A/N Putting up some warnings, because younger me didn't know about them, but I do now.

WARNINGS FOR: Bullying, mentions of self-harm in this chapter.


"In other words, she's a manager who's still in high school."

Yukiko's eyes widen. She knows that voice…it belongs to that idiot reporter who interviewed her. She hates everything about what he said.

"Now that has a nice ring to it…"

She'd wanted to avoid him, but she couldn't.

"Let's see if we can interview her."

She'd wanted to tell him off, but she was being shown on live television.

"Excuse me!"

"Shut up!" Yukiko doesn't care how loud she is. She wants that voice to go away.

It does as she wishes, but is soon replaced with a different voice. "H-Hey, Yukiko-san. Mind if I ask you something…? Is it true that announcer's staying at your family's inn?"

Yukiko clutches her head. "Shut up, shut up!"

"Someday, though…" the reporter's voice returns. "That aside, wow! You're looking gorgeous in that kimono. You must have a lot of male visitors."

"Leave me alone!" Yukiko hates how often she receives compliments on her looks. Nobody sees her for who she really is... nobody except her family and Chie. Chie… she was always overlooked because of her. Nobody notices Chie… nobody except her. "I'm sick of it…"

She wants to be like Chie. Chie is shorter than she is. Chie's cute and spunky. Chie doesn't let stuff like this bother her… if Chie were here now, she wouldn't be crying. Because Chie is so much stronger than her. So why is Yukiko always the one under the spotlight?

"You must really take good care of your hair for it to be this beautiful!"

Yukiko covers her ears and hunches over. She doesn't want to hear it. "Go away…"

"Which hair products do you use?"

"Shut up…" Yukiko can hear her voice beginning to crack.

"You must be real proud of having such long hair! It takes a lot of work to maintain it! I bet your hair has never met a pair of scissors—"

"Shut the fuck up!" Yukiko screams. She doesn't need this… all it does is trigger unpleasant memories.

"Seven days…"

Yukiko freezes. "No…"

"Seven days…"

Yukiko chokes back a sob. "No."

"Say, do you want to help out with the haunted house?"

"Doesn't she look like Sadako?"

"Oh my gosh, you're right!"

"It's her hair that does it!"

Yukiko had been so ecstatic when she was told that. She had caught those girls off guard with her smile and eager reply. She loves anything horror-related and just being offered a spot to help out with the haunted house for the cultural festival made her day. That happened when she was in the seventh grade… she was only twelve.

It had started out innocent enough, but it all went awry when a boy in the eighth grade walked up to her. And after that, everything fell out of place and Yukiko was nicknamed Sadako. At first, Yukiko thought nothing much of it, but a few weeks later…

"Thanks for letting me borrow your notebook, Sadako! Sorry it's a little worn-out, but I'm sure you don't mind."

Yukiko remembers the state that her notebook was in when it was returned to her. It was falling apart and every note she had painstakingly taken was scribbled out or smeared with black ink. She remembers the insults that were written in that weren't there before. She was called a witch, ugly, and a few other things that were too terrible to name.

That day, Yukiko threw her notebook into the incinerator and took care to take her school belongings with her every day. She was quite glad she kept a copy of her notes. She was also glad that no one was aware that she shared a shoe locker with Chie. Yukiko had been receiving notes in her own locker. She was annoyed with the mess of notes she made when she pulled out her shoes out of her locker, so she took to sharing shoe lockers with Chie. Chie didn't mind and didn't question Yukiko when she finally stopped sharing lockers.

Yukiko was glad Chie didn't ask, but a small part of her wished she did. Chie never knew about it and she made sure it stayed that way. She didn't want Chie involved and the girls only picked on her when Chie wasn't around. She was always by Chie's side, so it didn't really matter to her.

Of course, she was aware that Chie couldn't always be there for her, such as when she went to the restroom. Yukiko just made sure to stay in her stall until she knew she was completely alone in the restroom, otherwise she would be pelted with toilet paper.

The few times it was her turn to stay after school for cleaning duties were another. Chie and Yukiko were assigned on separate days. It was always an annoyance for the two, but it was about to escalate greatly for Yukiko.

"You missed a spot, Sadako!"

Splash!

Yukiko had been drenched in dirty water, but she continued to clean up. She knew her tormentors were looking for a reaction and she wasn't giving them any. She hoped they would soon grow bored with her. She almost thought they did, but then it happened.

Chie got sick and had to stay home all week, leaving Yukiko completely alone for once. It was the last week of school before winter vacation, so the girls weren't pulling any punches. During that week, Yukiko had to make sure there weren't any thumbtacks on her seat before she sat down at her desk. She always made sure her bag was always with her and never out of her sight. A few times, there was a rude message for her on the chalkboard, but she ignored it.

One of the girls picking on her finally had enough and stopped to apologize to her. Yukiko thought she made progress. She'd thought she made a new friend… She'd thought she wouldn't regret giving that girl her number.

Yukiko never stopped to think that her number could have been shared with others.

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

It was midnight when Yukiko first received the call. Her phone woke her up and, in her sluggish state, she answered her phone without checking the number. What happened next still haunted Yukiko to this day.

"Seven days…"

Winter vacation was absolute hell for Yukiko. She kept receiving random calls and text messages involving the same two words every day at any given time. A few times, she got in trouble with her mother for leaving her cell phone at home when she hung out with Chie. Yukiko always made the excuse that she had forgotten to charge it, which she did. She wanted every excuse she could get to leave her phone out of her sight and escape the phone calls and text messages.

Chie never knew the torment Yukiko had kept from her. She never knew that Yukiko spent a few minutes every night deleting all the messages that had accumulated within a day in her inbox. She never noticed that Yukiko was slowly losing control of herself.

Chie never noticed until it was too late.


The red mist was growing even denser, making it difficult to look ahead at times. The Shadows hide within the red mist, but Chie makes sure to avoid them as she runs down the hallway, looking for the right door. Tomoe clears the way at times, managing to one-shot most of the Shadows, with a little help from Jiraiya and Pixie. Yu, Yosuke, and Teddie follow after Chie. There is nothing they can do to stop Chie at this point.

They had heard Yukiko's voice, not her Shadow's, but the real Yukiko. They had heard her screams and her sobs. They had heard a few voices they didn't recognize, but Chie knew what it was about and refused to say anything. The voices were self-explanatory by the time the name "Sadako" popped up.

It's a horrible experience having to hear the pained cries of a tormented girl as she relives unpleasant memories. It's even more horrible for Chie, dealing with the burden of finding out about everything once the damage was already done. She still remembers the look on Yukiko's face.

It's the same look that her Shadow had after she had been taken down. Chie hates that look, because it reminds her of what Yukiko had kept from her until it was too late.

Upon reaching the next floor, Shadow Yukiko's voice croons again over Yukiko's cries. "Hasn't my Prince come yet? My dear Prince… Please hurry and take me away! Somewhere… To a world where no one knows me…"

"Just you wait, Yukiko! I'm coming for you!" Chie charges down the hallway, kicking down the nearest door in hopes of finding the stairs. It's happening again… Yukiko was keeping something from her. She'd promised she wouldn't let it happen again…

"...What did I do wrong?"

