Setton: This is basically a "what if" story. It is slightly AU, but does follow the game and its events. This story starts off as the second play through of P3P, but Hamuko will not have any memory of her past life. Yes it is a travel back in time kind of story; only it is more of a reversal than actual travel. One of the reasons I made this story a second play through is to avoid following the game too closely.
Summary: She was the cause, Minato was the effect. Now Hamuko must deal with the consequences brought by her early arrival to Iwatodai. It is 2007, and her journey begins again with a blank slate.
Brand New Days –The Beginning–
"Only a life lived for others is worth living".
Hamuko stepped wearily onto the monorail, pushing her bike alongside her. It was not crowded today, but there was a fairly moderate amount of passengers within. A few of them looked like students, but none were from Gekkoukan.
Moving around the poles, she put her bike on its breaks and took a seat onto the soft seats. Nervously, she sat there, looking out of the windows without anything better to do. This would be her first trip alone, as her adopted father convinced her to attend one of the top high schools in Iwatodai. She was not transferring, seeing as she recently graduated from her middle school. In any case, she was not looking forward to attending a school with no one she knew.
The monorail gave a jerk before it started moving. Hamuko took notice of this and began to dig into her bag. Pulling out an envelope, she opened it and pulled out its contents. A small snapshot of her apartment and new school, fell into her lap. Unfolding the sheet of paper within her hands, she began to read it, like she has done before.
"Here is the location of your school and the apartment I have rented for you. I asked my secretary to include pictures, seeing as you are directionally inept. Now, being the daughter of a successful businessman, I asked that you avoid hecklers during your stay in Iwatodai. It is a dog-eat-dog world out there and the first thing I do not want to see is your scandalized face upon the tabloids. It is better them than you. Now be a good spokesperson and stay out of trouble." -Tanaka
Hamuko gave a small smile at the letter. How predictable of him to act such a way.
Ever since the death of her parents, Hamuko was put into an orphanage at the tender age of seven. Amongst the crowds of other noisy children, she felt lost, unsure of what to think after the accident upon the Moonlight Bridge. It was then Tanaka came to visit the orphanage, only thing was, he was not looking to become a father. He had another idea in mind, which was to cultivate a child into business. He wanted a successor, or someone else who was raised to be like him. It was that reason why she was chosen. The adults at the orphanage remarked about her intelligence and she was picked up before she could get a word in.
Tanaka knew nothing about how to be a father, so she would mostly be babysat by one of his secretaries. It wasn't until he got into the process of teaching business, did he began to change his ways. The change was gradual, but he continued to work in becoming a father figure for her, as she had nothing left, but shelter and money.
Folding the letter away, she gave the photos a look before tucking them back inside the envelope. Putting the envelope away, Hamuko sat back and tilted her head so that she could watch the scenery go by. A few minutes flew by before the monorail pulled into another station. Hamuko watched as the passengers began boarding, while old ones left.
Her seat cushion sank, and she became away of someone sitting to her left. Looking towards them, she noticed it was a teenager about her age, with blue hair. "His earphones…" She took notice of the cool colored circles that were pressed against his ears. As if feeling her stare, the boy looked at her. Hamuko beamed brightly at him before looking away, taking a moment to pull up her own earphones and clipping them onto her ears. By the corner of her peripheral vision, she saw him give a small smile.
During the next stop, a stranger sat to her right. She looked again, surprised when the platinum haired man flashed her a quick smile before turning to his book. At first, Hamuko thought she knew the man, but after examining his dark blue suit and regal eyes she dismissed the thought. Perhaps he was someone she saw during one of her adoptive father's parties.
Two more strangers entered the monorail, both female, and took a seat beside the elegant man.
"Elizabeth, sit down," the older woman reprimanded, her eyes peering at the younger passenger, who was excitedly instigating the contents of the car. The younger woman quickly took a seat, but it did nothing to deter her curiosity.
Hamuko gave the trio a weird look and thought, "Are they going to a party?" It looked like it, seeing as the three were dressed up with such formality. It was almost out of this world. "They're all very good looking." Hamuko could not help but frown, staring into her lap as she did so. "I don't think I can pull off something like that, especially for a party." The train gave a jerk and she could feel it moving again, closer to her destination.
Between the warmth of two strangers, she felt her heart ache…for reasons she was not sure why.
Hamuko felt her shoulder being shaken and she opened her eyes, vision bleary. With a yawn, she rubbed at her eyes and blinked.
"Miss, we're at your stop."
Hamuko caught sight of black slacks, quickly realizing whom it belonged too. "A-ah, gomen!" She hastily picked up her things and stood up, bowing slightly to the platinum haired man. "Thank you!"
