|Something to Believe in
Author: Writer Awakened PM
P3. You'll always have your "forever." And for a fleeting lifetime, she will too. Because we all need something to believe in. Second-person; past, present, future. Mitsuru/Minato, romance.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Supernatural - Mitsuru K. & Protagonist - Words: 4,471 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 46 - Follows: 3 - Published: 07-30-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5262589
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Something to Believe in
~ Past ~
You watched her.
You have watched Mitsuru. How could you not? Ruby-red lips, apple-red hair spilling down her shoulders, a tight uniform and a loose skirt, and a pair of high heels that clicked and clacked satisfyingly when she walked on hard surfaces. She was every schoolboy's forbidden fantasy. She was naturally good-looking, intelligent, confident and responsible, and whenever she spoke French to you with her sexy voice, it made you want to melt into her arms.
She's not the only girl you watched closely. Fuuka was kind and gentle, and she was very cute, though she tried to convince herself otherwise. You swear that in your dreams you could feel Yuko's sweaty tan skin under your fingertips, could hear Chihiro moaning softly into your ear. At certain angles, you could imagine watching Yukari's short skirt blow away in the wind.
Those were passing thoughts. Fading dreams, childish dreams. Faces building themselves in your psyche and crumbling away, masks left to gather dust in closets.
You watched her. You watched Mitsuru-senpai. That was a different kind of passing thought. You wanted that which you could not have. It was a natural thought, but a passing one. She was "out of your league." She wouldn't take a second look at you as anything more than a classmate and an ally. Her compliments were rare and were indicative of nothing more than the simple facts. For a woman whose talents burrowed far beneath skin deep, her words were always sharp and straightforward. Mitsuru's feelings were (it was an unspoken fact) off-limits.
One day a boy with the face of death gave you a choice, and suddenly things started to look different. Time was more precious. That day, your whole dorm began wanting what they could not have. That day, you saw your mortality. You didn't have much time to find your "forever". Your friends might have seen their tombstones in their nightmares. But you…deep in your soul, something told you that you were going to live until fear itself crumbled away, until the regrets of mankind shattered to pieces. Something deep inside your mind told you your fate was eternity. That wasn't good enough for you. Your "forever" wouldn't find you by itself.
One day, a wealthy businessman passed away. One day, Mitsuru Kirijo became alone.
That's when she began to relate to you.
~ Present ~
What is "forever"?
You understand the concept of infinity. You just can't grasp it. Maybe you're simply not smart enough to comprehend the timelessness and formlessness of "forever"; and you know it's not because you're an idiot. Your grades, at least, are superb. Even when they're not, you have enough good sense not to worry about it too much, and prepare for the next time. A good test score is only good until the next test comes around, after all. The idea of a "forever" just seems unfathomable to you. It's a daunting prospect.
"Man, what does 'forever' really mean, anyway?" Kenji ponders as you walk home with him, as you find your mind wandering further into the realm of the existential as time marches on. "People talk about 'eternal love' and stuff. So what then, love outlasts everything? Even if you don't have a body anymore, you'll still have love? It's not like anything else goes with you when you die, right? It's weird to think about. Hey…do you think me and Emiri will know 'eternal love?'"
"Of course," you say, almost automatically.
"Thanks, man. I think so too." Kenji grins recklessly and you feel yourself getting stronger. You can't see your strength, but you know it's there. You feel like you have a better understanding of the world and the people around you. It's a faraway feeling, locked somewhere within your mind, but it's a pleasant feeling.
At a crossroads, you and Kenji say goodbye and you walk back to your dorm alone.
There's a cold December wind blowing through. Everything is barren, dying, burning in the frost and fading away. December is the month of death. The trees are zombies: beggars reaching out with their branches—one spindly finger extended like that of the creator—and grayed tin cup leaves; they live between life and death, waiting for the day when the goddess reincarnates them into a better existence. The zombies are trees, too: apathetic people lying in the alleys and the gutters; they suffer and they starve. Only when they take root in the shopping plazas and the well-traveled throughways do people begin to care about them.
