It wasn't really about the money. Not these days, anyway. He was well enough off, and not half-bad at investments, and even if he wasn't, the Kirijo Group had made quite a substantial donation for his assistance in "certain matters." He'd been puzzled about that at the time.
"Tanaka-san, we're live in five."
It wasn't even to have something to do. He wasn't some doddering old man who needed his job to have a meaning in life. He could have done many things. And he did, the rest of the week. On Mondays, he might golf, Tuesdays, go over his portfolio, Wednesdays, have a business lunch, Thursdays, talk with PR, Fridays, host a charity ball, and Saturdays sleep in late.
Sundays, though, were always clear. Even as President of his own corporation, Tanaka always made time to host Tanaka's Amazing Commodities personally.
Yoku no tomo"
He gave his hair a final, casual brush with his hand, absentmindedly humming the song to himself. He couldn't recall whether he once loved it or hated it, it had simply become a part of his Sunday mornings, like it had for his thousands of viewers. He could have cared less about his thousands of viewers. He was selling to one.
The boy yawned, glancing out the window as he stretched one arm, checking his mobile with the other. "No messages, no missed calls...What should I do today...?" He thought to himself. His eyes caught the clock display in the corner of the screen. "Oh hey, that shopping channel's on in a few minutes..."
"Hello, everyone! Welcome to the home shopping show, Tanaka's Amazing Commodities!"
"Granter of your desires!" The singer chimed behind him. He chuckled.
"I'm your host, Tanaka, with a live presentation of my Amazing Commodities! We'll show you great items at unbeatable prices! Ooh, you won't be able to touch that dial!" He could have spoken the words from memory, having only spoken these words for...five, was it ten years? More? ...but the teleprompter was soothing, in a way. It made him feel like everything was going according to plan.
"Now, let's introduce today's products! Adios Shoes! This is a limited edition pair of high-quality shoes! But wait, there's more! I'll add two Slimming Foods to the Adios Shoes! All this for only 5,980 yen!"
Nearly every customer who ordered this package would recieve their order within a few days to a week or two. They would receieve a nicely made pair of sports shoes and a sample of one of Tanaka's partner corporation's diet foods, and go on about their day, perhaps a little healthier than before, but more or less the same. The package was not for them.
The package was for Chie Satonaka, born July 30th, 1994, student at Yasogami High School, recently awakened Persona user, and close friend of the boy now watching the program. If he were to order it, he would discover it shipped via first class mail, through a private delivery company, at his doorstep as quickly as possible without arousing suspicion.
When Miss Satonaka put on the shoes, she would find them slightly heavier than any of the other thousands of pairs that would be sold that morning. That would be due to the metal plates and counter-balancing lead weights installed in them at the factory, engineered for the express purpose of delivering a kick with 35 to 37 percent more force than the average shoe.
That is, if he ordered them.
He stroked his chin, considering the choices. A first aid kit would be handy, but Dojima had one in the bathroom for any skinned knees Nanako might get...and it would hardly help him, considering two of his three friends could heal wounds with magic.
Chie might like those shoes, he thought. He dialed the number.
Tanaka had two hands off-stage. One's job was to signal him when all the packages had been sold, the other's was to signal him when his VIP had placed an order. Both threw their hands up at roughly the same time.
"Wow! We've sold through our entire stock! Thank you all so much for your participation in today's show! Today's sale is over, but you'll get another chance next Sunday on this very same channel! See you next time!"
The businessman stepped off the stage as the same song played him off. His second aide stood up to meet him halfway, adjusting his uniform with one hand. "Excellent work. Just remember to really push the sale...we don't want him getting complacent."
He smiled. "Don't worry, officer, I know how to make a sale or two."
The policeman smiled back. "I've got to head back...But my supplier will be in touch. Call me if you need anything."
"Ah, Kurosawa-san," Tanaka called, "you knew the other boy too, didn't you?"
He turned back, nodding. "He was a regular customer. I like to think I helped him, in some small way."
"What was he like? I met him, but...he always seemed quiet around me. "
"He was..." He paused. "Very quiet. Always listening to those headphones of his..." He smiled, closing his eyes, giving a small, nostalgic huff. "Good with the ladies, though. I swear I saw him with seven different girls that year."
"They must love a hero, then."
"Must be. Goodbye, Tanaka-san."
Ding-dong. Nanako peeked through the blinds. It was her natural reaction whenever the doorbell rang. One of the first memories she had was her father reminding her to never, ever open the door for strangers. Only for him, or someone in uniform - a policeman, a firefighter, a deliveryman, and even then to call him if they wanted to come in without him...only them, and...big bro, she added, smiling to herself.
It wasn't big bro, he was probably still in school, or at his job, or with one of his friends. It was the deliveryman. "Hi!" Nanako beamed as she opened the door. "Oh, do I have to sign? I don't know if I can..."
He shook his head. "No, it's okay, it's taken care of. It's for a mister -"
"Ryotaro?" She spoke her father's name with slight discomfort. It was strange to call him that, instead of "Dad." He had had to explain to her once that he wasn't everyone's Dad...
"No, it's for -"
"Oh, it must be for big bro!" She thought she saw a sliver of a smile cross the man's lips.
"Right, your brother. Take care. Don't talk to strangers," he said, handing her the box, walking back to his truck.
She nearly stumbled as she walked back inside. Whatever big bro had ordered, it was heavy...She set it down on the kitchen table, making a note to ask him as she sat back down in front of the TV. "Every day's great at your..."
"Junes~!" The jingle rang through the food court. Yosuke checked his watch. "All right, Yukiko went in five minutes ago...I'm goin' in."
"Yosuke," Chie said, "I'm pretty sure it's more suspicious to stagger it like this, instead of - "
But he was already gone, headphones on, hands as far down his pockets as they'd go, sticking out like a sore thumb as he tried his absolute hardest to look casual with two knives under his coat. The two sat alone for a moment. A package slid across the table to Chie. She raised an eyebrow, looking up at him. He nodded. "It's for you."
She smiled, tearing into the tape. "I got it off the Tanaka show, I saw it and figured..." You'd like it, he thought. "It would help the investigation," he said.
"Oooh, Adios! I've been wanting some of these!" She lifted them out, weighing them in her hands as she examined them from every angle. "Nice and solid...these are the kind with the air cushioning, right?" There was no answer. His eyes were focused with horror on the second part of the package, the part that had been hidden under the shoes. "Hello? I asked if these were the..." She glanced down at the package as well. "...diet food?"
On the positive side, he thought, rubbing the sore spot on his head as he stepped inside the TV, they hit a lot harder than her old ones.