"Don't blame yourself, Chie!" Yu manages to catch up to Chie. "Remember you still have something to say to Amagi-san! Just keep that in mind!"

Chie looks at Yu and nods her head. "Right! Thank you, Yu…"


Yukiko blinks when she hears a door opening. She rubs her eyes and looks about. The red fog has vanished and she can finally see her surroundings. She's inside some sort of throne room and at the door, is a princess dressed in pink.

"Who…who are you?" Yukiko sniffs.

The princess laughs and starts gliding down the red carpet, the door closing itself behind her. Her voice comes through with some sort of distortion.

"Whatever do you mean?" the princess asks once she reaches Yukiko. She kneels down and looks into Yukiko's wide eyes. "I'm you."

Yukiko backs away. "How?"

The princess laughs and stands up. "Are you ready?"

Yukiko frowns at the lack of an answer. "Ready for what? Where am I?"

The princess continues laughing as she begins climbing the stairs. "We're in a castle and right about now, our Prince is looking for us. You should be happy. Maybe this time, things won't go as bad as that day…"

Yukiko stares at the princess in disbelief. "W-What?"

"Seven days…"

Yukiko clutches her head. "Stop it…"

"Don't bother…" The princess sounds so dejected, so… jaded. "There's nothing we can do to stop it. It's useless trying to fight it…"

"Seven days…"

"Just like it's useless trying to break out of that cage on your own…"

Yukiko looks at the princess, turned away atop the stairs. "What cage?"

"The very one that we were born into…" The princess turns to face Yukiko and smiles. "Oh, I hope our Prince doesn't mind the mess…you really shouldn't play around with scissors."

Yukiko has no idea what the princess has been talking about until she looks down in front of her. There is a pile of black hair on the floor. A pair of scissors is on top of the pile, glimmering in the pale red lighting.

"Doesn't it just bring back memories?" the princess asks in a sickly sweet voice. "You remember the day, don't you?"

"No…" Yukiko doesn't want to.

"How useless you were…"

"Stop…"

"Just what were you thinking?"

"I…" Yukiko chokes back a sob, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I just wanted to be me…"

"Hmm…?" The princess tilts her head to the side. "What was that?"

"I wanted to be me!" Yukiko cries out. "Not someone out of a horror movie… not Sadako… I just wanted to be myself…"

The princess purses her lips. "Hmm…is that why you did it?"

Yukiko sobbed. "Yes…"


It's New Year's Eve and Yukiko is in her room, using whatever free time she has to comb her long hair. Chie is coming over to spend the night. After everything Yukiko has been through, she is looking forward to spending time with her friend. The only calls and texts she had received today were from Chie. The day has been going well for her so far and Yukiko can only hope that it will stay that way.

Today Chie and Yukiko have planned to compare each other's hair length. Since the fourth grade, Chie had started growing out her hair when Yukiko suggested it. They had then made it a habit to check each other's progress on New Year's Eve. Today would be the fourth New Year's Eve they would do this.

Yukiko takes note of how much longer her hair had grown over the year. Her hair almost goes down to her knees. It's becoming much more tedious to care for it, but Yukiko doesn't mind. It gives Chie the motivation to keep growing out her hair.

"If you can do it, then so can I!" Chie had been so hyped up, it was adorable…

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Then it happens… Yukiko stops combing her hair and reaches into her pocket to pull out her cell phone. She had just received a text message. From whom, Yukiko doesn't know since it isn't from Chie…and some part of herself told her to leave it be.

"Should I…?" Yukiko bites her lip and flips open her cell phone. Her first thought upon reading the text message was that she should have listened to that part of herself that told her to ignore it. Frustrated, Yukiko closes her cell phone and tries her best to ignore what had just happened. She should have seen it coming.

By now, the message is been burned into her memory…and she hates it. She hates how much something she loved still loves is being used against her.

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko receives another text message, but she ignores it this time. She isn't falling for it again…

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko tightens her grasp on her comb. She couldn't care less about the teeth that dig into the palm of her hand. The pain from it is nothing compared to the feeling she feels every time she reads or hears those words aimed at her. Those words that never want to leave her alone, no matter how hard she tries to get away from it.

Seven days…

It's all because she decided to help out with her class's haunted house. That stupid boy just had to walk up to her… She didn't care if he liked her, and she was mad when he questioned her love for horror. She had turned him down and returned to scaring the crap out of people. She recalled making Chie cry when she came to visit. Yukiko didn't mean to scare her—it just happened. It didn't help that Yukiko had made Chie watch The Ring with her a week before, so Chie was still jittery about it.

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko throws her cell phone across the room. She's done with all the Sadako crap. She just wants it to end. She just wants to be left alone. She just wants to be herself again—not some girl out of a horror movie.

"My name is Amagi Yukiko…" Yukiko rubs her eyes. She's starting to get emotional over this. "I am thirteen years old…I am not a witch…I am not a ghost…I am not Sadako…I'm just Yukiko… Chie, where are you?"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko can't take it anymore. She wants to tell Chie everything. She should have never kept it from her. Chie could have put a stop to this before it even began…but no, Yukiko just had to keep it to herself. Why did she do that?

"What was I thinking?" Yukiko sniffs. "It was stupid…I'm stupid… I'm…useless."

Thinking about it now, Yukiko realizes that it was all about her trying to do something on her own. She wanted to do something for once, not depend on Chie to do it for her… And look at how it turned out…

"I just made it worse…" It's all her fault… She brought this onto herself…and maybe she could get out of it as well. "I'm not completely useless…am I?"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Those girls kept picking on her for a reason and that was her appearance. Well, specifically the appearance she took on during the cultural festival. She does, in fact, resemble Sadako. If she doesn't look like Sadako, then maybe, just maybe…they'll leave her alone.

"Where do I start?" Yukiko looks at herself in the mirror. Her eyes are red and tears streak her cheeks. She always looks horrible when she cries. Her pale skin made it so much more apparent. She never saw the appeal of a fair complexion. She would gladly trade hers with Chie if she could.

Yukiko almost breaks the mirror in anger when she realizes that she didn't even have to try to make herself look like Sadako. Her eyes were red from crying and her hair is starting to stick to her face… All she needs is a white burial kimono or a white dress and she could be mistaken for a real-life Sadako.

Yukiko ignores her phone's constant ringing as she pulls her hair out of her face. It was starting to get in her eyes… Yukiko stops and looks at the waves of black hair.

"Doesn't she look like Sadako?"

"Oh my gosh, you're right!"

"It's her hair that does it!"

The more she thinks about it, the more she realizes how much of a role her hair played in her appearance. It's long and black and without it covering her face, Yukiko is just some girl wearing a white kimono. Without it, Yukiko won't look like Sadako…

"Without it…" Yukiko bites her lip. "I can finally be myself…"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

"The ringing can finally stop…"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko doesn't waste any time rummaging through her drawers for the one item that can end it all. She's thrown all her clothing out onto the floor by the time she finds what she's looking for…a pair of scissors. Yukiko has never been so elated to see a pair of scissors. She's shaking as she holds them in her hand.

