Persona 4 and it's world is owned by Megami Tensei. Not me. This just for fun.

Dance of the Cards

Dance of the Cards

XIV. Together

July 2035

Afterschool

Two days later Kotori stepped into the heat of Daidara Metalworks. She hoped that Hayate would be there. Just because she had a boyfriend didn't mean she could appreciate the view. However there was a young woman manning the counter. Her hair was darker then Hayate but they had the same color eyes. With Kotori reached the counter she noticed that the woman was wearing a blue butterfly chocker.

"Welcome to Daidara Metalworks. I'm Saya."

"Hello, I'm um Ayase."

"I know. My Brother and Father have told me about you and your friends."

"Oh." Kotori wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not. "Well, I was wondering if you could make new weapons for everyone, well apart for Reika. She's already got hers."

"It might take a while. I'll need to see what you have too."

Kotori set the heavy bag on the counter, glad to be rid of it. "You can keep the extra in case we need it in the future, that bag is getting far too heavy."

"Sounds good." Saya started looking though the bag. If she was anything like the rest of her family Kotori knew it would take a while so she wandered the store. She hoped it would take too long, the others would be waiting for her soon.

She was looking at some metal fans when Saya called her over.

"I've got plan for all your friends, I'll have my father look over them first. However I have a spear ready for your friend if you'd like. It's a Sasaho yari. My father made it so it's the finest around." She picked up the spear laying across the corner. The wood was dark and the blade shone even in the dim light.

"It looks simple, but it doesn't need any of those frills to prove it's worth. People nowadays underestimate it, that is till they are dead."

"Ah." Not for the first time Kotori wonder what kind of family ran this shop. "Thanks, I'll trust your word on that, but are you sure I can take this one? It's it for someone?"

"Nope, it recently became available."

"Right. I'll take it then."

Twilight

"So it there a reason you decided to change weapons?" asked Reika.

"It's not for me. It's for Daisuke."

Daisuke's eyes widen. "What?"

Kotori walked over to him and held out the spear. "It's a Sasaho Yari. The Smith said it was the best kind around."

Daisuke took it from her and tested the weight. It fit well in his hand, almost eerily so. He smiled but it faded as he looked back at Kotori. She still just had her old crossbow. It still had a dent on the left side where she had used it to block a demented dancer.

"What about you?"

"They working on it. All of ours, but that was ready. A cancelled order or something." She shrugged. "Those people are more mysterious then we are."

Reika laughed, "I don't mind. The fewer questions the better." She looked over where the others stood. Takahito was trying to find at least the right direction the should go in.

Sakura caught her eye and waved them over.

"I'm sorry. The best I can get is that way." Takahito pointed a little to his right. "Everything is really fuzzed."

"It's fine. We haven't run into too much trouble outside the mazes before," said Himeko.

"True, but we should still be on our guard." Akira looked over at Daisuke when he came to stand next to him. "New spear?"

"Yeah, Kotori said the others have been order." Daisuke suddenly felt nervous. He mentally shook himself. There was no reason for that. Even so he was determined to work harder today, just in case.

Sakura was seriously regretting not joining a sports club. Her legs ached; she wanted nothing more then to sit down. She looked at the others, none of them seemed happy.

"I vote break time," said Kotori who didn't want for anyone to answer before she plopped down to rest. "I can't believe we haven't found anything yet." She twisted around to look at Sakura "Did we find the Rift using your cat the last time?"

"It was looking for Himeko who happened to be at the Rift."

"Ah, well I guess that isn't much help."

"I'll try scanning again, maybe since we're deeper I can pick something up." Takahito closed his eyes to summon Balder. The rest where silent as he focused his energy. Most were lost in their own thoughts. The only who was bored was Reika.

She was almost glad they hadn't found the Rift. She wasn't sure how her teammate would fight if they came across something like the last time.

"Finally!" Kotori pumped her fist into the air when the Rift came into view.

"Yes, it's great but now what?" asked Reika

"Hmm?"

"Did we ever make a plan about what we would do once we got here? If so I don't remember it."

"Just finding the Rift is a big accomplishment. At the very least we can have Taka mark it so that we know where it is from now on," said Himeko.

"I suppose that's true." Reika looked over at the Rift. "Should we get closer? 'Cause that didn't end well last time."

