"Come on, cheer up!" Grabbing me by the shoulders, Yosuke shakes me. "You've been out of it ever since we got back from inside the TV! Don't tell me you're still hung up on what happened in there?" Yosuke can't possibly imagine what Minato did for me. Risking his life like that, and saving me from all those Shadows… Of course my mind's stuck on him. I want to see him return, safe and sound, but that's not going to happen. Summoning him hasn't worked. I went to the Velvet Room to see Igor, and was told that nothing could be done. He's just going to die in there—back inside that damn TV—and we won't be able to do a single thing.
How would a Persona die? All Personae were originally Shadows, from what I've seen, but Minato, he's special. Where all the others would fade away, will he remain there? Littered in mechanical pieces all over the carpeted floor, his head mounted on the wall, in some sickening fashion. Like a deer caught on a hunt. Ripped apart, never able to decompose, or face destruction. And with his death, maybe his channel will fade away, too. Human channels stayed until Izanami's death, when the uncertainty and upset of our species was wiped away from Inaba. In Iwatodai, a Persona has created its own channel… But really, weren't Personae always the hosts of the twisted TV shows?
Maybe I'm missing something here. Maybe, that was never Minato to begin with. Or perhaps his Shadow was one of the humans in the flashbacks. Can a Persona have a Shadow? This isn't making any sense.
"Souji…" Yosuke looks at me, disappointment in his eyes. "It's not healthy for you to be worrying like this." A warm wind blows across the shrine. After the ordeal two days ago, I've been tracking down all the places I saw in Minato's world, hoping to find some kind of clue that he's okay. Kind of pathetic… Isn't it?
"Anyway, if you're so determined to track him down, we should probably get going. I don't think he's going to show up here," Grabbing my forearm, Yosuke tugs me away, and back out onto the street. Once he thinks we're far enough from the shrine, he lets go of me, trusting that I won't turn and run away. I've tried that several times today—hearing ghostly voices, thinking Minato's there, and fleeing to find him. "Hey, where're we going next?" I pull my phone from my pocket, and scroll through my texts, until I find the one from Junpei, saying where the building from the other day is. Showing it to Yosuke, he nods.
"Okay. I think that's this way." Walking down the street, he keeps glancing nervously back at me, to check I haven't disappeared. At this point, I wonder if there'd be any use in doing that. After the building, we've just got one more place to check- Shirakawa Boulevard. The streets twist and turn before Yosuke and I, as we search for the address. I see so many things on our journey, things to remind me of Minato. Even the tiniest detail sets me off, and makes my stomach sink. I've said so many horrible things to him, and I have to apologize for them all. Don't let him be dead. It'd be cruel for him to be dead. There're so many things we still have to talk about. Minato, Minato, Minato.
"We're here, Souji." Shaking me by the shoulder again, Yosuke points to the building in front of us. Going up to the door, I turn the handle, and find that it's locked. "Damn. We came all this way for nothing?" No. We came here for something. We came for Minato. And I'm not leaving without him. Grabbing my phone out again, I find Junpei's number, and send him a text. Can you find me the keys for that building? Thanks. Within moments, I have a response. Sure, I'll be there soon. I can see why Minato was such good friends with Junpei—he's very dependable.
"Junpei is coming to give us the keys." I tell Yosuke, who raises an eyebrow.
"Junpei…?" Not giving me time to explain, he shakes his head. "Never mind." Slumping back against one of the walls of the entranceway, Yosuke yawns.
"Hope he gets here fast. I'm bored." Minutes pass by, with the two of us standing, waiting… And eventually, a beaten up car stops nearby. Junpei steps out, missing his hat and dressed in such a way that it looks as though he only woke up half an hour ago. He probably did. Pulling a bunch of keys from his pocket, he walks up to us.
"Hey there, Souji," Giving a grin, he looks to Yosuke. "And this is?"
"I'm Yosuke. You're Junpei, right?" Junpei nods.
"Sure am! Hey, you're lucky you contacted me, Souji. Mitsuru gave me the keys to this place when she went home a couple of days ago. She had a feeling you'd want back in," Sticking a large silver key into the door, Junpei opens it up and walks in. "Truth be told, I'm liking the idea of getting back in here too. It hasn't been used since it was a dorm' for us in second year of high school." Yosuke follows closely after Junpei, as do I.
"But then again, I guess that Minato told you 'bout all that."
"He didn't." Yosuke and I say in unison. Junpei looks a little freaked out for a moment.
"Wow, guess he's been as secretive as ever. So, Yosuke, you're a Persona user too?"
"Yeah!" Yosuke replies, slinging his arm around me. "This guy and I? We're a team, along with a bunch of other people back in Inaba."
"Oh? Well, back in the day, Minato and I were part of a team like that too. Souji, you met most of them the other day," So that's the connection between all of them. "We called ourselves S.E.E.S—specialized extracurricular execution squad. We were meant to be some kind of secret school club… It was pretty cool." Everything that I wanted to know about Minato is clearing up. The scenes from his past are making sense now.
"Though, I gotta say, it sucked at times. Pretty much all of us lost someone close to us thanks to our work. Mitsuru's dad, Akihiko's best friend… It pissed me off a lot," Tossing the keys onto a counter nearby, Junpei leads us past the lounge set-up where we had all met up the other day. "So, what'd you guys need me to open this up for, anyway? Did Minato want to look around a bit, or something?" Yosuke shakes his head.
"Minato's not here. We're trying to find where he's gone, actually."
"Rampaging Persona?" Junpei makes a noise of disapproval. "Not good, guys."
"We know." Yosuke tells him. "Which is exactly why we've got to track him down."
"Good luck with that. My girlfriend Chidori couldn't control her Persona very well, and that caused a world of trouble." As Yosuke and Junpei begin discussing their adventures together, I peer at a notice-board on one of the walls. A picture of Minato's friends is pinned to it, along with holiday snapshots from what looks like Kyoto. News bulletins surround the pictures, dated for various times in two thousand and nine. 'Apathy Syndrome on the Rise'. 'Schoolboy Shot—Gangs Responsible?'. 'Kirijo Company CEO Found Dead'. In the centre, though, is the most striking thing of all. A small article, but its location catches my attention—an obituary page, for sometime in March of two thousand and ten. Minato Arisato. He was living here when he died. I'm on the right track. Walking away from Junpei and Yosuke, who are now arguing over favorite pop stars, I begin to climb the spiral staircase at the end of the hallway.
At the top of the steps, I see another small living room, with a vending machine to one side of it. This hallway feels strange. I notice doors, leading off to what must be bedrooms. It's time to take a look. Swinging open the door to the first room on the left, I find nothing. Second on the left; the only sign it's been lived in is the crumbs trodden into the carpet. It's the same with every other room I check on the floor. As I'm about to leave, though, I hear a noise from the final door on the right. Of course—I forgot to check there. Taking a deep breath, and preparing myself for disappointment, I walk towards it, and stop just outside. My hand touches the ice-cold handle. I have to open it. Twisting it, I push the door open, scrunching my eyes closed, not ready to face another empty room. My first surprise comes when I see that the room is full of furniture, and that a Gekkoukan school uniform is hung up in the open closet. Stepping in and shutting the door behind me, I can hardly believe my eyes.
On the bed, curled up so as to fit, is Minato. His eyes open slowly, and he looks at me.
"Souji. You made it." A smile spreads over his face, as I come closer to him.
"Of course I did, Minato," I kneel down beside him, and grip one of his huge, white hands. I've never touched them like this before—they're cold and hard, despite the fabric stretched over them. He really is made of steel. Trying to sit up, he shrinks away from his attempt, as pain hits him. "Come on. Just relax." I pull him back into a lying position. I don't want to see him hurting any more.
"Who knew that Personae could feel pain?" He asks, relaxing. "I'm sorry to have worried you, Souji." I shake my head.
"No. It's my fault."
"Don't say that." Minato scolds.
"But it's what you always do." He laughs at his hypocrisy.
"Yeah, but I'm allowed to. It's who I am," Wincing again, Minato turns to look at the TV in the corner of his room. "I'm lucky that I was created as a Persona. Otherwise, I would have never been able to escape that place." I grip his hand tighter.
"I'm glad that you're alive. So, so, glad," Letting go of his hand, I wrap my arms around him, and give him a tight hug. "I'm sorry that I've been so selfish." I whisper.
We are The World. We are the saviors.
The bond we have nurtured has finally matured.
The answers we searched for have been found.
Welcome to the rebirth…
The hard metal beneath me melts away, and I feel fear seize up in my heart. He's fading away. A hailstorm of blue butterflies scatters from under me, and fly around the room, before disappearing into blue dust. The blue dust fades as it hits the ground, leaving me totally alone. Before I can stop myself, tears come to my eyes.
"Minato?" I clamber to my feet, looking around for some sign that this isn't the end. "Minato!?" It's not fair. Just when I find him, he slips through my fingers… This must be some kind of sick, karmic justice for how I've treated him. Collapsing onto the bed, I close my eyes, and keep choking out his name.
"Minato… Minato… Minato…" He's gone, he's gone.
"Minato… Minato… Minato…"
"I heard you the first time, Souji." His voice. It's so close. I snap my eyes open. Nearby, a patch of light has appeared on the ground, and from it, something is rapidly appearing. First, a pair of plain, black school shoes, followed by black dress pants. A Gekkoukan school jacket, left open, and a white shirt. A black ribbon tied in a bow around a skinny neck. Finally, an expressionless face, with wide grey eyes and blue hair draping over them. The boy takes headphones out of his ears, and smiles.
A resolution has occurred in your heart
Orpheus has given rise to Messiah
"Good to see you missed me." Placing the earpieces around his neck, he fingers his small, green mp3 player and turns it off.
"Minato?" I inquire, to which he laughs.
"Do you really need to keep saying my name?" Opening his arms wide to me, he flicks his hands up and beckons. "C'mon." Shakily, I get up from the bed, and walk across the room to where Minato stands. Part of me flinches as I realize that, just by a fraction of an inch, I'm taller than him. I give him a gentle hug, and this time, he reciprocates.
"Wild Cards are connected, no matter how far apart, right?" He says into my ear.
"Yeah." Pulling apart, I'm met with surprise as Minato quickly kisses me.
"I'm going to be keeping you close regardless," I hear a crash from downstairs, which interrupts my thoughts. Shortly afterwards, there's a loud yell.
"That's your fault!" Stupid Yosuke.
"Sounds like Yosuke and Junpei have met up," Minato sighs, turning away from me and pulling open the door. "We should probably go stop them from doing anything crazy." I nod in response. Junpei and Yosuke together? I can't believe I let that happen. We'll be lucky if the dormitory survives another five minutes. Following Minato out, I shut the door behind me.
"Hey, Souji." Minato stops walking, and turns back to look at me.
"What?" I reply.
"… Thank you."
I chooseth this fate of my own free will.