Persona: World And Judgement – Chapter Forty-Five

Casualties

Hello again guys! You may not see it, but I'm actually still recovering from the last chapter! I don't think I'll be writing anything that long anytime soon, I tell you! So for now, things are going to calm down a bit and we'll go back to the good ol' moderately-sized chapters, just so I can adjust myself again. But welcome to the forty-fifth chapter! Will it ever end? We'll never know! But onwards with the chapter! LET'S GT-R-DONE!


08/10 - Afternoon - The Real World - Tatsumi Hall


They were all glad that they left the TV world in one piece, and they were all the more pleased that Yukari was safe and sound in their care. But even though there were so many positives after the fight, everyone was quiet; the glum and gloomy atmosphere left no sound and not one voice wanted to break the uncomfortable silence that loomed in the air. The only sound they could hear was the rain that continued to crash down onto the concrete outside the Tatsumi Hall, and even though it was a natural sound, everyone was sick of it, especially when two of their friends were now unconscious, still unable to wake up from their slumber.

Most of the group were sat and stood around Yukari's bed, watching with hope that she would open her eyes. But all they could see was her chest rise and fall in a steady pace, and no other movement was made. She was still breathing, but she was still damaged in the mind; that much they knew. But what they didn't know was the severity of it. As Yu, Mitsuru, Aigis, Rise, Chie, Fuuka and Yukiko gathered around Yukari, the doctor from the Tatsumi Memorial Hospital, who was also there, continued to diagnose the symptoms.

The doctor took out a small pen-sized torch from his suit pocket and used his other hand to gently open one of Yukari's eyes using his index finger and his thumb. Getting a good view of her eye, the doctor then flicked the small torch on and shone the light straight into her iris, getting head closer for a better view of what he was trying to find. He had done other checks beforehand and nothing seemed to have been wrong apart from her extreme lack of energy, but when he suddenly spotted something in Yukari's eye, everyone reacted to his expression of understanding.

He switched his torch off and placed it back into the inside of his suit jacket, turning round to the others as he did so. "Well, doctor?" Mitsuru asked, expressing the same concern everyone else was feeling. Upon being asked, the doctor gave a smile so forced that it let everyone know that it wasn't good news. But the way he spoke suggested otherwise. "It was just as you said. Yukari is undergoing extreme fatigue, and I believe that she had been deprived of sleep for some time now which would've probably made an impact on her unconsciousness. But it's not severe at all; she should wake up by tomorrow once her body and mind has been recovered adequately."

Everyone could understand what the doctor was talking about; hearing that she had been sleep-deprived was no surprise to them. Her Shadow had made it explicitly clear that Yukari was haunted by the false happiness of her dreams, and that might've suggested that her lack of sleep was a last effort to get rid of the dreams. They all looked down at the floor, but the doctor wasn't finished yet. "Did you mention to me that she had very recently been through trauma?" he asked Mitsuru, somewhat suggesting something worse to her.

"Y-Yes. That's correct." she replied nervously, looking down at Yukari with a sisterly concern. At this point, everyone desperately wanted to know, but they didn't have to wait long for the verdict. "Well, after looking at her eyes, I'm afraid there's something else," the doctor explained, already raising everyone's worries to new heights; but before anyone could expect it, the doctor continued, "due to her trauma, the psychological effects that came about from it may seem to have caused her to become blind in both eyes..."

As soon as they all heard that one word that stood out from all the others, everyone recoiled at the news and immediately gave the doctor multiple shocked expressions. Fright buzzed through their bodies as if they had been frozen through all in a few seconds. "Blind?!" Rise asked as she rushed to Yukari's side with nothing but worry, "You mean, she won't be able to see again?!" The doctor could tell that everyone was completely stricken with thoughts for the worst, and he looked like he understood how everyone felt. But he held up a hand to Rise, gesturing for her to calm down. "You needn't worry. Her blindness is only temporary," he reassured the group, watching them as they sighed in relief at different times, "in fact, from my diagnosis, I'm quite confident that she will no doubt be able to see again in the next two to three days. I will have to entrust you with giving her this news once she wakes up; I think it'll be better for her friends to tell her than a doctor she hardly knows."

"But will she be okay?" Yu then asked, standing up from the seat he was sitting in which made him clutch at his chest with an ice pack to relieve the pain. Yu knew that the doctor was saying that everything will be alright, but he couldn't just pass it off as just that; he needed to know if Yukari would truly be okay. The doctor walked over to Yu and gently used both of his hands to sit him back down in the seat. "Don't move too much, Yu. The bruises in your ribs will only worsen otherwise," he advised, reminding him on the condition he's in, "but to answer your question, she most certainly will. Don't worry."

The confidence in his answer gave the group hope, but every time they looked back down to Yukari, they only wished that she could wake up at that moment. But from what the doctor said, they knew they had to wait until she did. He walked over to the side of Yukari's bed and then turned back to everyone. "Excuse me, doctor," Fuuka then asked out of the silence shyly and hugely concerned for her friend, "but... what did you mean by 'psychological effects' after trauma? Do you mean that... that her blindness was caused by her own mind?"

"It's a complicated condition to have, but think of it this way..." the doctor began his reply with a small gesture of his hands, "... Imagine the mind had a switch that could turn the sense of sight on and off depending on what the person is seeing. It is scientifically proven that extremely horrific images or experiences can be enough to cause a person blindness; in it's extreme case, the blindness can go on for long periods of time, but in Yukari's case, it's only temporary as I've said. So, this is one way you could look at it; after Yukari had undergone whatever traumatic event she had encountered, the experience was powerful enough to flick the switch in her mind off. It's a psychological safety mechanism the brain has, in so far to say that it tries to keep the person from looking back at what caused the trauma in the first place. Does that make sense to you?"

It was quite a lot to take in, especially since it was all happening to Yukari. But they were more relieved knowing the full extent of her condition. She may not be awake, and her mind was still in the process of recovering from such a huge amount of traumatic experiences, but she was nonetheless out of danger, and that was all that mattered to them. "So... she will be able to see...? In time...?" Aigis asked, wanting to be extremely sure that Yukari was going to make a full recovery.

"Of course. Her mind will need to recover for a couple of days, but her sight should be back by then. However, if her blindness is still there, let us know." the doctor reassured once more before he looked to everyone else for any more questions. All he saw were looks of understanding and faces that looked to one another for any sign of comfort. They had been waiting with bated breath for the whole day to find out the true severity of Yukari's condition; but the doctor's verdict was much more comforting to hear. However, the uncertainty didn't subside just yet. There was one more person who needed to be seen. "Thank you very much, doctor," Mitsuru gratefully said, turning her body towards the door to indicate the exit, "There's another person downstairs we want you to see. But I must ask you one thing."

"Anything." the doctor said briefly, preparing himself for what Mitsuru had to ask him. At first, she was reluctant to even bring him up, but she wanted to know as much as anyone else if he was also safe in his current condition; the doctor could see the troubled look on her face, and as he scanned his eyes across the room, he could tell that everyone else was equally as concerned. However, some of them were quite wary of what Mitsuru was asking of the doctor. They knew that letting someone out of their group know of Minato's live existence was a dangerous thing to do; it would alert police and it would attract unwanted attention from the press and other media. They knew that they weren't ready for that, not when the investigation still had a lot of missing pieces in the puzzle. "Well," Mitsuru admitted with a sigh, as if defeated by the lack of excuses, "there's no other way I can say this. It's Minato Arisato. I probably don't need to remind you of who he is."

All of a sudden, Chie leapt from her spot and rushed to Mitsuru's side, panicking and hugely concerned for what this meant now that she had told the doctor about him. She shook her shoulder and urged for her to give her attention. "Mitsuru-senpai, what are you doing?!" she whispered with a stern tone, hoping to find a way to change the confused look on the doctor's face, "Aren't we suppose to keep Minato a secret?!"

"It's alright, Chie..." Mitsuru said reassuringly, facing her body towards the green jacket with confidence, "... This doctor has provided for us for many years now. He's part of the Kirijo Group, and he studied medicine within the institution, far differently than other doctors." Everyone had overheard, and judging from the doctor's flattered expression, they knew that they heard her right. They were somewhat confused and slightly baffled, but it didn't take long for Yukiko to finally grasp what Mitsuru was suggesting. "Wait," she said out of the silence to the doctor, "You don't happen to specialise in providing care for Persona-users, do you?"

"That is correct," the doctor replied, chuckling when he saw the huge wave of shocked expressions coming in from the Investigation Team, "I'm one of very few who took the practice. We focus more on the psychological aspects of the mind and the effects of what the Kirijo Group calls the 'potential'. We're like normal doctors, just with a greater knowledge of what the brain is capable of." After the surprising revelation, everyone felt more at ease now that they had a proper doctor who knew the entirety of Yukari's condition; a normal doctor would've questioned it much earlier, but he was certain.

"Anyway, as I was saying..." Mitsuru spoke as she gently cleared her throat, "I must ask you to keep Minato's being here a secret. I hope you can understand our situation here..." Everyone seemed desperate for the doctor's approval of their plead, and tried as they had, they couldn't stop showing it in their expression. However, he could only chuckle as if the urgency wasn't necessary. "Don't worry. Nothing about Arisato will leave the building. I'm a doctor after all; I'm in no place to share sensitive or confidential information anyway, especially since I work within the confines of the Kirijo Group."

When the doctor explained, everyone was somewhat surprised at how calmly and composed he was towards the news of Minato's livelihood, and then at the same time, they reminded themselves that they were in the presence of a doctor who specialises in strange cases such as these. But even more so, they were relieved that the doctor could cooperate with keeping Minato a secret between teenagers and Kirijo Group employee. So far, everything was good news for the group, but the doctor then turned back round to the door and stepped backwards, using his arm to gesture Mitsuru's lead in a gentlemanly manner; there was one more person to see after all. "I'll see him now. Lead the way, Mitsuru." he said with his confident tone of reassurance.

She nodded in gratitude to him as she walked out through the door, looking behind herself to see if everyone else was following suit. They were all slowly filtering out of Yukari's room; they tried to be quiet about it, even though they knew that she was unconscious and not just merely asleep. But they didn't want to disturb if there was any chance of it happening. As Yu made his way towards Minato's room with everyone else, he struggled to keep the bruised ribs from hurting. The more he walked, the more it kept irritating his chest, but he had Rise and Aigis at his side to keep him comfortable.

The walk towards Minato's room was a silent one, and no one wanted to speak above the sound of the storm to break it. They had such good news so far, but they knew that their luck was likely to go sour at some point, and because Minato was the final patient to be seen, they were all worried for his sake; they saw what had become of him after he had dealt that fatal attack, and they knew that a power of that magnitude would've probably done some unimaginable damage to his mind. They could only think on it though and hope that third time's the charm. It's been one thing after another with the group, and wanted at least one day, even if it was for a few moments, for things to just go right. They all went down the stairs with the doctor following closely behind them, and after going down the boy's hallway of Tatsumi Hall, Mitsuru opened the door to Minato's room and allowed everyone to enter in a single-file.

Along with Minato's unconscious body on the bed, the rest of the group were also there to overlook his recovery. Their heads turned round one at a time; there was Naoto, Junpei, Yosuke, Koromaru, Akihiko, Kanji and Ken, who were all sat around Minato's bed, somewhat startled from the door opening. They had been watching Minato's chest rise and fall in a steady pace for the last few minutes, and Naoto and Akihiko had seemed to have been discussing amongst themselves until the rest of the group arrived.

Some of them stood up, and some of them didn't know if they would leave their seat, but they were all concerned for the news of Yukari. "Well? Is she okay?" Akihiko immediately asked when he saw Mitsuru walk through the door, rising to his feet in worry. Mitsuru forced a smile and nodded. "Don't worry, her condition isn't as severe as we thought," she answered, trying to fight the urge to rush her words, "the doctor explained to us that her trauma had caused her to become blind-"

"Huh?! Blind?! But how does that work?!" Yosuke interrupted as he suddenly stood up from his seat, concerned just as all the others were when they heard the shocking news. Mitsuru gestured for them all to calm down and lowered her head slightly with her eyes closed, as if she was composing herself from the sudden outburst. "Let me finish," she said in reassurance, still using her hand to stop anyone else from talking over her, "it's only temporary though. It's a psychological infliction and occurred naturally, but she'll be able to see soon enough. She'll also awake in the next few days as well; she's completely safe."

As soon as she finished explaining Yukari's ailment, they all relaxed their bodies and sighed in relief in unison. But they were then reminded that Minato still needed to be check on; looking back on what he had done to get Yukari back from her Shadow's clutches, they were all concerned about how much damage had been caused to his body. Just from the sight of him, he looked rough, and now that he was in the light, the bruised and battered features on his skin were showing. They were only glad, and still somewhat in disbelief, that he was breathing.

"Well, at least that's one of them on the mend," Junpei said with only the slightest bit of confidence, even though he was glad to hear of Yukari's recovery, "but... what about Minato, doc? I don't mean to sound like a defeatist, but he looks like he's in bad shape." It had been two years since he had seen his best friend alive like this, so everyone could understand what would've gone through his mind; they could tell that he didn't want to think on how he was even alive, but instead focused on his recovery now that he was. It was like he and the others who felt this way were hoping to recover something they had initially lost but then found again despite all odds of it ever happening.

The doctor weaved around everyone and finally came to the side of Minato's bed, looking down on his body as he pulled out a stethoscope from around his collar. "Well he does seem that way from the amount of bruising and cuts he has on him, but then you all have had your fair share of the good fight as well. It shouldn't serious at all." he explained as he did his brief diagnosis of the outer body; but he knew as well as any qualified doctor, especially with a rank of his standard, that scanning his eyes across a few cuts wasn't going to find the potential problems Minato had.

He leaned over with the stethoscope fixed firmly in his ears, bringing the circular diaphragm down on his chest to search for the heartbeat. When he found it, he listened intently to the beat; no one but he could tell if his vitals were normal, and everyone leaned forwards in anticipation for an answer. The doctor flicked his wrist and looked down at his watch and counted the amount of heartbeats whilst counting for a few ticks. "His heart rate is normal. That's a good sign..." he said with confidence, moving the diaphragm slowly and slightly across the chest until he found the lungs, "... You mentioned that he had been underwater. There doesn't seem to be any sign of fluid and he's breathing normally." Everyone was hopeful for good news and hearing the doctor's confident diagnosis on him was relieving to hear. But he hadn't finished yet; there was still one internal organ left to check, and it was one that was vital in his line of work. The brain.

After checking the upper body, the doctor wrapped his stethoscope around his suit collar and pulled out his small torch again from his pocket, leaning forwards slightly more to get closer to Minato's head. Then, just as he did with Yukari, he opened one of his eyes with his fingers and switched on the torch, shining the light into his iris to find any abnormalities. "Um, doctor?" Ken shyly spoke up, "Err, aren't you going to check his... his head?"

It was a question on everyone's lips, but the answer came very naturally to the doctor. He still made his observations, but managed to answer it whilst continuing with his work. "It seems like I should be, huh?" the doctor replied, still looking carefully into Minato's iris, "Diagnosis of the brain works differently with casualty Persona-users. Instead of MRI scans and such, we look into the eyes. Summoning Personas has an effect on the body in many ways; one of them being small anomalies in the eyes. They don't have any effect themselves, but they can indicate symptoms of a much larger problem is abnormal enough... I did the same diagnosis technique with Yukari and that's how I found out about her blindness; because her mind was exerted from her Shadow's power, the same technique is used; Shadows and Personas are the same thing after all."

It was intriguing to the group that they were hearing this knowledge from a doctor who specialises in a line of work that wouldn't have existed without the Kirijo Group and the existence of Personas. And the more they listened, the more they found interest in it. The doctor continued. "... In Minato's case, I can tell that he hasn't been summoning his Persona for a long time; the prolonged lack of use would've relaxed his irises. And because he had exercised a lot of power in one go last night, as you have explained to me, Mitsuru, it's now put small abnormalities in the membrane – that means that there has been a huge strain and exhaustion of the brain."

After being silent for a moment, Naoto eventually spoke up. "Do the anomalies suggest anything severe, doctor?" she asked, asking the question that was everyone's lips. The doctor had explained how it works, but not the full report of what was ailing Minato. A silence filled the room, and the doctor didn't turn around to them until he finished examining both eyes and switched his torch off. When he did so, he placed it back into the inside of his chest pocket and gave his full attention to everyone with his verdict at the ready. "It's good news actually," the doctor said with another tone of confidence, instantly dispelling all of the worries from everyone's minds; as he heard the sighs of relief follow through, he continued to explain, "he does have a few abnormal spots in his iris', but they're so minute that it suggests that the only effects on Minato's brain are just that of exhaustion and natural internal pain since he hadn't exerted a huge amount of power until last night. From this, I can safely say that he'll most likely awake by tomorrow."

It was a result, and a great one at that. No one was expecting for the news to be so positive, and because of it, some even recoiled in surprise at how miraculous it all sounded. They all couldn't help but smile and breath out more sighs of relief. From all of this, they could tell that their visit into the TV world was a success. Both Minato and Yukari are now safe and sound. But when they all looked back to Minato, something inside them just felt eerie; like they wanted to be happy that he was now alive but they just couldn't. They could only describe it to themselves as a lack of satisfaction. They didn't know why they felt this way and they don't know what the point of feeling it was, but it was there, and all they could do was question it. However, all that mattered to them was the safety of their two friends. "Of course, you'll need for both Minato and Yukari to rest up so that they can make a full recovery. No disturbing them, alright?" the doctor asked, only as a reminder for the group.

They all nodded, taking on his advice with a gladness for what they had heard today. Everyone was very grateful. "Oh, thank you so much, doctor! We've been worried all day you see..." Fuuka spoke on behalf of the team, expressing her relief with an emphasis in her words. The doctor chuckled in a friendly manner and shook his head, almost bashfully. "You're welcome, but I only did the diagnosis. You were the ones who prevented their symptoms from getting worse. Letting them fight on their own would've made the strain on their minds much worse, I'd imagine." he said kindly, shifting the importance from him to the others.

It felt odd for the team to have come out of one of the most dangerous operations in the TV world they've ever encountered and suddenly have their luck turned around; they fought long and hard for their victory, but none of them had expected to get such a result as they had that day. They could finally rest easy once again; Minato and Yukari were now in their care and it was up to them to give them a full recovery. But again, when they're minds came onto Minato, that same feeling of uncertainty crept back into their stomachs. They wanted to be happy that he was alive, but it was the fact that he was alive and not dead that made them feel this way. They couldn't put their finger on it, no matter how hard they tried to figure it out. And that's when they realised that they needed answers from Minato himself; they needed to ask him the questions that were on their minds from the moment they saw him in the TV world.

Why was he alive? How did he come back to life? Why now, during the investigation? There were so many questions running across their minds and it disturbed them to think of what answers he might give.

The doctor suddenly snapped them out of their thinking. "Well, I guess I'll be off then," he said, gesturing for his leave. Akihiko walked to his side and began to lead him towards the door. "Thanks again, doctor. You've been a big help," he thanked him once again, looking behind him to see the doctor following suit, "I'll show you the way out."

"Oh! Before I go..." the doctor said in outburst when a thought suddenly sprung to mind; he halted in his tracks and turned back round to the group before continuing with what he wanted to say, "... I'll need to give Yukari a sleeping blindfold. She'll need her eyes closed as much as possible, and any eye-opening will slow down the process of recovery. I'll also come round for daily check-ups for both her and Minato to see how it's going. Is that alright with you?"

"Of course." Mitsuru briefly replied, still have the unsure feeling inside her that everyone else was feeling. And with that, the doctor made his farewell and everyone said their goodbyes as he and Akihiko made their way upwards towards Yukari's room once more to give her the blindfold; they then headed back down the stairs to the entrance of Tatsumi Hall. Shortly after, everyone left Minato's room in a single-file, also making their way to the ground floor to meet up with Nanako and Marie who were waiting with one another in the lounge area. They were all talking amongst themselves; some were happy and some still had that lingering feeling that didn't quite fit well in their chest. For Yu, he didn't know whether his bruised ribs were just acting up or if the feeling was putting pressure on his chest.

He was supported by Rise and Yosuke who walked at his sides in case he would have a sudden injury added to his pain. "Hey, Yu. You okay man?" Yosuke asked him, trying to get a look of his best friend's face. Yu suddenly darted his head towards him as if he had been snapped out of a daydream; he looked somewhat troubled and when Yu looked to Yosuke so did he. Their expressions almost matched. "Hm? Oh yeah, I'm fine. Hopefully this pain will go away quicker with the painkillers the doctor gave me." he replied, putting on a grin for his bro to see.

"That's not what meant..." Yosuke corrected him, straight after the last word Yu said. At first, Yu was confused as to what Yosuke was trying to point out, but then after a while, he noticed the mirrored expression; it was like they were both thinking the same thing, but Yu had a suspicion that it was the case. He always knew how to read Yosuke's expressions. Mostly. "Oh, you've got that feeling too...?" Yu then asked, sinking his own mind back into the thought of it.

"Yeah... I mean, it's great that Minato's back and all, but why? There has to be a reason for it, right?" Yosuke posed the question that was on everyone's lips; he had seen everyone else's expression before leaving Minato's room and he couldn't mistake it for any other reaction. Everyone was definitely thinking the same thing, and he definitely wasn't the only one who knew what needed to be done. If there wanted to get rid of the sickly feeling churning their guts, there was only way to do it. They needed to find out the answers to those questions from Minato himself. There were still so many to answer, but Minato's being here and now could at least shed some light on what is going on; why here's here, why he's alive and what it'll mean.

"I feel the same way as well, but we shouldn't just dwell on it..." Rise then said, using her arms to wrap around Yu's own so that she could support her. After what she said though, Yu and Yosuke looked towards her with a weird look; they could see what she meant, but they couldn't think of anything else to dwell on. The magnitude of the situation was just too much to just let go for a day, and after a while of thinking on it, Rise suddenly changed her mind. "... Okay... maybe we'll be spending most of our time thinking on it. But...! But... Hmm, this is hard." she murmured, loud enough for the two friends to hear.

What she had said summed up everything that everyone was thinking; there was just no other way to divert their thoughts from it, and for the rest of the day, it lingered in their heads like a haunted memory. The thought of Minato being alive was joyous for the team, but at the same time, there was an overwhelming chilling sensation about it, as if he had come back from the dead as a ghost. But they've seen his 'spirit' before Yukari plunged into the TV world, but to have seen him there an then, and now in a bed in an unconscious state was still hard to believe in, even though they had each made contact with him during the fight. All they could do was wait until he woke up the next day, and hope that the light shed by the answers would be a merciful one.

For the rest of the day though, everyone carried on with their afternoon with a mix of emotions. Some put on a brave face and a smile for Nanako, some were lost in thought and winced at the many ideas floating around in their cranium, and some just didn't talk, sitting in their seats whilst trying to occupy themselves with their mobile phones or by looking out the window. One thing was for sure though, Minato's presence had seemed to change everything.

Nervousness was all they could feel. And as they looked to one another, they were all wondering who was going to get some sleep tonight. The day brought good news, only to have spawned new questions, a new confused investigation, and new reasons to be afraid. As for how many people were likely to go to sleep that night, the list was just too long.

Another sensibly-sized chapter for you! Forty-six less than my last one, but I've been put off writing chapters written to behemoth size! Anyway, thank you so much again for reading guys, it is very appreciated! Keep reading and reviewing and I hope to see you in Chapter Forty-Six where the answers will be revealed... CYA!


Next Time... [Midnight Channel broadcasts...]

BGM: Backside of the TV - Persona 4 OST

Minato: I guess you all have a lot of questions on your mind. I have a lot to answer for anyway...

Akihiko: They're the kind of criminals that like to play games...

Aigis: ... Are you saying... that you didn't want us to know...? About you being alive...?

Naoto: It seems we're nowhere closer to finding out the truth of their plan.