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"Dude, these places are huge," Kanji commented after Yu managed to find the right key for one of the penthouses. "I have no freaking clue how they got a hold of these."

The penthouses were indeed large. The first floor held a large, fully-furnished gourmet kitchen with a double oven. It also featured a dining area, a bathroom, a bedroom with a walk in closet, and another closet in the the hallway. The dining area featured a large table that could easily seat ten people, and the dining room held two love seats, a recliner, a couch, a fireplace, and a large flat-screen television. The bedroom held a king-sized bed and a large vanity, as well as another large flat-screen television. The bathroom had a walk in shower and everything else a bathroom could possibly need. The second floor held two bedrooms similar to the one downstairs, each with their own bathrooms, also similar to the one downstairs. The remaining floorspace opened up to a balcony with a patio and hot tub. The retractable roof was also a plus.

"I know we're supposed to be pissed off that we're here and all, but..." Yosuke started and trailed off. Several other members nodded. The apartments were the nicest they had ever seen, or even thought about. There was no way they would have been able to afford this, even if they'd all had jobs. Yosuke didn't even want to think about what it would cost to rent.

"Well, senpai, we should sit and talk plans," Rise said finally, after everyone had the chance to explore the apartment.

Yu nodded. "I'm not sure I know where to begin, but we should talk." Everyone assembled around the dining room table while Naoto made coffee. When she finished and had handed coffee out to those who wanted it, she joined them. "So... I think Margaret and Igor won't talk to us much unless they need to. That's how they were last year, anyway."

Teddie and Marie nodded, but Yosuke asked, "Who the hell are they anyway? I just remember Nanako and Ai seeing them at the festival last year."

"I... don't really know," Yu responded after a moment. "I just know they helped me manage my Personas, and sometimes they'd give me advice."

"And of course you never questioned it," Yosuke said, frowning.

"I think what's more important is we figure out what's going on," Naoto interjected, adjusting her hat. "I am, of course, also interested in these two, especially since they seem to know more about what's going on than they are willing to let on. At this time, however, we should make a game plan, so to speak." She sipped on her coffee.

"Yeah, we can't just sit on our asses," Kanji agreed. A few of the others nodded.

"For the moment, then, I guess we should wait it out. See if there's a way to contact my uncle and our families, and maybe watch the news for anything out of the ordinary. We can't be the only things that have popped up that shouldn't be here."

Rise was still blowing on her coffee. "Okay, then who is gonna live where?" Rise asked. "Senpai," she added in a singsong voice, "do you need any help deciding?"

"I... want to be with Yukiko," Chie said, and Naoto added she felt more comfortable rooming with women. Yukiko nodded and said that was fine with her.

"I guess that's a set," Yu said, handing them three identical keys.

"Well, I think I should be with Yu, then!" Yosuke said.

Marie shrugged, sipping her coffee. "I don't care who I room with." She took another quick sip and set the mug down on the table, smiling at Naoto to let her know the coffee was good. Naoto blushed and hid under her hat.

Teddie poked her. "Could we room together then...?" Marie blushed slightly, but then nodded. "I want to talk to you," he whispered.

"Well I wanna be with senpai too!" Kanji said assertively, so Yu handed him and Yosuke keys.

"Aw, no one wants to room with me?" Rise pouted as Yu handed her, Teddie, and Marie the remaining keys.

"I would be willing to trade you my key," Naoto said, holding hers out. Rise shook her head.

"It's fine. Teddie, Marie and I can just cuddle together then!" She stuck her tongue out at Yu, who looked nonplussed.

"On second thought," Yosuke mused, but Kanji punched him on the arm as softly as he could. Yosuke was still left rubbing his sore arm, frowning.

"Down boy."

The groups broke off to go to their respective apartments, with Yu, Kanji, and Yosuke staying in the current apartment.

"I can take the downstairs bedroom," Kanji offered.

Yosuke shrugged. "That's fine, bro. Works for me!" Yu nodded in agreement.

They headed to their bedrooms. Kanji fumbled around with some of the bathroom items, organizing them to his liking.

