September 1st, Yasogami High Entrance
I took my glasses off and lifted my cap slightly, taking a few seconds to wipe the sweat off of my brow before replacing my glasses and pulling my cap down. I walked slowly on the path to Yasogami High. "It's too soon to go back to school," I muttered to myself. I let out a sigh and approached the gate, where Rise had decided it was a good idea to tackle me. I caught her and spun around for a second as our tongues danced for a couple of seconds.
"Mornin' sweetie!" She grinned at me and I smiled back.
"I don't get how you're always so full of life, first thing in the morning, Hime. It's too early for this shit." She giggled and leaned against me while I leaned against the gate. The others strode up to us, and I waved as they walked over.
"Mornin' Senpai, Rise," Kanji said through a yawn.
"Morning you two!" Yosuke and Chie exclaimed in unison. They both seemed happier, not at each other's throats. I wouldn't question it.
"Morning, Rise-chan, Brian-kun!" Yukiko smiled at us and we returned it in earnest. We all were complaining about school starting so soon when someone cleared their throat.
"Ahem." We all looked to where the sound came from, and standing there, in the flesh, was none other then the Detective Prince himself, Naoto Shirogane. "Good morning." I got up from where I was leaning and walked over to him. I crouched down so that he was looking down on me, and glared at him. "Can I help you?" He bristled.
"Oh, no, I'm fine. I just figured I'd get a good look at the person who was antagonizing my friends. I know you like to look down on people, so I'm giving you that opportunity." I quipped back at her. She was taken aback, and then scoffed.
"Um… You realize this is a high school, right?" Yukiko asked.
"Yes, I am quite aware. My association with the police has come to an end, however I'm not quite finished with my investigation, so I've decided to remain in town for the present. From this day forth, I'll be attending Yasogami High as a first year student, so I thought I'd introduce myself to you all," Naoto explained to us. I stood up and looked down at him, still looking him in the eyes. She stumbled back a step and stuttered. "I-I trust our relations will be cordial, Senpai."
I grunted and leaned forward to whisper in his ear. "Meet me on the roof during lunch. We have much to discuss." He nodded shakily and I returned to Rise's side as she swatted my arm.
"Don't be rude, sweetie," She mumbled to me.
"I'm sorry, Hime. I'm going to hammer this all out at lunchtime. You don't mind if I spend the break with everyone's favorite pint-sized detective, do you?" She giggled and shook her head when I hiked my thumb behind my back at Naoto.
"That's ok, I'll spend today with everyone else. Still on for Junes after class?" She asked as we all started walking into the school.
"Absolutely." We gave each other a kiss and separated to go to our respective classes.
When I shut the door to the roof behind me, I noticed that Naoto was already sitting on the air vent nibbling on something from his bento. I sighed and walked over to him. "Oi, Nao-chan!" He looked up at me in shock, a blush clear on his face.
"D-don't call me that!" He straightened up and cleared his throat as he looked away.
I sat down in front of him. "You can't hide something like that from me, Nao-chan," I said softly. "My uncle is Detective Dojima. You can't really tell me that he didn't notice you're a girl? He told me when he was drunk one night," I chuckled as I remembered the story. His jaw dropped.
"Please, you can't tell anyone else about this," she pleaded with me.
"So you admit to being a girl?" I murmured. She just nodded. 'Fuckin' score. On a hunch, I got her. Kanji will be pleased.' I grabbed a rice cake from my bento and nibbled on it. "You know, for a detective, you're not very sharp." She gasped and glared at me. "I just lied my way to a confession from you."
"You… What? On a hunch?" She looked down. "Aw, man."
"Oh, knock that shit off." She had the gall to look at me with a fire in her eyes and I gave it right back to her. "You wanna tell me why you felt the need to antagonize my friends? Yeah, I'm sure you know what we're doing, and I can't and won't do anything to prevent you from spreading that info, but I'm pretty sure you know to keep your mouth shut on this." She nodded.
"I'm not quite sure on the specifics, but I know you all enter the TV in Junes, and then the person that gets kidnapped miraculously ends up rescued." I nodded.
