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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 6

Title: Reversing Arcana

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

Summary: Persona 3 and 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: Almost forgot to hit post before wandering off to bed... it's a little early since I wasn't sure if I'd get the chance tomorrow.

Previous chapter

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Reversing Arcana

Chapter 6

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The part-time girls are giving him looks for not helping out, but for once Yosuke couldn’t care less.  It’s for his best friend.
 
“Seriously!  Nothing!  Nada!  Zilch!” Chie declares.  “It was right on midnight, I swear!”
 
“I saw it too,” Yukiko adds.
 
Yosuke didn’t get to see – he’d been overtired from too many sleepless nights fretting over his friend and wound up falling asleep on what apparently was the one night that mattered.  Until they figure out some way through that barrier, rainy midnights are the only time he can check on Souji.  Except now it looks like they can’t even do that.
 
“But… but…” Rise looks like she’s about to cry. 

Yosuke slams his fist down on the table.  He refuses to believe it.  "Damn!  What the hell is going on here?!"

Chie chews on her lip.  "But hey, he hasn't turned up... you know... so he must still be alive, right?  So if he's not on the Midnight Channel, and he's not on the news, he must have found an exit!"

The rest of the group stare at her.

"What?  Oh no, did I do it again?  I was just throwing random thoughts out!"

"Chie-senpai might be on to something," Naoto comments, biting a nail.  "But that then raises another question - if Senpai did escape, why hasn't he contacted anyone?"

"You think maybe he can't?" Yukiko wonders aloud.
 
“Hey, if Senpai made it out on his own, do you think he might have collapsed?” Rise asks.  “He might be in a hospital somewhere!”
 
“No way Senpai would collapse!” Kanji protests. 
 
Naoto sighs and tugs on the edge of her cap.  It’s a strangely childish gesture, and Yosuke wishes – yet again – that Souji were there to see it.  “We’re wasting time on speculation.  We were all exhausted from our time in the TV, but not to the point of being unconscious for an entire day.  If he did collapse, he ought to have awoken by now – if only long enough to tell someone his name.  The word would get to Doujima-san instantly.”
 
It’s good, sound logic, but doesn’t make Yosuke feel any better.  Looking around at the others, it’s obvious he’s not the only one who finds it a shallow comfort.  It’s up to him to voice what no one else wants to this time – he was - is - closest to Souji, the responsibility for the really unpleasant stuff falls into his lap.  “Then why the hell wasn’t he on the Midnight Channel?”
 
“Maybe it’s broken?” Chie asks.
 
“Hey, what if it wasn’t raining in the city?  Could that change it?” Rise suggests.
 
It’s not a bad theory, and Naoto’s small nod confirms it.  Kanji is looking lost and confused, but it’s not an uncommon look.  He’s bound to say something simple at any moment that ought to actually get something done…
 
“Hey, I don’t really get the why or why not, but the easiest way is to just check the TV, right?”
 
Right on cue.  Yosuke could kiss him, but he doesn’t want Kanji getting any ideas.
 
“Yeah!  Let’s go!” Chie agrees, leaping to her feet.  The fox sitting next to her yips, and Yosuke jumps, before patting her absently.  He keeps forgetting she’s there, but he guesses she must be worried about their missing friend too.  Souji never did explain to him properly what the whole deal with the magic fox was, and he’s still a little annoyed he didn’t tell him it was a girl until the day he left Inaba.  No wonder she kept getting cross at him.
 
“Senpai, get your ass moving!” Kanji orders.  Everyone else has risen from the table while he’s been trapped in introspection.
 
“Coming, coming, jeez, can’t you give a guy a minute?”  He’s barely slept for the past what feels like forever, between Junes and school and detective work and worry.  He hurries to catch up, leading the way to the electronics department.  “Let’s just hope Teddie can-” Yosuke trails off and can practically feel his face paling.  His lips work, but he can’t force any words out.
 
“What?  What is it?”  Chie hops around him, then freezes.  One by one, the others notice, and their faces fall.
 
The TV is gone.  In its place is a small cardboard sign, with one word written on it.
 
Rise is the first to react.
 
Sold?!”
 
 
………………………..
 
 
Daidara’s seen a lot in his time, but lately, all he can think about is that odd kid with the grey hair and matching eyes.  Doujima’s nephew, not that he cared to know the details.  That was for others in the shopping district to gossip about.
 
Lucky for the kid, he’s never been the sort to gossip.  Except Daidara’s been having an odd feeling in his bones.  His art isn’t coming out all that great – though that could be because his supply of unusual materials has dried up, and his inspiration with it.  If he’s going to be honest, maybe it’s even because there’s no one waiting expectantly behind the counter, belief in their eyes that he’s going to produce something great, something they need.  Maybe that was the first and last time he’ll ever experience that in his life.  He gets the occasional commission from a martial arts instructor – Daidara is well-enough renowned that sometimes people will even travel to pick their orders up – but the majority of his creations are used as decoration.  It wasn’t something he’d thought about… until the weird kid with grey eyes wandered into his shop.
 
Of course, Doujima’s nephew won’t be coming around anymore.  He’s not a gossip, but most news reaches his ears anyhow.  And now he doesn’t know what to think.  Wonders if he maybe should have made better weapons, though the swords the boy bought were the best creations of his career.  Wonders if maybe he should have mentioned to Doujima that his charge would buy weapons and armour from him, then bring them back a month later with nicks and scratches and scorch marks to exchange for something even tougher. 
 
Too late now, of course.  He’ll never know the full story.  Though he’s tempted to ask.  He’s seen the other kids skulking around the shopping district again the past few days, the way they used to, shoulders tense, heads bent together in serious conference.  The polite young lady detective even came to get her gun serviced and restock on ammunition, all the while making small talk asking after locals he couldn’t care less about.  The disappointed look on her face made him sort of wish that he were a gossip, though.  It sounded important.
 
He never could do much to lighten the load on those kids’ shoulders, whatever it was.  All he could do was give them tools, pieces of art that for some reason they treated like lifelines.  There were times when Doujima’s nephew would trudge into his shop with a desperate look in his eyes, and the only thing he’d been able to do was sharpen that desperation into a blade for him.  That young lady had the same expression on her face, and she hid it almost as well as he used to.
 
His good eye lingers on the phone.  Something’s definitely up again.  It would be easy to call Doujima, tell him a few things, drop a few hints.  But Daidara has never been the sort to betray confidence.  The phone remains in its cradle.
 
He’s got a feeling, though.  There’s still a bunch of scraps in the workroom he bought off those kids.  Maybe he can make something interesting out of them.  He has the weird hunch it’s going to be needed, and Daidara’s always trusted his hunches.
 
 
………………………..
 
 
“How can they sell it?!  It’s our TV!” Rise shrills.
 
“Crap, crap, crap!” Yosuke pulls at his hair.  “This wasn’t supposed to happen!  That TV’s been there since the store opened!”
 
Yukiko wishes she could sit down.  She knows, logically, that they should never have assumed… but she feels broken anyhow.  Things were already so bad, but to lose their lifeline to Souji…
 
“Can we track down who bought it?” Naoto asks.
 
“Well, yeah, it should be in the store records, but what are we going to do then?”
 
“It could be a clue.”
 
Yukiko perks up at that.  “You mean – you think whoever bought the TV might be trying to stop us from reaching Souji?”
 
Naoto looks reluctant to commit to the statement, but admits, “It’s a slim possibility.”
 
It’s like switching a light on in Yosuke – give him a little direction, and he can go for miles.  It’s what made- makes, she corrects herself – him and Souji such a good team.  “Right!  I’m practically tech support here, so I’ve got access.”  He frowns at all of them in turn, before pointing at her.  “Yukiko, I’ll need you.”
 
“What?  But-” she starts to protest, but he’s already dragging her towards the sales desk.
 
“Hey!” He snaps his fingers a couple of times, even as he lets himself behind the counter.
 
“Hanamura, what’s up?”  The cashier is relatively young, maybe only a year or two older than them, and looks slightly guilty at being caught reading magazines if his frantic efforts to stash them are any indication.
 
“Don’t worry about it dude, I was just wondering if I could use the computer for a second?”  His tone is friendly and casual, and Yukiko can see the façade for what it is.  It’s not that dissimilar to the face she puts up for customers of the Inn.
 
“Sure, sure, it’s not like the place is exactly hopping…”  It’s never hopping, which made their lives so much easier last year.  “What for?”  There’s still a hint of nervousness in his voice.
 
“Oh, nothing bad!  Yukiko here had some questions on behalf of the Amagi Inn, I said I’d help her out.”  He jerks a thumb in her direction, and when the cashier turns his attention to her, makes a whirling gesture with his finger before stepping to the computer.
 
Right, she’s the distraction.  “Umm, that’s right!” she agrees, slipping reflexively into her public role just as easily as Yosuke did.  “We were looking to upgrade some of the televisions in the Inn.  We were…”  She spends a moment groping for a plausible lie.  “…thinking of modernising!  But we’re just looking into it for now.”
 
“Yeah?”  The cashier still has that star-struck look about him that Yukiko has come to hate – there are still plenty of people who view the Amagi Inn as local royalty, even though the much more famous Risette has come to town.  “You’re going to move to flat-screens, maybe?”
 
“It depends…”  Yosuke is frowning at the computer.  “It probably won’t be a total overhaul.  But for at least some of the larger suites…”
 
She’s rescued from having to find a way of dragging out the conversation when Yosuke closes the window and waves a piece of paper with some illegible scribbles on it.  His smile is definitely forced now, and her worry spikes.  “Thanks man!  I think I’ve got everything.  Can we come bug you again later if I missed anything?”
 