"It'll all be over soon…" Yukiko grabs a handful of her hair and cuts.

Snip!

There's no turning back.

Snip! Snip!

There is nothing even resembling precision in any cut.

Snip! Snip! Snip!

Yukiko just keeps cutting and cutting. She just can't stop…

Snip!

Yukiko loses track of time as locks of black hair begin to pile up on the floor. She just had so much hair… By the time she finally looks at herself in the mirror, all she has left of her previous hairstyle are her bangs. Whatever's left of her hair is just a choppy and uneven mess, but Yukiko doesn't care. The ringing still hasn't stopped.

"Yukiko, what are you doing?!"

Yukiko turns and sees Chie standing in her doorway. "When did she get here?"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

Yukiko's eyes widen. "Make it stop…"

PI PI PI PI PI PI PI!

"The ringing…make it stop!" Yukiko cries as she holds the scissors to her bangs. "Make it stop! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!"

"Yukiko, stop!"


Yukiko stares wide-eyed at the pair of scissors in her hand. She has no idea what had just happened, but is keenly aware of how close the scissors are to her hair. She shrieks, hurling the scissors across the room.

"What…what happened?" Yukiko is trembling. For some brief amount of time, she hadn't been in control of herself…

"It seems our Prince is coming to our rescue…" The princess smiles as she sits down on her throne. She looks down at Yukiko, the smile shifting into a sneer. "You got lucky this time…"

Yukiko shudders.


Yukiko's castle consists of eight floors altogether. The group finds this out upon arriving on the eighth floor, which consists of one seemingly endless hallway shrouded in red fog. There are no signs of any Shadows, just them and (according to Teddie) both Yukikos. The thought of Yukiko being alone with her own Shadow frightens Chie. At any given time, Shadow Yukiko could kill Yukiko, regardless of the fact that the fog hadn't lifted in this world yet.

Chie isn't sure how long Yukiko can hold out until she breaks down and denies her Shadow's existence. Chie hopes that will never happen, because she doesn't know what she will do with herself if she has to fight Yukiko. Shadow or not, she's still Yukiko, and just thinking about fighting her makes her sick.

Chie realizes how increasingly uncomfortable she's growing as she gets closer and closer to the only place the Yukikos can reasonably be: the end of the long, long hallway. The more she thinks about it, the more she questions herself. Why is she doing all of this? Why is Yukiko so important to her?

What is so special about Yukiko?

"Make it stop…"

Chie stops abruptly as Yukiko's voice echoes down the hallway.

"The ringing…"

"Yukiko…" She can hear how tortured Yukiko was.

"Make it stop!"

It makes her feel sick… How can she ever question herself for going out of her way just for Yukiko?

"Make it stop! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!"

"Yukiko, stop!" Chie yells as loudly as she can. She's aware that she's crying, but she doesn't care. She wants her voice to be heard. She wants Yukiko to know that she is close by. She just wants Yukiko to know so that she can finally feel safe.

Keeping Yukiko safe is Chie's top priority because without her, Chie is nothing.

Yukiko gave Chie a reason to live.

"That's right…" Chie had almost forgotten. There is something she has to tell Yukiko. It's something that Chie has never told Yukiko. "You're not the only one with secrets…"

Tomoe gives Chie a wistful glance before looking back at Yu, Yosuke, and Teddie, who've been watching Chie the entire time. It's because of Yu that no one says anything. She keeps them quiet and for that, Tomoe is thankful. Otherwise, Chie might have not made her important decision at all.

"Let's go, guys!" Chie's ready to do this, as is the rest of the group. She still isn't up for listening completely to Yu, but... only because Yukiko is involved.

Yu has that all figured out when she sees the look on Chie's face as she rushes ahead. She's only known Chie for a week, but that's all she needs in order to know how much Chie cares for Yukiko. That's why she let it slide when Chie decided to leave them behind, because Yu would have done the same… "If it was Senpai…"

Chie starts running again, but this time, she makes sure that Yu, Yosuke, and Teddie are able to catch up. She needs all the help she can get… and all the support as well. When she finally comes across the door, she briefly hesitates to open it, with no idea what to expect. She almost doubts herself, but a reassuring look from Yu gives Chie the courage to kick down the door with one more cry.

"YUKIKO!"

"Chie?!"

Words can not describe the various emotions flooding Chie as she sees Yukiko across the room from her. Chie almost wants to cry, but now isn't the time for tears. She is just happy to see that Yukiko is alive and well.

"Fufufu…" Distorted laughter catches everyone's attention. Sitting on the throne at the top of the stairs is Shadow Yukiko. She looks over everyone as the door behind them closes. "What's this? Three Princes are here to see me?! My my! Aren't I popular?"

"Tch…" A small bead of sweat rolls down the side of Yukiko's face.

Shadow Yukiko ignores Yukiko and keeps her attention on the group. "Awwwww… I wish I'd gotten a better look at you while you were just Princes-in-training! Well, never mind that… Is it just me, or is it getting quite crowded here?"

There's a suggestive tone in Shadow Yukiko's voice that makes Chie and Yu uncomfortable. Yosuke is even more uncomfortable due to all the harassment from Senri. He just can't take anymore of this. It's too creepy. (Teddie, meanwhile, is absolutely clueless.)

"Why don't you and I go somewhere else…?" Shadow Yukiko has a dreamy look on her face as she stands up. "A land far, far away, where no one knows me. If you're my Prince, you'd take me there, won't you? C'mon…pretty please?"

At that moment, Teddie picks the inopportune moment to finally understand something. "Oooh. Is this 'scoring a hot stud'?!"

Yukiko overhears Teddie. "What?!"

Yosuke scowls and bonks Teddie over the head. "Now's not the time for that, you stupid bear!"

"Waah, Yosuke's so mean!" Teddie exclaims.

Chie had stayed quiet. There was something that Shadow Yukiko had said that got her thinking. "Three Princes…? Wait, does that include me, too…?"

Shadow Yukiko blinked and looked at Chie. "Hmm…?"

Teddie furrows his brow. "Duh! The third one's gotta be me!"

Yosuke diverts his eyes to the side. "I seriously doubt that…"

"Chie…" Shadow Yukiko chuckles. "Yes, she's my Prince…"

"What?" The comment shakes Chie despite her proposal.

"Don't be so surprised." Shadow Yukiko walks closer to the edge of the stairs. "I'm sure none of us can forget the past…"

"Shut up…" Yukiko cringes.

Shadow Yukiko chuckles. "Chie's a strong Prince…Or at least, she WAS."

Chie is confused. "Was…?"

"Chie look out!" Yu shouts.

Chie blinks and finds herself pulled back as a chandelier comes crashing down in front of her. "W-What?"

Yu is relieved that Tomoe pulled Chie out of the way in time. "Guys, get ready… It's starting…"

Shadow Yukiko angrily stomps her foot on the floor. Almost immediately, the chandelier is pulled off the floor by its chain. "When it comes down to it, Chie's just not good enough! She can't take me away from here! She can't save me! What use do I have for an incompetent Prince?!"

"S-Stop!" Yukiko forces herself to stand up. It's difficult because she feels so heavy and her head is pounding, but she wants it all to stop. Chie is going to get hurt at this rate.

Shadow Yukiko scowls and the chandelier begins to swing. "Historic inn? Manager training?! I'm sick of all these things chaining me down!"

Jiraiya tries to stop the chandelier from moving, but he isn't strong enough. He ends up being forcefully pinned against the wall by the chandelier. Jiraiya is in pain and Yosuke feels that pain in his stomach. It's unbearable…he can't move.

"Narukami…" Yosuke looks at Yu.

Yu crushes a blue card. "Izanagi!"

Izanagi flies to Jiraiya's aid and tries to remove the chandelier. It's not exactly easy and Izanagi can't get the chandelier to budge. Tomoe is about ready to help Izanagi, but something keeps her from it. She, Chie, and Teddie are pinned by the red carpet.

"I never asked to be born here! Everything's decided for me! From how I live, to where I die!"

Yu helps Yosuke stand up. Jiraiya is still trapped, but Izanagi manages to move the chandelier so it isn't keeping him immobilized.

"We have to help Amagi-san…" Yu tells Yosuke.

Yosuke grimaces, but nods. "Okay."

Before the two can even take a step, Shadow Yukiko screams. "I'm so sick of it! To hell with it all!"

Suddenly, the lit candles on the chandelier flare up and candle wax spurt out onto Yu and Yosuke's ankles, trapping them in their spots.

"Ack, it's hot!" Yosuke tenses up.

Yu clenches her teeth as she tries to break out. "Damn it, at this rate…"

Thud!

Yukiko drops onto her knees, despondent. "That's not true…you're wrong…"

Shadow Yukiko smiles maniacally and turns her back to Yukiko. "I just want to go somewhere far away… Anywhere but here… Someone, please take me away… I can't leave here on my own… I'm completely useless…"

Yukiko scowls at the mocking tone. "Shut up…just shut up…"

Shadow Yukiko turns to face her again. "I have no hope if I stay, and no courage to leave… So I sit on my ass hoping that someday my Prince will come! I don't care where we go! Anywhere's fine! As long as it's not here, I don't give a damn! Historical tradition? Pride of the town? What a bunch of bullshit!"

"How dare you…!" Yukiko glares at her other self.

Shadow Yukiko ceases smiling. "That's how I really feel. Isn't that right…me?!"

Yukiko forces herself to stand up. "N-No!"

Chie stops trying to pull herself out of the red carpet and turns to Yukiko. "Yukiko, no!"

"Don't say it!" Yosuke exclaims.

"Amagi-san!" Yu yells.

"No!" It's too late. "You're not me!"

Yukiko is too enraged to listen to anybody, even Chie. That princess is not her… Yukiko would never say anything like that!

"Heeheehee…!" Shadow Yukiko starts laughing maniacally. The dark aura emanating from her is becoming much more evident as it darkened. "Aaaah! It feels wonderful! It's building…more and more… If this keeps up… I'll… I'll…!"

Laughter echoes throughout the room as Shadow Yukiko is engulfed in a ball of dark energy. The ball of dark energy then shoots up into the air and disappears for a brief moment. A few seconds later, a large chandelier comes crashing down onto the floor. The chandelier doubles as a cage, one that is occupied by the new form of Shadow Yukiko.

Shadow Yukiko now takes on the form of a bird with fiery-red plumage. She has a cream-colored, heart-shaped breast and still retains her face and black hair. She is trapped inside the cage and looked rather uncomfortable for some reason. When the cage door swings open, the reason for Shadow Yukiko's discomfort is made evident when she moves in closer to the open door and spreads her massive wingspan, cage too small to accommodate it.

"I am a Shadow…the true self." Shadow Yukiko flaps her wings, sending red feathers everywhere.

Yukiko stares wide-eyed at her Shadow, completely horrified of what it became. Unbeknownst to her, the birdcage that had been left on the floor starts moving towards her. At the last second, Yukiko shrieks as the bird cage morphs into a much larger cage and traps her inside. A large chain comes down and hooks itself around the top of the cage and pulls up, lifting the cage with Yukiko inside off the floor.

"Yukiko!" Chie yells.

Yukiko grasps the cage's bars. "Chie!"

Something snaps inside Chie at that moment. "Yukiko!"

Tomoe's eyes widen as she feels a burst of energy. She feels stronger and much more motivated to escape. It takes her a few seconds, but Tomoe finally frees herself from the red carpet by slicing it apart with her double-bladed staff.

At that same moment, Izanagi had freed Jiraiya and the both of them are now working together to dislodge the chain keeping the chandelier up. All it takes are a few swipes from Jiraiya's shuriken to completely break the chain. Izanagi and Jiraiya then promptly drop the chandelier and send it crashing onto the floor.

Tomoe moves over to Chie and frees her. Chie quickly stands up and focuses her attention on Yukiko. "Just hang in there, Yukiko! I'm right here for you!"

Shadow Yukiko laughs. "Oh really…? Then I'll make sure to give you plenty to deal with!"

Shadow Yukiko flaps her wings a few times, sending feathers everywhere, but mostly in Chie's direction. Within seconds, the feathers light up and burst into flames. The flames light up the entire room and reach everyone.

Yu is pulled out of the way by Izanagi to avoid the brunt of the fire. By the time it reaches Yosuke, the flames had died down, leaving behind a wave of hot air.

"Hot!" Yosuke clenches his teeth as he covers his face. The air is hot enough to melt away the wax trapping his feet to the floor. Unfortunately, it is also hot enough to nearly burn his skin. He is quite glad it was just hot air, because otherwise, he'd be like Teddie, who was running around with his tail on fire.

Chie has an extremely negative reaction to the flames. Being the closest person to Shadow Yukiko, Chie feels the brunt of the fire directly with her Persona. The fire does much more to Chie. Aside from burning her and causing her extreme pain, it also disorients her to the point of losing her sense of balance.

It isn't a surprise that Chie starts screaming in pain. It is, however, shocking to hear that the usually silent Tomoe was screaming as well. That alone earns horrified looks from Yu and Yosuke.

"Teddie, what's going on?!" Something is clearly extremely wrong and Yu's rather off balance. "Why is she screaming like that? Why are they screaming like that?!"

Teddie looks nervously at Yu, having just put out the fire on his tail. "Chie-chan isn't weak to Garu skills…she's weak to Agi skills."

There's no way that any of them had been prepared to keep Chie protected from her own weakness. Not when Chie's previously thought weakness only applied to her Shadow.

"New plan, Hanamura, get to Chie!" Yu worries about Chie. "Do whatever you can to distract Amagi-san's Shadow!"

Yosuke does as he is told and rushes towards Chie. He has Jiraiya use Garu on Shadow Yukiko. Shadow Yukiko retreats into her cage and avoids the blast of green wind. This gives Yosuke a chance to heal Chie and help her off the floor.

"Are you okay?" Yosuke winces when he sees a few burns on Chie's skin. Dia manages to heal them quickly, but it does nothing to fix the damage done to her clothing. Luckily, for Chie, the fire only singed her clothing and a bit of her hair—something that the latter can easily be fixed with a small trim.

Chie doesn't really care. She's just glad she can stand up again. "Ugh…what happened?"

"You need to be really careful…" Yosuke shouts. "You're not weak to Garu skills—you're weak to Agi. You might want to avoid Amagi-san's Shadow or else she can really hurt you."

Chie is horrified. "What? But how am I going to get to Yukiko, then?"

Yukiko's cage is nearby Shadow Yukiko, just hanging in the air, swaying left to right. Chie will have to get past Shadow Yukiko to get to Yukiko and with her recent discovery… It's suicidal of her to even get near Shadow Yukiko.

Still

"Yukiko! I'm coming for you!" Chie isn't going to leave her friend hanging. Not after all she has been through just looking for her. She had nothing left to lose at this point. It was either save Yukiko, or die trying.

Chie is not afraid of dying. Nothing can compare to the fear of losing Yukiko forever.

Yosuke makes sure that Chie is completely healed up before he lets her run off towards Yukiko. He needs to tell Yu about this so they can both help Chie. Chie needs all the help she can get.

Yukiko watches Chie as she runs towards her. She can't believe what Chie was doing for her. Chie had done so much for her and never asked for anything in return… "Chie, watch out!"

Shadow Yukiko is swinging her cage towards Chie and she is unable to avoid Shadow Yukiko and is knocked back onto the floor.

"Chie!" Yukiko tightens her grip on the bars. If only she wasn't trapped…

Shadow Yukiko cackles darkly as her cage stops swinging. "I thought Chie would be able to save me ever since she stopped me that one time… But…she was just as useless as me! She wasn't my Prince at all!"

The cage door swung open and Shadow Yukiko peered out to spread her wings. "Come, now, my Prince! Why don't we dance and make merry together?"

BAM!

Another chandelier comes crashing down in front of Yu, Yosuke, and Teddie. Teddie blinks a few times and shrieks at the sight of a masked figure standing on the chandelier, gripping the chain tightly with one hand and holding a sword in the other.

The masked figure is clad regal garb with a flowing red cape. Silver armor covers the lower half of their body, mainly around the legs. They wear silver gauntlets and a breastplate of the same color. A white mask completely obscures the figure's face, save for their eyes, which are golden in color. They have short, brown hair and wear a small crown on the top of their head.

Shadow Yukiko is ecstatic to see him. "My Prince! My dear, sweet Charming Prince! You'll never leave me, will you?"

The Charming Prince, as he seems to be called, remains silent, but points his sword at the trio.

"Oh crap…" Yu and Yosuke exclaim simultaneously.

"Chie can never compare to my Prince!" Shadow Yukiko laughs.

"So what if I'm not your Prince…?"

Shadow Yukiko stops laughing and turns away from the Charming Prince. "What was that?!"

Chie groans as she pushes herself off the floor. She shakes her head and glares at Shadow Yukiko. "You heard me… I came this far just because I wanted to save Yukiko."

Tomoe offers Chie a hand until she is able to stand on her own. Tomoe then focuses her attention on Shadow Yukiko as she readies her double-bladed staff.

"Isn't it incredible just to have someone who truly cares about you?" Chie pants as she unzips her jacket. She feels her heart pounding powerfully in her chest as she removes her jacket. The area around Shadow Yukiko is too hot for her to keep her jacket on, especially since she is wearing her winter uniform's long-sleeved shirt underneath. "Isn't it?!"

Shadow Yukiko stays silent.

"What more do you want from me?!" Tears are beginning to prick her eyes. "Tell me, so I can help you! Please…tell me!"

"I…I…I'VE HAD ENOUGH!" The candles surrounding Shadow Yukiko flare up and ignite the surrounding red feathers. Soon, flames spread around the room as everything caught on fire.

"Protect me, Tomoe!" Tomoe guards Chie and manages to lessen the damage of the fire attack. Chie is glad she got rid of her jacket; the temperature is beginning to rocket. At the same time, she regrets it because her shirt's close-fitting sleeves catch on fire.

The fire has gotten out of control and blocks Chie off from the rest of the group. Yu, Yosuke, and Teddie are trapped with the Charming Prince, who jumps off the chandelier to attack them. Izanagi is quick to block off the attack and quickly counters with Zio. It proves to be the Charming Prince's weakness and it gives Yu and Yosuke the opportunity to gang up on him.

Meanwhile, Chie has managed to pat out the flames on her sleeves at the cost of burning the palms of her hands. She's going to have to replace her shirt after this, but…she doesn't care. She refocuses on Yukiko with a steely gaze.

Yukiko looks wistfully at Chie. She can't stand to see her friend get burned by the flames. "Chie, run away! Please…I'm not worth it! Just go before you get hurt!"

"I'm not going to run away, Yukiko." Chie walks towards Yukiko.

Yukiko is shocked. "What?"

Riiip!

Chie rips off one of her sleeves and throws it aside as she keeps moving forward. "I have something I need to tell you…Aagh!"

Chie stops and covers her face as a gust of strong wind, courtesy of Shadow Yukiko, sends a wave of flames towards her. The air is hot and the flames are burning brightly. It makes it difficult for Chie to see, but she doesn't give up. She rips off her other remaining sleeve and looks at Yukiko.

"I was always jealous of you…" Chie recalls how often Yukiko's scores were within the top ten after every exam. She also recalls how often Yukiko was surrounded by boys. "You were really popular with guys…and nobody paid any attention to me. Nobody, except for you, that is… I was so happy that you needed my help… because it made me think that you needed me to protect you. It gave me a purpose…"

"That's right!" Shadow Yukiko screeches. "I can't do anything on my own! I'm helpless!"

"That's not true!" Chie catches Yukiko by surprise with that response. "Yukiko…you're really a strong person. You want to escape? Then do it!"

Yukiko stares wide-eyed at Chie. "Wha?"

"You can break free of that cage all on your own!" Chie keeps walking closer to Yukiko. "Leave there and go wherever you want! You gotta listen to me…I know you can do it!"

"You're wrong, Chie…" Yukiko is crying now. "I'm not strong…"

Even back then, on the day her caged friend escaped from its cage, she wasn't heartbroken. She was humiliated. The bird she had thought was so much like her had flown free of its cage. She had forgotten to lock the cage, but that was it. The bird had managed to open the cage door on its own, having found the courage it needed to do so.

On the last day of her first year of high school, Yukiko had thrown away the cage that once housed the little bird she cared for. She didn't want to acknowledge what it had done. That even such a little bird could find the courage to leave, unlike her.

"I'm pathetic…" Yukiko sobs. "I waited on someone else to set me free, because I'm too afraid to do it myself."

"So what?!" Chie coughs as she nears Yukiko. "It's okay to be afraid!"

"Chie!" Yukiko watches Chie as she falls onto the floor.

Chie is having trouble breathing with all the fire consuming the surrounding oxygen. It is getting difficult for her to talk, but it is nothing compared to the heavy feeling in her heart as she recalls what she wants to tell Yukiko.

"There are parts of me that I'm not really proud of either…" Tears stream down Chie's cheeks. "Horrible things that I'm really ashamed of…because I kept them from you…"

Yukiko's eyes widen. "Wha…?"

"Listen!" Chie stands up and looks at Yukiko. She's so close now…the only thing keeping them apart is the cage itself. "You think you're weak? Look at me! I can't do anything without you! I'm only strong because of you… I got this far because I was afraid of losing you! You're the reason I'm still alive!"

"Chie…" Yukiko can't believe it.

"You have no idea how much it really meant to just say, 'thank you' to me…" Chie chokes back a sob. "I was always ignored and there you were, acknowledging my existence… No matter what happens, I'll always be there for you! Because you were there for me when I needed you the most…you just never knew it because I never told you."

"STOP!" Shadow Yukiko shrieks as she flaps her wings, the flames intensifying with her rage.

Chie ignores Shadow Yukiko and holds out her hand to Yukiko. "Thank you, Yukiko… Thank you for being my friend."

Yukiko looks at Chie. The more she thinks about it, the more she questions herself. "What was I so afraid of?"

Yukiko finds it so much easier to stand up. The bars feel so fragile when she grabs them, almost as if just one wrong movement could break them.

"There was nothing to fear…" Yukiko tightens her grip on the bars and tries to pull them apart. It takes a few tries until the bars just shatter and she is finally free. Chie is there to catch her, their hands entwining as the two embrace. It feels so good to just lean on Chie's shoulder again…just knowing Chie was there for her despite everything. "Chie, thank you…"

"Uh-uh…" Chie finds herself crying into Yukiko's shoulder. "Yukiko…do me a favor and look at my wrists…just do it before I change my mind…"

Yukiko blinks and looks at Chie's wrists. She thinks nothing of it...until she sees them. Her eyes widen in horror when she realizes that this is the first time Chie's wrists aren't covered by her green jacket's sleeves or her wristbands. After a few seconds, Yukiko releases Chie's wrists and wraps her arms around the short-haired girl. It takes Yukiko a moment to find her voice. She never expected to see this...

"Chie…why?"

"You were always gone…" Chie sobs. "Because you were so busy…Everyone but you, ignored me…and just…I…It was almost like you were ignoring me…and it hurt…I'm sorry…"

"It's okay…" Yukiko smiles wistfully and strokes Chie's hair as her friend continues to cry into her shoulder. "I'm here…"

Chie sniffs. "I know…"

Back with Yu and Yosuke, the Charming Prince was starting to falter after so much damage. He had put up a good fight, being able to use Makajam on Yu and keep her from using her Persona. Were it not for Yosuke, Yu wouldn't have made it this far.

Tomoe is taking care of Shadow Yukiko, making sure that she doesn't disturb Chie and Yukiko. The very reason why Tomoe acts on her own the entire time was because she knows Chie is willing to risk her own life for Yukiko. Tomoe wants Chie to survive. She wants Chie to make it to Yukiko… so Chie can finally stop hurting. Even after that, Tomoe will still make sure to keep an eye on Chie… this time, with a little help from Yukiko.

C-raack!

Yu's eyes widens as she watches the Charming Prince's mask begin to break after landing a solid hit with her katana. The Charming Prince staggered back, his mask continuing to break until it split in half and fell off, revealing the Charming Prince's real face.

"Whoa…" Yosuke nearly drops his wrenches in shock.

The Charming Prince was Shadow Yukiko's manifestation of the idea of someone saving her. Despite all she had said, Shadow Yukiko never did forget about Chie because, deep down, there was still some hope for Chie. That is why the Charming Prince looks exactly like Chie. And just like Chie, the Charming Prince never gives up.

The Charming Prince keeps fighting, despite knowing she is at a disadvantage against Yu with her weakness to Zio, but she still keeps fighting. Another crack of lightning renders her dizzy and she sways left to right, trying her best to keep her balance. It takes her a few seconds to realize that she isn't going to make it. Using the last of her strength, the Charming Prince uses a spell on Shadow Yukiko.

"What's going on?" Yu turns to Teddie.

"She's using Diarama!" Teddie replies. "It's a healing spell more powerful than Dia!"

Yosuke grimaces. "Aw, crap…"

Thud!

The Charming Prince falls back onto the floor and dissolves into a puddle of black slime, leaving behind only her sword and her crown. Noticing her sudden surge of vitality, Shadow Yukiko turns to the Charming Prince and shrieks.

"My Prince! My dear Prince!" Shadow Yukiko lets out a bird-like cry and waits almost impatiently for a moment as she looks around. As if she were in denial. "Why…? Why…? Why won't she come back?! Uuurgh, you're in my way!"

Shadow Yukiko moves over to Tomoe and attacks her with her talons. Tomoe managed to avoid most of the hits, but still got hurt in the process. Chie feels the pain of the attack and realizes that she and Yukiko aren't safe just yet. She grabs Yukiko's hand and pulls her away from her Shadow.

The two make their way over to Yu and Yosuke, who are healing up after their battle with the Charming Prince. Teddie is keeping an eye on Shadow Yukiko, looking for any information that might assist Yu.

"Satonaka, are you okay?" Yosuke quickly has Jiraiya use Dia on Chie.

Chie sighs. "I'm fine…so is Yukiko."

Yukiko looks questioningly at Jiraiya and Izanagi. "Who are they?"

"They're Personas," Yu replies. "We'll talk about them later, right now there's something we need to do… Chie, are you fine with leaving Amagi-san with Teddie?"

Chie frowns at Teddie. "I dunno…"

Yukiko grips Chie's shoulder. "It's fine, now… I'll be okay."

"Are you sure?" Chie really doesn't want to leave Yukiko.

Yukiko nods. "I'm sure…be careful…"

"You too…and Teddie, you better make sure she doesn't get hurt!" Chie looks sternly at Teddie.

Teddie smiles. "I will!"

"C'mon, I think we've left Tomoe on her own long enough!" Yosuke exclaimes.

Yu nods. "This is it, guys…"

"Say, after this…can we go out for steak?" Chie asks innocently.

Before Yosuke can say anything, Yu answers for him. "Sure…it's all on me."

"All right! Let's do this!" Chie grins widely. She feels so much better after letting it all out. She has someone who cares and two others who she can depend on as well. She and Yukiko aren't alone anymore…

Shadow Yukiko narrows her eyes at Yu, Yosuke, and Chie when they run up to her. "Hmph… Looks like I had the wrong idea… You're no Princes… Die, you worthless commoners!"

Shadow Yukiko lets out a screech that terrifies Yosuke to no end. Yosuke's skin is tinged blue and his body was trembling. Shadow Yukiko laughed and got out of her cage. She then used her talons to pick up the cage and flew up into the air.

"Be gone!" she suddenly shrieks as she stops flapping her wings and lets herself drop on Yosuke.

Luckily, for Yosuke, Tomoe moves him out of the way in time while Pixie uses Patra to cure Yosuke. Afterwards, Tomoe sets Yosuke down next to Yu and Yosuke and returns to attacking Shadow Yukiko.

"What happened?" Yosuke shakes his head.

Yu crushes a card and Izanagi replaces Pixie. "You were inflicted with Fear and Pixie cured you…"

"Oh…guess that little pest isn't all that bad." Yosuke rubs the back of his head. "Go, Jiraiya!"

Jiraiya threw his shuriken at Shadow Yukiko, but she quickly retreated into her cage before the shuriken hit her.

Yu bit her lip. "We need to get her out of that cage…"

"Burn to Ashes!" Shadow Yukiko screeches as she hops out of her cage.

"Brace yourselves, everyone!" Yu exclaims.

Shadow Yukiko flaps her wings and sends out a powerful wave of flames at the group. With everyone guarding, the fire doesn't do much damage, much to Shadow Yukiko's chagrin.

"Grr…" Shadow Yukiko is beginning to weaken, by the looks of her slouching. She's no longer inside her cage, but standing on top of it.

"Now's our chance!" Yosuke runs towards the cage and slams his wrenches into the cage.

"Get away!" Shadow Yukiko flies away from the cage. She dodges another shuriken from Jiraiya. "Don't touch me!"

"She's out of the cage, guys!" Yosuke exclaimes.

Yu turns to Chie. "Chie, will you do the honors?"

"Gladly…" Chie adjusts her glasses. "Tomoe, you're up!"

Tomoe nods and moves in towards Shadow Yukiko. Tomoe slashes at Shadow Yukiko a few times, but the Shadow avoids each hit. After a few more times, Tomoe decides to do something different. She summons small shards of ice and attacks Shadow Yukiko with them. Shadow Yukiko screeches and hurtles towards the floor.

"Nooo!"

THUD!

Red feathers are sent flying into the air as the area finally clears up. The fires have died out and Shadow Yukiko reverts to her original form. She lays on the floor, her dress singed in places and crown on the floor. All the malice in her expression is gone and replaced with a more somber look.

Chie looks sympathetically at Shadow Yukiko, only looking away when a hand touches her shoulder.

"Chie…" Yukiko looks into Chie's eyes.

"I'm sorry, Yukiko…" Chie says softly. "I was so wrapped up in myself that I didn't notice you suffering… Just like back then…"

"I didn't think about you either…" Yukiko places a hand on Chie's wrist. "I just kept running away and left you to suffer on your own…I wonder if this is how you felt when you found me that day—knowing that your friend was keeping something from you…"

Chie frowns. "I was so scared that day…You looked so broken…"

Yukiko smiles warmly and pats Chie on the head. "Let's not keep any more secrets from each other, okay?"

Chie sniffs. "Okay…"

Yukiko sighs and turns her attention to her Shadow, who turns away from her in response, almost in shame. Yukiko smiles sympathetically and walks over to her Shadow's side.

"I'm so sorry…" Yukiko helps her Shadow stand up. "I'm so sorry for not acknowledging you… 'I want to run away'… 'I want someone to save me'… You're right, those feelings are part of me, too. I understand now…You are me, right?"

Shadow Yukiko's eyes widen as Yukiko embraces her. Unable to find her voice, Shadow Yukiko nods and closes her eyes. A blue light began to emit from her body until she disappeared into light. The instant she disappeared, a figure appeared before Yukiko.

The figure resembles a beautiful woman dressed in pink. She has short hair and yellow eyes. She almost appears to have wings connected to her arms and back. After a few seconds, she disappears as a glowing blue card floats gently into Yukiko's hands.

"The Priestess…" Yukiko says softly as the card disappears into her being. "Is this…"

Chie nods. "That's your Persona…"

"Konohana Sakuya…" Yukiko smiles. "What a nice name…ugh…"

Thud!

"Yukiko!" Chie runs to Yukiko, who is now on the floor.

"Are you okay?" Yosuke asks as he and Yu run up to Yukiko.

Yukiko looks up. "Yes, I'm just a little tired…You all came to rescue me…?"

Chie nods. "Of course!"

Yukiko turns to Chie and smiles. "Thank you…"

Chie is starting to feel emotional. "Ugh, don't even mention it… I'm just so glad you're safe…"

"It's finally over…" Yu remarks.

Yosuke laughs. "Yeah…what a day…"

"So…who threw you in here?" Teddie asks as he walks up to Yukiko.

Yukiko looks at Teddie. "Oh, it's you again…I never did get your name…"

"I'm Teddie!" Teddie chirped. "So, who threw you in?"

Yukiko looks down. "I don't know…I think…someone called my name…But my memory's a blur. I can't remember who it was… I'm sorry, um…Teddie."

Teddie frowns. "No new clues…"

Yosuke shakes his head. "Not necessarily."

Yu nods. "Now we know for sure that someone threw Amagi-san in here."

"Hrrmm…" Teddie growls. "Then it really isn't you guys…"

Yu sighs. "Are you satisfied now?"

Teddie looks nervously at Yu. "I-I always believed it wasn't you guys!"

A vein pops out on Yosuke's forehead. "You little…! You're one lying sack of honey…"

"Anyways!" Chie interrupts. "Let's hurry back home. Yukiko looks exhausted…Thanks again, Teddie!"

Yu sighs. "It's probably really late…"

"I'll make the excuse to tell my dad…" Yosuke rubs the back of his head. "I suggest we head to my house right away."

"Tch, I guess I should call my uncle…" Yu wants to avoid getting another lecture. Once was enough…

"W-Wait!" Teddie exclaims. "You're leaving me here?"

Yosuke looks questioningly at Teddie. "Leaving you? What're you talking about? You live here."

"Well…yeah, but…" Teddie frowns.

"I'm sorry, Teddie…" Yukiko says apologetically as she walks over to Teddie. She places her hand on his head and starts petting his soft, blue fur. "I promise to come again… So be a good boy and wait here until then…"

Teddie closes his eyes and smiles. "R-Raaaawr!"

"Teddie, don't start…" Yu looks sternly at Teddie.

Teddie looks questioningly at Yu. "Whatever do you mean, Sensei?"

"Let's just get out of here…" Yosuke sighs. "I'm starting to feel the exhaustion kick in…"

Chie walks over to Yukiko. "C'mon, Yukiko, let's go…"

Yukiko nods. "Y-Yeah…"

As the group made their way out of the castle, Yukiko can't help but recall the memories she had after she had cut her hair so short. She looks at Chie and smiles as she looks at her short hair. Even now, Chie still kept her hair short…just like Yukiko kept growing out her hair.

"Maybe one day, she'll let it grow out again…" Yukiko thinks as she gently touches Chie's hair.

"What are you doing?" Chie asks.

"Oh just thinking to myself…" Yukiko smiles "About back then…"


On the day she returned to school with her hair so drastically short, Yukiko finds herself the target of everyone's taunting. The boys she had turned down turn against her in revenge. For nearly a month, Yukiko finds herself turning to Chie for comfort. She has been unable to do anything but just endure it…until Chie finally had enough.

Yukiko will never forget what Chie did for her the day it all ended. With a pair of scissors and the determination to get everyone off of her back, Chie cuts her own hair in front of the whole class. Gone is the long hair she tried so hard to grow out as it held no importance to her, so long as the message went through. Should anyone decide to mess with Yukiko, they will have to go through Chie first and Chie will do anything for Yukiko…

Since that day, Yukiko is finally free from all the torment.

With a little help from Chie, Yukiko changes her number. It takes a whole year for her hair to even out before she can let it grow out on its own again. Chie has since stopped letting her hair grow out in favor of helping Yukiko out. Since then, Yukiko makes it her goal to remind Chie how grateful she is for just being there.


"Chie, thank you…"

"What for?"

"For everything…"

"N-No problem!"


A/N Heyo, I wasn't kidding about this chapter being better! Even now, I'm still in awe over how THIS chapter really was what solidified my writing style!

More than anything, something that needs to be stated is that this fic is how I made so many friends! I may have been embarrassed about my earlier writing, but I still don't ever regret writing this fic. :D

This is the last update for a while since we went through another editing session, so we might need time to cool down. Also I have other fics I should probably work on. :V

(I am very much still mourning Kiryu Coco, and am finishing up Persona 5 Royal)

Original A/N for archival purposes: End of chapter and holy crap, I wasn't lying when I said this was Yukiko-centric and yeah, also, Chie-centric at bits. Not a lot of Yosuke and Yu moments in this chapter, but I guess that's why I named it the Priestess chapter.

Anyways, as you can see, I went through a lot with Yukiko's character. It all just started with a joke involving Sadako and then when I remembered how short Yukiko's hair was from looking at her Persona 3 Portablecameo…and Kimi ni Todokeand Wallflower, I just…yeah, it became a thing. I just wanted a reason to explain why Yukiko's hair was short and it somehow became a relevant part of the story involving Yukiko and Chie's Shadows. I guess that's how serendipity works.

Anyways, as for Chie…yeah, her cutting her wrists was something that came into mind hours after I uploaded chapter 10. It didn't help that I caught up with the recent Life chapter and Life…oh god, Life is my favorite manga. It has bullying, drama, and stuff, but dear god, the two main characters, Ayumu and Miki…their friendship reminds me of Yukiko and Chie. Continuing on, the thing that I noticed about Chie was that she always wore long sleeves or covered her wrists with her wristbands.

Then I remembered how she always beat herself down when given the chance, and the comment from her own Shadow, "I can't win as a girl…" just made me think "what if" and that's why Chie is like that. I hope I didn't overdo it, because it really is a serious problem. Then again, Yukiko and Chie both have problems and the two are making it easy for each other now that it's all over—the Shadows, that is. (I want you all to know that this chapter is what helped me realize I have a self-harming habit. I'm doing better! Just didn't realize a habit of mine was SUPER unhealthy!)

I really do love the relationship between Chie and Yukiko, especially with how it was explored in the anime. These two in Persona 4 Golden have a double-team attack called Twin Dragon in which the two will team up after an All-out attack and use Tomoe and Konohana Sakuya to summon a dragon and a big flower to finish off the enemy. It's rather beautiful and fucking awesome. They have to be together in the group, though, so yeah…

Anyways, let's get onto the Arcana lesson of the day, starting with Chariot.

VII- The Chariot

The Chariot is a symbol of victory, conquest, self-assertion, war and command. The Chariot shows a strong will, a strong personality, and at its best, victory and success. But it also is a symbol for controversial power, for contradictions that are not solved, but just controlled. In this, the trump also warns of overestimation and recklessness. With every new venture or beginning, one should check carefully whether the desired goal is compatible with one's life and inner self.

Additionally, the Chariot is a symbol for the armor we build up when moving forward in the process of self-assertion. It also alludes to the danger that we might mix this armor with our actual personality.

The reversed Chariot symbolizes envy, addiction, low self-confidence, and abusive control. Chie has already shown aspects of the reversed Chariot. Okay, with Chariot out of the way, let's now move onto Priestess.

II- The Priestess

The Priestess Arcana is a symbol of hidden knowledge or other untapped power, wisdom, female mystery and magic when it appears in tarot readings. The Priestess is also the feminine principle that balances the masculine force of the Magician. The Priestess is inner wisdom at its deepest, a wisdom that cannot be expressed in rational terms. Trying so, we would already falsify and restrict it. As a symbol for deeper knowledge, the card can express a feeling of darkness, which might also be a feeling of fear, but also a feeling of beauty. We know there is more inside than we can see.

Being unable to make decisions and having a conflict of intellect are two things that are represented by the reversed Priestess. Basically, the Priestess means someone with knowledge and wisdom, yet the reversed version of it means someone unable to use that knowledge or someone not able to make decisions.

And that's our Arcana lesson of the day, folks! Time to get back to the chapter! The thing about the Charming Prince…I decided it would be appropriate if it looked like Chie.

Welp, now that Shadow Yukiko is out of the way, we can get to Social Links! But before that, potential house sleepover at Yosuke's! Yeah, you know you guys want it… :D

Plus, everyone in this effing investigation group needs time to recover from shit hitting the whirling device. Chapters from here on out for a while are gonna be Social Links…no more action for a while.

This is why I like rescuing everyone immediately when I can because then I can focus on Social Links without any hassles. Trust me when I say there is one Social Link you HAVE to take care to manage your time to rank up to a certain point because it has a set end point where it will automatically rank up on its own due to story events….yeah.

I guess that's it for this chapter! Hoo boy, I sure did a lot…I need some humor right now, but I guess that's what the next chapter is for. Hopefully you guys enjoyed this chapter.

Oh, and before I forget, shout out goes to Cutiekuts for being reviewer #100! Also, notable mention goes to Pokeprof and his lovely constructive criticism! I always like it when someone mentions how this story has drawn them in…it really does mean a lot to me.

Anyways, review if you wish! Constructive criticism is always welcomed, but NO FLAMES. Hope you guys stick around because I feel rather in the mood to write! Just not now because it's almost 1 AM and I kinda need sleep…

Till next time, guys! KD out! XD

Sylanc: Good and productive. I finished a knitting project.

Lyre: (around a mouthful of a burger) holy shit dudes gal pals

Grim: This chapter can fit so much gay. (Who would've thought that this fic would bring us all together like this?)

Noa: This is the fic that made me meet my girlfriend. Not immediately, but it did help. (Lyre: I can confidently say that if Facade didn't exist, I wouldn't have interacted with Noa. At least not as soon as I did)

Shout-outs:

Reviewer #610: SuperNova23

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