Oh wow, it's sure been awhile, hasn't it? I was first swamped with college work and finals back in May, and then I had massive writer's block to finish the last half of this chapter OTL. But I pushed myself to finish it, and hopefully it'll meet your standards! I uh...read the comments all of you made since I last updated. First of all, I would like to thank all those that have stuck by my story and continue to read even with my lack of frequent updates. It means so much to me to know that my story is one of your favorites. I would also like to thank kindamollyweasly for their kind words, and defending me on my decisions. While I appreciate all of your opinions, in the end, this is my story and continuously nagging me to do things a certain way, or complaining about something only makes me unmotivated to write out chapters.
Okay, so without further ado, I give you this long-awaited update! I hope you like it~
Disclaimer: I do not own Persona or its characters.
"Oh, you guys made it."
Souji, Naoto, and Yosuke walked into the facility to find Detective Dojima at the entrance to greet them. "...He's in the interrogation room right now. I was questioning him ever since we received that letter." He sighed. "So...Nanako got in touch with you alright?"
Souji nodded. "We took a train from Iwatodai and managed to make it back within a few hours."
"Dojima-san, I'm sorry to change the subject, but might I inquire whether or not the suspect disclosed any useful information?" Naoto questioned.
Dojima shook his head. "...No. He was rather adamant and wouldn't speak of anything unless it was you." He looked at Souji. "Dammit...it's been months since the murders...why is he showing his face in this city again?"
"You mean he wasn't always here?" Yosuke asked, to which Dojima shook his head again. "He was transferred to a larger prison in the city for questioning and to stand trial for what he did. He's currently serving time, but now..." A pained expression made it's way onto Dojima's face. This must be very hard for him, after all that had happened. Souji could sympathize with his uncle, and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this. We did so before, and we can do it again."
Dojima smiled slightly, before nodding and getting back to his office to do more information gathering on the incident. Meanwhile, the three of them walked down the hallway, towards the interrogation room.
"...Ready?" Souji asked the two. Yosuke and Naoto both nodded, and he slowly opened the door and walked in.
"...Well, so we meet again." A voice from within the room stated rather apathetically.
Yosuke and Naoto both glared at the person, Yosuke in particular had his blood boiling and his fist clenched.
Souji walked further in and stood in front of the desk, opposite of the man. "...Adachi."
Adachi smirked. "You remember my name. I should be flattered." His sarcastic remark not having any effect on Souji as he stared at the other man. Yosuke and Naoto accompanied him.
"Why did you send that letter to Dojima-san's residence?" Naoto asked in a demanding tone. "We don't have any time to deal with whatever problem you're having."
Adachi chuckled. "I'm not the one you should be worried about..."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Yosuke continued to glare at Adachi. "How dare you show your face around me...what you did to Saki-senpai was unforgivable, and then you had to put my friends and I through a bunch of shit all because of some temper tantrum!"
"Hey...quit it and shut your mouth." The remarks Yosuke made caused Adachi to lose his calm composure temporarily, before reverting back to his usual face. "You think I contacted you because of some trivial reason?" He sighed. "I think I might have some info that may be of use to you...though I'll let you decide whether or not I'm a reliable source."
The three of them looked at each other, not really sure what to think. Sure, Adachi was a low-life piece of scum who was one of the catalysts in the murder investigation a while ago, but he was also claiming to have some information for them, and they weren't sure if they could take the chance to not hear what he had to say. Though one thing was definitely strange: How did Adachi know of what was going on in their current situation, assuming that's what the info was about?
"How do you know what's been going on if you were locked up?" Souji questioned. "Any other information we have no need for."
Adachi shrugged. "Call it...intuition. Besides, while my source may not be reliable, there is definitely something strange as to how I came across this info."
Yosuke and Souji exchanged confused looks, while Naoto crossed her arms. "What sort of information is it?"
"It was...a dream I had a few days ago." Adachi explained. "I didn't know what to make of it at first, only that there was this feeling of...nostalgia and malice that seemed familiar, but it wasn't."
"A dream? You called us over here for a dream?" Yosuke said angrily. "We have friends that are in desperate need of our help, and you make us come all the way back here-"
"Yosuke-senpai, calm down." Naoto stated. "We should hear what he has to say. This may be valuable, or it may not be...we'll never know if we don't listen to the whole story."
Yosuke grumbled, but sat on the bed in the room and crossed his arms. Sighing, Naoto prompted Adachi to continue.
Adachi began talking again. "In the dream, I was taken to this...empty place that seemed to be an enclosed area with white walls. I had no idea where I was, except that moments later, the walls dissolved to reveal a land covered in fog. It was like the fog from back then...only thicker and made it hard to breathe. There were people screaming that the atmosphere was breaking down...that there was no hope for humanity." He sighed. "And looking up to the sky, I saw a huge, black figure looming over the land, blocking the sun from the world. I was standing and I couldn't move...it was suffocating." He began to think. "...The odd thing though, was that right as I was about to pass out, I saw a yellow butterfly flutter by my face. Unfortunately, that was where I jolted awake from my dream."
The room was silent, save for the tapping of Yosuke's foot that showed a clear sign of impatience on his part. Meanwhile, Souji and Naoto were both exchanging worried expressions. Souji in particular, because it was oddly similar to the dream he once had when he first arrived in Inaba a year ago. And if Adachi felt like he couldn't breathe in the dream, where you typically couldn't feel anything...then that meant that things were getting really horrible.
"Are we seriously going to believe this nutcase?" Yosuke crossed his arms and rested his back against the wall. "This sounds like a bunch of bullcrap if you ask me."
Souji thought things through. Should he believe this man, who had caused so much trouble for them in the past? ...At this point, he had to.
"...Yeah, I believe him." Souji stated calmly, which caused Yosuke's eyes to widen and Naoto to glance at him. "I don't think I ever told you guys this, but when I first came to Inaba I had a similar dream. It was soon after having that dream that I awakened to my Persona. And with what has been going on lately on Tatsumi Port Island, I don't want to make the mistake of doubting something like this."
Naoto put her hand to her mouth, as if pondering something. Within a few minutes, she looked back up at Adachi. "Adachi-san, did anything happen to you prior to having that dream? Like someone visiting you in your cell?"
Adachi looked to the side, his eyes darting back and forth.
Yosuke stood up from the bed he was sitting on. "If you don't give us a straight answer-"
"Do you have a habit of interrupting people?" Adachi looked at Yosuke. "I'm thinking, and I would appreciate it if you were quiet."
"What was that?!" Yosuke tried to walk up to Adachi, but was stopped by Souji.
"Yosuke, stop. I know it's hard for you to remain calm, I get that. But we can't turn this into a fight! We're here to gather information, and fighting isn't the way to go about doing that."
While he was still angry, it was apparent that Yosuke had understood what Souji was trying to get through to him, and he calmed down. Souji then returned to staring at Adachi, who began to think again.
"...I recall hearing a voice."
"...?!" The three of them brought their full attention on Adachi as he continued to speak.
"It was a male voice, and it told me, 'soon, the bell will ring once again. And disaster will befall on those who seek to make the impossible, possible.' I didn't think too much of it at first, though I did find it strange...since no one else was in my area at the time." Adachi let out a breath of air. "It was a really creepy voice, though...there's no way I could forget it if I heard it again."
Naoto and Souji looked at each other once more, before Naoto spoke up. "I see...this concerns me, Senpai. I don't like where this is headed..."
Souji nodded. "We need to relay this information to the others at once. There might be more to this whole...mission than what we're seeing."
Naoto agreed, and both she and Yosuke made their way to the door to leave. Before Souji left, he turned back to Adachi. "...I'll never forgive you for what you did back then...but you've helped us out twice, once during the murder incidents, and another time now. So...thank you. I don't understand why you would help us, though?"
Adachi chuckled. "I guess you could say that...I had a change of heart. But don't get used to it...I'm only telling you what I felt needed to be told. And to people who I knew would probably believe me."
"...Fair enough." And with that, the three of them left the room, where Dojima was waiting outside for them.
"Did he finally crack?"
Souji nodded. "He told us everything...we'll head back home then."
