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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 20, complete

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:  Finished!  The story wasn't all I wanted it to be, but considering that I had once upon a time decided to abandon it forever and moved it into the fic graveyard of my hard drive, I'm relatively happy with it.  Plus, it was enjoyable working on a P4 fic, and in a different tense, too.

Last chapter is quite short, just a bit of an epilogue.  Thanks to those of you who read and commented all the way through!  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


Previous chapter



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Reversing Arcana

Chapter 20


_____________________

 
It’s mid-Sunday morning by the time the Investigation Team tumble out of Yosuke’s TV.  The house is, thankfully, empty – Yosuke assuring everyone that his parents would both be at Junes.
 
Souji collapses as soon as they’re out of the TV, but wakes up in Yosuke’s bedroom after only a couple of hours, still exhausted but coherent enough for the Investigation Team to escort him to his uncle’s house.  They’re all there bar Teddie – Rise having caught up in the interim, and Teddie staying behind in TV to keep an eye on things, just in case.
 
“We shouldn’t have let those Kirijo guys take Adachi,” Yosuke grumbles from under his arm, acting as his walking crutch.  “He’s not even going to get the blame for this one.”
 
Naoto nods.  “It’s unfortunate.  Though he did at least receive the maximum sentence for the first two murders, despite the less than conclusive evidence. The justice system does not look kindly on officers abusing their station.”
 
The streets between Doujima’s house and Yosuke’s are thankfully mostly empty, so nobody is around to see a teenager pronounced dead walking the streets while supported by his friends and accompanied by a shrine fox.  That might have caused a commotion.  It’s Sunday, so people are either relaxing at home or are out enjoying the river or shopping district or Junes.
 
It occurs to Souji that his uncle might not even be home.  He mentions this.
 
“I called ahead,” Yosuke informs him.  “Though I didn’t tell him why we were coming.  I am a little bit worried that Doujima-san will accuse us of abducting you and faking your death when he sees us.”
 
“I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” Naoto remarks.
 
Chie slows her steps and eyes the junior detective suspiciously.  “You know something Naoto-kun?”
 
She smiles slightly, tugging her cap low over her eyes as though to hide her pleasure.  “While you were asleep, Senpai, I made some calls to confirm the Kirijo Group has kept their word.”
 
“Did they?” Kanji asks, the threat of a good beating hiding behind those two words.
 
“It appears so.  But the truly interesting news was that apparently someone else has been digging around, and noticed Adachi’s disappearance.  Someone who has been kicking up a very large fuss about it, one that will almost certainly result in an internal investigation.”
 
Rise laughs.  “You mean Doujima-san?  I guess he really is a good detective after all!”
 
Chie kicks a rock ahead of them, nodding to herself.  “So those Kirijo guys will pay, huh?  Good.”
 
Naoto folds her arms, slanting Souji a glance.  “Unfortunately, I doubt the Kirijo Group will suffer any public damage.  Kirijo-san is clever – she knows that the penitentiary would much rather be accused of incompetence than corruption.  It’s the lesser of the two scandals.  Better to lose their jobs than serve jail time.”
 
“Well, that sucks,” Rise comments, nose wrinkling.
 
Souji’s thoughts flash back to the massive tower, and the enormous doors with the statue strung across them, and twelve shadows all as monstrous as Ameno-sagiri.  “…I think they’ve paid their price already.”
 
Kanji shrugs.  “If you say so, Senpai.  Still want to give ‘em a good thrashing.”
 
“Regardless, it indicates that Doujima-san might have some suspicions already.  It should make it easier to deal with him,” Naoto remarks.
 
Then they don’t have any more time to plot, because they’ve arrived at his uncle’s house, and the sight of it fills Souji with an odd mixture of relief and trepidation.  After so many weeks trapped in the stifling, lifeless TV world, it feels surreal.  It’s quiet, and sunny, and there are birds chirping in the trees and a cat wandering along the neighbour’s fence, searching for the best possible sunbeam to lounge in.
 
“I kind of can’t wait to see this,” Yosuke confesses, and knocks on the door. 
 
It takes half a minute for anyone to answer – he can hear his uncle’s voice inside, saying he’ll get the door, no doubt still paranoid after Namatame’s stunt, then the heavy thud of approaching footsteps.  The patter of smaller feet places Nanako directly behind him, then the doorknob rattles, it’s swinging open, and his uncle and cousin are standing right there in front of him.
 