"You have the gist of it." I knocked her hat off her head. "Regardless, I'm willing to bury the hatchet if you attempt to quit being such an uptight brat." She had the decency to look me in the eyes and then she shook her head. I finished my bento before tossing the disposable container in the trashcan I had moved up here.
"I'm sorry Senpai, but I can't do that. Everything rides on me being a man." The words were barely audible, but I managed to hear them loud and clear. A rage I hadn't felt in months boiled over in me and I turned around.
"You're going to tell me everything, and we aren't leaving the roof until you do." Her eyes went wide before they welled up with tears and she launched herself at my chest, crying on me as I held her. "Hime's gonna kill me."
When Naoto was done telling her story, I gave her a hug and told her mine. She was shocked to say the least, but it was the least I could do after she told me what had been bothering her. "I will keep my mouth shut, but you are going to have to come out to my friends eventually. You owe them that much." She flinched but nodded. "And don't get any romantic ideas, either. I'm happily taken, though I do know someone who's interested in you…" Her face flushed as we walked downstairs to our respective class floors.
"Onii-chan please…" My palm met my forehead for what seemed like the millionth time that day.
"Unless you plan on coming out to them, please don't call me that in public." I said, exasperated.
School had just let out and Rise and I met up on the first floor. Hand in hand, we strolled over to the group, who had congregated near the cubbies.
"Hey Senpai!" Rise exclaimed. They all greeted us and I waved, still a little worn out from my conversation earlier.
"Hey you two," Yosuke waved. "We're gonna be heading over to Junes to relax a bit now that the case is over. We were thinking of inviting Naoto-kun. You guys want in?"
Rise nudged my shoulder and looked up at me with a pout. "Come on, sweetie, just for a little bit?"
I shrugged. "Sure, I guess we're in. Just remembered I'll have to leave kinda early though. I have my 6 month check-in with the attorneys." I sighed and lamented my situation as the group started moving closer to Naoto who had been getting talked at by two girls. When she openly and quickly turned them down, they got a bit angry. Kanji, however, stepped in and they left.
"Hey Naoto-kun," Yosuke started. "We're all going to hang out at Junes. You wanna come with?"
"'Come with?' Sorry, but I can't today. I have some things to mull over. I promised my Grampa." Naoto politely declined the offer before rushing out of the school.
"Well, ain't that peculiar. He approaches us this morning, then declines our offer to get to know him." Everyone shrugged. "Oh well, we're wasting daylight just standing around here. C'mon, I'm feeling hungry," Rise laced her fingers with mine and after I finished talking, we all walked out of the school, heading towards Junes.
"Guess since the case is over, this place isn't our special headquarters anymore, huh?" Chie almost sounded depressed.
"I assume so, though I do have my suspicions." Yu said, cryptically.
"Well, O' Wise One, are you willing to share with the class?" I joked as I looked over at him, and Rise giggled, as did Yukiko.
"Actually, yeah." Yu said with seriousness. "I know no one's been on the Midnight Channel recently, but that Kubo kid was just a copycat killer, wasn't he?" We all nodded. I grunted. "So that means this isn't over, then."
"Not by a long shot, dude." I leaned back in my chair. "And I'm willing to bet a lot of money that whatever Naoto-kun is 'mulling over' right about now has to do with the case."
Everyone agreed. "Then we should all keep an eye on the weather as well as the TV. Anyone from Inaba could be affected, so we need to be extra careful." Chie pumped her fist.
"Well, with that out of the way, isn't the class trip coming up soon?" Yosuke asked.
"Yeah, now that you mention it, it is." Yukiko answered.
"Where're we going?" Yosuke responded.
"Tatsumi Port Island. It's an artificial island facing the ocean. It's a pretty big city." Yukiko finished with her finger on her chin.
"Port Island, huh? I did tons of shoots there. It's just beyond the Moonlight Bridge, yeah? There are plenty of cool spots to hang out there." Rise sounded excited.