The cashier is left a little off-balance by the rapid-fire words.  “Uh, sure.  You know, if you need to know anything I can-”
 
“For sure!” Yosuke cuts him off with a grin, leaving the counter behind.  “Later!”
 
The others have wisely waited on the other side of the department.  Yukiko follows him quietly, privately impressed by his skill at misdirection, however simple it was.  His grades never suggested those kinds of smarts.
 
“So?” Kanji asks aggressively, as soon as they’re back.
 
The cheerful public face Yosuke donned so effortlessly crumbles in an instant.  “Cash.”
 
“Huh?”
 
“You heard me.  They paid fucking cash!”  Yukiko can’t help but cringe a little – Yosuke can be crass sometimes, sure, but she expects that sort of language from Kanji’s mouth, not the well-bred Prince of Junes.
 
Naoto, at least, knows what he means.  “No details.  No name.  There wasn’t a delivery address?”
 
“Walked out with it.”  Yosuke is seething, and Yukiko sidles away.  Normally Souji is the only one who can deal with him when he becomes like this – Kanji’s temper might be phenomenally short, but it doesn’t even compare to the intensity of Yosuke’s when he becomes frustrated.  She’s abruptly reminded that her classmate very nearly incited them to murder Namatame the year before.  If it hadn’t been for Souji’s clear head and calm reasoning, he probably would have gone through with it, too.
 
They all have their dark sides, but Yukiko remembers that she never saw Yosuke’s shadow.  Souji and Teddie were the only ones.  What was it like?
 
It’s a dark thought that steals through her head at that moment, and she feels ills for it.
 
It isn’t Namatame.  Adachi and Mitsuo are in prison.  They can’t find anyone in town.
 
…What if it’s one of them?


Next chapter

 

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
croix_souillees
Oct. 15th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
EEEE. FIRST.
croix_souillees
Oct. 15th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
Honestly, the touches of perspective changes with the social links... shit, it's so heartbreaking. But at the same time, it's really nice, a personal touch to something so integral to the game. They're not often highlighted in fics, at least the ones I've seen.

The balance of this fic's main plot and the way all the details seem to lead to a singular goal... it's very you and something that I can't help but reread again and again to appreciate all the nuances.

Great work! ;A; I can't wait for the next chapter.
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 10:44 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's actually really fun to write the social links. Only a handful of them were probably necessary but it gets to the point where I don't want to leave any of them out!

Did you ever see that fic where it swapped the Major and Minor Arcana around? So Souji's storming dungeons with Kou and Daisuke and Naoki and Doujima and the Investigation Team are just acquaintances at school. It was amazing, but sadly I don't think it ever got finished.
croix_souillees
Oct. 16th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
Oh my god, no. d;lakd;lfkasdf I want to see. Do you know the name?
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 10:49 am (UTC)
No idea, but I'll go retrace my steps and let you know, as I wouldn't mind re-reading it myself.
croix_souillees
Oct. 16th, 2011 10:50 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! ono
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 11:29 am (UTC)
I haven't found the longfic one yet, but stumbled across this amusing short one in the process:

http://mumumugen.livejournal.com/360068.html#cutid1
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC)
Actually, how about that, I DID find it - that's the preview to the fic, called 'Minor Arcana', it's on that journal but it's the most disorganised journal ever so you basically have to ferret out the fic parts by working forwards in time from that post? At least, I can't find any relevant tags to make it easier.
argentum_luna
Oct. 15th, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
a;dskfljas;ldkfja THE PLOT THICKENS ;;

I swear you're just hitting all the right buttons:

1) THEY SOLD THE TV!
2) DIADARA!

And don't forget the P3 from last week. adklfja;sf. My heart cannot take so much squee. ♥
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 10:48 am (UTC)
The whole TV thing was something I was sure was going to happen in the game but never did! (The other thing was I was sure there would be was a creepy Junes dungeon, but that didn't happen either. :()

Glad you're liking it so far!
argentum_luna
Oct. 16th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
I was wondering that as I was playing the game too....I was like...does anybody buy TVs in Inaba?? And if they don't, why would you have expensive TVs on display??

If Yosuke had a dungeon for himself, it would be creepy Junes :/
sinnatious
Oct. 16th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
The enduring mystery. Although I guess to be fair, I remember going into the electronics department in KMart and Target in my home town as a teenager and the stock wouldn't change for months on end...

We were cheated! We never got a Yosuke dungeon! I actually thought Nanako's dungeon would be Junes, honestly, or that it would be the final dungeon and the whole TV world had been born out of the town's frustration with the new franchise and what it was doing to the shopping district... idk, it made sense in my head at the time.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )