A/N: I don't own Persona 3, Atlus does and blah, blah, blah.
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS SCENES DEPICTING SELF-HARM, IT MAY EVEN BE OUT-OF-CHARACTER. IF IT IS, LET ME KNOW, AND I'LL EDIT IT OUT.
As usual, review and let me know if I need to correct anything! Or let me know your thoughts on the story! :)
This chapter is... a filler.
"In the end, I wasn't able to protect Father as I promised.
And it's more than that... I feel as though I let one of my very reasons for living slip away...
But I do still have something precious to live for.
I will hold true to my vow this time... no matter what."
-Mitsuru Kirijo, from Persona 3 FES: "The Answer"
March 31, 2010
Abyss of Time
Ptolomea, Lowest Floor
Another vision of the past. This was the fifth one they saw.
Visions of the past that were as equally painful as the last.
Visions of the past that nobody wanted to show anyone else.
Indeed, this was the fifth Door they opened - another memory that was buried just beneath the suface of consciousness, but was dredged out in the open to be rewatched and analyzed. How could the Squad continue on investigating the Abyss of Time like this, knowing that the memory of the lowest point of their lives were slowly and methodically being brought to light?
Mitsuru's vision was getting blurry. She didn't want to make a pitiful scene in front of her friends, so she stood perfectly still and defiantly blinked back the moisture gathering in the corners of her eyes. At the same time, the redhead reasoned to herself that her beloved father was already dead, that the vision they just saw was just that - a vision.
Another vision of the past. This was the fifth one they saw. All of those visions were just as painful to watch as the last.
Mitsuru knew that Shinjiro was already doing his best as the field leader, so she in turn tried to stay strong as the investigation of the Abyss continued. She was the president of the club, and one of the three founders. She had to stay strong for her teammates, especially in times like these.
Mitsuru had pride as a strong, independent lady. The heiress to the powerful Kirijo Family.
Her mind was as sharp as ever - it accepted this reasoning without resistance.
So then, why did she feel like she was she on the verge of bawling?
Yukari was the first one to break the stiff silence that had fallen over the group. "W-was that sempai's...?"
"...Hm? O-oh, yes..." Mitsuru replied to Yukari's innocent inquiry, keeping he voice as even as she could. She was successful in stopping her tears but she was still prone to breaking down at any moment.
"Sempai, what's the matter?"
Yukari's innocent question was like a cannon ball that plowed right through her glass defenses. Mitsuru shook her head and tried to shrug off those dark, heavy feelings as everyone stared at her. "Ah, well, I'm sorry, it's just that... seeing father again before my eyes, as if he were still alive was..." She trailed off, unintentionally revealing her true feelings.
With the exception of Shinjiro and Red Hawk, everyone present still remembered with painful clarity that terrible night Mitsuru's father was killed. That was also the night of Ikutsuki's ultimate betrayal. They remembered Ikutsuki falling off the tower to his death, and the way Mitsuru clutched Takeharu Kirijo's lifeless close to her, wailing "father" over and over in anguish.
Mitsuru wasn't the only one reeling from shock to see the older man "alive" again, even if it were only a vision.
There was a moment of heavy silence. The tension was gone, and in its place was sadness. For the first time in what seemed like forever, the members of SEES were all in perfect accord, all of them mourning over the loss of Mitsuru's father. In the short time they've known him, he'd easily won their respect as someone who truly wished to atone for the past and protect the future generation.
"...Aww, but wasn't Mitsuru-sempai really cute when she was little?" Junpei suddenly teased, his joke slicing through the melancholy atmosphere like a sword in water.
It was Mitsuru herself, surprisingly, who was the first to recover - for the moodwhiplash was exactly what she needed to regain her wits. "Excuse me, Iori? Are you saying that's no longer the case?"
Junpei sputtered frantically. "Uhhh, n-no... That's not what I- C'mon, you got it all wrong!"
Everyone burst into laughter, particularly at Junpei's flushed face and Mitsuru's triumphant smile. Just like that, some of the melancholy had lifted a little.
When the laughter died down, Red Hawk decided that now was the right moment to voice his thoughts aloud. "Of the past events we've seen up to this point... The first one seemed to be about getting ready for battle, but the others... How should I put it... It feels like there's some aspect they all have in common. Don't you all think so?"
Mitsuru couldn't help but note how confident Red Hawk was slowly becoming. In the past, he needed Shinji's prodding in order to muster up enough courage to tell them his observations, and he had this slightly irritating habit of trailing off, forcing Shinjiro to come to his rescue again by finishing his sentences for him. But now he spoke without a nudge, and spoke straight to the point. "Yes... But for now, we don't know what that might be," Mitsuru agreed. "This is the fifth door... We should be getting closer to the source we're looking for..."
"Oh... I just remembered!" Fuuka exclaimed, causing everyone to look at her. "There's something I have to tell you all! Remember the machinery and documents Mitsuru-sempai found? I looked into them, and it turns out they were things that the Chairman hid when he was still alive... Most of them were from the accident 10 years ago, so he must have hid them so they wouldn't be destroyed. Some of the notes I found are definitely talking about the Abyss of Time..."
"Is that true?" Akihiko demanded. Everyone had mixed feelings for this latest development: on one hand, they were getting closer to the truth. On the other hand it was becoming apparent that, even though Nyx was stopped there was still too much damage left behind by the entire Dark Hour affair that it was impossible to simply close the lid on it.
"We may be close to discovering what this place really is," Fuuka declared.
March 31, 2010
Yukari stared hard at the bookcases in front of her. The books seemed to be staring right back at her, mocking her.
When she told Shinji that she wanted to do a little probing of Red Hawk and Black Condor's true identities, he'd suggested to check the bookcases in the Command Room.
When she asked him why he just shrugged. Well, it wasn't as if she had any better ideas where to look. Heck, she didn't even have a lead. All she had was her gut feelings... and the constant nagging voice that told her she'd forgotten something important.
There are seven Doors in the Desert, and they've already cleared five of them. There were two areas left to explore... she'd shouted that they still had a long way to go but actually they were getting pretty close to the deepest part of the Abyss. The SEES members' sense of teamwork was in shambles. And there was still the black silhouette that randomly appeared, and Black Condor's vow to return and do battle with them again - not to mention they still had to unveil two more painful pasts... Yukari didn't know if they could take anymore. She was also grimly amused that no one in the team was going mad from this never-ending day they were forced to experience yet.
She sighed and reached out for a book in the shelf, and pulled it out with little difficulty. The deep blue hardcover was not too old, and its spine was only slightly dusty. Did sombody already touch this book? She flipped it over to read the title, which read: "Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations".
Yukari wasn't familiar with the terms, so she looked up and skimmed the titles of the other books on the shelf. There was "Motivational Theories", "The Bystander Effect", "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs", "Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders", "Perception"... Yukari still had a year of highschool left, but she was pretty sure the entire bookshelf was dedicated to the field of psychology in general.
She still wasn't sure how reading these books could help her discover the Feathermen's identities, but it didn't hurt to try. She had nothing better to do, anyways - Fuuka was still working on those old documents hidden by Ikutsuki, and Mitsuru was helping her; the others were busy doing their own things as well. There was nobody she felt like talking to about her suspicions. ...And she kind of wanted to avoid crossing paths with Akihiko right now. So she pulled out some more random books and sat down in one of the cushioned armchairs to relax and prepare herself to read.
The first book she opened bored her to death. So did the second one, and the third one. It all felt like a chore to the bow-user. Fuuka and Mitsuru were definitely better at this researching thing (not to mention more patient) than she was...
After about an hour, Yukari finally put her fifth book down and rubbed at her temples. Maybe she was going at this all wrong... reading random passages in random psychology books was quickly becoming a fool's errand - especially since she had no idea what to look for in the first place! Again, she silently wished for Fuuka's help-
Yukari pushed the other books away in a huff and picked up a book called "The Basics of Sigmund Freud". She figured that, if she seriously wanted to pursue this psychological angle, she might as well start from the basics... and Freud was the best place to start, right? Since he was the one who revolutionized pschology and everything.
"Psychoanalysis... The Unconscious... Id, Ego and Superego... Dreams... Psychotherapy...," she read the table of contents aloud in a bored tone.
At that point in time, Yukari was completely unaware of the shocking revelations she was going to have as she read through the book...
"According to Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory, personality is composed of three elements - Id, Ego and Superego"...
March 31, 2010
"Mitsuru, can I talk to you for a bit?"
Mitsuru whipped her head up in surprise to see Akihiko lounging in her room doorway, leaning against the doorjamb. "Akihiko," she began. "You startled me."
Akihiko looked relaxed, but he was very alert, scanning her face for any traces of stress or fatigue, or any indication at all that he shouldn't pursue what he wanted to do. There were no such telltale signs on Mitsuru's face, he concluded, but still he decided to put off his plan for any signs until the last minute.
Acting on autopilot, she rose from her couch, about to greet him in the customary Kirijo way and offer him a drink when Akihiko put up his gloved hands, stopping her. "It's okay, I don't plan on staying for that long, anyways."
"In that case..." Mitsuru gestured for him to sit on the couch, and they both settled down.
Akihiko mused to himself, now what? He knew what he wanted to ask, but in light of the recent vision of the past the SEES team watched in the Abyss, he'd thought that maybe, instead of just getting straight to the point he could try to be considerate of his friend's feelings and... start some small talk so he could lead up to it. But, conversation was not his strongest suit...
When he happened to glance at Mitsuru again however, he did not see an innocent princess despairing over her glorified father. He saw a business woman, a woman who wasn't afraid of a lot of things. He saw his teammate, emotionally hardened after fighting Shadows for so long.
So he threw all of his previous notions of avoiding the topic he wanted to discuss out the window. Besides, that kind of defensive approach wasn't his style. In and out of the boxing ring, It was second nature for him to come out ready to swing, without hesitation, no matter who his opponent was.
"Mitsuru, I came here to talk about our engagement."
Mitsuru merely smiled at his brute-forcing. "I was hoping I could talk to you about that, as well."
Akihiko pushed on,"Your... father planned for this beforehand to protect you from any decisions you wouldn't want to make about the Kirijo Group's future. And I agreed to it, willingly, because I wanted to protect you, too."
"And I have already broken ties with my first fiance, the son of the CEO of one of our rivaling companies." Mitsuru nodded once. "Is there anything you would like to address before we formally announce our engagement? As you know, only a few trusted members of my family are aware of my father's contract's conditions... and your involvement. With a bit of legal work..."
"No, there aren't any problems."
Mitsuru could be patient when she wanted to. This was one of those times, Akihiko realized, and he was really grateful to her for that.
"I just wanted to... to talk to you about it, that's all."
"I suppose the fact that you're marrying me right after we graduate from college still hasn't sunk in yet?" Mitsuru took a deep breath. "Because I can hardly believe it myself. I've always imagined myself moving far away, pursuing my own career..."
"I bet you almost nobody in the Group will take the news positively," Akihiko quipped dryly. "And the media will have a field day with this."
"Frankly, I could care less about the old men of the Board of Directors. All they do is complain."
...And in the end, he still couldn't bring up the topic that he wanted to discuss, Akihiko thought wryly to himself.
March 31, 2010
The six journals belonging to Amida Katsuragi were spread out on the surface of her bed. Fuuka was already done looking through the old documents Mitsuru dug up for her; now all she needed to do was store said documents and these journals away as official Dark Hour related effects in some safe box somewhere and seal them away for good. To close the lid on the entire thing for good.
To be more precise, the first five journals contained the actual documentary about the experiment carried out 10 years ago, with the occasional sentence or two that relayed Amida Katsuragi's personal thoughts. The sixth journal was more like a diary for it's lack of any information related to the experiment and was simply filled with frightened, despaired thoughts.
Fuuka felt a sense of duty as she prepared to pack the journals away - it was like a funeral of sorts, like she was trying to lay the poor mother/scientist to rest by burying away her journals, never to be opened again.
"Fuuka-san, can I come in?" Red Hawk appeared at her doorway.
"Hello, Hawk-san, is there anything I can do for you?" Fuuka felt her heart skip a beat when she looked up at his face - his entire face. She still felt disconcerted whenever she saw it; Fuuka was accustomed to having his face covered completely by his helmet and seeing him like this - an almost exact copy of Akihiko's face - just felt... wrong.
"Won't you have a seat? I'll get the tea on for you."
"No need." Red Hawk simply approached where she sat on her rug and held out a familiar notebook to her. "...I hope this helps Sensei and everyone to reach the truth... because I have a feeling that I won't be present when you guys do."
Confused, Fuuka took the notebook from him without thinking on it. "What is this notebook for? Why are you saying these things? What do you mean, 'you won't be around when we find the truth'? And giving this to me, instead of Shinjiro-sempai... is... oh my gosh...!" She gasped as she looked it over.
It was extremely similar to the journals she was just starting to pack away! Fuuka gasped again as she read the label - 'Logbook #7 - Katsuragi Amida. She read it aloud a few times, trying to grasp the fact she was holding another journal - one that she'd never seen before, either.
"R-R-Red Hawk, where did you get thi-?!" When Fuuka looked up, he was already gone. She immediately opened the journal to the first page - it was blank. She quickly flipped through all of the pages...
Blank, blank, blank. All of the pages were blank.
Fuka flipped all the way to the end - and gasped again.
There was a terrifying, dark red stain on the back cover.
Questions quickly flooded into her head: What was this stain? Blood? Why were all the pages blank? Were any of the pages ripped out - hence the lack of anything substantial? Logbook # 6 should've been the last one, so how was it possible for her to be holding Logbook #7 in her hands as she did now? Why was it given to her? Why did it exist in the first place?
And most importantly, why did Red Hawk have this notebook in his possession to begin with? Did he always have this journal with him, or did he pick it up only recently?
Fuuka surged to her feet. She had decided that she was going to have a talk with Red Hawk about this. And she wouldn't allow him to turn her away or to avoid her questions.
March 31, 2010
The cooking knife's blade glinted eerily under his desk lamp light. Shinjiro stared at it for a moment with morbid fascination. He felt...nervous. And dread, at the very pit of his stomach. Was this how suicide victims felt when they attempted to cut themselves for the first time ever?
Shinjiro had stripped himself of his jacket and polo shirt so he wouldn't have to explain any bloodstains that might've found their way on his uniform if he'd kept it on. He'd made sure his door was locked, and decided to move as quietly as he could.
The blade was definitely sharp - it was brand new, actually - something he'd bought for himself long before this whole Abyss of Time situation ever began. But he'd never gotten the chance to test it out.
What Shinjiro was about to attempt to do was most definitely a stupid stunt. There existed no reason good enough that could justify slashing your arm with a cooking knife-
But he'd already made it to his point, so...
There was no turning back.
Shinjiro swallowed hard. This was so stupid... He had to go through with this. He had to, he told himself again and again.
Because he no longer felt hunger or thirst. He couldn't sleep, even though he was already so tired.
And he no longer felt any physical pain.
With each "day" that passed, Shinji grew frightened of his condition. He'd realized long ago that this condition of his wasn't normal.
Was this what it felt like to be... dead?
He needed proof that he wasn't going crazy, that he actually existed, that he wasn't already dead and just some ghost, fooling everybody and himself. He needed proof that he was alive. ...And what better proof than the sight of his own blood, right?
Right... irrefutable proof...
It still sounded really, really stupid.
There was no turning back.
So he tightened his grip on the knife's wooden handle and gently rested the blade's edge on his forearm. He braced himself... and then, without any hesitation, pushed the the blade's edge right down into his skin, creating a long, thin cut. The blood was already starting to flow out-
Shinjiro inhaled sharply - not because he was in pain, but because of the lack of it.
There was blood, threatening to spill if he removed the knife blade but there was no pain.
No pain. No pain, only the telltale trickle of blood.
Why? Why? Why wasn't there any pain? He questioned himself.
Shinjiro was, in fact, in deep pain - There was pressure around his chest, and a prickling sensation in his heart. Was it physical pain, or emotional?
...A bigger wound. Maybe if he'd made a bigger wound on his arm- was the terrible yet seductve whisper he heard in his head.
He couldn't stop there. He had to try harder...
...But no matter how many times he slashed his arm, he couldn't feel anything. And the uncomfortable pressure in his chest worsened.
With an angry, strained growl he hurled the now-bloodied cooking knife across the bedroom. It hit the wall and clattered loudly to the floor with a metalic twang. It was the sound of steel ringing that really drove home the pitiful state he was in at the moment. He covered his face with his blood-stained hands and opened his mouth in a silent, anguished cry that seemed to come from the bottom of his heart.
Five minutes later, he was lying on the wooden floor in a fetal position, sobbing "her" name.
A/N: The hardest part to write was... Shinji's scenes of self harm -_- . I'm not happy with it at all. But I didn't want to keep you guys waiting any longer! Scenes of self-harm are hard for me to write! I wouldn't want anyone to do this in real life, you see, so I'm kinda emotional. And I'm a total weak sauce when it comes to graphic scenes like those so sorry for the vagueness! -_-