Reflections of a Hollow Heart
a Persona 4 fanfic
Disclaimer: Do note that there are SPOILERS for the True Ending of Persona 4 Golden.
[Author's Note 1: I will use "Narukami" rather than "Yu", because it is easier to identify. Also, his personality will be based partly on the anime version.]
[Author's Note 2: The story begins from after the True Ending to Persona 4 Golden, when Narukami visits Inaba.]
Narukami Yu set his things down inside the room on the second floor of the Dojima Residence. He had spent several months away from Inaba, and today, he was back for the summer holidays. The last time he had come here was during Golden Week, to catch up with his friends from the Inaba region. He was glad to have met everyone again that time.
Or rather, almost everyone.
There was one person he dearly missed... perhaps more so than any of the Investigation Team. It might be cruel to say so, but he had learnt to seek and to speak the truth.
That person was Marie. In the preceding year, they had spent a fair amount of time together, trying to discover who she was. When her true identity was revealed, he and his friends fought hard to find her and bring her back with them. His heart had grown close to everyone in that year they spent together, but there was a special place in his heart for Marie. There was just something about her that anchored his attention.
The last time he had seen her was inside the Velvet Room, after the defeat of Izanami-no-Okami. At that time, her form was translucent. He could not remember precisely what she had told him, but he gathered that all the splintered parts of her had come back together. She disappeared from the Velvet Room, and the entrance to it had also disappeared after that. There was no way of knowing what had become of her. Because of this, he had come to accept, over the past few months, that he might never see her again.
And so it was a great surprise to him that she appeared on television earlier today. He was without words, and felt a twinge in his chest as he watched the news program. In the time he had spent away, he had no way of knowing where she was, or how she was doing... Or if she was even still on this earthly plane after that last battle.
Now that he knew for certain that she was here in the Inaba region, the dying torch he carried for her was lit anew. He wanted to see her again and speak to her... but he had no way of doing that, right now. He had not the faintest idea where she was, and he had not been able to catch the name of the news station in his dumbfounded state. How did she even know he was visiting? He deduced that his friends must have told her when she came into town.
He laid out the futon in the corner and unrolled himself onto it. There was much he did still not know about the situation, but he was certain of one thing. He wanted to see her. There was so much to say. Thoughts of what he could and would do filled his mind as he fell asleep, exhausted from the long train ride from Tokyo. The rain in the background, and the peace of the dark and quiet night calmed his heart.
One who is not of man, cannot persist in the world of man.
It is the natural order.
All shall return to their rightful place.
Narukami sprang from his futon, clutching his blanket tightly with both hands. Strange dream... he thought to himself. I saw nothing, but I heard voices... Voices powerful enough to unsettle me in the middle of sleep... He shook the thought off, as he walked out of his room and went to freshen himself up. He had a quiet breakfast with the Dojima family.
"I'm on leave today, so I'll be taking Nanako over to Junes. Don't forget to lock up if you go out, okay?" reminded Dojima. Narukami nodded. His uncle and cousin left through the side door that led to the driveway.
Narukami washed the dishes and put them on a rack to dry. It looked like the rain was letting up for now. He quickly left the house, peeled the tarp off Dojima's old scooter and rode into town.
He spent the day catching up with the rest of the Investigation Team at Shichiri Beach.
As they rode back to town from the beach, they decided to stop by the MOEL station for gas before parting ways. After filling up Dojima's scooter, Narukami went to wait on the pavement by the road, so as to not be an obstruction.
"I'm a little hungry," he said to Kanji. "I'm going to Souzai Daigaku to get some food. I'll see you guys tomorrow!"
"You got it, Senpai. I'll wave if I see you there on my way home."
For some reason, he just felt a little like going off on his own this afternoon... although his wish would not be granted. Just as he had bought something and taken a seat to enjoy it over quiet contemplation, Rise walked up to Souzai Daigaku and stood at an angle to his table.
"Senpai~! Why'd you go off on your own?" she complained with a pout on her pretty face.
"Ah, I was just a little hungry, that's all. I really wanted to eat something," he said in response.
"I see. Well, I wanna catch up with you alone," she said, seating herself next to him. "So, how's life back in the city?"
They spent the better part of two hours discussing his school, city life, and her return to showbiz. Kanji waved, as promised, while passing by Souzai Daigaku.
"I need to go home for dinner," she said, checking her watch. "Wanna walk me home?" She flashed an inviting smile, and being the gentleman that he was, Narukami did not refuse. Walking casually with her, he made a mental note to go back to Souzai Daigaku for the scooter. "It's been a while since we walked home this way, huh, Senpai?"
"Yeah. I miss staying in Inaba."
"Why not move out here?" she teased. "But then again, you wouldn't see me much. I'm pretty busy between school and showbiz... I only managed to get one week off to come back here. That's the most my contract allows me, now..." She looked down for a little while, but cheered up quickly after. "That's because I've got a lot to do, and people like the new Risecchi, though! And it's all thanks to you."
"Oh, Senpai, don't tell me you forgot!" Rise said in mock horror. She then flashed him a grin before grabbing his arm and rubbing her head into his biceps while walking. "You helped me find my strength of heart. You played a part in my decision to carry on with showbiz."
"Ah, I remember. Inoue used to wait around for you here, didn't he?" replied Narukami as they paused outside the Marukyu Tofu Shop.
"Yup," replied Rise. "Thanks for walking me back home, Senpai. You're the best!" She gave him a sudden hug before practically running away to hide her face in the tofu shop.
Taken aback, he realised that he should probably walk away as well to hide his own expression.
"Hey," a familiar female voice called out to him. He paused - he even stopped breathing - and turned around. He recognised her immediately. Her short, straight hair; her perfect skin; those beautiful blue eyes that looked deep into one's soul. "Marie..."
Just seeing her before him wiped away his exhaustion from the long day. She walked up closer to him. He noticed how mature she looked now as compared to just a few months ago, especially with the change in her attire.
"I've been coming here every evening, every day..." she began somewhat nervously. " Hoping I would find you."
He did not even know how to begin to react. This was exactly what he had wanted since last night. Now that she was before him, he could hardly even think through the torrent of emotions rising within his chest.
"Do you... have some time?" she asked him. She seemed to have something to say.
Of course she has something to say. We haven't seen each other in a long time... he thought to himself. "Yes... Shall we go up to the hill overlooking the town?" he suggested. Marie nodded, biting on her lower lip as she walked by his side.
It was silent for a few tense moments. They matched pace, taking their time. It had been nearly half a year since they last saw each other. He looked over at her, and she looked back at him at the same time. An awkward silence caused them to break eye contact. Neither said a word until they reached Souzai Daigaku.
"You wanted to talk about something, right?" asked Narukami, pausing in front of the scooter.
"Yeah," replied Marie. "I just don't know where to start. I haven't seen you in such a long time."
"Well, how've you been?" began Narukami. Better to get the ball rolling than be stuck in awkwardness. "I noticed you're working for a news station now."
"Yeah, it seemed like the most convenient job," she said with a faint smile. Narukami understood what she meant. After
"You look frustrated about something."
"Well, yeah. I see you for the first time in half a year and you're busy going out with other people," she complained, finally getting down to the matter. "I... I don't know. What is this? Jealousy? Yeah. I guess that's it."
"Oh. You mean Rise?" Narukami shook his head in a deadpan manner. "I'm not dating her."
"No... I'm sorry. That was wrong of me; I shouldn't have said that..." she confessed with guilt in her voice. "It's just... confusing for me. I've kept you close to my heart. I'm always thinking about you. And every time I come here alone... I remember all the things we did together; our memories together. I missed you. I wanted to see you. I had so much to say. And now that we're here together... I don't even know where to begin. And seeing her hug you made me... jealous, I guess. That threw me off for a while."
"I see... I hear you," acknowledged Narukami. "There's no need to be jealous."
"I... I wanna believe you. But I know how you are. You're a leader, and you're popular with people. I feel insecure, especially since I haven't seen you in such a long time, and there's such distance between us... You don't live here, after all."
The incongruity of this confused Marie and the one he remembered confused him somewhat. He believed that she had something to say, but just did not know the right expression for it. It was forgiveable. He recalled what Margaret had told him before: 'Her soul is still very young'.
"That's not like you at all..." he commented with a shake of his head. "The Marie I remember is straightforward and confident."
"... You're right," she conceded, making eye contact with him and nodding firmly. She forced a smile. "I'll come right out and say it. I want to continue our relationship from where we left off."
Narukami nodded. "I want that too."
"Just like that, huh... I feel silly," she confessed, sighing with relief. "And here I was thinking all these crazy thoughts. I was afraid you might have even forgotten me."
"There's no way I could ever forget you. I really wanted to see you too. I just didn't know where to begin looking for you."
"Jerk," she muttered in embarrassment. She looked up at his puzzled face. "I won't believe just words."
"Silly girl," he said, taking her into his arms. She returned his embrace, holding him tightly and taking in his musky scent, mixed with the lingering smell of exhaust fumes and a hint of perspiration. This was the feeling that she had sought for so long! Oh, how she had missed this...
"... You do the sweetest things, youstupidawesomejerk," she said with a blush. They let go of each other, and he mounted his scooter. She sat behind him and held on tightly to his waist.
Just as he started the scooter, two housewives who had just bought some dinner from Souzai Daigaku walked past them, gossiping loudly.
"Hey, isn't it illegal to ride pillion on a scooter?" one asked the other.
"I guess it is, but you know how romance is."
"Ahhh, I wish I was young again."
"Hey, isn't she that weather forecaster? What's she doing with a boy his age?"
"Ooh, an older woman, and a young boy! How romantic... he's so lucky, don't you think?"
"You mean she, not he, right? I'll bet she can't wait to bring him home for the night..."
The two housewives laughed loudly as they continued to gossip on their way home. Narukami felt Marie hug him tighter and rest her head on his back. He could sense, without even looking, how she felt about those unwanted comments.
He turned his head to look over his shoulder. "Ignore them," he said. He felt her rub her head against his back as she nodded. They made their way to the top of the hill overlooking the town of Inaba. Once there, they were safe from prying eyes and judgemental voices.
Marie seemed to be very bothered by what the two housewives had said. The sky flashed white with lightning, and thunder followed. He deployed the tarp over the scooter, before walking into the pavilion with Marie.
"It's peaceful here... I can be with you without being disturbed." She sighed. She seemed to still be bothered by what those housewives had said, and Narukami took notice. Before he said anything, she made her confession. "Is this what it means to be human? To go through good times and bad... It really hurts to be judged. It's difficult being a human. Why do people have to say such things? Can't they just mind their own business?"
"They just make assumptions with no basis. Sometimes people insult others to make themselves feel happier."
"It's just... been so hard on my own," she continued sadly. The patter of the rain began. "All this time, I felt so lonely without you. I knew you were away, and I'd come to accept that... but when I heard that you were visiting, I began to feel that I really wanted to see you. And now that I have..." She put a hand to her forehead and laughed at herself. "I must look real stupid, huh?"
He gently placed his hand on her cheek. Her skin filled his hand with warmth. "It hasn't been easy for me either... being away from you. After we defeated Izanami-no-Okami, you faded away from the Velvet Room. My heart stopped. I was afraid I would never see you again."
Acknowledging his feelings, she nodded and took hold of the hand on her cheek. "Well, I'm here, now."
He smiled. "That's right." He pulled her close and rested her head against his chest. "Don't you go anywhere."
"I'm not going anywhere... Not after all we've been through. Especially since we're back together now." She hugged him tightly, breathing in deeply as the rain poured overhead. "I love you, Yu. Don't... don't let go again... Ever."
He held her close, keeping her warm and safe in his embrace. "Never."
Author: In this chapter I wanted to explore Marie dealing with some of the difficulties of human life. Those who have played through the True Ending of Persona 4 Golden will know that Kunino-sagiri, Ameno-sagiri, Kusumi-no-Okami and Izanami-no-Okami are all part of one original entity, known as Izanami-no-Mikoto. The way I interpret it, is that we see this original entity in human form, in the Marie that we see in the True Ending.
Hope you guys like it so far. More to come! :D