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APRIL 9, 2012

"Ow ow ow owww!" Yosuke Hanamura crashed into a lamp post, his scooter making an ominous crunching sound, paired with the sound of his front headline getting smashed to bits. "Dammit, I just got this repaired!" he lamented, climbing off the scooter and sighing deeply. Yosuke slowly reached down for his scooter and rolled it alongside him as a few girls passed him, giggling. "Great..."

"Are you okay?" a voice behind him asked.

Yosuke nearly jumped out of his skin. He whipped his head around. "...Yu?! What are you doing here, bro?" Immediately, Yosuke dropped his scooter to the ground and ran toward his friend, throwing an arm around him. Yosuke had last seen Yu Narukami at the train station when Yu returned home after a surprise visit to Inaba after the school year had ended. He had cried not a little bit as the train pulled out of the station, but made sure that the girls hadn't seen. The two had not seen each other since, but had kept in contact via text messages and a chat room they'd set up for their group, who they nicknamed The Investigation Squad, though their investigation had long since been over.

"Djoima, Nanako, and I convinced my parents to let me stay another year," Yu responded, smiling. "Dojima and I thought it would be funny to surprise everyone. It was hard, with Nanako and Teddie being so close, though." The tall gray-haired boy was, like Yosuke and a few of their friends, entering his third year at Yasogami High School.

"Bro, that's not fair. We could have hung out all summer!" Yosuke pouted, but Yu only laughed.

"Nah. I only got in this past weekend."

"Yu?!" a girl screamed from behind them. Yu turned to see Rise Kujikawa running toward him, followed by Kanji Tatsumi and Naoto Shirogane. 

"No way man! Awesome!" the biker exclaimed, whose hair had thankfully been bleached back to the color it was when Yu met him. Kanji was seen as the town hoodlum, so it was likely odd for Yu to seem excited to see Kanji running toward him. Yu, however, knew that Kanji had a soft heart underneath that loud, angry exterior. He had the rabbit phone charm to prove it.

"Hey guys," Yu responded, happily being tackled by the three of them, though it surprised him Naoto was being so affectionate. The "Detective Prince," as they called her, was usually much more reserved. Yu was glad to see her come out of her shell these past few months, relaxing her clothing choices and even wearing some jewelry Kanji had made for her. Yu explained the situation to the three of them as Yosuke called Chie and excitedly told her (and presumably Yukiko) the news.

"Bro, we gotta get to the front gates soon. Teddie, Marie, Chie, and Yukiko are all there and super excited you're here!" Yosuke began tugging on Yu's arm, and the group followed. Teddie had come from the TV world

Yu stopped for a moment. "Wait, Marie? I thought she was a weather forecaster now." As they passed Yosuke's scooter, he added, "What are you going to do with your bike?"

Yosuke shrugged. "I'll leave it. No one's going to take that piece of junk anyway."

"Mariko Kusumi, or Marie as we know her, is a second year at Yasogami, like Kanji, Rise, Teddie, and me. She still forecasts, of course, but she wanted to learn about the world as well."

"And before you ask, Teddie is not allowed to wear his stupid costume to school." Yosuke frowned. "I keep trying to get him to throw that damn thing away since we don't really go into the TV World anymore, except for like, picnics or whatever."Yu chuckled, but Yosuke shrugged. "Teddie likes to have tea with the girls or whatever." Teddie had been an inhabitant of the TV World until shadows had infested it and people were thrown into it and killed. Together with the Investigation Squad, he'd been able to transform his world back into the paradise it had been, but had chosen to remain with his friends in the "Outside World" instead. It was in this manner that he basically became Yosuke's cheerfully naïve adopted brother. Yosuke was still unsure as to why his dad had never asked questions about it.

It began to sprinkle. "Aw man, why didn't Marie tell us she was going to do this?" Yosuke complained, pulling his third year jacket over his head. "There they are. Oy, Marie!"

Marie was wearing a long white moto jacket with a hood that reminded Yu of Kusumi-no-Okami, Marie's true identity. He found himself shivering despite himself. Marie, like Teddie, had chosen to live in this world as Mariko Kusumi, inhabiting it as a human in order to make her own memories. Because she could control the weather, she had chosen to be a weather forecaster, though she also had to force herself to be wrong sometimes in order to not arouse too much suspicion. Because of her curiosity with regard to this world, she had also enrolled in Yasogami and received much tutoring from Yukiko and Naoto, though they had found Marie to be a quick study.

"Marie, why didn't you tell us it was going to rain?" Yosuke complained at her while everyone swarmed Yu. Yu couldn't hear her response over everyone else's excitement, which of course drew others, like Ai Ebihara and her boyfriend Kou Ichijo, to stop by and say hello. Everyone seemed rather pleased about Yu's return, even those who did not know him all that well. Those who did know him well, however, had stood by him during his darkest hours, whether they had understood what was going on or not. It was the people here, at Yasogami, who had helped him survive, and helped his team save the world.

Yu eventually made his way to Marie and gave her a quick hug, as she was still a bit uncomfortable with physical contact. Marie was alternating between looking pleased to see Yu and giving Yosuke a worried look. Yosuke just looked confused. "What's up?" he asked, putting his hand on her shoulder.

"It's raining," she said.

"That happens sometimes," Yu responded, smiling.

Marie shook her head. "You don't understand. It doesn't rain. Not unless I say so." Before Yu could ask any questions or add any comments, she sighed. "This has never happened since I realized I could do it."

"Well, let's get inside. I think the bell is going to ring. We can talk about it over lunch." Marie nodded as Yu directed her toward the front door.

They made their way toward the door and were about to cross the threshold into the school when Yu heard a familiar, quiet yet crazed laugh to his right. He quickly glanced in that direction and sucked in his breath. A tall figure, slightly shorter than Yu himself, stood near the door, leaning against the building. Yu couldn't quite make out his face under the hood of the yellow raincoat, but... could it be?

"Hey--" Yu yelled out, reaching for the man, but he lifted his head and laughed.

"Goodbye, you stupid kids."

That was when their worlds went black.

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Athena Blackquill
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