Chapter 4: A New Bond

"Huh, that's interesting … there's two more with that power now, but it's not like the first …"

The pale haired woman stood at the Moel Gas Station, hands propped on her hips as she looked towards the Samegawa Flood Plain. Tilting her head to one side, she let a thin smile cross her lips. "The big guy didn't sense me as he rushed past; he must get a single minded focus on what matters most to him at times like this."

Drumming her fingers, she bit her lower lip in contemplation. "His aura's dark in color and feel, but it's not evil or malicious. If anything, I'd say it's self-loathing somehow, with very little hope in his good qualities. It seems brightest when he's with that auburn girl from the tofu shop." Smirking again, her red eyes danced in amusement. "She also shares that power, but hers seems to crackle with light and energy, and yet it seems soothing all the same … no wonder she eases her large friend's soul."

Still drumming her fingers, the pale woman let out an amused chuckle as another thought crossed her head. "But the third … his powers are very interesting … I've heard of open minded, but he seems almost like a completely blank slate. His only thoughts are interactions based on who he's dealing with, and yet the sheer amount of the power … it's almost endless."

Now fully intrigued, she smiled and chuckled to herself. "I'll have to keep watch on those three during this time, then; it promises to be a most interesting and educational show …"

"Nanashi, will you please tend to our guest? It appears he's waking up."

"Of course, Master."

The sound of a piano playing flowed into Minato's ears, causing him to stir. "Ugh…" Minato held his head as he woke up. "Where the hell am I?"

"Ah, I am glad to see you're finally awake."

As Minato opened his eyes, he found himself in a lounge with a blue velvet theme. To his right, a blindfolded man was playing the piano. To his left, he found a young woman, whose hair completely covered her ears, smoothing out her dress behind a microphone. In front of him, behind a table, sat a balding man with the longest nose ever seen. 'Holy crap, his nose is longer than Pinnochio's!' Minato's eyes widened.

"Welcome… to the Velvet Room," the man greeted him. "I am Igor and it is a pleasure to meet you, my dear young man."

"Uh… same here?" Minato replied, somewhat lost.

"I am sure you are lost as you can be right now." Igor nodded. "I'll do my best to explain what has happened to you."

"Yeah… thanks… So what is going on here, what happened there, and where the heck am I?" Minato shot off question after question.

"Relax, young man," Igor held up his hands. "A calm mind is more suited for processing information."

"Yeah… you're right," Minato took some deep breaths. "Alright…"

"The best place for me to start is to explain where we are right now; we are in a place called the Velvet Room. It is a place between dreams and reality, life and death, new and old, and so on…" Igor explained.

"So, limbo?" Minato quirked his head to the side.

"In a sense," Igor nodded. "I suppose a better way to put it is that this place is in the center of all things that is, was, and what will be."

"I see…" Minato attempted to process it. "I guess that makes sense."

'Dreamless dorm… ticking clock… I walk away… from the soundless room…'

Minato turned and saw that the woman had begun to sing in tune with the blindfolded man's piano playing. "…Burn My Dread?" Minato recognized the song.

"You know your songs well," Igor smiled. "Oh, forgive me for being so rude; I should introduce you to everyone. To your left, the woman singing is Belladonna."

'…My ghostly shadow to the lukewarm gloom…' Belladonna sang out as she waved to Minato.

"And the man to your right is known as Nanashi," Igor introduced the other guy.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Master Minato," Nanashi nodded as he continued to play.

"Uh… same here," Minato replied, not sure whether to make a gesture or not, since Nanashi was blindfolded.

"Now then… to explain why you're here," Igor got his attention. "I'm sure you recall the battle you were just in, correct? The one with the snake."

"Yeah… That was… one hell of an experience…" Minato slumped in his chair.

"The power you awoke to… We call it 'Persona'." Igor explained. "It is a manifestation of your psyche, formed into a mask that you use to protect yourself from the troubles of everyday life. Only Personas have the power to stand against the Shadows, the very beings you've been seeing for a long time during the hour of twilight."

"That's what they're called? Shadows?" Minato went over the info in his head.

"That is correct. Using the power of Persona, it's the job of Persona-users, such as you, to drive the Shadows back. And you are a very special Persona-user; you are what we call a 'Wild Card'." Igor smiled.

"A Wild Card? You mean like the Joker?" Minato asked.

"In a sense, you can call it that. But in reality, it's more like the number zero; empty, but full of infinite possibilities. Yet…" Igor gave him a smile that could make glass crack. "Right now, that power is weak."

"Weak? Weak how?" Igor's words just got more and more confusing to Minato.

"All Persona-users, especially those of the Wild Card, must channel their inner strength to use their power. However, right now, your inner strength is quite weak." Igor sighed, "You must build your inner strength by forging bonds with those around you: Social Links. The stronger your Social Links are, the stronger your ability with Personas will become."

"It… will?" Minato just found himself unable to follow anymore.

"It will; do not worry, for you will make sense of it soon enough," Igor assured him. "Anyways, time marches on… You should return now to your world. Please, take this."

Igor snapped his fingers and a blue key appeared in front of Minato. Minato reached forward and took the key in-hand. "What is this for?" he asked, thumbing the key.

"This'll allow you come back here," Igor nodded. "Until next time…"

Minato's vision went white and it was the last thing he knew as he passed out.

"You awake, Sleeping Beauty?"

"Hamuko, that's not something you call a guy…"

Minato felt the sun on his face burning through his eyelids, sending pain through his eyes. "Turn off the goddamn lights; it hurts," Minato moaned out, shielding his still closed eyes from the light.

"Well, I be damned; it worked, Hamuko."

"Of course it did; it's how I wake you up in the morning, you dummy."

"The hell?" Minato uttered. "Shinjiro-san? Hamuko-san?"

"You called, Sleeping Beauty?" Hamuko giggled.

"Again, Hamuko, that's not something you should call someone…" Shinjiro sighed, the distinct sound of palm hitting forehead echoing in the room.

"Ugh…" Minato slowly opened his eyes, finding Hamuko and Shinjiro sitting in chairs next to his bed. "What are you two doing here?"

"Well, we were worried about you!" Hamuko scooted closer to you. "You just blacked out and you've been asleep for well over a day now!"

"A day?" Minato's face had a blank expression.

"Kid, you've been out for about 36 hours." Shinjiro clarified Hamuko's claim.

"But how?" Minato asked.

"Probably because you used so much of your power," Shinjiro nodded. "Hamuko didn't use as much, so she was only out until the following morning."

"I… I see…" Minato gripped his bed sheets. "Wh-what did you tell everyone?"

"We told the staff that the three of us had gone out to run late night errands for Marukyu when we ran into some thugs that wanted you, Arisasto. We fended them off, but not before you got hit in the head pretty hard, knocking you out."

"M-Makes sense…" Minato nodded. "My family's work has created many enemies over the years. I can imagine security's gonna get tightened around here now… But wait. They saw me come in; how did you get past that?"

"Told them we called you over the phone and you went out the back door." Shinjiro shrugged, seemingly confident he had everything covered.

"And what about me being knocked out? There's no injury there," Minato questioned.

"There is, right behind your right ear; that's where I whopped you to make it look real." At this, he paused. "In retrospect, that might've been why you were out so long," Shinjiro chuckled.

Minato's hand flew to the side of his head, wincing the moment his hand made contact."Ow…" he moaned. "Damn, that stings…"

"Tch, you shouldn't have gone and done that; it's gonna sting for a few days." Shinjiro chastised him.

"Oh, lay off, would you!" Hamuko elbowed him in the gut. "He had it rough out there and I was partly to blame for that."

"Yeah, by frigging dragging him to Samegawa just to skip in the water," Shinjiro groaned out.

"Yeah, and I loved it; the cold water was awesome on my feet," Hamuko smiled, shrugging off Shinjiro's sarcasm. "You remember when I first took you to the river to do the same thing, Shinjiro?"

"Yeah, I remember; you were on a kung-fu kick and I tried to warn you to stop when you got crazy and did a jump kick right into my mouth. Thank GOD I didn't lose any teeth from that, and you foot tasted disgusting." Shinjiro shuddered from the memory.