Doujima blinks once, very slowly.  “…You…”
 
Then Nanako squeals, “Big bro!”
 
After that it’s a rush of limbs and bodies and all Souji knows is that Nanako is clinging to his waist like it’s a life raft and his uncle is hugging him so tight it hurts
 
Souji doesn’t complain, though, because he’s returning the embrace just as fiercely.
 
They’re herded inside, questions flying so fast that there’s barely time to answer before another one is flung forward.  Thanks to Naoto, they’ve concocted a story about a kidnapping – albeit a flimsy one.  Doujima is too overjoyed to question it too deeply, yet.  It will fall to pieces later, but they’ve bought time to come up with something better for the inevitable police investigation.  Souji’s still sporting a few leftover bruises from their battle that serve as evidence, and his exhaustion and hunger and thirst he doesn’t need to fake at all.
 
That too, buys them some time.  When he realises precisely how worn his nephew is, Doujima hustles him up to his bedroom – still exactly as he left it – and lets a very insistent Nanako ‘keep him company’, because it’s obvious she’s not going to let her big bro out of her sight for a very long time.
 
At the doorway, the Investigation Team say their goodbyes, since none of them are exactly fresh and full of energy by this point either – and it puts off the detective’s awkward questions just a little longer.  Doujima grips Naoto’s hand earnestly.  “Thank you,” he says, voice rough.  “I know you’re not explaining everything, but I know I have you kids to thank.”
 
Naoto simply shakes her head.  Souji can see the ghosts of recriminations in her blue eyes, but he gives her a stern look, and her shoulders relax.  “We’ll talk later, Doujima-san.  There’s a lot of work involved in bringing someone back to life, after all.”
 
His uncle swears under his breath at that – the thought apparently only just occurring to him now, along with all the inevitable complications. 
 
Souji’s not too worried, though.  They already know the truth.  That’s the hardest part.  The rest will follow.
 
Then his friends are tromping out, heading to their own homes, however reluctantly.  Doujima sees them to the door, still talking in a low voice.  Souji expects they’ll call later, only to remember that his cell phone’s probably been destroyed in the fire.  Not just his cell phone, either – everything.  He’s an orphan now, and even the clothes on his back aren’t his.
 
The reality of his loss hits him like a delivery truck at that moment.  His chest tightens, and Souji realises that he’s finally going to be allowed to grieve.
 
A small hand slips into his, warm against his palm, and squeezes his fingers.
 
“I missed you, big bro,” Nanako murmurs, eyes bright.
 
Souji lets out a shaky breath, and squeezes back.
 
It’ll be okay.  He won’t forget again.  He knows the price of not being honest with himself now.
 
And he has a new responsibility, too.  To that heavy card in the back of his mental deck.
 
The voices of his friends have disappeared outside, wandering down the path into the distance, and heavy footsteps thud up the stairs to his room.  His uncle comes back inside, sees him spread out on the bed with Nanako holding his hand, and frowns at her.  “Be sure to let him actually rest, okay?  You look tired.”  That last part is delivered to him, but Doujima can’t quite maintain the stern expression - the hint of smile creeping up on the edges of his mouth.  From his uncle, it’s as good as giddy laughter.
 
Nanako just nods obediently, and doesn’t let go of his hand.
 
“I’ll leave you to it for now,” he says.  “I’ve got some calls to make.  If you want a change of clothes I think you left some behind.  You already know where everything is, but ask Nanako if you need anything.  Take it easy.  I’ll have to go out to get some food later… maybe I’ll just order in…”  He trails off into a mumble.
 
Souji manages a nod, and smothers a yawn.  His eyes are sliding shut with the promise of sleep and safety.
 
Then Doujima looks down, and asks, “Why is there a fox in here?”
 


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Thank you for reading!

 

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
killiara
Dec. 3rd, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
AWWW!!!! Adorable, completely and utterly adorable.

"because it’s obvious she’s not going to let her big bro out of her sight for a very long time."

That line actually made me squeal in sappy happiness.
sinnatious
Dec. 4th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
Hee, glad you liked it, and thank you for reading and commenting all the way through!

Super-sappy ending to make up for all the mean parts in the middle, right? <3
lala_ii
Dec. 4th, 2011 06:42 am (UTC)
OHHHHHHHYOUFINALLYFINISHEDTHISFICWASSOAMAZINGILOVEYOURWRITINGEVERYTIMEOHMYGODOHMYGOD~!!!!

