Obligatory Disclaimer: I don't own the characters here, or Capcom, or Persona. :)

***

The scary this is, I can feel myself changing.

When you left us, when you abandoned us...something in me snapped.

Instantly.

And I began to change.

I remember the first time I saw you. My hand had twitched for my Evoker, the breath caught in my throat, and my first thought was, he's too beautiful to kill. Even if he's a shadow, I cannot kill him. Imagine my surprise when you became one of us, when you found that your ability surpassed even the stronger of our unique group. We all grew to like you, to enjoy your quiet nature. I would often catch myself staring at you, marveling at you. I admired your unshakable courage when my own hands trembled at the thought of a shadow.

And then summer came, and with it, her.

At first, she was a novelty, almost a joke. Her straight faced dedication to you forced giggles from us at first, but you hardly seemed bewildered. I expected you to be embarrassed, even flattered, but your expression was vacant as her monotone voice evenly demanded to stay by your side.

Oh, from that day forward, a great black monster of jealousy rose within me.

How dare she, I thought, how dare she try and take you away from me? How dare she think she has any chance with you?!

But my fears were quickly sated; she remained emotionless and inhuman, and our affections flourished. Rumors that had been brewing since the first day of school erupted, and I was so happy, you know? You made me so happy.

You made a lot of girls happy. They always talked about you, giggling and wondering if they had a chance. I would grit my teeth and ignore it. You were really popular, too. You always seemed to be going somewhere. I suppose people were just naturally attracted to you. A boy with your nature is impossibly hard to come by, you know. No one else has your patience, you quiet leadership. No one else could be so gentle and so powerful at the same time.

In December, she broke.

I watched you kneel and take her hand as she smoldered on the pavement below a bulbous green moon. I was sad for her. While all she ever talked about was you and shadows, her energy and determination were endearing, and I'd grown attached to her.

But then...the horrifying truth and you was revealed, and...

I was scared of you for the first time.

The world was ending because of you and because of her. My memories of this, of everything, of you would be erased. We would die.

I decided that, if I was going to die, I would die next to you. We sealed our fate and waited with baited breath.

She returned different.

There was...something about her. Something new. It could have been her voice, stripped of its icy robotic tone and replaced with something warm, something...human. It could have been her mannerisms, which were somehow less jerky and more natural.

It could have been her eyes.

She looked at you differently when she came back. You were no longer an object to protect, but a dear friend. Someone to confide in.

Someone to love.

I watched her fall in love with you. I watched from the sidelines as she cursed her body, as she begged for humanity, as she stared at human girls with horribly aching eyes.

I was glad. I wanted her to fail. She compromised our relationship. She threatened to shatter my dreams!

I wanted nothing but you!

She felt the same.

I was there, with her, at the end of all things, when you sacrificed yourself. That horrible moment when we thought you were lost forever--she cried, you know? She begged you not to go. I watched every tear as if fell from her cold, metal cheek.

Who knew she could cry?

Who knew she could dream?

Blankness.

Everything, blank.

I forgot about everyone, everything.

You felt very tired that day.

In the middle of a crowded auditorium, I remembered, standing in awe as I stared at my friends, my best friends, with eyes unclouded. We ran up the stairs to the roof, eager to find you and her, to rejoice in the fact that we were all okay, that we'd all made it.

Every detail is clear to me.

The sun was bright against a brilliant blue sky, and the air tasted of spring. There you were, your head pressed into her lap, your eyes closed. The gentle wind played with your hair, and she looked over at us, a horribly sad smile on her lips.

Her eyes were wet.

You never woke up.

I can feel myself changing.

When you left, I became bitter, cold. Biting sarcastic remarks flew unchecked form my mouth. I grew irrationally furious with her. How dare she be the last thing you see! How dare she be the last thing you touch! I loved you, and I had to confess it to you as I held your lifeless hand in mine!

Every word I said to her was spiked with malice and contempt. I could tell that your death was eating away at her too, but I could not bring myself to care.

I hated her, more than I'd hated anyone. Ever.

And I tried to hate you.

Oh, I tried so hard to hate you, but I simply could not do it.

Instead, I distanced myself from everyone else, trying to forget, trying to stay busy enough to ignore the fact that you were gone and you were never, ever coming back.

I left my Evoker and didn't come back for it.

But then, for some strange reason, I got a call. I returned, the world stopped turning, and I swear I saw your shadow peeking around every corner. The whole routine was so familiar, so predictable that it was almost comfortable. My bow fit into the palm of my hand snugly, and I took down shadows as accurately as I used to.

But...there was something missing as we worked our way through the abyss--something niggling in the backs of our minds. Something was...wrong about this.

It was you.

Or, rather, the lack of you.

We all watched her become the new leader--she even took your Persona from you in a horrible mimicry that felt like a slap in the face. Why her? Why could she now wield the same unique power as you? I seethed in silent fury and hurt. It should have been me. You loved me, not her...so...I should be the one still connected to you. I should.

We learned things about ourselves, reliving our worst moments, remembering things we pushed to forget.

And you were there the whole time, teasing us from the shadows until finally I couldn't see anything but you face, couldn't hear anything but you voice.

We found you.

We defeated you.

I crumbled.

I crumbled at her feet, sobbing, begging for you to return through my tears. I only wanted to see you once more, just once more. She knelt down and gave me a metallic embrace, holding me in her arms as she, too, mourned. We visited the last memory and saw you there before us in such a way that all my longings and apprehensions evaporated.

A lot of times I wonder it if was all a dream. When life becomes so utterly mundane, so achingly normal, I have to pause and think, was it always this way? Did you ever really exist outside of my head? Was it all some sick joke, some heartbreaking hallucination?

I can feel myself changing, and sometimes, I'm afraid of what I will become.