967: Persona 3, Trade Me – Chapters 11 & 12Posted: February 17, 2015
Please note that I will be using the feedback from this snarking for school. Nothing major, I’m just supposed to put something on social media and then say what I learned from the feedback, but still, I feel like you guys deserved to know.
S: I was raised to be the ultimate warrior. How? How could I lose to him? How could I lose to you?
E: Well…for starters, even if I can’t fight for shit, we do have you outnumbered.
C: Yeah and we have the exact same equipment you do. I hate to break it to you but the only reason you ever won any of your fights I because you were extremely overpowered against them. That and the author was on your side. Really it was impossible for you to lose.
N: In short, you had your entire life on very easy mode. Even if you excel at that, you’re gonna struggle elsewhere.
S: I see…I need to think. *Leaves*.
N: Should we really just let him go?
E: *Bends down* he left his orange ring here. We’ve finally got all of them under our control again. Let’s just breath and do a review. Right off the bat, freaking song.
(Song counter: 11)
“Well, this is it. Welcome to Gekkoukan High School. Hope you like it.”
“….Where have you been? Hey, let’s go to Tartarus later. I need to get back into the swing of things. I can’t leave all of the fun to you guys.”
“Even if all you have now is hatred, one day you’ll regret it.”
“No one can escape time. It delivers us all to the same end.”
I can’t breathe. Too many memories…too many people shouting! Stop! Please stop! Leave me alone! Please stop….
C: I’m surprised Akira’s name isn’t a freaking anagram for Minako at this point. Because we get these flashbacks, every one or two chapters, that might as well be bellowing through a megaphone “Akira is Minako! AKIRA IS MINAKO!”
Akira pulled her puffy azure coat close to her chest. The winter air was killing her; being a woman, she already had bad enough blood circulation, and the chilling weather didn’t help in the least. She decided to hurry home faster.
N: Uh…was that a reference to what I THINK it was?
E: Let’s say yes and move on.
At that thought, she gave a snort. Home. What a funny word. Since the start of the New Dark Hour, Akira had been assigned an apartment nearby the Kirijo Headquarters. After only a couple of months, she already felt like it was the most comforting and enjoyable place-but not necessarily because of the location or the elegant 2-bedroom complex itself. No, she knew full well it was because of him.Due to the Shadows’ desire to capture Akira (and the lack of roots for the boy in the first place), Mitsuru had assigned Akihiko to live with the girl until they could get this mystery figured out.
C: Mystery that we have seen very little investigating of, unless you count Mitsuru typing Akira’s name into a database and then us learning NOTHING from it.
It made Akira glad, to say the least. The muscular man was her best friend and she felt the very safest and happiest when he was near him. Those moments of happiness where what she lived for.
N: Moments of happiness that apparently happened in all those off screen scenes that contained the investigation.
She hurried inside of the building and rushed to her door, Apartment inside, Akira breathed a sigh of relief. The heater was running on full blast and it jumped at the chance to curl itself around her stinging cheeks. She smiled and headed to the white marble counter in the kitchen, setting her bag of groceries down on top of it. She shook out of her coat and looked around.
C: So, what is she doing when they’re not hunting Shadows? I mean, in P3 the characters were all full time students with the exception of the dog. Now Mitsuru runs a company and Akihiko and Aigis pretty much work full time for her fighting Shadows, but since fighting Shadows in THIS story clearly isn’t a full time job, I can’t help but wonder what they’re doing. In fact, what do Yukari, Junpei and Shinji do? This was before Ultimax revealed that Yukari became an entertainer and Junpei a baseball coach. As for Shinji, well, he’s supposed to be dead. So what the Hell do all these people do now?
“Akihiko!” She called out. No answer. She peered into his mess of a room, but all of his training equipment-his barbells, his weight bench, his punching bag, and so on-were untouched.
E: His room is a mess, but all of his training equipment is untouched? Then it doesn’t sound that messy.
She scouted the entire area, but there was no other living soul inside the place. She sighed, disappointment weighing down her heart and returned to the kitchen to make dinner.
N: I guess calling his cell phone isn’t an option? Would that not allow her to angst properly?
Hours passed after eating, but the silverette hadn’t come back. Akira didn’t bother calling his cell, as it was sitting on the stand beside the front door.
N: Because of course it is.
This was one of the days that Akihiko didn’t want to be found. Akira got nervous at times like these. What had she said now? What pushed him away this time? Akira didn’t know why Akihiko would ditch her like he did, but she knew at this point that it was because she stirred something inside of him that he could only take so much of before bursting out the door. Akira gave a defeated huff and put his dinner in the microwave to retain what heat it had left.
C: You know, the drama in the relationship between these two is really damn contrived. Basically it’s “They get along just fine, then Akihiko realizes Akira is just an OC replacement goldfish then runs off to do something stupid and she angsts about it.” It’s not very engaging and it just comes out of nowhere. Also if you heat up his food it’s just gonna get cold again, not to mention go bad quicker. Put it in the fridge.
Akira was about to retire to her room for a power nap-it was nearly 8pm, and the New Dark Hour would soon be upon Iwatodai-when a knock sounded. Akira swiftly ran to it and touched the handle. Had Akihiko forgotten his keys again?
E: He left his cell and he keeps forgetting his keys? Does this guy take anything with him when he goes out?
Akira’s eyes looked at the hooks beside her. No, his pair were gone. She opened the door with hesitation.
Shinjiro stood before her, staring at something going on a few doors down. When Akira appeared in the doorway, his eyes shifted to her. The stern curiosity in them drifted into a private softness.
N: You know the worlds “Love Triangle” keep popping up in my head when he keeps popping up, and I get kinda nervous.
“Hey,” he greeted. Akira gave him a smile.
“Hello.” She had become quite fond of the tall, dark man, as he’d taken it upon himself to take care of Akira in his own way. He was there to defend her when she was in danger, just as Akihiko was, and always listened to her worries and troubles. He was her second favorite person on the team.
C: You know we keep falling into the “Let me explain how this characters feels about this, while referencing off screen character development” that I think we need to start installing some nice furniture.
N: A couch and a cooler would be a nice touch.
“Aki around?” He politely refrained from peering over her shoulder into the apartment, keeping his gaze on the blonde. Akira, still not quite used to meeting people’s eyes, turned to the empty space behind her.
E: And when the hell did that become a thing exactly? Because this is the first time I remember reading about it. Because that’s not something that just jumps out at you late in life.
“Not right now. I think he went out to train in the snow.” Words to comfort herself, mostly. Shinjiro could see right through her, but said nothing about it. Akira cleared her throat. “Would you like to come in? We can both wait for him. He’ll probably come back just before the Dark Hour.”
C: Comforting herself to take her mind off of the really vague really weird problem Akihiko has with her. Yeah I know it’s supposed to be that she reminds him of his lost love but the story does a shit job developing it.
“Sure.” Any other boy may have been uncertain or mischievous about the idea of staying in a girl’s apartment-alone, nonetheless-but Shinjiro was different. Akira opened the door wide to him, allowing him into the apartment to display her trust in his intentions. Shinjiro stalked in and waited to seat himself at the counter until Akira had sealed the door again.
N: After all the comments about Akihiko being a meat head I think he would’ve gotten in at least one wise crack, even if it was a rather tame one.
They sat across from each, at first making polite conversation about the weather and the people struggling to get their shopping done before Christmas, but it wasn’t long before Akira’s true thoughts escaped.
E: I’m glad we skipped that because it sounds boring, but that just raises the question of why even cliff notes of it were included.
“Less than one week until the next full moon,” she muttered, pouring her friend some steaming tea. Shinjiro drank it, but she couldn’t tell if he liked it or not. He hid some expressions so well.
“Yeah. The last ones were nothin’ to laugh at. They’re getting persistent.”
Akira shivered against her own scalding cup. The team still didn’t know what the Shadows wanted with her and it was unsettling. Akira hated that she had to watch her back every night. No evening felt safe.
N: From what I’ve been gathering, Shadows have only been popping up during the full moon this time around. I mean the Not!Dark Hour isn’t even happening other times. Why does she feel uneasy every evening?
“Last month had two enemies in one. The main Shadow had a chainsaw for an arm, and there was the woman who hugged his leg and kept casting support spells.”
C: WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T WE SEE THIS!?
Shinjiro put his mug down and stared into its contents, saying nothing. Akira took the moment to watch his face. His features was sharp, but there was a handsomeness to them. Something strange, she realized then, was that his cheekbones were fuller than she had first met him. They used to be so thin that you could see his bones trying to tear themselves out from his skin, but he looked much healthier. His lips were thin and chapped, and his jaw made him look so strong. Suddenly, his eyes closed.
E: I think the sub-plot about Shinji being sick just got kicked in the balls, and now the story is going through its pockets.
“See somethin’ interesting?”
Akira blushed. “I-I…” The corner of his lips twitched up in the smallest of grins and he opened his eyes to meet hers.
“Relax, kid. It was a joke.”
N: It just happened to be a joke that wasn’t funny. At all.
“Oh, r-right.” He had caught her gaze and held it. Akira wanted turn away, like she usually would, but something kept them on his. He was studying her very carefully, searching for something. He changed the subject, seeing the discomfort in her face.
“You remember anything from your past?”
Akira sighed. “No. I don’t understand why I can’t recall anything, though. It’s been months, and still nothing.” Akira picked at a spot on the table that she’d missed while cleaning that morning. Shinjiro watched her for a moment, then called for her attention. Akira looked up at him.
C: Wait a god damn minute! Early on it was established that she remembered the majority of her life and that she only forgot the last few months. All of a sudden she completely forgets everything? We practically speed read these stories, how come we remember so much stuff that the author forgets?
“Don’t worry so much. The others are gonna help you find out what you’re here for.”
Akira tilted her head, her eyes lolling to the side. “Even Akihiko…” She said without thinking.
Shinjiro returned to his cup. “Yeah, even him.”
E: Because him helping was in doubt. Apparently.
“And you, too, huh?” Akira stared straight at him as she waited for his answer. Shinjiro smiled and nodded.
“That reminds me, how is it that you guys are so helpful to me? I’ve always wondered…what is it that you see in me that makes you want to help get my memories back?”
N: Because they aren’t assholes? I never got this, people in stories asking “Why did you help me?” Do you really need a reason to help someone?
Shinjiro rose a brow. “Ain’t it obvious?”
Akira blushed, but said nothing. The boy sighed.
“It started with Akihiko, kid. He trusts you, so we trust you, too.”
C: I guess Akihiko is like the pied piper and people just fall into line with him.
“Just like that. You make trust sound so easy.” Some sort of nostalgia struck her heart, making it grow heavy. An inkling of…something tugged at her from the depths of her mind. She tried to grab it and pull it into the light where she could inspect it, but it slipped away.
E: Then please stop acting like it is. Seriously, you’re treating her like she’s part of the group when you don’t know a damn thing about her. I’m not saying you need to actively suspect her, but could you at least have not gone right away to being buddy buddy?
Akira rose a brow at the boy, but didn’t get a chance to question him any further.
The door unlocked and Akihiko stepped inside the room. He caught the gazes of both of his friends, and paused while shrugging off his jacket.
“Am I interrupting something?” He asked, half-joking.
“No,” Akira answered quickly. Then, she gasped and hurried over to him. “You’re bleeding again! What happened?!” Like a worrisome mother with her child, she started frantically examining the new cuts and bruises on his face. She tried to wipe the small streams of blood off with her fingers. Akihiko tried to swat her away.
N: If they’re cuts on his face and he can still be upright without any problems, I doubt they’re really worth something getting worked up over. Sure, he should probably clean his face, but I’m not sure it warrants Akira’s reactions and her wiping blood away with her fingers isn’t gonna help much. You ever get a bloody nose? Ever try wiping the blood away with your fingers? I did. It smears all over the place. You need a wet cloth.
“I’m fine,” he insisted. Akira didn’t back off and kept trying to wipe his wounds away.
“I’ll go get some bandages. Go over to the sink and wash your face! I’ll be right back!” She rushed off to look for medical supplies. Akihiko sighed and reluctantly went over to splash his cheeks with water. Shinjiro watched him.
Akihiko huffed. “These guys were tough. I took on five at once. It was a challenge, but was a good work out.”
Shinjiro gave him a stern look. “…You’re an idiot.” Akihiko gave him a glare.
E: *Headesk* Akihiko isn’t freaking Batman! He doesn’t run around in the middle of the night picking fights with gangsters.
“What’d you call me?” He was more tense than usual, but Shinjiro didn’t flinch in the least.
“Idiot.” He repeated. “You’re being reckless. Do you have any idea what you’re putting Akira through with your tantrums?” Akihiko’s fingers clenched the edges of the sink, turning his knuckles white. Shinjiro leveled his gaze with his childhood friend. “What’s going on with you?”
C: So how long has this been going on for? He ran into the first gang by accident, did he decide after he had been threatened at gun point “You know, I should do this again” before making a hobby out of it? Because if so, Akira doesn’t seem to be that affected by it, unless you count fussing at the blood on his face. She wasn’t going “oh no, not another fight” when he didn’t show up for dinner.
“Nothing!” Akihiko hit the edge of his sink with his fist. Blood spurted from his hand.
“Bullshit.” Shinjiro stood up. “You’ve been acting like an moron for weeks.
E: First we’ve heard of it.
The reason I came over tonight was to make sure that Akira wasn’t losing sleep over your sorry ass.”
“W-well, she doesn’t have to do that. I never asked her to.” Even though his tone was sharp, Akihiko’s expression was growing more and more guilty.
“Tch. You’re a dumbass.” Shinjiro shoved his hands in his trench coat pockets. “If you don’t cut the shit, I’m gonna punch you in the face.” Akihiko hissed lightly.
N: So Akira is losing sleep by worrying about Akihiko, and Shinji is saying if Akihiko makes her stress out more he’ll punch him in the face, hurting him and making Akira worry anymore. Isn’t that like saying “If you keep making that fire bigger I’m gonna pour gas on it”?
E: Christ, I’m so used to seeing FF.net writers writing painfully stereotypical women that I’m a little taken aback by seeing writers write painfully stereotypical men. Akihiko solves his insecurity issues with violence and is too much of a bonehead to notice someone’s feelings. Shinji notices the feelings, but also solves the problems he faces with threats and violence. I’m not offended, just annoyed. Whoever these two are, they aren’t Akihiko and Shinji.
“You guys?” Akira was standing behind the boys, staring up at them with cautious eyes. Shinjiro backed away from his friend, and Akihiko cast his head down. Akira glanced back and forth between them. “Everything okay…?”
C: Fine Akira, just threatening to punch him in the face.
“Fine,” Akihiko muttered. Akira didn’t press. Instead, she approached Akihiko and asked him to sit down. She had meant one of the stools, but the boy ended up pulling himself onto the counter. Akira sighed under her breath and pulled out a rag to dab her friend’s wounds with. Akihiko flinched each time the damp cloth hit his skin.
“Does it hurt?” Akira asked him.
“No, it’s just….” Akihiko winced again as she touched a gash above his left eyebrow.
“Cold.” Akira giggled slightly.
“You’re such a baby, sometimes.”
Akihiko gave a pout. “I am not.”
C: Because it was such a gut buster the “Hey, Akihiko is weak to ice, now watch him whine about being cold” joke needed to be repeated.
Shinjiro watched the two banter for a few moments more before giving a small huff and heading out of the room. Akira heard his steps and turned her torso to look at him.
“Senpai,” she called. “Where’re you going?”
E: Senpai? I know Senpai can mean anyone that acts as a mentor or a senior but does that really apply to Akira’s relationship with Shinji? It doesn’t really feel that way to me.
“I’m gonna get some sleep before tonight.” He opened the door and started walking out. It was only partially a lie. Really, he just didn’t want to be around his two friends while they played their little games.
“Okay. Well, see you tonight, then.” Akira gave him a soft smile. Shinjiro gave her a nod and left.
C: So what, do they meet up every night to wait through the Not!Dark Hour? Even though it isn’t showing up?
Akira didn’t look away from the door for a few minutes. Akihiko felt a ping in his chest. He didn’t know what it meant, but he wanted it to go away. Immediately.
N: DUR! What these emotion thingies?
“I wonder if he’s ok?” Akira said thoughtfully. “He wanted to see you, I thought. But he didn’t stay very long.”
C: So I take it that was a very quiet heated discussion the two of them had.
Akihiko sighed and looked at the white wood his best friend had gone through.
E: The prick. That stuff is expensive.
“He’s fine. You don’t need to worry about him.”
“Ok.” Akira returned to the boy and started putting bandages over his clean cuts. “How are you, though?”
“Yeah. Do these hurt?” She poked at one of the bandages. Akihiko grimaced. Akira tried to hide her smile.
N: Oh yeah, she’s really concerned about him. So concerned that she’s poking his injuries for fun.
“What was that for?!” He demanded.
“Sorry! Just making sure you’re focus is back here.”
Akihiko gave her a confused look. “What do you mean?”
Akira shook her head. “Nothing.”
The girl gave him a smile, but she seemed distracted. Akihiko thought about Shinjiro’s words: had he been worrying her? She did always panic whenever he came home with injuries, no matter how small.
“Are you alright?”
C: The narrative is informing traits again. Cut it out.
Akira turned around so that he couldn’t see her face. “Of course! Why do you ask?” She pulled out his surely cold dinner from the microwave and put it next to him on the counter. She started to walk away, but Akihiko still couldn’t see her face. It bothered him, so he reached out for her wrist. The usual shock from their physical connection buzzed insanely. Akira then met his gaze.
E: For the love of God, these people have got to be one of the most painfully awkward couples I have ever seen in my time on the library. Can they please touch pinkies without electric shocks?
“You…know that you can tell me anything, right?” Akihiko searched her face to try and understand her feelings, the ones he had so cruelly attempted to ignore. Akira’s eyes betrayed her, and their crimson tint darkened ever so slightly.
“Have I been…upsetting you?” She asked quietly.
N: Well yeah. You kind of go running off to fight street punks the second you scrap elbows. It’s only natural that she would draw some form of conclusion.
Her gaze met his. This time, she was searching for something within him.
C: What would that be? Car keys? Probably somewhere between his gall bladder and his kidney. Jesus. I sounded like Goeth just now.
“Ever since that day in the hotel, you’ve been running away from me, like I’m some sort of…trash, almost.
C: Uh no. That comparison doesn’t work. Trash implies disgust.
You can only seem to stay near me for so long before you finally can’t stand the stench of me anymore, whatever that ‘stench’ may be…. What have I been doing to make you do…this to yourself?” She gestured to the bruises and gashes on his face without touching him.\
N: This conversation just took a weird angle. I’m not 100% sure how to react.
Akihiko sighed, staring into the shadows between his fingers and her pale skin. The shade was lighter than Akihiko’s and he wondered for a moment when he’d gotten so tan. It was possible that he just looked like he had darker skin when he was next to Akira, but he wasn’t sure which it was…
E: Pale skin. Big of a border case, but Hell, it counts.
(Mary Sue Counter: 21)
“We’re friends, aren’t we, Akihiko?” The way she said his name made both his heart and lungs catch their breath. He could hear the doubt in her voice, the insecurities that had come with losing a large chunk of her identity and purpose to memory loss. She didn’t have anyone but him and the team, and he could feel through the pulse under her skin her fear of being truly alone.
C: How can you consider him your friend if you insist that he treats you like trash? Those two things seem to contradict each other.
Miki crossed his mind then…the memory of her death, in particular. He may have had Shinjiro at his side, but after that day, he’d felt like he’d lost his only friend on the entire planet. He’d never felt so alone before, and had been trying to force that feeling away ever since he was strong enough to knock out his first opponent. Miki had been everything to him…but this girl-the one with red eyes before him-had no one to remember in the first place. Akihiko couldn’t imagine a life without the memories of his younger sister, no matter how painful he may have been.
N: Wait, this paragraph is confused. First we’re on about how he’s upset about Minako dying, then she shift to that time he lost his sister and how he feels sorry for Akira because she can’t remember anyone to lose and what the fuck are we even on about.
This is what Shinjiro had been trying to talk to him about. He’d been trying to warn Akihiko about being more sensitive, and putting Akira’s feelings before his own. What a shitty protector and friend he was being…
C: Well he’s been keeping her physically safe, so he’s being a good protector…it’s just that he never has actually had to defend her from anything yet. Good job?
Akihiko sighed and met the girl’s eyes straight on. “You haven’t done anything,” he assured her. “It’s not your fault that I’ve been acting this way…it’s mine.” Akira’s head tilted slightly, but her gaze stayed trained on the boy’s. Akihiko sighed again, fighting against the swelling memories of his beloved. “You just…remind me of someone I know, someone I really cared about once, before she…passed on.”
E: Has no one gotten around to telling Akira about Minako in the past couple of months? She was more or less the leader of the group, you think it would’ve come up a couple of times in conversation.
Akira’s features softened. She seemed to understand. “Oh…,” was all she could muster.
“Please, forgive me,” Akihiko added quickly. “I don’t want you to take this personally. You’re my friend, too, and…I don’t want you to feel bad about this. It’s something that you can’t help. It’s not your fault.”
Akira suddenly moved from his grasp and reached her arms out towards his chest, stopping only inches away. At the last moment, she pulled back, then buried her head into his pectorals.
N: Pectorals? Leave the poor thesaurus alone! What the Hell did it ever do to you?
C: Seriously, that wording is about as smooth as a rockslide.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered, turning her head out from his skin so she could speak. “I’m sorry that I remind you of something so painful that you feel…like you have to hurt yourself.” Akihiko had frozen under her, not sure what to do from there. He felt something warm and wet slide down his muscles and realized that Akira was crying silently. Akihiko wrapped his arms around her body, all-too aware of how small and delicate she was beneath his hulking arms. He held her there for a few moments, hoping that his next words were the ones that would ease her heart.
“This changes nothing, you know. I’ll still keep my promise to protect you until you get your memories back. And I’m still your friend. Please don’t cry….”
E: Man everyone is trying to steal the thunder of how can be the most tragic in this scene. “I’m such a horrible person, I’ve been neglecting you!”
C: “No I’m a horrible person, I’ve been making you receive these memories!”
N: Also the prose is starting to get a little purple. Not too purple but a slight shade of purple.
Akira, after a few moments, stepped out of Akihiko’s grasp and met his eyes. They stared into each other, both holding their breaths until their faces started turning blue. At last, she gave a small smile.
N: There any reason that they were holding their breath for that long? It’s not like they were kissing.
“Thank you, Akihiko.” She said to him. Her voice was calm, and she didn’t have to stumble over a sob. Her hands pulled themselves into her chest and her gaze fell to the floor awkwardly. Neither knew what to say after that, and they sat for a long time in that kitchen without uttering a word. Eventually, they both ended up heading to their rooms for a short nap before the Dark Hour.
E: Ok, is the Not!Dark Hour happening on a regular basis or not? Because, like with many other things, this story is being really inconsistent about this.
Akihiko knew that he should sleep, but he couldn’t. ‘If I don’t rest, my body won’t perform at it’s top level,’ he kept lecturing himself. His mind and body, however, seemed to be on different planes of thought. Akira’s saddened face popped into his head every few seconds or so. To think that she’d tried to so hard to hide her tears from him…it made Akihiko feel like an ass.
C: This is something that we had a problem with back in From Another World and it hasn’t stopped being a problem here. Keep swearing out of the narrative! It’s annoying! Also frankly I don’t know why you two feel sorry for each other, you pretty much made no attempts to communicate despite supposedly being such good friends.
More of Shinjiro’s insults poured into his head. The boy tried to drown them out by putting a large pillow over his face, but only succeeded in irritating his wounds.
N: Pillows stop lines of thought? That’s a new one.
He sighed and sat up in his bed; there was no chance of getting any rest tonight.
A sudden scream came from the other room and Akihiko leapt off of his covers, rushing towards Akira’s room. The door was shut, so he slammed his shoulder into it-like any logical person would, of course.
E: Was that supposed to be a joke? If so it’s completely tone deaf.
The door burst off of its hinges, landing harshly on the floor. Akira didn’t seem to notice, as she was thrashing uncontrollably on top of her sheets. Upon closer inspection, her eyes were still closed.
C: Uh, no. You don’t sleep through someone smashing your door down. Period.
“Noooooo!” The girl screamed. “Leave me allloooonnnneee!”
Akihiko grabbed Akira’s shoulders and stated to shake her.
“Akira! Wake up!”
“No! Make it stop! Make it stop! PLEASE! Too many people shouting! I-I don’t want to see anymore of this! PLEASE!”
“Akira! Please wake up!” Akihiko called again.
She was crying now, and her constant thrashing against his hold was giving her bruises.
N: Christ, this girl is the heaviest sleeper ever. Door being kicked down, someone shaking her, thrashing around so hard she bruises herself? I’ve never even heard of the last one being possible. If someone doesn’t wake up after that I’m calling in a priest.
“Make it stop! I can’t take it! Stop it! STOP IT!”
Akihiko desperately wrapped his arms around her torso, restraining the girl’s violent flailing. Akira continued to scream. Akihiko buried his face into the crook of her neck.
“Please, calm down,” he begged softly. “I’m here, I’m here…”
E: Maybe I’m just a horrible person, but honestly reading about her crying in agony is honestly just getting annoying. I can honestly hear it in my head and it is fucking nails on a chalkboard.
He remembered a time when Miki had been scared. It was late at night in the orphanage and she’d had a bad dream. She’d curled up into Akihiko’s bed and wouldn’t stop crying. Akihiko held her tightly until she’d calmed down and fallen fast asleep.
“Please…” He didn’t realize it at first, but he’d started sobbing. The memory of holding his sweet baby sister seemed so close of a memory that he could almost smell her innocent scent. It made his heart tighten and his eyes burn. “Miki….” He was helpless to help anyone….
C: I swear they’re forcing the tragek into this scene as subtle as forcing a whole pineapple down someone’s throat with a sledgehammer.
N: This woman is crying and it reminds me of that time my sister cried while we were orphans and now my sister is dead and I can’t protect anyone-FEEL SORRY FOR ME!
Finally, after an agonizing hour of this,
E: HOUR!? At that point you call a damn ambulance because there is officially something medically wrong with her.
Akira’s body stilled, and her breathing regulated. She snuggled into Akihiko’s body, her cold and runny nose rubbing up against his bare skin. The boy sighed in relief and wiped his eyes on the pillow beneath him. Akira’s warm body nestled itself deep into his and he felt incredibly comfortable having her so close. The tight tingle of his skin touching her arms and back was like getting a gentle massage. It was lolling him into a deep and cozy sleep….
E: Christ. I’ve got a pain in my neck, a headache and now my ears are ringing. What the hell just happened?
E: Ah. Sounds right.
Before he knew it, the Dark Hour came, making the world a deep blue. Akira’s eyes opened the moment the aura touched her skin.
C: So everything else couldn’t wake her up, but the Not!Dark Hour could, even though it was established in game that the original Dark Hour was very easy to sleep though. Hm. Yeah. I call bullshit.
“It’s here,” she muttered, lifting off of her companion. She kept her hazy stare trained on the window, overlooking the brilliant city.
“What is?” Akihiko asked. Akira didn’t answer. She only rose from her bed and approached the window. She opened it wide and, though no breeze came in, Akihiko suddenly felt colder. He watched for only a moment as Akira stepped onto the sill-then made to jump. The silverette panicked and dashed to her side.
N: What in the ever loving name of YHVH is going on in this scene? It was already pretty damn confusing but now It’s even more so.
“Akira!” He called as he wrapped his arms around the girl’s frail waist. He dragged the girl back inside, nearly toppling over as his foot caught on a jacket on the floor. The girl shook her head vigorously. Her head bobbed up and looked around the room a bit before turning to Akihiko.
C: Exactly how does one’s foot catch on a jacket that is simply lying on the floor?
“What…what happened?” Her eyes were back to normal, their red glow blinking slowly as her mind started waking up. Akihiko felt his anxiety rush full force up into his head.
“What?! You tried to jump out a window, Akira!”
The girl was surprised. “I what?”
“Do you have idea how scared I was?! I thought you were going to-” Akihiko saw Akira’s face flinch as he squeezed her too tight. He quickly released her and took a series of deep breaths.
Akira looked to the window. “Why did I…?”
E: I don’t know, I’m patently waiting for the story to tell me what the hell is going on and so far it’s being a bit of a disappointment in that regard. In that and many other fields.
Akihiko’s cell phone rang in his pocket. He swore under his breath. He picked it up. “Hey…. Yeah, I know. We’re late. We’re on our way.”
N: Oh by the way Akira had a weird fit thing in her sleep that went on for a solid hour and then she tried to jump out a window, toodles.
He put the phone away. “Let’s go.”
Akira followed her friend closely, unable to say much the entire trip. Akihiko glanced back at her once. For now, he decided he would keep the event to himself. But he made himself a vibrant promise to keep a more watchful eye on the girl.
C: Was that resolution to a character arc? Uh. Yay?
N: That chapter took awhile, so we’ll do the next rather short chapter then call it a day.
(Song Counter: 12)
“Welcome to the Velvet Room.”
Akira’s head bobbed up in surprise. “Theodore?” The blonde man smiled and gave her a bow.
N: Ok with the sheer amount of bobbing her head is doing this snarking I’m starting to worry that her vertebrae might have been damaged.