You walk by the shrine. You don't know what to pray for, so you don't stop even to look at the people gathering. Some stand in the playground and stare into space, some stand at the top stair, watching the torii in the corner for some sign of gods. They're all looking for something to believe in. The holy charm tags meant to ward off evil have fluttered away and leaflets with the bloody mark of Nyx swirl in the wind, spinning as if caught in a cyclone, tempting the people far below with the forbidden fruit of salvation.
Halfway between the shrine and home, you hear the loud, angry voice of a man standing on the street corner screaming at you to accept the end. He asks don't you want to be saved? and tells you it's for your own good! with a furious expression. His fist is balled in rage. You try to ignore him, but his empty anger makes you feel dead. Dead like the month of December.
Your friends are already at the dorm when you arrive there.
''Sup," Junpei says from the sofa, nose buried in a magazine. Akihiko stands alone at the bar. Mitsuru sits in her chair and the other girls sit on the couch to her left. You sit down in-between Fuuka and Yukari and listen to your dorm mates talk about this and that. The dorm is warm and hospitably lit. Fuuka offers you a cup of hot chocolate. It may well be the best cup of hot chocolate you've ever had.
"Let's go to Tartarus tonight," Akihiko says suddenly, walking over towards the rest of you. You all nod and murmur in agreement. You take notice of the changes in your friends. Until now, going to Tartarus almost felt like a game. There were challenges and rewards, and when you reached the end of the line, you could go no further. Now you all realize just what you've been fighting for all this time. The twisted tower was more than the joys of living and the challenge of ambitions. It was your hate, your uncertainty, your fear, your sorrows, and you could not escape it, no matter how hard you tried to break free of the chains that bound your emotions. Everyone is resolute. Far from tearing you apart, the thought that the world and everything you know will disappear has galvanized you and your friends.
The night deepens, and you are about to return to your room, about to take the first step up the stairs when you feel Mitsuru gently touch you on the back.
"I just wanted to tell you," she says, typically businesslike. "I noticed that your grades have been superlative lately. I'm impressed. It's good to see that you take your education seriously. After all, if you want to get a good job somewhere, you need to be academically competent."
You shrug and thank her. In the past, she's congratulated you for your grades, but never so actively. Her regard for you seems to be growing every day.
You know very little about Mitsuru; at least, less than you would like to. She is intentionally mysterious, but that is part of her allure. She is the heir of the Kirijo line and her family may well have owned the entire island. In spirit she is a princess, soon to be the queen, made an alien among her classmates by birth.
She's about to say something when you interrupt her and ask—quickly, before you lose your nerve—if she wants to do something tomorrow.
"Ah! I was about to ask you the same thing," Mitsuru says, seeming surprised. "Then, I'll meet you tomorrow after school?"
You smile and nod.
This month, this dead month: this is when you really get to know Mitsuru intimately. Almost every day after school, and on weekends, you spend time together with her. You start to learn and understand what makes her tick. At heart, Mitsuru Kirijo is a contradiction, as mysterious inside as she is on the outside. She is a woman at once both chained and empowered by her family name. She understands and cherishes her responsibilities and yet wants desperately to escape them. From the beginning, her fate has been arranged for her. Even her love life amounts to nothing more than a business transaction, a marriage of convenience.
Nearly every time you meet with her, you can feel your relationship with her growing stronger. She's distanced herself from you—and from everyone else in the dorm—because she never believed she could trust you to understand, never believed she could trust in you to accept her for who she really is. Whenever you meet, you always tell her to be more open, to stand up for herself. She is like a beautiful butterfly locked in a birdcage; you cannot abide seeing anything or anyone sealed away for all time, and certainly not Mitsuru-senpai.
She intrigues you. There is something about her that sets her apart from all the other girls you know. There's something in the way she straddles so many lines; it is her contradictions that draw you to her. Her Personae reflect her cold nature, and yet inside her you can feel a warm, soft heart fighting desperately to break free of its frozen prison and show itself to you. She is a rich girl from a rich family, the student council president, admired by all; despite this, she is a warrior like you are, a student like you are, a girl but one year above you—anywhere else, she would otherwise be completely your equal.
She intrigues you, and the more you think about her, the more you realize that you can't get her off your mind. Even as you ponder what might become of you after the "end of the world", and what you must do to ascend to the top of Tartarus, and what you might find when you get there, you still find yourself thinking about Mitsuru and why exactly it is she refuses to crawl out of your thoughts, out of your dreams. Is it all merely a bout of recurring lust, the desire of a beautiful woman coming to you and evoking thoughts that come naturally to any boy your age? You can't say.
One night, you sit in your room, idly flipping through a math textbook, when you hear a knock at your door.
"I-It's Mitsuru," says the voice from the other side of the door, and you tell her to enter.
"I'm sorry to bother you at such an hour, but I really needed someone to speak to." Mitsuru enters into your room and gently closes the door behind her.
"F-Forgive me for being so bold, but I—I—"
Suddenly, Mitsuru falls to her knees at your feet and looks up at you. She unbuttons the front of her blouse; you can see her fingers trembling. You stand still, rooted in place. You can't look away. Mitsuru slowly crawls towards you on hands and knees, trying to draw you closer with her eyes.
"Please," she says through dry lips, reaching her hand out towards you. You step back before she can pull at your zipper.
She is beautiful even when she's vulnerable. You've heard about the type before: the ice queen, thinks she's got it all together, but in reality she's the neediest one of all. The bold, beautiful woman you've known for so long is now broken before you. You look at her face, into her eyes, and you can see the bare woman before you, her foundation cracking—the girl underneath the makeup. She gravitates toward you, she's crawling closer towards you because she needs you, because she has nowhere else to turn.
It's as enticing as it is repulsing. She pleads to you and you feel a dull pain settle into your body, settle into your chest. You can barely breathe. It's almost unbearable to watch her so helpless and afraid. You can barely stand it.
She pleads for something unmentioned with an expression on her face somewhere between lust and despair. Maybe she doesn't know what she wants. Maybe she wants whatever you'll give her. This is as close as she will ever come to the words "help me." She's given up on herself. She's giving herself away. You could have her.
You could have her.
But you don't want her, not like this. She doesn't want you out of affection or desire. She wants someone—anyone—to tell her what to do, to control her. She never learned how to think for herself—no, she never learned how to feel for herself. For all her family's affluence, that was a luxury she was never afforded.
You don't want your most vivid memory of Mitsuru to be of her lying supine on the dirty floor, legs splayed out, waiting for you to possess her, or of her down on her knees, humbled and surrendered before you, hands clasped on your thighs, praying to the insides of your legs, sucking you bone dry with her soft lips. That might be enough for someone else, for a normal teenage boy who knows that one day he will die. But you're interested in your forever. You want a feeling that will last forever. After all, you remember: remember not merely that you are mortal, but that something else might await you beyond the realms of death.
Mitsuru-senpai is not in love with you, not now. She probably didn't even think about it that way. She wants someone to betray her trust and take advantage of her, and that's something you will not do.
"Please," she says.
You tell her no. You have to tell her no. You can feel her grief, her confusion, and it feels as painful as if it were your own.
She stands up slowly, straightens herself out, and brushes the dust off her skirt. She clears her throat with some difficulty. You can tell she's already trying to forget this incident ever happened.
"Well," she says. She isn't crying. She isn't going to cry. But she's close. "Pleasant dreams. Good night."
You stand in your room, motionless, listening to her heels click, clack against the floor. It gives you a hollow feeling. The sound soon fades away, so you close and lock your door, and then you sit at the foot of your bed, staring into the blank television screen, half-expecting to see her face in a sea of static, but all you see is black. Maybe that's a good thing.
You've spent all the time you can remember without a family. Your whole life has been shaded the color of nothing. You've become accustomed to the last track on your CD ending suddenly; you're used to the sounds of silence. But you've never felt as alone as you feel at this moment.
You turn out the lights and slip under your covers.
At one time, your interest in her was purely physical. From a distance, she wouldn't let you into her world and your psyche wouldn't let her into yours. Now you lie awake in your bed, staring at the ceiling, and realize you care about her future. Deep inside your mind, you think you know her, you want to get to know her better, you want to be closer to her, you want to protect her. It's not just your forever. You're worried about her forever.
That's when you realize that you're in love. More than mere attraction, you realize how genuine and insistent your feelings are for her. In an instant, that much becomes clear to you. The hard part is getting her to love you. You don't want her to have to love you. You want her to love you for who you are, the way you love her.
Maybe it will come in time, you think as you slowly fall asleep.
From then on, you spend every moment you can with her. Her presence is comforting to you. The way she walks, the way she talks, the way she smiles: these things are all becoming familiar, becoming part of your memory, becoming a part of you. The end of December approaches, the month of death, and yet somehow, as your relationship with Mitsuru continues to grow, you feel more alive than you have ever felt before.
One day, she comes to you in the evening and asks you to accompany her to the meeting room. When you arrive there, the room is deathly silent. You sit down and she sits down beside you.
"I…want to apologize for the way I acted the other night," she says. "As you know, I—there have been a lot of things that have happened recently. But I know there is no excuse for what I've—"
"It's all right," you say gently. "I understand."
"Takeba talked some sense into me," she says. "Nothing good can be gained by dwelling on the past. I suppose I—well, I haven't done…I haven't done well enough at putting the past aside." She twirls her hair in her fingers and hesitates for a moment, splitting her glances between you and the floor.
"I—I never asked for any of this," Mitsuru says hesitantly, biting her lip. She clenches her sleeve in her hand. She speaks as though she's weighing the negatives of a business transaction, but her voice is wavering. She pauses, looking blankly at the ground. She doesn't want to say any more; she can't bring herself to say another word.
Mitsuru spent the majority of her life in another world. You understand; maybe she spoke your language, but to most people in your world, Mitsuru Kirijo was an alien element from the moment she was born. The only one she could safely confide in was her Persona, and her Persona wasn't even truly hers. Everything she felt, everything she believed she kept tightly locked within herself. Not even the walls know Mitsuru's secrets.
"It's okay," you say. "You can say it."
Mitsuru looks up at you and closes her eyes. You're ready for her to say anything. You're prepared to listen as long as you have to. You're not prepared when she starts to cry. First, a few tears trickle down her cheeks, then a few small sniffles, and suddenly she's crying uncontrollably, her legs trembling beneath her, her chest heaving with new sobs, and she covers her face to hide her eyes. She turns her body away from you and tries, oh how she tries to contain herself, but she can't.
In a way, you're relieved. She probably hasn't cried like this since she was a little girl. You can only imagine what it would be like to dam your emotions for years on end. Nothing weighs too heavily on your mind. All your memories are as vague as dreams; the only memories that ring clearly are the ones you're making now. That's just the way you are. But your heart aches for Mitsuru. Her pain feels like your own.
You approach her and slowly embrace her. The part of you concerned with your communications wonders if this is the right thing to do, if this will bring her closer to you or offend her. Your mind spins and whirs with thousands of different possibilities, but your body acts automatically. You feel alive when you hold her. She doesn't object; she leans her head against your shoulder and cries. It feels awkward to you—it would be an awkward situation for anyone, you're sure—but it feels right. This is the right thing to do. You're sure of it.
Minutes pass. You don't know how many. You gently tangle your fingers in her red hair and wait.
"I'm sorry," she says, sniffling, wiping the tears from her eyes. "I'm sorry. I—I've embarrassed myself terribly, haven't I?"
You shake your head.
"I know that I shouldn't—shouldn't complain, but…I don't know what to believe any more," Mitsuru says, shrugging, her shoulders seemingly sinking into the floor. "It seems as though everything I say, everything I do is pulling me further away from my duties as chairwoman of the Kirijo Group trust. My arranged marriage, my position…it doesn't offer me any freedom. My father was busy all the time. I wish I had the time to spend with him back then. Ever since he left, I've felt…as if there were no one I could trust. I don't know what I am supposed to do…or even what kind of person I am supposed to be…" She trails off and pauses. "I'm sure you think I'm being selfish."
"I don't," you say.
"But why? I am! I would have to oversee all of the Kirijo Group's operations, otherwise I wouldn't be doing my job satisfactorily. That is my birthright and my obligation! Our family's name is very important to me," Mitsuru says, then she turns to the side and quietly mumbles, "but…but surely I'm not meant to do it all alone."
"You don't have to be alone."
She gasps quietly. For a moment, you see flashes of that look of hers—one of disappointment, maybe of disdain—but instead, she smiles. She's losing her words again. You have plenty of time, so you wait for her.
"I—oh, I—th-thank you," she says at last.
You smile. It's not that you feel small and insignificant in the scheme of the world (how can you possibly feel anything but joy when you look into her eyes?). You simply wonder if she feels that way about herself. You want to explain how you feel, but you couldn't. It's an affection that crosses worlds, that crosses existences, something beyond time and space, not simply something you couldn't put into words, but something she may never know, as long as her future and yours are fated to diverge.
She may never ever know what she means to you.
"I believe in you," you say, and extend your hand to her. When she takes your hand in hers, you understand that she believes in you as well.
~ Future ~
It is not yet January. January is the month of beginnings, the month of life. December is for realizing your fears and coming to terms with yourself. December is the month of finality. Come January, you will have realized. Come January, you will know.
This isn't your story. It was never yours to begin with. You will understand. This isn't your story. It's theirs. What you do will be for their futures.
You will walk through the door and everyone will ask you what your decision is. They will look at you and hold their breaths as one. You will have figured out long before then that they each want the same thing. You may be the month of December. You may be Death. But when the time comes they will turn to you and wait. They trust you. You'll tell them what they already know: you'll fight, no matter how futile it may be, no matter how many punches and sword strokes are swallowed by the gluttonous shadows of night. By January, they will know.
On the last of December, in the deadest night of the deadest month, Mitsuru will come to your room and tap quietly on the door.
"M-May I come in?" she will ask, and you'll usher her in. She will sit at the foot of your bed. "I'm sorry to disturb you," she will say, and you'll insist it's no problem.
"I know this is sudden, but considering the circumstances…I have to say it."
You'll sit beside her and know what she'll say.
"I love you."
You will take her hand in yours, embrace her, and tell her you feel the same, and you will share one kiss, a single kiss, at last taking her beautiful lips in yours. She will look to you and gently stroke your cheek.
"I don't know what will happen to us…or even if we will live or die, but…
"I will love you forever," Mitsuru will say, and you'll stroke her hair and silently hold her in your arms, her head resting comfortably on your shoulder as you listen to the comforting sounds of her heartbeat against yours and her breath against your neck.
That's when you'll find your forever.
That's when you'll first understand what you have to do for eternity and why you have to do it. The young man who fantasized about the Empress and her distant beauty—he might have been afraid, back when he believed the future to be comprised only of skin and flesh and scent and sound. You will realize that our bodies, no matter how perfect, will all crumble and turn to dust in the wind some day. But you…when you find your forever, that indescribable feeling that transcends time and space, then you will be at peace. You will believe. And one day, on that one day when you seal the gate hidden in the stars, protecting the emotions of humankind for all eternity, with the masks in your soul beating and breathing and clinging closely to your heart...
Your forever will find you too.