Character list: Isao Hironori (Morry), Yoshihiro Renge (Mani Mani)
Total words: 4347 words
Summary: Hironori wants to discover more about his persona sensor ability, but a certain familiar presence really bothers him and he wants to find out more. But then he thinks the better of it when he realizes something odd. The same goes to Renge, but she discovers a little more than himself.
Trigger warning: none.
*Chassé: a classical ballet term meaning “to chase.” Chassé is considered a basic step and is commonly seen throughout ballet and other forms of dance.
The alarm stops ringing as a hand reach the phone, turning it off. Hironori yawns and looks at his phone.
The boy wakes up from his sleep, stretching his body and groans. Inside this dark dancing studio, Hiro has decided to sleep here for his plan of finding out more of his shadow persona's sensory ability at 3AM.
After his sparring session with his teammates, he's wondering about how he cannot sense Shimamura out there when he was battling with the other until Amanojaku appears near him and ending their... rather wild sparring.
He needs to find out more what Fenris Wolf can do with his sensor ability. Hence he sleep here, in the dancing studio, in the middle of Meiseki Centre. Hiro remembers Shimamura mentioned about six points in the city that can be explored. And here is one of them.
Actually, he can always go to the nearest point from his house, the airport or the east-port. But he was dancing today and he thought he would just stay here and... wandering around the town while the city is submerged.
Hiro stands up, stretching his body once again and yawns. He left his school bag behind and strides outside.
Renge drinks one more cup of coffee. She's sleepy and she doesn't usually stay up this late. But Renge remembers her performance on their last expedition. She immediately shakes her head and pats her cheek.
"I need to do better." She tells herself.
Two more minutes until the Dark Hour, Renge is a little unsure. "I'm all alone and Marie is not equipped for fighting..." she mutters to herself. Renge clings to the hem of her night dress. The girl is cared but her eyes are determined.
Time stops and slowly the town is enveloped in water, submerging the whole city. Renge is still not used to this. Magical phenomenon happening in the town.
Renge summons her sacrificial dagger and stabs her heart.
As he steps outside, the clock strikes 3 and the surrounding begins to change. It's dark. All the lights turn off, leaving only lights from the illuminating sea-like sky. Hiro is starting to get used to this. He sighs. It’s somehow discomforting, but he feels at peace at the same time, even with the whispering sounds around. He has to get used to this.
Then he feels it. A sudden awareness, but a bit faint and feels really far away. Hiro cannot pinpoint the source where it's coming from. He's curious, but he just shrugs it away and starts to walk around. The sense is like a tiny bit of sudden spark, so it's not really bothering him.
As she calls out her persona’s name, a figure materializes, a wire mannequin donning a white and red dress. Marie Antoinette then reaches out to Renge and covers her eyes with her ribbons, and when Renge opens her eyes, her iris has transformed into a red flower.
Now that her garden has been set up, Renge concentrates so she can scan the area for any shadows nearby. A black-colored figure pops up on the map. Renge clicks the area; planting one of her flowers there.
When the camera is set, one of the panel boots up and shows an area near a dance studio, but no sign of shadows yet.
"Hmm... Maybe I missed the coordinate a little... But let's wait for a bit," she hums as she waits for the creature to show up.
When Hiro thinks he already walk far away enough from the studio, he stops. He looks around, making sure that no one near to look at him summoning monstrous dogs. Then he spot one. But it seems the figure is not moving.
Hiro doesn't remember there's a human statue built in here, so he thinks that this person is... petrified. Hiro is quite perturbed at this new discovery. He starts to look around once again if he can find another petrified person.
And, he does. Only two or three of them near him, in their middle of their own activity, stopped midway and turn into statue. Then Hiro speculates that maybe these people are the ones who does not have persona. Normal people. He doesn't quite understand yet, but he's making a mental note of this. He might find it useful later.
As Hiro looks around once again to make sure no one's 'alive' to witness him, the boy starts to summon his shadow persona.
His eyes glow yellow, reddish aura emits from him and Fenris emerges, the sound of rattling chain echoes, with Skoll and Hati following after a few second.
