Author's Note:

I know I always apologize when it take a while for me to get out chapters, but I always do feel really bad when I make you guys wait too long, ha ha. I have this really bad habit of spewing out a ton of stories at once, which makes it difficult to update them all regularly. But I'm tryyyyying! :D

I'm a big fan of just writing out characters and seeing who has the most chemistry, but if there's a character you particularly like (or characters) and would possibly like to see paired with yours, just let me know! It's honestly a bit too early for any real romance, but, just for something to keep in mind for myself. :)

Finally, thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter: Sayuko25, MewStar0013, Demons Anarchy, kingtransformo, ViperMT, Tindra44, DeathOverLord, a-Goto.

Glass Houses
a Persona 3/Portable (© ATLUS) fanfiction

Chapter Seven
The Defense

Opening Song: "Sons & Daughters" - The Decemberists

April 19, 2013, Namikaze, Kirijo Coed Dormitory: Division 2

When Erik Albrecht walks into the fourth floor lounge after school, he's surprised to see that he isn't alone. "I'm a little offended," he says with a crooked simper, "that I wasn't invited to the party. Where's the sense of community?" Though the others ignore him outright (something he longer takes offense to), Anagi snorts loudly at his introduction. "Oh, yes, good afternoon to you as well, Yukatanabe-san," (he ducks skillfully as she chucks a magazine at him), "and what a refined young lady you are."

"Don't be a condescending ass," she snaps as he falls onto the couch beside her.

He holds a hand over his heart, as though he's been wounded terribly. "I wasn't under the impression I was being one."

"Shut up."

Ayumu clears her throat, bringing the attention of the room to her. "Well, thanks for being here today, guys!" she chirps. "If you guys got the note I sent out before, you should know that Doctor Inoue will be visiting us later this weekend." They all mumble in quiet acknowledgment, save for Erik, who pulls out a crumbled pink post-it out of his pocket with a befuddled expression. Ayumu sighs heavily, but figures there's no point in calling out her fellow RA. "Anyway, I just wanted to remind you guys that the meeting's Sunday night, and that you really shouldn't skip out, okay? I know you're busy and you've got other things to worry about, but apparently this one's really important."

"What makes this one so much more important than the other ones?" Suyin asks. "You always guilt us into trying to show up to these things, but it's just him blabbering on about the same thing…" After realizing her aggressive tone of voice, she shrinks slightly and mutters a barely audible, "Sorry."

The dark-haired girl tries her best to not look too offended. "Er, well, he didn't really give me any details… He just really stressed its importance."

"Sounds like a waste of time to me," Yumiko mutters beside Calin, her eyes focused entirely on her video game. "I think he just comes here to hear himself talk, 'cause none of his doctor friends wanna listen to him…"

It certainly sounds plausible, Ayumu thinks as she envisions the bespectacled, light-haired man. The man is very eccentric, outspoken, and extroverted, but while he's friendly, he's the type of individual who won't stop speaking unless he's blatantly told to shut up. "N-nevertheless, I expect all of you to be there," she states firmly, growing impatient with her division's nonchalance. "Some crucial things have happened as of late, and we need to discuss them, anyway. Doctor Inoue's probably coming here to talk about them in depth, so we can better understand what's happening. I'm being serious — don't skip out on this!"

Sensing her growing irritation and everyone else's lack of concern, Calin decides to play mediator. "What do you mean by 'crucial things'?" he asks, partly genuinely curious, partly afraid of Ayumu's possible outrage. "Are you talking about what's been going on in the lower division?"

The quiet murmur across the room drops as soon as he mentions the other students who live in the dorm. Ayumu, pleased that the others are finally listening with their full attention, nods her head in affirmation. "That's right. I honestly don't really know the details; I'm not around them enough to know, and Doctor Inoue wouldn't tell me what he did know. I've heard, and I'm sure you guys have heard, about the new transfer student and his visit to the hospital. It was pretty high-profile, which isn't surprising since he's new."

Erik nudges Anagi with his elbow. "Hey, Yukatanabe-san — you know him, don't you?" he asks teasingly. Growling, she nudges him back, though in the ribs. "Ow! Goodness, it was just a question…"

Ayumu's eyes shift from Erik to Anagi questioningly, but neither look like they're going to divulge any more information. "Right, well, anyway… Aside from him, there's also been another incident concerning the other division."

"Walker, right?" Suyin asks. "I heard Vallen and Paulson talking about it during homeroom the other day. He's still in the hospital, I believe."

Yumiko's eyes widen in surprise. "I knew he'd been missing, but now he's in the hospital?"

"Apparently. I don't know what their cover story is, but they also stopped talking the moment they realized they were shouting their findings to the class." She shrugs indifferently as she begins casually flipping through her book. "They all do a fairly good job of covering random absences of their dorm mates, though. Remember when Paulson went missing in the middle of last year? I thought the school was going to conduct an investigation of the dorm."

"They were going to," Erik affirms. "Kirijo stepped in, though. I'm sure she paid them enough to cover their curiosity."

Ayumu sighs as she runs her fingers through her ponytail. "Yes, well, we all know the power of Kirijo…" After clearing her throat and adjusting the poker hat on her head, she waves her hand at them dismissively. "Alright, that's all we needed to talk about. You all can go now." In the blink of an eye, everyone scurries off in different directions, back to their own rooms. With slightly slumped shoulders, Ayumu falls back onto the couch and represses a groan.

Erik stops behind her and pats her sympathetically on the shoulder. "Good work, Captain."

She glowers at him. "Shut up."

He shrugs helplessly, though he also smirks in amusement. "Touchy."

Ayumu closes her eyes as she listens to his footsteps, until they disappear behind a closing door. "What a pain," she thinks disdainfully, rubbing her temples. She's convinced herself that she actually loves them dearly, but sometimes she wishes her division wasn't so dysfunctional. One would rather play with her video games than be with other people, one is so bad with people it's almost uncomfortable trying to talk to her, one can't speak to women to save his life, one has the temperament of a savage rodent, and one's just an ass. She hardly likes to think of herself as normal, but around these people…

She hopes she'll get a break soon.

The night air is brisk but refreshing, reminiscent of spring. A ghost of a smile flits across Suyin's lips as she crouches low to the ground, trying to find the perfect angle. She holds her breath as she peers through the viewfinder, runs her finger over the shutter button, and—

"Oh, hey there!"

It takes all she has not to scream in frustration after she jumps and ruins the shot completely. Mournfully, she looks down at the preview of her picture on her camera, which is blurred and distorted despite all her efforts. "What!?" she snaps at the invader, who looks like he wants to bolt down the stairs for his safety. After deleting the unsatisfactory image of the moon, she briskly turns to face Seichi, who's grinning sheepishly. Her guard drops, but only slightly. "What are you doing up here?"

"I haven't been up here yet, so I thought I'd give it a try," he answers. His mismatched eyes wander around the roof curiously, taking in its simplicity and lack of decoration. As he wanders to the edge, though, she can tell that he's impressed. "The view's incredible! I can see why you'd be up here all the time."

"I'm not up here all the time," she replies defensively. He turns to her, slightly bewildered, and she averts her eyes with embarrassment. He chuckles, which she mistakes as mockery, and hisses a, "I'm leaving," as she stalks past him.

"W-wait!" he calls out to her, rushing to grasp her by the wrist. Suyin shifts to rebuke him and demand that he release her, but he grins apologetically and quickly lets go of his own accord. "Sorry. I didn't mean to offend you or anything! I just wanted to initiate some small talk, you know, get to know the other residents of the dorm a little better." She scrutinizes him in a way that makes him feel incredibly exposed and very uncomfortable. "Er, so…" His gaze travels down to the fancy-looking camera she has hanging around her neck. "You're into photography? That's cool. I mean, I've never really been good at it, but…"

"Yes, I do enjoy it," she answers, with blatant caution. "it's… more of a hobby, I guess."

Seichi looks pleased with her answer, as short as it may be. "That's awesome. I don't really have any hobbies… I mean, I like to try to cook, but my dad didn't let me use the kitchen that much, so I'm not that great at it…" He rubs the back of his neck impishly. "So, you're Suyin Wan, right?" he asks, though both know that he already knows the answer. She nods, doesn't say anything. "Er," Seichi begins, unsure of how else to proceed, "and… you're from China, right?"

"I'd think that was obvious," she replies, ears turning pink as they catch her own accent.

"I-I'm not trying to say it's bad or anything!" Seichi throws in quickly, afraid that she'll try to leave again. "I mean, I think it's pretty cool that you're from another country, and you've managed to assimilate into this new place… It's really cool." Suyin isn't entirely convinced that he's trying to talk to her out of genuine curiosity and the desire to get to know her better, but her body relaxes and he can tell she isn't as tense. "I know things between our divisions aren't that great. I still don't know why and I'm kinda confused, but they won't tell me what's going on, and I figure there's nothing wrong with getting to know you guys, right?"


"Sorry. Was that too much?"

"A bit," she says, stifling a snicker. "But if they won't tell you, I suppose I'm not in the right to explain it to you either. Besides, now that you're living here, you'll figure it out on your own eventually. It's not exactly a secret."

"I dunno," he mumbles. "There seems be a lot of secrets here…"

She doesn't hear the last half of his sentence. "What?"

Seichi looks up suddenly with shock, as though he's caught himself committing a terrible blunder. "Oh, nothing. Just talking to myself!" Though his laugh is completely unconvincing, Suyin decides not to press it. "Oh, I haven't really introduced myself yet. I'm Seichi Hakurata." He extends his hands to her, which she observes with a mild look of distrust and disgust. "C'mon," he urges, "I'm not diseased or anything."

He experiences a short moment of victory when he sees the corner of her lips twitch upwards. "Alright," she says, more to herself than to him, as she loosely grasps his hand.

Seichi jumps slightly as a familiar tingle courses through his fingertips, through his limbs, down to his toes.

Thou art I… And I am thou…

Thou hast established a new bond…

It brings thee closer to the truth…

Thou shalt be blessed when greeting Personas of the Moon Arcana.

"See, that wasn't so bad, now was it?"

Suyin rolls her eyes as she retracts her hand and folds her arms across her chest. "Maybe." He grins out of amusement, and suddenly she realizes what people mean when they say that laughter is contagious. "Well, I don't think I'll be getting much more done out here. Don't stay out here for too much longer," she instructs as she moves towards the door. "They lock the door after midnight, and I heard it gets pretty cold up here at night." Seichi thinks he spots a full smile before she slips through the door and closes it behind her.

April 20, 2013, Namikaze, Kaihin Plaza

The Nook is Anagi Yukatanabe's favorite store in the Plaza, and the place where she spends most of her free time. Though she's not too big on reading, it has a small niche in the back that provides her with both good coffee and an atmosphere for writing. Today she sits in her favorite blue couch in the corner, with her machiatto on the stand beside her and her laptop balancing on her knees. She hums cheerfully to herself, a biscotti hanging from her mouth, as she types away on her latest story. She doesn't ever feel this sense of comfort and relaxation when she's back at the dorm; though her division is quiet, it's usually fairly tense and awkward. Here, she feels more at home.

In the peace of mind that she lapses into, she doesn't notice Yumiko scurrying around collecting empty coffee cups and trash. "Oh!" the smaller girl squeaks, drawing Anagi out of her euphoria. "I didn't see you, Anagi."

"Oh, hey, Yumiko," Anagi replies, pulling her ear phones out. "Working again today?"

She nods. "Yup." Whereas Anagi spends most of her free time writing and trying to get away from the dorm, Yumiko spends her free time working and trying to make extra money. She works part-time jobs at nearly all the stores in the Plaza, and some other small ones around the city. She doesn't tell them why, but her dorm mates know that the money goes to the fund for her video games. "After this, I have a shift at Revolutions."

Anagi wheezes at the mere thought of working so many hours in one day. "Geez, good for you, Yuu. Take a breather every now and then, though, why don't you?"

Yumiko shrugs as she tosses some trash into the nearby bin. "The next Megami Tensei game is coming out next month, but on a new platform. I only have enough for the game now, but that won't do me much good on my old consoles…" The amber-haired girl sighs heavily, like it's the most bothersome thing she's ever had to deal with, and runs her fingers through the shoulder-length tresses. "My father found out that I was spending all my money on games again," she mumbles, more to herself than to Anagi, "and he got really angry… He says I should save for university, but I don't even know if I wanna go…"

Before Anagi can try to comfort her dorm mate (or try to, because, honestly, she doesn't know what to say), a girl with short, straw-colored hair underneath a hat runs straight into Yumiko. Yumiko shrieks in surprise as she's literally knocked over, having lost her balanced and stumbled over a chair. "Oops," the girl says with no remorse, as she looks down at Yumiko. There's a vicious glint in her eye. "'Didn't mean to hit you so hard. Maybe you shouldn't stand in the middle of the way."

"That was totally uncalled for!" Anagi hisses as she puts down her laptop to help up Yumiko. "Are you alright, Yumiko?"

"F-fine," Yumiko stutters. She raises her eyes to the perpetrator, who continues to smirk when Yumiko gets back to her feet. "I-I'm sure you didn't mean to actually run into me…"

"That's right," she replies smugly. "An accident. So cool your jets, Superhero; no need to get over excited." Anagi growls threateningly at the girl, whose identity is still a complete mystery to her, but Yumiko holds her back. "Ta ta, ladies." She wriggles her fingers at them in farewell and mockery, then departs. When she spots the amused laugh on the girl's lips, it takes all that Anagi has to not race after her and pounce.

"It's fine, Anagi, really," Yumiko assures, tugging on her arm. "She's just like that."

"You know her?" Anagi gawks.

"Y-yes," she admits, wearily rubbing her scalp. "We went to the same school when we were younger, as well… It's kind of just coincidence that we ended up coming to KI."

"Who is this girl? I'm gonna kick her ass the next time I see her."

Yumiko actually laughs, though the look on Anagi's face makes her wonder if she's really being serious. "Her name is Unmei Himura; she's actually a year older than us. You probably shouldn't try to do anything to her, though… Adults really like her. She's good at getting people she needs to like her." Yumiko bends down to pick up something Unmei had dropped earlier — her ID card. "I suppose I should give this back to her…"

Anagi snatches it out of her hand before she can pocket it. "I'll give it back to her," she says.

Yumiko gives her a well-deserved skeptical look. "Really, Anagi, I don't m—"

"No, I'll give it to her," Anagi reiterates, hiding the ID in her white winter jacket. "Well, I'm gonna head back. My concentration's gone to shit." She gathers up her belongings, puts them into her messenger bag, and finishes off her machiatto before nodding to Yumiko. "I'll see you later tonight, then?"

"O-oh, alright. See you." Yumiko waves, then sighs when Anagi disappears through the doors. "I'm probably gonna regret that," she murmurs to herself as she continues cleaning up around the resting area. "She deserves it, though," she thinks as she recalls her less than pleasant encounter with Unmei. "I hope she gets paper cuts all over her hands and someone spills lemon juice on them." She doesn't realize the maniacal grin that sneaks onto her face, but it disappears when her co-worker calls her over from the science fiction section. "O-oh, yes, I'm sorry! I'll be there in just a moment!" Humming to herself, she scurries off.

The air is getting warmer during the days, suggesting that summer may not be too far off. Calin slips out of his white winter coat, draping it over the back of his chair before he takes a seat in it. He quickly orders a coffee — black, with sugar but no cream — and resumes his conversation with the phone tucked between his shoulder and ear. "Yes, Mother, everything's fine," he says quietly, stifling a sigh. "Yes, school has been fine… We've only been in a week or so, so not much can really go wrong." He briefly thinks about the Kirijo Coed Dorm and its various inhabitants, but decides against mentioning anything about that motley crew. "Yes, yes, classes are fine…"

His mother still frets over him like a child, though she always denies it when he calls her out on it. He doesn't resent her for it, though; he knows she's only worried about her oldest son, and that she too is recovering from the loss. It's been hard on all of them, the disappearance of his father, even if it's already been nearly seven years since it happened. If anything, she has the right to worry, especially since he's so far away from the family he has left.

"Well, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself," she says, and he can hear her smiling over the phone. "I'm very proud of you, Calin."

Even from his mother, taking compliments is hard for him. "A-ah. Thank you."

She laughs softly, but there's nothing mocking in it, not like he's used to hearing. "Valerie and I miss you so much, Calin, but… I still think that your being out there is a good thing." He doesn't say anything because he has yet to agree. "You're so smart and so talented, but you can't be alone forever. You need people who appreciate you and people who need you in return. Humans were meant to be with other humans." He hesitates to answer again, because his transition into Namikaze and Kaihin International hasn't been very smooth or successful. To be honest, he's still trying to adjust. "Small steps, Calin," she says, understanding. "You can do anything you truly set your mind to."

He releases a small breath of air before saying, "Thanks, Mom. So, how are you?"

"I'm alright. Just doing some work around the city to keep myself busy… The next time you come home, you'll be surprised! The house has been completely renovated! Of course, I did a little decorating myself, but I think it looks quite nice."

"That sounds great. I don't know when I'll be back home, to be honest. Things are so busy…" He remembers Anagi's stern face when she told them about Doctor Inoue visiting Sunday, and briefly wonders about the importance of what he's going to talk about. "Ah, I'll let you know, though," he says, as confidently as he can. "The dorm, you know… It can get rather busy sometimes, and Anagi wants us to be more involved…"

"That's understandable, of course. Getting to know your dorm mates is very important."

"Right…" Erik's chiding snicker sounds in the recesses of his mind, but Calin quickly shakes it away. "And how's Valerie?"

"Oh, she's doing so well! Her teachers say she's the brightest in her class! They say she has trouble opening up, though… I told them it's something that just runs in the family." He can't help but smile slightly. "She misses you so much, you know. She'll be so angry when she finds out that I called you while she was away. She's at tutoring right now, getting a little extra help before the first test comes up. Speaking of which, I have to go pick her up now."

"Alright. Tell her I said hi."

"Of course! Take care, Calin. I love you, dear."

"Bye, Mom." He waits for the other line to cut off before he pulls his cell phone away from his ear and tucks it away. The waitress places his coffee and a bowl of sugar cubes on the table, and he quietly thanks her (without looking her in the eyes at all). After he drops two sugar cubes into the cup, he pulls off his black fedora so that he can run his fingers through his short brown hair. For once, he feels at peace.

Portmandeau Café is nearly empty today, he realizes. It makes sense since it's a Saturday afternoon, and teenagers have more exciting things to do than sit in a coffee shop. There are only a couple others, most older ladies or gentlemen, but a couple in the corner catches Calin's attention. They both look fairly familiar, but the girl is wearing a very floppy hat and the man's collar is popped so that the lower half of his face can't be seen. He can hear the man hushing the younger-looking girl, who is sitting so that she's more visible to Calin. "Please, Saya," the man murmurs, reaching out to grasp her hand that's sitting on the table.

She quickly withdraws it into her own lap, looking indignant. "Come on, Sei-chan, what's the point of going out if we have to do this all the time?" With a huff, she stands up, adjusts the hat on her auburn hair, and stomps right out of the café.

The man, slightly red from embarrassment, apologizes softly to those who have been interrupted by his date's outburst. "Thank you so much for the coffee," he murmurs to the bewildered waitress, giving her more than he bought. He stands and turns, and Calin instantly recognizes him when he sees his face — Seitou Himura, his math and homeroom teacher. Himura gasps when he recognizes Calin, and the two maintain awkward eye contact for a good moment or two. "Calin," he greets, as casually as he can, as he inches towards the door. His face is redder now, though Calin doubts that it's from being walked out on.

"Himura-sensei," Calin replies.

Himura clears his throat. "Right, well, enjoy the rest of your weekend. See you in class on Monday." With a final nod, he runs off.

Calin turns in his seat to watch his teacher's retreat, but Himura and his date are already well out of sight. "How curious," he thinks as he shifts back into a more comfortable position. He wonders if he's really seen that girl before, if she's really the one he thinks she is. He shakes his head no, reminding himself that Himura-sensei isn't that kind of man at all, and decides to just enjoy his coffee. Easing his shoulders, he stirs his coffee once, then raises it to his lips.

April 21, 2013, Namikaze, Kirijo Coed Dormitory: Division 2

Though Anagi calls him a heathen primarily out of the simple desire of insulting him, Erik admits that it's not completely unwarranted. He doesn't spend his free time getting to know people or working at animal shelters or helping the less fortunate. Though he does enjoy a good morally challenging read every now and then, he prefers to engage in acts that aren't exactly endorsed or encouraged by school officials. His favorite place for "play time," as he likes to call it, is in a seedy little club in the more run down part of Namikaze, called Ambrosia. There, he loses himself in alcohol and smoke and sensual movement of body against body. No boundaries disturb him once he crosses the threshold, and he loses all sense of time and rules and everything else that holds humans back from immersing themselves in full pleasure.

When he returns from his nights of debauchery, it's usually in a jumbled mess and haze. He knows his way back to the dorm like the back of his hand, so his body directs him home without requiring any thought, but Erik never remembers when he comes back or by what means. When he awakes the next morning, it's usually with a pounding headache, red eyes, aching limbs, and absolutely no recollection of what (or who) he did the previous night. It doesn't bother him, though, and why should it? He's a mortal being in a diseased world, so he should enjoy what he has when he has it.

"You look terrible," Suyin comments when he emerges from his room.

"Your face is so radiant in the morning, liebe," he replies off-handedly, pulling out a cigarette.

"It's four o'clock in the afternoon," she says. "And smoking isn't allowed in here."

He shrugs, unconcerned as usual, as he simply raises the window in the lounge. She wrinkles her nose in disgust when he lights his cigarette and inhales deeply and savors the relaxation that accompanies the smoke. "If you let the rules dictate your life so much, liebe, you'll forget the joy in living." Her look is a mix of irritation and disgust, which he chuckles at. "Well, even if you allow yourself to be dictated by boundaries, there's no need to impeded on my happiness, is there?"

"There is when your happiness starts to clog my lungs," she snaps.

"Well." He takes a long drag, droops his shoulders as he releases it through his nostrils. "In any event, I'm a Resident Assistant, so I think a couple of exceptions can be made." He can tell that she wants to yell at him and tell him that the rules apply to everyone, but she resigns to defeat without saying anything. There's no point, really, lecturing him about something he's never tried to fix.

Anagi enters a minute or two later with her laptop tucked under one arm and a can of soda in the other hand. "Oh, look who finally decided to climb out of his hole," she comments blandly as she casually takes a seat beside Suyin on the couch. (Erik spots the temporary flash of discomfort on Suyin's face, and bites down his tongue so as to not make a remark.) "Nice of you to join the world of the living again. Though, honestly, your absence didn't break too many hearts."

"What a lovely lady you are, Yukatanabe-san," he croons, holding a hand over his heart. "It's a wonder you're still single."

She gives him a very poignant look, like she's contemplating actually going through the effort of physically wounding him. In the end, she shakes her head and settles into the couch, muttering, "You're not worth it…"

Calin eventually joins them as well, followed briefly by Yumiko. By dinnertime, the only one missing from the group is Ayumu. "When did she say this meeting was?" Erik asks, looking at his watch like he has somewhere more important to be.

"She didn't," Calin answers with a small sigh. "She just said to be here tonight."

"A little more specificity would have been nice," Suyin says. She looks at the clock because she actually does have more important things to do, like homework that she regrettably put off all weekend. "I'm going to wait in my room until they arrive…"

Just as she stands up to leave, Ayumu comes running up the stairs, panting and calling out for her. "W-wait! Sorry, I was running errands. Doctor Inoue is on his way up, too." Suyin's expression is hard as she sits back down, and Ayumu laughs sheepishly in embarrassment. "Thanks for coming, though, all of you. I'm really kind of impressed, to be honest." It's all rather grudging and with no enthusiasm, she notices when she looks at all of their faces, but it's better than nothing.

"Greetings, children!" Yumiko shrinks back and Suyin physically grimaces when Doctor Inoue comes barraging up the stairs, holding a box full of swiss rolls. "I brought sustenance for the night!" They all stare at the box — full of the doctor's favorite food — and wonder if he's actually serious about them all having swiss rolls for dinner. He looks awfully proud of himself as he puts the box down on the table, and Yumiko takes one out of pity (and probably a little bit of terror as well).

"How lovely it is to see you again," Erik says, with no excitement or joy or anything of the sort.

If he notices, Doctor Inoue shows no hint of it. "Isn't it, though?" he gushes. "It really has been a while. I've just been so busy with research…" He takes a seat on the free couch, grabbing a couple of swiss rolls on his way down. "What a week it's been, huh? I can't believe the new school year has already started… I hear a lot has been happening around here as of late. Your reports haven't been very consistent, y'know." He takes a large bite out of his roll with a cheery smile, though there's a very accusatory glint in his green eyes.

"Sorry," Ayumu apologizes, playing with the brim of her poker hat. "I've still been trying to figure everything out… I don't have very much help, either." She conspicuously glares at Erik, whose attention is focused on something on the other side of the window.

"Well, we're all in a pretty rough spot these days." He crumples up one wrapper and tosses it in the direction of the waste basket; he misses entirely and hits Erik, who actually swivels around to glare at him. "They keep trying to cut my funding, but I know we're onto something…" He's murmuring to himself like he's back in his laboratory, not in a dormitory lounge with teenagers, and when he realizes this he quickly clears his throat. "YES, well, anyway. Has it been affirmed, then?"

Calin raises an eyebrow. "Has what been affirmed?"

"The other division," Doctor Inoue replies plainly. "Have they begun their real excursions into the mirror?"

"Well, we know they've got in at least once, because Akito Sozuki, who had been missing, finally reappeared and is currently in the hospital," Ayumu answers. "It's the same with their transfer student. I honestly don't know how much they've learned, but I doubt that it's very much — if anything at all. They're still in the learning stage, and if our calculations are correct, they've only got three Persona users, two of which are brand new."

Doctor Inoue strokes his chin thoughtfully. "Yes, good… This is good. I've looked deeper into the Kirijo files, and have found a bit… It turns out the higher ups don't know very much about what they're doing, either. The head of the company is paying for this dorm out of her own pocket, which means she has her own criteria, however…" He pushes his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. "However, I believe we have the upper hand. We know what we want. The only problem is whether or not these new Persona users actually pose a threat."

"I doubt it," Erik says. "Like Ayumu said, most of their Persona users are new and inexperienced. The only other one who has one doesn't have a very effective one. They're running around in the dark. They shouldn't get in the way at all."

Yumiko timidly raises her hand. "Um, I hate to ask, but… What exactly are we doing? What are we trying to stop them from doing?"

"We're searching for answers," the doctor replies, "that can only be found deep within this strange world. I don't understand the full details yet, but I believe what I — what we — are searching for will be found."

"So this informational meeting is a pep talk with swiss rolls?" Suyin asks, raising the question that's written on everyone else's face.

"Mostly, and a chance to finally get out of the lab and have someone listen to me talk," (Yumiko exchanges a look with Calin), "but also a, ah, go-ahead, if you will."

"A what?"

"A go-ahead," he repeats. "I've giving you all permission, and command, to begin your own excursions through the mirror. I expect full reports of your findings and, if necessary, your confrontations."

"What exactly are we looking for?" Anagi asks.

"You'll know when you run into it."

Closing Song: "Goodnight and Go" - Imogen Heap

Here's a chapter for you to get acquainted with the other group in the story, who is of vital importance to the story's plotline and progression. The Defense really isn't just an antagonist group or anything of the sort, and they're definitely not less important than T.E.C. I don't want to write out my full intention for them just yet, but I hope this chapter was enjoyable. :)

always with love,
der kapitan