“Greetings, honored guest,” he said.
“It’s been a while.” Akira gave him a small smile. “How have you been?”
C: What? Igor and Theodore never gave her the key that lets her go back into the Velvet Room that would’ve allowed her to fuse Personas together? And for that matter, Akira has the power of the Wild Card, yet we’ve never seen her use any other Personas. Why bother with the Wild Card if you’re not actually going to use it?
“Quite well, thank you.” He stood back up, straightening his back and staring up at the ceiling of the elevator. “It will be a full moon tomorrow night.”
Akira followed his gaze, examining the way the bars crossed over each other like some sick blue cage. “Yes.”
Theodore met her eyes again. “How may I help you?”
E: Conversation over I guess. Onto the next one. Good…good talk. *Head desk* Idiots.
“I don’t know. I just…fell asleep and ended up here.” She glanced around. “I suppose that Igor couldn’t make it.”
“Then, perhaps this would be an excellent time to explain my quests to you.”
“Yes. I have certain requests that, should you fulfill, I’ll reward you with items that you can use in the outside world.”
“Oh…well, alright. What requests do you have for me?”
N: That’s it? That’s what is so important that she had to be brought into the Velvet Room? The rather silly side quests that get you decent at best items? WHY IS THIS BEING BROUGHT UP!?
… … … … …
Akira walked side by side with Shinjiro, carrying a bag of groceries in her arms. Shinjiro carried four between his fingers.
“Are you sure that you want to carry all of those on your own?” She asked him again. Shinjiro gave a “tch”.
“I ain’t a wimp,” he muttered.
E: This is what I was talking about earlier when I said Akihiko and Shinji were acting stereotypical. “I CAN LIFT THIS BECAUSE IMMA BIG STRONG MAN!”
“I know! I just…” Akira glanced at the bags and tried to reach out for one of them. Shinjiro moved them to one hand, giving her a stern look.
“I got this.”
Akira withdrew. “Fine! Fine. But if you throw out your back, it’s not my fault, old man.” She gave him a joking grin. He harrumphed and walked on.
C: Harrumphed? Harrumphed. Harrrrrrrrumped. Christ, spellcheck actually recognizes it as a work. It’s still clunky as fuck though.
Akira’s cell rang and she swiftly answered it when she saw the caller ID.
“Hey, Akihiko!” She greeted.
“Hey,” the boy answered. “What’s up?”
“Just finishing some grocery shopping. How about you?”
“Junpei and I are doing some research with Yukari. We’re going through some old files before tonight’s battle. We haven’t found much, but we’re thinking of a few places where the next Shadow could show up.”
N: We decided to wait until the last second to do this instead of the entire month we had on account of the fact that we are kind of stupid.
There was a short pause on the other end. “Is someone with you?”
“Yeah, Shinjiro is. He’s been helping me out.”
Akihiko sighed. “Good. I don’t want you to be alone.”
E: Because they’re afraid that she’ll get attacked outside of the Not!Dark Hour? Why?
“I can’t imagine why! You’ve been a bit overprotective lately.” She didn’t realize that he had his reasons; her memories from the week prior were a bit of a blur.
“Just don’t give him too much trouble. I’ll be back later tonight to pick you up for the Dark Hour.”
N: So where are these groceries going? Akira and Shinji live in different houses, so is Shinji helping Akira with her shopping? Makes sense I guess, but how did this happen? Did Akira just call up Shinji and say “I’m going grocery shopping, can you tag along for no reason?”
“Ok. I’ll be sure to have something ready for you to eat! I bought lots of protein!” Akira could hear the silverette give a tiny laugh, the sweet kind that was more affectionate the humorous.
C: That doesn’t make any sense. Even if you bought him protein shakes you don’t just by protein. That’s like saying “I bought fats” or “I bought carbohydrates.”
“Ok, see you tonight, then.”
He hung up and Akira turned back to Shinjiro. The boy hadn’t looked at her directly until she put the phone away.
“How’s the meathead?” He asked.
“Fine. They may have a few leads on the next Shad-.” Akira’s foot stumbled off of the curb-they’d reached the end of the sidewalk. The lights had just turned from the “cross” symbol to “stop”. Akira had enough time to take in a deep gasp as a sterling silver car sped her way….
E: If it just sped through, that means it must have been waiting at the intersection at a red light and really should’ve seen Akira. Basically the driver of that car tried to murder her. And what kind of cross walk changes from walk to stop in three seconds? Unless it had already been at walk for awhile, in which case they should’ve waited.
There was a clatter above the din-glass shattering and boxes collapsing. A hand threw itself out to Akira’s wrist and yanked her back as hard as it could. She crashed into a stone chest as the car whizzed by.
Shinjiro held Akira in his arms, panting wildly.
“You ok?” He asked. Akira stared up into his face, pulse still racing uncontrollably. She nodded. Shinjiro took a very deep breath and met her gaze. His dark eyes hardened and made her blood freeze.
“You an idiot or somethin’?! You could’ve gotten killed! You need to watch where you’re walkin’!”
