A/N: Indirect spoilers for P3 ending and P4 through October.
The ride to Port Island is horrible. It's hot and stuffy inside his suit, the train stops at every station even though they all look the same, and he finds out that if humans think something looks out of place, they immediately want to throw it away. By the time he arrives, he's exhausted. He's sitting on the ground beside the station steps, hollow suit standing next to him, when a girl in black walks up.
She's pretty. Her fur - wait, hair - is the same colour as Kanji's but as long as Yosuke's, and her eyes are even bluer than Naoto-kun's. The headphones she's wearing are a lot like Yosuke's too. He thinks he should say hello - try out the sparkles, girls always like that - when she stops in front of him and just looks.
Sensei's told him not to stare at people, but maybe nobody ever told this girl, so he does instead. She keeps doing it even after he's explained and it feels like she's staring inside him, tugging out all the thoughts and pictures he's been cramming in to fill the hollow spaces, then setting them out in straight and perfect lines.
After what feels like forever, she turns and walks away, footsteps clanking against stone.
When the sound dies away, Teddie climbs back in his suit.
Finding the hotel takes ages, mostly because two policemen stop him just after he leaves the station and ask a bunch of weird questions. Teddie doesn't quite see what they're getting at - and frankly it's rude, the way they keep glancing at each other while he talks - but the conversation ends with him agreeing to carry his suit the rest of the way. "And stay away from the school," the tall one adds.
When Teddie tells them they don't need to worry, he's looking for the Seaside Clamshell Inn, they do more staring.
His suit's way too heavy when he's not inside and he doesn't reach the hotel until a long, long time later, but Sensei and the others still aren't there. Unfortunately, Teddie isn't that great at telling the time and the schedule he borrowed from Yosuke's desk isn't much use. There are stairs zigzagging up the side of the building opposite, all the way to the roof, so he climbs out of his suit and goes up there to look for everyone.
There's somebody already standing at the top, next to the ledge overlooking the street. They're in a black dress and they have blond hair - and when they turn around, it's the girl from the train station.
Hello, Teddie says. Is she following him?
"You do not belong here."
That's right, he tells her. He lives in Inaba and he's just here on a school trip. Except he doesn't actually go to school, that's just his friends, who don't know he's here and didn't exactly invite him - but that's fine, he adds, nobody's going mind an amazingly handsome bear like him showing up.
The girl's face doesn't change. "This is not your world."
It is now, Teddie answers. He has two.
For a long time, she just looks at him again - and he has that same feeling as before, all the threads holding him together unraveling.
"That will not last," she finally says. Then she walks past him and down the steps.
Wherever Sensei and the others are, they must be having fun, because they haven't come back. And the roof's getting really boring. Yosuke's given him money for emergencies and Teddie's pretty sure that's what he's having right now, so he consoles himself by buying eleven Topsicles from a street stall and sitting on a bench to eat them. He makes it far as Explosive Coconut before the girl comes back.
"I wish to speak with you again," she tells him.
So, she is following him. Must be because he's a hot stud, he says, and gives her his brightest, most sparkling smile.
"No. My purpose is to destroy you."
Oh, says Teddie.
There's only so much he can learn from television shows while Yosuke's at school, and usually it's all just humans shouting at each other anyway (Yosuke's told him they're arguing about scoring.) Since everyone at Junes likes him, he makes sure to go there every day, even when he isn't supposed to, and talk with as many people as he can. Especially the pretty girls. None of them ever started a conversation like this.
He asks: Is she going to do it?
"No. I am… something different now. My intentions now overrule my instructions. But I know what you are. And I wish to discuss that."
He's just a bear, he tells her. He came from the television. He isn't sure about the rest.
"That is inaccurate. You already know - as did he."
Teddie, who's been trying not to remember anything, stares at his hands, each finger stained multicolored with Topsicle juice.
After they rescued Rise-chan, one memory came back. Something dark and cold and lonelier than he ever felt between Sensei's visits, something that makes his skin crawl and fur bristle. Something he's terrified would prove his Shadow right.
He asks the girl how she knows.
"I was created to destroy Shadows." When he cringes, she shakes her head. "But you are something more than that, while still something less than human." She looks down at him, arms locked straight at her sides. "I wish to know how that occurred."
Teddie shifts over on the bench, and offers her a Garrulous Grape Topsicle.
Twenty-seven-point-six minutes later - at least, that's what the girl says when he asks - he's eaten all the Topsicles and bought another eight. Emergencies are expensive, but the stall-holder's happy and it gives Teddie something to do while the girl asks her questions. She's got almost as many as the policemen.
"My physiology does not necessitate the consumption of organic matter," she says, when he tries to share a Hedonistic Orange.
Her and Naoto-kun should chat together. They could swap big words. Teddie isn't sure what she's saying though, so he holds out the grape one again.
The girl's hands stay in her lap. "Neither does yours."
Teddie patiently points out the Topsicles are melting all over his shirt, and does she want a lemon one before he eats them all? He's forgotten the name, something about supernovas.
"You are built of human flesh, but you are…" She pauses. "…not one. How?"
He just thought about it until it was true. He didn't have anything to do but think after they rescued Rise-chan and the others left him behind. So he just put the picture in his head and kept it there. Simple.
Maybe she could try it too, he adds. It wouldn't hurt.
The girl stares straight ahead. "And it would solve nothing. You are not the first to make that choice."
Then she stands up to leave - but when she says goodbye, she calls him the wrong name. Something that sounds a little bit like 'Kanji' but isn't. When Teddie asks, she just calls it 'momentary data-bank corruption', whatever that is.
"A consequence of change," she tells him, just before she walks away.
Port Island's a pretty neat place, though it'd be much better if it hadn't spent a whole evening swirling round his head. By the next day, Yosuke still hasn't gotten tired of complaining at him and Sensei just rolls his eyes every time - but even so (and after he asks six times in a row) they agree to take him back to the shopping mall. Inaba doesn't need a mall because it's got Junes and Teddie really doesn't remember much of last night, so he wants to see this place properly before he goes home.
It's not that exciting; not as colorful or loud as Junes and there aren't as many people. It just feels like a bunch of little boxes inside a bigger one. But the game arcade is great (even if Yosuke wants to spend forever there) and the karaoke bar looks fun (even though Sensei won't let him sing.)
The best part, though, is the big fountain in the centre. Teddie isn't sure why, but the sound of the water splashing is familiar. It reminds him of interesting smells he can't place and things that feel like the colour green.
Sensei gives him a coin. "Throw it in the water," he says, "and make a wish."
Yosuke folds his arms and sighs. "And just so you know, Ted, cute girls don't live in wishing fountains."
One coin isn't enough - Teddie's got a lot of things he wants, even if Yosuke just ruined the best one - but he'll just ask Sensei for more if the first one works. He walks around the fountain, carefully studying the metal glittering at the bottom. So carefully, he walks straight into a wooden bench and trips over one arm.
They've bumped into each other a lot lately, so he isn't surprised to land at the blond girl's side.
He grins up at her and tells her Yosuke was wrong, fountains do have cute girls in them. Or next to them, anyway.
The sparkles don't work this time either, but she does nod. "Hello, Teddie."
The girl doesn't bubble like Rise-chan and she doesn't talk with her hands like Chie-chan. They just stay in her lap, so maybe she's like Yuki-chan - except she isn't shy, she's careful. Like there's too much energy inside her. Teddie also doesn't remember telling her his name, but at least she used the right one this time.
"Are you having fun?" she asks. Even though her voice is the same - flat and metal, but it doesn't glitter like the coins in the water - this conversation's already going much better than the last.
A lot, he says. He doesn't even mind walking into a bench if it means landing on pretty girls like her.
She smiles. It doesn't look real but it's nice of her to try. "I met a boy twelve years ago. Again, ten years after that. You are like him. But you are not him."
Is he supposed to apologize? Teddie's used to not being exactly what he should (or wants) but the girl seems disappointed.
"I have… changed since his departure. Another boy was able to--" She stops short. "I do not know if these changes are good. Before, the absence of others had no meaning."
Teddie thinks he needs to do something here, just like Sensei would; hug her, maybe, or just pat her shoulder. He's still trying to decide when Sensei calls out his name. Then somebody's arms are around his waist and dragging him back from the fountain, Yosuke's talking quickly at the girl - sorry, just my kid brother, he's a total moron - stop squirming, Ted! - and he doesn't have chance to try anything.
He doesn't tell Sensei about the girl. It'd mean saying a lot of other things his friends wouldn't like.
Instead, he goes with them to eat lunch. After talking with the girl Teddie feels like staying in his suit, even though Yosuke says bears don't belong in noodle shops, so that's what he does. He also eats way, way too much and Kanji has to roll him on his side to the train station. Fortunately, Sensei's really good at explaining things to policemen.
Just like he expects, the girl's waiting on the platform. But she looks at Sensei first, for a long time, like she's figuring something out. Then she looks at Naoto-kun, and even though her face still stays the same there's something different, something that makes his fur stand on end. Maybe they already met. Maybe the girl's mad because Naoto-kun knew more words.
Finally, she looks at Teddie, mostly because he walks right up to her and says hello.
"She is not him. Neither is the wild card," the girl says, staring over his shoulder. "Just as you are not Ryoji."
None of that makes any sense, so Teddie decides to ignore it. Besides, she's probably not going to get on the train and he won't get to come back here for a long time, so he needs to say goodbye. It isn't something he's done before. Maybe he's supposed to thank her for not killing him; overriding her intentioned instructions or whatever. But he doesn't think she would've anyway - pretty girls don't hurt handsome boys - so he just tells her that he's going home, and that if she wants to give her favourite hot stud a final smooch, it's now or never.
"Stud," the girl repeats. "You have employed that term previously. Please define it."
Teddie shrugs and tells her it's something to do with scoring, she should ask Yuki-chan. Then he leans forward on tiptoes and kisses her on the cheek.
He knows what he is, he says. But he can be something different, too. So can she.
He hoped she'd blush, even giggle a little - he's an awesome kisser, or he might be - but based on what he's figured out she probably can't do that. Instead, she just nods. "I am already different. Whether good or bad, change is unavoidable." She pauses. "I hope your story ends better than his, Teddie."
The train horn sounds and Yosuke grabs his arm. "C'mon, Ted, quit bothering people. Sorry, ma'am," he adds to the girl, then drags Teddie through the train doors. Inside, Teddie quickly jumps on the seat, then crawls towards the window, ignoring Kanji's growls and Rise-chan's squeaks, and presses his palms against the glass.
The girl's still standing on the platform watching - and, as the train starts to pull away, she raises her hand and waves.