"Oh, shut up, unless you want a repeat of that, you doofus." Hamuko glared at him, her leg twitching like it was ready to follow up on her threat.

"Tch, no thanks," Shinjiro shook his head and looked back to Minato, who was confused as hell. "Uh… sorry about that, Arisato. She gets like this sometimes."

"Me? You do too, thank you," she stuck her tongue out at him.

"Hamuko…" Shinjiro sighed. "Can you at least focus long enough for Arisato to get caught up? When we get home, we can continue this."

"Fine," she stuck her tongue out at him again. "But you're making me some of that delicious soup of yours."

"Tch, whatever," Shinjiro merely shook his head.

Minato just stared at the two people like it was the most devastating train wreck ever. "Uh… are you two done?"

"For now," Shinjiro nodded. "Sorry about that. Again."

"So um… Yeah… About last night… What the hell happened?" Minato asked.

"I've been trying to get him to tell me too, Minato-kun! But he wouldn't say a thing, only saying he'll tell me when you wake up." Hamuko pouted.

"Tch, is whining the only thing you're gonna do today, Hamuko?" Shinji groaned as he rubbed his forehead. "It's giving me a damn headache."

"Good," she huffed, obviously proud of what she had accomplished.

"Anyways…" Shinjiro rolled his eyes, although it was obvious he wasn't angry. "Where the hell should I start?"

"How about what the hell that was you did out there?" Minato demanded to know. "I kinda know about the green night, but I've never seen that snake before, nor that horseman."

"I haven't seen a Shadow in the shape of a snake before either, and I've been stuck in the Dark Hour for a few years now." Shinjiro responded, leaning forward and propping his elbows on his knees. "As for the horseman? That was my Persona, Castor, so that's why you didn't see him until I summoned him."

"Persona?" Hamuko asked, tilting her head to one side in confusion. "Is that what Ishtar was? And that puppet Minato-kun summoned?" Minato nodded, wanting to hear Shinjiro's explanation for this as well. "Speaking of that, how were you able to fight so well? And why did you summon by shooting yourself in the head?" Hamuko stood up and practically shouted the last question, forcing Minato to silence her before turning to the other boy.

Shinjiro's face went through several emotions all at once; pain, reminiscence, anger, heartbreak … they were all there one moment and gone the next, faster than Minato could comprehend. "… I was part of a group of Persona-users back in my home city. We all summoned with Evokers like that." His voice hinted at there being more to the story than that, but Minato didn't want to pry for fear of Shinjiro losing his temper. It seemed Shinjiro didn't want to talk of it more, because he shook his head. "But yeah, it seems you two can use that power too. I honestly didn't see that coming, but now that you two have my power as well, I'm gonna have to whip you both into shape so that you two can defend yourselves."

"Defend ourselves? From that snake?" Hamuko asked.

"Oh, there's a lot more out there than just that snake, Hamuko," Shinjiro grit his teeth. "There's so many of them out there, it's bullshit…"

"What are 'they', Shinjiro-san?" Minato asked. "Is that snake part of something more?"

"Yes," he nodded. "That snake was one of many creatures we refer to as the 'Shadows'. Shadows are creatures that haunt the Dark Hour. You know, when the green light washed over everything and the water turned to blood. It takes place every night at midnight, kind a like a hidden hour of sorts. During that time, most are asleep in their coffins, blissfully protected and unaware of the Dark Hour; the Shadows track down anyone who's not in a coffin and eat their souls. Usually, these people are easy pickings for the Shadows, but some people with 'the potential' are able to resist the Shadows and are able to summon Personas to help fight as well."

"Well, that'd explain why I was often alone during that time…" Minato nodded. "But why wasn't I attacked at all until tonight?"

"Your 'potential' most likely masked you from the Shadows or they perceived you as someone better off alone, but when you and Hamuko came together, the Snake Shadow probably grew worried from two people with 'the potential' coming together and attacked out instinct." Shinjiro nodded, not entirely sure of what he just said.

"That's probably right…" Minato agreed with him.

"So, does this kinda make us like superheroes or something?" Hamuko asked.

"I guess, in a sense, you can say that." Shinjiro shrugged.

"SO. AWESOME!" Hamuko squealed. "When do I get a morpher? Do I get a catch phrase? Do I get a transformation sequence? Do I get to make the awesome poses?"

"Tch, goddammmit Hamuko, this ain't a fucking Sentai show or Sailor Moon." Shinji's hand slapped his forehead.

"Aw…" Hamuko pouted. "But then, how do we fight?"

"Well…" Shinji reached into his coat and pulled out his silver gun. "I fight with my axe and use this device, called an Evoker, to summon my Persona." Minato looked at the gun when Shinjiro pulled it out, noticing the letters 'S.E.E.S.' were engraved into the barrel.

"But we didn't do that; we had cards…" Hamuko frowned a little. "Would we need that 'Evoker' to fight as well?"

"From what I observed, I don't think so," Shinjiro shook his head. "I don't know why, but you two are able to freely summon your Personas, unlike me; I think all you two have to do is use those cards."

"But how do we call upon them?" Hamuko wondered. "Do we just wave our hand and just will it into existence?" At that very moment she waved her hand, a blue card appeared in her hand. "Wow, didn't expect that."

"Tch, figures," Shinjiro grumbled, sulking into his chair some. "You could probably even summon them now, for all I know."

"Well, then perhaps…" Hamuko tossed the card into the air. The card shattered in midair and Ishtar appeared, floating in the air for a moment before disappearing.

"Lucky punks got it easy…" Shinjiro mumbles, a faint hint of jealousy emitting from him.

"Then maybe I can…" Minato waved his hand and another blue card appeared. "Sweet…" He crushed the card and Orpheus appeared above him, eerily looking on at them before vanishing.

"Alright you two, quit showing off," Shinjiro snapped at them, obviously jealous.

"Hehehe… Sorry, Shinji." Hamuko leaned over and pecked Shinji on the cheek. "That make it feel better?"

"Uh… Yeah… I guess…" Shinjiro's face lit up like a Christmas tree.

Minato's eye twitched at the sight, finding that he was clenching his fists. He found himself wanting to scream for some reason, but fought it down, not thinking it to be right.

"So… what happens now?" Hamuko asked the question on everyone's minds.

"Well…" Shinjiro sighed. "I guess I should teach you two how to fight. Now that one Shadow has appeared, odds are, more are going to show up; you'll need to know how to defend yourselves."

"Aw… but you'll protect me, Shinji." Hamuko smiled at him.

"I'll try my best, but if I can't, you'll need to hold your own." Shinjiro stared at her. "You too, Arisato."

"Does that mean you'll be leading us, Shinjiro-san?" Minato asked. "After all, you're the one who's fought them before and you're the only one with experience."

"Tch, I'm no leader," Shinjiro crossed his arms. "I'm the last guy you want leading you, and with Hamuko too much of a wild child, I guess that means you'll be leading Arisato."

"Hey! I can be leader too, you know!" Hamuko argued.

"Tch, says the one who can't even choose which pair of shoes to buy at the store." Shinjiro sneered at her.

"I couldn't choose between the boots or the sandals; they were both cute." Hamuko argued. "You're a guy; you wouldn't get it."

"Good for me." Shinjiro smirked. "But you know you can't be a leader."

"Humph. Fine," Hamuko leered at her friend.

"Well, Arisato? You gonna be leader?" Shinjiro turned his attention back to Minato.

"But I…" Minato sighed.

"Don't worry, Arisato; I'll be helping you along both on the frontlines and advising you as well." Shinjiro assured him.

"Well, I…" Minato bit his lip, thinking it over. "I guess…"

"You guess what?" Shinji raised an eyebrow.

"I guess I'll do it," Minato nodded. "Not like I have a choice, do I?"

"Probably not," Shinjiro shook his head.

"Sweet! I get to kick ass with two awesome guys!" Hamuko cheered, wrapping her arms around them. Minato found himself blushing when he was pulled tight against Hamuko's chest, stuck in the embrace.

"Just go with it, Arisato," Shinjiro merely shook his head. "It's easier and less painful."

"Hahaha, thanks," Minato rolled his eyes as he allowed himself to enjoy the hug.


Time froze and everyone took on darker hues. A card appeared not unlike the one he used to summon Orpheus appeared, its back to Minato. It flipped around to reveal a picture of a man holding a stick, a bag tied to one end of it, as he walked towards a cliff edge. A dog was following behind him. Below the picture was the number zero.

"Thou are I… And I am thou… Thou hast established a new bond. It brings thee closer to thy destiny. Thou shalt be blessed when creating Personas of the Fool Arcana…"

The card shattered into blue dust as it scatted over the group.

'What the heck was that…?' Minato wondered.

The group stayed in the hug for a few moments, until Hamuko broke it and looked at the two of them. "So … why did we get what Personas we did?" She asked, a look of mild confusion on her face. "I doubt they were just randomly given out, and I know the name Ishtar sounds familiar from somewhere …"

"And Orpheus rang a bell with me, as did Castor." Minato nodded his agreement, sitting up. "Can you hand me my laptop, Hamuko-chan? I'll try and look the stuff up online." As Hamuko handed over the slim computer, he shifted so that the two could look over his shoulder to see what he was doing. "It's certainly interesting that our Personas come from mythology … Ah, there we go." Smiling when his computer booted up, Minato felt the bed dip to allow Hamuko to sit next to him.

Blushing faintly from the closeness, Minato began to look up the information. "Hmmm … Ishtar, Ishtar …" He muttered, and then let out a satisfied noise when he saw an article on her. "There we go, let's see … Hmm … 'Ishtar was the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, and twin sister to Ereshkigal, the goddess of death. She was associated with the planet Venus, which is known as the Morning Star in almost all ancient records. She was mainly associated with love and general sexuality (Minato felt his face heating up the more he read about this goddess), but she was fickle with her lovers, and often left them heartbroken in the end. Giglamesh, the only man or god to have ever spurned her, lost his best friend Enkidu to her wrath. The only god or goddess to ever get the better of her is her twin sister Ereshkigal."

"W – what does that say about me?" Hamuko's face was even redder than Minato's, and she seemed somewhere between horrified and embarrassed. "I – I'm not like that!"

"It's not you as a whole, Hamuko." Shinjiro spoke up, putting a comforting hand on her arm. "It's only part of you, and think of it this way; there could be worse goddesses you got for a Persona." Relaxing at that, Hamuko nodded, but she was still flushed in the face. Minato relaxed as well, and then turned to his Persona Orpheus.

"… So that's why Orpheus sounded familiar! I've read the myth of Orpehus and Eurydice before." Now fully focusing on the myth, Minato read aloud, "Orpheus was a son of Apollo and a talented musician, with his favored instrument being the lyre. He soon married a nymph named Eurydice, but their marriage didn't last; a day after the wedding, Eurydice was bitten by a snake and died. Grief-stricken, Orpheus began to venture into the underworld to get her back, charming even the mighty Cerberus with his mournful songs and melodies. Even the hearts of Hades and his queen Persephone were softened, and he was allowed to take Eurydice back. However, he wasn't allowed to look at her until they had reached the surface. Just before they reached there, however, Orpheus glanced back in fright, but all he saw was Eurydice being whisked back to the underworld, a look of sorrow on her face. Heartbroken, Orpheus wandered the land, but was eventually castrated and killed by the Maenads in one of their drunken frenzies."

"What, getting his dick chopped off wasn't enough?" Shinjiro winced, clearly not pleased by that part of the story. "That is not a pleasant way for a man to go."

"Well, the Maenads were followers of Dionysus, and they did that to any male animal or human they came across when in a drunken frenzy." Minato added, coughing. "It's still unpleasant, I agree, but that happened in Ancient Greece with alarming frequency. Until it was outlawed during the Crusades, if I'm remembering the story correctly." Shaking his head, he looked at Shinjiro again. "Your Persona was Castor, right?" The older boy nodded, face slowly growing grim.

"Hey, I gotta go run some errands for the shop, okay?" He said, standing up suddenly. "I'll see you at home, Hamuko. It's good to see you up and about again, Arisato." Before either Minato or Hamuko could protest, he turned around and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Hamuko stared at his back in worry while Minato typed in the name of the elder's Persona.

"… I did the errand running earlier today." She stated, confused. "What's got him wanting to get out of the room?"

"… I think I know why." Minato poked her in the arm, making her look at the computer screen. "… Castor and Pollux – or Polydecus to the Romans – were the twins of the Gemini; brothers to Helen of Sparta and her twin sister Clytmnestra. While the accounts of which two are fathered by Zeus and the other two by King Tyndareus vary from myth to myth, most place Castor as the mortal twin, and Pollux as the immortal. They went on several adventures together, including becoming Argonauts and accompanying Jasson on his hunt for the Golden Fleece of Aries. Although the two were close, one day, an argument broke out between the two and a pair of cousins, resulting in Castor's death. Not wanting to leave his twin alone in the afterlife, Pollux pleaded to let Castor share his immortality, and the two were placed in the sky as the constellation Gemini."

"That … that's almost more upsetting than what happened with Orpheus and Eurydice …" Hamuko tapered off, as if thinking about something. Minato let her be, confused by this information as well. Why did Shinjiro have one twin, and yet neither he nor Hamuko had the other half? Was there more to the gruff man's past than first meets the eye?

Closing the search, Minato sighed and rubbed his forehead, feeling the spot behind his ear throb in pain again. "Agh … listen, Hamuko-chan?" Minato asked, blushing. "I'm going to go ahead and sleep for a bit. I'll see you in school tomorrow." Hamuko smiled and nodded at that, standing up. "… Will Shinjiro-san be better?"

"Yeah, it's best to leave him alone for a few hours when this sort of thing happens." Hamuko sighed. "If he's not back home by dinnertime, I'll go looking for him." Smiling brightly, Hamuko waved to Minato as she walked out of his room. "See you tomorrow, Minato-kun! Be careful with the bump on your head!" Minato waved at that and rolled onto his side, falling asleep almost instantly; he'd do his late homework when he woke up.

"… Dammit, I didn't want this to happen anymore …" Sighing and skipping a rock out over the Samegawa River, Shinjiro found himself at war with himself. "I left because I wasn't strong enough to fight the Shadows when it mattered most, and now they're attacking here … are they following me or something?"

Sighing and skipping another rock, Shinjiro felt a familiar pain shoot through him. "… I can't screw up again. If I lost Hamuko too … I'd really have nothing else to live for." Glancing around, he sat down on the remains of the dock, still staring out over the water as the memory of flames and black smoke danced in front of his eyes. The wail of an ambulance's sirens rang in his ears, a haunting memory that sent him back into thoughts he didn't want. "… Shit …" Sighing, his fingers subconsciously began to trace a pair of scars on the underside of his wrist.

"… That damn snake … none of this should have happened." Shaking his head again, he glared at the water. "But, now that it has … I ain't gonna be a coward and run away." … Still staring into the pale blue river, Shinjiro felt another shock of pain go through him. "… I … I've still got to live up to her name for me … Leoncito …" Blinking when he felt tears stinging at his eyes, the brunet rubbed at his face, mouth set in a grim line. "I've lost too many people … I ain't gonna be adding these two to the list …"

"… Aki … are you safe?" He whispered. "You're in danger, but … even if you can fight back, you're in such trouble …" A hand reached down to his pocket, pausing when he remembered nothing was in it. "Dammit … be safe, please …" Sighing, Shinjiro stood up slowly, eyes spotting a raven feather floating on the water. Not thinking, he stooped down and picked it up, sticking it in his pocket. "… I should get home before Hamuko gets worried about me." Walking away from the Flood Plain, Shinjiro paused one last time, looking towards the water.

"… Leoncito … I hope I can live up to that name …"

The next day of school was eventful; Sofue-sensei had been grateful to see him back, especially after seeing that he hadn't skipped over doing any work. "It's good to see you up and about again, Arisato-san. I hope that Aragaki gave those thugs a sound beating." Minato nodded and left for his seat after that, relieved to find both Hamuko and Shinjiro there. Giving them a shy wave, Minato sat down in his chest, feeling the bump on his head ache slightly.

It was calm until Mooroka came in for philosophy. Spotting Minato back in his seat, the man with the tooth moustache glared. "So, finally decided to show back up, didn't ya?" He snapped, and several of the students gave Minato apologetic looks. "I don't care what the other teachers think, getting beat up by a bunch of hooligans? Bullshit; why the hell would anyone want to terrorize a skinny little punk like you?"

Minato felt his temper – hard to stir – slowly rising as Mooroka continued, but before he could say anything, an annoyed Shinjiro beat him to it. "Oh, just shut it, will you?" The older boy muttered, sounding kind of tired. Glancing back, Minato saw that he looked like Shinjiro had just woken up from a nap – it was right after lunch and his seat was by the window – and was glaring death at the teacher. "You interrupted my nap."

That only seemed to infuriate Mooroka more. "You good-for-nothing piece of shit! What the hell are you even doing in school if you're going to sleep through it?"

"It kills the free time I have when I'm not working." Minato and the rest of the class had gone dead silent, just watching the exchange with wide eyes. Hamuko was clearly trying to hold in laughter at Shinjiro's last statement. Propping his chin on a hand, Shinjiro cocked an eyebrow at Mooroka. "Besides, you ain't actually teaching shit. If you would actually get your head out of your ass, I'd probably stay awake … although that might be partially due to it being after lunch."

Mooroka's face went redder than Minato had previously thought possible. "What the hell do you know about being a teacher? You're just some stuck-up city-slicker who wandered in out of nowhere and conned an old woman into giving you a job, are actually living with Kujikawa next to you like the perverted slimeball you are!"

Shinjiro didn't seem fazed, if the way he just cocked his eyebrow was any clue.

Mooroka seemed to get angrier, and Minato figured out why Hamuko was having a hard time fighting off laughter; the man looked almost comical when thoroughly enraged, hopping up and down with fury. His stream of insults were also losing steam, and Minato half suspected that Shinjiro was going to just put his head down and nap again.

However, that wasn't what happened.

Instead, Shinjiro just rolled his eyes and gave Mooroka the one-fingered salute. "Hasta la tuya, cabrón grasa."

Silence reigned in the classroom; Mooroka and most of the class clearly didn't understand a word of what Shinjiro had just said, not even Hamuko. Minato himself had only understood a couple of words. '… Shinjiro-san can speak Spanish?' he realized when he finally managed to register the language. 'Where did he pick that up?' Giving the older boy a closer look, he realized that while it was subtle, Shinjiro's skin had a brownish tint to it.

Mooroka wasn't able to recover before the bell rang, and the teacher stormed out of the classroom. Once he was out of earshot, Shinjiro grinned. "It's times like this where being bilingual is badass." Hamuko lost it, laughing and shaking her head. The rest of the class just looked at one another, confused and trying to figure out what Shinjiro had said. Minato merely gave the older boy a grateful look, to which Shinjiro nodded.

Needless to say, Ono-sensei was confused by the way the class was acting when he entered the room.

As the lunch period came to an end, Minato wandered out from the bathroom, desperately needing to go after drinking too many ranmues with his bento. Outside the classroom door, Shinjiro leaned against the wall.

"Yo," he called to him.

"Yeah?" Minato wondered what he wanted.

"Meet me and Hamuko at Tatsuhime Shrine a half-hour before the Dark Hour, got it?" Shinjiro all but ordered him.

"Yeah, I got it," Minato nodded in agreement.

"Good; don't be late," Shinjiro sulked into the classroom.

"I don't think I'm gonna like this," Minato sighed, not liking it one bit.

And here we are at the end of chapter four. :) Everything is starting to fall into place. You think you can figure out what's going on? Well, good luck with that.

As for what Shinji was saying, he said "up yours, you fat bastard"

Also, yes, we're using Nanashi/Nameless and Belladonna from the earlier Persona games; about time they got some love on the site.