"Alright. Your friend, Yukiko Amagi, called me to let me know they were taking care of Nanako while I was away." He calmly said. "I'm going to deal with Adachi, so I won't be back till later. But tell them I said thank you."
Souji smiled. "Alright."
"And then, there was a giant robot that flew across the sky! Whoosh!" Nanako exclaimed as he spread her arms out as if she were flying.
Yukiko and Chie chuckled. "That sounds like an interesting show..." Chie was completely engrossed in the conversation.
Kanji looked horrified. "How do you not know about Featherman R?! That show is one of the best things I've ever-"
The others stared at him with a mix of shocked and amused expressions. Kanji blushed and scratched away. "I-I mean, it would be great if I watched an episode. I just heard about it from someone...!"
Teddie patted Kanji on the back. "It's okay, Kanji, you can admit to liking that show..." And he said that while trying to stifle his laughter. Kanji was not amused. "Why you-"
The door opened at that moment, and Souji, Yosuke, and Naoto walked inside the home. "We're back." Souji called out as they took off their shoes at the entrance.
"Hey...what did you find out?" Yukiko asked with curiosity. Souji shook his head. "...We might have a problem."
The others gasped.
"W-Wait, why should we even trust a word that Adachi of all people says? He could just be sending us on a wild goose chase!" Chie yelled out.
Yukiko sighed. "But what if it isn't, Chie? With the way things are right now...should we really take that chance and ignore his warnings?"
Chie had no counterargument for that, and remained silent. Kanji punched the floor. "Well, to hell what he says! He had a 'dream' of some sort so he felt he should tell us?! That sounds all too convenient, if you ask me."
"I know it's hard to believe, but Senpai believes him, so I do as well." Naoto explained. "Adachi-san was of sound mind when he told us his story; besides, he wouldn't have anything to gain from leading us on like that."
Souji was beside himself while the others were arguing about the situation. He couldn't put his mind around it, but something about this whole thing didn't sit right with him. It was obvious that it had something to do with the events that happened with the members of SEES, especially if what Aigis had told them at the beginning of this whole ordeal were to be trusted.
"The bell will ring once again..." He whispered to himself. "And disaster will befall on those who seek to make the impossible, possible." What did this mean? Was the voice Adachi heard referring to their mission to release SEES's former leader from the seal? Surely, if someone were to think about it, that was an endeavor that would be thought to be impossible...if that were the case, then that would mean some sort of power is trying to stop them from achieving this. The moment he gets the chance, he should tell the others what they had found out-
Souji was jolted from his thoughts at the sound of his cousin's voice.
"Are you alright? Your face is pale..."
He hadn't even realized it, but his skin was feeling rather clammy. He didn't like where this situation was headed.
Smiling, he patted Nanako on the head. "I'm fine, Nanako. Your dad said that he'll be home late...but don't worry, we'll stay here until he comes back."
"Yay~! Does that mean you'll be leaving tomorrow?" She questioned.
"...Yeah. We still have some unfinished business." A sudden serious expression appeared on Souji's face. Nanako looked at him, confused, but didn't question it and brought her attention back to the others. They were still arguing over whether or not to believe Adachi, to which Souji just sighed. He figured he should at least break up the argument, but was stopped when his phone started to ring. Picking up his phone, he was met with an all too familiar, cheerful voice.
"Senpaiiiii~! How are you?"
"I didn't expect a call from you, Rise." Souji smiled. "I'm alright...we might have made a breakthrough in this case, but no one's agreeing on whether or not to trust it."
Giggling could be heard on the other side. "So same-old-same-old? Honestly, they should just believe in your words, Senpai."
"No, it's fine...we all have an equal voice, so there's nothing wrong with hearing each other's opinions on the matter. But why did you call? And how is your new-found stardom, by the way?"
"That's why I called you, actually! I'm performing for a concert in two weeks, and I wanted to invite you and all the others! And when I mean 'others', I mean you guys and our new friends from Tatsumi Port Island~ It'll be fun!"
"O-Oh, well, I don't mind, but...aren't you in...?"
"Nagoya? Yeah, I'm aware it's a ways away from where you guys are, but I talked to my manager about it, and he said he'll be willing to pay for plane fare. So I have the tickets with me for each of you, ready to mail them at any time!"
"...Alright. How about you mail the tickets to me, and I'll talk to the others about it. I'm sure they'll all agree."
"Awesome~! Thank you, Senpai! Can't wait to see you and others again!"
Rise hung up, prompting Souji to smile and hang up as well.
"Sensei, was that Rise-chan?!" Teddie's voice stood out from the bickering. Souji nodded. "Yeah. Can you get everyone else's attention?"
Clearing his throat, Teddie shrieked, "Everyone! Sensei has something to say!"
That caused all of them to stop what they were doing and look at Souji with confusion.
"Damn, Teddie...warn a guy before doing that." Kanji said, covering his ears.
"So what's up?" Yosuke wondered.
Souji made sure everyone was paying attention before responding. "I was talking to Rise on the phone just now. She invited all of us-including the others-to a concert she was performing in. It's in Nagoya, two weeks from now."
Yosuke's eyes began sparkling. "For real?! Oh man...I could really use a break. And seeing Rise-chan in an actual concert..."
"Yosuke...you sound like a creep..." Chie sighed. "But yeah, I could use a break, too! Count me in!"
Yukiko nodded. "I would love to see Rise-chan after so much has happened."
"So would I." Naoto smiled.
"Alright. So I'll call the others then." Souji told them. Though he made a mental note to talk to them about the so-called dream Adachi had afterward. Opening his phone once more, he dialed a number, and the ringing could be heard on the other end...
Meanwhile, back on Tatsumi Port Island...
Shinjiro was sitting at his table, drinking some freshly made ginger tea. Akihiko was resting on the coach, worn out from last night's ordeal. Akihiko still hasn't woken up, but it was obvious by the even breaths and calm expression that Akihiko wasn't in pain. That put Shinjiro's mind at ease, knowing that his best friend hadn't been permanently damaged by the fight; mentally or physically. Still, he had to wonder what the whole point of this mission was, besides saving Minako. It seemed all too convenient that this labyrinth appeared out of no where, and that her memories were leading them to where they were supposed to go.
"There has to be some sort of power that's behind all this...with an ulterior motive..." He said to himself as he took another sip of tea. 'All I ask is that Minako returns to us safely...'
"...?!" Shinjiro brought his attention to Akihiko, who was now stirring from his sleep. The other male awoke and sat up from the couch, looking around the room as if he forgot where he was. Their eyes locked for a moment, which brought Akihiko back to reality.
"...Shinji? ...Oh...yeah, last night was..." Akihiko sighed, although there was no longer any sign of malice in his voice. Shinjiro was secretly happy about that. "What a hell of a night, right?" He tried to smile and laugh.
Shinjiro just shrugged, a content look on his face. "I didn't have any doubts...but yeah, last night was rough. Don't pull that sort of shit again, Aki."
Akihiko smirked. "Yeah, I know. I should have trusted you more...trusted in myself...but I let my emotions get the best of me, and that made everything turn to shit. I'm sorry, Shinji..."
"Don't apologize. You only acted that way because you truly loved and cared about her, right?" Shinjiro sighed. "...It's only natural. I don't hate you because of that."
Akihiko was rather surprised at that response. Shinjiro really had changed a lot since back then. He couldn't help but smile because of it. "...You've changed...I remember when you would stick by your views, regardless of the consequences, and never let anyone else in your own world." He chuckled. "You must really love her...within a month, she managed to break you out of your shell, and even now, when she's no longer here...she continues to change you still."
Shinjiro looked at him with an equally surprised face, before turning his head away from Akihiko's gaze. "...You're so full of shit...I didn't change that much." Still, not even he could ignore the fact that his face began to heat up.
Akihiko didn't even need to see Shinjiro's face to understand what the other was feeling.
"...Anyway, what are we doing for today? We've been doing nothing but memory gathering back-to-back...it must be putting a toll on the others." Shinjiro commented.
Akihiko shrugged. "Everyone's taking this seriously, so I don't think they would care if we've been doing nothing but this."
Shinjiro sighed. "That's not the point. There's a limit to what each person's bodies can take. I should know..." Those painful memories of him taking suppressants coming back to his mind, but he shook them away. "...It's not healthy."
"A natural worrier, huh?" Akihiko laughed. "Well, I wouldn't mind taking a short break. But I don't know what else we could do around here that we haven't already done...unless we contact Mitsuru to somehow book us a trip to some place."
"Well, we don't have to think about it now-"
Before Shinjiro could finish his sentence, there was a knock on the door. He got up from his seat to open it, and when he did, was met with Ryoji who looked really excited, and Minato who just looked...exhausted.
"...What are you guys doing here?" There goes a peaceful evening, Shinjiro thought.
"Good evening, Shinjiro-san, Akihiko-san." Ryoji walked in with Minato behind him. Minato immediately removed his shoes, then proceeded to sit down on the couch next to Akihiko, breathing heavily.
"...What's up with him?" Akihiko wondered.
Minato sighed. "I couldn't sleep last night...had a weird dream that wouldn't leave me no matter how many times I tried. I lost count of how many times I woke up in cold sweat."
"A dream? Well, I'm sure it will go away eventually...this is the first time it's happened, right?" Akihiko asked.
Minato was silent for a moment, before shaking his head. "Actually, I had it once before, but it wasn't this persistent. Back then, it was only a voice that said something too muffled for me to understand, but this time..." He sat up. "...There was a clear image in my head. It was weird, but it felt like I was floating. And the next thing I know, I hear this bell that won't stop ringing. It was so loud that I ended up blacking out, but not before seeing a yellow butterfly, followed by this huge shadowy mass engulfing my surroundings. That's the last thing I see before waking up each time."
Akihiko and Shinjiro were both puzzled by this new information, but they looked at each other as if they had reached the same conclusion: It must have had something to do with their mission.
"When Minato-san told me about his dream, I immediately wanted to inform everyone about it." Ryoji looked down. "Remember what I told you, back when I first told everyone about me being a harbinger of the Fall?" His question was more directed at Akihiko, since Shinjiro was in the hospital at the time. "I told everyone that you heard the bell that signified the coming of Nyx. I can't help but be suspicious that these two things are connected in some way." A pained expression appeared on Ryoji's face. "I...I don't want any of you to suffer any more than you already have...especially not since Minako gave her life to protect all of yours." The pain in Ryoji's heart was obvious; looks like they would have to search for the answers to this new finding. Why was Minato all of a sudden having these dreams again? And did this have any connection to Nyx?
Shinjiro only had a vague understanding of what had happened while he was in a coma, due to him seeing the flashbacks when they were trapped in the dorm back in March two years ago. But Akihiko, being there when Minako disappeared to fight alone, was growing more and more anxious. He was really hoping that his fears won't become reality, but after hearing this news, he wasn't so sure it wouldn't happen anymore.
Minato's phone began to ring, to which he answered it after letting it go off for a few seconds. "...Hello?"
"Yeah...I'm fine. Just tired...I'll have to tell you guys what happened, but that's a different thing. What is it?"
"Oh...yeah, that sounds nice. I'll let them know..."
"Alright, bye..." He hung up his phone, then looked at the others. "That was Souji...he said that they've been invited to a concert that their friend Rise is performing in, and would like all of us to join them...it's in two weeks."
Akihiko looked at Shinjiro. "Well...that solved our first argument, right? Looks like we'll finally be getting that break."
Shinjiro shrugged. "That Rise girl was once a pop idol, right? That's not really my idea of taking a break..."
"Oh, come on, Shinji! Even though you're not into concerts, at least go just to get your mind off things." Akihiko insisted, to which Shinjiro let out an exasperated sigh.
"...Fine. But only if you and the others don't force me to actually go to the concert. I'll just...hang around somewhere else until it's over." His eyes looked to the side. If there was one thing he hated, it was being around a bunch of people; especially if they were screaming and moving around. Luckily, Akihiko agreed and decided not to push the matter more.
"Alright, so will you tell the others, Ryoji?" Akihiko asked, to which Ryoji nodded. "I'll do that." And with that, Ryoji left the apartment.
"...Couldn't he have just called them?" Shinjiro sighed. Akihiko just let out an awkward laugh. "I don't think he thought of that..."
'Obviously.' Shinjiro rolled his eyes, before bringing them to Minato. Minato was having a hard time staying awake. "...S-Sorry..." The other male muttered under his breath. "I'll leave now...thank you for your time." As Minato was about to get up, however, Shinjiro stopped him. "...Aki, get him some blankets." Akihiko nodded and went down the hall to the closet to fetch some blankets and a pillow.
"You'll stay here for the night. I don't want to see you on the news, saying some sad soul accidentally died from being hit by a car or some shit." Shinjiro forced Minato to lie down on the couch.
Minato remained silent, but thanked Shinjiro in the back of his mind before drifting to sleep, even before Akihiko returned with the blankets. Akihiko put the blankets on Minato, and the pillow by his side.
"...We've sure been through a lot...it's already been what, five months since we started this? Almost half a year..." Akihiko smiled sadly. "...I wonder if this whole ordeal will end soon...hopefully it will."
Shinjiro didn't say anything, only giving a grunt in return. He highly doubted that it would end so soon...this sort of thing was never simple upon first glance. He knew that something would happen to make them question their beliefs...to make them wonder if it was truly worth the effort...and to test their true strength. But one thing was for sure, though: No matter what, failure was not an option. Back when they were locked in the dorm, he was convinced that there was nothing he could do to save her. He had accepted the fact that she had sacrificed her life, so that mankind can continue to live without fearing death. She had saved the entire world from destruction...and there was no way he would get in the way of that. But this time was different; there was no longer the fear of death...and thanks to Souji and the others, there was no longer the 'fog' in people's hearts. Minako's goal had been fulfilled...and she could hopefully return to them...alive.
"...Well, I guess I'll head home. Must get some sleep for the days to come." Akihiko yawned, to which Shinjiro just sighed. 'He just woke up an hour ago. He's still tired?'
"...I have an extra futon. You can set it up in this room...I can't have you appearing on the news as well." He frowned.
Akihiko was silent for a moment, before chuckling. "...Fair enough. Man, when was the last time we had a sleepover...?"
"Shut up before I change my mind." He clicked his tongue in annoyance, before walking down the hallway towards his room.
"Uh...H-Hey, Shinji! What about the futon?" Akihiko yelled.
Shinjiro just looked back, his eyes empty of emotion. "Sleep on the damn floor for all I care." And he shut the bedroom door behind him. A few minutes later, however, he put the extra futon outside his door, then shut it once again.
"Ah..." Akihiko's eyes widened, but then he smiled. "Same old Shinji...sometimes I can't tell whether or not he's truly changed." He looked down at his hands, flexing his fingers every so often. It's amazing how much Shinji has changed, though. I'm actually starting to miss the old Shinji...back when he was rough and aloof. But...I guess it's a good thing that he's finally showing his true self. Heh...Are you the cause of this? You sure are a good influence on him. If there's anyone I could trust to take care of Shinji...it's you. And once I see you again, I'll have plenty to thank you for...Minako.
Whew...I apologize that this chapter wasn't as long as some of the others, but on the bright side, I think I have an idea on what I want to write for the next two chapters, so hopefully I'll update sooner.
Okay, so I'm planning on the next chapter taking place in Nagoya, with Rise's concert being one of the main parts. It'll be a break chapter, of course, but another thing is going to happen in the next chapter: It'll be some character development for Hayate. I don't want to reveal anything just yet, but if you reread some of the previous chapters, you might figure out what will occur~ So I want to ask all my readers a question: Do you guys want this chapter to be a happy ending for Hayate? Or do you guys want it to be a sad ending? I'm also open to a bittersweet ending, but that will most likely fall under a more sad ending. So...opinions? Please leave your opinion (and maybe an explanation?) in a review, or if you choose not to review, I'll put a poll on my blog asking you the same question~
I can't believe how long it's been since I last updated...but like I said, I'm definitely not going to give up on this story. I promise to continue to write it until I'm finished and wrap it up for good c:
I hope you guys liked this chapter! ^^