His lips curved into a smile and Hamuko could feel her face heating quickly as he spoke, "It is my pleasure."
Nervous, Hamuko excused herself. Taking her bike, she kicked up its stand and rolled it towards the monorail's doors, noticing that the blue haired passenger was lingering by the exit. To her confusion, he stepped onto the station after she exited the monorail. As she moved into the crowd, she looked towards the blue haired boy, who had already walked off without so much as a glance at her.
Back at the monorail, the strange man had disappeared as well and she was brought to a realization. "How did he know I was supposed to get off here?" Her eyes caught sight of the name of the city. Tilting her head, she frowned. "Weird…" Her brows furrowed. Shaking her head, Hamuko focused on leaving the station and finding her new apartment.
Following the directions that her father had given her, she rode on her bike across several blocks before coming to a tall complex. It was not far from Iwatodai's strip mall, which was how she preferred it. The area reminded her a lot of home; cozy and not too busy like the streets near the Paulownia Mall. Entering the complex, she hesitantly walked through the hallways, looking for the elevators. Finding them, she pressed the button that would take her up. The doors hissed before parting, allowing her to get on. After pressing the button for the third floor, she pressed herself against the back of the elevator as it made it's way up.
The elevator slowed to a stop and Hamuko got off. Remembering her room number, Hamuko circled the floor before finding it.
"312…" she said, before digging into her bag. Pulling out a key, she inserted into the lock and turned it before making her way into the room. It was not empty, seeing as her father had called someone to pick up her stuff and drop it off here. He must have asked a maid to organize her things, seeing as the furniture was settled into place and her clothes were all hung in her bedroom closet.
With her bike sitting in the living room, Hamuko placed her bag down near her bed before taking a look at the uniforms in her closet. It was not unpleasing to the eye and she found herself attracted to the design. The red ribbon was also cute, bright red that complimented her eyes.
After a look at her clothes, she closed the door and went to her bag. She emptied it out into her drawers, except for the crucial things such as her I.D., wallet, phone, and keys. When done, she took the bag with her and proceeded to walk out of her room. Seeing as there was still daylight out, she wanted to take a look around the strip mall, her stomach was also growling in hunger.
"The fridge is probably filled with something." She was sure it was, but she wanted some takeout.
Her way towards Iwatodai's station had been uneventful, quiet even, but it changed as soon as she came upon the strip mall. Despite the approach of noon, Hamuko noted the large amount of teenagers that hung around. It was almost packed. With a grimace, she quickly made her way up the spiral staircase, attempting to get away from rowdy crowd below.
"They're probably here to have fun; this is the last day before school after all," she guessed as she came onto the second floor. To her dismay, there were quite a few people loitering around near the balcony edge. A few of them were gangly dressed guys, who were smoking. Hamuko held onto the straps of her bag a little tighter. Keeping her head held down low, she attempted to walk past them without confrontations.
Unfortunately for her, the guys were hoping for a good time.
Feeling a hand grabbing onto her arm, Hamuko quickly twisted around, bringing her elbow back and digging it into the person's face.
"Argh! Fucking bitch!" he cried, his hands flying up to his face. "She broke my fucking nose!" Hamuko backed away as the others threw a few other curses at her. Wanting to avenge their friend from their assault and to satisfy their frenzy, they approached. One grabbed at her chest, managing to clutch a fistful of her blouse. Another grabbed her bag, yanking it in an attempt to take it away from her.
She glared at them, her fists clenching. "Let go of me!"
The three guys simply laughed as they began pushing and pulling her in a game of tug of war. The bloodied guy from earlier smacked the side of her head, whipping it to the side. Having enough of their games, Hamuko was ready to knock another guy in the face and put him in a sleeper hold.
"What the hell do you fuckers think you're doing?"
The grip on her chest and bag was gone and Hamuko gave a small gasp as she fell onto her rump. Looking up, Hamuko noticed that all three of her perpetrators were being smacked around by a tall stranger, who showed little relent in knocking them unconscious. When none of the guys showed signs of getting up, the stranger gave a scoff before turning his attention to her.
His look softened. "Are you all right?" he asked as he held out a hand. Hamuko blinked at him, but otherwise nodded and clasped his hand with hers. There was no warning and Hamuko gave a small squeak as he effortlessly pulled her whole body up. Once she was standing, he let go of her hand and quickly redirected his eyes. "F-Fix your blouse."
