Author's note: Finally, the fifth! I'm really sorry for the delay. Assignments just kept coming… And I have a hint for those who wondered about Yu's assistant; blue eyes, blonde, inhuman… The assistant will appear in the sixth. Thanks for everyone who had supported this story in any ways. Sorry if you don't like the assistant spoiler…
V Red beneath Green V
Shibuya Rika idly gazed out the window of her classroom. It's her first day at school since she was hospitalized in coma for three days. The history lecture she was unwillingly listening to now was a perfect comeback gift. The past and her would never get along… especially when her mind was occupied with some… alien… subjects called Persona, Shadows, and… Velvet… uh, world. She had a brief conversation with Shikage's rising-star celebrity, namely Narukami Yu… or 'Mr. Shinigami' as the media like to dub it. He said that monster she fought in the… Velvet World… is called Shadows. And the power she summoned for defeating it is called Persona, while Velvet World is… an altered version of our world. Well, those definitions weren't help much. She still as confused as a newborn baby… Maybe she needed more time to accept something… supernatural… or, she could ask Yu thoroughly once he finished his 'vacation'. Truthfully, her memory of those subjects was blurry.
Lunch time finally came. The auburn-haired girl stood up and strolled out from the classroom. "Rika-chan!" She ignored the call and kept walking; she knew who the caller is. Eventually, the caller caught up to her, panting lightly… just like she expected. "I need… to… talk to you." The caller, which is no other than Leila spoke while still struggling to catch her breath.
"Sure." Rika replied plainly. She saw her childhood friend took a deep breath while set her lime eyes to lock her icy blue.
"What?" Rika exclaimed.
"It's about you being hospitalized… I think that's my fault… I don't really remember what happened, but… when we were wondering at the school late at night, someone attacked us and I…"
The auburn-haired girl saw her friend struggled to speak her mind. She gave her friend a gentle pat to the shoulder and an assuring smile. "It's nobody's fault, alright? I was just exhausted."
"You were in coma! I… I saw you…"
"I'm fine, Leila. Don't blame yourself." Rika reassured her friend. Her blonde friend didn't look convinced by that… she just stared at the auburn-haired girl with a worried look. "Now let's go get some bread… I'm starving." Without waiting for an answer Rika dragged the blonde female to the cafeteria.
Both of them sat silently while eating their lunch. It seemed Leila still felt guilty for whatever had happened that night. Rika herself was lost in thought about Leila. She didn't remember Leila was in part of that fight. It's just her, Mr. Shinigami, a guy with creepy yellow eyes, and the monster. She wanted to ask Leila straight away about what happened, since she seemed like remember the part before the battle began, but couldn't find the heart to. Rika bet Leila was still shock as hell.
"Good day, Shibuya." Rika set her gaze up to see Tsumura Kiku, the President of the Student Council, sat across her.
"Yeah, what do you want?"
Tsumura didn't look so pleased by her cold attitude, but she still held on that annoying poker face. "I want to know of what happened to you that night. According to Leila, both of you were assaulted by a mysterious 'English Teacher', which was a fake. Was that true?"
Rika glanced at Leila, the blonde seemed don't want to say something as she just continue eating. "Actually… I don't quite remember."
"I see." Tsumura nodded. "I apologize then… for not being able to protect you while in my watch. If there's anything you need, let me know." With that, she walked away… typical.
Today's school went dull. Leila was still mute and the afternoon lecture sucks. The auburn-haired girl got a call from her father just before the school was over. He said she should visit Mr. Shinigami. What a drag… No matter how she disliked it, she still went anyway. I front the police headquarter; she saw her name was written on a plain white board, held by the raven-haired officer with gross stubble from the other day. But… there's something wrong with the name… 'Narukami Rika'?
"Narukami Rika?" asked the officer as she approached.
"No." Damn… that name didn't sound right. "I'm Shibuya Rika."
"Hm, have we met?" This asshole seriously doesn't remember?! "Oh, yeah, you're Narukami's girlfriend! Dang, I should've notice you were his wife that time. Love-hate relationship is pretty popular among the youngsters."
"Excuse me? I'm still a second year high school student, not that idiot's wife! And WE don't have any relationship aside from being acquaintance. Understand?"
"…Y-Yes ma'am!" And then the officer laughed… heartily. "Sorry girl. I actually knew you aren't his wife… heh, obviously. Narukami seemed to trust you so much that he would lie to me about your relationship. What's up with this key anyway?" He playfully spun a steel key that she was familiar with.
"That's a key to… his room." God… she hoped she knew what she was saying…
The officer's jaw dropped for a few seconds… bad sign, "Oh… um." He seemed to struggle to find the right words. "Well… not really my concern. I just want to honor his request. Here you are." He then handed her the key.
"Thanks… I guess." Why Narukami gave back the key? One obvious answer immediately popped in her mind in a second. Damn he's an idiot. Teleporting himself to… her side, would just lead into another problem… one damn serious problem… Heh, that's Yu for you. He doesn't understand the words 'Common' or 'Normal'.
"Uh, you're smiling… Are you sure you two are just acquaintance? You seemed to awfully understand this guy."
The officer's words struck through her thought, made her slightly jerked back."Wh - Just shut up and get back to work." With that, he left the officer… Tsumura's influence.
"…Damn, Narukami. She's tough."
Shibuya Rika 'somehow' sat patiently at the waiting room. She didn't leave for home, she planned to visit Narukami first to confirm about the key… and also her father's command to do so. After a few minutes passed, the officer called her name and escorted her to the visiting room. It's her second time visiting that cubed little room. That was two days ago. Narukami looked ridiculously happy that time…
As she stepped in, a man with dim gray hair sat across the bulletproof glass. He still had that dumb smirk on his face. Glad to know he wasn't at least depressed by his current situation though. "You look great." She stated as she took the seat in front of him… with a bulletproof glass in between.
Yu chuckled heartily. "You mean handsome? Thanks." He said with his smirk still planted on his face.
Rika couldn't help but smiled back. "You're a narcissist now?"
"Hardly, I was only adjusting your word into a proper one."
The auburn-haired girl crossed her arm in annoyance, as if saying 'whatever'. "The key." She said straight out, ignoring his deflection.
He raised an eyebrow. "The… key?" He repeated, leaning forward near the glass.
"Yes, The key. You sure about it?"
His puzzled look faded and in split seconds switched into his default stoic. "Just do it whenever you get transported into the VW."
"Very funny, 'Mr. Shinigami'." She retorted sarcastically.
'Mr. Shinigami' shrugged the sarcasm off and let himself leaned against the chair. "Velvet World sounds silly, so I just made up a new name."
"Do you even understand the word 'silly', Mr. Shinigami?" He shrugged once again, much to her annoyance. "Alright, forget it. I'm done here. Got something to say before I leave?"
"Yes, about VW." A pair of icy blue eye rolled, really pissed about the 'VW' thing. "Any kind of injury you got from there would have no affect against your physic… instead, your mind received all the pain, agony, and such… like illusion. You experienced it didn't you… the dream, of yourself being tortured… or some kind?"
"…How?" She clenched her fists tight. Yu was right… that dream did occur. The dream where she was –
"Stop, just from the look of your face I know you're thinking about it. I'm sorry for bringing up such bad memory." He paused, averting her thoughtful gaze. "As for 'how', I clearly remember your fight with the shadow. You won that fight, congratulation. The aftermath from my point of view; you should have some broken ribs, bruises on your left cheek, and one cracked bone of your left leg. However, you seemed like a sleeping beauty the moment we returned to the real world. Added with your three days coma state… and I know 'how'."
Yu nodded. "Now that you know, be careful. Restrain your hot-head behavior, study your enemy, and struck them on their weaknesses. Trust me; they have one no matter how strong they are." He added a sigh, "I got a feeling your journey for 'normality' is harder than mine."
"'Mine'? So, you're -"
"Never mind that," He quickly cut in. Now that's just suspicious… "I have one more thing; it might be hard to accept, but you need your friends. Start with the blondie. She seemed to have recalled what happened at VW. "
"Hell no, Narukami!" She snapped. "We won't get Leila or any of my friends involved, PERIOD."
The gray-haired man chuckled, "Got a feeling you would say that. Regardless, you shouldn't wander around in VW alone. Izanagi will most likely summon you that way. Use the key if that happens."
"Yeah, yeah, I get it." She rose up from her seat as he did. He then gave her his usual smirk one last time before being escorted back to his cell. "If I ever get back there, I won't use this key… Yu. Not before you get out from this hellhole…" She murmured.
The gray-haired man halted and turned his gaze to her, much to her surprise. He couldn't be hearing that… could he? "…Did you just call me Yu?" God… no, he heard it! "Oh, you're blushing."
"I'm NOT! It's just… the temperature. A-and I didn't say anything!"
"…Really, huh? Cold temperature makes your cheek crimson?"
"J-Just… never mind. S-See ya."
Past midnight, Shibuya Rika stared blankly at the television. This was one of that time when she faithfully… and also worriedly… waiting for her father to come home. Yu usually accompanied her by the time he came back. He sometimes talked about his day at the factory, how the employees were making stupid mistakes so he must scolded them, how the traffic jam expanded his sleeping hour, and some other nonsense. He had changed somehow… and she's glad for that. The auburn-haired girl let out a bitter chuckle. It's not fair that she rarely returned the gestures with at least a smile. Maybe it's time to change her attitude…
Upon hearing the husky voice of her father, she jumped off from the sofa and went to the front door. She greeted the old man with a wide smile, "Welcome back father!"
The father got his eyes widened, "Uh… do you feel sick, Rika-chan?"
"Huh? No, I'm fine." She replied cheerfully,
Which only made the father looked horrified. "What happened to my Rika?"
"Oh, you're exaggerating, father. I'm me. Well, I'm going to my room. Do you need anything?"
"Yes… I need to talk to you." Her cheerful face faded as the father stared at her with thoughtful eyes.
The living room had never been this tense before. She was uneasily sat across her father, waiting for him to talk. Honestly, she almost never saw her father could be this serious and looked struggled to find the right start. He just intensely stared… or she should say, glared at her.
"…Father?" She finally gained her guts to begin the conversation.
"It's about Leila-chan… she'd passed away."
Poop time! Who doesn't love this moment! The moment where stresses are being casted away while focus at letting out… something awful. When it comes out, it's like being in paradise on earth… …Narukami Yu bashed his head against the wall on his right side. What the hell, Yu? Talking about poop? Damn it, he really stressed at his current situation. That Izanagi was generous enough to let her alone during her time at the hospital. But… come on! He's a sick bastard who had murdered three people! There's no telling when she'll be transported into VW. If she does and he's still locked inside this damn cell… damn!
Yu's gray eyes snapped open. He immediately glanced around his surroundings and found himself already in VW. "Damn it, Izanagi! At least let me finish my humanly business first." He retorted while still sitting on the toilet, right hands pressed the flush button while the other hand picking out some tissues. He's glad he's still at the same place when the VW occurred. If not… ugh.
"Well I'm sorry, Narukami. My bodyguards are hasty to meet you." A pair of gray eyes observed the transformation of three black-violet liquids. The three of them grew a red skinned human body with each faceless mask; VI, II, X. Their chests were holed and all of them had furs to cover their bodies… like a caveman. Black steel gauntlets were placed on their right hands and sharp-looking long swords gripped tightly on their left.
A deviant smirk spread across Yu's face. "How do you control those shadows?"
"Figures. What do you want with me anyway? Interested in my past?"
"One of them, yes."
"It's a dull one, really."
"Defeating a god was a dull past?"
"…I was being sarcastic."
"I am aware…"
"This is pointless.
"Oh, whatever. You're here to frame me anoth -" Yu ducked a violent horizontal slash that cracked the wall behind him. Shadow number X, the assailant, wasn't letting Yu breathe as it sent him flying through the wall with its punch.
"I told you, they're hasty."
Damn it…! That's hurt like hell! He felt one or two ribs of his were broken already. Pathetic! Is he really this defenseless? This vulnerable? Damn no! He was a leader of the Investigation Team. He was the one who possessed more than a hundred personas. He was the Wild Card…! Power… he just had to find a new power to rely on.
Resolved, Yu rose up from the rubble, ignored the shooting pain inside his body. As wild as a beast should be, Shadow X lunged at him. He jumped to the right and quickly hit the shadow in the mask with his bare, strong fist. The mask slightly cracked from the force, surprisingly… In retaliation, the shadow swung the long sword, which Yu managed to swiftly roll back to dodge. Unbalanced, Yu didn't notice a bolt of lightning was about to storm him from the ceiling. The lighting attack connected, but the gray-haired man stood still… his deadpanned face indicated the attack wasn't really do much damage, which only meant one thing; He re-gained his power.
"Tch…" Distracted by his own findings, the gray-haired man clumsily jumped backward as Shadow X tried to pierce his sword to his chest. He survived but, it then shot Yu a raw punch to his face in split-second, made him pushed back only a few centimeters, thanks to his quick reflex blocking it with his arms.
"What is it, Narukami? Why you didn't summon your persona?" Izanagi's voice echoed from around the room. "I'm sure my bodyguards are out of your league."
Yu kept his alerted gaze at the idle shadow in front of him while listening to Izanagi. "Fine then." He finally said, much to Izanagi's amusement. The gray-haired man readied his stance for summoning, stretching up one hand as if trying to grasp something. "Persona!"
Shit… he thought he already regained his persona. What the hell really happened to him?!
"Ah… Aren't we two great manipulators? I hate to admit, Narukami, but my patience is at peak. Losing one Persona Users won't be a big deal anyway. Goodbye, Narukami."
Losing one Persona Users? Did he know there are more Persona users other than his friends and Rika?
Damn it, what's he planning? What's Persona User connection with the Suicide Syndrome? What's -
"Ugh!" Yu felt an incredible impact on his head and found himself sent flying by the shadows smashing attack. A violent jolt of pain followed up as he landed harshly on the ground. The gray-haired man gathered his remaining strength and forced himself to ignore the pain. He got distracted again… guess he really had to take down this Shadow X first, eh?
Shadow X began to charge at him again. With his mind focused, Yu managed to evade the shadow's sword attack by ducking downward. Still ducking, he land a quick yet sturdy thrust kick to the gut, which made the shadow lost balance. As Yu regained his stance, he combined his attack with a powerful jump kick to its thick neck. Shadow X fell harshly to the ground with a snap. Yu took the opportunity to snatch its sword, leap over the shadow and beheaded it with a single and powerful slash.
"'Don't think, feel'… huh?" He murmured while growing his wolfish smirk. That training back in Inaba really paid off. More importantly, he was able to defeat shadow despite being a normal. Well… he wouldn't say he's just a normal human after what just happened… Also, there's this disturbing energy inside of him was like crawling out. It's not a persona… it's something else…
"You defeated it without a persona…? Can't say I'm not amazed, Narukami. Well done."
"Look who's back?" Yu grew back his smirk as Izanagi re-appeared before him with his remaining two 'bodyguards'.
Izanagi only let out his deep tone laugh at that. "I won't just let a precious potential die. I only had to give you a little push."
"Well - ugh…!" The gray-haired man suddenly kneeled down and groaned lowly. He felt an incredible pain thrusting his eyes. Also, there's this dark energy that was about to burst out of his body. He struggled to regain his consciousness as the pain kept bombarding his eyes, but he failed.
The last thing he saw was a shocked face of Izanagi.
"The last time I saw her was in the hospital, when she visited Shibuya-chan. How about you, Kiku?"
Tsumura Kiku gave the raven-haired boy a thoughtful gaze. She and Gin had heard that Leila hadn't come home since last night, according to her parents report. And so, they commenced the search for Leila right away this evening… "I saw her yesterday at lunch. She didn't seem well that time."
The raven-haired boy nodded, "Gotta agree with you there. I had never seen her smile ever since Shibuya-chan went coma."
Kurosawa Gin shot the president a wry look. "Don't be heartless, Kiku. That's a sign she's vulnerable. I won't be surprised if she ended up killing herself in guilt."
The president rolled her ruby eyes, "What really is definition of heartless to you…?"
"I'm just saying!" He quickly exclaimed. "Oh well, let's put that aside. We got ourselves a problem to deal with."
"What do you mean?"
Gin pointed at something behind her. Without words she looked back and saw a gray-haired man walked casually across the hallway. Upper half of his face was a little shady to guess and he also wore a black robe that completely hid his body curve. But there's something from the man that made Kiku shuddered, the man's glowing golden-eyes.
"You're not one of teachers, are you?" Gin asked as the man walked closer to him. The man stopped and let out a smirk. "…I take it as a no."
"He's obviously not a teacher." Kiku stated while calmly took a few steps forward. "Who are you? Nobody could enter the school ground beyond the curfew without permission."
"That doesn't apply for you, kids?" The man deflected. His smirk grew wider as he spoke.
"We have the permission." Kiku retorted. It was a lie of course. Even she, as the student council president, couldn't get the permission from the faculty. They're very strict on their rules.
The man seemed to see the lie through, judging by how his smirk grew wider. "If you say so. Actually, I don't really care. Bye."
The pair silently watched the man walking past them. As he was out of sight, Kiku let out a relieved sigh. "Who is he?"
"…beats me. Anyway, we gotta continue. I bet, Shibuya-chan's father is out of excuses right now…"
"Right. If Shibuya knew Leila was missing. She would recklessly sweep the entire town just to find Leila."
"I might just know her for barely a week, but I dare to assume as much. Girls relationship is something…"
"Focus on the search, Gin."
Gin sighed as he realized that Kiku had ignored him and were walking further from him. "She never changed…"
Narukami Yu's note: I want to straighten a certain thing about my note before; I was under heavy pressure when I wrote… So I hope everyone understands the weirdness… And also, the author doesn't own Persona.
Heh, you OWE me one, author!