"Actually, there probably won't be much time to goof off, if any. I heard the trip got changed this year. We're gonna be going to some prestigious private school. Something about having urban and rural students interact." My head hit the table with an audible smack.
"You gotta be shitting me. That's the complete opposite what we're supposed to do on a class trip." I groaned as Rise rubbed my back. "And speaking of class trips, Kanji, Hime, we're in different years. How is that gonna work?"
"Well actually," Yukiko dropped more knowledge on us. "Since the school's low on enrollment and funds, they're combining the classes, this way they only have to do it once every other year. It'll be like the campout." As Yukiko mentioned the word 'campout', Yu and Yosuke had an almost pavlovian response. They gagged and fell over backwards in their chairs. Chie and Yukiko facepalmed.
"Well, on that note, it's about time I got home. I need to make that phone call." I sighed. I gave Rise a hug and kiss and waved to everyone else as I started on my way home.
The phone rang for a moment before the receiver on the other side was picked up. (Walker residence.) My mom picked up the phone
(Momma? I'm calling for my check-in.)
(Well, it's not much of a check-in, hun. We found out your court date, it's March 23rd. We already bought your train and plane tickets, you're gonna leave to come here on the 20th and leave to go back home on the 27th.) She sighed. (They also bought tickets for your girlfriend and all your friends as well. We thought you might want to show them around your old stomping grounds.)
I gasped and almost dropped the phone. (You didn't have to do that, Momma. Where're they gonna stay?)
(They're gonna stay with us. As long as there's no funny business, we don't mind. And before you say anything, yes, they will be at the court meeting. In all honesty, this wasn't our idea, though we don't mind having them. Your attorney thinks it'd be a good idea for your girlfriend and your friends to be there to prove that where you've been living is a positive influence on you…) My mom trailed off.
(So you're just using Rise and the rest of my friends?) I could feel the anger boiling up inside me.
(Admittedly, yes. But it'll be for one day out of about six, so don't worry so much. Besides, Jimmy and Ryder have been asking about you.) I laughed and shook my head.
(Next you're gonna tell me that they're flying in from Chicago.) The disbelief was clear in my voice, but what she said next really did make me drop my phone.
(Well, you see…they are.) I could hear her laughter from the phone's speaker when I dropped it. (BHS also had a question for you.) My mom could tell she was treading water with this one, but I decided to humor her.
(What do they want from my life now?) It came out more strangled than I'd liked, but that was just too bad.
(Well, some of the students found a video online of you and your friends jamming in Ryotaro's living room. We pitched you guys playing a concert to them, and they all agreed. They want you to make a speech and play a concert in the gym the day after the proceedings…) She trailed off.
(I'll do it on two conditions. One, I get to say whatever the hell I want, and two, we get to play whatever the hell we want.) I knew I was pushing my luck a little bit, but it wasn't my problem anymore. I'd never call that school home again.
(Duly noted. We'll get them to agree, and we'll have your stuff shipped here and back as well.) She sounded relieved.
(I'll get back to you on if they're willing to play. And with that info, I got some work I gotta get done. Thanks for keeping me in the loop, Momma. Love you, bye!) Before she had the chance to rage at me for hanging up so suddenly, I hung up the phone. I sat on my futon, contemplating what was just told to me. 'I don't really want any of them in the courthouse. They're just going to make it seem like I was the person that egged them on, and I don't want her to see the shit I have to deal with.' I sighed and leaned back. 'This will either strengthen her resolve to be with me, or she'll leave me high and dry. Aurelia, I sure hope you're right about her, because if she leaves me, I won't be able to recover.'
September 8th, Tatsumi Port Island, In Front of Gekkoukan High School
Our little family stood in front of Gekkoukan High, along with the rest of the first two-year classes. The principal was currently enjoying hearing himself talk, but I was very quietly making jokes to Rise who was standing next to me. "And with that, I'd like to introduce a student body representative, who has something she'd like to say to you all." We all clapped as a cute brunette with glasses stepped forward. Yosuke and Yu sized her up while I just passively looked at her face. I was only paying attention. Rise gazed up at me with a possessive look in her eyes, while aggressively tapping me on the hip. I looked down at her as she looked up at me expectantly. I just wrapped me arm around her shoulder and kissed the top of her head, then smiled at her. She smiled back.
