Author note: oh hey people. Less chapters to go. And all that |D

Thanks to Evilshroom for writing the trip on Day 2 and beta reading! And forcing me to write 8D


DAY 1

"Trainnnns are borrrrriiiiing."

The bullet train advanced restlessly towards Kyoto, at a speed no car would ever reach. But that was still not enough for Hamuko.

"Been forever since I last rode one." She muttered as Minato glared at her for the twentieth time since they left.

"Remind me to never take you to the Shirogane Estate."

Junpei turned towards them and smiled. "Hey, if you're that bored, why don't ya come play strip poker with us?"

Ryoji and Minato looked at each other. Then Minato looked at Hamuko, who was looking at Junpei, who in turn, had no cap on, and then she turned towards her boyfriend.

"O-okay, but I'm playing too." He sentenced, knowing fully well the "skills" of the other Fool.

"Can I play?"

Ryoji's face lit up as Aigis approached. The wiser SEES members paled considerably.

"Only if you bring Fuuka-san and Yukari-san too!" Ryoji exclaimed excitedly, earning a glare from the robot.

That android was a devil, only stopped by the opportune intervention of Miss Toriumi… who had to leave real quick when she stumbled upon a scarfless Ryoji about to remove his suspenders.


"Welcome to cliché land!" Junpei exclaimed as they got out of the train. "The most typical place on Earth to go on a school trip!"

"So do all earthlings go to Kyoto for school trips?" Aigis inquired. "I thought Tokyo was the center of the Universe."

"Aigis, don't be silly." Minato reproached her.

"Yeah, Aigis! Everyone knows Tokyo's the fireball city, not the center of the Universe." Hamuko shook her head.

"Well, Kyoto's a marvelous place nonetheless!" Ryoji took a deep breath. "Memories, memories! We need to create memories which we'll look at with fondness when we're old!"

"Yeah, ya whippersnappers wouldn't appreciate the value of… oh, what were we talkin' about?" Junpei imitated, earning a laugh from the group. "You sound ancient, man."

"He's got the right idea, though." Fuuka agreed. "We are going to have a great time together, right?"

"Oh, but Fuuka-chan, I'd have a great time with you anywhere…"

Ryoji's words made Fuuka tilt her head in confusion, unaware of his less than courteous flirting. Aigis then walked in and snatched her away from the pervert.

"Yukari-chan?"

"H-huh?" Said girl suddenly snapped out.

"You're making a habit out of daydreaming." Minato pointed out, smiling. "You'll get left behind if we don't get going."

"Oh, um… have you seen Senpai by any chance…?"

Minato didn't have to say anything. He only nodded towards a mass of unusual red hair walking next to someone with grey hair. "You did a good job talking to her."

"HUH? W-who—"

"Ryoji."

With that, he invited her to move along and stop blocking the doors of the train.


The dorm was empty. Completely void of life. Save for a ten years old boy and the team pet. Both were sitting at the sofa, side by side, watching TV. Ken looked askance at the dog, who seemed more interested in the program than he was.

"I'm bored. It's so lonely in here." He complained internally. He took another glance, and Koromaru was looking at the TV with curious eyes. "…Hamuko-san and Minato-san talk to him, and Aigis-san too. Maybe…"

"H-hey, um…"

The dog turned to him. For some reason, he seemed to be glaring at him. M-maybe he was really interested in that program? Huh…


They didn't arrive to the hotel until late into the night, and so everyone was ordered to head to their own rooms immediately. Of course they weren't going to do this, but eh. Teachers can dream.

"Yukata, yukata, yukata." Aigis moved her arms as she ran around. "This is the perfect camouflage. Everyone is wearing a yukata. I am a tree in a forest."

"Yesss. Yukataland." Junpei drooled.

"Yukarikataland." Ryoji replied, nudging him.

"You two are awful." Hamuko shook her head. "I mean, c'mon, there's nothing like kimonos."

"Kimukomono!" The new boy exclaimed, flushed.

"Oh yes, indeed." Minato nodded slowly, perhaps recalling fond memories.

"We should get going to bed before the teachers get mad." Fuuka interrupted. "After all, we still have three days ahead, right?"

Ryoji advanced towards her. "Fuuka-chan, my dear, we can have a whole li—"

A shoe met his face, and his ear was soon pinched. Yukari could only huff as he dragged him towards the boys' floor.

Fuuka just stared from afar, and then turned to Aigis. "Well then, let's go back, yes?"

Aigis turned to The Ninjas. "I will be… in your heart."

"I'm sure you will." Minato concluded, following Junpei upstairs.


Long long ago, once upon a time, there was a little place in Japan in which a race was celebrated every year. Only ninjas could join, or the fastest of the villagers. And so two ninjas and a girl joined the race.

They ran and ran, avoiding the rocks, and crossing through the unexplored lands. It was easy, she thought, for she was the fastest of the village. She was going to win!

But just then, a third ninja appeared, and made her trip. She fell face first on the ground and the third ninja ran ahead of her. And so the ninja won the race, running faster than the other two.

However, the girl was not going to give up just like that. She would try again and again… until she won. No matter how many times she had to fall.

She would definitely win in the end.


DAY 2

Kyoto was a beautiful city. Hamuko admired the scenery, breathing deeply of the air around. Everything was peaceful, and fairly quiet. She looked around one last time and nodded decisively.

"I'm bored."

Minato looked at her, sighing. "Just appreciate the shrine, Hamuko."

"I appreciated the last three!" she hissed. "Come on, let's go see the city! We could go shopping or something."

"Mitsuru-senpai would kill us if we tried to leave the group," he whispered back. "And so would Toriumi."

"Maya's busy guiding the field trip, and Senpai is up at the front moping still," she replied dismissively, ignoring Minato's frantic waving at her not to use that name. Her look turned sly. "You know, I bet there's some good lingerie stores in the city."

The blue-haired Fool opened his mouth, then shut it. He pursed his lips for a moment.

"Well... perhaps the city would be nice to see. We can be back before we're missed, I'm certain of it."

"There ya go!" Hamuko cheered. "Alright, let's ditch these guys already. No one is looking at u-"

"Did I hear mention of lingerie stores?"

Ryoji's sudden appearance behind them had each of their hearts pounding.

"Gah! Don't... don't scare us like that, you damn ninja!" Hamuko scolded, her face flushed.

"Did I hear mention of ninjas?"


And so two Fools, a robot, and an oddly-attractive lech separated from the group and made their way into a road lined with shops. Minato comforted himself with knowing that as odd as the group was, no one ever pays any mind to weirdos inside large cities.

"Ninjas-san, take cover! I detect weapons fire!"

Aigis hurled the three to the ground, raising her arms. Every eye in the area was on them.

"Aigis..." Minato mumbled from underneath Ryoji. "That's noise from an arcade."

"I comprehend. May we go and investigate?"

"...I suppose. As soon as Ryoji-kun gets off of me."

"Oh, your concern is touching, lovely ones, but I promise that I am unharmed!" Ryoji seemed distracted talking to a pair of girls who had seen fit to ensure that no one was injured by Aigis's... protection. "Perhaps you would like to accompany my handsome friend here below me and myself as we walk these streets? We could use a guide, and I could use the company of such beautiful women."

"Hey!" Oddly, the outrage seemed to come from two sources simultaneously.


After the arcade, the four actually managed to find a lingerie store. And there was much rejoicing.

"Hamuko-san, I'm afraid I cannot see the function of such an article of clothing. It offers less in terms of support than even Junpei-san does in battle."

"Huh? Oh, well, um... it's more for... Charming opponents than actually offering support, yanno?"

"I understand. The pink color is indicative of a Charm enchantment, then?"

"Sure! And the lace doesn't hurt, either!"

"What of your waist undergarments, Hamuko-san? They seem to be missing a vital piece at the front. Does that not defeat the purpose of even wearing such an article? Minato-san's school tie contains more fabric."

Minato sat at the entrance to the changing rooms, his face buried in his hands.

"Excuse me, miss. I would like to purchase one of these sets of lingerie as a gift, but I don't know how it would look on that person. Would you be willing to model it for me?"

He managed a long-suffering sigh, and then cast a last hopeful look at the changing room door. The room had been declared off-limits, as Hamuko didn't want Aigis corrupted.

"Hamuko, are you going to be buying anything?"

"Nah, I didn't bring any cash on me."

"We're leaving."


The four left the shop, beginning to make their way back to the hotel, where the group would soon be arriving, hoping to slip back in surreptitiously.

"I am never taking the three of you anywhere public again," Minato vowed. "Especially you, Ryoji-kun."

"What, you don't want to hang out any more?"

"Nowhere public," he affirmed. "If we hang out, it's gonna have to be somewhere private, with not many p-" He cut himself off suddenly in a fit of coughing. "And Aigis, y-you need to quit causing trouble, too!" he said hurriedly.

"Don't scold Aigis!" Hamuko said, whirling on him.

"She threw us all to the ground because she heard gunfire from an arcade!"

"I didn't hear you complaining while Ryoji was on top of you!"

"I- I told him to get off!"

"Oh, were you finished by then?"

As their shouting reached a breaking point, the two oblivious to much of anything other than their argument, two young men rounded the corner, dressed in poorly-fitting suits. Hamuko bumped solidly into one, knocking him down.

"Ow!" she complained. "Oh, sorry about that. I wasn't paying attention and-"

"You're paying for this suit, girly!" the one on the ground shouted angrily. A small amount of dust from the street had marked it.

"...Cant'tcha just brush that off?" she asked in confusion.

"Look, maybe ya don't understand," the thug who remained standing sneered. "If we don't get our way, you might have some... trouble in the future."

Hamuko opened her mouth to retort, but a sharp voice, carrying the promise of death, stole the breath from her lungs.

"EXECUTION."

"Aigis, we need an escape route!" Minato shouted in panic.

"Impossible without severe collateral damage, Minato-san. The crowds are too thick."

"Then we die here today."

The redhead carried herself as elegantly as ever. She would not stomp towards them. But despite that, every motion seemed furious. Even the thugs stepped back slightly. She reached the four truants, paying no one else any mind.

"What on Earth possessed you to leave the group?" she demanded. "Are you a pack of imbeciles? Did you think you wouldn't be missed? As though you're somehow hard to notice?"

"Hey lady, who the hell are you? We're trying to harass these morons!" one of the thugs cut in.

The feeling of impending doom lifted like a weight, passed from one target to another, unsuspecting one.

"I was not speaking to you. Furthermore, although I am frustrated at this pack of imbeciles, I won't have two thugs in bad suits harassing them. Go elsewhere."

One of them started forward. He stretched his arm out threateningly, attempting to grab Mitsuru. In one smooth motion, she whipped her own arm up, the point of a rapier quivering at the thug's throat.

"Go. Elsewhere. Executing you here is the kindest thing I could do. Unless you wish to continue aggravating me?"

The one without the deadly weapon aimed at his vitals seemed to have had a realization.

"Hey, I recognize you! Aren't you Kirijo? Saw ya in a magazine somewhere! Didn't your dad-"

The rapier switched targets faster than one could blink.

"Leave."

The two ran off in panic, leaving a small puddle where the first was standing. Mitsuru stood there silently a moment, hiding her rapier upon herself once more.

"Um, Senpai?" Hamuko asked hesitantly.

"Go back to the group, Seikatsu. The rest of you as well." Her voice was steady, but she did not turn to face them.

As they left, Minato mused on the advantages of using small swords like those.


Yukari had been ogling Mitsuru all day long. She just wouldn't take her eyes off her. And so when everyone was finally allowed to go their separate ways, she began looking after her. She didn't find her alone until much later, when the sun was already going to sleep.

"It's about time to go back." She muttered to her senpai, who had been staring at the river for at least half an hour. "After all, the later it gets, the more crowded the Shijou becomes." She insisted, once and again.

Mitsuru finally turned to her, with deep dark circles under her eyes. She hadn't slept well in days and it showed. Her life had given a sudden twist no one had seen coming. And with that she just huffed and rubbed her arm.

"I'll go back later. I need to think."

"What about?"

The red head grimaced. That was probably supposed to be a smile. "Insistent, aren't we? Return to the hotel before the teachers get mad. I'll respond before them for you."

"No. I'm not gonna let a friend suffer their rambling."

"Friend…?" She seemed to gasp. "You… call me your friend?"

Yukari stepped back. "Of course. I mean… I know I'm your kohai and all, but—"

"I know you don't like me. You don't have to do all this just for pity."

The fashionable brunette was a bit confounded. She really didn't like her at first but… now…

"Why are we still together in this? Is there anything left to fight against? Over? I don't know if there indeed is any such thing. However, I can tell you for sure: I already failed."

Failed? "You failed to what? To protect the most important person in your life? Is that what you're trying to say?" She was being harsh. "You said you were atoning for what the Kirijo Group did in the past, but that's not true." She knew she was being too harsh. "You were only fighting to protect your father."

"That's right!" She admitted easily. "I fought to protect him, and look what happened! My trust for the Chairman blinded me, and I fell right into his trap! There was nothing I could do! We fought during all this time, and it was for naught! Who knows if his ramblings were true? What really mattered to me, was helping my father. He placed the onus of responsibility all upon himself. And ever since the incident, he looked as if he was dead inside." Mitsuru gritted his teeth, trying to hold back her tears. "I fought so that he could release the shame and guilt that burdened him so!"

Yukari knew she was being too harsh, but…

"But my efforts were futile... and now my life is without meaning. I'm not but a failure, to him and to you all. Right?"

But sometimes the truth is harsh and painful, much like the slap Yukari gave her.

Saying that Mitsuru was puzzled as she took a hand to her cheek would be quite an understatement.

"I'm sorry. But, we don't know that for sure yet." The brunette only offered as an answer. Then, she promptly changed the subject, lest she'd be returned the favour. "Hey, did you know that I used to live around here?"

"I… did. Your records said as much." Mitsuru muttered, still shocked.

"I bet my records didn't say that after my dad died, my mom spent all her time throwing herself at random men." Yukari shook her head. "I couldn't stand to see her acting like that, so I used to come out here to the river bank to get away. My belief in my dad was all I had..."

Mitsuru didn't know the truth. No one showed her the true video. "Your father was only doing what he thought was best..." And yet she tried to defend him.

"Yes, but it was still wrong. So he fought to the end to try and make it right again. He never gave up." She smiled. "He believed Shadows were dangerous, and they needed to be stopped, even if it meant losing his life..."

With this she turned to the river bank, a determined grin on her face. "That's why I fight. I want to eliminate the Dark Hour and fulfill my dad's final wish."

"Fulfill his final wish..."

"That's all I- no, we, can do." Perhaps it wasn't the best Aesop. Or maybe it was just a crazy dream. But, still… "...Right, Senpai?"

"Yes..." She muttered. "Yes, I agree, Takeba..." Mitsuru gave a sharp nod. "It's not over yet. Nothing has been decided. We must put an end to this. For the sake of my father... and yours."

"Senpai..." Yukari mouthed, speechless.

"Yukari," she suddenly exclaimed, using her NAME, no honorifics at all, "will you stand with me until the end?"

Taken aback as she was, Yukari still could only smile and nod. "...Of course."

That moment couldn't be explained with words. The bond she suddenly felt with a person she once hated… it really had no comparison. If it wasn't so terribly awkward, Yukari would have even given her a hug.

"Well, I guess we should go and take a bath together now." She suggested cheerfully.

"T-take a bath together?" Mitsuru stammered.

"Yeah, in the outdoor hot spring back at the hotel. It's really nice. Now that we have everything out in the open, there's nothing left for us to hide!" She laughed.

"...Nothing?" Her senpai asked, her cheeks beginning to match her hair.

"H-hey, stop blushing! I didn't mean it like that!" But like everything she said, it sounded weird. "Anyways, we should really get going. It's already past curfew."

She pretended she was running off, but she knew Mitsuru would still stay there a little longer.

The red head looked up, and so she talked to the heavens.

"There is no need to worry, Father... I am not alone." She said. "...And I'll never look back again. ...Please watch over me."

Yukari wouldn't know how to describe it, but… it seemed like Mitsuru was radiating energy, at that point. Maybe her Persona…?


Meanwhile...

"So, what do we do now?" Minato asked, looking around the 'traditional' hotel.

"Get in rooms which aren't ours despite it is specifically prohibited to do so, for no real reason other than boredom?"

Hamuko blinked in confusion. "Really, Minato?"

"Hey, this is a school trip and we already did something stupid today. May as well loosen up a bit."

"I like how you think, Mister Shirogane."

"Please, call me Kitaro."

As they were heading upstairs, Hamuko caught a glimpse of Yuko standing by the vending machines. She halted in the spot.

"I'm… gonna pass on gossiping this time." She apologized. "I just remembered I promised Ken I'd buy him some souvenir."

She walked downstairs while he only muttered an 'oh okay'. She didn't want to meddle. Minato really needed to mend things with Yuko, and he had to do it alone, no better chance than this to begin.

Minato promptly turned towards the vending machine, wondering why she'd left like that when… he finally saw her.

And she saw him too.

"Hey, wait—"

And with that she was already gone, while he only balled his hand near his heart. Yuko, huh…?


DAY 3

The third day was just some more walking around. Shrines and all. You'd think there was more to see in Kyoto. No geishas. Things and stuff happened. References to anime and manga were made.

Mitsuru was happy again. Yukari had made friends with her. And in the end, the group separated, nobody cared, and Ryoji somehow tricked Hamuko into walking along the bank of the Kamogawa river. Crepes were involved in the event. Fortunately Minato noticed soon enough and prevented one lech from making advances on the other.

And so they ate crepes and looked at the water flowing down the river.

"Why me?"

Both Fools turned their heads to Ryoji, but only one stopped munching their food. Said guy glared at the other Fool and turned to the new guy. "Why you?"

"I mean… you two are really amusing, you know?" He chuckled. "You have this… aura that attracts people to you. I've seen you talk to pretty much everyone in the school, and they all greet you and talk about you two every time you pass by, yet you seem to keep a distance with them. So… why me? How comes you've let me be so close to you two?"

Minato turned back to his crepe in silence, whereas Hamuko peeked at Ryoji.

"You remind me of a ghost." She mumbled. "I KINDA miss him."

Both guys seemed rather surprised at the answer, but only Minato seemed to understand after glancing at Ryoji for a long while.

"You know, you just began tagging along uninvited and—"

"And then Minato checked you out and immediately set out to let you in… the group."

"I DID NO SUCH THING."

"Oh, yes you did!"

"NO."

"Then why do you always hang out with us?"

"B-because I love you, of course!"

It was in that precise moment that Ryoji's face went pale.

"I-is this a sudden love confession or was it something you already knew?"

Hamuko got uncharacteristically red and looked at her feet. "The latter."

"Hm." Minato nodded, glancing away.

"Well." Ryoji nibbled his crepe.

The tension which suddenly ensued was almost palpable.

"It's always great to love someone… And I… I" He suddenly exclaimed, red as a tomato. "And I can't help but love both of you! Let's go out together!"

"Eh."

"EH."

Minato and Hamuko shared a flabbergasted expression. Ryoji looked like he was about to suffer a stroke. Somewhere in the world a monkey was covering his mouth in dismay.

"…Okay?" Minato muttered.

"H-Hey, wait, no…" Hamuko tried to complain. "This wouldn't be the first group date, but…"

"That's not a group date." He spluttered. "And uh, it's nothing like that. You didn't mean 'going out' like 'going out together', riiight—"

"Indeed!"

Minato nodded slowly. "This conversation stopped interesting me five minutes ago."

"But! I'd feel lonely if you weren't there too." Ryoji tried to convince him. "We're a group after all…"

"Ryoji-kun…"

"So it's a yes then?" Hamuko quickly asked.

"IT'S NOTHING LIKE THAT!" He yelled. "I just…"

"Like him?" She sneered.

"I-I-I… SCREW YOU TWO. NOT LIKE THAT."

The female Fool and the lech saw Minato leave stomping. And so Fortune reached level 5.

Hamuko couldn't hold back a sigh. "God, and you just know he'll lock that in his heart forever. I'd better go think of something to cheer him up."

"You're right! I'll cheer him up like no one has ever!"

However, something went wrong. Very wrong.


And so hours later… A life or death situation arrived, fruit of Ryoji and Junpei's machinations, and the sudden appearance of Mitsuru amongst the female side of SEES.

"Crew, we're about to embark on what will possibly be the most dangerous mission we have ever faced." Minato announced solemnly, casting glances around his group.

"Mission? What are you—"

"Ryoji, this was your idea, so you're now part of the group." Junpei proclaimed, as he laid a hand on his shoulder.

"What we're about to face, my dear gentlemen, are not monsters or lunatics. They're women, and they're NAKED and EQUIPPED, oh god so well equipped." The bluenet harrumphed. "We only have one chance to get alive out of this. The strategy will be the follo—"

"I'm sure I've heard something!" Yukari's voice was heard in the distance.

"SCRAM!" Akihiko ordered, and soon all the boys were holding onto their towels for dear life as they sneaked around the rock.

"Left or right?" Junpei asked with a thread of voice.

"THAT'S YUKARI! GO LEFT!" The Fool commanded.

"D-dddamn! Mitsuru's there!" Akihiko whimpered.

"Just go left!" Minato cried out. "I'm the leader here, I—"

"We can avoid them diving!" Ryoji suggested. "And maybe emerge under some towel!"

"Good idea!" Junpei agreed. Soon, both tied their towels strongly around their waists and dived in, away from them.

"No, wait!" Minato growled again. "You'll suffocate and—argh, Senpai, what in the name of the moon are you doing?"

"I don't want to be executed." He whispered as he hid in a crevasse of the boulder which separated them from the girls. "I don't want to suffer that again."

"S-senpai! It's not the moment for traumas!"

"You're making too much noise!" He complained, pushing him away as the bluenet tried to drag him along.

Minato suddenly found himself alone, and too late to move anywhere, for he could hear both Yukari and Fuuka whispering and asking if there was anyone there. Even Aigis was talking about her cannons!

"This is it." He thought as he backpedaled towards the rocks that surrounded the pool. "I'm not going survive another execution."

He took a deep breath and gulped. "Goodbye, woooUH-OH!"

Out of the blue, he was pulled outside the pool, away from the girls' sight field due to the censoring effect of the steam. "What in the…?"

When he was beginning to think that he was suffering hallucinations due to spending too much time at such high temperature, someone placed a finger on his lips. Minato opened his eyes just enough to tell apart the silhouette of a girl he knew all too well.

"Hamu—!" He yelled happily, only to be interrupted by the same insistent digit. Of course, if they heard him, he'd be dead and she'd be a traitor. Still… "I-I didn't do it on purpose. They dragged me into this! Ryoji and—"

"Shut up, I know." She chided him. Then she giggled softly. "I think that Ryoji clown was just trying to cheer 'you' up. 'You' being 'himself', of course, hah. You and my brother are too naïve for your own good. "

Then it hit him. "Senpai! Aren't you going to help him?"

"Ah, he'll be fine." She shrugged in a way that would have revealed a lot under her towel if it wasn't for the hideous amount of steam. "…So."

She finally moved the finger away from his mouth. "You owe me one now."

"H-huh…?"

"You're free to go now, but… you'd better come back once this mess is over."

Before he could articulate a single word, she leaned over him and planted a soft kiss on his lips. "I love you."

And with that, she had to go back into the hot spring, for they were already beginning to miss her after two successful detections.

Minato just laid there a bit longer, convinced that he really was too dizzy from spending so much time in there. Once he felt a bit better, he rushed away, determined to go back the very instant the others left.


Meanwhile…

Akihiko was shivering, still hidden in the crack when he heard the squelch of someone walking in the water.

"One, two, Mitsuru's coming for you."

He gasped and tried to blend into the darkness of the crevice as well as he could to hide from the robotic voice who was singing, but alas… she found him.

"NO, WAIT, MITSURU! I was dragged into this, I—!"

"Senpai!" Hamuko suddenly exclaimed. "We have two suffocated peeping Toms here!"

"Traitor!" Junpei let out a chocked scream. "I hate you, Ryoji! Where the hell's Minato?"

Using her sister's distraction, Akihiko tried to swim away… only to stumble into Aigis, who had shut her emotion display subroutines down.

"Here's Aigis."

Having to suffer a water cannon was still better than being turned into a block of ice.

"Surrender! You are cornered." Mitsuru growled at the two boys, who were rather literally between a rock and a hard place. Or two.

"What do we do now?" Junpei cried.

"Take refuge… in audacity!"

Ryoji used Flash!

Trainer Junpei was executed.

Mission failed.


"Hamu?"

