Disclaimer: I do not own Persona. The characters and story belong to Altus, the amazing company that brought us the games.
Spoiler: I do not recommend reading this if you haven't completed Persona 3, Persona 4 or Persona Arena as it contains spoiler of these video games.
The Week Of Brash Mishaps…
YU RESISTED the urge to rub his eyes from sheer exhaustion. His caffeinated high had diminished, leaving him weak and scatter-brained. The police officer had them lined up by the wall of the pharmacy, shoulder-to-shoulder. Occasionally, he would glance up from his mobile device, spare them a look, and then continue with the pastime.
The predicament puzzled Yu, but he didn't let it show. To his right, Chie nervously swayed side-to-side, unable to keep her dismay at bay. Rise was doing much better at securing her anxiety, though her disguise—thick sunglasses and red cap—helped; and, Teddie was completely at ease with the situation, productively eyeballing every female within sight.
Bells echoed from the pharmacy door and a lean, powerful male stepped out, carrying a bag of exercise supplements: Akihito Sanada. In many ways, he was identical to the Fool with his short silver hair and matching silver eyes, but that's where the similarities ended. While Sanada was built muscularly, Yu was lean for speed. His eyes shined with a sharp brightness, and the Fool's were a duller shade with a bottomless gaze.
The police officer approached Sanada, chatting idly. "Thanks for watching them," said the silver-haired man. The officer nodded. "Hey, no problem. Need anything else?"
Sanada shook his head in the negative. Both males exchanged farewells then conducted their business: the officer returning to his post—the police station—and Sanada addressing the three bewildered teenagers and one blond shadow. "It's been a while since I've graduated from high school, but it's late June, meaning there should be classes." Sanada sighed. "Mitsuru did say you'd probably visit Port Island at least once after the incident, but she never imagined that you'd ditch school in the process." His stern gaze landed on the Fool. "Was it your call?"
Silver eyes met silver eyes. Yu was wide-awake, fatigue forgotten. "…Yeah," he admitted, after a tense silence. "It was my…idea."
The silver-haired man scrutinized him. "And what could've been so important that you convinced your friends to abandon their lives?" Sanada's words struck like an anvil to the head, and Yu couldn't deny any of it. His folly idea had his friends far from home, searching for answers they may never find. Being reminded was agonizing.
"…Labby-chan," a proud voice squeaked. All heads turned to Teddie, smiling impishly. "I came to find Labby-chan, and give her a big-teddified-kiss!"
Suddenly the air wasn't so thick. Chie snorted, very non-lady like, fear giving away to laughter, Rise hung her head, lips arched up; Yu managed a smile, and Sanada looked abashed. "And who are you?"
Teddie's smile faltered, not expecting the question. "I'm Teddie!"
"Teddie…? As in Teddie-Teddie?"
The blond shadow gave an exaggerated nod, which, in turn, had Sanada place a hand over his face. "Unbelievable…" A small smirk crept on his lips. "So that's what you look like without the costume. Huh, too bad. I prefer you with it. You make a great punching bag."
Teddie turned frightful and hid behind Chie for protection. "Chie-chan, Mr. half-naked cape guy wants to hurt me!"
"Hey, enough with the stupid nickname!"
The Chariot hugged herself to sustain her glee. Without warning, Teddie's eager hands wrapped around her—maybe—accidentally, fumbling a pair of something very dangerous. Chie immediately retaliated. Parents, walking by, covered their children's eyes. Even Sanada winced. "That's worse than the beating I gave him."
The foursome—Chie assisting a limping Teddie—trailed behind Sanada. Since their meeting at Paulownia mall, he made a simple request: "Follow me." There wasn't room for objections, considering his connections to the police. They've been caught. The end of their Investigation was near, just not as intended, and the Fool planned to carry the burden. The consequences that followed were his—he would find a way to prevent any blame to his friends.
The monorail ride was swift, disposing them at the predestined location: the Iwatodai Station, where they met with the others. Surprise didn't fathom the expression Yosuke, Kanji and Yukiko displayed—Naoto contained her bewilderment better—as they approached, led by Sanada.
Kanji looked ready for a fight—rematch for the P-1 Grand Prix—but Rise calmly enlightened them. Chie then explained why Teddie was limping against her, cupping his privates. "He deserved it," she said.
White clouds dotted the blue sky, yet the sunny weather persisted. The area was heavily populated with people—tourists, vendors, and residents—enjoying their blissful afternoons. The Investigation Team, complete with all its members, departed the station. Traffic was at a standstill, individuals eagerly returning home from work. A few students, crisp in their Gekkoukan uniforms, still lurked the area, and Sanada observed them with mild interest.
Noise that could be found in the city filled the group's silence. Yosuke occasionally made open gestures to convoy his confusion, which went ignored. Kanji was charged with supporting Teddie once Yukiko and Chie began chatting to the rear. The Emperor didn't seem to care, glaring at the back of Sanada's head with a frown. Everyone else—Yu, Rise and Naoto—was mute, and expressionless.
Slowly, they drifted away from the endless commotion to a tranquil setting. More students crossed their path, entering assigned dormitories that filed down the street, around the block. Their destination was one of these dormitories, tall, elaborate and timeless. Stone steps lead to well-maintained doors bordered by Opaque windows.
Sanada smiled warmheartedly at the building's façade then unlocked the doors and proceeded inside. The lights were off, so some details were difficult to make out. The interior appeared incredibly retro, complementing the exterior. Brown sofas circled a glass table—two long and two armchairs—further back was a dinning table with chairs and a empty bar attached to the wall.
"Dude," Yosuke managed, "I wish I could dorm here." The group wordlessly agreed. Lights flickered on, brightening the vacant lobby.
"Come on in and take a seat." Sanada stood next to the light switch. "I'll join you guys shortly." With that, he entered an open office room to the left of the entrance and then opened a door to the kitchen.
Miraculously, despite the double dosage of critical hit, Teddie raced to claim a spot on a long sofa. Yosuke shook his head at the Star's antics and took a seat next to him. The Star, although, desired something different. "This spot is reserved for a female." Yosuke almost did a double take.
"Teddie, with the way you've been acting, don't expect anything but more kicks," Chie said. Yukiko refused to the meet the blond shadow's eye, pointy ignoring him. Teddie's face fell. The Magician sighed, took a seat, and crossed his arms. "Sorry Ted, but you've been like a beast in heat, recently."
Rise smirked at that and took a seat on the second long sofa. Yukiko and Chie joined her, followed by Naoto. And when Kanji took a seat next to Yosuke, Yu oversaw the division. It was like battle of sexes, males on side and females on the other. The Fool decided to avoid any partake and sat in the empty armchair.
Their host returned, arched an eyebrow at the sitting arrangements, and then sat on the other unoccupied armchair. He looked to Yu for an explanation, and received a shrug. Sanada eyed both sofas for a second longer then shrugged.
"I'll ask you all again, what are you doing in Port Island?"
Teddie's hand shot up. "I want to kiss Labby-chan!"
Sanada give him a dumfounded stare. "He's talking about Labrys," Chie clarified. Realization dawned on the silver-haired man and he smacked his forehead. "Labby-chan, Labrys, what's with the stupid nicknames?"
Teddie frowned childishly, offended. "Hey, the nicknames I give are bear-tastic!" He pointed to Sanada. "For example, Mr. half-naked cape g—"
The Star yelped in surprise, jumping onto Yosuke's lap when Sanada stood to his feet, at a remarkable speed, cracking his fist. Gravity was overbearing. "Teddie-Teddie…" A pop. "I hear that nickname again and there won't be enough of you to put back into a bear costume. Understand?"
Teddie nodded vigorously. Satisfied, Sanada sat back down and the sudden pressure subsided. "Hey, now get off me," Yosuke cried, shoving the blond shadow aside. The world seemed exceptionally passionate on making this trip—investigation—difficult for the Star.
"How is Labrys?" Yukiko asked, deeply concerned.
Sanada regarded her passively, gaze sweeping around the room at everyone's anxiousness. His steely eyes softened. "Labrys is fine. She'll be ecstatic to know you all came." He leaned back, eyebrows frowning in consideration. "Actually, Mitsuru, Labrys and Aigis are supposed to returning here soon. Two days from now if I remember right."
The members of the Investigation Team didn't hesitate, expressing their profound delight at seeing their friend again and knowing that she was all right. Smiles and grins were the norm—and discussions of where they'd all go shopping: Yukiko and Chie. And, somewhere in there, Yosuke blushed at the thought of a reunion; something the Fool would egg him later.
"Two days from now?" Naoto voiced. Sanada nodded, soberly and then Yu understood. Two days from now they would be home, accepting whatever punishments for lying and abandoning their responsibilities. Heck, by tonight—if possible—they'd be transported home.
Understanding slowly hit them, one by one, until grime expressions and stiffness remained—expect for Teddie who didn't comprehend, but the Fool didn't have the heart to burst his bubble.
"Mitsuru already knows and she's preparing transportation for all of you," Sanada explained. He ran a hand through his silvery hair and smirked. "Honesty, if you guys managed anything, it was catching her off-guard." Somehow, Yu knew the last comment was aimed at him.
He flashed back to the P-1 grand Prix, his final struggle before the announcement room: Mitsuru Kirjio. She had dished out ice spells so powerful that even Teddie and Chie's magical abilities combined couldn't parallel. He remembered the cold air enveloping the room in an icy chill, his sluggish movements and being at the brink of defeat. Mitsuru had pushed Yu to his absolute limits and beyond, resulting in her defeat. Her unfiltered surprise from Izanagi-no-Okami was burned into his mind.
"Hey," Yosuke said, snapping the Fool from his memory. "So, you guys did find the culprits right? Y'know, the bastard who hacked Labrys and that evil mastermind shape-shifting thing."
It was only because of Yu's trained eye that he noticed Sanada's silent guardedness. The signs were there: clenched fist, narrowed eyes and dragged breaths.
They haven't, ruminated the Fool.
When the silver-haired man didn't answer, Yosuke crossed his arms, a nervous habit. "Hey, you did get them right? I mean aren't you guys some secret Shadow Ops." It wasn't meant to sound condescending, and on another occasion the Magician would have apologized for his brashness, but presently, he was furious. "Your…freaking…kidding me," he managed through gritted teeth. "They're still out there!"
Teddie, somehow, jumped behind the sofa from the outburst. When Sanada didn't reply again, idly observing the brunet, Yosuke stood to his feet, trembling. Kanji tensed, ready to intervene, along with the rest of the team. The tension in the room was like a heavy blanket, beyond what a knife could cut.
"Yosuke calm down." Chie stood to the Magician's eye level. "Look, I'm mad, we're all upset, but freaking out isn't going to get us anywhere."
"Calm down? How am supposed to calm when these guys a month ago said they'll take care of everything. That hacker's still out there! What if he tries to take Labrys again?"
Aw, so that's why, Yu realized.
The Magician getting so worked up was a rare sight. In fact, the Fool could only recall a few minor instances—and then a major one: a dark hospital room, Nakano's fading health, a TV and the false hope of ending the spree of murders. Yu shook his head, pushing the memories away. Yosuke was kind-hearted, but also impulsive when it concerned those around him. Much like the Fool.
"Yosuke," Yu said. The brunet froze, slowly lowered his head, ashamed. They had that effect on each other as best friends. If Yu ever stepped out of line, Yosuke would knock sense into him and vice-versa.
Yosuke sat down again, hunched forward, staring intently at his entwined fingers. Finally, he looked at Sanada and said, "S-Sorry." He gulped. "Sorry for snapping at you. I-I know you guys are doing the best you can, but she's our friend and…I don't want to lose anyone ever again."
The Investigation Team knew whom he was referring to, sympathetically watching him. It was a scabbing scar, which would always remain.
"…Yosuke," Chie frowned, unable to say more.
Sanada nodded, and then smiled at the hunched Magician. "No apology needed. Some people say it's a weakness to express your anger, but when it's for a good reason, someone to protect, then I think its makes you stronger." His smiled turned grimacing. "Although it's true that we haven't found the hacker or…that thing, Labrys will never be taken against her will again."
Yosuke straightened. "Huh?" He gulped again, heat rising to his face. "What?"
Sanada chuckled at his dumbfounded-ness. "Mitsuru actually took care of that before departing Inaba. She was thinking along the same lines as you."
The brunet blinked, diverting his gaze, and the Fool could perfectly imagine the thoughts roaming within his best friend's head. "Oh, man, why do I have to make such an ass of my self twenty-four/seven?"
Yukiko placed a hand to her chest, exhaling in relief that Labrys was safe and a conflict hadn't risen.
"Y'know," Sanada suddenly voiced, "I admire what you guys did. Sure, it was brass, but to pack your things and leave just to check on your friend…" He chuckled wholeheartedly. "You're the reasons Labrys can smile and laugh the way she does. Actually, she always mentions that she'll visit soon."
Teddie sprung back onto the sofa. "Labby-chan said that. Did she mention me, her knight in shining armor?"
Kanji snorted and Chie gave the shadow a disbelieving look. "Ted, weren't you just hittin' on her non-stop?"
Teddie frowned then smirked, mischievously. "Well, at least I didn't think it was all a dream, Kanji."
The Emperor looked scandalized, gritting his teeth and blushing. "Hey, shut up about that you stupid bear!"
Laughter filled the lobby—Sanada included, their worries in the distance. Eventually, the storm of laughter settled, replaced by a tranquil silence. The investigation was over, possibly in vain from the beginning but perhaps such a conclusion was successful in itself. They visited Port Island, searched hard, and, in the end, answered their question. Labrys was safe, able to live freely. Yu was satisfied with the finale—right?
Sanada easily conversed with Kanji, sharing tips on how to increase his already inhuman strength. The others—Rise, Yukiko, and Chie—discussed where they would take Labrys shopping whenever she visited, trying to rope Naoto into the equation, while Teddie and Yosuke listened in. Wasn't this, in some form, the ending they desired? Weren't all the questions answered?
No! A voice irritably shouted in the Fool's head. The familiar dimness glowed under his abdomen, leaving him light, along with memories of recent events: Naoto's folder, Ms. Toriumi's faraway look and—the Apathy Syndrome.
"Sanada-san," Yu said, hurriedly. The lobby resigned to the reoccurring silence, its occupants, staring at the Fool. It wasn't meant to come out so edgy, nor attract everyone's attention, but presently it was the furthest thing in Yu's mind. "What is—was the Apathy Syndrome?"
Sure, the question was unexpected, but Sanada's surprise confirmed their suspicion—the Shadow Ops were familiar with the disease that once plagued Port Island. The blissful moment was gone, altered into seriousness within seconds, a natural occurrence for the lobby and its past residents years ago.
Sanada sighed heavily, aura of authority resumed, gazing at the Fool with sharp intensity. "Why does it matter?"
It was a valid question, leaving Yu wondering why as well, but the light overwhelming him changed gears from wanting to know to needing to know. Yu recited all the information he could recount: Naoto's briefing, Ms. Toriumi's explanation—Rise bristled from the relation—and whatever else his brain could produce.
He was like Wikipedia, spilling random facts, dates and accounts from nowhere. By the time Yu finished, he was aching for air. Sanada was dumbfounded, an expression reserved for special occasions. He opened his mouth when his cellphone beeped in his pocket. Sanada grimaced, gave the Fool another look then ventured to the living room to answer the call.
Yosuke waited until the silver-haired man was out of hearing range. "Dude," he gave Yu a bombarded look, "where the heck did all that come from? I mean you're smart, ranked number one in practically every test, but—you were like a machine!"
Chie looked like she wanted to throw something at the Magician. "Yosuke, calm down. Can't you see your freaking him out?" She smiled reassuringly at their leader, while everyone else mirrored Yosuke's perplexity—expect Rise, her persona ability sensing what the others couldn't.
Yu smiled warily, attempting to contain the internal fireworks. "I'm fine…just something that popped in my head. Couldn't help think it was important."
Naoto reached inside her jacket, magically produced the tan folder and set it down on the glass table. At the sight of it, recalling the sketch of the young man, Yu's light-headedness relapsed.
"No matter what we do, Kirjio-san has guaranteed that we'll be returned home, most likely by later today." Naoto received nods. She glanced at Sanada, in the living room, absorbed in his conversation. "Why don't we review what we've learned from visiting our given locations? It might give us insight on something we're missing?"
Chie tilted her head. "Something we're missing? On the hacker…the shape-shifter or the Kirjio Group?"
"Admittedly, I don't know. But, perhaps there's something to come across once we've exchanged information." Naoto smiled, glancing at their leader, who through sheer will power wasn't noticeably trembling. "Remember Yu-senpai's final day in Inaba and how at the last moment we thwarted the true mastermind?" They did as it was a turning point in their lives, the perfect ending to a yearlong struggle. "Maybe this won't be the case, but then again, it could. Our objective is to find the culprits who hurt Labrys, so let's use every second doing so."
Their hearts were one for a common goal. Teddie jumped, pumping the air with an overjoyed cry. Sanada looked in their direction, momentarily lowering the phone from his ear. Luckily, Yosuke was perfect at defusing such situations. The Magician hooked the blond shadow in a headlock, grinning and shaking his head, while conveying the message: Sorry, you know how Teddie-Teddie's like.
And, somehow, it worked. The silver-haired man turned away, returned to the cellular device. Yosuke squeezed Teddie. "Listen hear, you damn bear," he whispered menacingly into the Star's ear, "if you so much as make another sound that doesn't involve this case, I'll skin you alive…without popsicles. Do you understand?"
Teddie nodded as vigorously as he did for Sanada. The Magician released him and the team's discussion commenced. "You already know most of what Senpai and I learned," Rise said.
Naoto blinked then looked at Chie. "Rise-chan weren't you partners with Chie-senpai?"
The scarlet rapidly wagged a finger. "But-but, here's what Senpai didn't include." She recounted their venture in greater detail, neglecting the Fool's moment of weakness.
"Huh, so that explains the get-up," Yosuke said.
The idol blushed, remembering the disguise. She quickly stripped both items off, exposing her brown eyes and auburn hair. Yosuke and Teddie openly ogled.
"I see." Naoto nodded, filing the information in a cabinet in her head. "Then, Yosuke-senpai, Yukiko-senpai, what did you learn?"
Chie's eyes widened then scanned up and down Yukiko's figure. "Yukiko, he didn't do anything to you did he?"
In the background, disbelief riddled the Magician's façade.
The Priestess smiled, shaking her head in the negative. "Of course not, Chie." The Chariot stared intently before glaring at Yosuke, who gave her a pointed look.
The brunet grumbled inaudibly then narrated their findings. "Most people changed the subject or ignored us when we asked about the Apathy Syndrome."
Yukiko frowned with concern in her black eyes. "It was like they were afraid of even thinking about it."
"Yea," Yosuke agreed. "We got lucky with some people who knew friends, who know friends, that got affected." He shivered, crossing his arms. "Dude, how they described them, the…um—"
"Lost," Yukiko inputted.
Yosuke snapped his fingers. "Yep, the Lost. That's messed up…but yeah, some guy tried to hit on Yukiko and—"
Chie straightened. "Wha?" She looked worriedly at her best friend who shrugged, untroubled. "He wasn't hitting on me…? Was he?"
The Magician recoiled from her indifference, considering the harsh rejection dealt to the confident male. Yosuke even felt bad for the individual since he could relate. "The Amagi Challenge is still so brutal," he murmured to himself.
The Chariot was tense, waiting for some horrific tale of bad conduct. It was Yosuke for goodness sake, alone with Yukiko. The chances of him not making a move were zero to none. "So," she said, "anything else?"
Yukiko rolled her eyes up, contemplating and Chie wondered if an apology, to the brunet, was in order until her best friend said, "While we waited, Yosuke-kun took me to the scary movie marathon." Unaware of Chie's tremor, she added, "I had him take me and did what you always do Chie. I said I didn't have any money and got him to pay."
Chie winced, futilely shushing her friend. "Yukiko's, just made that up…" She laughed weakly. The Magician was anything but amused, gaze murderous, yet contained his fury, so Sanada wouldn't have a reason to return. "Don't worry," he said. "Now I know and I'll get you back."
And then, as if the brunet's intent, a volley of thunder boomed. Chie cried, and cowered in her seat. The lights ominously whined off and on and Sanada exited the dining section of the lobby, muttering, "So that's what she meant."
The sudden development lessened the Fool's faintness. "What's going on?"
Sanada smirked grimly. "Bad weather, a storm." He opened one of the entrance doors. Outside, replacing the sun was a veil of dark clouds, crowding the sky as droplets of rain began to splat on the asphalt.
Kanji cocked an eyebrow. "The hell? It was sunny like half-an-hour ago!"
Sanada shut the door then approached the group, standing between where Yu and Kanji sat. An urgent sounding voice was speaking through the cellphone and Sanada positioned it against his ear. "Mitsuru, we've got some terrible waterworks."
Mitsuru Kirjio was on the line, giving the silver-haired man further directions. Judging from Sanada's scowl, he wasn't thrilled with the change of plans. "…Alright." He sighed and ended the call. "Change of plans. Transportation can't make it with the storm."
Rise, distrustfully observing the whining lights, said, "I-Isn't this kind of sudden? How bad is it?"
Sanada grunted in response. "Bad enough that the authorities closed the Moonlight Bridge and transportation out of the city. Port Island gets bad this time of the year." He sighed, running a through his silvery hair. "You guys chose a great time to visit."
Chie gulped, fear of lightening apparent on her ashen face. "S-so what happens now?"
Sanada didn't answer immediately, frowning up at the lights. "Now," he said, moving to the light switch, "I hope no one's afraid of the dark."
The lights switched off and lightening exploded, a disastrous combination. Half the Investigation Team strained their vocals—the Fool was too dazed to panic. Using the illumination from his cellphone, Sanada ventured to a closed door by the empty bar. "All of you stay here. I'll work the old generator, so the lights should be back soon."
Even without telling them, no one dared move, beyond afraid. The silver-haired man descended, silhouette slowly disappearing with him. A suffocating silence hung in the blackened lobby.
Yu pulled out his cellphone, the light it offered allowing some visibility. "Let's pull out your phones," he advised. They did and immediately were comforted.
"Y-Yosuke," Chie stammered, "this is your fault!"
Yosuke blinked. "M-my fault? What the hell Chie?"
Another bang prevented the Chariot from replying. She wailed in outrage. "I can't take this anymore!" Yukiko gently patted Chie's trembling back.
"G-guys," Rise squealed, "aren't scary movies usually like this?" When nobody said anything, the petite idol continued. "You know, a bunch of school kids over an abandoned house and—"
Yosuke shook his head wildly. "Ok, that's enough! I've had my fair share of bad horror flicks today."
Yukiko momentarily looked up from supporting Chie, her cellphone allowing the scowl to be seen. "You just don't appreciate good scary movies."
Naoto cleared her throat, gathering everyone's attention. She appeared calm and placid, though Rise's comment about scary movies visually affected her. "Let's use this time to continue going over our findings." She looked to Chie then Rise—with a disapproving sigh—and lastly Teddie. The female detective relented, eyeing the Chariot. "Chie-senpai…did you or Teddie find anything?"
Chie raised her head from underneath her arms. Yukiko's cellphone illuminated the dry tears that stained her creamy complexion. "W-well," she paused, waiting for another loud roar of thunder, but when none came, she continued. Teddie and her had learned a remarkable amount concerning the Apathy Syndrome from the many stores in Paulownia mall.
"A lot of beary pretty girls I'd like to score went missing back then," Teddie remarked, frowning sadly. Yukiko's gaze hardened, but she didn't comment, continuing to watch over Chie.
Apparently, according to the owner of Power Records, a bulletin board once stood between the police station and Be Blue V with missing reports of individuals with the disease.
"Oh, yea," Chie said, regaining some confidence. "He mentioned that a lot of the missing people were students from Gekkoukan high school."
Despite his restraints, a groan escaped Yu's lips. It was like someone had plunged a knife into his head, the sensation resonating with every breath.
Kanji flashed his cellphone in the Fool's direction. "Senpai, dammit, you look like hell!"
At the Emperor's statement, everyone—including Chie—crowded Yu's seat, flashing his or her light to get a glimpse, and, unknowingly, increasing his distortion.
"S-sensei," Teddie said with difficultly, "you don't look beary good…"
"Enough with the bear jokes Teddie," Yosuke pleaded grimly. He arched an eyebrow at Yu. "But, yea, Partner, you've had better days."
Yosuke's uncanny bluntness made the Fool chuckle, further adding to the irritation. Chie gave the Magician a hard shove. "Yosuke, that's definitely not want he wants to hear!"
Yukiko looked torn, her persona's healing abilities inoperative in the real world. "Are you sick? Maybe it's the differed environment?"
Naoto shook her head. "No. If anything, he should be the most adjusted to the city's living conditions."
Rise stood to the rear, watching wistfully. She wanted to expose the occurrence by the school gate, give informative insight, but the Fool stopped her with a steely glance. "I'm fine guys," Yu said as causally as he could. "Really. Just lack of sleep." At the mention of sleep, Kanji and Yosuke glared at Teddie, who looked away, skittishly.
"Why don't we find someplace for you to rest," Rise suggested. "This is a dorm. I'm sure there's bound to be a bed upstairs."
Sleep would do wonders right now, Yu thought. His friends agreed and discussed who should aid him when the scarlet nominated herself. They all looked at her incredulity, afraid for their leader.
Rise's face matched her hair, realizing the accusations. "Huh? No!" She exhaled, willing her nerves to calm. "Wow, guys, I wouldn't do anything! Plus, I've already given all the info senpai and I learned, so everyone who hasn't told their findings should stay."
Chie still looked doubtful. "Yea, but then wouldn't Yosuke be a better choice? He's already told his story, and sorry Rise-chan, but I trust him way more with helping Yu-kun up the stairs."
The idol's brain went on overdrive. Why? Yu didn't know, but she was grasping straws when she said, "I, um, need to go to the toilet?"
Nobody anticipated that, and Rise gained confidence from the unorthodox approach. "I have to use the toilet and since its dark I don't want to go alone." She held out her palm to whatever Kanji was about to say. "I know I could ask Chie or Yukiko-senpai or Naoto-kun, but what if starts thundering again?"
Chie paled at the thought, and Yukiko resumed the duty of patting her back.
"See," Rise proudly proclaimed. "Chie needs Yukiko-senpai if it happens and Naoto-kun can't go because she's listening to everyone's story."
There was logic in the Lovers reasoning that was hard not to deliberate. "There's probably a bathroom upstairs, so I'll drop off senpai and kill two birds with one stone," she added as an afterthought.
His friends were hesitant to agree, nervous about them being alone in a bedroom—in the dark. Perhaps Yu should have shared their worries, but the notion of sleep was too alluring. He relented. "I'm fine with it guys."
It definitely wasn't what anyone expected—even Rise was stunned. The Fool stood, enduring the dizziness. "Don't worry, I can walk fine. Lead the way." Rise blinked and turned towards the stairs, lighting the path her cellphone with the Fool at her heel.
As they climbed the stairs to the second floor, Teddie muttered, "Is Sensei going to score?"
Chie did Yukiko the favor of kicking the blond shadow.
A corner of the second floor was visible due to the lights from two vending machines. Four sofas, probably of the same material from the ones downstairs, rounded a square table. To the left was another set of stairs and to the right, an eerie stretched hallway?
"No bathroom," the Fool said. He smiled at Rise's pouting face. Doors stood on both walls but as Rise approached the closet one, Yu continued down the hall.
The Fool didn't respond. "Senpai," she said, a little louder. The intense darkness began to consume Yu's figure. Dread filled the Lovers and she sped to the Fool's side, taking long strides to match his. "Senpai, what ar—" He stopped, directly in front of the hallway's last door.
Kanzeon buzzed in Rise's head like always whenever something of interest arose. Compared to its countless counterparts, this particular room gave the Lovers a sense of foreboding. Though, the fear wasn't for herself, but her senpai.
She watched in fixed tenseness as he grasped the knob then pushed the door open. Their cellphones helped making out the room's features. It was pretty bare with a naked bed, desk, TV stand and indeed a door to one's personal bathroom. It was everything Rise imagined a dorm room would be.
Yu stepped inside, and, without sparing a second, lay on the bed. Rise marveled of how at ease he was with the situation. Perhaps, she though, his recent strangeness really was due to lack of sleep?
But, Kanzeon dispelled such hopeful notions with her unique support abilities. Rise couldn't tell what it was, but something clung to her senpai like a bad cold, and while the entity was definitely unwanted, it wasn't malicious. She first noticed it the pervious day, at the diner. Since then, Rise had tried multiple attempts at scanning it, but Kanzeon—her own persona—opposed, leaving her with the sinking impression that whatever was transpiring was uncontrollable.
Yu bristled, ending her inner turmoil. His eyes slightly opened, revealing those bottomless silver orbs. "Hey, you don't have to stand in the doorway. There's a bathroom if you need the toilet?"
A blush rose to Rise's cheeks from the teasing remark. "Senpai," she whined, "aren't you being too mean?" Though he couldn't see the smile that graced her lips, he could detect the humor in her tone. Rise walked inside, awkwardly standing a few feet from the bed. Her heart raced, imagining anyone misinterpreting the situation. The notion was both terrifying and exhilarating.
"A-are you feeling better?"
Yu smiled lazily. "Much…hey, you don't have to stand, you can sit on the bed…" Using his remaining strength, the Fool scooted back, creating space, before submitting to a state of unconsciousness.
Rise gulped. It was probably the fatigue that influenced him. In his normal mindset, the Fool wouldn't make such a—alluring offer. But, neglecting all common sense, wit and the situation, the Lovers sat down on the space provided, and simply watched her sleeping senpai.
A white mist clouded his vision then slowly evaporated into nothingness. He placed a hand to his eyes and blinked a few times, until the area ceased to sway. He was in constant motion while planted to a cushioned, blue loveseat. Everything was rich blue—the seats, the overhead lighting, and the empty wine bottles neatly arranged on a sleeve to left of the vehicle.
Directly in front of him was a circular table, veiled by a blue sheet and a single face down tarot card. Behind the table sat a woman of unimaginable beauty and power: Margaret.
"I welcome you to the Velvet Room, Yu Narukami. Are you prepared?"
The Fool let his hands fall, stared at the face down tarot card then at Margaret, uncertain. "Prepared? For what?"
"For the beginnings of your ordeal," she said. "You successfully braved the trial needed to arrive to this point. Here on out requests the change of your status quo."
The Fool ran a hand through his silvery hair, a habit adopted from Akihito Sanada. He remembered the P-1 Grand Prix and Margaret's calls to the Velvet Room after every opponent. She had stated that the tournament marked the beginnings of something much more deviant, demanding a change to the existing state of affairs.
Though the meaning of her words eluded him, Yu remained firm in his response. "No matter what comes my way, with my friends by my side, we can manage anything."
The mist reappeared as another him—in the real world—stirred. Exhaustion weighed down on his form, dragging him further into the loveseat. All conscious thoughts fled his mind. Margaret sounded so far away. "What if your friends aren't with you?"
Before shutting his eyes and returning to his body, Yu caught a glimpse of the tarot card, flipped. A milky white skull before closed doors: the Death arcana.
June 17, 2012 (Tuesday)
Raining/ Cloudy/ Thunderstorm
The room was not—thankfully—swaying or spinning. Sleep was therapeutic. The faintness, the head aches, the disorientation wasn't present and Yu groggily sat up on the bed, rejuvenated. But, sadly, it was an illusion. As if aware of his renewed consciousness, the strange affliction struck, his stomach exploding with lit fireworks. The sensation grew at an alarming rate, and the Fool bit back a cry of distress.
W-what the hell?
And then, it faded, leaving him faint and exerted, breathing rough and uneven, sweat rolling down his face. Something shined bright by the open door, and squinting, Yu saw a blue butterfly.
It extended its radiant wings and flew out of the room, into the hallway. The Fool raced after the butterfly. It led him downstairs. Sanada must have restored the power, because the lights were dimmed. The lobby was barren, soulless. Approaching the counter by the open office, Yu pulled of his cellphone, almost dropping it in the process. It was elven-thirty eight, near midnight. He had been out for roughly six hours.
Grimacing, he pocketed the device then stared at the multi-legged insect floating before him. It landed on an umbrella against the wall, then flew straight for the door, disappearing into it, and materializing outside.
The butterfly wanted him to ventured outside in the middle of a thunderstorm. Common sense overruled curiously and the Fool took a moment to logically comfort the situation.
Talking butterfly's, he ruminated. A sign from the Velvet Room? Margaret maybe?
The Fool sighed and grasped the umbrella. The thought of locating one of his friends—if not all—surfaced to mind, but he decided against it. They're probably asleep.
In retrospect, Yu could have predicted the destination. The faintness occurred after departing Inaba, pestering him with the idea of Port Island. It reacted to Naoto's stretch of the young man, and Gekkoukan high school. According to Chie, a majority of individuals afflicted by the Apathy Syndrome were students from said school. Shadows—humanity's rejected aspects—were somehow related to the peculiar disease. The Shadow Operatives originated in 2010, after the disease disappeared. Everything was connected, the answers somewhere in the faculty. The area was slick with rain and dark clouds obscured the sky. It wasn't raining, but potentially could at any moment. Yu climbed over the school's gate onto the entranceway. His glowing blue guide led him to an open door—or did the butterfly open it?
The Fool shut the umbrella. He was by the entrance lobby where two tall shoe lockers stood parallel to one another. Advancing, his instincts flared take cover. Someone was approaching. He hid behind a shoe locker and watched a man—security—toying with a device. It wasn't just any man, but the police officer from the mall. Yu mentally cursed his luck and plotted a means of elusion. His glowing blue guide, although, had other plans. It rammed the officer with surprising force and the officer grunted, crumbling onto the floor. Terrified for the man's well being, the Fool ran to his side. He was alive, snoring soundly.
Words couldn't fathom Yu's relief. The butterfly ventured up the set of stairs, and the Fool trailed behind, mentally thanking Ms. Toriumi for her elaborate tour. He found the butterfly on the first step leading to the third floor. Strangely, Ms. Toriumi had overlooked it during the tour. It led to the roof, which was locked until his glowing blue companion performed its magic. Yu readied the umbrella.
Outside, rain pampered the open space. A fence surrounded the edges and stone benches were scattered around. Another time, it would have been an ideal spot for lunch. The butterfly landed on the titled floor and the Fool advanced, taking a knee by its side. He didn't know what expect, but one thing was certain: the butterfly's beauty. Rashly, he reached out to touch it, the memory of another glowing insect flashing to mind—from Inaba. The butterfly dissolved into the ground and a glowing blue circle, with exotic symbols, replaced it, enveloping the Fool.
He was expecting the Velvet Room, as it was where he usually ended up after supernatural events. However, it wasn't mist that hindered his vision. It was an ungodly wave of vertigo. He waited for a few seconds until peering at the checkered floor. Definitely not the Velvet Room, Yu decided. He stood, almost whacking himself with the umbrella, taking in the environment. Grand pillars surrounded the circular platform supporting the balcony with low fencing with a jade green sphere—with a golden butterfly crest—to the focal point.
The sphere glowed, a spiral of green light, resolving around a human figure, which molded into a slim, pale man dressed in black with a looped blue-white butterfly mask, concealing three-fourth of his façade. The pesky blue butterfly appeared from out of nowhere onto the individual's shoulder.
"My name is Philemon. I exist between the domains of consciousness and death. I am the granter of personas."
Yu continued to analyze the otherworldly space. It was massive, a fixed position in the center of darkness. It wasn't cold or warm. No wind either. Satisfied, he focused on the most interesting aspect the setting offered.
"This…isn't the Velvet Room," Yu said matter-of-factly.
"Very perceptive." Philemon's smile curved at the Fool's scowl. "It's a pleasure to meet you in person, Yu Narukami, factor of hope." Yu regarded Philemon with confusion, but the mysterious man's next question shifted his attention. "Are you wondering why you're here?"
"Not really. You'll tell me eventually."
The masked man chuckled in amusement, observing the Fool with a scientist-like interest. "For quite some time, I have been reaching out to you through your unconscious."
"Reaching out to me," Yu repeated, bemused. Realization struck. "You're the cause." Mysteries began to unravel. The Fool's desire to visit Port Island, the strange afflictions—all because of this man. What else was he responsible for?
"Why were you reaching out to me?" Yu asked, anticipation and dread fused into the question. "Why Port Island?"
"It was necessary," he simply said. "I wanted you to gain insight on the past, on your predecessor. Where better than the city he considered home?" Philemon's intent baffled the Fool further. "In the tournament, your trial, you encountered a entity—the manifestation of human evil and desire for destruction in all its form."
Something altered in Philemon's eyes. A calculating gleam accompanied the foreign paternal light. Yu swallowed, digesting the information, and noting the reference to the mysterious shape-shifter. He was aware of the neglect of his original question. "So, why reach out to me?"
Philemon stared into Yu's silver orbs. "My purpose is to watch over humanity as a guide, but because of the recent events, I must interfere."
"What's going to happen?"
Philemon shook his head. "I can not say. It would violate my position. Though I can say that a great calamity is stirring and you will play a role."
The Fool stiffened. "Me?"
"Yes," Philemon confirmed. "The entity also realizes this, and sooner or later, he will begin to tamper with your unconscious, reach out to you like I have. He is growing in strength as less restrictions chain him down."
Philemon gave Yu a moment to process the harsh reality, when, in truth, the Fool needed more than a moment, his mind vying with pessimistic thoughts. Perhaps it was a blessing when Philemon said, "It's time I told you the true nature behind our meeting."
The Fool's body dipped, leaning to the right. Replacing the umbrella was a single-edge katana, perfectly balanced, like an extension of his arm. Yu looked to Philemon questioningly.
The deity smiled at his confusion. "Truthfully, I arranged this meeting to test your strength." The power rolled off him like waves, physically manifesting. The flooring stretched and expanded along with the domed roof and the pillars supporting it. Gravity intensified and it was became a challenge to breathe.
Philemon stood to the center of the enlarged domain and whether he knew it or not, he had won the battle psychologically. Yu struggled to regain his bearings. "Test my strength?"
Philemon waved his a hand and wind swirled under the Fool's feet: a garu spell, Izanagi's elemental weakness. Yu didn't have time to react as the spell struck, forcing him to take a knee.
"Come now," Philemon insisted. "I know you have more potential than that. Prove to me that you are prepared for the future. If not…" He waved his hand again, conjuring another garu spell. This time, Yu scarcely managed to roll out of the way.
The Fool stood, staring at the deity incredulity. Any chance of a peaceful conclusion was discarded by the seriousness in his adversary's eye. Everything, from coming to Port Island, to the afflictions was carefully orchestrated for this moment. Words were useless.
Realizing this, Yu exhaled slowly, throwing all concern out the metaphysical window and allowing battle-hardened instincts to takeover. Philemon summoned another garu, this time as a moving tornado, swiftly rushing towards him. Yu sidestepped the torrent of wind then charged.
As the distance deceased to a mere few feet, another moving tornado occurred right in front of the Fool. Unable to evade, he raised the katana protectively and drove into the surge, defenses greatly reducing the possible damage. When the spell departed, Yu slashed the katana in a wide arc, a blow that should split the deity in half, but, of course, it was never that easy. Something—like a wall—deflected the strike and momentum had Yu reeling backwards, struggling to regain his footing.
"It was a good try," Philemon praised, "but you'll need more than physical means."
Yu understood the claim, raising his free hand to the sky and crushing the Fool arcana. Izanagi, the ancient god of Japan, shimmered to existence, a being clad in a black and gray long coat, wielding a massive naginata.
"Izanagi," Yu cried. Yellow eyes glowing, Izanagi arched his back and a bolt of electricity fell from the sky aimed at the deity's head. What should have been a hit never reached its target, halted mid-air by the invisible barrier.
"Impressive, but try this!" Philemon thrust his hand and an unimaginable stream of electricity shot forth, striking Izanagi. On contact, a veil of smolder encircled Yu, clouding his vision, though the pain pulsating in his head took priority. Izanagi was still mobile, steadily recovering. But then, a second bolt of electricity struck and then another, enough that even Izanagi's elemental resistance couldn't withstand.
Yu crumbled to his knees, gripping his throbbing head. Izanagi wasn't fairing any better, immobile on the checkered floor.
Philemon sighed in disappointment. "It's sad…you are powerful, I expected more, but then this proves my involvement is needed." He advanced, clicks of his shoes, echoing. A sense of foreboding seized Yu's heart. Mustering his strength, he tried to stand, but a bolt of electricity crashed down on Izanagi, fixing him in place.
"I'm sorry, but this is the only way. I can't allow you to be corrupted by him."
The only way, those words increased Yu's agitation. His heart raced, pumping blood to his battered head. Only one possibility lingered, a final trump card. Yu closed his eyes, breathing in and out, seeking sanctuary in the safety of his mind.
He imagined their smiling faces: the people, his loved ones whom, in one-way or another, had improved him. The entire Investigation Team, Kou and Daisuke back in Inaba, his cousin Nanako and uncle Dojima. Naoki, Eri, Yuuta's mother, Shu, the boy he tutored. Ai and Yumi, the Fox at the shrine, the elderly woman he chatted with by the river, Hisano, Margaret, Marie—and Adachi, smiling smugly.
Each was a piece of something greater, his World. The Fool arcana rapidly traveled down the list of arcana, stopping at number twenty-one: The World.
Yu opened his eyes. Philemon stood in front of him, cradling a swirling orange orb. Swiftly, the Fool jumped, bringing the katana down, and yielding innovative results: the barrier barely repelled the blow. Yu charged again, using Philemon's bafflement to his advantage. A garu spell triggered and the Fool drove straight into it, the spell hardly affecting him. Twisting his hip and gripping the katana with both hands, he sliced through the invisible barrier like butter. Philemon simpered like progress was made. Yu didn't hesitate, turning around to effectively strike him.
He gripped his chest, despite there being no blood—no physical wound at all? "Your aura has drastically changed. This is what I was waiting for. I won't hold back anymore." At the proclamation, a vast gale of wind exploded under the Fool.
Yu remembered the spell as Panta Rhei, the ultimate wind elemental spell. Wind, sharp as knifes, shot forth, submerging everything in a green haze. It didn't touch Yu once, the passive ability Angelic Grace, giving him the evasiveness to avoid any damage. He walked, swaying his body accordingly, and crushed the tarot card. "Izanagi-no-Okami!"
A condensed bolt of electricity cut the wind spell, hitting its target by the merry, "You're doing well!"
Izanagi-no-Okami gravitated besides Yu—the original god of Japan—a being clad in a white long coat with a golden necktie, wielding a dual bladed spear with a golden ring-shaped guard. "Can we stop this charade now? I think I've proven my strength…and I still have more tricks up my sleeve." It was obviously a hoax. Just materializing the ultimate persona burned his spiritual energy like Teddie, steadily coming off a sugar high.
Philemon straightened, dusting off his black turtleneck. "Its true that you have impressed me, maybe even went beyond my expectations…but still, the seed of doubt is planted."
Yu eyed him skeptically. "What? Do I have to pummel you until you're down."
Philemon raised a hand in reply. "This might hurt!"
A storm cloud materialized over Yu and Izanagi, the ultimate electric spell, Thunder Reign. Angelic Grace combined with Izanagi's godly agility made it so a single bolt never hit its mark, but it didn't couldn't prevent the pillar of hellish flames that erupted, the ultimate fire spell: Ragnarok. Yu was utterly helpless against double casting—which he never thought was possible. Then, Philemon accomplished another feat, stretching Yu's sense of reality: triple casting, the final ultimate spell, Niflheim.
It was too much to evade, all three spells hammered the Fool in whirlwind of sensations, until concluding. It was only because of Izanagi's defensive capabilities he hadn't died on the spot. Philemon observed, detached, waiting for the so-called tricks. And, in reality, Yu did possess one last surprise, a skill he hadn't considered since its initial use.
Izanagi raised his spear in preparation. "This is everything I've got!"
The ultimate persona twirled the dual-bladed spear, creating a perfect arc, and then raised it over his head. Light and electricity fused together, soaring to the dome roof then curving down and striking the deity. An explosion of energy condensed and expanded repeatedly, lighting the dark domain.
Izanagi—reverted to his standard appearance—floated behind the Fool. When the storm of power settled, Philemon was on his back.
Yu sloughed forward, realizing the true extent of his exhaustion. A simple zio was enough to send him down. Unfortunately, Yu was about to receive the equivalent of a hundred zio. It had to be a hallucination: four Panta Rhei spells circling the domain—quadruple-casting?
Everything blurred as all four spells mutilated him, Izanagi's elemental weakness. Yu wasn't dead—but absolutely numb. Philemon hovered over him, the orange orb in hand. "You—performed—greatly—but—risk—great. I'm sorry." He took a knee, and within him, Yu found the strength to lean forward and smash a fist into the deity's face. Philemon's head jerked back, mask flying off somewhere then chattering on the checkered floor.
"You're the second person to date who's done that," Philemon laughed. He looked down, presenting a face downright identical to Yu's own: pale complexion, silver hair and silver eyes. "Yu Narukami, one day, we will meet again when you are ready. You are powerful but a child. In the coming years, as you experience more of the world, you will understand why I'm doing this."
Philemon thrust the orb straight into Yu's chest. A scream resonated throughout the domain. Something vital was weakening, sinking into unconsciousness: the Fool's perspective of the world.
June 18, 2012 (Wednesday)
1:35 AM: Gorou Hokkaido, occupation police officer, woke up with a nasty headache, sleeping on the floor of Gekkoukan high school. Distressed, he quickly performed his hourly security checks.
2:00 AM: After ensuring the facility was secure, he ventured to the roof, looking forward to the sight of a cloudless sky. Instead, he found the body of an unconscious silver-haired boy, gripping a tattered umbrella.
2:30 AM: Ambulances crowded the perimeter of Gekkoukan high. School wouldn't open that day.
3:30 AM: The individual, Yu Narukami, was transported to Tatsumi Memorial Hospital.
4:00 AM: Doctors concluded he was in a coma.
6:00 AM: The Investigation Team stormed the hospital, demanding their leader. Thanks to Akihito, they were allowed entry.
7:00 AM: Nurse cannot disclose any information of his condition to anyone but family. Naoto reluctantly phoned Ryotaro Dojima and explained the situation.
7:05 AM: Ryotaro phoned his sister, Yu's mother, Yuri Narukami, conducting business overseas.
10:00 AM: Mitsuru Kirjio arrived early to Port Island with Aigis and Labrys.
10:33 AM: At her request, Narukami was relocated to a private room. His friends were given unlimited access and any notification of changes to his condition.
2:00 PM: No change in Yu's condition. Local police arrived to question the Investigation Team but Mitsuru quickly dismissed them.
3:00 PM: Aigis and Labrys bring everyone lunch, since they had yet to eat.
3:10 PM: Rise broke into tears, explaining their leader's strange behavior and blaming herself for not intervening. Chie and Yukiko comfort her, telling the idol it wasn't her fault. But the seeds of doubt had already been planted.
4:30 PM: Mitsuru planned the earliest transportation home for everyone. Their parents and guardians have been notified.
6:45 PM: Their belongings are collected from Shirakawa Boulevard.
8:23 PM: Packed in a familiar black limousine, the team departed Port Island—leaving their leader under Mitsuru's care.
12:45 PM: A married couple claimed to be Yu's parents. The male featured a striking resemblance to the silver-haired boy with matching silver hair and eyes. The female was beautiful with wavy chestnut hair and honey colored eyes.
June 19, 2012 (Thursday)
8:15 AM: At their request, Yu was transported to a different hospital, belonging to an acquaintance.
June 20, 2012 (Friday)
8:15 AM: Yu woke up from the coma without any recollection of visiting Port Island.
Author's Note: Words can not explain how happy I am to finally finish this chapter. I rewrote it five different times, revised many more, until I was satisfied. Hope you guys enjoyed The Week Of Brash Mishaps. You can consider it the prologue to the main story. For those who read Persona: Fool's Epiphany, I hope you found the loss of Yu's ability fitting. Philemon has good intentions, he's a cool guy, and we'll more of him later on. Rematch between him and Yu and Minato!
Concerning the Female protagonist, well the votes aren't looking good in her favor. Just for extra clarification. If included, her role will be minor, with a back story which won't hinder the main plot or conflict the past. But, yep, it's up to you guys.
Comments to Reviews:
Fier66: Yea, I agree, but majority decides, so we'll see.
PersonaFan92: Thanks a million. And, on the Ken and Akihito, I agree. You make a very good point.
Nieto: Yeah, but it's fun, allowing the reader to influence. Thanks for the review and vote.
BigD: Loving the name.
Yami no Majou077: You've got to play P4 Arena. I wasn't into fighting games until I played it! And, thanks for noticing, hopefully I keep improving.
Twiggy: Your rant made me laugh my ass off. And, if the Female MC is involved, still considering, but it's a probably a no, until otherwise, she will strictly be a minor character. She'll play a role, but this is a story about Yu and Minato, adapting to a new ordeal, while managing everyday life and such.
Erebus13: Minato, yes calling him Minato, is a super pimp. He maxed out everything. And thanks for the review!
IarIz: Thanks, but this is a rewrite of my last story. Technically, I had 160 review for 14 chapters, until restarting.
ObsidianNoir: Sorry that I didn't explain better. But, yea, pretty much. The Female MC also possess the wildcard. How? Well, if scenario 1 is chosen, you'll see.
Please like, favorite and Review because I need the motivation. Starting my job soon, so might not have must free time at all, but with your support, I can and will update more frequently. Thanks, later.