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  -Part 1 :: [02.28.13]
  -Part 2 :: [07.05.13]
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"Red Cloud steps in and asks again if Shirley could spare them some Dragoni Plant, and Shirley takes the roundabout method of telling him that she's fresh out at the moment. Oh, no! What are we going to do about Shana?! Will she live; will she die? Do we really care since the same damned thing's going to happen tomorrow?"
     -Kelly, Legend of Dragoon Part 8

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Persona 4 : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 07.05.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
Surprise! The universe isn't finished torturing Gary yet. Just as he's finished composing himself, fucking Margaret, of all people, calls him on his cell. I don't even have the energy to speculate as to how she got his number. Maybe she and Pedocchio took a quick peek at his phone while they were harvesting his sperm? "I'm Margaret. We met at the Velvet [Limo] the other day..." she introduces herself. Uh, Gary's seen you like a dozen times by now, but whatever. She continues that she forgot to mention something important to Gary, so thought it best to get in touch immediately. Gary doesn't want to hear it, lady.

'You might have started having strange dreams about certain people. It's nothing to worry about--we just need to...uh...extract something from you.'

"Going to save your friends is a selfless and noble deed," Margaret intones with all the passion and sincerity of a coma patient. "By all means, we encourage and support you in regards to this matter." Gary's waiting for the "but", and is also wondering why she's talking like an email from an office manager. The oh-so-important advice she called him about is basically "Remember to pace yourself in battle, and don't forget about your Social Links!" Gary feels so enlightened now. "You took Margaret's advice to heart..." the IN insists. Far be it from Gary to decide which advice he does and doesn't take.

This day has NOT started well. Gary's never felt like, so miselable, and his mood doesn't improve when he overhears the ubiquitous pair of gossiping girls on the walk to school. "The sports clubs are starting to accept applicants!" one of them squeals. Great. Gary's not a sporty person by any definition, but that probably won't stop the world and his wife from nagging him to participate. Proving me right, the game skips right to the end of the school day, where the Invisible Narrator tells him he can apply to join one of the sports clubs at the faculty office. Okay, he fucking "gets it". Frankly, he's terrified the IN will plant more squicky hetero dreams in his sleeping head if he refuses to comply. To the faculty office it is.

I know it's hard to comprehend, but Gary's day continues to slide ever deeper into a fetid, stinking pit of despair--who should be waiting to ambush him behind the faculty office door but his favourite teacher, fucking Wiggy. King Moron himself immediately goes off on his usual rant, claiming that Gary's only interested in joining a sports club so he can "trawl for girls". Gary is this close to hiring a pilot to skywrite "I'M NOT FUCKING STRAIGHT" over the school in pink smoke, but steels himself and takes the lecture like a man. Thankfully, I don't have to read Wiggy's entire spiel, but by the end of it he's sweating and veins are bulging out of his forehead like tree roots. Can't he just have a heart attack and give Gary a shred of hope that the universe doesn't totally despise him?

I think Wiggy's spent his entire life learning that lesson.

Wiggy paused long enough mid-rant to inform Gary that the sports clubs meet on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but not when it's raining. Pussies. With this in mind, Gary decides to head straight to one of the clubs and get it over with. But he has a critical choice to make: soccer or basketball? In terms of enthusiasm, this is akin to him choosing between a handjob from Yukiko or a kick to the nuts from Chie--both are going to traumatize him, but only one of them will cause him physical pain. All the jumping basketball entails would wreak havoc on his knees, whereas with soccer he could at least hide in goal and stay out of the action. Plus, he doesn't dribble. His choice has been made.

(Disclaimer: as a Brit, it feels so fucking weird to be calling football "soccer", but I'm going to stick with it for the avoidance of confusion. You see the sacrifices I make for you guys?)

Cut to the soccer field, where Mr Kondo is introducing Gary to his new teammates: "He's from the city, so I'm sure he's got some moves he's just waiting to show off!" Oh, you bet. Getting carried away with Gary's urban credentials, Kondo declares that he's already thinking about making him captain. Ouch--this is NOT going to go down well with the original players. Sure enough, they start to whisper among themselves, possibly giving Gary the stink-eye in unison. As if he hasn't already dug this hole deep enough, Mr Kondo urges Gary to make a speech to the team. He does so, choosing the least arrogant dialogue option available to him, not that it does him much good. "Nice to meet ya..." one of the team says, not entirely convincingly. "They don't seem very friendly..." the Invisible Narrator helpfully remarks. Fuck yourself with an unlubed light tube, IN. Kondo eventually seems to pick up on the resentment simmering in the air and tells Gary he should probably sit this session out. Fine by him.

After a quick Black Screen of Awkward Warm-ups, Gary's watching the team do laps...and it seems one of them is watching him, too. From behind, no less! After a few moments, Gary senses the dude staring at his ass and turns to confront him. He's immediately struck by the guy's attractiveness--yeah, his eyebrows make him look evil and his nose is taped, but Gary can overlook such minor issues when they're linked to someone so buff. The guy in question, Daisuke, offers him some words of encouragement, and then a second hottie enters from stage left. Gary's day has suddenly improved a hundredfold.

If his mouth is as big as you say, Gary wants to switch to the basketball team.

The second piece of guy candy, Kou, is a blue-haired, twinkish young thing as opposed to the more athletic, strapping Daisuke, but Gary thinks they complement each other perfectly well, like salt and pepper. Or Squall and Seifer. The two of them engage in some banter about whose team is better--Gary just knows they're going to continue this in the showers afterwards--and then Daisuke introduces Kou to Gary. The guy seems to be quite full of himself, given that he claims to be "the up-and-coming MVP" of the basketball team, but Gary's too shallow to let such arrogance put him off. Daisuke tells him the others have been giving Gary a hard time, which is a bit of a headscratcher because all they've done so far is to whisper about him, something the entire fucking school seems to have been doing since the moment he stepped off his train. Still, it's nice that Daisuke's being so protective of him already.

Before long the three guys are chatting away, which is the IN's cue to indulge his budding passion for matchmaking. Fortunately, he isn't trying to pair Gary off with a girl this time. "You feel a faint bond forming between the three of you..." he squees, practically singing "Gary, Kou and Daisuke, sitting in a tree." Well, this is new. It turns out that this ménage a trois is actually the "Strength Social Link"--Gary's collecting those fucking things like Azealia Banks collecting Twitter feuds by now. Once the Wordy Tarot Guy has done his thing, Daisuke asks Gary to walk home with him. Gosh, he doesn't beat around the bush, does he?

Gary feels a pang of guilt when he considers getting closer to Daisuke and/or Kou, but soon manages to summon up some justification for himself--first of all, he and Yosuke never had the exclusivity talk, and second, the guy's been acting like a dick as of late. Plus there's the sudden sexual ambiguity thing he's got going on. If Yosuke can't quite decide which team he plays for, then Gary doesn't see any harm in keeping his options open. A Black Screen of Game Designer Censorship tells us that the three sportsmen walk home together, but predictably leaves what happens afterwards to the imagination.

Back home, Gary has a quick study session at his bedroom desk--he figures he should at least take a cursory glance at his textbooks every so often--and then goes to bed, hoping that tomorrow will bring a day free from all the wanky shit he's become accustomed to by now. Come on, a guy can dream, right?

On the way to school, he's startled by Yosuke running towards him. He's instantly full of guilt again--did Yosuke see him walking home with Kou and Daisuke? Luckily, he isn't here to confront Gary about his new friendship with the sports guys--instead, he wants to talk about the Midnight Channel. Gary kind of blanks out as this point because he's so relieved he doesn't have to explain what he was doing last night. He really isn't cut out for this duplicitous shit--he'll need to decide once and for all between his various potential suitors, but for now, class beckons. And once he gets there, Gary wishes he'd stayed at home today.

The latest Yasogami High faculty member to mentally scar poor Gary for all eternity is Mr Hosoi, Classical Literature teacher. He's a fairly nondescript middle-aged man wearing glasses and a knitted tank top. So far, so normal. But wait! This is Yasogami High, where every teacher must possess at least one disturbing physical feature or personality quirk in order to be qualified to teach a class. In Mr Hosoi's case, his is a glove puppet he uses as a teaching aid. A glove puppet with a red, gaping maw. A glove puppet that looks like a miniature version of himself. Gary's starting to wonder whether the local education authority has a feeder program linked to a mental institution, in which case he won't need to travel too far when he finally loses his mind.

'To get far away from nutjobs like you' would be my first answer.

Much like Wiggy's unhealthy obsession with underage sex, Mr Hosoi (now known as Mr Garrison, for obvious reasons) is unnaturally fixated on the idea of country life, eschewing the evils of "city-folk" and their skyscrapers and their highly-paid private sector jobs. Why do I get the feeling Mr Garrison here has a chip the size of Australia on his shoulder? Like, I've come up with this entire tragic backstory for him wherein he had to move back here after trying and failing to make a life for himself in the city. And yes, I realize this is the point where I forfeit the right to make fun of fanwank ever again. I've well and truly turned to the dark side.

Even though spelling quizzes didn't fall under the remit of Classical Lit teachers last time I checked, Mr Garrison decides to pick on Yosuke, accusing him of being "a guy who relies on his PC's spell check." Guilty as charged. Feeling the need to make it up to Yosuke, Gary helps him out by discreetly giving him a handjob the correct spelling of the word "millennium". Yosuke gives the right answer, Mr Garrison lets him off the hook, and the Invisible Narrator passes Gary a note reading "Yosuke appreciates you!" And the feeling is mutual--Gary just didn't realize how much until now. His encounter with Daisuke and Kou was a mistake, one he must never allow to happen again. Will he ever be able to forgive himself?

His head is still a mess after school, so he's taken off-guard when he bumps into Yosuke in the hallway. "Rushing things isn't gonna help 'bout we take a little break?" Yosuke suggests. For one heart-sinking moment Gary thinks he's talking about their relationship, but it's soon established that he's referring to poor Yukiko. Yeah, they should totally take a break from all that rescuing they haven't been doing. "Maybe you should hang out with Yosuke and relax..." the IN purrs down his ear. You know, it's just struck me that the fucking IN seems to be pushing Gary towards anyone and everyone. He clearly wants him to be such a whore, but Gary isn't playing that game. From now on, he's a one-man-man.

You should probably be asking Yukiko that, Yosuke.

Cut to the shopping district, where Gary and Yosuke (and the fucking Invisible Narrator, of course) are dining at one of the street's several eateries. "The famous steak croquettes are tough..." the IN remarks. I could choose this moment to make an inappropriate comment about the steak croquettes not being the only sausage-shaped, hard, meaty things in the vicinity of the table, but I have far too much restraint for that. Two gossiping housewives--just to make a change from gossiping schoolgirls--walk past, whispering none-too-quietly about Yosuke's parents and their Walmart store putting local shops out of business. Gary sympathetically says it must be tough for him, but he insists he's gotten used to being known as the spawn of the evil corporate interlopers. Still, this mini heart-to-heart brings them a little closer together, and the Magician Social Link rises to level 2. Wait, is this the same as getting to second base?

The following day, 21 April, proceeds innocently enough until lunchtime, when Gary is waylaid in the corridor by Daisuke. Shit--he'd forgotten it was Thursday today. Daisuke uses this excuse to invite Gary to soccer practice, but we all know which physical activity he's really after. Gary wants to tell him he's not interested, but it's so hard to resist--Daisuke has caught him totally off-guard, and what's more, he's totally working that turquoise tracksuit. Oh, why is Gary so weak where matters of the heart are concerned? He never knew polyester blend could make him go weak at the knees until now.

Of course, he goes to practice, figuring that there's no harm in window shopping as long as he doesn't touch any of the goods. After a lengthy, Diligence-increasing game of soccer, the rest of the team orders Gary to take down the goalposts and tidy up before he leaves. While he has the option of calling them out on this unfair delegation, he takes the more diplomatic approach, not wanting to rock the boat while he's still the new guy. He'll get those fuckers back one day, though. As the others hit the showers, Daisuke and Kou enter the scene, wanting to know what the team said to him. When they find out he's been left to clean up, they're righteously pissed off on his behalf and offer to share the load. And no, I'm not going to rephrase that. Gary tries to resist their proposition with every fibre of his being, but when all's said and done, he gives in to their advances. On cue, a Black Screen of Ambiguous Three-Way Activity obscures the shameful act.


"Whew, I'm beat..." Kou gasps when we fade back in. Daisuke's reply almost makes me do a spit-take, and is preserved for posterity in the caption box over there. Kou declares that it's not his style to half-ass things--Gary now knows first-hand just how true that is--and then Gary awkwardly thanks the two of them for their participation. "Daisuke looks happy," the IN observes. I'm not surprised he does. As Daisuke basks in afterglow, Gary learns that the Strength S-Link has reached level 2, just like the Magician. He's not going to be able to look poor Yosuke in the eye after this.

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