Title: Regret Message
A/N: For the Personaloid zine! I wanted to use the Regret Message for Persona 2, I feel like it really suits the everyone as they go through the game.
Summary: The city was in danger. Between bombs and strange demons, lives were at stake. Lisa should be helping, but all she could think about was her two best friends and how she couldn't save them. Eikichi could relate. He'd failed his friends too.
Kuzunoha Detective Agency was a small place at the best of times. With three detectives, three students, and two reporters? It was cramped. There was barely enough room to breathe, let alone think. The tiny space between the sofas, tables, and desks didn't help the matter at all. The only way to move was to sidestep around others.
Fortunately, almost everyone was concentrated around Detective Kuzunoha's desk, leaving most of the office empty. They poured over a map of the city as they tried to figure out the location of the next bomb. King Leo's clues were riddles, vague lines that could mean almost anything anywhere. If he really wanted them to solve them, he certainly didn't make it easy.
"This ward doesn't have too many big, important locations," Kyouji muttered, his finger sliding across the paper as he pointed at a few prime locations. A portly elder, he looked like he should be playing with his grandchildren, not fighting a secret organization. Lisa wondered if he really summoned demons. "Honestly, it's probably between these five points."
"I think we can rule out the school and the jail," Yukino suggested, tugging on her grey hat as she stared at the map. Despite everything, she looked calm as she contemplated the threat. "The jail's empty and the school's already been attacked—I doubt they'd blow it up now. It's a waste of resources."
"The mall is a really big place…I guess we can check it out while you look at the other two?" Tamaki suggested, tapping her fingers on her thighs. She glanced at her boyfriend Tadashi, grimacing. "I suppose he could actually help this once. There's no way he could mess this up."
"Why are you still dating?" Yukino grumbled under her breath, shaking her head.
Lisa watched them impassively. She should be helping. While she might not know Hirasaka like the back of her hand, she'd spent enough time here after school to know the popular hangouts, to tell when something looked out of place. A bomb quietly ticked somewhere and any advice was better than none.
Her jaw clenched. She should be helping.
Instead, she couldn't get off the couch, couldn't do more than just watch and listen. In the corner, Tatsuya and Maya quietly talked, his hand stroking her back comfortingly as she trembled. After seeing King Leo, she'd been as pale as a ghost and even now the colour hadn't yet returned to her cheeks. Lisa wasn't sure what had happened while she'd been preparing for her idol performance, but ever since the labyrinth, they'd been getting closer.
She should interfere. Something fluttered in her chest, as delicate as a butterfly's wings, a stirring of jealousy that she was all too familiar with. It was almost enough to make her stand, but her feet remained stubbornly glued to the floor and Lisa turned away.
It was hard to do anything when all she could remember was how Sheba and Mee-ho had changed in the end. They were like husks of themselves, all blank stares and flat voices. No matter what she'd said, they didn't react, only mumbling about their dreams as though even that was too much effort. After that, people's eyes slid right past them, like they weren't there, like they didn't exist.
Lisa dug her hands into her thighs. It was her fault. It was all her fault.
The soft thump of someone sitting on the other sofa cut through her thoughts and she jerked her head up to find a smirking Eikichi. He brushed back his bangs and winked. "Careful, stare too hard and you might burn a hole through me."
Automatically, Lisa's lips curled in disgust. "In your dreams." It lacked her usual bite. A familiar anger and revulsion filled her yet, just like with everything it else, it felt muted. Getting angry at Eikichi was too much effort; it was better to just sit here and do nothing.
Maybe she could also fade away into nothing, just like Sheba and Mee-ho. It would be a fitting penance.
"I didn't know you dreamed of me too, Ginko," Eikichi replied, cupping his cheek as he sighed. He ran a hand through his hair and leaned back dramatically on the couch like an angsty rock star. "I really am too damn attractive for my own good."
Though, Eikichi was slowly piling up reasons to make the effort. Lisa couldn't understand how anyone was so narcissistic, so incapable of reading the mood that he actually thought people were thinking of him with adoration instead of annoyance. Even when they'd gone through their schools, he'd kept thinking the girls stared at him in desire instead of just plain old fear. Averting her gaze, she muttered, "Don't call me that."
"Huh? What did you say, Ginko?" Eikichi cupped his ears and leaned closer. "I couldn't hear you."
Lisa twitched. It was impossible tot tell if he was serious or just taunting her. Either way, she was done with this conversation. "Just shut up. Go bother someone else, I'm not in the mood."
Eikichi stared at her. For a long moment, she wondered if he'd finally gotten a clue. His electric blue eyes bore into hers before he glanced at the others. When it was obvious they weren't paying attention, he clasped his hands and leaned forward. Looking the most serious she'd ever seen him, he quietly asked, "You okay?"
That wasn't the response she'd expected. Confused, she sat back, sinking further into the plush couch. "Huh?"
Still all too somber, Eikichi clarified, "With your friends…"
Immediately, Lisa stiffened. "Don't."
"Sorry," he muttered, looking away.
It was stupid. So utterly stupid. Lisa blinked back her tears—out of everyone here, why was stupid Eikichi the first one to ask how she felt? After they'd left the smouldering concert ruins, no one had so much as looked at her as they tried to figure out the riddle.
It made sense. It really did.
Yet, she'd needed this question more than she'd realized. Wiping her tears with her sleeve, she pressed her arm against her eyes. "Why you?" she croaked.
"Me?" Eikichi repeated.
She didn't want to look at him, see the pity in his eyes. "Tatsuya just looks at Maya and Yukino doesn't care and…why are you the only one who asked?"
"They…" Eikichi trailed off, unable to come up with an excuse. It wasn't like he could anyways; she had eyes and ears.
Lisa laughed bitterly. "I know it's more important to deal with the bomb. Really. But…" She hunched over, curling into herself. "It hurts. Sheba…Mee-ho…it's all my fault."
There was a long silence. Lisa rubbed her eyes. Now that she'd talked about it, it was like a floodgate had opened and all she could remember were the months she'd spent lying to her friends. She'd kept pushing them away, even wanted the school to burn, all because she didn't want to tell the truth.
If she'd been honest from the start, they might have still been here.
Eikichi finally replied. "Yeah."
She should have expected that response. It was par the course with Eikichi; all of their fights had been sharp, pointed things. Somehow it still stung. Crossing her arms, she sniped back, "Of course you agree with that."
"Hogo, Ken, Takeshi—it's my fault they ended up like that too." Eikichi smiled, pained. "They were only trying to help me and I let them down. We both messed up."
Lisa flinched. She'd almost forgotten about his friends. They were shadows now, barely visible, barely existing, and with a rush of clarity she remembered how it happened. Playing with the hem of her skirt, she mumbled, "No, that…that was my fault too."
All this time she'd been calling Eikichi self-centered when it was just her all along.
God, she sucked.
"It's not," he disagreed.
"It is!" She bit her cheek and forced the words out. If she went far back enough, actually, this was all her fault. "If I hadn't goaded them, or even suggested the Joker game—"
"I'm their boss," Eikichi interrupted. "I should have taken their place. I'm the one who forced them to do it. If I hadn't been so focused on my rival, if I hadn't been using my powers like I did…maybe it would have been different."
"That…" Lisa trailed off, unable to refute it. If he had stepped in, maybe they could have caught the Joker right then and there. Or if the kidnapping hadn't happened—if none of those things happened, would their principal have still attacked the school? Eikichi's student president take over his school? Or would those things have still happened, but Lisa would have just been part of the crowd, unable to save herself. "Maybe."
"We're both shitty friends, huh?" Eikichi smiled lopsidedly.
Her own was just as crooked when she chuckled. "Yeah, I guess we actually do have something in common." She lowered her eyes. "Do you think…that we can save them?"
"Of course." Eikichi snorted, dismissing the whole thing without a second thought.
Lisa wished she had that sort of confidence. She glanced at Tatsuya, at Yukki and Maya, at the detectives hard at work. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to hope a little. They were all smart, amazing people. They'd gotten this far, after all.
Maybe they could go all the way, defeat Joker, and save everyone.
"If you're scared, Ginko, I'll save your friends for you," Eikichi offered, winking.
"Gross. I don't need your help." Again her words lacked their usual bite, but only because she felt more fond than annoyed this time. Getting up, she wiped her hands on her skirt. "And you're wrong, I'll save your friends for you."
Before he could reply, she skipped off to Tatsuya. After all, she also had to protect him from Maya.