"No one died." Pointed out Kotori.

"To be safe we might want to stay back. I'll scan the location in my data base." Again Takahito summoned Balder.

"He has a database?" Reika winced when Sakura smacked her arm. "Will you stop that?"

Sakura mouthed be quiet which just made Reika glare at her. However before she could say anything else there was a sound of rushing. All turned toward the Rift just in time to see a large skeletal turtle emerge.

Reika wiped around to look back at Kotori. "You were saying?"

"How 'bout you focus on the giant turtle instead of me?" Kotori loaded her crossbow.

As if it could understand the the creature let out a roar. With the roar bones burst from it's shell. They twisted and turned till they form two giant snakes. Soon the flames crept up the bones snakes and stayed, giving them an unpleasant glow. This caused Sakura to pause. Something in the back of her mind was trying to make itself known. Before she could figure it out one of the snake lunged for her. She dodged, but it ran into Daisuke. The snake turned into a wall of fire, blocking their view of the others.

"Well, that's not good," said Sakura.

"Don't worry, it should just be Angi." Daisuke call to Apollo; holding Sakura close he ran though the flames and made it safely to the other side. They saw that the others were already fighting the turtle who still had two snake.

"Last time we were fought a Rift shadow, if that's what this is, didn't care if more then three attacked." She called forth Freyja. Freyja's Cat leap forward, going straight for the creature's eye. It roar. "Well, that answers that."

They charge to join the others. There was very little time to think afterward. Despite the fact that all of them were fighting they couldn't seem to get the upper hand.

"Bufula!" Shouted Reika as ice encased the creature. Finally it slumped. No one wasted anytime in charging it. They all jumped back before the snakes could burn them. Everyone breathed a sigh on relief as it remain slumped. The end of the battle was near.

"It's weak now. Don't let your guard down!" shouted Takahito.

Kotori and Himeko broke away from the group to distract the snakes while others focused on a final assault on the turtle.

"Watch out! It's getting ready of something!" At Takahito warning, everyone backed up and guarded themselves. The creature shierked as the flames left the snakes and head straight for the main group. The flames encircle them. The circle was quickly closing. Sakura winced a flame leap for her. Akira pulled her towards the center.

"Daisuke!" shouted Reika over the roar of the flames.

"I know!" Daisuke panted. He hadn't used Apollo too much for Angi, but he had still called on him for other attacks. It made him worried that he didn't have enough Energy left. He closed his eyes, yes...he should have enough Energy. "Persona!" Apollo came, but the flames didn't slow. "Apollo!" Still nothing happen.

Himeko could see Apollo flowing just above the flame, but he didn't seem to be doing anything. She quickly glanced at the creature, but it was frozen, unmoving. Hoping it stayed that way she held up her left hand towards the flames.

"Persephone!" Persephone came and finally the flames seemed to stop. Himeko took a deep breath and slowing started to make the flame widen the circle and lessen. She could feel her Energy lower to dangerous levels, but she didn't stop.

"Himeko!" Her brother's voice buzzed inside her head. "Reika said if you came make the flame heat weaken about 40% she can freeze them."

"I-I can do that." Her legs felt weak but she ignored them. She had almost reached the desired temperature when she heard a groan. She looked to her right to see a bone snake heading straight for her. She only had time to raise her sickle.

The force of the snake's impact caused the wood to snap. When it did fire seemed to exploded in her arm, which feel very odd. She had almost forgotten what the pain of heat feel like. However it didn't stop her from screaming. The rift that echoed the sounds of flames now echoed her scream.

Reika swore in her head as she called for Oona to freeze flames, trying to keep Akira from burning. Akira used his jian to vault over the ice. The ice broken on his desent making it easier for him to keep his sword. However it was unneeded as the creature started to mist. It was gone by the time he reached Himeko, who was curl in on the floor.

"Himeko!" He knelt painfully in front of her, afraid to touch her.

"Fire. W-why does it hurt so?" she curled more around her arm.

"What?" He check her over for flames, but there were none. What he did notice was her broken sickle. His years of basketball and having a nurse as a mother clicked in his head. He was no longer worried about touching her. He lightly placed an hand of her shoulder trying to see her arm. "I don't think there is a fire."

"Feels like it."

Akira heard the rushing footfalls of their friends. He looked up. Reika reached them first.

"What happened?"

"I think her arm is broken."

Reika winced. Akira turned his attention back to Himeko. "I don't know if we should use Dia or item. We don't want the bone healing wrong."

"Whatever you are going to do if you could knock me out soon, that would be great," said Himeko.

"Sorry. Just hold on a little longer, please." Akira brushed her hair behind her ear.

"I think it's too risky to change. We should take her to your mom." Reika turned to Sakura. "Give me you of your tongas. We need a splint." Sakura handed one over without a word. Reika placed her foot on the handle to hold it in place before slitting cleanly in half.

"Damn, that's impressive," muttered Kotori from her place near Himeko's head.

"Now, your scarfs." All the girls apart from Himeko took theirs off. "Do you know how to do this?" Reika asked Akira.

"Yes." Akira took the items from Reika. Akira looked at Himeko. She looked at him briefly before she started to move to lay on her back, she figured that was would place the less about of movement of her arm.

Kotori moved slightly to that Himeko's head was resting in her lap. She also reached down to hold tight to the uninjured hand. Himeko smiled sightly at her.

"Himeko, I'm going to briefly check to make sure it's set okay." Akira's voice to low and steady. Himeko nodded and did her best to take deep breaths. However she wasn't able to stop the gasp at his first touch.

The gasp sent a dagger though Daisuke's heart. No one had said anything to him yet, but he was sure that was just because of how badly hurt Himeko was. After they had her all settled and fixed up he knew all their eyes would be turned on him and the questions would fly. Sadly he would have no answers. He had failed everyone and Himeko had paid the price. He looked at the tight ring the others have formed around Himeko. He kept back on purpose, no one seemed to notice and he was glad for it. He scanned the area for threats, he would fail them again so quickly.

A pained groan brought his attention back to Himeko. She was now in Akira's arms. Her arm bound and close to her chest.

"When need to get to back now. We can't wander around like we did to get here," said Akira.

"Don't worry, since the thing is gone readings are clear."

Akira looked past Takahito to Daisuke. Daisuke looked away before he could read Akira's eye. Whatever was there couldn't be good. White light encircled all of them taking them back to the shrine.

Yuzuki brushed Himeko's hair to the side. The medication wand gave a slight hiss once it was pressed against her neck.

"Wow, that works really fast." Himeko relaxed as the pleasant sort of numbness spread.

"Yes, now keep still." Yuzuki removed the bindings and checked along her arm with a scanner. "It looks like a clean break. It's not quite centered right so I'll have to set it, but apart from that you can go do whatever it is you do to make everything better."

Himeko was vague aware of things happening to her arm, but it didn't really hurt. She wondered...the thought slipped away before it could form.

"Okay, all set." Yuzuki nodded to Akira. "I know this is the first time you guys have come to me with a major injury so I won't say anything, but if something like this happens again to any of you I'm going to have to get your father's team together."

Akira wanted to protest but he knew better than to argue with his mother, especially when she was wearing her current expression. He just nodded.

"Good. Take her to the car, I'll go tell your friends your plan."

"Thanks, Mom." Akira lead Himeko outside.

Yuzuki went up the stairs to where the rest of her son's friends were gathered around the living room table.

"Himeko's break was easy to set. Akira's said he going to take her to get it fully fixed so you guys wouldn't have any awkward questions asked. We'll be back soon." Without waiting for them to respond she left.

"That's good." Kotori laid back, finally resting her aching body. "I really didn't want to have to think of how we would explain this."

Daisuke tightens his grip on the teacup. Now that the worry about Himeko was gone surely they will points out how this was all his fault. A gentle hand touch his shoulder causing him to tense up. He knew it was Sakura, somehow it being her made everything worse.

"Woah, Daisuke you're stiff as a board. You can relax, Himeko will be fine now," said Kotori.

Daisuke looked at her. She was still laying out the ground and Takahito had joined her. The way he chest slowly rose it seemed that he had dozed off. Daisuke thought it was for the best. At least there would be one less person to yell at him.

"She would have been fine before if it wasn't for me." Since he focus was still on Kotori he missed the look Sakura and Reika exchanged.

"Okay." Kotori sat up. "What is with you? You've been grumpy for a long time. And yeah, today you weren't able take care of the flames but we've all made some sort of mistake before."

"You mistakes haven't gotten people killed."

"Neither have yours!"

"Stop." Reika's voice stopped their glaring match. "This isn't helping anyone and it's rude to shout in other people's house."

Kotori crossed her arms but didn't say anything while Daisuke redirected his glare to the table.

"Daisuke, Kotori does have a point about you being upset a lot lately. You can talk to us you know. We are your friends, we are here for you." Sakura gave a small smile when Daisuke looked at her.

"I can't."

"Why?"

Daisuke gave a sigh before answering. "Because if I gave it words then it will be exposed and no matter what I do I would be able to make it hidden again."

Reika frowned, "I don't understand."

"He means that after you voice something, acknowledge it, you can't ignore it anymore. You can't pretend it's not there."

Daisuke made a humorless smile. "Exactly."

"However," Sakura placed her hand on his arm again, "we have been though a lot together. I promise that we will not turn from you. I don't know what our reactions may be, but we won't abandon you."

Daisuke cover her hand with his. "It's not really you, I'm worried about. Akira never seems to like me anymore and after what happened with Himeko today. I can't really blame him anymore."

"Dude, I've been friends with her longer then he has. And no, their father's being friends doesn't really count. If I don't want to kill you, he shouldn't. Also he doesn't hate you. He's just even more messed up then you right now."

"One problem at a time Kotori," said Reika. "Daisuke, please tell us. Akira isn't even here."

"If it wasn't for all these shadows, I doubt I would have friends. I may have meet Himeko before this, but...recent events have stopped that so I doubt we would have remained friends. Since I hid from the sport teams at the beginning of the year the guys haven't talked to me much." Daisuke sighed. "though I am use to people ignoring me if they don't have a use for me."

Kotori opened her mouth, but Reika kicked her under the table. They have finally gotten Daisuke to talk, she didn't want any interruptions.

"That's not too bad. What bad is...mainly the girls. People...well, people I don't know have never been so...they whisper about me, yet when I look at them they color and hurry away. If I ask them something. they mutter the answer and hurry away. It hurts to be dislike so strongly by so many people, people who don't really know me."

"Oh, Daisuke," said Sakura. Daisuke turned away from her. Her soft tone seemed to stab at his heart. His gaze feel on Kotori. It seemed like she was only back a laugh but that couldn't be right.

However when they made eye contact she did laugh. Quickly she slapped a hand over her mouth but it was too late. Her laugh hurt more that Sakura's voice.

"D-don't look like that. I'm not laugh at your pain, I'm laughing cause I know why they are doing that and sugerlips you couldn't be further from the truth."

"Wha..."

"She's right Daisuke." He turned to Sakura. "They um...certainly don't hate you. It's um...rather...well...they find you attractive."

"What?"

"Yeah," Kotori winked at him. "You've got yourself a fan club." Kotori clear her voice and pitched it higher. "He's always eating sweets, do you think his lips stay sweet?"

Daisuke turned bright red, her earlier statement made sense. "A-all of them?"

Kotori shrugged, "Most of them at least."

"That can't be right."

"How can you not know this? I'm a gay third year and I know this."

"You know...that also might explain why the boys are stand offish." Kotori shook her head. " 'Cause I swear boys are more sensitive then girls. This might make them all huffy."

Daisuke sat stunted while Kotori and Reika discussed. Was it really simple as that? Could he have read everything so badly. Sure he knew he had no sixth sense, but still he liked to think he was good at noticing emotions. He felt Sakura's hand squeeze his arm slightly. He turned to her.

"No one at school hates you and none of us ever could. We've been though too much. No matter what is going with Himeko or Akira I know that they would never abandon you."

Daisuke smiled at her and gave her hand a squeeze. "I believe you."

"Good." They both looked up when the door slid open. Himeko and Akira entered. Himeko's attention was focused on her arm. She was rotating her wrist and flexed her finger with a slight look of disbelief. When she started to poke her fingers Daisuke was sure that the pain killer hadn't worn off yet.

"Oi, Himeko unofficial club to most the girl at school belong to?" asked Kotori.

"Daisuke-kun fan club," she answered without looking up from her fingers.

"Yes, yes. I believe all of you. It doesn't make it any less strange."

"Either way now that Himeko is back we can get on with finding out what is going on."

Akira, who hadn't moved from Himeko's side, shook his head. "I don't think Himeko is in any shape to being discussing things right now. I don't know if it's cause she's tried, but she reacted strongly to pain medication. It would be best if we didn't this during lunch or afterschool tomorrow." He nodded to a sleeping Takahito. "Also he's already passed out."

"Yeah and if Kotori's yelling didn't want him, I doubt he's going to be useful anytime soon," said Reika. "So how is he getting home?"

"Taka really good at walking when he's asleeping," said Himeko.

Kotori pressed her lips together. She didn't think it would be a good idea to laugh at more than one teammate per night. "Yes, let's all just go home and sleep. Good idea."

"Come on, Himeko. Mom and I will take you and Takahito home," said Akira.

Himeko closed her brother bedroom door. She had just kinda pushed him in there, but she figured it was enough. She started to hum as she walked to her room. She continued to hum as she changed into the softest nightgown she could find. She twisted her hips enjoying the feeling of the fabric against her sore legs. A small part of her brain told her she was being silly, but she couldn't bring herself to care.

The quiet sound of her door sliding open made her look up. Natsuko was looking though the small crack. Once she saw Himeko she opened the door fully.

"Hey."

"Hey," Himeko said back.

"Do you mind if I come in?"

"I don't mind." Himeko sat on her bed and invited Natsuko to join her. She hesitated a moment before shutting the door and joined her little sister on the bed.

"I need you to tell me the truth."

"Okay."

"Do you like it here?"

Himeko shrugged. "I don't really know anything else. Also Okina is pretty close and easy to get to."

"I don't mean Inaba. I mean life at here, at the Inn. Do you want to do this forever?"

"Oh..." Himeko tugged her legs up to her chest inside her nightgown. "I don't know really. No one has really asked me about before. I don't really know what I want to do. For some reason it's never really come up." She paused, confused. It was true.

"You like dancing."

Himeko gave a small laugh. "Yeah, mainly western. I'm sure Grandfather would die from shame if I went for it."

"Himeko." Natusko's tone cause Himeko to look at her. "Forget him. I want to know what you want."

"I...if I was the only thing keeping the Inn from disappearing, yeah I'd run it but if doesn't fall to me I wouldn't mind." Himeko cocked her head to the side. Her room was dark so she could really see the expression on her sister's face. Also the painkiller was still making it hard to focus, especially on anything beyond face value. "Anyways, aren't you taking over?"

Natsuko looked away. "I..." She tucked her legs up and wrapped her arms tight around them. "I wanted to, I didn't really think about other things..."

"But..."

Natsuko whipped her head back to Himeko, even in the dim light she could see tears shimmering. "How can I be so stupid. So selfish!"

"Why are you selfish?"

"Because...I thinking about leaving everything...the Inn that has been in our family for generations...for some boy."

"A boy?" A memories broke though the lessing fog in her brain. "You mean Davis."

"How do you...?"

"I've seen you together and I've seen how you two look at each other when no one is watching."

"Obviously, someone was watching."

"Not the point here. Davis Moore is genteel isn't he? He's got a title and everything."

"Yes."

"Is that why you'd have to leave? Cause he can't give that up?"

"I know there is Oliver, but Davis is very passionate about this. More so then I have ever been in the Inn. I was going to take over because it was my lot, but I have never thought to fight for it. I've never had a real passion for it." She tightened herself around her legs. "I feel awful for thinking this."

"Don't. Even if Mother doesn't understand Father certainly would. Also don't worry if nothing else I can take over. I'm not passionate about it either, but I'm not really passionate about anything." Himeko ignored how the fact unsettled her.

"And if you do find something?"

"There is still Takahito."

Natsuko pressed her lips together. "Can a male take over?"

"We can always stick him in a wig and call him Takako."

A small laugh escaped Natsuko which caused Himeko to smile.

"Don't worry about the Inn." Himeko leaned over to hug Natsuko "Just think about Davis, if you want to be him we will understand. If anyone doesn't, I will deal with them."

"I think that the Aneue's line."

"It's an any sister line."

Natsuko leaned into Himeko. "Thank you Himeko."

"I'm here for you Natsuko, don't ever forget it."

"I'm here for you too."

Yay sister bonding! So it took so long to post this. I lost my internet and had a major writing block, but everything is planned out now so it should go quickly.