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(1.) Dépaysement
(n) a disorientation felt in a foreign country or culture, the sense of being a fish out of water.


So, how was the party?

Joker looked up, blinking. He paused for a bit to recall what was he doing before. He hadn't even realized that he was lost in his thoughts before Arsene's voice brought him back to reality. Closing his eyes, he could hear the ruckus in the main hall on the ground floor from the balcony of Smash Mansion, but he did not look down. He opened his eyes again and kept his gaze fixed on the stars instead. "It's going great."

I think, he added without a word, but Arsene heard it regardless.

I do think that parties are meant to be enjoyed. It is your welcoming party, after all.

Right. He was invited to the multi-dimensional fighting tournament, Smash Brothers, and had just arrived today. Apparently for each newcomer they have, usually the other fighters will held a welcoming party in the Smash Mansion they stayed in and that includes his arrival. He really appreciated the gesture.

But Joker was never good with crowds. He hadn't gotten used to the fact that these fighters are treating him kindly like one of their kind when he first got here – and more so with them throwing a party for him, a complete stranger. It's not much of a surprise when it came to his friends – they are all unpredictable – but it felt weird coming from a bunch of people (and creatures) he barely know.

Speaking of his friends...

Are you feeling homesick?

Joker closed his eyes. He thought about the other Phantom Thieves members back in Tokyo and imagining what they could be up to right now. "...not quite." He said eventually after a while.

It wasn't even a day and he missed them already. But Joker is sure even without him, they would be okay. Because everyone in the Phantom Thieves are strong – more than him, perhaps – and they are cheering for him to try his best here. On the other hand, his progress isn't doing so well.

Joker wanted to try to talk with all those fighters, really. They all seemed so strong and powerful in their own ways. But it seems that they already made a solid community with everyone getting along so well and all – he is afraid that he would be intruding, or ended up being a nuisance. That, and what if they found out about his false record...? Surely everyone would hate him, and...

You do not need to be afraid.

Arsene's sudden words of reassurance are firm and powerful – and it sent a shiver down Joker's spine, shaking his heart. It felt like a rock he could hold on to in a storm. Such thing would never happen – and had that be the case, you have been through tougher times, and your heart is stronger than it was then. You would have rebelled anyway. Everybody here has their fair share of struggles and insecurities too, surely you've known. Besides, they have already welcomed you with open arms.

"...I guess." He murmured. He would be here for a while, after all. Shutting himself out was not an option – and besides, now that he looked back, the other fighters seemed friendlier than literally everybody in Shujin but his small circle of friends.

Joker sighed and hangs his head low, away from the stars. Day one, and he was already so pessimistic. How unbecoming of the leader of the Phantom Thieves.

It is alright to feel like that once in a while, but you do not need to keep your head low forever. That look does not suit you at all, ma raison d'être.

"Yeah... yeah, you're right." For the first time in that night, Joker allowed himself to smile. He straightened himself up and took a deep breath. He should be enjoying the night, shouldn't he?

Joker placed a hand on where his heart would be, and he sighed happily. "...Thanks, Arsene. I think I really need that."

You do not need to thank me. Even though he couldn't see it, Joker could feel Arsene's smile in his voice. I am thou. Thou art I. I will always be here for you.


"Joker – there you are!"

Joker spun around, finding Princess Zelda of Hyrule and Kirby in front of the door to the mansion, visibly out of breath (the former does, anyway). They must have been running around for some time. He jogged his way to the two of them, concern etched in his gaze. "Are you two alright?"

"Yes, I –" The princess panted and held up a hand, while another was propping her upper body on her one knee. "Just – just give me a minute."

Joker nodded. He patiently stood by Zelda's side, all the while watching Kirby hum to himself. He doesn't seem tired at all, despite probably having stuck with Zelda for a while. Joker waited until Zelda recovers, and then she threw him a worried look.

"Where were you?" She asked at last, and Joker couldn't help but feel guilt settle on his stomach. "We were talking and having fun until we realized that you weren't there. Is something wrong?"

Joker shook his head. "No, it's nothing. It's just..." He trailed off, trying to find an excuse. He doesn't want her to feel like he didn't like the welcoming party or anything. A lot of effort was probably done to set all of the preparations in advance. When he couldn't find it, he decided that it was probably the best if he is honest. "I'm... not really good with crowds, to be honest. So..."

Zelda's face was full of confusion before it morphs into surprise. "Oh dear... does all of that overwhelm you? You should've said so! We can give you space if you want, or just tune it down. It wouldn't be fun if you didn't enjoy your welcoming party, would it?"

It was Joker's turn to be surprised. He felt bad now for leaving all on his own when he could just speak up. His mouth worked to search the words he wanted to say, but eventually he just settled on,"yes, you're right." He paused for a bit, and then bowed in front of her. "I'm so sorry...!"

"Ah, no, it's okay! We should've been more considerate about it. There's no need to apologize!" Zelda chirped brightly at him, and Joker had to question whether she really did felt tired from the run at all. Kirby seemed to understand everything as the pink puffball took Joker's gloved hand into his short stubby one. The child smiles at him, and Joker couldn't help but smile back.

"Come, then, we should get back for now." Before he knew it, Zelda was already skipping back to the main hall with him following suit while being dragged by Kirby. "Everyone must be waiting for you!"

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad, after all.