A Bittersweet Return
A joint work between RionAgrias and Kisdota- The Freak Gamer
If I owned Persona… I don't.
If you want more of it 'Japanese-ish' or the reversal names… Look, unless you ask me to, this is the story in English. I'll give you what Persona game play gives you, nothing more. Otherwise, I'd be translating my story into Japanese for you.
The murders of Mayumi Yamano and Saki Konishi had stunned the town of Inaba as the citizens were left wondering who would commit the heinous crimes… especially when they would hang their victims on telephone poles or TV antennas. They were wondering why people were being kidnapped all over the place. They were stunned when one of the teachers in a local high school was murdered by another killer in a copycat execution for the second killer to gain attention for himself. The citizens of Inaba were left scared and confused when fog enveloped their town and were causing them to drop down, become sick, and end up losing hope in humanity. No one could solve the murders… no one could clear the fog in their minds… their hearts… their souls…
Who did solve the murders? Who knew who solved the murders? Most of the inhabitants in Inaba would never know how the murderer was caught, why the kidnappings stopped, and how the fog dissipated. The murderer knew how they figured it out… those meddling little kids.
Who would believe that it was all because of eight individuals who risked their lives to save not just Inaba, but also the world?
One of the heroines was a detective called upon to solve the case, hiding her gender because she was going against the social norms. Another hero was the same as their enemy who only wanted to live in peace and bring the world back to normal. One was an idol who originally meant to take a break from her work, but ended up doing anything but relaxing at home. One was a local bad boy who was anything but bad. Another was a young innkeeper's daughter, changing her perception of the world as she tries to save it. The sixth was a young tomboy whose friendship with her friends were brought into question, but her loyalty saved her from annihilation. The seventh was a young boy whose boredom with the town had reached a fever pitch, but his involvement in the case and his friends gave him new life. Finally… there was the fearless leader who led their team.
If only the town knew how we saved them…
Their fearless leader had silver hair and arrived at the beginning of his 2nd year of high school when his parents moved away for a year for work. He was a soft-spoken young man who said little but his actions proved his mettle and leadership. His leadership not only helped solve the murders, but his social actions brought his friends to him. He made his friends care for him, and even made a few of them fall in love with the silver-haired boy. The innkeeper's daughter, the tomboy, the idol, and even the detective… fell in love with the silver-haired boy.
The silver-haired young man's actions brought more than his fellow mystery solvers to him. Fellow club members, fellow people at his part-time jobs, and even a god damn fox grew close to him over his one year at Inaba.
It did not match the fact that the fearless leader not only bonded with his neglected cousin, reconnected their fractured family, and even saved her life from the kidnapper. It was the one thing the fearless and quiet leader was probably most proud of… becoming very close friends with his cousin. She considered him her 'Big bro', and he was her "Little sis'. His uncle considered him part of the family. His cousin even asked him to marry her at the end of the school year. He was just that polarizing.
Unfortunately for everyone that knew him, from his best friend with fluffy brown hair to the old dying woman who inhabited the floodplains; For the leader had to return to his hometown at the end of his 2nd year. For many of those involved in his life, it was an extremely sad event to see such a person leave their town. The greatest thing that could happen was… for him to return and share more of his time with the people cared about him.
The revelation was… Souji Seta was returning to Inaba for part of his summer vacation. The other revelation was…
No one knows that I'm coming to visit.
Everyone was sad when Souji Seta, the silver-haired young man, had to leave Inaba… but Souji felt a little melancholy when he had to leave their side as well.
Souji had friends at his old school, but they were nothing like Yosuke, his fluffy-haired friend. He felt no connections with friends at his hometown like he did with his classmates Yukiko and Chie; they were the innkeeper's daughter and the tomboy, respectively. There were no idols, no detectives, or sewing softies waiting for him when he returned… he was by himself, without a pedobear in sight.
Souji found himself arguing with his parents about not joining them in their summer vacation to America.
Mom and Dad were just in America, and now they want to go back?
Souji did not want to spend his break with his parents… he would rather spend it with his friends. He wanted to spend it with the friends he left behind… before he had to get down and study hard for the entrance exams. How important was it to Souji? It was extremely important it to him. His friends missed him tremendously, but Souji missed them just as much. He… he needed to see them. That's why… he saw summer as a chance for him to go and see them again. It was why he was fighting against his parents so hard to be able to travel back to Inaba and see them. He was returning to Junes, and to the Amagi Inn. He would be training down at the Samegawa Floodplains, and then he would learn how to make oven mitts of all things. He would visit Okina Station with a red-haired friend, while bugging a mascot in his spare time. He would solve a trivial mystery with someone in a blue suit and blue hair. This is why Souji shut himself in his room, arguing with his parents until they relented.
After all of his troubles persuading his parents, Souji ended up on the train with his black duffel bag in hand. He wiped back his silver hair as he sat down on the vehicle that would take him back to Yasoinaba Station. He would call his cousin on the way there. He would need a place to stay, and according to his uncle… Souji was always welcome in the Dojima household. He had not stayed in Dojima's home since the day… the day they fought off a goddess. As he sat back in his seat… he closed his eyes, waiting for the train to start moving.
I remember that first day in Inaba like yesterday…
Souji had become tired on his train ride to Inaba last year. When he fell asleep, he felt himself among two in an unfamiliar room… asking for his name, giving him a tarot reading. When he awoke, he had nearly arrived at the station. It was then that the real excitement began.
He had arrived in Inaba slightly groggy. Waiting for him was his younger cousin, Nanako, and his uncle, Ryotarou Dojima. After greeting them, they headed back in Dojima's car and stopped at a gas station for a fill-up… and a smoke in Dojima's case.
Dangerous, I know…
Souji left the car to stretch as Nanako went to use the restroom. The gas attendant began to question Souji about his purpose in the small town and what he would be doing during his stay. Souji did not really have an answer for the… guy? He was not really sure if it was a man or a woman working the pump, but when Souji reached out to shake the 'guy's' outstretched hand… he felt the world flash around him. It made him feel queasy all over and his cousin asked if he was alright. He had to turn in early before he even finished dinner.
Souji got lost in a foggy dream and was forced to fight someone he could not touch while being taunted the whole way. He awoke in a sweat and was not lucky enough to rest. His school year… no… his awakening to his real life would begin that day.
Souji could still see his "Little Sis" in his mind, little brown pigtails and all. He had to let someone in his Inaba family know he was coming, so this was the one family member he would let know.
Souji had dialed the residential line of the Dojima Household after he made his first transfer for the longer train ride. He expected that Nanako would be by herself early in the morning. He wanted to talk to Nanako about his long-term stay, not to anyone else.
"Hello? Dojima Residence…," Nanako said.
"Little Sis…?" Souji asked.
"Big Bro!" Nanako sounded ecstatic at hearing Souji's voice.
"How are you? How is school going?" Souji inquired.
"School is going great! I'm doing great!" Nanako sounded a lot more cheerful than she ever was at the beginning of his 2nd year. If there were any negative feelings in her day, this call had washed them away.
"I'm glad to hear that," Souji said. He asked, "Do you think if it's okay… if I come and visit for a while?"
Nanako did not answer for a while. Souji wondered if she was rendered speechless. Eventually, she responded, "Yeah! Dad will say yes!"
"Alright, I'll be there on the next train," Souji told Nanako.
"Bye, Big Bro!"
"See you soon, Little Sis…"
Souji was happy about being able to return to his uncle's home. He was "part of the family", according to his uncle. In many ways, he felt closer to them than he did to his own parents.
Souji one other series of calls during his train ride, which was not exactly filled to full capacity. He wanted to have at least one of his old friends waiting for him at Yasoinaba when he came back. Souji had trouble reaching any of them, however. He tried calling the first person he met, by watching him crash his bike into a pole, Yosuke Hanamura. The brown-haired 3rd year… did not pick up the phone. Souji learned last year that though it sucked to be the manager's son of a small town mega-mart; he had found a good friend in Souji. He had even beat the shit out of Souji in the process, but Souji got him good, too.
He's probably working at Junes.
Next, Souji tried calling two of the girls who had confessed their love to Souji last year. One girl had long black hair and was an innkeeper's daughter named Yukiko; she was normally was shy, but was actually quite cheery and talkative. The other was a girl with a brown bowl-cut, and was a kung-fu obsessed tomboy who was best friends with Yukiko. Chie, that was her name, only strengthened their friendship when she nearly killed herself trying to save Yukiko. Neither of the girls picked up their phone when Souji called them.
I can understand Yukiko… she could be working at the Inn. Chie… Is she helping Yosuke at Junes? Is she at the Inn? Hell, I don't know…
Yukiko was the only girl that Souji accepted her confession of love. It was quite painful to see the others' reactions, even though he put them down softly. To say he did not at least feel something for them; it would be a complete and utter fallacy. Yet, he shared a secretive relationship with Yukiko that no one… not even Chie knew about. Yukiko visited his room… multiple times; he even spent time with her on Christmas Eve.
Best night of my life… so far.
The only downside was that when Souji left Inaba, the pair split. If it was for the best, Souji was not sure, but… he still cared for Yukiko; he cared for everyone.
Kanji, the toughest-looking friend Souji had with his bleached blond hair, but he was actually probably the softest on the inside. Souji's gangbanger did not answer his phone either. When they first heard about Kanji, the consensus was that they believed Kanji was in a biker gang. The reality was that he beat up biker gangs so his mother could get some peace and quiet. Kanji was actually an insecure guy who liked to sew, and Souji was okay with that.
Is he busy sewing or something? God damn it, people…
It would be pointless to call Rise Kujikawa, the red-haired idol with pigtails, because she was most likely out of town. Because of Souji's machinations and conversations with her, she ended up returning to her modeling and singing after Souji left Inaba. She was on a self-imposed hiatus until she met Souji and the rest of his friends. The murder case brought adventure to her life and she was no longer sitting around, depressed and melancholy.
I hope she is doing well. I bet she will visit if she knows I'm coming to Inaba. Considering how much she hung onto me during the year… and what she said to me… I'm sure she will.
Another of them, Souji was unsure if he should bother calling his friend. He could be working at Junes as their mascot, or… he could be in a place that had no cell phone reception.
At least the place Teddie lives in looks prettier than anything I've ever seen.
Teddie, the unknown character, was unsure of his own identity and sought out Souji for not only for his help in finding himself, but also for finding peace in his world. Souji helped him with both.
Souji did not think that calling one of his schoolmates that were not as closely involved with him as the ones he had just called. He was rather close to Kou, Daisuke, Yumi, Ai, even Naoki… but it was not just the same as his friendship with Yosuke and the others.
There was only one member left that he could call. It would not be awkward, but it was always interesting when dealing with a detective like Naoto Shirogane. Souji and everyone else never knew if she would be talking like a guy or a girl that day. She dressed like a guy, acted like a guy, and had the whole country fooled until the end of September last year. Though she accepted the fact that she was a girl, only Souji was able to erase the boundaries within Naoto and her discrimination-laden field. He had to prove to her that it was okay to be a girl even if you do not want to be a housewife. Souji literally had to take a knife for her… albeit a plastic one to prove his point. Souji, though he never mentioned it, found Naoto the most interesting person of all of his friends, even if he had met her last out of all of his friends.
I hope she's not working on a case… if that's so, she might not even be in Inaba. Hell, she said she would follow me back to the city when I first left.
With all of these failures, Souji was a little wary; he was almost expecting Naoto not to pick up the phone. If she did not, he would have to hope that Nanako and her father could pick him up from the station. He did not want to be an inconvenience to Dojima and force him to take time off… time Souji's uncle probably did not have.
Souji punched in the numbers and put the phone next to his ear. The phone rang once… and then twice… He reassured himself that the fact the phone was on was a good thing as the phone rang for the third time. The breath in Souji's throat caught…
"Hello… Senpai?" A voice that sounded a little strained… an unnatural almost male-like voice responded.
"Naoto-kun?" Souji asked.
"Senpai… I haven't heard from you in months…," Naoto said.
"I'm sorry…," Souji shut his eyes in mock shame. He just did not have a chance to get a hold of many of his friends since he started school again.
"It's okay. You have been busy, I am sure," Naoto reassured him. She asked, "Why have you called?"
Souji questioned, "Will you be available this afternoon to meet me at the station?"
"Are you implying that… you will be returning to Inaba?" Naoto said.
"Only for a part of the summer," Souji answered, "I convinced my parents to let me go." Souji continued with his plea, "No one else can come meet me, so if you are available and not working on something…"
"Nothing is impeding me at the moment, and besides… our leader is coming back," Naoto had a hint of happiness in her voice. She finished, "I will be there."
"Great! Thank you, Naoto-kun… The train should arrive around 4…," Souji told her.
Souji felt relieved that someone would be waiting for him when he arrived as he hung up his cell phone. Having someone like Naoto around would be useful for him to find out what happened during the months he was away from his second home. Naoto might be the perfect person to tell him everything; she was by far the most observant out of any of his friends.
Souji closed his eyes, relaxing in his semi-comfortable seat, feeling relieved about the situation. He had a place to stay and someone waiting for him when he arrived. It would be a perfect return to Inaba for Souji.
Souji awoke to an announcement that they were approaching the Yasoinaba station. Souji momentarily looked up to the overhead compartment, even while he was still sitting down, to make sure his black duffel bag was still located in its original position.
"We are now nearing the Yasoinaba station… We are nearing the Yasoinaba station."
Souji was dreading what was next… the bombardment of annoying announcements.
"Please be careful when retrieving your personal items because they may have shifted during the train ride…"
"Please be careful when leaving the train because there is a gap in-between the train and the station."
Those announcements are kind of annoying. I'm not a baby…
Souji still remembered leaving Inaba only a few months ago. The tearful goodbyes, the picture Souji still kept with him, and the proclamations of his return in the future; it was all so important to him.
Souji was looking for Naoto as the train slowed down. He could not see her on the platform. There was no reason for her to wait on the platform, that she had even arrived yet, or she might have even changed her mind and decided not to come; if that was the case, Souji hoped she would have called him. He checked his phone and there were no messages.
As the train stopped, Souji stood up, turned around, picked up and shouldered his bag. He took a momentarily glance outside the window… and saw none of his friends on the platform. He walked a few steps forward and then turned towards the fresh air of Yasoinaba Station.
I'm… I'm home…
The fresh air of Inaba was so much cleaner than the dirty air of the big city where he lived normally. The simple way of life… was the right way to live life in Souji's mind. He took a few steps and looked down, past the platform and gate, and down the stairs. To the left of the gate and resting on the telephone pole, where Souji would have trouble seeing from the train, a scruffy mess of short blue hair that did not reach the ears that belonged to a petite person with beautiful dark blue eyes. She was a girl… but you would not be able to tell if you knew her well, and she confided her deepest secrets with you. She had navy blue pants on, oblivious to the heat… Then again, Souji wore black pants as well. She had on a short-sleeved blue button-up shirt on with a loose yellow tie, but Souji was shocked with the one difference… something he noticed as soon as he laid eyes on her for the first time since he left Inaba.
She loosened her bandaged slightly. 'I' can actually tell… that she's a girl. What the hell is going on here?
He could only tell that because Souji spoke with her almost every day towards the end of the year.
As Souji's eyes widened and struggled not to let his mouth gape, Naoto turned her head towards the silver-haired and gray-eyed boy. She looked just as surprised to see Souji as he did. She pushed her back off of the pole and faced Souji, looking up to lock eyes with the taller boy.
I just noticed… she's not wearing her hat, either.
"Senpai…," Naoto said.
Souji gave a similar remark, "Naoto-kun…"
"Everyone missed you," Naoto told Souji.
"Likewise…," Souji nodded. He asked, "Where's your hat?"
Naoto rolled her eyes, "Does it matter on what I choose for my dress?"
"Not really…," Souji muttered, feeling a little silly. He was just used to Naoto wearing her hat.
Naoto crossed her arms, "We have a bus to catch, right Senpai?"
She's not annoyed with me, is she?
"Right… let's go," Souji agreed.
The pair walked next to each other all the way to the bus stop. As they waited for the bus, Souji asked, "How has school been this year?"
"A bit tedious, since you asked," Naoto answered.
"What do you mean?" Souji cocked his head slightly.
"It's boring…," Naoto said.
"Boring as in… it's too easy, or you miss going into the TV boring?" Souji questioned.
I'd understand either one, but I wouldn't want to go back into the TV.
"Mainly that it's too easy," Naoto admitted. She continued, "My homeroom teacher is not very agreeable, either."
Souji raised his eyebrows, "Don't tell me that your homeroom teacher is… Kashiwagi?"