"Alright, boys. Walk around and surprise me." Hiro commands Skoll and Hati, and the wolves start to wander around the road. They're walking separately but not quite far to each other.
Hiro is wondering if he can rely on these wolves on finding something out. And it seems Hiro himself cannot wander freely when Fenris is standing still behind him. His body feels heavy whenever he tries to get some distance from the bigger wolf. It's like that he's chained with him.
So Hiro is testing the other smaller wolves to sniff out anything near and wonder on how far they can detect things.
As Renge waits for movement, Marie suddenly senses something different. The persona taps on Renge's shoulder, alerting her of the sudden change on the map.
"What is it?" She looks at the map and finds a black rose on it, a big black rose and a smaller one not too far from the big rose. The small one are now going near one of Renge's flower.
Renge decides to wait for the thing to pass by her eyes. As it creeps in closer, Renge sees two fluffy figures close in.
Skoll and Hati keep on walking, until their ears turn upward and snarl lowly, as if they found out something. Hiro is alerted by the wolves' behavior, he also senses something... off.
"What is it?" Hiro asks to his shadow persona. But before he gets the answer, a certain shapeless figure appear near the wolves.
Hiro scowls. What is that thing? It doesn't have a decent shape. Only covered in black, jelly-like form. Until then, the form grows a mask.
The boy's scowl deepen. Again, what is that thing? A persona? Hiro puts his guard up as the mask turns to him, as if it’s sensing his existence. The boy takes a step back, cowering under the towering Fenris.
But then, the creature turns away from him and goes to another direction.
Hiro's scowl turns into frown, perturbed. What was that all about? What exactly is that creature? Is it only appear at certain time, certain place? Shimamura didn't mention any of this yet, so this is new to him.
Curiosity gets him best, he silently commands Skoll and Hati to follow the creature where it’s heading to.
Renge is surprised when the wolves suddenly snarls. Do they know she's here? Renge wonders. Then on a cue, a shadow emerges from the ground. The oozing creature still gives Renge the creeps.
"Do they perhaps know the shadows are coming?" Renge thinks to herself.
She wonders how the shadow would react to them, but the creature ignores the canines instead and goes to...her direction.
Her heart feels like it dropped and panic starts to seep in into her nerves.
"W-what do I do—“
The creature start taking up his pace, moving quickly to its unknown target. Skoll and Hati follow with some distance from it. The creature takes the turn on the road, and the wolves follow the direction. Until the wolves stop with their posture like they're being aware.
Even though the wolves are already out of his sight, Hiro can feel their awareness too. There's another presence there beside the creature. He cannot sense it clearly, but it somehow familiar. Faint, but also known to him.
The boy frowns. Is someone else in there? And Hiro is sure this awareness feeling only comes from a persona user. But he doesn't know who; enemy, or ally. Yet this one feels a bit familiar. Hiro tries to clear it up, tries to remember, but ends up with no result.
Skoll and Hati are growling, snapping Hiro out of his mind. They are signaling that the shadow is about to attack its target.
What to do? Hiro may just ignore it, let the creature do whatever it wants. It's none of his business anyway. He may orders the wolves to go back to him and wanders to another place.
But his instinct tells him otherwise.
Skoll and Hati charge forward with much speed, gaping their mouth. And they caught their prey, crunching off the creature to end.
As they finish killing the creature, the wolves are staring to the creature's earlier target's direction. They're making no sounds nor movement; they're staring as if they're curious.
The same goes to Hiro. He's wondering what the creature's target is. Yet this awareness feeling and his instinct to kill the creature before it reached its target... he wants to find out more.
The wolves start to walk to the creature's earlier direction, prowling slowly in curiosity.
Renge is surprised when the wolves slaughter the Shadow, erasing it from her map. Do they have the same enemy? An ally maybe? Now that she can think a little more clearly, the canines’ presence resemble one of a persona. But it's a little different and also very familiar; too familiar in fact it's giving Renge the chills.
An image of a raven haired boy crosses her mind, and in reflex Renge closes her mouth in disbelief. "Is it...?" It's only a hunch but the cold won't go away.
Suddenly she felt gazes on her. The wolves are now staring back at her Eye. Strangely, she's not that afraid of these canines, but with them prancing closer, Renge is filled with anxiety.
"I should not risk it." She shakes her head and took out her eye off the map, and with that the flower vanishes.
When the presence suddenly disappears, the wolves stop on their tracks. Hiro frowns. How can it disappear just like that? What is it exactly? The sense was faint yet it's familiar to him. But he also cannot get a clear image who it was.
The boy lets out a sigh. Day by day, he just getting more confused with this incident at this so called Dark Hour. But in change, he finds out more things. Like now. He knows now that Skoll and Hati can be used for tracking purposes, in turn that Hiro cannot go anywhere far from Fenris.
Everything always paid with an equal exchange, huh.
Though Hiro still curious of the earlier presence, the boy withdraws Fenris Wolf, dispersing into thin air. It seems after his sparring session with his teammate makes him getting used on using his shadow persona. He still feels fine after all of that.
Hiro thinks that he should call it a day. The plan for today is already achieved, anyway, there's nothing he should do more for now. But at this kind of time, with all electricity and gadgets and transportation not working, there's no way he can go home just by walking. The boy groans and scratches his head.
Guess he'll be waiting at the studio until dawn. So he turns back to where he came from. Probably he'll get another sleep, he thinks as he yawns, walking nonchalantly.
When the eye disappear, the smaller black rose vanishes, leaving only a single black rose. The black rose was dormant before, but now it moves. And it moves towards the dance studio.
Renge feels her stomach churn, more images crosses her mind but the feeling she is getting isn't that good.
Renge's hand is slowly reaching to the panel. She's afraid, but she wants to know if either her hunch is right or not. Renge taps on one of the corners of the map, planting another eye. She's being hasty, but she needs to know. She needs to know if her suspicion is right or not.
Her eyes caught a glimpse of the familiar raven haired boy.
Before he steps into the building, the awareness resurfaces. Hiro scowls, totally bothered now. He turns away from the studio and once again summon his shadow persona, his eyes gleaming yellow, sharp and narrowed, clearly annoyed by the awareness keep on bothering him.
It must just has to bother him again when he just wanted to get another good sleep.
He commands Skoll and Hati and the wolves start to trot toward the source of the presence. They both go to the same one direction, and it's not quite far away from him. Hiro's brows furrowed deeper.
There's no apparent physical presence near the wolves. Perhaps something else? He may order the wolves to freeze the surrounding just to make the stalker comes out from their hide. But he lets the wolves keep trotting to the place where it seems to be the source of his wary yet familiar feeling.
She didn't know how to react. She sees it. She sees Hiro's gleaming gold eyes, summoning the beasts. Instead of a pair that she saw earlier, there are now three wolves present. Seems like the biggest one is the big black rose she's seeing on the map. It certainly looks like when she's summoning her own persona, but where is his dagger?
Seems like the boy notices that there's a presence watching him, but it looks like Hiro doesn't know that it's her yet.
When Hiro commands the beast, she notices that it's coming her way. Do these wolves have the same sensing abilities like she does? As they get a little closer, Renge thinks on what she should do now.
Should Renge reveal herself to him? So he would be less wary? Renge shakes her head. She realizes that there's much she doesn't know about Hiro yet, it would be too reckless for her to suddenly come onto him. She clenches on the hem of her dress again.
Seems like they acknowledge her presence. Is it because Marie is here? She glances toward her persona, hovering awaiting for orders. Renge looks back on the map and taps on area opposing to her house, commanding Marie to materialize there.
"I'm sorry, Isao-kun."
The wolves keep trotting, tracking the presence, but then they stop. And at their place, they're snarling and barking, walking around there like they're confused.
Hiro's scowl deepen. The source of the presence suddenly changes place, yet there's still some trace left from the first spot they're directing. The wolves cannot decide which one is the correct source of power they're sensing. Skoll is about to turn one side, but then Hati prowls to the other.
The boy groans. He's about to order the wolves to freeze the place to make the presence comes out from their hide, or he can approach them while they're freezing cold. But then he stops his mind.
The surrounding is quite dark indeed, but upon closer inspection, it seems the place is quite familiar to him. The road. Hiro frowns.
Of course it's familiar to him. How he could forget? Her house is near the dance studio. And where Skoll and Hati circling around barking is... just about around where her house reside.
The boy's eyes widen in realization. Is it possible that it's her? If it is, then it might confirm the wary feeling he felt back at the studio days ago when he was with her. But then, she's one of the other persona user?
Suddenly Hiro takes a step back, he's having mixed feelings about this. Will she be his enemy? Or ally? He's afraid. Not about the girl. But himself. If this presence is really her, he might clash into her eventually. With his teammates. His fright turns into panic.
She might already find him out. Hiro is not a fortune teller, but sometimes his hunches always right, soon or late. And Hiro doesn't know how to feel if she already know who he is. He just hopes she won't do anything about this. And he also hopes that this guess won't be another of his correct thoughts.
But whenever he hopes it's not, it's always goes right.
Suddenly Hiro feels weary. Not from Fenris Wolf, but his train of thoughts. Sure, the wolves not exactly pinpoint the presence near or in front of her house, but from their distracted behavior, Hiro can pretty much take some guesses. It also might be other than her. But Hiro decides not to dwell on that anymore. He's suddenly scared to find out more about this, even though he's still curious on why the presence could change place yet left some trace from where its first reside.
The boy calls off his shadow persona and he sighs, palming and shaking his head. So much of testing out his sensory ability.
He probably just being paranoid, but that's exactly why he's feeling tired now. He opens his now normal eyes, his face is showing a clear image of fatigue. Then he throws a sad smile at no apparent view and enters the studio's building.
He really need to get some rest.
With her deploying Marie somewhere else, the wolves became agitated and confused. Seems like her action is successful.
But then she sees Hiro's surprised expression, her heart sunk again once more.
Does he figure it out? Renge thinks to herself, she is full of worry. Will he seek her out now? The girl was trying to come up with an escape plan but then she saw Hiro calling off his persona and went back to the studio.
Then his sad smile hits her. She feels guilty for running away.
As Hiro enters the room, Hiro takes off his vest and scarf and hang them on the bar. Then he sits down, leaning himself on the wall, facing the wide mirror.
Somehow he feels like shit. He chuckles as he remembers his earlier thoughts and his sparring session done several days ago. What if someday she will be the one who stop him from achieving his goal?
There are many possibilities. Well, as long as his earlier guess is not confirmed yet, he can let it go for now. The surprise is quite too much for him to handle. And he doesn't know what will happen to him if eventually his guess is confirmed as a fact. He also doesn't know what to do if she finds out that he's the one behind the sudden illness of the three victims on the news.
He's really tired. His eyes begin droopy. Hiro hopes this is just another of his ridiculous dream and forget all of this. His desperate thoughts are slowly lulling him to sleep. As he thinks that he only want to achieve his goal and avenge his beloved mother, he unconsciously drives into a deep dreams with his brows furrowed.
Since there's no more sign of shadows or movement from the studio area, Renge took off her eye from the map.
Renge proceeds to patrol to another area but it seems like there won't be any more shadow emerging tonight. She wonders if she should call it a day and rest up.
Renge takes one more look at her map. The black rose icon has now changed into something else, it turned into a purple flower.
"Wolfsbane...," she mutters and lets the fact sink in, her heart now heavy.
Does this mean Hiro is an enemy? Or is it too fast to assume that? Renge stops her train of thoughts. She doesn't have enough information to decide that right now, so she decides to put it off and looks at the icon again.
By the look of the map, it looks like he's spending the night at the studio. She wonders why doesn't he just go back home. Is there a problem back at his house so that he prefers to stay there?
She already sworn off peeping, but Renge's curiosity got the best of her. She taps on the studio map on the screen and plants an eye near the window of Hiro's usual dance room. And there, she sees the boy already fast asleep.
"You're dancing again, Hironori-kun?"
A young boy at his 7 stopped his act the moment his mother came into his room. The boy cackled an embarrassed laugh and scratched his head. "I can't help it, Mother. It's really fun thing to do!"
The woman smiled softly, lowered her body and patted her son's head. "You can dance anytime you want, but don't forget about your study, alright?"
"Sure, Mother! I don't want to disappoint Father, anyway." The boy grinned widely.
The woman gave another smile and kissed the boy's forehead. She stood up, "Let's go to the dining room. Dinner's ready."
Hiro grinned wider, "Of course!"
"You're a disappointment, Hironori! What would the company thinks if they found out that my son dancing like a girl!" A middle aged man scolded the young boy and pointing his finger at him. The boy only stood silent.
"Do you think dancing can make me proud of you? You only make me ashamed of myself of having a son with feminine, useless hobby! So drop that trash off and focus on your study!" The man kept on talking. "If I catch you dancing again, you are not allowed to be here any longer!"
The young boy nodded. "Yes, Father."
"Don't blame yourself, Hironori-kun..." The woman spoke weakly and hoarsely as she laid on the hospital bed. The now 15 year old boy was standing beside her, crying.
"You already took care of me. You've done your best." The woman gave her son her softest smile. "Mother is proud of you."
"Mother..." Hiro mumbles lowly in his sleep. Tear streaming down his face as the dream keep showing his memory of his depressing past. His brows furrowed deeper.
When she hears Hiro mumbles, Renge looks to Hiro's face and she is shocked by his tears.
Does he call out for his mother? What happened to her? She wonders as she looks a little closer at Hiro's face. He looks... Fragile and hurt. Her heart aches seeing him like this.
This may be overstepping her boundaries, but... She wants to comfort him, just like he did before.
Marie materializes without a sound in the dance studio. This may seem like a coward move, but she doesn't want to risk waking him up. Her persona then hovers quietly to the boy, one of the ribbon hands reaches out to hold his hand and the other one goes to stroke his head. This is what her mother usually do to her when she is having nightmares. Maybe it will help him too, she thinks to herself.
"It’s going to be okay, I'm here with you" Renge slowly whispers.
The moment a hand stroke his head and hold his hand, Hiro's body tensed for a moment from the sudden touch, but then he relaxes under the comforting gesture. His face is starting to soften.
His dreams becomes a pleasant one. The dream still showing his mother face, but it's calming, as if his mother is alive beside him, comforting him.
Hironori is now fast asleep peacefully.
Seeing that his features are now relaxed, Renge lets out a relieved sigh. She's glad that he is somehow comforted.
Using Marie's hand, Renge wipes away his remaining tears and pats his head a bit more. Even though she's not touching him directly, she can feel the softness of his hair and also the warmth of his hand. It makes her blush a little.
The dark hour will end soon. Renge decided to wrap it up, but before she calls Marie back, she looks at Hiro again. He's sleeping only with his shirt on.
"You're going to catch cold like that," she whispers as she commands Marie to take Hiro's vest and covers him with it. Marie also takes some towels from the dressing room and adds more layer on top of Hiro.
"This should be fine," she says, satisfied.
Renge looks around in her room and found several leftover snacks and canned drinks from the last expedition. She takes it and places it next to Hiro with Marie's help.
"Goodnight, Isao-kun." She whispers again before withdrawing her persona.
As the dark hour comes to an end, Hiro awakes from his restful sleep. He opens his eyes slowly and looks up. The studio is still a bit dark, but he can see a bit of orange-bluish light beams through the building. It seems the dawn has come.
Hiro is about to stretch his hands upward, but stops on his track when he realizes he's covered by his own vest. Hiro frowns in confusion. He doesn't remember covering himself with his vest... nor with towels. He turns his head left and right, searching if there's anyone here when he was asleep. Then he looks at the floor next to him.
There are snacks. And canned drinks. Hiro blinks. Where are they come from? Does the dance attendant know he's here? But she's currently out of town, as she told him yesterday. Is she already here? But that's just too fast for her to go out just for a day.
Then he remembers the incident earlier at 3AM. His eyes widen in realization. Is it... really her, then?
Hiro's face goes blank, doesn't really know how to make out of this. But he decides to not ponder more about that and enjoys the food provided.
As he finishes the meal, Hiro prepares himself and heads home. There are still several hours before the school starts.