Alhazardous - Thanks! I intend to keep the shell of the story the same, so expect some massive Higu-rage when you-know-who is revealed to be the killer (yes I know it's not a spoiler anymore, but I feel like keeping it that way).
It's Yosuke's Shadow, which means Boss Fight time! I hope I didn't bomb it too badly...
Music for Shadow and Boss Fight is "La Divina Tragedia", the Umineko ending theme. I may have certain other themes for other bosses, but Yosuke through Yukiko will have this theme.
Here's Chapter 2. Subtitle means "Frog".
Chapter 2: Yosuke-hen (Kaeru)
Makotsu's frown tightened as he watched Yosuke's face contort in agony. He ignored the droning of the principal and walked over. "Hey man. You going to be alright?"
Yosuke opened and closed his mouth a few times. "Dude… this just…"
"Bites. As in gnawing out your insides, am I right?"
Yosuke snorted. "You got me there, Hiranya."
As they walked into the hall, Yosuke came to a halt. "That TV world. The bear said it was dangerous, right?"
Makotsu closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose. "Yes, Teddie did. What of it? Do you think it has something to do with how Saki-san died?"
Yosuke glared at Makotsu. "That's exactly what I think. I need your help to get into that world and find out."
"If it's so dangerous, you may not survive. Keep that in mind. Never run into something you don't know the risks of."
Chie growled. "Guys, we should just let the police handle it. This is stupid! We don't even know the first thing about that place!"
Yosuke turned to her. "No, Chie! The police can't do anything, and if we say anything about the other world, they'll never believe us! It has to be us! Only we can catch the murderer! Only… only we can…!"
"Avenge Saki-san?" Makotsu couldn't bring himself to feel anything beyond exhaustion. "You're not the only one who's lost something. Everyone in this world lives, loves, and dies. This is an inescapable truth. Will you truly let rage lead you down this path? Should you find her killer, what then? Will you attempt to cultivate justice with your own two hands? Turn them in to the police? What then, Yosuke?" Makotsu's face hardened. "I'm not saying one way or the other is better. But this choice deserves deliberation."
Yosuke stared at Makotsu. "What will you do, then?"
Makotsu smiled mirthlessly. "I intend to find the killer and place them in prison. Even if it costs me my life. Not because it's right. Not because I have any duty to it. I'm going to do it because I know that the sort of person who does these things will not stop, and it's only a matter of time before I lose everything – my uncle is one of the men trying to catch him. I won't falter, or turn back."
Yosuke eyed Makotsu for several moments. "Meet me at Junes in the electronics department." With that said, he left at a run.
"Are you serious? Really? We should just leave this to the police!" Chie growled.
"Come if you want to stop us. But think: I have an ally in there, so how much real danger would he allow us into?" Makotsu strolled out of the school slowly.
Chie groaned. "Boys!"
"What's in your backpack?" said Yosuke suspiciously. He held out a golf club. "Eh, it doesn't matter. Take this. You'll be able to defend yourself better anyways."
"I have my own means of defense. You may, if you wish, keep it." Makotsu punctuated this with an eerie smile.
"Allllright… So, anything else?" Yosuke said.
Makotsu turned to Chie. "Will you be alright playing lookout? I'm a bit worried."
"Oh! Uh… I'll be fine, thanks. Listen, be careful, alright?"
"Will do," Yosuke said as he leaned against the TV and tied a rope around his waist. He held the other end out as Chie grasped it.
"See you on the flip side," Makotsu muttered, tapping the screen. Yosuke yelped as he plummeted through, and Makotsu dove in.
Makotsu ignored Teddie and Yosuke's arguing and stared into the fog. He could feel it watching him.
Teddie grew quiet as his pupils shrank. "Uh… Makotsu-kun? What're you doing?"
Makotsu ignored him and drew his knife out of his backpack.
"D-dude! What the hell? Is that some kind of cleaver?"
"Hook machete, if you must know. Now please quiet down. You'll scare me away," Makotsu said with a dark look. It was mirrored by a boy who looked exactly the same as him but for three details. The first was his clothing – he wore a white trenchcoat spattered in blood. The second detail was that he held a staff with a clock whose hands moved like molasses. The third aspect in which he differed was his eyes – they were a vivid yellow.
"Wh-what is that?"
"It's me." The other Makotsu jolted. "I… I've failed people before. Been too late. Had blood on my hands. It's… it's really complicated, Yosuke. I don't like talking about it. And you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you."
The other Makotsu gave an unsettlingly wide grin. "I told 'im. Told 'im yeh'd be smaht enough to know betteh. Bastahd owes me twenny yen." It snickered loudly. "Well boy-o, yeh got meh in one. Ahm th' personification of yer regrets for… well, yeh know. Yeh have a few otheh issues t' work out, but feh now, yer cleah."
Makotsu blinked mildly. "And why are you talking like that?"
"'Cause it's fun. Tha's one more thin' tha' yer scared t'do. Cut loose and enjoy yehself. It's a damn shame, reallah. Yeh ain't goin' t' last 'gainst the merderah if yah walk 'round wit' a stick up yer arse." The other Makotsu nodded solemnly. "But I guess m'time's up. I'll take care of yeh, wait n' see!"
A blue haze swirled around the Shadow, and it vanished.
The strength of heart require to face oneself has been made manifest…
A tall androgynous figure clad in a white trenchcoat with a single fox tail appeared. It had a motorcycle helmet that looked like a fox's head, and held one clawed and gloved hand palm-up with a shining sphere floating above it. It seemed to have an otherworldly grace about it.
Makotsu has faced his other self…
The figure turned into a card and collapsed into Makotsu. He sighed in relief. There. No harm done. My secrets are safe, and I can continue on and finally bring an end to this. The first hurdle is past.
Makotsu has obtained the façade to overcome life's hardships, the Persona Inari!
"Whoa, Makotsu-sensei…" Makotsu grinned as he faced away from the other two. Teddie was back.
"Guys, we should keep going. We need to find clues."
Makotsu sighed as Izanagi returned to card form. "Makotsu-sensei is so awesome! He has two of those… er…"
Makotsu turned around. "Personae. Or Persona, singular. They're… an associate told me that they're like a mask you wear in times of stress. In a world built by thoughts, they become a conduit for functional magic."
"Magic? Like Umineko?" Yosuke said skeptically.
"No. Beatrice worked through her furniture – her servants – and through revival. This is where a god or other entity that resembles a mask we wear becomes a focus for our own innate abilities. For example, Izanagi is of the Fool Arcana. The Fool traditionally goes to those who are a blank slate. I resemble that mostly in spite of how I have changed. It gives me the power to access other Arcana. Inari, on the other hand, is of the Moon Arcana…"
"Which means…?" Yosuke said.
Makotsu bit his lip. "Nothing I care to share. If you're interested, feel free to research it yourself."
"Dude, harsh!" Yosuke muttered.
"Yosuke, show Sensei some respect! If he doesn't want to-"
"Teddie. He's right. Yosuke, the Moon is not a pleasant Arcana. It's… it represents hesitation and mystery."
Yosuke shrugged. "So how does that make it bad? You're pretty strange to everyone in town."
"It also represents illusion and madness."
Yosuke gulped. "I… see."
Makotsu turned towards the entrance of the liquor shop in the twisted district. "Let's head in, shall we?" Yosuke followed in silence.
Yosuke stood still. "I… never had the chance to say it. I always wanted to tell Hana-chan… that he was a real pain in the ass! I was nice to him just because he was the store manager's son, that's all!" Yosuke's face fell more and more as Saki's lingering sentiment continued. "But he takes it completely the wrong way and gets all enthusiastic… what a dip. Who cares about Junes anyway? Because of that store, our business is ruined, my parents hate me, and the neighbors all talk behind my back… I wish everything would just disappear…"
"This can't be… Senpai's not like that!" Yosuke said, looking skyward. Makotsu's face contorted slightly, lips pulling back in a grimace and pupils shrinking.
Why does he always do this? Saki just spilled her guts, and the first thing he does is deny it! It made Makotsu furious in some way. He stifled it as quickly as possible as black-blue fog began to creep into the room.
"It's so sad… I feel so sorry for myself… boo hoo!"
Makotsu groaned inwardly. And cue the frog.
"Actually, I'm the one who thinks everything's a pain in the ass… Ahahahaha!" Yosuke and Makotsu turned to see another Yosuke, the same in all respects save the black-blue shroud of fog and amber eyes.
Teddie stared in shock. "Wha? Two Yosukes!"
"Wh-who are you? I wouldn't think that…" Yosuke protested weakly.
Ooooh yes you would. Your bearing speaks for itself. But you change, Makotsu thought. Don't fight for this loser. Fight for who you know he can be. That's all you can do, Hiranya. Makotsu nodded to himself.
"Hahahaha, yeah… right. How long are you going to keep deluding yourself? Screw the shopping district, and Junes too! You're sick of everything, especially living out in the sticks!"
"What're you saying? That's not true, I-"
Makotsu rubbed his temple. "Teddie. We should stand a bit back."
The bear stared at Makotsu. "Okay, sensei. But…"
"We'll intervene, if the worst comes to pass."
"You put on such a good show because you're terrified of being alone. The more the merrier, right? You've got to be surrounded by people to block out the pain of isolation," the Shadow sneered. "And what's this about checking out this world for Senpai's sake? I know the real reason you came snooping…"
"Hahaha! Why so panicked? I thought I was just spouting bullshit? Or maybe… I really DO know what you're thinking! Because… I AM YOU. You just came here because it sounded like a good time! I mean, c'mon, what else is there to do in this shithole? A world inside the TV… now THAT's exciting! You didn't have any other reason to come here, did you?"
"That's not true… stop… Stop it!" Yosuke pleaded. Makotsu winced inwardly, but knew it was for the best.
"You're just trying to act like a big shot… hey, if all went well, you could even be a hero! And Senpai? Her death was the perfect excuse." The Shadow had stopped sneering, and was frowning as it chastised Yosuke.
"Here it comes, Ted… brace yourself!" Makotsu whispered harshly.
"That's not true! What are you? Who are you?"
"I already told you, idiot! I'm you! Your Shadow… there is nothing I don't know about you."
"Screw that, I don't know you! You can't be me, you SON OF A BITCH!"
The Shadow cackled, back arching. "That's right! Say it again!"
"YOU'RE NOT ME! YOU'RE NOTHING LIKE ME!" Yosuke's glasses were shaking on his face as he stepped back. He was tripped by a swirl of black mist as the shadows converged on Shadow Yosuke.
"That's right… I'm me now." The black fog cleared, revealing a ninja atop a giant frog.
"The frog in the well… what a reference," Makotsu muttered. "Teddie, eyes open!"
The fog began to swirl around Makotsu. "Yosuke…!" Teddie whimpered.
"Hang on, partner! I've got this!" Makotsu growled, eyes dilating and shrinking rapidly. A blue haze encircled him, blocking the frog's initial wind attack.
"Hah! Nice try! I'll crush everything that bores me… starting with you," the Shadow hissed.
"That barely even hurt… Inari. Agi." With a crushed card, the fox god floated, small flames flying from its sphere into the frog's skin. The beast whined angrily, skin scorched and pockmarked. It leapt at Makotsu, who dodged and swung wide with his machete, which caught the frog's rear leg. The result was the blade scything through completely, hamstringing the monster.
"FUCK! You weren't like this last time!" the Shadow howled.
"Neither were you. What is this?" Makotsu's eyes gleamed with barely controlled rage and fervor. It was as if a battle-lust had gripped him.
"Hey, it's just a new cycle for you. They don't remember, but we do. Oh, we won't tell them, promise. But we'll do our damnedest to smash your face!" Shadow Yosuke made rapid handseals. "Wind of Oblivion!"
The air swirled wildly around the fighters, and Makotsu picked his ear as it settled. "I'd forgotten how simple it was to defeat you. You and Chie were simple… I'll have to get ready for Yukiko, though…" Makotsu mused as he swept a palm through a swirling card.
"Sensei! It's weak to lightning! Go for it!"
Makotsu smirked. He'd thought as much, but Teddie had given him the conformation he needed. He summoned a card, and then crushed it with a fist. "Izanagi. Zio." A thin trail of lightning pierced Yosuke's Shadow as the Persona swung its naginata, flipping it over with a loud crack.
The Shadow writhed on its back, the frog pinning the ninja. Makotsu walked up. "Once more, eh? So very weak…" The shadow stared up helplessly at Makotsu's wide grin. His eyes glowed violently, one pupil far larger than the other.