Hamuko immediately looked down, her expression flustered after she caught sight of her own disarray. Her hands went up to her chest and she held her blouse closed, cursing inwardly. Three buttons were missing and she had no doubt in her mind that it was torn off before her fall.
"I don't have any safety pins with me," came her reply. Great, how was she supposed to eat like this?
"Here." The brunette teen shrugged off his coat and threw it over her. She looked at him surprised. "What's with that look…?" he asked. "Do you really think I'll let you walk around like that? That's practically an invitation for other guys like these." He looked towards the unconscious three.
Hamuko smiled brightly. "Thank you! Oh…but don't you need it?" She tilted her head. It was pretty chilly outside and she was not sure if he would be happy if she took it back home with her.
He shrugged. "Keep it, its not like I'll be missing it." He then walked past her.
Blinking, Hamuko watched him leave. "Wait!" shouted Hamuko as she ran after him, her shoes clicking hard against the pavement.
He grunted, "What is it now…?"
"Let me buy you dinner."
His whole body stopped. "…What?" His face was comical.
"Let. Me. Buy. You. Dinner. Okaaaaay?"
"I don't even know you." The brunette narrowed his eyes at her.
Hamuko smiled cheekily. "Shujinko Hamuko," she introduced. "And you…?"
To her amusement, he refused to say anything and started walking again. Only when he realized that she was not going to leave did he give up.
"…Aragaki Shinjiro," he told her, shoulders slumped as he stopped. Hamuko brightened instantly.
"There!" Hamuko clapped her hands together, which was difficult to do when the coat's sleeves fell over them. "We're no longer strangers. Now how about that dinner?" She frowned when her reply was a rude snort. "Oi, oi! Where are you going?" Hamuko asked as his stride quickened.
"I'm paying," Shinjiro said as pushed away the flaps that led to the restaurant, Hagakure. Hamuko stood outside with surprise before she walked in as well. Compared to the cold outside, the restaurant was invitingly warm. It reminded her of the days where she would curl up on the couch during the winters, drinking hot chocolate or taking a nap.
It also left her feeling a little homesick.
"Idiot, what are you doing standing there?"
"O-oh…" Hamuko blushed before she hastily took a seat near the tall brunette. "Sorry, déjà vu."
"No kidding." Shinjiro snorted before looking over the counter. "What do you want?"
"…" Her eyes flickered around, searching for anything that remotely looked like a menu. When she found none, she scratched her head sheepishly and answered, "I don't know. I've never been here before." Well, maybe she had during her childhood, but her memories were foggy.
Shinjiro said nothing and rather chose to address the man behind the counter. "Oi!" he called the owner. "I'll have two of the Specials."
"Coming right up."
"Eat everything; I don't want to end up wasting money just because of your small stomach," Shinjiro said as he began rifling through his pockets, frowning when he could not find what he wanted. Turning to Hamuko, he asked, "Hey, check my coat's pockets."
Hamuko did so, digging her hands into the side pockets. When her left hand bumped into smooth leather, she hastily pulled it out, squeaking when she accidentally dropped a card onto the ground. "Gomen!" She handed him his wallet before getting off her stool to pick up the card. When she flipped it over, she was surprised to find the familiar face of Aragaki Shinjiro, staring back at her. "You go to Gekkoukan…"
"Yeah, what about it?" he asked as he took the card from her.
She took a moment to dig into her handbag before pulling out her own wallet. Taking out her school I.D., she showed it to him. "I'm starting my freshman year there."
That was bad.
"Do me a favor. At school, don't talk to me."
Hamuko blinked before her expression morph into hurt. "What, why?"
"It's for your own safety, you'll see later." He coughed, too embarrassed to even elaborate. "Another thing, avoid the boxing club and its members; they're nothing but trouble. Stay away from that Mochizuki kid too."
"Who…?" She looked completely confused. Her face fell when Shinjiro drop the subject altogether, despite her persistent questioning. As she sat there quietly waiting for their food to be prepared, she could not help but mull over the Shinjiro's warnings. Why would he tell her to avoid the boxing club? Were they a rambunctious group of delinquents that love to cause trouble? It may be likely, but she doubted something like that would happen in such a prestigious high school. And who was this Mochizuki fellow? Was he dangerous? Why was Shinjiro even telling her to avoid interacting with him?
Shaking her head, she decided to quell her curiosity. Leaning over the counter, she picked up a pair of wooden chopsticks from a stand. When their food was ready and placed in front of them, Hamuko sat back and held the sticks up, breaking them neatly. "Itadakimasu!" she said before eating. The dish was delicious, as expected. Instant ramen was nothing compared to Hagakure's.
Unfortunately, the Special was quite a large bowl and despite her love for food, Hamuko was starting to feel the effects of overeating. Half an hour later, she could feel her stomach stretching, unused to the large amount of food she was consuming. Her consumption slowed down, yet she did not stop, as Hamuko could see Shinjiro watching by the corner of her eyes.
"What…?" she asked.
"Eat all of the vegetables," he told her before turning back to his ramen.
She made a face and turned to look at the leftover leaves that dotted the bowl. With a sigh, she picked at all of them and ate them.
When she finished the bowl, Shinjiro was long done and was watching the nearby T.V. during his wait. Hamuko let out a groan and held her protesting stomach. "Gochisosama."
The look on Shinjiro's face showed his amusement. "You need to eat more. Just what do you eat every day, salads?"
She glared at him. "Salads are for weaklings!" She blew a raspberry.
"Keep that up and I'll stuff your mouth with broccoli."
Hamuko quickly retracted her tongue and pouted. "But I like broccoli," she retorted.
He merely rolled his eyes. "You ready to go?" Shinjiro asked as he placed some money on the counter. Hamuko blinked, but otherwise nodded and stood up from her stool. As they made their way outside, Shinjiro looked over his shoulder.
"Are you going to be okay on your own? Or do you expect me to escort you home?" he asked.
Hamuko looked confused but then gave him a sly look. "Are you actually offering?"
"W-what…? O-of course not!"
Hamuko laughed. "Well come on then!" She skipped ahead of him, twirling around to face Shinjiro. "You're my escort, aren't you? I'm expecting you to take me home."
"Idiot! Don't just allow anyone to follow you home! I ain't a nice guy."
"No one is," she retorted, with the same damn smile on her face. Then, coming to a conclusion, she requested. "Walk me half way back."
He was silent for a moment, before a sigh left him. "Pushy." He walked towards her. Hamuko only grinned before falling into step with him.
When she was a kid, she hated midnight because she believed it was the time that the monsters came out to play.
She did not seem to lose that notion, even now.
Her room had taken a sickly glow, green, as if someone had placed a filter over her window plane. Her mp3 player that once lured to her sleep, stopped, and she woke up to the dead night. There was no sound other than her breathing and even the dogs were still.
Of course they were. Everyone but her had turned into coffins after all.
Hamuko let out a yelp as she scrambled backwards, forgetting the space between her bed and the wall, and fell off the mattress with a thump. There was laughter and Hamuko grimaced as she pulled herself up, rubbing her head as she did so.
"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to startle you."
"Then stop appearing in my bed," Hamuko commented as she quickly crawled back under her covers, shivering at the cold. Her ruby eyes looked straight into big blue ones. "Are you here to warn me again?"
The boy frowned. "Do you not like it?"
"While it shows that you care, it sorts of defeats the purpose when I have no idea what you're actually talking about." She rolled her eyes.
"I see." He then smiled. "Did you have fun today?"
"A little bit." She fiddled with her bangs, twirling her brown locks around her finger. "I fell asleep on the train." The image of Shinjiro came up in her mind. "But I did make a friend today, well, sort of. We only met a while ago. He fought some guys who were bothering me and took me out to dinner." At the sound of that, the boy frowned. "Oh yeah, apparently he's a student at Gekkoukan too."
"Well I'm happy you came home safe, or else I would have been worried," he said.
"You're always worried."
He grinned. "Perhaps. But I have a good reason to be worried, don't I?"
"Yes you do, seeing that we're friends." She laughed and he nodded, shifting onto his side a bit. Her eyes noticed something red beneath the covers. "Are you holding something?"
He blinked before realizing what she was looking at. "Oh, this?" He held up what seemed to be a notebook, a very thin one at that. "A man gave this to me; he said that it was for you to sign."
"…Who is this from?"
"I don't know, but you should sign it." He inspected the book. "There doesn't seem to be anything dangerous about it; besides, you'll need his help."
She looked skeptical. "Help? Help with what?"
He showed confusion. "I…I don't know. I just have this feeling."
"Here, let me take a look at it." Hamuko reached for it and the boy happily gave it to her. Turning the cover, she recited the words on the front, "I chooseth this fate of mine own free will." As she turned the pages, she noted that the rest of them were empty. In fact, the entire notebook was empty except for that first sentence. "Basically…it's a contract that says I'm responsible for my own actions."
Her bedmate nodded. "No one else can or shall take the blame for something you have done."
Hamuko's eyes were solemn. "So if I made a mistake and someone died because of my decision, I'll be the one to suffer the consequences." She trailed her fingers against the contract's edges. "But what are the consequences?" The contract was simple to understand, but there seemed to be a lot more to it than just taking responsibility.
"Will you sign it?"
She looked at the boy, who seemed eager to know her answer. With a sigh, she nodded. "All right, I'll sign it." There did not seem to be anything fishy about the contract, or hazardous, at least not from what she could see. Her choice was greatly rewarded with a smile from the boy. "Pharos, could you please get me a pen?"
He shuffled out from under the covers and walked cross the cold floors. Pulling open Hamuko's drawers, he picked up a standard blue pen and walked back with it. Crawling back onto the mattress, he handed it to her. Smiling, he sat there, watching as she legibly signed her name on the first page. When she was done, she closed the notebook and handed it back to Pharos, who took it and held it close to his chest.
"I wonder." Hamuko sat up, her eyes on the contract. "That man must have been something if he was able to interact with you."
"I think it's because we're connected in a way." His face scrunched up, as if he was trying to solve a puzzle that did not have an answer. "I'm not sure how, but I know it'll become clearer as time moves on."
"Maaaaybe," she yawned.
Pharos smiled. "You should sleep; school will start in a few hours."
"Great idea," she remarked, before leaning over to kiss him on the forehead. "Good night Pharos." She then proceeded to curl up under the covers, shutting her eyes as she let the warmth of the blankets lure her to sleep.
"Good night…my dearest."
"You're crying," she stated the obvious. Sitting down, Hamuko allowed her legs to press against the grass and bend the flower stems. Tilting her head, she regarded the musician before her. The voice -that caused many to swoon- stopped, but the man continued to play his lyre. "Why are you crying?"
"I have lost something of importance," he mourned. "She was my beloved and my wife."
"Is she dead?"
"I am afraid so, for her desperate calls still rings in my ears." The musician drummed his fingers across the strings. "I cherished her, but my ignorance of the unknown left me powerless. She was taken away and we were separated. Our feelings have not waned, we wish to return to one another, but there is an obstacle in our way."
Hamuko watched as he looked up, staring out at something in the distance. Curious, she followed his gaze and noticed a woman from beyond, gazing back at the man.
Getting up, Hamuko walked across the meadow and took a seat in front of the woman.
"Why don't you go to him?" she asked the woman.
The wife let out a shuddering breath. "I cannot, for death's tight grasps keep me away!" she cried. Gladly, I would have given anything to keep him safe, happy, and protected. Yet we cannot help the terrible sadness that comes between us. We wish not to be apart, but to stay together despite knowing that we could not. He knows nothing about the unknown; therefore, he is powerless to help me."
"Can't you find a way? Your husband doesn't have the answer, but what about you?"
"I…I will try." There was a change of expression on the woman's face, but Hamuko could still see the lingering doubt.
There was a thunderous cry and Hamuko felt her heart jump. She snapped her head back, looking towards the sky. A large black figure circled above, its white mask looking down at the three with hollow eyes. Large wings, like that of a bird, flapped harshly, blowing gusts of wind as it propelled forward. Following after it were its children.
There was no escaping its sight.
Night, Nyx, was always watching.
But Hamuko was not afraid.
"Wait!" she called, hastily clambering to her feet.
She ran across the meadow, tearing grass from its roots as she kicked up during her chase. With her eyes intent on following, Hamuko saw another figure approach, flying by Nyx and blanketing the air with its body, and turning whatever sky it crossed black. Clouds and even the sun could not penetrate the floating shadows and Hamuko had almost lost Nyx through the spreading clots of ink.
Again, Hamuko shouted, "Please wait! Help! I need some help!"
There was another sharp cry from Nyx as someone, one of the children from the entourage, burst through Erebus' shadows and soared down in Hamuko's direction.
Death, Thanatos, landed in front of her and took a breath. Hamuko had stopped running and glanced at Nyx, finding the beautiful figure circling above them in agitation and attempting to call back her child.
Thanatos did not move and Hamuko figured that he would hear her plea.
"Will you help me?" she asked before looking in the direction of Eurydice and Orpheus. "I want to help them, I want…" For reasons unknown, Hamuko started crying. "I want them to stay together, but I can't because of your mother." It had to be Nyx's work, for she had control over her children. Thanatos favored a gentle passing, but the woe felt between Eurydice and Orpheus was anything but gentle.
Hamuko pleaded, "Will you help me?"
There was silence, before Thanatos moved, bringing his arm up and holding out his hand to her.
Hamuko took it, and Death became hers.
Setton: Review please; I love to read the insightful and whimsical comments of the reviewers.