Minato had had to go back to his room, afraid that the girls would try to look for him. He had seen the girls carrying away the lifeless (maybe) bodies of the male portion of SEES, plus the gatecrasher chivalrous pervert, and how Hamuko told them that she'd like to stay there for a while, but they could go.

And now, there he was. Talking to the hot springs, for he couldn't catch a glimpse of Hamuko. Aigis was right when she said they were ninjas, hah.

"Boo!" She suddenly pulled him into the pool, regretting it just a second later because they hit a rock.

"Augh, Hamuko." He rubbed his arm. "Grow up, will you?"

They both walked towards a somewhat deeper zone and sat down. "You know we'll be in a lot of trouble if anyone finds us, right?" He asked, concerned.

"Hm, yeah." She shrugged as it was usual of her.

"So? Haven't you stayed here long enough? Is spending a few minutes more here worth the risk?"

She seemed bewildered for a moment, but then she just began laughing rather loud. "And I'm the one who needs to grow up, right?" She asked as she rubbed her eyes, effectively adding more water instead of drying them.

Minato needed a few moments to process what she was implying. Then it hit him and he clung to his towel. "H-HELL NO." He shouted as he began swimming towards the edge and got out of the water.

"Aww, c'mon! I've never…" Hamuko suddenly closed her mouth and rubbed her chin. "Well, except that one time with—"

"La, la, la, I don't hear you." He repeated once and again as she tried to tell him that anecdote. "And just for your interest, you're getting wrinkled like a raisin. You are going to look like an old lady if you don't get out of there."

"I never get old. I mature." She ran a hand up her wet hair. "But you got a point there. This can't be too good for the scars, right?"

"Yeah…"

They looked at each other with troubled expressions. "So young, and already so scarred, huh?" She muttered, sinking half of her head in the water afterwards.

"We aren't that young either." He sighed. "We only have a year of school left after this, and then we'll be off to college."

"I'm not." She corrected. "Ain't gonna go there. Studying is not my thing, yanno."

"What? But that's stupid! Do you want to be a parasite your whole life?"

She knit her eyebrows together and sank a little deeper.

Poor, poor Fools. They forgot a crucial fact: the Dark Hour happens everywhere.

Good thing no one could hear Hamuko's ear piercing shrill.


The following morning.

"Well."

"Well…"

"Well!"

The boys sighed in unison as they tried fruitlessly to form a coherent thing to say about the situation. Another sigh joined them, albeit a few seconds later.

"Why you…" Junpei muttered under his breath as he wiggled his fingers as if he was strangulating the air. "What kind of leader are ya? You were the first to leave the ship, man!"

"Yeah?" He chuckled. "Well, I have contacts, you know."

"I hope ya enjoyed the night, 'cause—"

"Oh, I enjoyed it. Very, very much." Truly, he had quite a good laugh. At everyone's expenses. "How did you like the execution?"

"I remember cold. Coooold. And then everything turned black." Ryoji shivered.

Akihiko nodded. Aigis's attack saved him from anything major. But the other soldiers fell and he was heavily threatened, nonetheless.

Just then, the girls walked into the scene. The league of the extraordinary glares!

Yukari, expert on sharp frowns! She stabbed Ryoji multiple times trying to prove looks can kill.

Mitsuru, master of acquiescent askance glances! Looked down so hard on Akihiko that his soul was crushed beyond repair.

Fuuka, doctor on pitiful looks! She stared at Junpei like he was a puppy killer. His heart was broken from three different angles!

Hamuko, seductress from hell! Too much trauma the previous night led to horrible dark circles which crept the shit out of everyone.

Aigis… probably knew Minato was there too, but she said nothing. She was on Ignore Mode.

"Get in the train losers, we're goin' home." Yukari spluttered. "…Oh, Minato-kun. You shouldn't sit with them, you don't know what they tried to do."

"My! What could be so grievous to earn the ire from—" No, okay, he knew when to stop. The others knew where he lived.

And so they departed later that morning, trying to leave behind the horrible events of the previous night. What happens in Kyoto, stays in Kyoto.

If the girls decided to stop reminding them, that is.


That night in the dorm, a thick invisible barrier was erected between the girls, Minato and a robot, and the boys.

"I'm still so lonely." A young boy complained to himself, as his pet ran towards the robot.


Hotsprings, hell yeah. As if :3