Haha, I'm so eloquent. But no, I really liked the writing and story, and love how you write mysteries! I could never manage somehting so delightfully suspenseful.
sinnatious
Dec. 4th, 2011 08:39 am (UTC)
Thank you! Although I think calling it a mystery is a bit of a stretch. :) (Also, ohohohoho, a Naga the Great White Serpent icon! Now there's a series I haven't seen anything of for a long time.)
lala_ii
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
Oh-hoho~ Slayers is an old favorite I've never been able to quite let go of. The perfect balance of action and comedy with a kickass main character who makes me proud to be a girl, haha
tenshinoakuma
Dec. 6th, 2011 11:45 am (UTC)
Oh Dojima, don't you know? The fox goes where she pleases! Although... I think the final line does break the atmosphere set up in the epilogue and might have been better without it. But that could just be me wanting to draw (horrible) comparisons to P3: The Journey's ending.

RE: the previous chapter, heh, I already knew Minato wouldn't be coming back, but seeing everyone freaking out was amazing.

It's been an enjoyable ride, and I'm glad I got to read it from the beginning to end :3
sinnatious
Dec. 6th, 2011 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I still struggle with last sentences. I wanted something a bit lighter after all the heavy stuff, but it is a little mood breaking, isn't it? Hmm.

Thanks for reading it all! There weren't any real surprises to someone savvy with the fandom such as yourself, but so long as it was enjoyable~ Well, I enjoyed it at least, and if you got some enjoyment too, so much the better. ;)
tenshinoakuma
Dec. 7th, 2011 12:10 pm (UTC)
Oh you give me far too much credit xD The Fools happen to be my favourite characters of the two games, so I find them relatively easy to understand.

But this was a story primarily about people, and that's exactly the kind of story I love ♥ I really enjoyed how you were able to get into the heads of multiple characters and just break them in distressingly real ways, but piece everything back together just as well :3
argentum_luna
Dec. 7th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
*SQUEAL*
OMG I FORGIVE YOU FOR YOUR SOUJI TORTURE ♥ ♥ ♥

The ending more than made up for it ♥

....

Just so you know, the last line was my favourite.
sinnatious
Dec. 7th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
Re: *SQUEAL*
LOL ♥

The last line seems to inspire greatly contrasting opinions! I'm not quite sure what to take away from that. But I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for reading all the way through~
argentum_luna
Dec. 8th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
Re: *SQUEAL*


IDK. I've always leaned towards cracky situations :|c I guess the last part was kind of a good ending but there's a long road ahead--and the fox just randomly being there somehow just...lightens it up? It reminds me of the randomly funny scenes in P4.
sunnepho
Mar. 8th, 2012 02:54 am (UTC)
Ehehehehe, if I can weigh in on the last line, too, yeah, it doesn't quite gel with the rest of the tone, but I personally adore it for A) reminding me of the wackiness that went on in P4, and B) for preventing the ending from being too sappy.

Yeah, the fox isn't going anywhere, Doujima.

I love the way you've painted this picture so that I can see it expanding outside of its frame, if I haven't overextended this metaphor. The Fool is safe, but there's plenty of work ahead to make him a living member of society again, and now that he has time to grieve... I guess I'm saying you've made these characters so real to me that I see them existing beyond the confines of a plot, which is a good part of why I loved the game in the first place.

(Then I play my New Game +s and can't help but wonder what would happen if Souji remembered each playthrough as a cycle and would choose different options during his time in order to see what would happen, but that's besides the point.)

In short, fantastic! Wonderful! I had a blast reading this and going nuts over the twists and turns you worked into this story!
sinnatious
Mar. 8th, 2012 10:17 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's an awkward line! I guess I just executed badly, cheers for the feedback.

(Fox is still one of my favourite characters. She's so... mercenary.)

That sounds like a fic idea you have there! I actually read a rather heart-wrenching take on New Game Plus+ for P3, (think - time travel!) which... uh... maybe I'd better not talk about in case you haven't finished that one yet.

Thanks! Glad you could finally read it~
sunnepho
Mar. 8th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
I'm glad I could finally read it, too! I probably didn't need to wait until I'd gone through it twice, but I REALLY wanted Izanagi no Okami in my deck. Didn't turn out to be very useful, but he's still cool, so no regrets.

I'm fairly certain I've read at least one fic out there in which Souji remembers each cycle. I think there was one that had him reliving the Christmas Eve date over and over with different girls in... the kink meme, I think?
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )