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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 3

Title: Reversing Arcana

Rating: T, for violence and language. Spoils everything.

Summary: Persona 4.  Six months after Souji leaves Inaba, he wakes up to his house on fire. The Investigation Team are the only ones who know he survived. But that's only the beginning of their troubles.

Author's Note: Slightly shorter chapter this time.  In other news, I am newly addicted to Tiger & Bunny fandom.  It is a magical place that defies logic and expectation.

Previous Chapter


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Reversing Arcana

Chapter 3

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He slides down the featureless wall, hands held in front of his face for inspection.  Blisters.  The bar he got them from isn’t in great shape either.  Diarahan can’t do much for either.
 
It can, however, take care of the sluggishly bleeding gash on his leg.  He crushes a card in his hand.  “Daisoujou!”
 
The cloaked, skeletal Persona appears before him, and the healing light briefly warms his cold body.  The wound on his leg, along with a number of other shallow scrapes and bruises, slowly fades.  He misses this sort of magic outside the TV world, but it’s enough that he never had to explain any mysterious wounds to his uncle.
 
With a sigh, he dismisses Daisoujou, and lets his head roll back against the wall.  It’s tough without Rise or Teddie warning him of approaching Shadows, or without friends to drag him back to his feet when he gets knocked down.  The pressure in every encounter is enormous – even slipping up once can leave him crawling from the battle, energy spent and body aching.
 
His brow furrows slightly.  It’s a bit odd, though.  The Shadows aren’t as aggressive as they used to be, but that they attack at all...  If the pattern holds, this is his space.  He ought to have some control over it – all of the others in this situation had been ignored by the Shadows, at least until the fog rolled in.
 
Unless, he considers moodily, it isn’t his space.  It’s too… featureless.  Artificial.  Utterly lacking in detail.
 
The thought isn’t one he wants to entertain, nor one he can do anything about, so he discards it.
 
Will he have to spend the rest of his life here, endlessly fighting Shadows?
 
That’s impossible, of course – if he doesn’t find a way out, eventually he’ll slip up and that’ll be the end of him.  But there’s bound to be an exit somewhere.  If nothing else, he’s sure to find Teddie eventually, and Teddie will provide the way out.
 
His head nods onto his chest, eyes drooping.  It will take a while for the Shadows to repopulate this area – he can catch at least a few precious minutes of rest.
 
He wonders what the weather is like outside.
 
 
………………………..
 
 
Yukiko begs off helping at the Inn the next afternoon so she can look for Namatame with the others.  Later, she feels guilty about utilising her supposed grief over her former classmate’s ‘death’ to acquire it.  But if she doesn’t take the time off, that death might very well become real.
 
They’re the only ones who can help Souji.  As far as the rest of the world are concerned, he’s already gone.  No one would have even been looking for him if Yosuke hadn’t happened to catch the Midnight Channel.
 
School seems to last for an eternity.  The class are surprised when as soon as they’re dismissed, she, Chie and Yosuke all bolt for the door.  They meet Kanji and Rise on the stairs.
 
“Naoto?” Kanji asks.
 
“Coming later, apparently,” Rise reports with a sigh.  “I don’t get it.  What could be more important than helping Senpai?”
 
Yukiko privately agrees, but tries to be reasonable about it – after all, she only barely got out of helping at the Amagi Inn herself.  “Maybe there was an emergency.”
 
This is an emergency!”
 
“Hey, what about Teddie?” Chie wonders.
 
“Staying in the TV world to keep an eye on things there,” Yosuke explains.  Probably for the best.  Even with his human form, Teddie has never been any use on real world tasks – he’s much too easily distracted by some iced treat, or sparkly trinket, or pretty lady, and they inevitably wind up reducing their manpower by having someone – usually Kanji – baby-sit him.
 
Everybody is accounted for then.  “So where do we start looking for Namatame?”
 
“He used to be seen around town a lot… in the shopping district, on the Samegawa Riverbank…” Chie recalls, hands on hips.
 
When she thinks about it, Yukiko realises that she used to see him around town too, always looking perfectly miserable.  She doesn’t think she can recall seeing him at all in the past year, though.  Like everyone else, she assumed it was because he was in jail, but now they know otherwise.
 
“So, the usual drill then?  Spread out, ask around, if anybody finds something out, they’ll call the others?” Yosuke suggests.
 
There’s no point in abandoning a working model.  They all agree, and split up to go their separate ways.  Yukiko winds up taking the path along the Samegawa River.
 
It’s maybe a little bit exciting, doing this again.  Ever since Souji left, she’s filled the empty space with her secret plan, to become independent and go to the city and carve out a new destiny in life for herself.  It’s rather time consuming – learning how to cook, looking up everything she’ll need to know, and many hours spent dreaming about it.  She only has six months left until graduation, after all.  But it lacks the immediate thrill.  She’s happy of course that until now no one else has been put in danger, but it’s still an adventure – a premature journey to a place more exciting.  When you’ve never stepped foot outside Inaba, it’s an adrenaline rush like no other.  She’s always been a little jealous of Souji for it – for already living the dream.
 
Of course, saving her friend is first and foremost in her mind.  She remembers what it was like in TV world, feeling lost and confused and so alone, except for the times when her Shadow was there, taunting, and she realised that being alone was better.  The uncertainty of whether she’d ever escape, or if she was to be condemned to an eternity inside the rabbit hole.  And at the time she hadn’t even been aware of what was showing on the TV!
 
The others must be thinking the same.  She owes him.  They all do.
 
Except the riverbank is empty of that distinct, gloomy profile, and everybody she stops to ask has forgotten who Namatame is.  Eventually there’s one old gossip who confides, in a hushed whisper, that she hasn’t seen him for months, but they have the same housekeeper and she thinks he might have turned into a shut-in.
 
The message goes out to regroup outside the shrine in the shopping district.
 
“Did anybody find anything?” Yosuke asks.  He looks tired.
 
“Nada.  Zilch,” Chie reports with a pout.  “It’s like he’s just vanished!”
 
“No luck here either,” Kanji mutters.
 
“Asking around, it doesn’t seem like anybody has seen him,” Rise huffs.
 
“One old lady said that he’s become a shut-in, and doesn’t leave his house anymore,” Yukiko reports.
 
“Really?  Well, serves him right!  I guess we’ll have to go to him, then.”  Yosuke pauses.  “Wait… does anybody know where he lives?”
 
There’s an awkward silence.  “Uuuuuuh,” Kanji mutters.
 
“What did I miss?” A new voice smoothly joins the conversation, accompanied by a distinctive blue cap and an air of quiet confidence.
 
“Naoto-kun!  Finally!  What took you so long?” Chie exclaims.
 
“What were you all doing?”
 
“Looking for Namatame, duh!”
 
“But how could you look if you don’t have his address?” she asks, perhaps a trifle smugly.
 
Chie is crestfallen at the reminder, so Yukiko points out, “He’s not exactly in the phone book.”
 
“Naturally – he delisted when he became a public official.”  Naoto holds up a folded piece of paper between her fingers.  “However, he’s still required to keep the police notified of his whereabouts.  And it just so happens that I still have access to their records…”
 
Yukiko can’t help it – she squeals.  “Oh, Naoto-kun, you’re amazing!”
 
Dark blue eyes widen, and a faint blush dusts the pale cheeks.  “I’m just doing my part to help.  This was what I left to get after school.”
 
“Great work!” Yosuke plucks the paper from her fingers and peers at it.  “Hey, this is near my house!  That’s kinda scary.”
 
Kanji shoves his hands in his pockets and glares at them – though Yukiko knows by now that the glare isn’t intentional.  “What are we waiting for?  Let’s go!  Senpai’s waiting!”
 
They’re definitely going to save him.
 
 
………………..
 
 
Yumi stays late after school. 
 
It’s not technically the ‘drama’ club – closer to being an anime club, or a literature club.  They read books, and watch TV serials, and go to the movies once a week, though she hasn’t been attending long enough to take part in the latter.
 
Yumi joined up the day after his funeral.
 
It isn’t hiding, after all.  And she did like theatre, and opera, and movies.  And her mother doesn’t need her so much anymore.  This is normal.  She’s simply throwing herself into a hobby so she doesn’t become useless and mope and struggle with conflicting feelings.
 
People die.  Tragedies happen.  Real ones, to people undeserving. 
 
“Not with a bang, but with a whimper,” she concludes.  The club room is empty.  No one will care if she reads the poetry aloud.
 
Fiction helps.  In fiction, there’s nearly always a happy ending.  In fiction, even the tragedies have a sense of purpose and closure.
 
She looks outside the clubroom.  The sun is beginning to set.  Only a few of the diehard sports clubs members are still out on the field, the rest having finished for the day and trailed home one by one.  The school is quiet.  She’ll have to leave soon too, before one of the teachers comes by to kick her out.
 
It’s foolish of her.  She had her closure six months ago, when he left Inaba.  That brief, stolen moment on his final day in their small, small town.
 
Yumi closes the book, runs her fingers across the cover, and carefully replaces it on the shelf.
 
She had her closure, but a part of her still wanted the story to go on.


Next chapter


Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
swifty_chan
Oct. 5th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
Nooo~! A short chapter that leaves so much more to be desired. Now I can't wait for Sunday! ='<

Poor Souji, still trapped in TV. But the fact that he can has access his Personas... Well, I was wondering why didn't Igor saved him. Because he fulfilled the part of his destiny? =X

Oho, ze great Sinnatious is addicted to T&B!? Does that mean we get to look forward to T&B fics in the future? XD Have you finished all the episodes?[P.S. I absolutely adore Sky High!]
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
I've possibly broken a few quasi-rules with the game logic and lore, did the creation of Izanagi-no-Okami mean he can't use Persona anymore?

Ahahaha, maybe one day, but I kind of feel like I ought to post and finish a few more of the in-progress ones first... Sky High is pretty awesome (and again, awesome!), but I think I might be a diehard Wild Tiger fan! ...And Lunatic. And Agnes. And Blue Rose. And.... ah screw it they're all fantastic.
sunnepho
Oct. 5th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
I have acquired a copy of P3 Portable while I wait for Persona 4 to ship.

Maybe I will have a general idea of the flow of the story? Maybe? No matter, I play it anyway. XD
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
Woohoo! Well, there are significant P3 elements involved later, so it will help either way? XD (And is an excellent game, besides, however tedious Tartarus becomes after a while.)
lala_ii
Oct. 5th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, P4 and T&B? We're in the same fandoms again? YESSSSS I GET TO READ MORE OF YOUR FIIIIICCCCCC
sinnatious
Oct. 6th, 2011 05:59 am (UTC)
<3
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )