She remembered his last words to her -- it was strange, how he was so accepting of her even though she hated him so much. 'You, too, are a precious living thing,' -- that's what he said. She supposed it was true…something that was not alive could not possibly hate as much as Aigis had hated him, so inexplicably for the longest time. In the end, Aigis felt guilty for it. It wasn't Ryoji's fault that he was the Appriser, the harbinger of the Fall. Ryoji, up until realizing his potential as the Nyx Avatar, was just as human as the rest of them…more than anyone, Aigis should have understood how he felt; almost human, but not, through no fault of his own.
She realized this, of course, in the unmeasured trek through the Abyss of Time, when the cracks in the dorm spider-webbed out into the stability of SEES, and floors and friendships started to fall apart. In the timeless period when the only one she could talk to was Metis, Aigis had done a lot of thinking. Compared to fighting with her friends, defeating Nyx seemed so simple -- back then, at least they all had a common goal, something to work together for.
When Ryoji said that the fight against Nyx was impossible to win…he had no idea what it meant for it to be impossible to win. The only way to lose in the fight against the Night Queen was not to try -- 'It doesn't matter whether or not we die; all that matters is that we're proud of how we lived.' To Aigis, that was victory. Defeat did not always mean winning. It wasn't winning when Ken and Akihiko fell at her hands, to burn as flames until she finished what she had started.
When she wasn't thinking about the impending conflicts, Aigis was thinking about Ryoji; of all the people she could have thought about at that point, it hurt the least to think of him; he whom she didn't fail to protect, whom forgave her for her violent hatred, whom right then was not contemplating compromising her existence just to take a key.
It still hurt to think of that -- that the rest of SEES would have risked the possibility of her life ending in order to obtain her key. She didn't blame them…no one was thinking straight, not even her. But she couldn't forget; she doubted they would ever forget her defeat of them, on the same line of thinking.
It was at this point that Aigis visited the Velvet Room; sometimes, she just missed Athena. Somehow, it felt like the loss of Athena for all of these Personae symbolized the loss of herself.
Viewing the available triangle fusions, though, Aigis felt a spark. Bringing together Alice, Nebiros, and Succubus brought about…
"Ryoji-san," she had breathed, to confusion from both of Philemon's servants.
Confirming that yes, she was okay, Aigis accepted this fusion, and Igor brought forth, from the sea of her soul, Thanatos. It wasn't the same; the human side of Ryoji was lost long ago. But having Death within her, his true form, at her command, when no one else but her Sister was there for her…
"Thank you," she had said to Igor and Elizabeth, to further bemusement from the pair.
Thanatos guided her through the wretched tournament for the True Key, and he never spoke to her as her other Personae sometimes did. But she carried him through the ordeal, and he never failed her, not once. Occasionally she would find herself speaking to him, even if he never replied. Death was not so much a malevolent force, Aigis came to understand -- it did not hate any single thing, and silently awaited anything that lived without bias. In itself, Death was almost the start of a new journey; it depended on your spiritual views, Aigis supposed. Maybe that was why Ryoji was so accepting?
When the time came to find out the truth of the Fall, of their previous leader becoming the Great Seal, Aigis again put her trust in Thanatos when faced with the monstrous collective of humanity's apathy and depression. Erebus didn't stand a chance, and it almost felt like Nyx all over again -- but, somehow, it was a little easier this time.
When everyone appeared in the Velvet Room with her, it was…surreal. In retrospect, she was glad to have thanked those two attendants at least once; they had helped her more than they probably realized. When Metis returned to her proper place, each of her Personae spoke, except, of course, for Thanatos -- all eager to greet her at her journey's end and her return to humanity.
She fell asleep, then, and Aigis remembered dreaming. They were mostly memories, and she could not recall each of the ones she had relived in her dream. But shortly before waking, there was a voice, so familiar:
"You, too, are a precious living thing."
For the first time, Thanatos let his voice be heard.
The last image she saw before awakening to SEES was a boy with a scarf, smiling.