"Thank you, Principal." The representative then looked at all of us. "Welcome to Gekkoukan High School. My name is Chihiro Fushimi, and I'm the student body president and a third-year student here. It's an honor to meet you all." She smiled.
"Holy crap, that girl is unbelievable!" Yosuke stammered, his jaw hanging low.
"Y-yeah, you're right. She i-is cute…" Even Kanji was bewitched.
"H-hey! Yosuke!" Chie exclaimed as quietly as possible, pinching Yosuke's arm.
"This is the first time our school has invited another student body for a true cultural exchange. To learn about others is to learn about oneself, and is the first step on the road to self-betterment...This I believe. To ensure a worthwhile experience for each and every one of you, we will do our best to help you accomplish that. So let us enjoy our time together! Thank you very much." Chihiro finished her speech with a small blush on her face as she looked toward us, and tugged at the hem of her skirt.
"She beats me in every category…" Chie looked down as Yosuke comforted her, only for her to kick him in the shin. He hopped around for a couple of seconds.
"Alright everyone, settle down. Get into groups with your classmates, please!" Kashiwagi took command of the situation before moving to stand and talk with the other faculty members.
"Oh no…!" Chihiro looked utterly embarrassed. She walked over to us, and looked up at me. Rise began to frown as she started to talk to me. "Excuse me, could I bother you for just a moment?" I wouldn't lie, Chihiro was absolutely adorable. That didn't mean I was just going to forget about Rise. I wrapped an arm around her shoulders again as I nodded to Chihiro.
"Sure, Fushimi-san. How can I help?" I asked her.
"Well, this is today's schedule, I was wondering if you guys wouldn't mind passing them out to the rest of your classmates?" She sighed. "I forgot to do it myself. Sorry to be so disorganized…" I just took the handouts from her and gave her a grin.
"No prob, Fushimi-san. We'll take care of it for you." The giggle that game from her lips was probably music to Yosuke's ear.
"Thank you. In fact, I didn't write the speech on my own. One of the former Student Council Presidents helped me. She was the president my first year here, and she was amazing...I always looked up to her. I should call her later and tell her the speech was a success!" She was bubbly, and seemed to swap personalities on a dime. "Oh, I'm sorry! Listen to me, going on and on about myself...I have to stop babbling when I get nervous. Um, your group is scheduled for a special lecture soon. The classroom is on the second floor. I have some arrangements to make with your student council, so please excuse me." And with that, she turned and walked away, her skirt twirling in the wind.
While Yosuke and Yu were watching her walk away, Rise and I were looking over the schedule we had just passed around to the group, and was currently being passed around to the other groups. "So we have lectures all day, huh?" I muttered as I rubbed the back of my neck.
"Seems like it, sweetie." I leaned over and kissed her cheek as she giggled.
"So, lovebirds, when's our free period?" Yosuke asked, Chie leaning on him.
"We don't get one, brainiac!" Chie stomped on his foot.
"We have classes here all day, then we have free days tomorrow and the day after until we leave to go home." Yukiko answered from her sheet of paper, as she stood next to Yu.
"May as well get moving. Sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can have some fun on the island!" I pumped my fist and we all cheered.
We arrived in front of the hotel with Kashiwagi leading the way. "Welcome to the Seaside Clamshell Inn!" She spoke so casually and smooth. It was quite disturbing.
Rise spoke quietly from her position under my arm. "This is a love hotel, sweetie." She frowned a bit. I just squeezed her arm.
"I'll get us a separate room at least." She nodded, a blush on her face. Soon enough, everyone had moved inside, and just our group was standing outside. All of sudden, there was a disturbing voice that rang out from far away.
"Hmhmhm...Faster than I expected...This is quite the hotel. If they were to meet me...I wonder, what would the look on Yosuke's face be...?" It spoke clearly. It was close.
"Eh!? Why me!?" Yosuke looked around frantically, a flustered and angry look set on his face.
"Up there!" Yukiko shouted. We all turned to face the building opposite the hotel. A round shadow appeared and I facepalmed.
"You gotta be kiddin' me." I muttered. The shadow leapt into the air…and subsequently crashed into a dumpster not far from our location. Soon enough, Teddie came waddling over to us. "Someone get this damn bear outta here!" I shouted and stomped my foot.
"How'd you even get here, anyways?" Yosuke looked at him bewildered. "And why'd you bring the damn bear suit!?"
"Well, I almost got thrown into the trash a few times…" I nudged Rise and we left them to their own devices as we walked into the seedy hotel.
Well, seedy wasn't the right word for it. Everything was sparkling clean and well maintained. It didn't seem like a hole in the wall love hotel that was regularly featured in the hentai movies I used to watch. We walked up to the counter, and I spoke to the person behind the desk. "Uh, hey. We're two of the members of Kashiwagi's group. Listen, my girlfriend and I don't really feel comfy sharing rooms with anyone else, and I'm willing to pay if we can get our own separate room." I looked away, blushing. "With a western-style toilet, please." I hastily added.
"Sure kids. You got ID and a credit card on you?" She asked. I handed the two cards over, and after a couple of minutes, she looked at us. "All I have left is the Presidential Suite. Is that okay?" I just nodded as my wallet winced, and she handed us each a key card and handed my ID and credit card back to me. With a wink, she told us our room number. "Don't do anything I wouldn't do," She spoke smoothly.
"Uh…yeah, thanks." I drawled, and Rise dragged me off, blushes painted both of our faces a deep red.
When we got to the room, I slid in my key card into the slot, and pulled it out quickly. The little light flashed green, so I turned the handle and pushed the door in, but it wouldn't go. Rise looked at me curiously, so I shrugged at her and repeated the process. Again, it wouldn't open. "Stand back a little," I murmured to her. I put the key card in and pulled it out again, and as the light turned green I turned the handle again and shoulder checked the door as hard as I could. It finally budged open, and I stood in the room, holding the door open so Rise could get in. I brought our bags in and set them each on a chair in the room. I walked into the bathroom and flipped the light on.
There was a huge Jacuzzi-styled bathtub in there. I shook my head, and closed the door, locking it. I unbuckled my pants and turned to the toilet. "Now that's relief…. Been holding in that piss since 8:30 this morning." I muttered. I pulled my pants back up when I was finished and flushed the toilet. I walked back out of the bathroom and looked at the room. It was spacious, and there was a huge, circular bed in the room, which Rise was currently lying on.
"Hey sweetie, when we get a place for ourselves, can we get a bed like this?" She asked, puppy-dog eyes in full effect. I couldn't hold in the chuckle that rose from my throat.
"I don't think we need a circle-shaped bed, Hime," She started to pout. I sat down next to her. "It's too awkwardly shaped to fit into a room properly. That being said, I would want a bed as big as this, just square. Nothing bad about a really big bed." She slugged my in the shoulder and giggled. "Nothing wrong with a little compromise, yeah Hime?" She nodded and hopped off of the bed.
"Go take a bath, sweetie. You kinda stink." I gave myself a subtle once over, and realized that she was right.
"Gah, I guess I should." I stretched out and got off the bed. I strode into the bathroom, and closed the door as I heard her giggling at me. I stripped off my clothes and put them on the toilet, and leaned over to the faucet, turning on the taps and making small adjustments until the temperature was just right. After a couple of minutes, the Jacuzzi tub was filled, so I turned the taps off and climbed in, letting a loud, audible, relaxed sigh escape from my lips. After soaking for a few minutes, I heard someone knocking on the door.
"Sweetie? You alright in there?" She sounded concerned.
"Yeah, I'm just about to get out. What's wrong?"
"The group called your phone. I wasn't sure what to tell them, so I didn't answer it." I pulled the plug on the drain and let the water drain as I dried off. My hair was still soaking wet, and there wasn't anything I could do about it, so I just pulled it back as tight as possible before pulling my boxers on and strutting out the door back into the room. Rise's blush was in full effect. "Perv…" She muttered.
"You've seen everything on my body before. Is this really such an issue?" I hugged her from behind and she relaxed in my embrace.
"I guess not." She angled her head to give me a kiss, and when we separated, I pulled grabbed my phone.
"Three missed calls in the past half hour." I sighed, and decided to call them back. The receiver picked up, and immediately moved the phone away from my ear as the scream passed through the speakers.
"Where the hell are you two!?" Yosuke screamed.
"Goddamn it Yosuke, do you have to be so loud? I paid for us to get our own room. Rise isn't particularly comfy being in a love hotel, especially since she's an ex-idol. If someone catches her, the consequences could be huge." I explained. Rise nestled herself in my lap and pushed me back, laying down on me.
"Understandable, I guess… So what room are you guys in?" He asked us, point blank.
"Presidential suite. Rise's about to get cleaned up and ready for bed, and then we're getting some sleep. I mean, we are hanging out in the city tomorrow. We'll meet in the lobby at like 9:30 tomorrow morning?" Rise had pouted when I told them that she was getting cleaned up, but I just gave her a stare and she got up and started stripping in front of me. I adjusted my shorts a bit as she bent over, and when she giggled, I just shook my head. "What was that?"
Rise walked out of the bathroom in a towel, her hair tied up in another. I had dozed off a bit, thinking about the future, when the bed bounced and I bounced along with it. I glared at Rise and she glared back. We both shared a small laugh, and I stripped out of my boxers before we joined under the covers. Rise using my chest as a pillow and slightly grinding against my leg was something I could get quite used to.
"Hey Hime, can I ask you a question?" My eyes flickered along the ceiling, not really finding a resting point.
"Sure, sweetie. Shoot!"
"What have I told you about when I go back to Jersey for a week or two for the court proceedings? I figure now's a good time to fill you in on what I haven't yet."
She got a faraway look in her eyes. "Well, I just know that you're absolutely not guilty, and the time you've spent and are spending here is to let the situation cool off until they're ready to pass judgment on the people that drove you to the edge." I nodded.
"Well, on March 20th, the Inaba Investigation Squad is going to Jersey for a week." I looked at her for her reaction. "My parents got the lawyers to secure plane tickets for everyone."
"So I'll get to see where you grew up?" Rise had stars in her eyes.
"Yeah, pretty much. They want you guys there to show that being here and moving here in the future has been and will be a positive life experience. And there's one other thing. My, uh… My old high school wants us to play a concert in the gym there." I winced when she sighed.
"Did you already agree to it?" She asked sternly.
"Not at all, that's the truth."
"I'll do backup singing if you want, but I don't wanna be front and center. You do realize you have to ask the others, right?" She was busy drawing circles on my chest with her finger.
"Yep. Planned on doing that tomorrow." With that, the two of us fell asleep.
The Next Evening
We were all walking down the street toward the Paulownia Mall. Seeing as we had a little ways to go, I decided now would be a good time to bring the news to the Squad's attention. "Hey, uh, can we stop here for a moment?" I pointed to the park. Everyone just shrugged and we walked in and sat down in a circle on the grass. "What do you guys know about me going back to Jersey for a week or two in March for the court proceedings?" I asked them point blank.
"We know you're not guilty," Yosuke started.
"And we know you're coming back to live in or near Inaba afterwards." Chie finished.
I sighed. "So basically the same as Hime then. Great."
"What's goin' on, Senpai?" Kanji sounded unusually concerned. I shrugged.
"Well, about a week ago, I got a call from my mom. It was only our check-in, but she dropped a couple pieces of news that you guys need to hear." They all looked at me. "On March 20th, the Inaba Investigation Squad is going to New Jersey for a week." Their jaws dropped. "The lawyers got you all tickets. Admittedly, they want you in the courtroom to prove that being here has been a positive experience in my life, and to prove that I am fit to return here and not end up in the wacky shack."
