scenery of some form, he only saw a swirling mist of silver and purple. The mist appeared to be moving past the window, as if the limo, which was obviously in motion, was moving through it.
He shifted his gaze as something moved from the corner of his eyes, finally noticing the presence of the other two in the car. A woman with shoulder length pale blonde hair, held back with a black headband, sat with her head bowed and eyes closed. Next to her, an elderly gentleman with snow white hair that fell down to his shoulders around his head, leaving the top bald, sat with his white-gloved hands clasped tightly together in front of his mouth, nearly completely hidden by a nose that was of an inhuman size. Like the female, his eyes were shut and his head bowed downward.
The car jumped as it hit a bump, and as if the jolt worked as a spark of life, the two moved. First the female; her head straightened and her eyes opened, revealing pale golden orbs. The elderly gentleman moved shortly after she did, lifting his head slowly, closed eyes opening to allow beady-black bloodshot irises to meet the silverette's pale ones. The man grinned, sending an unpleasant shiver down the teen's spine as he stared, unable to pull his gaze away.
"Welcome…" the snow-haired man said in silky voice that was both eerie and familiar at the same time. "…to the Velvet Room."
The silverette blinked, his mouth hanging slightly open as he took in the appearance of the bizarre-looking man. His eyes darted momentarily toward the blonde again before returning his gaze to the male. Have I… meet them before? What is…? This room… I know it, I'm sure of it. I've been here before but… When?
"Ah…" the old man chuckled. "It seems we have a guest with a very interesting destiny. My name is Igor. I am delighted to see you again, young contractor."
The teen frowned, tilting his head in confusion. How did the man know who he was? Another blurred image flickered before his eyes, the colors matching those of the sharp sight before him. Again…? Then... I do know him? But when did I…?
"This place exists between dream and reality, mind and matter… It is a room that only those bound by a 'contract' may enter… It is very possible that such a fate will once again meet you in the near future." The man chuckled again, leaning forward in his seat with interest. "Now then… Why don't you introduce yourself…?"
"…You seem to know who I am already. Wouldn't that mean you already know my name, ah… Igor-san?"
Igor chuckled heartily, nodding slowly.
"My, my… It seems you haven't lost any of your wit or charm in the days that have passed, young Souji Seta. Rather, I should say the days that have gone back."
"Master? Do you… know why this boy was sent here again? Can time really repeat itself like this?"
The old man was silent as he clasped his hands together again, looking at Souji intently. His black eyes moved up and down the silverette, as if carefully taking in the boy's appearance. He smiled faintly and shrugged, looking both amused and excited at the same time.
"Well now, be the answer yes or no, it seems our guest has returned to us and not a day older then the first time he arrived here. Ehehehe… Who knows what sort of wonders this will bring… Although it seems our young contractor has lost his memories of what has happened… Or shall I say, they've been lost in the fog."
Souji blinked, something in the back of his mind sparking at the word 'fog', but nothing would form fully in his head. Pushing the thought back for later, he leaned back in his seat quietly and waited for Igor to continue.
"Well now, let's take a look into your future, shall we?" Igor's smile grew as he waved his hand over the small circular table in front of him once, a deck of glowing blue tarot cards appearing in the center. Several flew off the top of the deck and landed face down in a half-circle around the deck with a second wave. "Do you believe in fortune telling? Each reading is done with the same cards, yet the result is always different. Life itself follows the same principles, doesn't it?"
"…Yeah, strange that." Souji muttered, staring at the facedown cards. Why can't I remember where I've seen all this before…? Those cards… The first one was… Tower, upright.
Reaching for the first card, Igor turned it over, giving the card a look of interest before grinning up at Souji and speaking. "Hm… The Tower, in the upright position represents the near future; it seems a terrible catastrophe is imminent."
Yet he doesn't look upset or worried about this at all… Souji thought dully, fighting the urge to shake his head. Is everything a game to this guy? Anyway… the next should be the… Moon?
"The card indicating the future beyond that is…" The snow-haired man reached for the second card and flipped it over, smiling. "The Moon, in the upright position."
Souji blinked, looking startled as he stared at the cards. I was… right? But how? I've never been in this room, let alone seen those cards before. So why does this all look so…!?
"This card represents 'hesitation' and 'mystery'… Very interesting indeed. It seems you will encounter a misfortune at your destination and a mystery will be imposed upon you once more."
Once more… Again… He keeps speaking as if this is the past. He knows something… but he isn't going to tell me what it is. Frustration danced in Souji's eyes as he stared at the cards, trying to piece together the fogged memories in his mind, but it was like trying to put together the pieces of two separate puzzles when blind.
"In the coming days, you will enter into a contract of some sort, after which you will return here. I'm sure you've already figured this out, but the coming year will be important yet again in your destiny. If the mystery remains unsolved… your future may be forever lost. My duty is to provide assistance for our guests to ensure that this does not happen."
He's doing a fine job… Souji thought bitterly. I don't even think I've boarded the train yet and I'm already as lost as confused as a guy can get…
Sighing softly, Souji returned his attention to Igor as the elder gentleman waved his hands over the cards again, making them disappear. He gestured to the woman next to him, smiling brightly.
"Ah! I have neglected to introduce my assistant to you. This is Margaret. She is a resident of this place, like myself."
"My name is Margaret. I am here to accompany you through your journey." The female spoke up, turning her attention to Souji with a blank look upon her delicate features.
"Margaret…" Souji repeated with a polite nod. Margaret… Margaret… I know the name. But I didn't know anyone named Margaret at my previous schools. Then… I must know her as well.
"We shall attend to the details another time," Igor chuckled, sensing Souji's confusion and frustration with the situation. He waved his hand through the air, and Souji's vision suddenly began to blur, making the silverette panic slightly. "Until then, farewell..."
"I'm tired of diets and going to the gym! Good thing there's something even I can handle!" A giggle followed the peppy female voice, the commercial causing Souji to jerk violently from his thoughts. He blinked slowly, his vision clearing and revealing the floor of a train station.
"And we're back with some juicy news! The Mayumi Yamano scandal. When we first…" The voice of the announcer was drowned out as people standing around the television-covered wall began speaking to one another about the current news broadcast. Behind Souji, two males were speaking rather loudly about the case, talking about the ones involved in a negative light.
Mayumi Yamano… She's a reporter, right? That name… where have I heard it? It wasn't the TV, it was… it was…
"Hey, kid, are you alright?" Souji blinked and turned, giving the man next to him a questioning glance.
"I… beg your pardon?"
"Are you alright? You really zoned out for a minute there. I thought you were gonna fall forward onto the tracks. If you're sick, I can go alert the first-aid station."
"Ah… N-no. I'm alright. I just… have a lot on my mind, that's all. Thanks for your concern."
"…If you're sure, kid. The subway will be here soon. Take it easy, okay?"
"Y-yeah. Thank you, goodbye." Souji shook his head nervously as the man walked off, trying to push away the thoughts that were shoving at the corners of his mind. Was it... all a dream?
A loud squeal of wheels announced the arrival of the subway car. The soft hiss of the breaks followed by a loud beeping signaled that the doors had opened. Souji was pushed forward as people began to board and he found himself unable to obtain a seat as more people pushed inside. He grabbed onto one of the hanging handles as the car began to move and stared dully out the window in front of him, trying to find something to distract himself from reminders of the dark room.
Another year, another school… At least the uniforms for this one are more comfortable. I hated having to wear a tie everyday with the old suit uniforms. A silent, dry laugh escaped the silverette's lips as he stared dully out the window of the fast-moving subway car. They all sounded so upset when the teacher announced I had to leave… but not a single one of them knew much of anything about me beyond my name and that I'd come from Tokyo originally. Heh… It isn't as if my parents know much more than they do. I feel like a rag-doll, tossed into a new pair of arms every year. He sighed softly, leaning back in his chair.
"I suppose it'll be nice to be in a small town this time, rather than a large city. That means less people…" And less people means fewer strings to cut when I leave again. I suppose I'll have to be careful around my Uncle and cousin, but I guess if I can nail myself a small job, that'll solve that problem. They'll just think… I'm shy or something.
Something vibrated in Souji's pocket, pulling him back down to the real world. His hand moved silently into his jacket and produced a black, newly released model of cell-phone. The mini-screen on the front held a picture of an envelope with the number '1' shining brightly in black at the center. He flipped open the phone, briefly reading over the name of the sender.
"Dojima…? That's my Uncle..."
'Meet us outside Yasoinaba Station at 4pm.'
"…Inaba, huh? The countryside… I wonder what it'll be like."
"We will arrival at the Yasogami terminal in a few minutes," a pensive voice announced over the train's PA system. "Passengers headed for Inaba City and Yasoinaba station, please move to the other side of the platform."
That's me… Souji thought as he stood up, reaching for his duffle-bag in the overhead storage rack.
Following the rest of the passengers, Souji slipped off the train with ease and made his way across the cement boarding station and boarded the next train, noting that very few people followed him aboard the train. Guess the countryside isn't that popular. Go figure.
Finding a seat in a car alone, Souji tossed his duffle into the overhead rack again and sat down, draping his arm lazily over the armrest. He sighed heavily, leaning forward faintly in his seat to get a better view of the world outside. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I just didn't get off the train… Would anyone notice? Would anyone care? If I could just keep riding forever…
Souji couldn't help but take note of how calming everything looked as the cities began less and less complicated. The buildings were becoming more spread apart and nature slowly filling the gaps between them. The scenery disappeared as the train went into a tunnel, leaving Souji with only the light of the white florescent headlamps above him.
The silver eyes never left the dark shadows outside the train and he suddenly felt himself growing tired. His eyes flickered shut briefly, his shoulders relaxing as his retinas were spared the harsh light of the lamps. The darkness behind his eyelid quickly disappeared as staticky, yet sharp images flashed before his mind. A woman dressed in blue with pale blonde hair and an old gentleman with white gloves, snowy hair, and a large nose. The images looked as if they'd come from a TV channel with poor signal and yet…
His eyes snapped open again, widening as he stared at the empty seat in front of him, the deep blue material of the seat giving him an eerie reminder of the 'room' he'd been sitting in before even boarding the subway.
"W-what the hell…?" he muttered, feeling a bead of sweat roll down his cheek. "What on earth was-?"
The train-car was suddenly filled with natural light again and the few remaining buildings that had been something of a small city were gone. Trees and dirt had replaced the buildings and roads, surrounded by the lively green grass that almost looked as if it were a brilliant orange under the glow of the setting sun.
The car began to shake slightly as it passed over a white marble bridge, and Souji felt the pace he was traveling at slow. Guess I'm here…
He stood up and grabbed his duffle, glancing briefly at his leather wristwatch. Right on time… He thought as the train came to a stop and the doors opened. Four-o-clock exactly..
"Yasoinaba. Yasoinaba." A man announced over the PA as he stepped off the train, glancing around slowly.
The station was clean and well kept, but empty. Its older look implied that not many people left or entered the area, which didn't surprise the silverette at all.
Shouldering his duffle-bag, he took in a deep breath before exhaling slowly, preparing himself for yet another year of disappointment.
Get ready, Souji. Just take the first step and get over. What's one more year? Live and move on. You'll be leaving before you know it and be tossed into another box. After all… you're just a rag-doll, waiting to be thrown into someone else's toy box for a year.
Beta's Note: Despite her misgivings, Naoto (FortunesRevolver) has graciously allowed me (Chie, if you need a name to call me by) a Beta's Note. I'll keep it short. All I really want to say is… €URO. Thank you, and good night.
Author's Note: Chie (ToastedWhiskers), after reading your obviously long-thought out Beta's note, I have carefully pieced together a response for you.
The steak is a lie, and I ate yours. Please look forward to the next chapter, everyone.
Chie: Naoto, after reading your lies (the steak is never a lie), I have decided to grace you with a response.
California rolls. I have them. I am eating them. They are yummy.
Please ignore my idiocy and enjoy the next chapter, all.
Naoto: Chie… I wish many empty Yosuke-wallets upon you.
Chie: Nonsense, I use his money to buy you sushi.
Naoto: That is of no threat… I have Senpai's wallet.