C: Nice going douchebag. All people who nearly died want to get yelled at.
“I-I’m sorry!” Akira replied meekly. She tried to back away, but Shinjiro’s arms held her to him for a moment longer.
“I’ll let you go if you promise not to do anything stupid.”
Akira grunted a bit in his tight grasp, but nodded. “Ok.”
N: *Head desk* Everyone in this story is either an idiot or a prick. Also I remember Shinji being a lot less emotional than this. He didn’t even get that emotional when confronted with the person whose mother he accidentally killed (Long story, lost control of his Persona when he was younger, reason he quit the team and started taking pills to suppress his Persona). So I don’t buy this.
Shinjiro at last released her. Akira glanced down at his jacket-covered muscles and gave a little gasp. She saw the groceries nearby, splayed all over the ground like a poorly prepared dinner. She gave her friend a sad expression.
E: OH COME ON! Go back and buy more groceries, with Mitsuru feeding your pocket it’s not like it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg.
“What? It was you or the food, kid.” He turned away awkwardly, glaring at the street light.
“Maybe we should go back to get more….” Akira mused. Shinjiro glanced at the sky.
“It’s getting late. Let’s scrap what we can and get back before midnight.”
C: Unless it’s 11:30 PM I think you can manage to head back to the store to grab a few more things. Also, what the Hell was the point of this? To show if Akira goes anywhere without adult supervision she’s going to die a horribly contrived death?
He bent over to start scooping up the cans and boxes that didn’t get damaged. Akira went to help him as people passed them by with barely a second glance. Shinjiro coughed once, twice. Three times. A hand went to his throat. His blonde companion reached out to him.
N: The narration feels the out need to count out the coughs one by one and do little else with them. It’s kind of weird.
Shinjiro cleared his throat and pushed her hand away. “I’m fine. Let’s get back.”
E: MEN DON’T GET SICK!
… … … … …
Shinjiro helped Akira get home and started helping her cook while she tried to salvage what was left of their shopping list. The entire time he stirred or sliced something, Akira was staring up at him with weighing concern. Shinjiro finally glanced over at her after a while; he realized then that he’d been forgetting more and more often that she had red eyes like Her.
C: I don’t know how you can forget when it keeps getting brought up every three seconds. Also see? You made it home with an hour and a half to spare. Plenty of time to head back to the store real quick.
“What?” He asked, annoyed.
Akira frowned. “Are you alright? Your cough was pretty bad on the way home…”
E: He coughed three times. I’ve coughed more from times I accidentally drank water too fast.
“Tch.” He tossed the pan’s contents in the air several times before putting it back down to simmer. When he turned around, Akira had approached him. She was right in his face with her damn doe-eyes. “What?”
Akira reached up to touch his neck. She had to slide his black turtleneck down to brush his skin. When her fingertips traced his bare flesh, he flinched, but didn’t back away. Akira took that as a sign to keep going, so she trailed over his veins and bones.
“It feels a bit stiff,” she commented. “And you’re a little warm.” She pushed her fingers under his beanie and tested his temperature. He stared down at her as she examined him. It had been so long since anyone had dared to touch him like that.
N: Ok we’re gonna have to stop. Which boy toy does Akira want? Because unless she can come to some kind of understanding between the two of them, which I highly doubt will happen, she has to chose. Also dared? Dared? Tone down the hostility Shinji.
“You a doctor now?” He was surprised when she didn’t give a snaky retort. Akira had gotten lost in his eyes.
“This…has happened before?” She said it aloud, but was more so asking herself than her friend. He felt an odd and familiar jolt go through him. What was going on? What was she seeing in his gaze? She looked liked she’d just seen the ghost of a dead relative.
C: Very specific ghost she looks like she just saw. Different from the look she would have if it was a friend or a fuck buddy?
N: Also, what has happened before? The coughing? Yeah people tend to do that. I don’t get why it’s a big deal, he didn’t exactly cough up blood in that scene.
The front door opened and Akihiko stepped inside. Akira hurriedly pulled away from Shinjiro, her focus completely on the silverette.
“You’re home!” she greeted joyfully, rushing to the boy’s side. “Welcome back!”
Shinjiro made a noise in the back of his throat as he returned to the food. Akihiko gave Akira a smile and a pat on the head. The girl blushed slightly when his hand touched her.
E: I swear Akira changes mood way too fast. It’ a little on the disturbing side.
“How are things?” He asked his best friend. Shinjiro gave Akihiko a glance.
“Fine,” the brunette replied. “Just finishing up.”
“Well, we’d better eat quickly. We need to meet up with Mitsuru and the others in less than an hour.” Akira and Akihiko started to chat excitedly. While they weren’t looking, Shinjiro reached up to touch his throat. He let out a clear, brief chuckle. How strange…
N: Heh. I find this amusing for no reason.
E: And with that, the chapter comes to a close. I think we can *Smash* What the Hell? I…Oh God no. Is that?
C: Son of a bitch!
N: Cornelia with me!
M: I think I’ve waited long enough.