The platform trembled as it hit the floor. Dust swarmed around the Investigation Team, making them each sputter and cough.
"Are you hurt?" Yu asked Yukiko, who was throwing a loud coughing fit.
"I'm," Yukiko spoke in between her wheezing, "fine... Thank you for your... concern..." Suddenly, her eyes widened. "Chie!" Yukiko shrieked as she quickly turned around. Yu followed her gaze.
On the other side of the wreckage, Yosuke lied on the floor as a fear-stricken Chie clung to him. The boy launched a few coughs of his own before trying to get up. However, he felt a weight pull him down. Yosuke looked down to find Chie, who was covering her mouth with his shirt and had practically attached herself to him.
It made his cheeks turn the faintest pink.
"We're alive, Chie. Don't worry." Yosuke placed a comforting hand on the girl's back.
"H-Huh?" Chie stuttered, opening her eyes. She slowly got up, looked around, and checked herself for any injuries. "Oh, thank God! You're right!" She flashed him a relieved smile, in which he replied with a grin of his own. Although, Yosuke felt slightly embarrassed that Chie barely reacted to him hugging her back. He quickly sneaked his hand away without the tomboy noticing.
Suddenly, Chie heard her name being called. She turned to see Yukiko rushing towards her.
"I'm so glad you're alright!" Yukiko cried as she embraced her best friend.
"Me too," Chie said, hugging Yukiko back.
"I'm glad we're all okay," Yu added, stepping beside Yosuke.
"Yeah, but we don't know about Kanji, Rise, Ted or Naoto," Yosuke replied, patting his partner on the back. He looked around. "Actually, where are they?"
Upon further inspection, the group noticed that the platform had been broken in half. The missing side, of which the others were on, had completely disappeared. Instead, the four of them were surrounded by nothing but an eerie red light.
Abruptly, they heard some sort of murmuring from below.
"I'm so dumb for taking my anger out on everyone. I never let them tell their side of the story. I just locked myself in my own world, with my own shitty thoughts... Now look at me! I'm practically all alone. I'm pathetic!"
It was Daisuke's voice again.
The ground shook once more, and a gigantic hand reached out from the depths below. It latched onto the platform.
"If only I could turn back time... No one will forgive me now! I'll be alone for the rest of my life, all because of my own stupid self!"
The hand hurled Yukiko, Yu, Chie, and Yosuke through the air, making them scream. Yu clenched his teeth.
"Damn, we can't die now!" he thought.
Without warning, their soaring came to a sudden halt when they hit the solid surface of... something.
The dizzy adolescents looked up to see a humongous, grotesque figure. It had overly-proportioned arms and legs, skin with a crimson red glow, and bulging veins. Occasionally, a yellow spark would course through the blood vessels. The beast also seemed to have a cleat-like texture to the bottom of its feet, and a soccer ball design imprinted in its skin.
"I am a Metus, all you wish to escape from!" The figure screamed.
"T-That's not a Shadow at all," Yukiko remarked, her eyes widened.
"Whatever it is, the only solution is to get rid of it, right?" Chie unleashed Suzuka Gongen, an excited grin on her face.
"You're right," Yosuke began as he summoned Susano-o, "but we don't have Rise or Ted to help us out..."
"Then we'll just have to beat it up with what we have, and see what happens!" replied Chie. She looked expectantly towards Yu, who nodded and summoned Izanami-no-Okami. Yukiko followed suit by bringing out Amaterasu.
One at a time, they aimed a Garudyne, Ziodyne, Agidyne, and Agneyastra upon the monster. It unleashed a deafening cry.
"Seems like it was affected by all of them," Yukiko stated. "But the problem is... We don't know if it resisted some or not."
"Let's just keep attacking it for now," Yu suggested. "Our attacks worked, at least." The others nodded and prepared to pummel the enemy with another move.
However, it had already started aiming for them. The monster lifted its monstrous arms, and with a mighty swing crushed Chie. As Daisuke's Metus lifted its fist, Chie was sprawled out on the ground, trying to soothe the pain resonating in her abdomen. She had scrapes and bruises all over her skin.
"Hang on, Chie!" cried Yukiko. She summoned Amaterasu and cast a Diarahan on the girl. Within seconds, her injuries faded away, as did her excruciating pain.
"God, I really needed that. Thanks a million, Yukiko." Chie smiled and slowly lifted herself up. Once she regained her stance, she glared at the Metus. "Take this!" She shot a Bufudyne at the monster, making it fall to the ground.
"Nice work!" cheered Yosuke.
"Okay, let's go in for an All-Out Attack!" ordered Yu.
At once, everyone crowded around the Metus and began to beat it down.
"It can't be done yet. Don't let your guard down," warned Yu when they dispersed.
As predicted, Daisuke's Metus went berserk after the attack. It slashed, whipped, and stomped its way through Yu and his friends. Yukiko and Yu lashed out plenty of Diarahans and Recarms to keep the party going.
Finally, they unleashed one more attack with all of the force that their fatigued selves could muster. Rays of light flashed, wind rushed, fire bursted from all directions, and the ground shook. The Metus staggered, gasping for air.
"It's almost done! Keep going!" Yukiko cheered. Though as soon as those words escaped her lips, the creature began to speak again.
"Will I.. Ever be able to become close to anyone again? I feel I'm trapped in some sort of world where only I exist. And no one can come in, or out..."
The Metus repositioned itself, and it began to glow a fiery red, with streaks of yellow flashing all over it. Its hands were set alight in a flurry of lightning bolts. Electrical currents began to surround his feet erupt all over his body. Afterwards, the beast bent its knees, preparing to leap at the group.
"Brace yourselves!" Yu screamed. He and his friends all cowered behind their weapons, preparing for impact.
Their shoulders tensed as the Metus began to plummet towards them. Yu counted down to the attack.
3... 2... 1...
An ear-piercing screech came instead. Not a landing so large that Yu had to struggle to stay afoot.
The four of them slowly looked up to see Daisuke's Metus impaled with a cluster of icicles. Behind it stood four separate figures, of which were none other than Rise, Kanji, Naoto, and Teddie.
"Sensei, Yuki-chan, Chie-chan, Yosuke!" Teddie cried.
"Thank God, we caught you just in time!" Rise let out a sigh of relief. Above her stood Kanzeon, who soon faded away.
"W-Where the hell were you guys and how did you get here?" asked an astonished Yosuke.
"Actually, we were lost at first," Naoto began, "but then we saw that huge mass of lightning, wind, fire, and rocks being thrown about. It was obvious that they came from you guys."
"Not to mention that damn monster was louder than my own snoring," Kanji added.
"How do you know what you sound like when you're asleep?" Yukiko asked.
"Oh, well, my mom recor—"
"Okay. Let's focus on the task at hand," Yosuke interrupted, sounding a bit exasperated. "What are we supposed to do with this... thing?" He looked down at their defeated enemy, who was now lying lifeless on the ground.
"Let's comfort it first like we did to our Shadows," Rise suggested, kneeling down next to the Metus. "Hey, Daisuke-senpai, how're you feeling?"
"I-It's cold... Now I'm really alone, aren't I..." the creature mumbled, its fingers twitching.
"Hey, that's not true!" objected Chie. "You're only alone because you're too stubborn to think of anything else. Look around you!"
"Yeah, Ichijo-kun still stuck with you after your fight. He's always been there, really. In fact, he's probably losing his head over your current condition," Yukiko said. "So..."
"You just have to change your way of thinking," Yu concluded. "The world's never as bad as you think it is." He leaned down towards the Metus, who was slowly losing it's form and morphing into Daisuke. Yu reached out his hand, that "Daisuke" grabbed, all the while giving him a grateful smile.
"Thank you," the Metus whispered, before completely disappearing into thin air. In its place was a bright, shining orb.
"Ooh, what's that?" Teddie stared at the luminous object curiously.
"It's a Jubilant Orb," explained a voice from above. It had the same eerie tone as the one that beckoned the team when they first entered. "Keep it. It will serve you well in the future."
"It's that guy again..." Kanji remarked. "You sure we should trust it, Senpai?"
"It was right when it told us what this place was," Yu observed. "I think we should be alright."
"You're a wise one, boy," chuckled the voice. "Well, I'll be taking my leave... The exit should appear soon..." The unknown entity let out another creepy laugh, before a gentle gust of wind blew and it faded away.
Yu turned towards the shining orb and reached out to it. It drew itself towards him, and upon making contact with the boy's hand, disappeared in a wave of light. The sky then erupted in an array of colors, and Yu began floating up towards it.
"Grab on!" the silver-haired boy ordered, and his friends did as told. They ascended and were engulfed by the light, feeling its warmth as the world beneath them disappeared.
The group found themselves tumbling out of the monitor and back in Kou's room.
"Man, that exit was like something straight out of a magical girl show," Kanji remarked as he rubbed the back of his neck. Yukiko giggled at the boy's remark.
"Geez, you're never going to stop being like that, are you?" laughed Chie, looking at her best friend. "Anyway, where's Kou?" The tomboy looked around to find Kou sprawled out on a couch. He had a troubled expression on his face. Chie ran towards him, and lightly shook his shoulder.
"Huh?" Kou mumbled. He stared at Chie with half-opened eyes. "Are you... A princess? Or maybe a horse..."
"It's me, Chie," the tomboy corrected. She frowned. "You must be really tired to think that I'm a horse..."
"Or maybe you actually look like one," Yosuke teased. Chie glared at him, baring her teeth. "I-I'm joking! I'm joking! Geez!"
Kou took a minute or two to fully come to his senses. When he did, his eyes widened and he leapt out of his chair.
"What, Chie! Y-You're back? What's happening?" The indigo-haired boy's face turned bright red as he spewed out one question after the next.
"We got back from our little adventure in that monitor," Rise explained. "And I think we've found a way to cure Nagase-senpai."
"Are you serious?" Kou asked, his eyes widening. Rise nodded, and the boy sighed in relief. It seemed like a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. "Man, you guys are like miracle workers... I can't thank you enough."
"It's strange, though, despite having his Metus defeated, Nagase-san is still in deep sleep," observed Naoto.
"Do we have to do something else?" Teddie asked.
Yu ran Daisuke in a panic. Suddenly, the Jubilant Orb began to glow, as if it was reacting to Daisuke's presence.
"I've got an idea," Yu claimed as he put the orb onto Daisuke's open hand.
As the silver-haired boy presumed, the light engulfed the athlete. As the rest of Yu's friends stood and stared in astonishment, the light faded away and revealed an awoken Daisuke who was sitting upright, and also strangely crying.
"Daisuke!" Kou cried, running up to his best friend and wrapping him in a tight hug. "Dude, what's up with you? You know how stressed out you made me?"
"Kou..." Daisuke mumbled. There was a long pause as tears continued to stream down the athlete's face. "Listen, I'm sorry."
"For what?" the indigo-haired boy asked. He paused, recalling the one incident that scarred Daisuke all too much. "Oh, that? Forget about it, man."
Daisuke's eyes widened in shock. It was clear that that wasn't the reply he was expecting.
There was a long silence as Daisuke took in everything that had happened.
"Thanks," he finally whispered. Absolute relief and gratitude filling Daisuke's eyes. The tears were really flowing now. He looked up at his other friends, who were each smiling at him. "I'm glad I've gotten to know you guys."
"I'm glad you're back," Yu replied, hugging Daisuke and Kou. The rest of the Investigation Team also gathered around the athlete, enclosing him in a warm embrace.
"Yeah," laughed Daisuke.
Friday, April 11th, 2014
Two weeks had peacefully passed by after Daisuke's rescue. Each member of the Investigation Team was busy starting off their University studies. All the while, today Rise and Yu decided to take a break from it all.
"Sorry we had to cancel our date before." Yu gave the idol an apologetic look.
"Don't worry about it, Senpai," assured Rise. "Did you see how tired everyone was after that night? When we got home, Chie and Yosuke practically crashed on top of each other! And that's really unnatural."
"Let's not forget you and Teddie," the silver-haired boy laughed.
"Oh geez, that bear wouldn't get off of me when I woke up," Rise sighed. "I can't believe you managed to successfully make your way to your bed."
"If I slept on the floor with all of you, who knows what would have happened," replied Yu. He glanced around the downtown area, scoping out the many shops and restaurants. "Hey, that cafe looks nice. Wanna go there?"
Rise giggled and gave the boy an affirmative nod. Quickly, she grabbed his hand and ran off towards the building. Yu smiled as he trailed behind the auburn-haired girl. Now that Daisuke was back to normal, his life was back to normal, too.
At the very least, that's what Yu had believed.
I am so, so, so sorry for the unannounced hiatus that I took from ! I'll be back to writing here now, meaning that I'll start updating BITT again, too.
And I'm not sure if I've mentioned this already, but I'll start going by my real name, Annie, from now on, too.