Naoto nodded and Souji rolled his eyes. Naoto won the beauty pageant last year… over Kashiwagi. It was obvious why Naoto was having a hard time… Kashiwagi was a miserable, jealous, over-the-hill bitch.
"I'm sorry...," Souji comforted Naoto, "I hope Kashiwagi isn't being a complete ass."
"It's tolerable," Naoto said, "Do not worry…" She sighed, "It is odd though… Not having a case to work on… a little lonely too…"
As the two walked up the steps of the bus and sat on opposing seats across from each other, Souji was not exactly sure what to say.
"How is everyone else doing?" Souji asked.
Naoto took a deep breath and said, "Well… Yosuke and Chie are still getting into fights all the time. They act like children sometimes. I think they need you to straighten them out before Chie kills Yosuke." She went to adjust her hat, but remembered she was not wearing it, "Kanji is still sewing animals for everyone in the Residential District. If Yukiko and I did not help, I don't know if he would have made it through the mid-term. Yukiko is still taking care of the inn, but she misses you a lot."
Naoto continued, "Teddie comes out of the TV every once in a while to either work at Junes, or to visit us. You need to save Nanako from him; it's creepy."
"Rise left not too long after you did… She's off and doing her modeling business. You had to have heard her somewhere," Naoto told Souji.
Souji nodded, "I have seen her on TV."
She better be more assertive this time around.
Naoto nodded. She felt like she had explained enough, even if her explanations were in short spurts.
Souji was not quite satisfied, "Naoto… how about you? What about you outside of school?"
Naoto looks surprised about Souji's interest in her life; she seemed a little uneasy, "Well… I'm not working on cases or anything; that's what my grandfather does. If I did, I would not be able to spend time with the others. You taught me to enjoy my time in high school as a girl, and I am going to."
Oh really… as a girl?
Both of them got off the bus at the Southern Shopping District. It would be very inefficient to get off at the next stop at the Residential District because they would be heading in opposite directions. They would have more time to talk this way.
"Did you do anything fun over Golden Week?" Souji asked as they passed Marukyu Tofu. Rise's grandmother was tending to the shop and Souji waved to her as he passed by.
Naoto looked embarrassed at this point, and even blushed slightly. Souji looked confused and waited for her to gain the courage to tell him her actions over the small break during the spring.
"Umm… I went on a date with Kanji," Naoto finally said, closing her eyes and blushing.
"I see… wait… What!" Souji was shocked.
Umm… did Kanji finally get some balls or what? I'm so damn confused…
"Can I get an explanation here?" Souji managed to ask.
"He asked the day before Golden Week began, stuttering and blushing like mad," Naoto shook her head, "The whole 2nd year class, not to mention Yosuke and the others were all laughing at us." She sighed, "I just couldn't reject him in front of everyone without destroying our friendship."
Ever hear of letting someone down gently?
"So…," Souji said, "What was it like? The date?"
"Most awkward event I have ever attended," Naoto muttered, "It is one of those times I regret being a girl."
I think… Kanji would still like you even if you were not a girl.
Souji raised an eyebrow, "Why…?"
"If Kanji does not speak to me during the date, what am I supposed to say? I know I am a girl and the guy is shy, but if the guy does not try at all to add to the conversation; it is exasperating!" Naoto brushed back her blue bangs.
Souji shrugged, "At least Kanji has some experience in dating now, and he can learn from his mistakes."
I think his infatuation is very one-sided, and it will stay that way unless something crazy happens.
Naoto shrugged, "Possibly…"
As the two of them walked, the silence was deafening… it was a little awkward. Was it the fact that she went on a date with Tatsumi that caused the silence between the pair? What happened on that weird day that she clearly did not want to talk about? She apparently did not want to talk about it.
She sounds like she does not like him, but… who knows.
The pair split off after reaching the edge of the Residential District. The Shirogane Residence was a much larger residence than the Dojima Residence. That was why they were on opposite sides of the Residential District. Money made all the difference in life, especially when buying golf clubs and baseball bats to hit people with.
"I'll talk to you later, Naoto-kun," Souji said.
"I'll call everyone…," Naoto nodded, "Meet us at Junes tomorrow, Senpai."
"Thanks," Souji smiled.
Souji started to turn and walk away when Naoto called out, "Senpai!"
Her call made Souji turn around one more time. She looked like she was struggling to find her words a little as she said, "I missed you too, Senpai…"
Souji had a slight smile on his face as he turned back towards his second residence. The home where he had resided for a year was nearing his eyesight. The house looked just like he remembered it… the blue-shingled roof and wooden exterior. Re-shouldering his black duffel bag, Souji walked up to the front door and made his presence known.
I hope Nanako is home or I will be waiting for a while.
"Hello?" Nanako called out.
As she opened the door, Souji smiled and said, "Good afternoon, Little Sis…"
Seeing Souji's younger cousin in a pink tank top and the similar-colored skirt eyes widen, and then run up to the silver-haired boy and wrap her arms around his waist; it felt nice. Nanako had grown taller… her hair longer, filling out her pigtails. She was still as cute as a button.
Oh god… No wonder Naoto warned me about Teddie.
"Big Bro! You're back!" Nanako exclaimed.
"I told you that I was coming to visit," Souji nodded. Souji dislodged himself as he walked forward a little. He asked her, "Have you had a good school year so far?"
Nanako began talking about her year so far. It was a long diatribe about her friends and her new teachers. Souji mainly nodded to her responses, but it was a long-winded list of things that was even tiring Souji out. Finally, Nanako stopped talking…
"You must be having a good time in school," Souji said.
"I am…," Nanako agreed.
Souji looked at his watch; it was getting late. He walked from the wooden table towards the kitchen and the refrigerator. He was opening it to see if there was a grape drink for him to ingest; he believed it would be okay. Souji also had an ulterior motive. He was trying to see if there was something he could make for dinner.
"Little sis?" Souji asked Nanako, "Is there anything I can make you for dinner? Have you gone shopping recently?"
Nanako grinned, "Can you make me an omelet?"
Souji smiled at that as he opened up his favorite grape drink.
Just like old times…
A few hours later, after Nanako and Souji finished their omelets, Dojima arrived home from work. Apparently, Nanako did not inform him of Souji's impending arrival.
That is partially my fault. I did not really give her a lot of time to tell him that I was coming.
"Souji…," Dojima said as he first spotted him, taking off his shoes, "Are you visiting over the summer?"
"Sorry, uncle…," Souji lowered his eyes. He continued, "It was kind of a rushed decision and it a spur of the moment. I ended up calling Nanako to ask if it would be okay."
Dojima shook his head, "It is okay. I told you in the spring that you would always be welcome here." Dojima turned to Nanako, "I'm sorry that I'm so late… I guess I missed dinner. Did you have anything?"
Nanako smiled, "Souji made me an omelet."
Dojima nodded and said to Souji, "Thanks…"
Souji slept well that night. He was back in a peaceful Inaba… with his second family and got to see Naoto… he would see the others tomorrow.
The only thing that was bothering him… it was a little too perfect of a return. He would have to see when he visited his friends.
Creepy Dark Blue Limo- Velvet Room
"He has returned…," a dark cryptic voice said. It was a man speaking.
"Are you sure?" a mature female replied. She voiced her concern, "You said that before… and the consequences of that action may reveal itself in the near future."
"I am positive," the male answered, "This is not a mistake… unlike before."
"I did not expect the one to visit us to be an ersatz of the reality…," the female sighed.
"We were unaware of his capacity to deceive us," the male said with his low voice, "We were lucky that we were prepared, and that you are strong."
"What are we going to do about this?" the female changed the subject, "Ask the 'real' one to fix this? Or… are we going to have to ask the Master to help us?"
"I am afraid we will need to ask for our guest's help again," the male said, "Though… I am afraid this 'mystery' will be much more difficult than the one before."
"Should we contact him before the 'other' causes real trouble?" the female asked.
"It is far too unstable for him to accomplish his mission with only a part of the artifact," the male explained.
The female sighed, "We have not had to ask someone for help twice since…"
"That was completely different, and quite the anomaly at that," the male said.
"Well… he is visiting his friends today," the female told the male.
The male told the female, "Let him enjoy the reunion before we drop our misfortune upon them. Our folly can destroy the world…"
The female muttered underneath the man, "Its worlds now…"
I'm writing this during my busy time. I should be studying on my term papers, translating my Japanese and Spanish. You guys are great to me, so I'm writing. It's my special 2000+ plus work, so I hope you enjoy. Auf Wiedersehen.