"Well… you were right about one thing. I am different… perhaps even a bit insane. Too bad for you, eh? Shadow?"
The only response was the thud of the Shadow's head landing several feet from its body.
"You okay, Yosuke?" Makotsu asked as he helped the other teen up.
Yosuke stared at the dissolving corpse of his Shadow, which returned into a human form. The defeated Shadow stood shakily and slowly. "So… that's me, huh?" he said softly.
"Part of you, yes. You may have come here 'for a good time', but part of you holds Saki dear. You still want to make her memory count, in a way. And if I may make a valid point: if that was all there was to you, I would have left you here to die. It is neither our shadows nor what we show that makes up who we are, but a combination of the two," Makotsu said.
Yosuke laughed bitterly. "You always… Well, you just seem so…"
Makotsu shrugged. "I have to be. I have people to look out for. It's starting to look like you're one of them."
Yosuke grinned a little, then turned to his Shadow. "Yeah… I do get lonely. And I want attention, and I guess… in its own way… everything you've said is true. Heh. Frog in the well, huh? I live in a closed world and want more, I guess, just like that damned frog in the story. So… you're me, right? And I'm you."
The Shadow, back to normal, nodded. It vanished in a blue haze.
The strength of heart to face oneself has been made manifest…
The haze congealed into a froglike ninja in what appeared to be a disco suit. Makotsu stifled a laugh. This Persona never ceased to amuse him or amaze him with its tenacity.
Yosuke has faced his other self, and obtained the façade to face life's hardships. The Persona Jiraya!
Makotsu sighed as the Persona turned into a card and collapsed into Yosuke. The teen stumbled, then smiled. "Watch out, Makotsu. You're not the only one with powers now," he said with a smirk.
"Then why should I watch out? Now you can watch my back for me," Makotsu said, turning away. "Let's go home. We've done enough for one day. Now we know the cause of death, which is in and of itself an achievement."
"Good point. I'm exhausted anyways…"
Teddie sighed as he stared at the two teens preparing to leave. "You'll come back, right?"
"Well, yeah. We made a promise, right?" Yosuke said. Makotsu nodded in response. "See? We'll be back to investigate more later. Right now though, we need to go."
"Ted, you can always come to my TV to visit."
"R-really Sensei? You weren't kidding?"
Makotsu blinked. "No. I wasn't."
Teddie started bawling and ran over to Makotsu. "Sensei's so kiiiind! It's so beary lonely over here, so I get really sad and start wondering what I am, and, and…!"
Makotsu blanched. "Err… there, there?"
Yosuke snickered as he left the TV world. "See you on the flipside, dude."
Makotsu grumbled as he awkwardly patted Teddie on the head. "You can visit whenever you need me, Ted. I can't promise I'll always be there, even at night – but if you need me, you can check."
Makotsu smiled tiredly as he turned to leave. Just one more change made.
Makotsu watched as Chie threw a tantrum again and left in a huff. He chuckled, made sure Yosuke was alright, and parted ways with him.
On the way home, he passed by the patio by the Samegawa Floodplain, and spotted a person in a kimono under it. He walked over, and saw it was Yukiko.
"O-oh! Um, hi there, Hiranya-kun…" the heiress said shyly, face red.
"Hey, Amagi-san. Resting from an errand before you head home?" said Makotsu, dredging up old memories. This was his first true hurdle coming up.
Yukiko nodded. "Yeah. I have to help out at the inn more and more nowadays…" she punctuated this with a sigh. Her face seemed to fall a little, but then she perked up. "Tell me, are you and Chie getting along?"
"Better than her and Yosuke, at any rate. It might be because I try to present myself as more of a voice of reason than a voice of unbridled hormones…" Makotsu mused.
Yukiko covered her mouth to stifle a giggle. "S-sorry…" she snickered.
Makotsu stood up and yawned. "It's been a long day… I need to get home."
Yukiko nodded. "Yeah. Um… see you?"
Makotsu smiled wanly. "Sure. See ya."
Yukiko paused. "Aren't you grieving? I mean, you don't wear black outside the uniform, you act pretty normal…"
"Yukiko. I used to act something like Yosuke, but lighter on the perversion," Makotsu said calmly.
"Oh… I see. That… that explains a few things. Um…"
"It's alright. I'll… yeah. I'll see you around."
Yukiko nodded. "Take care."
Makotsu simply stared as the silhouette faded from the screen. "Now what do I do…?" He palmed the key in his pocket. "Was it tomorrow? Was it later? Sooner? I can't remember this part…"
Makotsu turned around as Yosuke biked up. "You rang?" he said flatly.
Yosuke smirked, shaking his head. "I couldn't tell who it was, but someone definitely showed up on the Midnight Channel."
"Mm. It's a fair meter for who the next victim will be. We should check it out after school – I'll talk to Teddie and see what information I can glean."
Yosuke nodded seriously. "Alright." He paused, biting his lip. "If there is another victim, that means there really is a culprit… and that they're using that world as a weapon. That's unforgivable…" Yosuke's face turned sour.
"And so it falls to us, eh Yosuke?" Makotsu said with a wry smile, eyes flashing.
"Yeah. No way the police can do it – anyone mentions that place to them and they'd be laughed out of town!" Yosuke nodded. "It's up to us."
"…Which is exactly what I said. Although it's nice to hear you agree," Makotsu said coolly.
Yosuke snickered. "Heh. I guess so. Hey… I actually tried sticking my head in the TV like you did, and now it works…"
"One of the perks of having powers associated with that world – you get to go into that world."
"D'you think we got these powers to specifically solve the case?"
Makotsu's face soured. "Maybe. Or maybe it's red text."
Yosuke blinked. "Come again? I didn't get that far in the anime dude… when I saw the HAPPY HALLOWEEN MARIA bit with the candy, I pretty much split. I still listened to the music from both series, though."
"Red text is a mechanic in the Umineko visual novels. A witch would use it to indicate that she was speaking the truth. However, the words were always open to interpretation, and had a given measure of truth to them. It was something of a handicap that was a double-edged sword to both parties. However, a lie could not be printed in red text." Makotsu sighed. "It's like Higurashi and Umineko collided screaming into each other. Out here is the murder mystery, while the murderer has another world that makes them a witch whom we have to disprove and defeat… there's no set rules here. It's so damn frustrating…!"
Yosuke sighed. "I see what you're getting at. But… you got in and got your Persona first. So excuse me if I have a little bit more faith in you than that. Let's do our best, okay?" He smirked and held his hand out. Makotsu shook it, smiling helplessly.
Thou art I… and I am thou.
Thou hast established a new bond…
It brings thee closer to the truth…
Thou shalt be blessed when creating Personas of the Magician Arcana.
"Oh crap! We're gonna be late, get on!" Yosuke yelped. He grabbed Makotsu and hauled him onto the handlebars.
Soooo then… who isn't going to be of much help? Who's the useless trickster? Lemme hear it…~
Damn you Inari. Your Persona is too powerful for this stage!
Really my dear? Examine it more closely.
Yep. Weak to physicals, which pretty much every damn thing uses. I give him a hefty speed boost and lots of shiny magic to make up for it, but he's still got a helluva Achilles heel to have in there!
Oh. And I learn Tetrakarn pretty soon – around 15 or so? Tee hee!
You invited this upon yourself, dear. Let's see how things proceed for the time being…
Oh yeah, the dominatrix chick is next! That'll be fuuuun~ AHAHAHAHAHA! IT'S PERFECTO!
Husband… don't say it.
I hate you both. So much.
So, explanations. First, I used the script for the Shadow's reveals. Then I added in what Makotsu would do and think during and after.
The Frog in the Well is an old Japanese Proverb. It's similar to the big fish small pond analogy in the West.
Teddie will be a slightly more consistent presence pre-Rise now. I'm just fond of the fuzzball, and that's the only reason why.
Finally, if the ending scenes are starting to remind you of an omake version of the Witches' Tea, then that's natural - it's what I'm shooting for. The reason Inari and Izanagi are making these references is because now they are linked to Makotsu and have his knowledge. Izanami had VERY little actual character development beyond "Humans hate life, so fog fo' you!", so I'm shooting for more a tragic Visionary Villain aspect this go-round.
Finally, the blue stone from last chapter - it will factor in later. It will factor in big time.