AN: Well, here we are again. We should be back to our regularly unscheduled update plan, which I'm sure is of no help to you. I'm not entirely sure I'm happy with the ending to this one and, while I said that I was going to have this chapter betaed, it seems like I can't get in contact with him and I feel like I need to get this one out. I hope it's worth the wait to you guys, and that the ending isn't as weak as I'm afraid it is. At any rate, thanks once again for reading the story, and if you'd like I'd love to hear your feedback in a review!
The Green Eyed Monster
The next day started with a rough morning for Danny as he was woke with a loud pounding on his door, followed by Nanako rushing in with concern written across her face, "Danny-kun you have to wake up! We're going to be late for school!" She cried, blissfully ignorant of her cousin's panicky and nearly violent reaction to the sudden jolt to the land of the living.
Danny blinked at her, breathing heavily even as his heart pounded in his chest, "W-what are you talking about, Nanako? It's Saturda-" He started, though he trailed off as he remembered where he was, his eyes widening in panic almost as much as hers, "Oh crap...we do have school today!" He yelped, jumping out of bed, ignoring the slight pull against his injuries on his chest as he rushed around his room grabbing his uniform.
The half-ghost was already pulling his shirt on when he stopped, glancing back at Nanako who was staring at him in a mixture between amazement at his speed and confusion at the bandages wrapped around his chest, "Danny...why do you have so many band-aids?"
"Err..." He replied intelligently, before shaking the question out of his head, "I had an accident before I left my parents, it's already almost healed, Nanako. Uh...why don't you go ahead and wait downstairs, I promise I'll be down soon. I just need to finish getting dressed and grab my bag."
The little girl stared at him for a few seconds before nodding slowly, "Okay..." She replied quietly before going back downstairs to wait for him.
Danny joined his cousin just a few minutes later, looking slightly disheveled but otherwise ready for a normal day, "Alright, you ready to go, Nanako?" He asked hurriedly, glancing around the living room just to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything as he pulled his shoes on. At her silent nod he lead the way outside, locking the door once they were both out, and turned to make their way towards the flood plain, walking slightly faster than normal.
The half-ghost glanced awkwardly at Nanako as they walked, the heavy silence that seemed to be almost constant between them since he arrived in Inaba weighing heavily on him. "Hey, uh, Nanako..." He started hesitantly, drawing her confused attention to him, "I, um, I just wanted to say thanks for waking me up. I'm sorry that I didn't get up when I was supposed to. I'm just not used to going to school on Saturdays yet, I guess."
Danny relaxed slightly as Nanako cracked a small smile at his thanks, "It's alright." She answered, killing the awkwardness that had settled between them.
The two of them shared a small amount of small talk before she split off towards the elementary school, briefly leaving him to his thoughts before he heard a familiar voice shouting to him. "Yo!"
He glanced back over his shoulder as Yosuke slowed to a stop next to him with a smile, though it faltered as the brunette's eyes caught the bruise still spreading across Danny's face, "Ouch...hey, I'm really sorry about that..." He muttered, motioning to the offending mark.
"I told you not to worry about it, I'm used to it. Besides, even as ugly as it's gotten overnight, I figure it'll probably be mostly healed by the end of the day. Benefits of being part-ghost I guess." The half-ghost replied, waving off his worry, before his gaze hardened slightly, "More importantly, did you see what was on last night?"
Yosuke nodded slowly in answer, "Yeah...I couldn't tell who it was, but if someone's shown on the TV, we can't ignore it can we?" He asked, prompting the half-ghost to shake his head in agreement as he began leading the way towards the school again.
"No...you're right, we can't." Danny answered with a small sigh, "If you're serious about helping, then we should check it out after school. Teddie might be able to tell us something about it."
"Yeah, that makes sense. If it turns out someone was thrown in again, I guess that'd prove there really is someone behind this. Even if it is something about that place that's killing people...man, if someone's using that world as a weapon that's...that's unforgivable!" Yosuke stated, a look of disgust settling itself on his face at the thought of someone using the other world to kill people. "We've got to catch the culprit...whatever it takes! I mean...there's no way the police can do it, is there? Who'd believe that the murder is killing people by throwing them into a TV?"
The half-ghost nodded in reluctant agreement, "You're right...even if they would believe something like that, there's no way normal people would be able to deal with those shadows, we'll have to do it ourselves."
Yosuke chuckled, seemingly relieved at his acceptance, "Cool...it's good to hear someone else say it." He admitted before trailing off in thought for a few moments. "You know...I tried sticking my head in the TV last night, like you did, and it actually worked. I think I can do that now because I have a Persona...but it doesn't really explain why you can..."
Danny weighed his options for a few seconds before shrugging, "I'll admit, I really don't know much about this Persona stuff, Yosuke...but I think I might have a few of the latent abilities that you have...I'm not really sure why, but it seems like that's what's going on right now. In all honesty it's as much of a mystery to me as it is to you." He said, grimacing internally at the half-truth, but really he wasn't sure how to explain it past that without exposing more about himself than he was willing to admit right now.
The brunette stared at him strangely for a few seconds before shaking his head in confusion, "Hmm...maybe we got these 'gifts' from someone specifically so we could solve the case? Then again, you said you've had most of your powers for years now...so I don't know. But I feel like, as long as you're with me, we can find the culprit and crack the case."
The half-ghost felt a small smile tugging on his lips at his classmate's statement, unable to deny the fact that, for all his faults, Yosuke was a good guy who was stuck in a bad situation. 'Maybe...it wouldn't be so bad to have friends again? What exactly am I afraid of anyways? That they'll betray me? Abandon me like Tucker and Sam? You're going to be here for two years, Fenton...you may as well try and make the best of it.'
Danny blinked bemusedly at his own realization for a few seconds before Yosuke noticed and raised an eyebrow, "Uh...are you alright?"
"I...umm...yeah, I'm fine. Just had a weird...thought."
The brunette raised a skeptical eyebrow, "...Are you sure, dude?"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. Come on, if we don't hurry up we're going to be late."
It turned out to be a wise decision on the boys' part to pick up the pace as, within minutes of walking through the door and switching out their shoes at their lockers, it had started pouring outside, "Does it always rain this much here?" Danny asked incredulously as he stared out the window.
Yosuke shrugged, "I guess so. It was like this last year too, so I think it's normal here."
The half-ghost sighed in disappointment before shrugging, opening his mouth to reply before quickly snapping it closed again as Chie ran into the room, looking slightly worried. He thought about apologizing to her, before deciding to leave it to Yosuke for now, she was his friend after all.
"Uh...Chie! Umm, about yesterday...we're sorry we worried yo-"
Chie shook her head, as she glanced around the room distractedly, "Oh, never mind about that. Is Yukiko still not here?"
Danny blinked at the question, a small pit forming in his stomach as a dark thought occurred to him, though it appeared Yosuke remained ignorant of his new friend's worries as he gaped in amazement at the girl. "Huh? Y-Yukiko-san? Uh...no...? At least I haven't seen her today."
"Oh man...what should I do?" The girl muttered to herself, before turning her gaze sharply back to the other brunette. "Hey, is that stuff you were talking about for real? You know...all that about how people showing up on the Midnight Channel is related to that other world." She asked, biting her lip nervously.
"Oh, we were just talking about that. We're thinking about checking it out later-"
"The person on TV yesterday…I think it was Yukiko. That kimono looks like the one she wears at the inn, a-and she wore it during the interview a few days ago too. I got worried, so I emailed her last night, but she hasn't responded…I called her earlier in the evening, though, and she said she'd be at school today…I-I…" Chie interrupted, stumbling over her words slightly, before trailing off with a frightened look.
The half-ghost felt his stomach turn as he heard his previous thoughts echoed by her, before letting out a deep breath, "Alright, hey, calm down, Chie. We understand...have you heard from her at all today?" He asked carefully, grimacing as she shook her head.
He sighed, running a hand down his face as his two classmates stared at him. "Alright...well, in that case we need to talk. You need to know what happened yesterday..." He started slowly, before giving a slightly watered down explanation of their trip into the TV, only lightly touching on Yosuke's confrontation with himself and his own demonstration of his powers.
As he finished up he realized Chie was staring at him, unblinkingly, her face a mixture between horror and rage as she put the pieces together in her head, "Y-you mean...are you really saying that Yukiko was thrown in there?!"
Yosuke shook his head quickly, "N-no...I mean, we don't know for sure yet. We should make sure she's safe first. Try and give her another call."
The girl nodded, quickly pulling out her phone and dialing her friend's number, only to let out a frustrated groan a few seconds later. "No good...her voice mail picked up, she's not answering." She said, panic starting to edge its way into her voice.
The other brunette's eyes widened in shock, "Are you serious!? Then is Yukiko inside that place?"
"Jus-S-Stop it! Something must've come up, like an errand or something…Oh, or she might be helping at the inn… She wouldn't be able to answer her cell if that's it." She reasoned desperately, even as Yosuke eyed her skeptically.
"But...would she skip school for something like that?"
"I...don't know. But, I'll give the inn a call. Umm...I know I've got the number in here somewhere..." She muttered worriedly as she flipped through the phone's address book, immediately calling the number when she found it. She fidgeted for a few moments as it rang. Her eyes lit up hopefully as the other side picked up and they saw her face relax as she realized she was talking to her friend. She only talked for a minute before hanging up with a relieved sigh.
"She was at the inn." She explained, blinking as she seemed to realize how obvious that was before continuing, "She said they had a big group reservation and she had to help out. Yeah…now that I think about it, this has happened before, too. At least once a year. She said she'll be at the inn tomorrow, too. Oh, for crying out loud, Yosuke! You got me worried over nothing! She was totally fine! And you were all 'Is Yukiko-san inside that place…?' Hmph…"
Danny held his hands up placatingly, "Hey, calm down. We're sorry, but we aren't trying to get you worked up all over nothing, there's a reason we thought that."
Chie's head swiveled to Danny, her glare slightly less intense, but no less demanding, "Oh yeah...? And what's that?"
He hesitated slightly at her tone before shaking his head and continuing his explanation. "We thought that whoever shows up on the midnight channel is there because they're already in that other world."
Yosuke nodded in agreement, "Yeah! I mean...people show up on the TV because they're in the TV, makes sense right? But Yukiko-san's still here, in our world. Maybe we should go talk to that bear again...see what this is about." He said, hesitating slightly as he finished.
The half-ghost nodded "Yeah...we should. If nothing else he might be able to tell us if anybody's been over there since we left."
With that the other two agreed, deciding to meet up in the electronics section of Junes once school let out for the day.
School passed uneventfully for Danny and before he knew it he was dodging out of Mr. Morooka's room as soon as the bell rang, ignoring his classmates' calls for his attention, something that was quickly becoming normal for him seeing as how the teenagers from the small town seemed to view him as something of a curiosity.
'Heh...they don't know the half of it, and if they did they probably wouldn't be so keen on trying to make friends with me.' The half-ghost rolled his eyes at the thought as he quickly changed his shoes out at his locker before pushing his way out the front door.
He quickly made his way to Junes, grimacing slightly as he saw that his classmates had beat him there and Yosuke was filling Chie in on the events of last night in greater detail, though he seemed grateful to stop when he walked up. "O-okay, I think that's enough about my sorry my sorry escapades." He muttered quietly, though he quickly covered up his discomfort with a small smile.
Chie shook her head in amazement as they made their way to the electronics. "Geez...if I hadn't seen the place first hand, I'd never have believed a story like that."
Danny nodded, "Exactly...pretty much the only reason I didn't tell my uncle about it. Well...that and the fact that I'm not really a fan of the idea of becoming somebody's lab rat." He muttered darkly, prompting a slightly awkward silence as his classmates blinked at him in surprise.
"W-well anyways..."Yosuke coughed awkwardly, finally pushing forward. "We need to know what's going on inside-"
"Wh-how?" Chie interrupted incredulously, "By talking to that Teddie guy?"
The brunette nodded as they finally stopped in front of the TV they had went into the last two times. "Yeah. Too bad there's so many customers around...I forgot there was a sale in electronics today."
The half-ghost shrugged nonchalantly. "No big deal, you two just make a wall and I'll turn invisible and try to get his attention." He said, ignoring the bewildered stare of his companions as he moved towards the TV.
"Turn invisible?" Chie asked incredulously, despite his earlier explanation of his powers.
He glanced back at her, fighting the urge to roll his eyes at her skepticism. "Yeah...look, just come on and form a wall so nobody sees me disappear, okay? We need to do this quick so nobody starts to think anything weird is going on over here." He replied easily, prompting her to raise a skeptical eyebrow towards Yosuke who just shrugged in return, quickly taking a place beside his new friend while Chie reluctantly done the same on the opposite side, blocking him from outside view.
Danny looked back one last time to make sure nobody else could see him, before letting the familiar chill of invisibility wash over him. He let out a small sigh of annoyance when Chie squeaked in surprise before gently pushing his hand through the screen and letting the invisibility lapse on it.
"Hey, Teddie, if you can hear me come over here!" He whispered hastily towards the screen while beckoning the bear towards him with his finger.
'Maybe he's not at the entrance or can't hear me...we might have to actually go in to-' He thought briefly, only to have his thought interrupted as he felt teeth bite down on his hand.
"Ouch! Ah, god damn it!" He muttered quietly, his invisibility lapsing as he quickly pulled his hand out of the screen, his eyes narrowing at the bite mark.
"Wh-what's wrong?!" Yosuke blurted out nervously, shifting from side to side trying to see what had happened.
Chie's eyes widened in fear as she glanced around in panic before turning a glare back on the other brunette, "Shh! Not so loud you idiot!" She muttered before turning back to Danny her eyes widening again as she saw the mark, "D-dude! Is that a bite mark? Are you okay?"
Danny nodded irritatedly as he flexed his hand open and closed a few times, "Yeah, I'm fine, surprised me more than anything."
"That's good...sheesh, that stupid bear must've done it." She muttered, shaking her head, "Hey, you! We know you're in there!"
There was a brief moment of silence before the screen rippled gently and Teddie's muffled voice rang out from behind it. "Ooh ooh, Is this a game?" He asked excitedly.
Yosuke rolled his eyes in annoyance as he shook his head, "No it's not a game! Can you sense anyone in there right now?"
There was a short pause before Teddie answered, "Who's 'anyone'? I'm a lonely little bear like always." He replied, prompting a relieved sigh from Yosuke, though that quickly died as he continued, his voice laden with anticipation, "This land is so bear-en..."
Danny blinked, staring stupidly at the screen for several seconds as a heavy silence weighed upon the group until Chie shook her head angrily, "Shut it!" She growled, "So you're sure there's no one inside?"
"I-I'm not lying!" He replied timidly, "My nose is running as good as ever!"
Chie let out a worried groan, turning to the boys once Danny dismissed the bear, "I...I think I'll go warn Yukiko anyway. She said she'll be busy helping out at the inn this weekend, so I doubt she'd go anywhere alone, but still..." She muttered, trailing off uncomfortably.
The boys nodded in agreement, "Yeah...probably a good idea. You'll walk to school with her Monday, right?"
"Sure, I'll go pick her up from her house." She replied, nodding at Yosuke's suggestion before hurriedly leaving the shopping center, leaving the boys alone.
Danny sighed tiredly, "Well...let's watch the midnight channel again tonight, just in case. With any luck nothing will happen and we can forget about this."
"Yeah, what's your cell number? I'll call you when I watch it tonight." Yosuke asked as he fished his phone out of his pocket, the two of them quickly punched each other's numbers into the other's phone book before turning to leave the store, the two of them splitting up in different directions at the entrance. "Alright, don't forget to watch tonight, man."
"Don't worry, I'm not going to forget, Yosuke. Make sure you get some sleep tonight, if something does show up tonight we're going to be busy tomorrow."
Rain pattered heavily against the roof as Danny stood in front of his TV, the only sound in the room aside from the rain being the quiet ticking of the clock hanging on the wall by the door. The half-ghost took a steadying breath as the last second before midnight ticked away accompanied by a crackle of static as the TV flared to life, featuring a crystal clear image of Yukiko, clad in a pink ball gown and clutching a microphone excitedly as she stood in a castle courtyard. "Good evening! Tonight, Princess Yukiko has a big surprise! I'm gonna go score myself a hot stud! Welcome to not a dream, not a hoax, 'Princess Yukiko's Hunt for Her Prince Charming!' And I came prepared!"
Danny's eyes widened in shock as he watched the previously shy girl eagerly thrust her hand to the junction between her legs, bending over to allow whoever was watching an eye-full of cleavage. Despite the fact that he was alone in the room he couldn't help but glance over his shoulder warily, half afraid that Dojima or Nanako were going to walk into the room at any second. "I've got my lacy unmentionables on, stacked from top to bottom! I'm out to catch a whole harem, and the best of the lot is going to be all mine! Well...here I go!" The girl exclaimed as she turned and ran towards the swirling entrance of the castle, her voice and movements exuding a bubbly personality he hadn't seen previously.
He shook his head dismissively at the thought,'Yeah...somehow I doubt she'd appreciate the fact that I found out about it like this...Jesus, that was practically the set up for a freaking porno. On the other hand, I guess this settles it that she's actually in the TV world though, or at least probably will be. She doesn't seem the type to pull this kind of stunt willingly.' He reflected, though before he could think any more on it his phone rang, the short tune Tucker had thought up when they were still friends was silenced quickly as he accepted the call. "I'm here."
"H-hey, did you see that!?" Yosuke asked shakily from the other side of the line.
"Yeah...I did. It was definitely Yukiko..." Danny replied, sighing heavily as he trailed off.
"Yeah! I mean, she even said her name, but...didn't the stuff she was saying sound weird?!"
The half-ghost raised an eyebrow at the brunette's understatement, "I guess that's one way to put it."
"She looked like she was on some kind of low-budget TV show too...man, what the hell's going on here?"
'Cheap TV show? What the hell is he talking about? There was a castle! I mean come on-damn it, now's not the time for this, Phantom, you need to pay attention to what you're talking about!'
He shook his head violently, quickly dispelling the thought from his mind, "If you say so...hey, look do you have her number?"
Danny sighed in irritation, "Yukiko! Do you have her number? If you do, then you need to call her, make sure she's alright."
"Oh, right! I uh...I don't have it, but I can just call Chie! Hey, I'll do that now, but tomorrow's Sunday, let's meet up at Junes, first thing in the morning."
"Alright, sounds good. Make sure you're ready to go into the TV if we need to, okay?"
"Yeah...I'll be ready. Alright, I'm gonna call Chie now, talk to you tomorrow, man."
The half-ghost shook his head as he hung up the phone. 'I really, really wish I could say I believed this was just some misunderstanding, but somehow I doubt that's the case.' He mused tiredly, sitting down heavily on the couch and picking his laptop up off the coffee table in front of him, a small smile spreading across his face as a familiar ping alerted him to the fact he'd received a message.
Brother's Keeper: Hey, Little Brother, how's the first week in Japan going?
Danny stared at the message for several seconds, the smile fading slightly, before starting to type his reply, he paused once or twice, deleting the entire thing once, before finally finishing it and sending it.
GhostBoy96: Well...I guess it's okay. Uncle Dojima's not home often, since he's a detective, and Nanako's a little awkward, but other than that it's okay there...but there's been two murders since I got here. The first was the day after I got here and the other was a girl in the year above me. I think I've gotten involved with it...somehow, it's really weird and hard to explain, but I don't think I'm in any more danger than I was back home...probably.
Jazz seemed to not know how to respond to that, as there were a few minutes of nothing happening before the little pencil at the bottom of the chat-box started moving back and forth, indicating it was deleting several times before the next incoming message tone pinged again.
Brother's Keeper: MURDERS? What do you mean you don't think you're in danger!? Are you okay?!
He felt a small flare of warmth in his chest, the smile that was previously on his face tugging at his lips once again, despite the topic of the conversation, it was nice to know somebody was concerned about his well-being. 'Mom and Dad love me, I know that...but they're just...well, their minds don't really process things the same way as a normal person's...to them, fighting ghosts is a normal every day thing. I don't think they ever really thought about how wrong those fights can go if you're not paying attention and the ghosts actually have something against you.' He thought, though he quickly shook the wandering thoughts from his head to reply to his sister's waiting message.
GhostBoy96: It's okay, Jazz...it's not anybody I know...okay, that sounds bad, but I mean, I don't know what exactly is going on yet, but it's not a normal murderer. It's something only people like me can deal with. We think the victims are being thrown in a TV or something...there's a TV world on the other side of the screen where there are shadows that kill them once it gets foggy in this world. But I'm able to fight them with my powers...it doesn't seem like they can get out either, so it's not a ghost zone situation...I think.
Brother's Keeper: Wait, what do you mean a world inside the TV? Did you ever deal with anything like that over here? And what do you mean WE?
Danny flinched as his eyes flicked back to his own message and realized he had admitted to working with other people, he should have expected her to catch that, after all he knew who he was talking to.
GhostBoy96: It's...complicated, and it's really hard to explain any better than I already have, at least the TV part of it. I haven't ever dealt with it in Amity before, I don't think it has anything to do with ghosts...exactly, they feel different to my Ghost Sense.
Brother's Keeper: Okay...what about the we part?
The half-ghost let out a half-annoyed groan at her prodding, despite being grateful for it only minutes earlier, before typing out a simplified explanation for her.
GhostBoy96: Well...look, it's hard to explain how we got in there, but a classmate and I were in the TV and had to fight some shadows, and he found out about my ghost half...I basically gave him and the other one a watered down version of the ghost portal story and what I do there. I don't think they're about to say anything to anybody, especially with what's going on right now, and the fact that I'm living with a detective. Who would believe them? Besides nobody here knows who Phantom is, so I'm alright.
Brother's Keeper: ...Alright. I'm sorry for snapping at you Danny, I'm just worried about you. But you know what you're doing. Just...please be careful, okay?
The smile returned to his face again as he read her reply, quickly responding with an attempt to change the subject.
GhostBoy96: Yeah, I will be. Don't worry, Jazz, it'll be fine. Anyways, how are things going at home? Are Mom and Dad okay? Any problems with ghosts showing up since I'm gone?
Brother's Keeper: It's going okay, Mom and Dad are good, they're back to working in the lab, I think they're working on an early warning system or something like that, Valerie says she hasn't seen any ghosts aside from the occasional ectopus, and you said those aren't really intelligent ghosts anyways, right?
He nodded to himself, unsurprised at the answer. It was really hard to keep ghosts like that from popping up, since they were just concentrations of nervous energy. They were hardly even considered ghosts, more like a sort of semi-intelligent creature that naturally formed in the ghost zone and anywhere with sufficient paranormal activity.
GhostBoy96: Yeah, I'm not surprised about those. They're normal for Amity Park, especially since the Portal opened. At least the self-aware ghosts are honoring the deal though...makes me feel a little less guilty about abandoning you guys to come over here.
Brother's Keeper: You didn't abandon us, little brother...you have a job to do there, and from what you said earlier, it sounds like it's just as important as what you were doing here. Besides, like you said, the ghosts are honoring your treaty and even if you don't want to admit it, you were going crazy over here with nothing to do.
The half-ghost glared at the screen as if it had betrayed him, shaking his head in denial at Jazz's message, though he instantly regretted his reply, as the argument sounded weak, even to him.
GhostBoy96: No I wasn't! I had plenty to do there! When I wasn't studying for school or in the lab helping Mom work on new inventions I could read or build models.
Brother's Keeper: You only did those things because you weren't hunting ghosts. Face it, Danny, whether I like it or not, you're addicted to danger. Sure, you started protecting people because it was the right thing to do, but you wouldn't have ever kept doing it if you didn't have both a hero complex and an adrenaline addiction.
GhostBoy96: That's not true! And even if it was, then it wouldn't matter, because if I didn't protect them then nobody else would. I guarantee you that, as much as I like Val, she's not going to bother fighting petty criminals, is she? The cops can't be everywhere, Jazz.
Danny could practically hear Jazz laughing at him as he glowered at the screen, knowing her rebuttal was coming and, despite his frustration, he knew she was right.
Brother's Keeper: I didn't say you weren't needed, little brother, I'm just saying you don't WANT to quit doing what you're doing. Tell me you weren't jittery from not being able to use your powers before your fight over there, and I'll tell you you're lying. It's not necessarily a bad thing, Danny. You're good at what you do...and if you really want to I'm sure you can find a way to get paid to do it full time. I mean, look at the Titans, they don't do anything but be heroes all day and they get paid for it, I'm sure you could do something like that too. And if not, you could always bill yourself as an occult investigator or something, go in and fight ghosts and monsters or something, like that devil boy comic you read when you were little.
He rolled his eyes at the typical Jazz answer, though he admitted she was right about possibly being able to make something of himself in the hero business, it'd been a long time since his dreams of becoming an astronaut were feasible, and he had special abilities that nobody else did. It was only logical to use them to help others, and if he went that route then he'd be helping himself in the process. Still, he could hardly admit that to her.
GhostBoy96: It's Hellboy, Jazz, not 'Devil Boy'. And the Titans are largely recognized by the Justice League, as well as the government, it's kind of hard to get that attention in a way that won't reflect badly on me. Besides, I've got...well, we've all got more immediate concerns right now. Once we get past that, THEN I'll think more about what I'm going to do with my life, but right now I already think about my future way too much.
Brother's Keeper: Danny...
GhostBoy96: It's fine, Jazz, like I said, it'll be fine, I'm sorry for bringing it up and killing the mood. Anyways, I need to get to bed, I've got a busy day tomorrow...pretty sure I'm going to have to fight a lot of shadows.
Brother's Keeper: Well...alright. Just remember, I'm here if you need me. And make sure you tell me if you need anything...that goes for Mom and Dad too, we can't help you if you won't let us.
Danny shrugged, almost ready to dismiss her offer when the memory of how effective his ectoblasts were against their enemies flashed in his mind. 'Maybe they're vulnerable to ectoplasm? If they are then at least some of Mom and Dad's inventions might be useful...' He quickly relayed the thought to Jazz.
Brother's Keeper: Well...we might be able to help you. The ectoplasm Mom and Dad use in their inventions isn't really all that volatile on its own, and I'm pretty sure nobody would question it, it's not really hazardous material except in large quantities.
GhostBoy96: Well look at you, talking all sciencey and stuff. You'd almost believe you were a couple of inventors' daughter or something.
Brother's Keeper: Shut it, Danny, besides the same could be said of you. You have a really good 'clueless moron' act going on a lot of the time. At least I hope you're acting, I'd be really disappointed if all the smart things you've said the last couple years were just flukes.
GhostBoy96: Gee...thanks for the vote of confidence.
Brother's Keeper: You were asking for it. Anyways, I think I might be able to convince Mom and Dad to ship you some basic materials they use for their inventions, you'll probably have to get the non-ghost related materials you need yourself though. International shipping is expensive, it'll take a couple weeks too, so until then you're probably on your own, little brother.
The half-ghost grinned, nodding his head to himself excitedly. Even with all of the stuff that was going on, being able to sit down and reinvent some of the better Fenton weapons would be nice. Though with inventions and combat on his mind he made another, less niche, but still important revelation.
GhostBoy96: On the topic of shipping stuff, doing you think you might be able to convince them to send some basic medical supplies too? I don't know everything that's going to happen over here, but it would be nice to have emergency supplies here, just in case.
Brother's Keeper: Yeah, I can probably get them to do that, though it'd probably have to be a different shipment, don't want them getting contaminated by the ectoplasm, if the container breaks.
GhostBoy96: Awesome...thanks, Jazz, I really appreciate it.
Brother's Keeper: No problem, little brother. I'll talk to them about it. But I need to get going if I'm going to meet my trainer on time, and you need to get to bed if you're going to be busy tomorrow.
GhostBoy96: Alright...I'll talk to you later, Jazz.
With that Danny exited out of Skype and glanced at the time before he shut the laptop down and closed the shell, setting it back on the table and heading to the futon. 'One-thirty...not too bad, I guess, but I do need to get to sleep if I'm going to be there tomorrow morning. Here's to hoping it's a good day.' He thought, somewhat skeptically, as he curled up under the blankets and let sleep take hold over him.
Danny stifled a yawn as he shuffled down the stairs, though he perked up as he heard the TV relaying the news. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs he glanced curiously into the living room and was somewhat surprised to see his cousin sitting wide-awake at the short table in front of the television. The half-ghost shook his head as he plodded into the kitchen and fixed himself some toast before making his way to the table, looking at Nanako with a small amount of concern. "Hey, Nanako. How're you doing?"
The girl jumped slightly at her name before turning to face him, apparently not having heard him moving around the kitchen earlier, "Oh, good morning. I'm okay I guess." She replied simply with a shrug, before eyeing the toast in his hands with surprise, "You're really quiet when you want to be huh?"
He blinked awkwardly for a moment, glancing at the toast he was holding before shrugging, "I...guess." He muttered in reply, before shaking his head and continuing, "Say, where's your Dad? I didn't expect you to be up so early."
"He woke up early today, so I woke up with him. He said he's gonna be late."
Danny nodded in understanding before silently offering her a piece of toast, which she declined with an equally silent shake of her head, to which he shrugged and began munching on one of the pieces absently while his thoughts drifted off slightly. 'I...really have to get going. I promised Yosuke I'd meet him at Junes this morning, and with what we saw last night we don't really have any time to lose. But if I leave now then she'll be stuck watching the house all alone. Man, I hate to leave her here like that but...well, it seems like it's pretty normal to her.'
"Are you going somewhere? I'll be fine by myself." The half-ghost's eyes refocused, snapping back to his cousin as he realized he'd been standing there silently for a while. Before he managed to find words to reply to her, the weather forecaster announced that it was expected to be a great day outside and she started to push herself up off the floor. "Oh, the sun's gonna come out. I should do some laundry." She stated plainly, before glancing at him curiously, "Uh...weren't you gonna go somewhere?"
"I...uh...yeah." He muttered quietly, starting to leave before quickly stopping by the kitchen counter and grabbing a pen and a pad of paper. "Hey, Nanako, come over here for a second, will you?"
The girl complied, confusion written on her face as he jotted something down on the paper, "This is my phone number. If something happens, or any...strange people show up, especially an old guy with gray hair in a ponytail, call me immediately, okay?" He said seriously, gently looking her in the eye as he handed her the paper.
Nanako glanced at the note for a few seconds before nodding slowly, "Okay..."
Danny forced a small smile onto his face before heading towards the door, stopping to put his 'good' shoes on before stepping outside. 'I...I really hate to do that. I always hated being left alone by Mom and Dad when I was her age...but this is important. I probably won't be able to get her call if I'm already in the TV world, but at least I can have the message when I get out. Hopefully nothing will happen, but it never hurts to be prepared for the worst.' He thought darkly, images of ghosts that had managed to somehow escape under his parents' noses showing up in Inaba flashing through his mind as he ducked into an alley and transformed. Thankfully the menacing scenarios were easily flushed from his thoughts as he took off and let himself enjoy his freedom from gravity's laws.
The half-ghost was somewhat disappointed when he found himself flying over the shopping center, letting out a small sigh as he touched down in an alley across the street and released his ghost half before making his way to the food court to wait for his new friend. He had only been there long enough to find a table to sit down at when Yosuke hurried in, excitement clear on his face as he stopped in front of him with a large bag in his hand. "Hey! Sorry for the hold-up. Guess what? I found something we can use in the closet at home. Take a look at these!"
Yosuke dropped the bag on the ground and opened it, pulling out both a katana and what seemed to be a shorter version of the sword. He held them both in front of him proudly, apparently unaware of the unwanted attention he was drawing to himself. "We've got our Personas, or I do anyways, and you've got your powers, but a golf club's not all that great of a weapon. So, which one strikes your fancy?"
Danny stared up at the brunette critically for several seconds before shaking his head disbelievingly, "Neither. Yosuke, I don't need a weapon, or have you forgotten how things went the other day? Anyways, you need to put those things away!"
"What? I...well, I guess you're right, you're pretty much a weapon yourself...even if you do dress weird." The brunette replied, smirking as the half-ghost glanced down at his clothes somewhat self-consciously before shrugging, "As for me...wait, maybe both would be good, too." He said, jumping into the air and striking a pose with the katana raised over his head and the knife in front of him, "K-kinda like this?"
"Dude, seriously, you need to quit this, you're gonna get us in trouble." Danny sighed tiredly, finally standing up to take the blades from him since he continued waving them around wildly.
Before he could calm him down however, he was interrupted by the sound of somebody keying a radio. "Two suspicious young males found, one armed with multiple weapons. Requesting immediate backup." Both boys' heads snapped towards the voice, only to see a police officer making his way towards them nervously.
Yosuke stared at the officer in surprise, "Huh? Oh crap! I mean, no...no no no no no! This isn't what it looks like. We didn't steal it...uh, I guess that's not what matters...a-anyways, we're not doing anything bad! We're just two ordinary kids who like weapons and...ugh, that didn't sound right either." He shouted, laughing nervously as he trailed off.
"Put the weapons down now! We'll listen to your story at the station." The officer replied, holding his hand up and pointing towards Danny as well, "Hands up where I can see them too! I said now!"
The brunette shook his head violently, holding his hands in front of them and waving them, without bothering to drop the weapons, prompting the officer to grab his tazer off his belt and point it at him, "Are you resisting an officer of the law!? Y-you're under arrest!" he cried, obviously terrified of the teenager.
Danny groaned, palming his face in frustration as Yosuke finally dropped the weapons, allowing the officer to handcuff him while two more showed up as backup and cuffed Danny as well, leading them to the first officer's car and shoving them into the back seat. Silence reigned for several moments as the half-ghost stared at Yosuke before finally shaking his head. "Just so you know...you're an idiot, Yosuke." He muttered quietly before leaning his head against the back of the seat and staring up at the roof of the car.
Three hours later the two boys stood quietly in Dojima's office, they had been lucky enough that the detective had caught them coming in and said he'd take care of them since it was his nephew, before he led them to his office and began ripping into them. The half-ghost's uncle fixed him with a disappointed stare as he began winding down his lecture, leading them to the door of his office. "You didn't seem the type to pull a stupid stunt like this." He growled, stepping through the door.
Danny winced at the accusation and took a deep breath, swallowing his pride as he looked back up at his uncle, the six-foot man towering over the relatively short teenager. "I...I'm sorry, Uncle Dojima. It shouldn't have happened in the first place...but I can promise it won't happen again." He replied seriously, shooting a meaningful glare at Yosuke, who'd had his weapons confiscated. 'We're lucky that's all that happened. If it wasn't for me being related to a detective, who knows how this would've turned out? Especially for me...'.
Dojima sighed deeply, shaking his head and looked away quietly for a moment, as another detective and a patrol man passed them in the hall. "Wait, so the one that disappeared is the Amagi girl?"
"Seems like it...but she's just a highschooler, you know how they are. Might be that she just decided to run away from home..."
The half-ghost perked up slightly at that, his head swiveling towards the two officers, as Yosuke's eyes widened in surprise at the news. "Hey...did he say Amagi?" He whispered disbelievingly, "Then...she really is..."
His uncle glanced back at them distractedly, "Hmm? Who's that now?"
The brunette stumbled over himself slightly for a moment before shaking his head, "Oh, uh, nothing..."
"I'm sure you've seen on the news that there's an investigation in progress…we're sensitive about certain things." The detective explained pausing for a moment as he stared at them meaningfully before sighing again and shaking his head, "You're free to go. But this better not happen again."
Both of the boys nodded quickly before hurrying down the hall as soon as Dojima waved them away. Despite what had happened, and Danny's frustration at his friend, his mind was focused entirely on what he'd heard from the officers before, to the point that he almost didn't see the detective that had thrown up at the first crime scene until he was about to run into him. The half-ghost's eyes widened as finally saw him, throwing himself backwards in surprise, thankfully avoiding falling down in the process.
"Woah...pardon me." The dark-haired detective apologized, staring at him in amazement before a small flash of recognition lit his eyes, "Hey, aren't you the kid staying at Dojima-san's place?"
Danny's eyes narrowed slightly at his tone, though he nodded reluctantly, "Yeah, he's my uncle."
The young detective nodded, "Yeah, I think I remember him saying something like that. You're from America, right?"
He nodded again, though before he could reply any other way Yosuke butted himself into the conversation. "Oh! Uh, can we ask you something? It's about Yukiko-san...I mean, Yukiko Amagi of the Amagi Inn...did something happen to her?" He asked, trailing off as he realized the two of them were staring at him.
The detective looked somewhat uncomfortable for a moment, muttering to himself before sighing and starting hesitantly. "Well, if you're friends with Ms. Amagi…keep this between us, okay? We got a call from Ms. Amagi's parents yesterday evening saying they couldn't find her anywhere. Since it was the weekend, the workers at the inn were extremely busy, and no one saw Ms. Amagi around that time. Oh, but that doesn't necessarily mean this is a case just yet!" He exclaimed, before continuing quietly, seemingly unsure again, "But, people've been turning up dead on foggy days…so we're really sensitive to stuff like this. By the way, did she say anything to you guys about maybe going through some hard times?"
"Uh...? Hard times?"
"Well, that announcer, Ms. Yamano, was staying at the Amagi Inn before the first murder. Seems Ms. Yamano had some harsh words for the manager about the staff's attitude towards guests. The stress of it caused the manager to collapse. And with Ms. Amagi being the manager's daughter…she must've felt pretty strongly about the incident, y'know. By the way, did Ms. Amagi ever hint that she might be leaving the house? 'Cause if not, there's been some theories floating around that she's laying low for some reason or another…" He trailed off quietly, before remembering who he was talking to, "Crap, I think I've gone too far. You didn't hear that, okay?" He asked pleadingly, though before either of them could answer Dojima's voice rang out in the hallway.
"Adachi, what the hell are you chatting with civvies for!? And where's my coffee!?"
"S-sorry! I got it right here!" The younger detective replied quickly before glancing back to the teenagers. "Psst! forget I said anything! Please!" He finished, before rushing towards Dojima, leaving them alone to make their way back to the lobby.
As the pair of them reached the reception desk Yosuke slowed to a stop and shook his head, turning towards Danny, "Hey...do you think that detective thinks Yukiko..." He started, though before he could finish his sentence he was interrupted by a familiar shout.
"There you are!" Both the boys jumped, turning to face Chie as she stalked towards them from the entrance, "Sheesh, what're you guys doing here?! I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"Uh, well, there was a slight misunderstanding...we'll tell you about it later." Yosuke muttered, flinching as Danny's previous glare returned in full force, "Anyways, something's up with Yukiko-san!"
Chie's glare faltered as she looked at them in shock, "Huh? You know already?! I kept trying to call her cell, but she didn't pick up. So I went to her house, and it turns out she really did disappear!"
The half-ghost nodded solemnly, "That's what I was afraid of when I saw it last night...it looks like we're going back in after all." He muttered with a sigh, much to his friend's agreement.
"But that aside, the cops are saying some weird stuff. They think Yukiko-san's hiding to 'lay low'…apparently, Yukiko-san's mom collapsed because that announcer's lady bitched her out. They think that gives her a motive, and the fact that the announcer died right after makes her even more suspicious…" The brunette explained, though from the look of outrage on Chie's face it seemed it may have been a mistake.
"What!? They think Yukiko did it!? What the hell's wrong with them!?"
"Dude, don't snap at me! Yukiko's the victim here, not the suspect!" Yosuke retorted, glaring back at her.
Danny pushed himself between the two of them, shoving them away from each other with a glare, "Both of you calm down! If you're going to fight then I'm just going to leave you here and go after Yukiko alone. There's no telling what she's dealing with right now, and she needs to be saved, not to have you two snarling at each other's throats and wasting whatever time we've got!"
The two classmates stared at him in shock for a few seconds before backing down, both of them looking somewhat guiltily at the floor. Chie was the first to recover as she looked back up at him with determination set on her face. "R-right! The important thing right now is saving Yukiko!"
Yosuke nodded in agreement, though his voice was somewhat subdued, "With the police totally on the wrong track, it looks like we're gonna have to handle it ourselves."
The half-ghost nodded as well, even as he started to lead them out of the station, though he didn't quite have a clear destination in mind yet. "Yeah, it looks that way. But we knew we'd have to deal with the other world ourselves anyways, so nothing's changed there."
"I'm going too!" Chie stated suddenly, causing both the boys to turn to her in surprise, though it seemed she took that for disagreement, as she continued, "And that's final! I'm going to save Yukiko, no matter what!"
"Are you gonna be alright?" Yosuke asked, eyeing her doubtfully before his shoulders sagged as he seemed to remember something, "But man...they just confiscated our weapons. We can't go in empty handed..."
Danny bit back a retort, reasoning that after berating them for fighting with each other, it'd be counterproductive to insult him anyways. Instead he was about to try and devise a solution when Chie offered one without second thought. "Weapons...? I know just the place! C'mon, follow me!" She said excitedly, taking the lead towards the shopping district.
Half an hour later, Danny found himself trudging of the metal-works shop he'd noticed on his first day in Inaba, a small duffle slung over his shoulder. Both Yosuke and Chie had quickly taken off after deciding that they should wear their school uniforms to conceal their weapons, rather than just carrying them in a duffle like he was doing. Though to be fair it wasn't that bad of an idea, and if he'd needed to conceal any weapons of his own, he might have joined them in wearing his uniform. 'Whatever, it doesn't matter now. I've got Yosuke's knives now, he and Chie are getting dressed. All I've got to do now is get to the food cour-'
A bright flash blinded him and, tore him violently from his thoughts and, once he'd managed to blink the stars away from his eyes, he was surprised to see a beautiful blue door with gold accents adorning it. He stared at it for a few moments before blinking and looking around himself, realizing that nobody else was even giving the door a second glance, in fact one guy walked right in front of it without even looking at it. The half-ghost jumped slightly as he heard Igor's voice echo softly in his head. "So...it finally begins. Please, if you would give me a moment of your time...step through the door, Mr. Phantom."
Danny eyed the door hesitantly for a moment before taking a deep breath and bracing himself as he stepped forward and pushed the door open. There was a brief moment where nothing happened, before his senses were filled with a bright flash, and when the light faded he found himself once again in his ghost form, sitting comfortably in the Velvet Room.
"We have been expecting you."
The half-ghost blinked the stars away from his eyes again as he took in his surroundings once again, finding that the room was almost entirely unchanged...except for one addition. He raised an eyebrow at a somewhat familiar looking girl in a plaid skirt with a blue hat and bag sitting somewhat uncomfortably beside Igor. He started to open his mouth to ask who she was, but the old man beat him to the punch.
"The catastrophe that is headed your way...it has already taken human lives in its approach towards you...I wish I could say you have nothing to fear, however we both know that to be untrue. While you do have the power to fight it, you do not have your Persona. It seems, however, that we are out of time...though perhaps this will be a chance for you to shine all the brighter. Only time will tell..." He said seriously, though as he trailed off a slight smile of anticipation had spread across his face.
Margaret nodded at her master's words, "As you are no doubt aware, you are about to enter a very dangerous situation. Lacking the powers of your Persona, you must find another way to effectively battle a large amount of enemies. You have already allied yourself with one Persona user, but you must remember that given your situation you must be on the lookout for chances to build your team's strength, after all you have many enemies amassed against you." She explained in a short, clipped tone.
Igor let out an airy chuckle at his assistant's explanation, "Indeed...my contribution will be to work towards assisting you in your struggle to grasp your Persona, while Margaret will act as a sort of consultant for you. If you require any assistance with the investigation that is beyond the abilities of your associates, you may come to her for your request."
The blonde lady looked him up and down silently for a moment, though Danny was unable to tell exactly what it was she was thinking, before finally breaking her silence as she nodded, "While I am not well versed in investigation, I will be here to assist you should you need help gaining an insight into the minds of your social links."
The half-ghost eyed her carefully, believing that he understood what she meant by that, but still uncomfortable with the casual way she spoke of evaluating and manipulating those around him. He debated raising his concerns before deciding to keep quiet for now as she paused, glancing towards the girl sitting on the other side of Igor, drawing Danny's attention to her once again. "Oh, and one more thing...I would like to introduce a new resident of the Velvet Room, who may be able to help you on your journey."
The raven-haired girl looked up, staring at him uncomfortably for a moment before returning her gaze to the floor, letting out a small huff of annoyance.
Margaret raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow towards her, "Marie?"
A frustrated sigh rang out in the room as the girl raised her head up again, "Yeah, I can hear. Nice to meet you." She muttered insincerely, as she pulled her arms across her chest tightly.
Danny narrowed his eyes slightly as he stared at her. "I've met you somewhere before..." He muttered carefully, not at all liking the slight sense of unease prodding at his mind now that he was paying more attention to her.
Marie's eyes widened slightly in surprise, "Huh? Oh...maybe. That'd explain why you're so familiar." She replied quietly, letting out a soft hum as she drifted back into her thoughts.
Margaret let out a soft sigh of exasperation, "Excuse her. This is Marie. Her soul is still very young and-"
Marie's head snapped back up, glaring reproachfully at the professional woman. "Shut up! Don't tell him any more about me than you need to."
Danny raised an eyebrow at her behavior while Igor just laughed lightly and Margaret shook her head, slowly picking her sentence back up. "-As...you can see. She may be brusque at times, but please understand that she's just an apprentice and forgive her for her impoliteness."
The half-ghost blinked silently at her explanation before letting out a small chuckle, shaking his head at the woman's unending professionalism. "It's fine...besides it's not like I'm much better. I'm pretty sure that if I'd been fully conscious when I first met you two, the meeting would have gone a lot differently."
Margaret raised an eyebrow of her own, while Igor chuckled quietly once again, before nodding in acceptance, "Very well...at any rate, Marie will deal with helping you to train your Personas, if you successfully aquire any. Also, I'm sure that Marie will help you to form a 'bond' between yourself and the outside world. She will contact you at a later date. If you for some reason need to use her services, please feel free to speak with her here."
Danny gazed at her in confusion for a moment, debating again as to whether or not he should question her, before shaking his head once more, as Igor brought the attention back to himself. "Do you recall my words to you before?" He asked patiently, seeming unsurprised when the half-ghost merely stared at him in annoyance. " 'The coming year will be a turning point in your destiny...if the mystery goes unsolved, your future may be forever lost.' I meant precisely what I said, Mr. Phantom. You know very well that defeat in battle is not the only way your journey may come to an end." The old man said solemnly, ignoring the concerned looks casted towards them by Margaret and Marie in favor of directing his stare at Danny's rapidly paling face. "I trust you'll remember that."
The half-ghost nodded quickly, suddenly finding it difficult to swallow as his possible fate was acknowledged by the old man in front of him, however Igor quickly flipped back to his previously cheery state. "When next we meet, you will come here of your own will. Hehe...I look forward to it. Until then...farewell." He stated calmly, offering one last smile, before Danny was once again engulfed in darkness, whisked away back to Inaba.
Danny stood, staring at the castle in front of himself and the rest of his group apprehensively. He glanced at Yosuke and Chie, both in their school uniforms and glasses, Teddie having produced a pair for Chie when they came in, before looking down at himself in his ghost form complete with goggles. He let out a quiet snort as he realized just how ridiculous they must look, particularly since they were accompanied by the blue-furred bear in clown clothes. 'Focus, Phantom, you have a job to do right now, remember? You can think about how stupid you are for getting yourself in this situation later.'
The half-ghost nodded to himself at the thought and turned his gaze on Teddie, who smiled back at him upon realizing he was looking at him, "You're sure she's in there, Teddie?"
The bear nodded assuredly, "I'm pretty sure, Sensei." He said happily, before turning back to Yosuke and Chie curiously, "So, um, what's this 'scoring with a hot stud' thing?" He asked innocently.
Both of the teens easily ignored him, lost in their own thoughts before Chie took off. "Yukiko's in there...I'm going on ahead!" She shouted back at them over her shoulder.
Both boys' eyes widened as Danny moved to chase after her, "Hey, wait up! You don't know what's in there!" He shouted towards her back as Yosuke and Teddie quickly moved to follow him. Unfortunately by the time they made it to the entrance she was already out of sight, down one of the long hallways that intersected the entrance. "Damn it...there's no telling which way she went..." He growled frustratedly.
Yosuke groaned in frustration as well, "See? This is exactly why I was against her coming! She never thinks things through, and-" The brunette said, panic tinging his voice, however before he could ramble any further both boys' attention was drawn to Teddie as he let out a strangled cry of alarm, followed by Danny shuddering as he felt his ghost sense trigger, his face paling further than normal as he realized just how many shadows there were here.
"There are lots of shadows in here! It'll be dangerous for a girl to be here by herself!" The bear cried in alarm, as Danny spun on his heel to face the mascot.
"Can you tell where she is? We have to find her fast!"
Teddie shook his head negatively, "No...but she hasn't gone very far yet! If you hurry we can probably catch up to her pretty fast."
Yosuke nodded quickly, "Alright, let's go!" He said desperately, starting to move until the bear opened his mouth again.
"Um, wait a second! The shadows have gotten really aggravated since you two got here. I don't think they're really sticking together but there's a lot of them, so be careful, Sensei!"
The half-ghost spared the bear a quick glance, despite being able to tell for himself when they were close to the shadows, "We will, Teddie, now come on, let's get going before something bad happens." He ordered, leading the group through the hall at what seemed like a mind-gratingly slow pace compared to his flight. The group had barely been moving five minutes when they encountered their first group of three shadows, all of which were identical to the flying orbs from Phantom's first encounter with the creatures.
One of the orbs barely had enough time to screech out a warning to the other two as it saw the group before one of Phantom's ecto-bolts tore through it, sending its quickly deteriorating body crashing to the floor as Yosuke nervously fumbled with his knives while one of the orbs launched itself at him. Mere seconds before the monster was about to slam into the brunette his eyes seemed to light up in realization as he let out a loud battle cry and Jiraiya materialized in front of him, shielding him from the impact. The shadow rebounded off Yosuke's Persona and fell to the floor only for Jiraiya to deliver a powerful kick, sending the orb bouncing off the wall to land in front of Yosuke who, after just a moment's hesitation, lunged at the monster and stabbed it brutally with both his blades while the Persona faded out of view. The shadow-orb let out an ear-piercing screech as it disintegrated. Both the half-ghost and the final shadow had watched the encounter in shock up until the monster faded away, at which point Phantom turned a menacing glare towards the final orb which had been hovering in the air indecisively. The shadow turned its' gaze upon him once more, noting the ecto-bolt glowing in the teen's hand before before quickly turning tail and fleeing the scene, presumably ignoring the mocking cries of Teddie as it did so.
As soon as the shadow was out of sight, Danny turned an impressed gaze on Yosuke, though before he could say anything Teddie rushed onto the scene, "Wow! That was amazing! Sensei and Yosuke make a really good team!" The bear blurted out, staring at the two of them in amazement.
The brunette blinked at the praise before smiling, "I...thanks, I guess we do, don't we?" He said, looking to Danny questioningly.
The half-ghost nodded, "Yeah, we do. But we don't have time to talk now, remember? Chie could be in trouble, and there's no telling how many of those there are between us and her." He replied seriously, though his small smile indicated his wholehearted agreement with Teddie's statement, even as he hurriedly pushed open a door and led them up the staircase to the next floor.
Unfortunately, Danny's words proved to be prophetic, as they were forced to punch their way through several more groups of shadows on their search for Chie who, Teddie assured them, they were getting ever closer to. "How the hell is she so far ahead of us? Aren't the shadows attacking her too?!" Yosuke shouted to Teddie in frustration as they pushed their way through one last group of shadows before coming to a grinding halt in front of a pair of large doors.
The bear shook his head negatively, "No, they don't have any reason to attack her! She can't do anything to them, not like you two can!" He answered in a matter of fact tone, before his eyes widened in excitement, "Guys, she's just through this door! But we have to hurry! I think there's a big group of Shadows getting ready to swoop in on us!"
Phantom glanced at Teddie and nodded in understanding before taking the lead once more, pushing the heavy doors blocking their way open violently and hurrying into the room as soon as his eyes locked on to Chie, who was currently facing away from them, staring up at the ceiling. "Chie! Are you alright?!"
Chie barely flinched at the shout, continuing to stare up into the distance in confusion, prompting the half-ghost to raise an eyebrow, while Yosuke took a couple steps towards her, concern winning out over frustration at her running ahead of them. "Chie...?"
The girl finally looked away from the ceiling, glancing at Yosuke for a moment, before a familiar voice echoed around the cavernous room. "She said that red looks good on me..."
Both boys' eyes widened as Danny spun around, searching for the source of the voice, while Yosuke simply called out to her. "Yukiko-san?!" However both of their efforts proved to be in vain, and just as the half-ghost realized that he felt his heart sink in his chest, realizing that they would be treated to yet another insight into Yukiko's mind.
"I hated my name, Yukiko…'Snow'…snow is cold and it melts quickly, it's transient…worthless. But it's perfect for me…apart from inheriting the inn, I'm worthless. Still…Chie told me that red looks good on me."
Yosuke shook his head, his mind clearly not wanting to accept what he was hearing, "What...are these Yukiko's inner thoughts? I...remember hearing something like this at Saki-senpai's too..." He muttered, trailing off sadly.
Teddie nodded hesitantly, "Yeah. This castle is probably here because of this Yukiko person."
Phantom slowly turned back to his female classmate, unsurprised to see the pained sorrow etched across her face as Yukiko's voice picked back up, uncaring of anyone who may be there to hear it. "Chie was the only one who gave my life meaning." The voice admitted, the fond, almost reverent, way she spoke Chie's name continuing unabated, "She's bright and strong, and she can do anything…she has everything that I don't. Compared to Chie, I'm…I'm…Chie protects me. She looks after my worthless life, and I…I don't deserve any of it…Chie is so kind…"
Chie shook her head pitifully, clearly unwilling to believe what she was hearing. "Yukiko, I-"
The half-ghost gazed at her sadly, not wanting to interrupt her, however it seemed it was not meant to be, as before she could even finish her sentence he let out a gasp, a wisp of fog emerging from him as he felt his ghost-sense shiver through him violently, forcing him to cough from the exceedingly cold wave going through him as a mocking voice echoed out from across the hall. " 'Chie is so kind' huh? What a joke?"
The entire group's heads whipped to the voice, despite Danny having already figured out what it was before it even began speaking. Chie, however, was terrified to see an almost mirror image of herself smirking back at her. "Wh-what?!"
Yosuke stared disbelievingly at her doppelganger, shaking his head in his own denial, "Oh man...is that!?"
Both Teddie and Danny nodded at his unfinished question, "Yeah...it's exactly what you think it is, Yosuke." The half-ghost responded warily, not taking his eyes off the shadow for a moment.
Both Yosuke and Teddie stared at him in confusion, "W-what? How can you tell?"
"She triggered my ghost sense...all of the shadows do, but these bigger ones feel different. Look, it doesn't matter right now." He explained quickly, before shaking his head as the Shadow grinned widely at the real Chie's reaction.
"Are we talking about THAT Yukiko!? She says I'm protecting her!? She says she's worthless!" The doppelganger let out a loud chuckle, "That's how it should be, right?"
"Wh-what are you saying?" Chie asked, her voice trembling as she stumbled backwards a few steps.
"Yukiko's sooo good looking, sooo fair-skinned, so feminine…she's the one all the guys drool over. When Yukiko looked at me with such jealousy…man, did I get a charge out of that." The shadow said, grinning triumphantly before shrugging and continuing with a darker grin. "Yukiko knows the score. She can't do anything if I'm not around…I'm better than her…much, much better!"
The highschooler gaped at her shadow, her mouth hanging wide open for several seconds as she shook her head speechlessly before finally finding her voice to deny her mirror's words. "NO! I've never thought that!"
Yosuke winced as he watched the scene unfolding in front of him in horror before swiveling his head towards Danny. "Wh-what're we gonna do?!" He asked desperately.
The half-ghost stared at his friend incredulously for a moment before shaking his head in disbelief, "We're going to do our job and protect her! What the hell did you think we were gonna do, leave her here and go order a pizza?!"
Teddie quickly nodded at Danny's assertion, "Sensei's right! We need to protect Chie-chan right now!" The bear shouted, taking a step towards the girl, only to fall over backwards in fright as she whirled around, falling down backwards as she lost her balance and shook her head deliriously.
"N-no, don't come near me! Don't look at me!" She cried ashamedly, even as Yosuke and Danny took a few slow steps towards her.
"Chie, calm down, please! You're only going to make things worse if you keep doing this." Phantom said in what was meant to be a gentle voice, however its effect was changed drastically seeing as how he was forced to yell over the girl's own shouts to make himself heard.
"No! No no no no no! This isn't me!" Chie shouted back at him, scrambling away from the half-ghost as he tried to grab her off the floor.
Yosuke's eyes widened in alarm, shaking his head violently as she continued crying, "W-wait, stupid! We told you about this! Don't say anything else like that!"
The shadow's echoing laughter rang out over everybody else's voices, grinning maniacally as it began developing a shadowy aura, "That's right. I'm the one who can't do anything alone. I can't win as a girl, let alone as a person…I'm pathetic!" It cried mockingly, before laughing hysterically again, "But Yukiko...she's my friend. She depends on me, and that's why I'll never loosen my grip on her! She's too important for me to let her go!"
"No...no, no that's not how I think of her!"
"So...you're just gonna turn your back on me again?" The shadow asked with a mocking pout, "Hmm, but things are different now. When the time comes, I'll be the one left standing. Oh, you won't mind, will you? I mean, I'm still you!"
Chie shook her head vigorously in denial, Phantom's eyes widening behind his goggles as he realized seconds too late that she was going to take the obvious bait. "Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up! You're-"
"NO! Chie, stop!"
"YOU'RE NOT ME!"
There was a moment of dead silence as Chie's shout reverberated throughout the hall, before the shadow's hysterical laughs started up again, quickly turning maniacal as the mutterings of other, lesser, shadows joined. The boys watched in horror as the doppelganger morphed and twisted out of shape, quickly growing until finally a giant dominatrix-like woman sat before them, held up by several struggling bodies, even as Chie let out a scream of terror and skittered backwards away from the shadow before fainting off to the side of the room.
Phantom grabbed Yosuke's shoulder, stopping him from rushing to the girl's aid as he motioned towards the monstrous woman before them. "The only way we're going to be able save her is if we take this thing out, Yosuke! We can't help her if we get ourselves killed in the process!"
The brunette continued staring at his fallen friend before looking back towards his new one, conflict clear in his eyes. Despite that he nodded and turned to face the shadow with him. "Okay..."
"I am a shadow...the TRUE self! What do you guys think you're doing!? Trying to defend the 'real' me?!" The dominatrix asked incredulously, before letting out a harsh laugh, snapping her whip against the figures struggling to hold her up. "Fine then! You'll suffer the consequences!"
"Chie...hold on just a bit longer..." The brunette whispered before summoning his Jiraiya to him and sending it charging towards the Shadow, "As for you! You just need to shut up, and stop being such a pain!"
The dominatrix let out a harsh laugh and cracked her whip at the Persona casually, tearing a surprised and pained cry from Yosuke's throat as it lashed across Jiraiya's chest. "How lame! You're all so deadly serious and we've only gotten started!" She mocked, leering down at Yosuke. Danny's eyes snapped to his friend in concern before forcing his attention back to the fight, launching himself towards her and flinging several ecto-bolts in her direction.
The shadow easily dodged most of them, though she let out a pained cry when one of burned into her leg, leaving her open as the half-ghost slammed into her chest with a kick, toppling the dominatrix off her pedestal of bodies. Before he could deliver another followup, however, the shadow scrambled back to her feet and furiously flung an arc of lightning at him, sending him flying backwards with a pained scream. "AGH! Y-Yosuke, hit her with your wind spell!" He shouted painfully as he slammed into the floor, the impact knocking the breath out of him before he could issue any other orders.
Yosuke stared horrified at his friend flying through the air before nodding at his order, quickly summoning Jiraiya and following Danny's advice, hurling several disc-like blades of wind at the monster. Still reeling from the burn on her leg, and gasping from Phantom's kick to her chest, the shadow barely managed to dodge any of them. The dominatrix let out a mixed screech of fury and pain as the spells sliced into her, right before Jiraiya delivered a powerful kick to her jaw while Yosuke slashed at her twice with his blades before being thrown back by the monster once again.
Danny had finally managed to push himself back up as Yosuke skid to a stop beside him. The half-ghost took a moment to help up his friend before looking back to Chie's shadow, pleased to see it lying the ground, struggling to push itself up as it flickered violently. "Alright, this is it, Yosuke! Call up your Persona and let's end this thing!" He ordered, before launching himself into the air once again, slamming back down on top of the dominatrix, accompanied by Jiraiya. There was almost a solid minute of nothing but the half-ghost, Persona, and Yosuke giving the shadow a solid beating, it finally ended as the shadow faded into mist following a curb-stomp from Jiraiya.
Phantom and Yosuke stumbled away from the slowly reforming shadow, the half-ghost shaking his heavily bruised and bloodied knuckles before snapping his head back towards Chie as she let out a pained groan. Before he could even start to move towards her, Yosuke was already at her side, helping her back up to her feet, "Chie, are you okay?!"
The girl groaned again, holding her head in her hands, "W-what happened?" She asked quietly as her gaze locked onto her Shadow's stare. "What's the matter? Got nothing to say no more?"
Yosuke shook his head gently, "Stop it, Chie. It's all right."
Chie flinched at his voice, suddenly looking a lot smaller as she turned to look at Yosuke and Danny. "B-but."
Danny gave her a small, tired, smile as he stepped forward, resting a hand on her shoulder gently. "Look, Chie, I know this has to suck. Nobody wants to have their mask ripped off and have everything they hide from everybody else, maybe even themselves, shown off to the world. But that's just it, everybody has a mask, Chie..."
"Everyone?" She asked quietly.
"He's right..." Yosuke replied, glancing at the floor guiltily before shrugging, "I went through the same thing, so I can understand how it feels. But, I mean, everyone has a side like this."
Chie fidgeted uncomfortably before finally nodding in understanding, slowly turning to face her shadow. "Yeah…I kinda get it now. You are me, a side of me I couldn't forgive…that I tried to ignore. But you still exist., you're a part of me…" She admitted, trailing off as her shadow smiled and nodded.
The group squinted as a bright flash lit the room, and as it faded a tall ninja stood where Chie's shadow once had, clad in a yellow jumpsuit and wielding a double-bladed sword. "I am thou...and thou art I. The strength of heart required to face one's true self has been made manifest. I am the facade used to overcome life's hardships, the Persona Tomoe."
Chie stared up at her Persona in awe until it faded away and she slowly turned back to face the boys again, looking tired. "I…um, well it's true that part of me feels that way…" She muttered guiltily before quickly snapping her head back up, "But I wasn't lying about being friends with Yukiko!"
Yosuke surprised everyone as he let out a short laugh, shaking his head, "Like we don't know that already." He teased with a grin, though it quickly disappeared as Chie's knees buckled, barely being caught by Danny before hitting the ground. "H-hey! Chie!?"
"I-I'm okay...I'm just a little tired." She muttered unconvincingly as she struggled to push herself back up.
Phantom shook his head, "You don't look okay at all."
Yosuke was quick to agree with him, nodding as he helped her back to her feet. "Yeah, what he said. But I bet...I think you can use the same power I have now."
Danny glanced at the brunette curiously before nodding in agreement while Chie just stared at him in confusion, "Huh?"
"We'll explain it later, Chie. But right now I think it's time to get out of here for the day. We're not going to be able to fight much of anything, never mind another powerful shadow if we're worrying about you, and we can't just leave you here. I don't think you'd be able to resist a kitten right now, never mind a shadow."
"I think that's a good idea...we need to let Chie rest." Yosuke agreed quickly, though it seemed Chie had a different opinion.
"I-I never said I needed a break! I...can still keep going..."
"Don't over do it, Chie-chan!" Teddie chimed in.
Yosuke offered her a small smile as he helped hold her up, walking her towards the exit, much to her annoyance. "It's not that we don't think you can. It's just, we have to save Yukiko-san, no matter what. Now that you have the power, you can fight with us. It'd be much better for us all if you had your strength back. That's why we're saying we should go back and regroup."
Chie shook her head again, though it was obvious she was finding it more and more difficult to argue, "But Yukiko's still in here, isn't she!? I-I… If those were Yukiko's true feelings… then I have to tell her something. I'm not as strong as she thinks! It's because she was with me! Because we were always together, I was able to act that way. If we weren't, I'd…"
"Well then you need to get your strength back so you can tell her that! Yuki-chan's normal, and shadows don't attack normal people. They only attack when the fog lifts here." Teddie replied informatively.
Danny nodded in understanding, "Good...she'll be safe until then, right?"
"Alright, we're going then. Don't worry, Chie we'll bring you back with us tomorrow. We'll save her for sure tomorrow, alright?"
The girl let out a frustrated groan, looking for all the world like she wanted to argue with the half-ghost before finally giving in and nodding, "Fine...I'll go back with you, but we're coming back here first thing after school tomorrow, right?"
Phantom nodded firmly, "Yeah...we'll meet up in the food court and then we won't leave here until we've got her."
Chie nodded one last time before finally falling silent, speaking only to ask questions which were quickly answered by either Yosuke or Teddie until they got back to the entrance. The group spoke with each other for a few minutes before finally returning to the real world. Yosuke and Chie left for her house, Yosuke determined to help his friend in the same way Danny had assisted him, leaving the half-ghost to return home himself.