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Reversing Arcana, Chapter 11

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: I do believe this covers all the social links.  Also, next chapter might be a day late as it is BrisNova this weekend.

Previous Chapter


Reversing Arcana

Chapter 11


Souji chokes, feet scrabbling pointlessly for purchase on the featureless floor.  He tries to reach for a Persona, any Persona, but the fingers wrapped around his neck tighten, robbing him of the focus he needs.
“What would they all think, if they could see you like this, I wonder?  Would they still worship you?  All those shallow bitches care about is power.  They’d drop you like a hot potato.  I bet they hardly kept in contact when you left Inaba.”
His fingers claw fruitlessly at the arms pinning him to the ground.  He manages to crack his eyes open for half a second, but his vision is blurred.  His entire body aches, where Adachi has slammed him into the wall, the floor, and kicked him viciously like a child attacking a toy in a tantrum.  The fight is entirely one-sided.  He can’t gather the strength and concentration needed to summon a Persona that might help.
“And that Junes kid?  Bet he’s feeling like the top dog again.  Probably soaking up all the attention.  Maybe even offering the girls a shoulder to cry on.”
He tries to open his mouth, to argue, to toss aside the insults like the trash they are, but only a wheeze escapes.  It feels like something in him is shattering.  As he’s beaten down physically, he can feel it happening mentally, too.  But even through the haze of pain, the desperate struggle to draw breath, he continues to fight, however ineffectually.  He still fights to understand – Adachi’s supposed to be in prison, he can’t be doing this, yet he’s still here, still trapped in a nightmare that should be over, not getting worse.
“Did any of them really care about you?  How many times did they come to visit you when Doujima-san and Nanako-chan were in the hospital?  How many nights did you spend alone in that house, unprotected when you were being targeted?” The pressure on his neck eases, for just a moment, as though waiting for a response.
Souji doesn’t give him one - simply uses the precious moment to steal a breath. 
"Once you die, your influence fades.  I bet they've all already forgotten about you.  Maybe even as soon as you left Inaba."

A dull roar fills his ears.

"Your whole damn existence is transient," Adachi taunts.

Words.  They're just words.  They don't mean anything.