"Then we'll prove to them what a good person you are, Brian-kun," Yukiko gave me a small smile.
"So we get to see where you grew up and everything, huh Brian?" Yu looked at me. I tried to get a read on him, but it was proving fruitless at the moment.
"Yeah, though it won't exactly be pretty. Oh, and there's one other thing. My old high school caught wind of us jamming thanks to Rise recording and uploading a video of us. They want us to play a concert." Yosuke immediately interrupted me.
"This is completely up to you guys, but personally, I'd like to do it. I'd like to show them just what they did by tormenting me." I gave them a grin. "Why don't we give it a shot? Hime already agreed to do backup vocals since she doesn't want to be center stage. Yukiko, Chie, would you be willing to help me out?"
Yukiko looked bashful and was about to decline when Chie got a look at her. "We'll do it, Brian-kun!"
"Yeah, I'm in too." Yosuke smirked.
"Alright, we're all in!" Rise exclaimed and we put our hands together in the center of our circle. I had to blink away tears.
"So this is a club, huh?" Yosuke looked on in amazement.
"You've never been to a club before, Yosuke?" I asked.
"None of us have, Brian-kun," Yukiko replied.
"Well, I did a secret show here once, but the power went out, so yeah, I've been to a club." Rise pondered with her finger on her chin. I shook my head.
"Clubs generally aren't my scene, but why the hell not. When in Rome, yeah?" I asked, shrugging my shoulders. While we were conversing, someone had started walking down the stairs. Chie and I craned our necks to see who it was.
"Is it permitted for high schoolers such as yourselves to be here?" Naoto. The holier-than-thou tone tipped me right off, as her hair and hat blended in with the strobe lights and general blue theme of the club.
"Dude, look who's talking! You were here before we were!" Yosuke sputtered.
"Regardless, the clientele seems to be above board here, so I don't expect any problems." Naoto completely dodged the point.
'Right, detective.' I facepalmed.
"Huh? You're leaving?" Chie yelled out over the music.
"Come on, join us!" Yukiko said as loud as she could.
"Are you…asking me to stay?" I guess it shouldn't have been surprising how shocked Naoto looked.
"Uh huh! We didn't get to chat much the other times!" Yukiko sounded pleased with herself.
"Ah…it's just t-th-that I was b-busy that d-day, so…" I looked at Kanji who was blushing something fierce. If I were a betting man, I'd say that he thought Naoto's blushing was cute.
"Well, you're free now, right?" Rise sidled up to me, and I just casually leaned into her as she did the same. "Come on, join us! I'm really eager to see how someone your age is working as a detective." A tick mark appeared over my head. I knew Naoto was a girl, but Rise didn't. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she was flirting with her.
"Are-are you asking me to join you?" Naoto's cheeks were flushed.
"Damn right." I finished.
"Everyone wait right here. I'll go reserve the VIP room for us!" Rise squealed in excitement as she ran off.
"Wait, reserve the VIP room!?" Yosuke's jaw hit the floor. "I really shouldn't be surprised at this point." I shook my head and laughed. After a couple of minutes, Rise came back, and after taking my hand, led us up to the VIP lounge.
We decided to make a toast. "Hime, how much is this gonna cost us?" I asked with an eyebrow raised. She just giggled and leaned into me.
"Remember how I said there was a power outage here and they had to cancel my show?" I nodded. "Well, they still owed me for that, so they're willing to put this on the house." I gave her a quick kiss.
"Awesome! I'm gonna order more in that case!" Chie exclaimed.
"Me too!" Teddie was in agreement.
"Dude, you sound even weirder today," Kanji remarked. Teddie just scoffed and reached for another pink-colored drink, downing it in one gulp. Rise reached for one herself, and offered me one. I shook my head and grabbed a bottle of water from across the room before sitting back down. Everyone was getting louder and louder. "Man, everyone seems looser'n usual."
"Hey, are these liquor…?!" Yosuke sounded scandalized.
"I told them no alco-*hic*-hol!" Rise slurred.
"Aw jeez, I was wondering why it was so warm…" Chie was tugging at her collar a bit as she winced. Yosuke just looked at her concerned. They kissed quickly and I shrugged. Rise looked at me expectantly and straddled my lap. Everyone was blushing as she lowered herself down to my lips and gave me the sloppiest kiss ever. I had to pull her off of me.
"Not now, Hime…not while you're not in your right state of mind. And not in front of our friends," I whispered to her. She nodded before cuddling up to me, and falling asleep on my chest. Everyone coo'd and I just groaned. I'd have to carry her back to the room.
"King's Gaaaaaaaaaaame!" Yukiko slurred. She was somehow louder than before.
"Oh hell no," I said.
"Times like this, the adults play the King's Game! Kanji, go get the chopsticks already!" Yukiko demanded. I looked over at Yu, as if to ask why he wasn't attempting to calm Yukiko down, but it seemed like he was slightly sloshed, too.
"Why do I have to do it?" Kanji rebutted.
"Just go do it! Chop chop!" Yukiko ordered, taking the time to giggle at her own joke. Kanji gathered them, and we all reached for them. "Alright, who's the king?" she slurred again, obviously out of her ever-loving mind.
I looked at my chopstick from where I was still seated with Rise laid up against my chest. It had the red tip. I sighed and raised my hand. "I'm the king."
"O-oh boy," Chie shivered.
I sighed. I was taking a real chance on this. "Numbers one and two have to kiss." Everyone took a second to look at their chopstick, and Kanji immediately blushed, as did Naoto. 'Score!'
"Senpai, do I really have to do this?" Naoto looked over at me and I just nodded my head. Surprisingly, Kanji was silent through the entire ordeal, and I swear I even heard him apologize after it was done. We all had to draw sticks again, and this time Naoto was the king. "I want number 4 to explain how you're all involved with murder case."
I looked at my stick and cursed. "I'll only answer if you answer one of my questions."
"I guess I'll have to oblige." She sounded quite displeased.
"Why do you want to know? I want to know what your obsession is with what we're doing." I hardened my glare at her and she shrunk back a bit.
"I need to know because you're clearly doing a better job than the professionals are, and you're doing better than I did. I disagreed with Kubo-san being declared more than a copycat killer, and so they threw me off the case. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try and figure it out." She looked back at me and I supposed it was my turn to answer.
"Well, if you want to know the absolute truth, there's a whole 'nother world inside the TV. There are plenty of abominations in there, we refer to them as 'shadows.' We fight them with the aid of 'Personas,' or facets of our egos that we faced and defeated. Each kidnapping victim since Saki-san was been saved by our squad, starting with Yu and Yosuke saving me. We go in, we defeat the shadows, help the victim face their other self, and repeat until we find out who the killer is. Though we don't exactly have a great idea on who it is."
"I'm glad to see you take me seriously," Naoto sighed. "I knew I wouldn't get a straight answer out of you." I just scoffed.
"Believe what you want to believe. But by telling you what I just did, I'm risking total termination of our squad's involvement. So if someone gets put in again, and we aren't able to rescue them, this rests on your head, you '1000 IQ Killjoy Detective.'" I was properly pissed, yet still petting Rise's hair. She was talking in her sleep, something about how cuddly I was. 'Yeah, that'll go over real well with how I just threatened Naoto-chan.'
"So, how are we gonna get the drunks home?" Yosuke asked. After that, the sober participants all agreed that that was enough of the King's Game.
"You people truly are idiots. They don't even serve alcohol here anymore." Naoto stood and left.
"Again, '1000 IQ Killjoy Detective.'" I picked Rise up bridal style, as did Yu with Yukiko. Yosuke and Chie were able to walk on their own, as was Kanji, but he was carrying Teddie on his back. We all agreed to meet up tomorrow morning before splitting up to get to our rooms. I didn't even bother taking a bath, and Rise was still passed out. I stripped her and then myself before climbing into bed next to her, and then the world went black.
As always, Follows/Favorites/Reviews are welcomed. -MNW