Character list: Isao Hironori (Morry), Yoshihiro Renge (Mani Mani)
Total words: 3645 words.
Summary: Renge has a nightmare after the Niou rescue mission. It haunts her quite badly, and she wants to find someone to talk to, to confide. Then she finds someone who can relieves her fear and gets her peaceful sleep back.
Trigger warning: none.
*Effacé is classical ballet term meaning “shaded.” The term describes another step or pose in which the legs looks open, or not crossed, when seen from the front.
Cover by Mani.
Renge was confused, found herself standing in the middle a pitch black room, how did she get here? Where is she? Countless of questions course through her head.
She looks around, trying to find an exit or a door but no avail. The room was too dark for her to see anything.
"I...I need to get out of here--" mustering some of her courage, she took a step into the darkness. Suddenly, the black space changes and distorts, transforming into the midnight sea. It's blue as far as the eye can see.
"The... sea?" Not giving any chance for her to think, the scenery warps again into another form, the sports hall.
A giant bird and countless of lost souls surrounded her. They all muttered and whispered to the girl.
How could this be?
P-please don't hurt me!
"Oh-oh no...! This is horrible... Who did this to you? How can I help you?" she asked the floating shadows. But her questions were lost into the air, they kept on screaming and weeping.
The sounds were getting unbearable. The girl covered her ears and tried to block out the voice, but it's no use. It's like the souls were screaming directly into her mind.
"S-stop...!" Renge pleaded, but nothing happened. The souls crept on her and got hold of her arms, dragging her into the whirlpool of souls.
She screamed and struggled away from them but the souls would always dragged her back again, and again, and again. Until she had no energy left to break free.
"Please stop-- P-lease let me go," she begged and cried, but it all fall onto deaf ears. The souls continued to weep.
It hurts!!! It hurts!!!
Renge felt herself being swept away into the myriad of emotion, slowly losing her own consciousness, The girl drowned further and deeper.
Until she felt nothing.
The girl jolts awake, her heart beating fast and cold sweat runs down her temples, she breathes heavily.
"It's...that dream again"
Since that fight with the giant Dodo, Renge had been getting nightmares. It's always the same; the dark room, the sea, the sports hall, and in the end, she always fell victim to the souls.
"I-it's just a dream... It's just a dream," she repeats to herself, trying to assure her heart that she's fine.
But her hands are still trembling, the dream felt too real. She can still feel the cold touch of the phantoms.
In hope to distract herself, Renge took her phone, It's 1 AM. Tsubaki must have fallen asleep, she doesn't have the heart to wake him up in the dead of the night but she desperately needs to talk to someone.
And a certain raven haired boy pops into her mind.
She remembers him having trouble sleeping, so there might be a chance for him to still be awake at this hour right?
She ponders at either calling him up or not, but in the end fear gets the better of her. She decides to ask him first.
Renge opens the chatting app, and with trembling fingers she sent the boy a message.
[Are you awake Isao-kun?]
A creaking sound of a faucet being turned echoes in the bathroom. Hironori just finished having a warm bath and getting out of the room. Yes, he's having a bath in midnight. Weird as it seems, but to him, it's refreshing to do so. Especially after dancing through the night that made your body sweat all over.
He exits the bathroom with a towel wraps on his nape and boxers. The boy dries his hair with the towel and about to hit the bed, but not before he takes his phone from his study desk. And just when he about to sits on the edge of the bed, a chat comes in.
It's from Renge.
Hiro frowns. Odd, usually she's already asleep by this time. When he opens the chat, his frown's deepens. There must be something happen if she asks him at this kind of time.
Without continuing his further action to sit on the bed, he replies to her chat, the sound of a quick, typing phone fills the quiet room.
She lets out a relieved sigh as a reply comes in. The girl immediately types out a reply.
[I just had a very... Scary dream
can i call you?]
Usually she won't even consider calling him out of nowhere but this time, she really wants some distraction. Other things so she can forget about her nightmares.
Once the reply comes in again, his heart clenches a bit. She needs him. And that brings some spark inside him, but that's not the important matter now. Hiro immediately opens the girl's contact info and dials the number.
Seeing Hiro's name pops on the screen, the girl quickly picks up the call.
"H-hello?" her voice trembles as she speaks.
He frowns again at her trembling voice. Of course, she just had a nightmare. He wants to ask about it immediately, but he thinks the better of it.
Instead, he smirks as he says softly and a bit flirtatiously, "Is having a call from me in such midnight really make you that nervous?"
Hearing his voice on the other line sure calms her down a little, at least she's not alone now.
Though really, the teasing never ends for the boy huh? Renge smiles a little at his remark.
"I'm not nervous..." she replies
"Hmm? Is that so?" He asks with a teasing tone as he sits on his bed and leans back. "Was it cold, then? Do you want me to come over to give you my fur coat?"
He adds again smugly, "Or do you rather want my body heat?"
"Geeeeeez Isao-kun!!" she whines, but it makes her laugh a little. "The way you say it sound so indecent really!"
Hiro laughs at her whine and relieved when she also laugh. He feels glad that he can make her at least a bit better.
"Well, you did snuggle to me, trying to gain some of my heat the other day. Am I really that warm to you?" His smirk turns into smile.
The memory from that day resurfaces, it makes her blush a little.
"well... Yes you are very warm" she admits. "Warm like a.... Dog".
The girl went silent at her own words, then she apologizes immediately.
"O-oh sorry! I meant it in a good way of course!"
Hiro laughs loudly at the implication. "So who do you think is warmer, then? My Persona or me?" The boy asks as he giggles.
It's amusing, really, to tease her. It's always brighten his mood, but he also deems for the girl to be cheered with it too.
She can't help but laugh again at the question. "About the same? I mean the both of you are... umm equally fluffy"
Though talking with Hiro sure cheered her up, the mention of persona makes her remember her nightmare, The girl quickly buries the thought and she blabbers to distract herself.
"B-but well you're even warmer when I hugged you topless though!" she blurts out, not realizing whatever she just said.
Hiro perks up at her statement. His heart races as he remembers the time he leaned on her back when she nursed him, cleaning his back. The image is enough to make him long for her presence.
"Oh?" He inquires with a raise of an eyebrow. "Do you want to come over, then? I'm currently topless, by the way, with only my boxers. Coincidentally," he purrs softly. "I can embrace your discomfort."
When he realizes he's actually seducing her, he palms his face. He's not supposed to do that now! Not at this time! How idiot he is! He supposed to keep her at least half of an arm's length until the time comes.
So he immediately covers that up. "Well, but that cannot be done, because I won't let you come over by yourself at midnight. It's dangerous." He curses mentally at his own stupidity. Remember what you're aiming, Hiro, he speaks to himself.
She immediately imagines Hiro topless, on a bed, patting the space beside him, urging her to come to his side. The girl almost exploded from the imagination.
"D-d-Don't tease me like that Isao-kun!!! Sheesh!" she stammers, her face red and hot from her earlier imagination.
"Of course! It would already be the dark hour when i arrive there---"
Renge stops her sentence, the girl fell silent at the word, images from her nightmare plays in her mind again.
Soon the sea will rise and the whispers will come, she trembles again. Her line fell silent as fear crept up to her again.
Noticing her sudden silence, he sighs faintly. It seems that she's really troubled right now, and probably it's about the Sea.
So he decides to ask her about it. "Do you... do you want to talk about it? Your nightmare?" He speaks softly. "Did something happen to you?"
The girl snaps back to reality when she Hears Hiro's voice. She hesitates a little, but in the end she decides to confide to him.
"Several days ago..in the sea... We... I-i were hunting down a shadow and stumbled upon a room," she says with a bit trembling voice. "Inside of the room... There are countless of phantoms.. Lost souls, weeping and hurting. Maybe... Because of my ability, I was able to hear it more clearly, their cries." Her breathing starts to become more erratic.
"I heard it all, their pain, sadness, anger, all too clear. It feels like they're screaming directly to me. After defeating the shadow, the phantoms too... Disappear, but... I can't get their cries out of my head and now it's inside my dream too."
"I see." Hiro listens to Renge's story with grim expression. That's almost hit close to home; it's as if she's experiencing his suffering. The whispers of his own Shadow haunt him almost every night or even day, if he doesn't drink the pill.
But--he frowns, then--for what she's hunting down a Shadow? Is that what Persona users do? He wants to ask about it, but he guess now it's not the time.
"Were you hurt back then? Was it powerful Shadow?" He asks again softly. "You should have tell me about it so I could help you." But he supposes that won't be likely; he knows that she's not alone. But he's also a bit angry; they cannot protect her properly. Even if she's not hurt physically, they failed to protect her fully if she's seeking his help.
Hiro should only be the one who protect her. Just only him would be sufficient, she doesn't need the other ten.
"oh I'm fine!" the one doing all the fighting are her friends, she just lent them her support.
"I guess I'm just...tired" she chuckles, though she sounds very exhausted. "I don't know why they are appearing on my dreams like this, is it trying to tell me something?"
Hiro sighs in both relieved and also tired hearing her tone. It's like its affect him in a way that he also understands her feeling, even though he doesn't know what she really does at the Sea without him watching.
He sighs again when she questions him. "Well... At least those whispers aren't yours, right? They don't concern you. If you ask me what they are, I don't really know. I also hears whispers whenever I entered a dungeon or if there are Shadows around." He shrugs rather tiredly. "I guess I'm used to it."
Well it's no like she expects answer out of him, the whole shadow and soul fiasco is really mysterious.
Instead the girl is intrigued listening to his words, "your whispers? What do you mean by that, Isao-kun?"
Ah. Well, at least it can stirs the girl from talking about her nightmare. But it's also quite hard for him speaking about his haunted whispers.
Now that he thinks of it, did she experience the same thing when she awakened her power? She didn't experience the whispers of her own?
"How do you awaken to your Persona, Yoshi?" He replies with a question. "I guess it's a bit different since ours... well, are a bit different kind too."
She's a little surprised by the sudden question, but she answers anyway. "Well as strange as it seems... I first encountered...another me."
She remembers back to that day, where an exact copy of her appears; eye glinting in gold and a sinister smile plastered on her face. It was surely something she won't forget.
"Another... you?" Hiro echoes. Well, he didn't remember meeting some kind of... "another him" when he awaken to his power. Shimamura just got the damn huge dog out of him.
"Then... what happened? What is this... "another you" actually? How do you meet... her?" Hiro is kind of confused with the topic, hence the hesitating question.
"I didn't know where she comes from... I think it was also my first time experiencing the dark hour," she speaks slowly.
"Well...the other me..or the Shadow me was..quite hostile," she continues. "She starts to spout lots of hurtful words at me, things.... I don't like about myself, things I pretend I'm okay with but... I'm not." the girl winces a little at the memory, it was like a harsh slap on her face.
Renge looks down and continues speaking. "At first I denied her, and it went rampant on me...almost killing me actually." The girl subconsciously touches her neck where the 'shadow' choked her back then.
"I almost gave up and resigned to my fate, but then I remembered the important things of my life... things that gave me courage." The grip on her phone became tighter. "And it made me realize... that I don't want to turn a blind eye on my negative emotions, my own shadow."
She inhales deeply. "And so I embraced her, I accepted myself. That's how I got my Persona."
Hiro's eyes widen. Well, that's quite a story. It is different the way he awakened to his power. She didn't met anyone to awaken her power. She met... herself, as the story she tells him.
Hiro is quiet for a moment to process this. So, in short, she faced her "other self", her own "Shadow". And this Shadow spoke about undesirable truth, much like those dogs inside him keep on telling him. And when she accepted her other self, it turned into a Persona.
Probably it's not really different after all. Or is it? He shakes his head as he's starting to get more confused. Things she doesn't like and pretend it to be okay? What does it mean? He cannot correlate to the event he experienced when he got his Shadow Persona.
Well. Maybe it actually is different.
"I see. I thought it may be related to your Persona awakening. That nightmare of yours, I mean," he explains. "So I asked you about it. Well, seems yours is a bit more... complicated than mine. But...," he pauses. "At least you don't experience the... emotional raging, right?"
"Emotional raging? Like...the one I saw weeks ago?" she asks carefully, now she wonders how his own Persona is formed too.
Based on the discussion she had with her team mates, it seems like the Shadow Persona is fueled by 'desire' or perhaps other emotion. All that's clear that his Persona is very much different from hers.
"How did you gain your Persona, Isao-kun?" she asks curiously.
Hiro startles at the question. Well, he supposed to be expecting that she's going to ask him about it. But should he tells her the truth or not?
Well... he was fainted at that time, though. Still, he still very much remembers how Shimamura's Persona pulled Fenris out of his chest.
If he tells her the whole story, she might also ask why he seek the book clerk out to awaken to his power. So it seems he has to make it vague, then. He hopes she won't ask him more into it.
"Mine was... hurtful too." He supposed he can tell her the detail about his emotional raging. "It was... train-wrecking. My chest was pounding with various emotions. And those mixed feelings were so unbearable to me that I was actually fainted."
He lets out a dry laugh. "And once I awake, it was already there. My Persona." He shrugs. "I didn't really remember much since I passed out at that time." Not really a lie, though. He just doesn't cover the beginning when he met the book clerk.
"O-oh I see..." the explanation was a bit vague, but maybe he just don't want to talk much about it? The girl decides to not press further about this.
"...are you okay now?" she asks again, worried.
Hiro chuckles. "Why is it me now you worry about? Didn't you call me because you're the one having the nightmare?" He speaks softly as he smiles. Can't this girl just worry and care about herself for once?
"So how about you? Are you still scared? Do you want me to come over?" He offers. He's a bit serious about it, he has the kind of need to calm and comfort the girl.
"Well true...but I just can't help it, you look like you're in serious pain that time... I can't help but worry!" she exclaims.
Renge blushes at his offer. "It's already this late, I wouldn't want to bother..." she doesn't decline it but to be honest, maybe an assuring hug would be nice.
What is she thinking?! Remember Yoshihiro Renge, he likes someone else!! The girl screams to herself while her cheeks are red in embarrassment.
"It's fine," Hiro chuckles again as he assures her. "As long as I drink the medicine, I'm all fine. Don't worry."
Then he laughs again lightly. "Yeah, you're right. I suppose we should wait until the sun rises." He glances at the wide window in front of him. "Do you want to meet up today, then?"
"Hmm okay," she speaks softly and then yawns, looks like she's getting sleepy again.
"Yeah.. That would be nice" she smiles at her phone. The girl yawns again, she is a bit reluctant to sleep but her body and mind is getting weary.
He smiles when he hears her yawning. He hopes she already forgotten about her nightmare.
"Sleep, Yoshi. If something happens again, just phone me right away," Hiro suggests.
The girl yawns again. "oh I hope I can sleep.... Maybe if I can't I should join your morning run..." she drawls sluggishly.
"If I do... Wake up again, I hope it's not in the dark hour... I can't talk to anyone at that time," she laughs lightly, though a little scared at the fact.
"Well," Hiro shifts on his bed. "If that really happens, just send me a telepathic message," the boy jokes with a cheeky grin. "You know, communicate through our Persona. Oh, or should I send my wolves to your house?"
Although, it won't be likely because the range is too far for him. He wonders if he can widen it and improve his wolves' ability.
Renge can only chuckle at his suggestion.
"Well I'll go to sleep now... Good night Isao-kun"
"Thank you for accompanying me at this strange hour." She smiles at her phone again. It makes her happy being able to talk to him right now.
"Call me anytime, Yoshi." Hiro smiles wider. "Tell me if you need anything. And goodnight."
"Mhmm... See you later!" With that, she hangs up the phone and checking the time; it's almost 3 AM. No wonder she's very sleepy.
The girl puts away her phone on the night stand and pulled up her blanket. Though she's still a little scared about her dream, talking to someone about it gives her some assurance.
Renge closes her eyes and not long after, the girl slips into another slumber.
She found herself in the dark room again, the scenery from the dream replayed exactly as how it is from before.
The dark room, the sea, then the sports hall filled with the shadow and souls. She found herself running away from the surrounding souls again.
As the souls tried to grab her, a single, four-legged shadow rushed into the girl's view, shredding the soul to pieces. Then in a swift move, the figure took her and threw Renge on its back, making a run with it.
It all happened too fast that the girl didn't actually grasp the situation, but she held onto the figure tightly until they managed to get away from the place.
The scenery changes back into the vast blue sea. It looks like they managed to escape from the shadows. Sensing no more danger, the furry, giant four-legged creature gently lowered girl to the ground. Then Renge looked up to see her rescuer's form.
When the moon shone through, the figure revealed itself; it was a black wolf. It's fur as black as the night and it's eyes glinted golden. It looked at her with a stern expression on it's face.
She was supposed feel scared or threatened by the creature in front of her, but somehow she felt safe looking into those golden eyes.
The canine approached Renge again and laid down next to her. Its large tail hooked to the girl, making her fell down on it's furry body.
She yelped in surprise as she fell down. The creature looked at her silently and curled up on the girl, urging her to rest. Renge was still confused on the situation but the comfortable warmth was making her relaxed.
And there she was, leaning on the creature in comfortable silence until the morning came.