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Beneath the Masks of Those in the Spotlight

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6/3/17, 3:25 pm

The newspaper club are currently sitting at a booth inside Wild Duck Burger. Their club leader had texted them all to meet up at the fast food restaurant on their day off. Everyone's food had already been eaten, with the exception of Chie, Teddie, and Kanji, whose extra food had just arrived while waiting.

“He's late, where is he?” Yosuke yawns and leans back into his seat while Chie, Teddie, and Kanji were scarfing down their burgers and fries. Everyone else, in the meantime were looking around for their missing leader. Rise, on the other hand was looking for Naoto. While she was wondering where her leader was, she wanted to make sure that her best friend arrived as well.

“I'm sure he'll be here soon. Yu-kun isn't the type to leave us waiting for this long. We were scheduled to meet here at 3 o'clock, right?” Yukiko looks to her friends for confirmation and sees them all nod in agreement.

“Naoto-kun isn't here either… She's the last one who'd want to be late,” Rise mentions, noting that no one else had mentioned Naoto's absence besides herself. Rise starts pouting, bothered that no one seemed to worry about Naoto other than herself. It's not like them to brush that off so easily.

Rise turns her attention to the front doors of the restaurant and saw that Yu had just walked in with a stack of papers being carried in one of his arms. She sees him scan the inside of the restaurant for his friends until he sees them seated at one of the back booths that's near the restrooms.

“Sorry I'm late,” he says breathily as he approaches the table. For the many years Rise has known Yu, she's noticed that he dresses up very well every time he's been out. Today was not one of those days. Yu had looked like Chie found out he broke one of her kung-fu movies and sought revenge and what Rise now sees is the aftermath. His outfit looks like Chie dressed up a Ken doll and then sent it through the middle and ending of Toy Story 3.

No offense to Chie, but she doesn't have the best taste in fashion. Rise shudders when she remembers when Chie made Yosuke crossdress for her that one time when they'd all met up. That day, Rise had the great idea to make the guy's crossdress and have the girls do the guys makeup and outfits. Female Yosuke didn't turn out so well. Then again, Rise's project of dressing Kanji as Marilyn Monroe didn't turn out so well either. The only one who actually looked like a girl that day was Teddie and maybe Yu, if you ignored the strong masculine features on his face.

Turning her attention back to the present, Rise inspects Yu’s ‘outfit’ a bit closer. He's wearing a light blue button up instead of his normal white t-shirt. The blue button up is wrinkled up with multiple dirt stains on it and it seemed to have more buttons undone than what Yu would normally do. His khaki shorts, which he never wears had also seemed to have suffered a similar fate, with the wonderful addition of grass stains and what seemed to be claw and bite marks. Yu’s bowl cut hair, that was always straight and pristine, had hairs sticking out in multiple directions as if it went through a meat grinder that had malfunctioned. No one points out his current state because they were either trying too hard not to laugh or had their mouth gaped open like a fish, Rise being part of the first category.

“I had to help Nanako with some of her homework and she asked me to play with her after. I lost track of time and tried to get ready as fast as I could,” He straightens out his hair and buttons up his shirt as if he didn't notice that he looked like he went through a natural disaster. “and I ran all the way here… with complications. Anyways, I want you guys to read this.” Rise concludes that whatever had happened to him was going to be a story for another day. Yu drops the stack of papers that he was holding on top of the table. The sound that erupted from it had to snaps Yosuke out of his aloof state.

“What's this?” Yosuke looks at the stack of papers in front of him and his still awestruck friends. The papers were separated into seven files, each had writing on the front that was written in marker.

“Our next scoop for the newspaper club,” he says in his normal optimistic voice. “Naoto and I did some research on the Phantom Thieves in their first years of high school and their third year of middle school.” His statement had snaps everyone else out of their disoriented states and they respond with confused and lost expressions.

“Wait, the Phantom Thieves? Aren't they like super popular or something? If we write anything on them, we'll be chewed out by their fans!” Chie slams her hands down into the table with a look of what looks to be fear. Rise wasn't too sure.

Yukiko adds to her friend’s statement, “Not to mention one of them is the Student Council President. It's almost guaranteed that she'll confront us about any article we publish about them.”

“Isn't anyone creeped out on how they foun’ out about this stuff.” Kanji glances to his other companions to see if they had any similar thoughts as he flipped through the files along with them. Rise made no response, as she was too preoccupied with the files in front of her and was still wondering where Naoto was.

“Why does anyone care about these Phantom Thieves, when they can just get a smooch from me! And Sensei’s pretty smokin’ hot, why don't the ladies chase after him instead? We could write something about that.” Teddie waves around a file wildly, hitting Yosuke with it multiple times. Whether it was on purpose or on accident didn't matter because it was taken away from him by the person Rise was looking for.

Naoto puts the file under her arm and tips her hat down slightly as a greeting to her friends. “I apologize for being late. I had to take a phone call from my grandfather. I hope I didn't miss anything of importance.”

“You didn't miss much,” Rise answers and turns her attention to Yu. “But what's with these codenames? Did you come up with them Senpai? They're very creative,” Rise asks with her usual flirty tone she used whenever she spoke to their leader and flutters her eyes in his direction.

“Actually, Naoto actually came up with them by herself. And she wrote all the reports as well. I just helped find information,” Yu answers with what Rise deemed to be a little too much enthusiasm. Yu looks to his right at his shorter friend, only to see her glare at him. That menacing energy coming from her quickly diminished when she looked down at the ground when she saw everyone's attention was focused on her.

Naoto quickly covered her face with her signature hat but the blush forming on her face was very much visible. Naoto glanced up slightly and sees Rise looking up at her inquisitively. “Why yes I did… I didn't want anyone to find out we were investigating them so I came up with these codenames to hide that fact. Please don't use their actual names, it would ruin the entire point of having them.”

“But why are we writing about them? Can't we just stick to the normal stuff? You know, like about the restaurants around town or the usual drama happening around school,” Chie says in a voice full of desperation to convince the others to not go along with the plan. Rise wonders why exactly why she was so desperate to not do this. Maybe it was because Chie wasn't so good at this topic or she really was afraid of the fangirls. Now that Rise thinks about it, Chie wasn't so hot with the drama articles and didn't really like interviewing people at school.

“Maybe it is a good idea,” Yukiko perks up suddenly and looks to her fellow club members. Rise sees an intense sparkle of determination shining in her eyes. “I mean, it would benefit the club and we'll be able to find out more about them. After all, for people so popular, not much is really known about them. The information in these files just seem to be basic information so it'd be nice to get to know them more. I bet everyone at school wants to know more.”

Her words hung Rise's over thoughts for a few moments. Going along with this plan would gain them all more popularity than the already have and it would also give them a chance to see who the Phantom Thieves of really were. To Rise, the Phantom Thieves were just a pack of privileged kids who have nothing better to do with their time. Or that's what they seemed to her, who was she to judge people by looks, she's an idol after all. That's basically her job, look pretty and act nice so people would buy your merchandise.

“Which is why we're investigating,” Naoto abruptly said, which brought Rise back to reality. “What is the real reason behind their popularity? My research indicates that there must be something else behind it all.”

“All right, I'm all pumped up! Let's do this, when do we start Senpai?” Kanji put the files that he was holding down and waits for his upperclassmen to answer.

“That's the spirit Kanji but we first need to check if all of us are in this together. Do any of you guys not want to do this? We can always do something else.” Yu looks towards Rise, Chie, Teddie, and Yosuke. It was one of Yu’s signature traits, he was always so patient with all of his friends. Rise always admired that about him.

“Ugh, fine. If Yukiko’s going along with it I might as well also.” Any hope of getting out of the situation had disappeared from Chie's eyes and were now just full of hunger as she resumed to eating her burger. Rise felt a bit of pity for her but at least Chie had Yukiko to help her.

Yosuke sighs and crosses his arms. “Yeah I guess it's fine. I trust you to make the right decisions Partner, you aren't our leader for nothing.” Yosuke winks at Yu to add affirmation to his statement. Now, that was weird. Part of Rise wanted to know why he did that but shut the idea down before any weird ideas developed.

“Same with me! As long as Sensei is there and I get to smooch some ladies, I'll be fine!” Teddie dances around happily in his seat.

“Dude, that's not why we're doing this!”

“C’mon Yosuke, you can't lie to me. I know you want to smooch those ladies also!” Teddie taunts Yosuke even more by blowing a kiss to him. Which was caught by Yosuke’s hand and slammed down into the table.

While Teddie and Yosuke were continuing their charade, Naoto had turned toward Rise and asked “What about you Rise-san? Do you have any objections to this case?”

“Lighten up a little,” Rise pauses for a moment to compose herself from being flustered over the sudden question. “this isn't like your detective cases, this is a story for the club, our club that we all agreed to start together.”

“Indeed it is. But was that a yes or no?”

“Of course it was a no, dummy. Now let's get you and Senpai some food while we're still here.”

 


 

Earlier that day, 3:17 pm

Minato Arisato is a college student that was walking his dog Koromaru. Minato had been spacing out for almost the entirety of the walk, only paying attention to Koromaru and to some extent, his surroundings. The music playing in his headphones had become white noise already because of a certain someone that worries him to no end.

His thoughts came to a quick close when Koromaru had started to growl. Minato looks towards the direction Koromaru was growling in and sees a cat being petted by a gray haired teenager.

“Uh oh,” Minato mumbles. He remembers the multiple incidents that Koromaru has had with cats as they flash through his head. All the furniture ruined, the clothes torn, it was a nightmare to get everything cleaned and repaired. Koromaru was a good dog but he had a vendetta against cats.

Suddenly, Minato was being dragged along with Koromaru, who was running and barking towards the cat. The gray haired teen had looked towards Minato’s direction and saw the dog. At first it was joy, then confusion, then terror.

Normally, Minato would've grabbed Koromaru before things escalated but Koromaru had extra energy that day so it was impossible to grab him. Koromaru got free of the leash and went full speed towards the cat.

The teen that was petting the cat had grabbed it and ran away, with Koromaru chasing after them both. From Minato’s experience, grabbing the cat and running away was a mistake. Trust him. His friend Junpei would know. Never again would his friend make that mistake.

Minato had chased after Koromaru. Along the way, he had almost accidentally high kicked a little girl, gotten run over, and face planted into a woman's boobs. All experiences, not fun, except maybe the running over part. That seemed pretty cool in his book. When he'd finally caught up to them, the gray haired teen had the cat in his hair as his shorts was being chewed on by Koromaru. Minato had concluded that the cat had ruined the teenager's hair and it seemed that along the way to his head, the buttons of his shirt became undone. The state of the teenager's clothing suggests that he toppled over multiple times while being chased. The dirt and grass stains had proved that Koromaru was a threatening dog, at least to this guy. This truly a sight to behold, a teenager being afraid of a 2 year old Shiba Inu. However, Minato didn't want to be yelled at by a teenager when he'd just woken up about two hours ago so he wanted to act now or else his friend would execute him for his lack of reaction to prevent a teenager from being mauled Koromaru.

Minato attempts to speak loud without sounding like he was about to fall asleep, “Koromaru, down.” Koromaru wasn't listening. He'll try to threaten him. “Down or else we won't take you on walks,” Still wasn't listening. Looks like he's going to have to bring out Koromaru’s weakness. “Get off him or I'll tell Shinji what you did so he won't cook for you anymore.” Koromaru looks at him as if he'd just kicked him and gets off the teen and sits down. Oh now he pays attention. Once Koromaru calmed down, the cat ran away. Admittedly, Minato didn't feel bad for saying that but he did feel bad for the poor kid who gotten his clothes ruined. Speaking of him.

“Hey kid.” The teen looked surprised. Not sure why though. It's not like he's going to get arrested for almost failing to protect a cat.

“Yes, sir?” Being called sir was new. Minato doesn't think he looks that old.

“Sorry for your clothes, here.” Minato reaches into his pocket for money but realizes he didn't bring his money with him. Great. Now he'll have to meet up with the teen later for money to compensate for his clothes being mauled by a dog. Instead, he gets his phone out.

“I don't understand.” Of course he doesn't. No sane person would give away their phone after meeting them after three minutes.

“Get your phone out. I'm going to give you my phone number so I can give you money for your clothes.”

“Sir, you don't have to-”

“Arisato.”

“What?”

“My name is Arisato, Minato Arisato. What's yours?”

“Yu Narukami.”

“Well then Yu-kun, I'm giving you money or else I'd be chewed out by my Senpai if I don't give you any. So I suggest you make a time and place to where we can meet up.”

“Well if you insist. Thank you Arisato-san you're very kind.”

“I'm not doing this because I wan-”

“But you still got your dog off of me. Anyways, thank you.” Yu puts Minato’s contact information into his phone and gives it back to him. “I have to go, I need to meet up with my friends. It was nice meeting you.”

“You too.” Minato mutters as Yu walks off.

Minato looks back at Koromaru. “I'm still going to have to tell Shinji.” Koromaru starts whining. Now that he kinda felt bad for.