"So, are you going to let us out or what?" Ryoji stepped back from the bear, giving him a bit a room.
"...Err..." Teddie looked away, embarrasedly. "...No."
"Excuse me?" Minato blinked.
"I won't let you out unless you promise me something..." Teddie looked away from both of their questioning gazes.
"And that would be?" asked Minato nonchalantly as he shoved his hands in his pockets.
"I want you to help me get rid of the fog..." Teddie gestured to the sweltering yellow fog overhead. "...It wasn't always like this you know. It used to be really pretty a while back."
"That's kind of hard to imagine."
"...But it's true." Teddie shuddered. "It was just fine a while ago, until that girl fell in here... I wonder who pushed her inside?"
"Wait, so she was pushed inside a TV?"
"Well, it actually does make sense, because we did come here through a TV." Ryoji still was looking around the premises. "It's rather peculiar. If you know that she was pushed inside the TV, has something like this happened in the past before?"
"...It was just a couple of days ago too. The fog just came back." Teddie cringed. "That's why I'm asking you if you can help me."
"...I'd like to help, but I can't." Minato sighed. "If you got rid of the fog before, then why don't you and your friends go-"
"...They don't remember." Teddie said solemnly.
"I just went to visit all of them before I went in here." Teddie heaved a heavy sigh. "I don't know why... but most of them acted as though they hadn't even met me before... and I can't contact Sensei."
"Sensei?" Minato repeated.
"He's my Sensei... he's the one who beat Izanami, and got rid of the fog." Teddie mumbled dejectedly. "He was really strong, because he could summon several personas. I only have Kamui."
"Really?" Ryoji asked with mild interest as he glanced around the fog. "And I suppose this Sensei of yours was the leader of your group of friends?"
"Yeah... How did you know that?"
"Oh, just a feeling." Ryoji said as he smirked smugly at Minato. "So, you mind taking us out of here?"
"I will... only if you help me get rid of the fog."
Minato and Ryoji exchanged glances. Minato broke eye contact, and sighed quietly. This wasn't his problem. Yet, he was getting dragged into this mess; one that had nothing to do with him. At the moment, his priority was getting Kioku out of here, and to find out what the ordeal Igor spoke so enigmatically about. He sighed again.
"...I..." Minato glanced at Ryoji again. In response, Ryoji gave one of his trademark smiles. "...I guess so."
"You will?!" Teddie nearly shouted. "Really!?"
"...Yeah... but I won't make any promises." Minato sighed resigning, while watching Teddie do a little dance in his joy.
"This could prove quite entertaining. At least to me." Ryoji grinned as he grabbed Minato's right shoulder.
"That's a weird way to get out of a TV." Ryoji remarked after falling flat on his face. "Going inside a stack of TV's and ending up outside of one? And this pretty much marks something in my book. Though, it still isn't as impressive as Tartar-"
"Save your logical inferences for later; Get off of me." Minato interrupted as he gagged, while shoving Ryoji's ass off of his head. Regaining his poise, he stood up and turned to Teddie. "Thanks."
"...So Teddie. Are you going to be here tomorrow?"
"Yeah." He nodded in his bear costume. "After all, you'll need a way to get back out if you go inside, right?"
Minato nodded, after lending a hand to help Ryoji get off the floor.
"Well. I guess we'll head back to her house."
"Her house?" Teddie perked up. "You mean you're living with that girl?"
"Is she beautiful?" Immediately, the bear suit that he was wearing vanished into thin air. Now before him, stood the the blond bishounen he had first met before. "Is she looking for a hot stud by any chance?"
'Another flirt?' Minato thought immediately after Teddie's display.
"Why Teddie, I didn't know you had it for girls!" Ryoji cut in, in which Minato had not expected. "Have you ever been to Port Island by any chance? Because there are plenty of pretty girls there!"
"You mean the school?"
"Exactly! I mean, did you see all the hot babes?!"
Minato sighed again. 'What the heck is up with shadows and girls?' He thought as he watched the two shadows get in a heated discussion about 'scoring hot girls' and why shadows are 'studs.' Minato watched the conversation with mild interest.
"Oh Ted. Where the heck have you been?" The heated conversation was halted, and Teddie looked up. The headphone-wearing brunette in the apron was standing in front of the trio, arms folded. "Oh, did you make some friends?"
"Yeah." Teddie nodded happily.
"Well, if Teddie didn't already tell you about me, I'm Yosuke Hanamura." He said briskly, while looking at Minato and Ryoji. "Yeah. Anyway, there's something I have to tell you, Ted."
"Yeah, what is it Yosuke?" Teddie stepped forward.
"It's about you living with me." Yosuke didn't look sad in the slightest, despite the tone of his voice. "My parents decided they couldn't afford keeping you in the house, so now you have to move out."
Teddie's mouth formed a circle and yelled, "W-What?!"
"Don't worry. You still have your job. You just have to move out." Yosuke said nonchalantly. "Nothing I can do about it."
"I said I couldn't do anything about it!" Yosuke snapped, as he turned around and began walking away. "Don't ask any questions!"
There was an uncomfortable silence, as they watched the brunette walk away.
"..." Teddie looked despaired. "...Now where will I live?!"
He looked frantic. Minato didn't know what to say, despite himself. It was incredibly heartless of that guy to rain on his parade like that. Minato scratched his head, and asked, "...Hey Teddie. Who was that guy?"
"...He was the second friend I ever made." Teddie stared blankly at the spot where Yosuke had turned the corner and vanished. "...What's going on...? What happened to him...?"
"Maybe the return of the fog has something to do with it?" Ryoji suggested as he pat Teddie's back. "Cheer up. You can go home with us."
"Really!?" Teddie'a expression slightly brightened.
"Yeah, I don't se-- Gah?!"
Minato had seized the end of Ryoji's scarf, and dragged him to a seperate aisle, ignoring his strangled protests. When he thought they were clear of Teddie's hearing range, Minato dropped his scarf.
"What's your problem?!"
"What the hell." Minato said furiously. "You can't just go inviting him over like that. We don't even own the house."
"So? She isn't home right now, and you have the keys." Ryoji pointed out. "What's the problem of letting him stay? He's just a kid."
"You wouldn't leave him on the streets to starve, would you?"
"And he is helping you-"
"But that's beside the point-"
"So he's staying."
"No... Did you actually think that would work?"
"Damn it! You're too cruel..."
"...Fine, he stays."
"Shut up." Minato said finally after sighing. "...It really isn't my call, because this isn't my house. I guess it's okay for the time being..."
But Ryoji was too busy chatting with Teddie to hear him. Minato sighed resigningly, and stared into empty space. Why was he trying to help her in the first place? Was it because Igor asked him to? Or was it because she had helped him? Sighing, he turned back to the pair of shadows. He just wanted to go home.
"...Huh...?" Kioku woke up groggily. She was lying in a hospital bed, in a white ward. Quickly, she threw off the covers and sat up. There was no one else in the room except for herself. Sliding off the bed, she touched her head to see that it was still throbbing. What had happened? Where was she? Quietly, she stood up and recalled that when she had opened the door, someone had hit her in the head. Did she get knocked out? And if she was in a hospital, did that mean someone had taken her there?
Still rubbing her head, she glanced around the ward. For some reason, she never enjoyed going to the Hospital. Biting her lip, she began heading toward the exit.
I wouldn't go there if I were you.
Kioku slowly turned around. There was a little girl... who looked exactly like she did when she was younger. However, the only difference was that this girl had yellow-hued eyes, and a small, but creepy smile.
"Why shouldn't I?"
Because. If you left, you wouldn't be able to find your way back. The girl giggled. After all, you've gotten lost for too many times to count.
Kioku stared at the girl. "Excuse me?"
Ohh, are you upset? Don't worry. She walked over to Kioku, and ruffled her hair a bit. Let's hope that those people come back for you.
C'mon, I know you know what I just said. The girl tutted, while shaking her head dramatically.
Y'know, that blue-haired guy. The girl chimed. You're such a softie. You couldn't bear to leave him out in the rain. Even if you didn't know him, you still let him stay. The girl paused. Do you know him?
"No. I've only met--"
So contradictory! You were agonizing over it a while ago! Why is that?
"How do you know that?"
I know a lot of things. We both know that you hate hospitals, yet you created one. Why is that so? Can you remember the reason?
Kioku stared at the yellow-eyed girl.
Can you remember how you got here in the first place...? She chirped, while fixing the sheet covers of the bed. I know you know. So why is it that you don't want to say it?
Kioku continued to stare, at a lost for words.
Oh, lighten up! After you get over this, we can play, okay? The girl flashed a smile, and Kioku felt her back against a wall.
Ayasaki Residence, Night
"Wooow... This place is so big..." Teddie gaped at the size of the house. "And you say that she lived here by herself?"
"That's pretty much what happened... until I came along, that is." Minato said as he jingled the keys in his left hand.
"Considering that she does live by herself, this place is pretty big." Ryoji turned to Minato. "Speaking of which, do you think she had an alterior motive in bringing you here?"
Minato stared at Ryoji. "What?"
"I don't know. I mean, do you think that she had a reason to bring you here?"
"I know what you mean, but I've never met her before until a couple of days before." Minato shook his head.
"But what if she met YOU somewhere?"
"What, you mean I met her at some point three years ago?"
"Yeah... Maybe. I'm only guessing."
"...Maybe I met her at Kyoto or something..." Minato mumbled inaverdantly as he brushed away the fringe covering his face, only to fall back into place. "But she acted as though she had never met me before, and if that girl in the TV looked anything like her, I'm pretty sure I would remember her face."
"Something like that perhaps..." Ryoji turned around, and saw Teddie sticking his head into the oversized TV in the living room. "Teddie-kun! Get your head out of there!"
Half of Teddie's body had vanished into the TV, and it was very peculiar to see his legs flailing around. Grabbing his foot, Ryoji tugged his entire body out of the TV screen, ceasing the flood of white ripples, and resulting in both Teddie and Ryoji lying on the floor.
"What? It's actually preeetty interesting." Teddie chirped as he got back to his feet, while helping Ryoji up in the process.
"What do you mean by that?" Minato asked inquisitively.
"There's something going on in there. Or actually, you're in there." Teddie pointed to Minato, and then to the TV screen. "I don't know what's going on, but why don't you both take a look?"
"You aren't going to push us in, are you?" Minato asked plainly.
"NO! Of course not!" Teddie humphed indignantly. "What do you take me for?"
"Jeez, relax." Ryoji chimed. "We'll take a look."
Minato and Ryoji glanced at each other reluctantly before stepping near the TV. At the same time, both of them plunged their heads into the screen.
"Hey... do you remember... what I told you?"
Minato blinked. A familiar scene unfolded before him, as he felt the watery sensation of being between both worlds. A familiar feeling had enveloped his half of the body.
This feeling was... the Dark Hour?
"Maybe... the "End" is unavoidable." A familiar voice echoed around, as Minato looked at the scene below. Another familiar face had made his way into his mind as he began staring. He realized he was watching from the TV of his old bedroom. Questioning it was the least of his worries at the moment. Straining to get a better view, Minato dragged himself from the TV slightly into the green-hued room. He stifled a gasp as he got a clear view.
"But... it's strange."
A boy in black striped pajamas was sitting on his bed, with him still lying on the bed.
"How you see it is completely opposite." There was a vague smile on the boy's face. "I can feel a lot of possibilities from you."
In the meanwhile, Minato turned to see if Ryoji was beside him. With a quick turn of his head, he realized that he wasn't there. Slightly panicking, he went back into the living room, to see that Ryoji was not present; only the blond was.
"Hey, where'd Ryoji go-" Teddie started to say, but Minato didn't wait for him to finish his sentence. Instead, he dove back into the TV.
"Hey, I'm glad... that we became friends." The boy glanced down at his still form. "I'm very interested in you... kinda!"
As he began to walk away to the door, Minato watched himself rise from his bed.
"Your name." He yawned. "...What's your name?"
"Oh, a name?" He blinked, before looking slightly suprised. "Oh, a name. I need a name."
He cracked a smile, and held a hand out to him. "My name is... Pharos. It's Pharos."
His old self reached for Pharos' hand. For that split second, he saw Thanatos' form. "Nice to meet you."
He retracted his hand in his shock, leaving Pharos' empty. In that moment, Minato caught a look of loneliness in his two-toned eyes, despite the small smile that remained on his face.
"I'm glad we became friends today... I'll come again soon..." Pharos chimed as he edged near the door. "It'll be fun from now on."
As Pharos reached for the door handle, Minato clambered out of the small TV and grabbed his hand.
The boy stared at him for a moment after realizing that Minato was there. He stared, as the rest of the room melted away, leaving only the TV, Pharos and himself in an expanse of empty white. For a second, Pharos smiled, and dissapeared with the rest of the room, leaving Ryoji where he once stood.
"Déjà vu… is never fun…" He remarked as he rubbed his head embarrassedly.
"And what was that all about?" asked Minato as he let go of Ryoji's hand.
"… Death is a lonely existence." He said with a nostalgic look in his eyes. "Back then, at that time, I was very happy to have made a friend. Still am, of course." He grinned.
"Glad to here that." Minato nodded slightly.
The sound of glass shattering rung out.
Thou art I… I art thou…
Thy Fortune Social link hath been reawakened after thy depths of slumber…
Thou will be blessed when choosing to create persona of the Fortune Arcana…
'…That's different.' Minato thought as he stared at Ryoji. 'Wait… 'reawakened'?"
"Well. We should get out of here. I don't feel like staying."
Minato absentmindedly nodded, walked to the TV, and plunged in headfirst after making sure Ryoji was following behind him. When they made it to their side, they both fell out of the TV, with Ryoji landing on top of him again.
"Y'know, next time you go first." Minato remarked after allowing Ryoji to get up.
"Bwaaah… I can't breath…"
Minato looked down, to see Teddie lying on his stomach. With this, Minato realized that he was on top of Teddie, so as quickly as he could manage, he got up and helped him up to his feet.
"Sorry." Minato mumbled apologetically.
"It's okay. I was wondering where you guys went. I was about to go after you, when both of you suddenly appeared and landed on top of me!" Teddie said exasperatedly, with a small frown. "What happened down there?"
"It's nothing to worry about Teddie." Ryoji said comfortingly as he tussled the blond's hair. "So, I say we all eat something, and get some rest. Then, we can go back and save that Kioku-girl."
"One problem." Minato bemusedly pointed out. "Where are you two going to sleep?"
"I have the room upstairs, but I'm not sure if you could use the other rooms in the house." Minato said nonchalantly. "And here, I see only one couch…"
"…" There was an uncomfortable silence, as Minato walked up the stairs, keeping his smirk to himself.