"Man, this sucks," he mumbled to himself as he flopped onto his bed, face first. Today he was sure he'd have the courage to finally ask Naoto out, and then this happens. Granted, this was probably the least of his concerns right now, but asking girls out was hard, especially when they got as flustered as Kanji got around girls he liked. As he heard that Americans would joke, Naoto's middle name could be Flustered, for all he knew. Now he wouldn't be able to ask her out for a while, because of this timing crap. He just wanted to tell her how he felt. He didn't even care if she felt the same way... he just wanted her to know she was important to him.

Upstairs, Yosuke rummaged through the closet. "Yo, come check this out." As Yu entered the room, he pulled out an orange t-shirt with a swordsman on it. "How freaky is this crap? It's like they knew which rooms we'd pick and everything?"

"That was considerate of them," Yu commented and went into his room to check for clothing for him.

Yosuke threw his hands in the air. "No, bro, you're not understanding! These people are freaky!" Still, I have to admire their taste, he thought to himself as he went through the rest of the clothes.

"This apartment is awesome," Yukiko commented as she walked through the kitchen.

Naoto nodded as she inspected the windows, which appeared the have automatic shades. "Indeed. A place like this would be incredibly expensive to live in. I wonder how those two were able to procure one of them, let alone three."

"I find it best to not ask questions about that kind of stuff," Chie commented, while rummaging through the fridge. "Yukiko, there's tofu and meat in here! It's like they knew we were gonna be here!" She smiled, pulling a package of tofu out and showing it to her friend.

"Oh, well, that was thoughtful at least!" Yukiko didn't mind eating meat, but she much preferred dishes with tofu in them. Her best friend however, was the exact opposite: she liked tofu, but a good meaty dish was heaven to her. "Chie..."


Yukiko wasn't quite sure how to ask the question. "I saw Yosuke was around you a lot. Are you guys okay?"

"Ugh, yeah," Chie replied, peeling a banana open and taking a bite of it. "I just... I think he's still not over me dating Ichijo, you know? It's really awkward."

"How long have you two been dating?" Naoto asked, also reaching for a banana. She knew she should know that, but for the life of her she couldn't remember.

"Almost three months," Chie responded matter-of-factly. "He asked me out a few weeks into January. We've said 'I love you' and everything. It's going pretty smoothly... or it was." Chie realized she wouldn't be seeing Kou for a while. "How am I supposed to get into contact with him, you guys?" she asked in a panicked tone.

"Don't worry," Naoto responded, putting a hand on her friend's arm and smiling reassuringly. "We'll figure something else. It's important to be able to talk to the ones you love."

Chie smiled devilishly. "Speaking of talking to the ones you love, Naoto..."

Naoto turned a bright shade of red. "W-we should look at our bedrooms! I'll take the downstairs one!" With that, she quickly left the kitchen area.

"I want the downstairs bedroom!" Rise called.

Marie pouted. "I wanted the downstairs one..." She looked up, as if she were thinking. "No, that's fine. I can take upstairs."

"Yay!" Rise ran into her new room and began singing.

Teddie was already upstairs on the patio outside, staring into the distance. Marie walked outside and stood beside him. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Why did they ask us to be especially careful, do you think?" He was worried.

"Maybe it's because the Personas disappeared," Marie thought. "I mean, I'm Kusumi-no-Okami, and you're from the TV World. Maybe they're afraid... we'll disappear too..."

Teddie turned to Marie. "Do you think we'll disappear...?"

Marie shook her head. "Something's up. I know Margaret and Igor better than any of you, even Yu. There's no way that's it. Otherwise I think Igor would have said something stupid that would have hinted that. I think they aren't sure what will happen to us, but we are different from the rest of the group."

"Maybe they're afraid whatever is affecting reality is going to affect us worse."

"Mm... Or maybe we'll be completely useless..." It had rained in Inaba, against her will. What did that mean?

"Will you... stay with me?" Teddie asked, feeling vulnerable. "It's bad enough that I still don't know who I am, but to think I might change when I don't want to..."

Marie placed a hand on Teddie's shoulder. "I get it, as weird as that sounds. I'm still trying to figure out who Mariko, or I guess Marie, is." She tried to give him a smile, but quickly let it fade, turning her gaze to the same distance Teddie had been staring into. She let her hand drop. "I have a feeling we're all going to have to stick together, or else."

February 2017

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Athena Blackquill
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