Except Souji knows better than anyone the power of carefully chosen words.
Adachi’s grin stretches until it hurts.
He thought he’d missed his chance.  He’d been cautious, to begin with, steering clear – it wasn't going to do any good going against Doujima’s nephew with brute force straight away.  He remembered that battle vividly – replayed it over and over in his head when he had nothing better to do, like a chess master replaying the last game they lost, looking for what move might have made the difference.  No, better to wait it out, until the kid got worn down, and he could catch him unaware, get the upper hand before he could get the chance to use any of his Personae.
Then the brat found an exit – put there by the Kirijo Group, no doubt.  They’d been looking for him.  He thought he’d lost his opportunity.  But now it’s worked out even better than he could have hoped.
He still can’t believe how it all came together, how he didn’t realise the full extent of his abilities until now.  Until it was too late to really put them to use, until after he’d already lost.
Yet he has Doujima’s nephew – his fucking perfect nephew, the one that all those bitches swarm around, practically throwing their panties at him, the whores – here, in his grasp, beaten and weak and helpless.  Not so high-and-mighty now. 
“I’m the real Izanagi,” he taunts, tightening his grip.  Souji lets out a choked little gasp, and his grin widens even further. 
“That’s right.  You’re just a brat who happened to get lucky.  If I’d discovered this sooner, you kids never would have stood a chance.  You had outside help.  I had to figure this shit out on my own.”  He lost, but that didn’t mean the game couldn’t start again.  Prison was boring.  The inmates are even more stupid than those idiots in the police department.  They have to be – the police put them there.
He’s been given this chance, and he has no intention of ever going back.
He laughs, imagining the chaos that must be going on in the outside world.  This is priceless.
The sounds of the city surround her, a cacophony of motors and music and voices and phones.  A train rumbles past.  An arcade beckons, the bright lights and machines clanging along to an irregular melody. 
Shops line the street, filled with cosmetics to make her beautiful and clothes to make her trendy.  Bookstores across the road, with secrets and knowledge and everything she needs to reinvent herself. 
Ai Ebihara sits in an ice-cream parlour, eating her third sundae.
She’s skipping school again.  The eighth time since… well, she’s here not to think about that.
She can have any man she wants, apparently – except the ones she actually wants.
The waitress eyes her as she takes her bowl away, but doesn’t comment on her school uniform.  Business is business, it’s not like the arcade where she’ll be thrown out if they notice a truant.  And she’s been good this year.  She can afford to be bad for a little while.
She’s different now.  She is.  It doesn’t matter that he’s gone.  He’s been gone for months.  If things were a little different, she might never have even heard about it.
She doesn’t care, anyway.
“Actually,” she calls the waitress back.  “Gimme a hot chocolate.  With extra cream.”
“Where the hell did I put it?” Kanji mutters to himself, digging through all the crap at the back of his closet.  “Shit!”  Scores of plushies tumble out, spilling onto the floor.
“Tatsumi?  Are you alright?” His mother’s voice floats up the stairs.
“Fine, Ma!”  Grumbling, he stuffs them back in, and after a bit more rummaging, finally finds what he’d been looking for.  He tugs out his shield, and then the lorica hamata, then that dragon bracelet.
They’re in pretty good shape, he guesses.  He runs his hands across the shield, the same way he might inspect a bolt of fine fabric, and feels the scratches and grooves worn into the surface.  The handle’s getting a bit loose too, and there’re some pretty big chinks around the edges.  That last fight with Izanami did a real number on it after all.  The lorica hamata’s got a few broken links too, and patches of it are brittle and blackened by those damn Maragidynes.
He checks his wallet.  Yeah, if he sells back the old stuff, he ought to have enough.  He was going to give his Ma the money from the plushies he’d been selling online, but he can just make more.  Senpai’s life could be on the line.
He stuffs it all into a bag, though the edge of the shield pokes out the top anyway.  No big deal, Daidara’s is just down the road.  He thumps down the stairs.  “I’m going out, Ma!  Oh yeah… and I’m gonna be out all weekend, so don’t buy food for me or nothin’!”  He doesn’t bother making up a lie for her.  Ma trusts him.
“You’re not in any kind of trouble, are you?” she calls from the kitchen.
“It’s fine, Ma!” he yells back.  “I gotta go!”
He won’t ever make her worry.  He sees his senpai’s uncle and little cousin in the shopping district sometimes, and he never wants to see his Ma look like that.
They’re gonna bring Senpai back, so his uncle and cute little Nanako-chan won’t have to cry anymore either. 
Souji watches, through slitted eyes, as the former detective stalks around him, just out of arm’s reach.  His fingers tingle from a Zio Adachi zapped him with when he got bored, but Souji knows him well enough to understand his opponent is not into physical torture, and is thankful for that small mercy.  Adachi likes to see him fight, to see him struggle fruitlessly… but physical strength isn’t what he’s most proud of.
Souji understands that.  Wit and intelligence are what Adachi prize most.
What he doesn’t understand is why Adachi doesn’t just kill him.  It would be the smart thing to do, right?
Obviously, he’s getting a high from the power play, from tormenting him, knocking him around, saying all those twisted, hurtful things, looking for the one weakness, the one button that will undo him… but Adachi’s not the kind of opponent who would take those kinds of risks, dragging things out when it would so easy to kill him then and there.  Not even for revenge.  He’s too smart for that.
Struggling to think through the pain-induced haze – or is it just the fog, clouding the truth? – he concludes that no, Adachi has some other purpose.  The way he looks at him, the way he pauses after certain words… it’s like he’s experimenting.
“I bet Doujima-san’s become a basket case.  I heard all about what he was like after his wife died.  Do you think he’ll spend the next ten years ignoring little Nanako-chan while he tracks down your killer, Souji-kun?”
Souji doesn’t react.  His self-control has always been good.  But he’s never needed it as much as he needs it in front of Adachi now.
Ongyo-ki lurks in the front of his consciousness – the energy and focus finally scraped together in the short lull he’s been afforded.  In terms of attack, the oni is hardly the heaviest-hitting Persona in his arsenal, but Souji needs to play it safe.  Magatsu-Izanagi can throw a storm of wind and electricity at him, and not many of his stronger Personae are resistant to both.
Most importantly, though, Ongyo-ki won’t let him miss the one chance he gets.
Adachi pauses, and eyeballs him with a creepy smirk.  “He’s the real idiot, though.  Trusting me.  He even asked me to look after Nanako-chan a couple of times, you know?  A guy like me.  I could have done anything.”
Souji’s muscles tense, but he clamps down on the movement.  Adachi’s expecting it.  He can’t waste his one chance in a fit of anger.
Disappointed, the detective scowls.  “Tch.  This is getting boring.”  He aims another careless kick at his ribs, but with the oni hovering so close to corporeality, Souji barely feels it.  “I don’t know what that chick thought was so special about you.  You’re nothing in the end.  Once I figured it out…” His words dissolve into angry mutterings.
His chance.
It’s a random moment, not in reaction to any one comment, halfway through what might be a sentence.
Souji lurches to his feet.  Ongyo-ki materialises in a burst of light.
He’ll only get one hit. 
One hit is all he needs.

Next chapter


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 2nd, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)

One hit, huh? If anyone can make it count...
Nov. 2nd, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)

Just a shame Hamaon and Mudoon don't work on him...
Nov. 2nd, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
I had one of those bizarre moments when you read a line of dialogue and it just seems 'wrong' - in this case the shallow bitches line. Normally it's an OOC thing, but the reason I'm mentioning it here is it's totally something Adachi would say. I just find it really jarring for some reason (probably because Adachi is well spoken for so much of the game, too, then suddenly goes all "bitches bitches bitches" lol.

This is good, keep it up!
Nov. 2nd, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, that really threw me too, it was actually kind of hard to write. But it really made me recoil when he had his big personality switch in the game itself. It was quite jarring, which I guess was the point. Must... fight... urge to write Adachi still acting as though he's all dopey.

Nov. 2nd, 2011 10:50 am (UTC)

On that note. Holy crap. Interesting, then, that you returned to Souji not once but thrice this chapter. You used the same formula of main, minor arcana and Souji for the past few chapters but in this one, you used it thrice -- Souji's view, Adachi's view and Souji's view again, all in the same setting. Is it because everything is speeding up...?

Ai. The bitchy girl who turned out to be more decent than the oh-god-please-spare-me drama girl. Heartrending how you've wrapped her up in a section ;A;

And I love the hints you've been dropping about Dojima and Nanako. I think this is the most they've been mentioned so far and from what I've seen, it's heartbreaking. I wonder if they're going to do their own thing.

ADACHI. No words to express just how creepily IC he is. How on earth do you do his POV and his words without overdoing it? Man...
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
XD Better updating early than late? It was only a couple of hours earlier than normal.

Mostly for pacing, as you said. There wasn't much point cutting to Souji all the time when all he was doing was wondering around lost and beating up shadows.

I heard that Ai is the only social link you can actually irreversibly break in the game?

Dojima and Nanako had a section towards the start! You raise a good point, though, I haven't spent any more time on them than the rest of the minor Arcana. Hmmm.

Adachi's actually turned out pretty difficult to write. I'm glad you think it worked, I angsted over his characterisation a fair bit...
Nov. 2nd, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
*huffs* Fine. lol. <3 I'm just glad to have an update.

Hmm. Makes sense. Might as well finish a whole scene. I wonder how the next bit will be.

And yes, she is and far too easily haha. It's worth investing in her, though.

Yes you have, but it's not quite... the same, as the other sections.

I'm not surprised. He's misogynistic and has a deep, simmering hate under a goofy exterior but he's smart, conniving and passably sane?? But it's difficult to tell and harder to emulate someone who doesn't have a deep-seated general theme to them that is... not quite likable. Um. He goes against the grain, on the normal people morality scale.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh god I don't think my heart can take it if he misses and then Adachi turns around and shreds him into tiny pieces of meat floss....
Nov. 3rd, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
....o_o meat floss... that is... unfortunately vivid imagery.
Nov. 3rd, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Well dried meat floss is what I have sometimes as toppings for rice congee... It's like cotton candy, but meat.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )