Notes: I'm so sorry this epilogue took so long! At first I had writers block, and then homework piled up and I never had time to go back and proofread. It's a little short, but I hope it gives everyone a satisfying ending to this story.
*AngelMiku: Thank you so much for reviewing every chapter of this story! I'm very happy that you like this story. And I didn't know that about Aigis's name! That's very interesting! ^^
*xLeeny: Here's the epilogue! I hope you enjoy it!
*HollySutterlin: I'm sorry this took so long! But I appreciate your PM, so thank you!
Disclaimer: Persona 3 Portable and its characters are all the property of Atlus. This work is purely fanmade. (I forgot to put this in the last chapter, haha)
Epilogue – The Concept of "Death"
January 31, 2010
Dark Hour – Tartarus' Peak
That was all Minako felt.
SEES finally reached the top of Tartarus, but the sight of the Nyx Avatar made all the courage and determination Minako had seem to vanish. The Nyx Avatar. It was Ryoji, but…it wasn't Ryoji. That huge sword, the black wings, the flowing skirt, and the mask-like face had an evil smile that looked nothing like the Ryoji Mochizuki they knew. The only reminiscent trait was the hair, but it wasn't enough. It spoke to them, but none of the Ryoji's sincerity was there. Only a cold, dry voice that didn't even sound like him. How could it be? That thing, the eerie silhouette against the green sky of the Dark Hour, was not Ryoji.
It was Death.
Despair clutched Minako's heart. The hope that she would meet Ryoji here again was gone. Ryoji, the person she loved, was no longer there, and he could no longer help them. Minako instinctively touched the ring on her finger. For the first time, the hopelessness of winning the fight began to sink in. The possibility that she could die seemed to be a possibility no longer. It was reality. Minako's hands that only minutes before was determinedly holding her naginata were now shaking. Ryoji warned them about this feeling. This was what he wanted them to avoid.
"Please…kill me. I don't want you to suffer."
His voice, the things he said on New Years Eve began to upset her again. It was frustrating; she thought she got over the haunting feeling of Ryoji's smile. Minako closed her eyes, trying to block out the sight of that thing that wasn't Ryoji. She didn't want to die. It was…it was…scary.
"Will you still face me?" The Nyx Avatar's voice seemed to mock them, knowing their attempt to resist The Fall is pointless. "There must be trembling in your hearts…"
Minako was afraid to open her eyes. Her heart was trembling, but she didn't want to admit that the thing was right.
"Yeah, of course I'm scared…" Minako opened her eyes to Junpei's familiar voice. "But who cares about that right now? I got too much to live for!"
"Being really alive means not turning away from death…" Even Yukari sounded brave and strong. "So I won't turn and cower, not even to you!"
Minako listened to the voices of her friends, and strangely, it felt as if their courage gave her strength. Her fear was slowly dissipating, her hands stopped shaking, and the edge of her lips began to twitch. She wasn't lying when she said she wouldn't be such a great leader if she didn't have the support of her friends. Right. They all decided that they would fight until the very end. If they were together, they would certainly win. Besides, didn't she promise herself that she would smile? Ryoji didn't want her to be scared, so she wouldn't. Even if she died, she would find a way to stop Nyx. With her friends by her side, facing Death in the face felt almost easy.
Minako looked into the Nyx Avatar's eyes, and the twitching corners of her lips curled into a determined smile. "Everyone, let's go!"
"Come to me, Minako…"
Ryoji was right. Nyx couldn't be defeated. That meant there was only one thing to do.
"Yukari, do you know what I'm most afraid of?"
Igor really was amazing. Minako would have to remember to give him credit. With the power of the bonds she made with her friends, the Universe Arcana allowed her to stand up against the heavy force weighing down her friends. They were really worried about her when she started floating towards Nyx alone, calling after her and telling her to come back, but Minako knew that stopping Nyx was something only she could do. She floated to the moon and faced the real Nyx, who seemed to be waiting inside some golden egg. Minako decided she would do everything in her power to stop her.
"I'm not afraid of death…The hardest part is facing it, and I've done that already…"
But Nyx's attacks were strong; she was barely able to withstand them, but the voices of her friends gave her strength. Every time she thought she wouldn't be able to stand up, she could hear their voices, and slowly her strength returned. When she felt at full strength again, she realized a new technique: the Great Seal. With the power Igor helped her attain, she knew that this seal would stop Nyx forever, but she also knew the cost of using such a technique. Nothing in life came free, especially when you're trying to save the world. But like she said, she was willing to do everything in her power to stop Nyx. She was the leader of SEES and only got this far with her friends' support, so she simply had to protect everyone.
"I'm most afraid of knowing when I'll die…"
She was no longer afraid. Everything was for their sake, and that was why she was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Minako felt weightless.
All around her was nothingness. She could feel herself floating through the emptiness, and she was unsure if she was alive or dead, if she still had a body or was a floating corporal spirit. But she wasn't alone. She could sense her friends were somewhere in this strange and unfamiliar void. She could hear their voices calling for her, worrying about her safety. Minako was relieved. They were all right. Minako knew she wasn't near them, but she had a feeling they would hear her voice, so she quietly said, "I'm alright." She knew her voice would reach them. All she had to do was figure out where she was.
There was a familiar voice talking to her friends. A voice full of sincerity and kindness. Hearing it brought a feeling of nostalgic warmth to Minako's heart. She knew that her hopes were not in vain.
It was Ryoji's voice.
Minako opened her eyes. She still had a body, and she was floating through some dark, starry void. Her friend's presence slowly faded, making the void seem much more empty and lonely, and she started to panic. Was she going to be alone in this void? Was this the result of using the Great Seal? If it was, Minako had to calm her heart for it was what she wanted. At least she got to confirm her friends were safe. She closed her eyes again. If this was how it was to be, then she had no regrets.
Then a small chuckle reached her ears. "I said not to worry, didn't I?" Minako's eyes snapped open. Ryoji was in front of her, smiling. "You'll see your friends again soon. I just wanted to speak to you first…"
Ryoji. He was there. Not the Shadow of the Death Arcana, not the Nyx Avatar. Just Ryoji. Ryoji Mochizuki. The person she loved the most. His hands were placed calmly in his pockets, his yellow scarf floated gently around his shoulders; he looked just like she remembered. Minako slowly floated towards him, unsure sure if she was dreaming or if she should dare believe such a miracle was possible. When she was close enough, she reached out and gently touched his hand. It was warm, and a sigh of relief escaped her lips.
Ryoji watched her calmly, and after she sighed, he took her hand in his. Her hand was just as warm as he remembered, and he ran his finger over the ring he gave her. "I'm really here," he said simply, answering the question before she could even ask.
Minako looked up from her hand and into Ryoji's eyes. He was really there. A smile broke out on her face, and she tried hard not to let tears come out. She didn't want to cry in front of him, even if they were tears of happiness. "Ryoji…" Her voice was weak and breathless, but that didn't matter. He was there, and even though she no longer needed to confirm it, she still threw her arms around him in a tight embrace. "I missed you…"
She felt his arms hug her tight. "I missed you too," he said quietly, and he sighed. "You did it."
"Yeah…I did it."
Ryoji's hold on her loosened and he pushed her back to look her in the eyes. "You know what sealing Nyx means, right?"
Minako smiled right back at him. She missed that sincerity in his voice. "I know."
His hands slowly slid down her arms. "Then you should know what's going to happen to you."
"…Are you afraid?"
For a moment, Minako's smile faded. Ryoji looked worried, as if he knew. She used the Great Seal knowing the consequences. She did it without any doubts, fear, or regret. But Ryoji was worrying about her, as if he knew what she was most afraid of. She looked into his eyes, and she could tell he knew the truth. "How do you—"
"I said before I left, didn't I?" Ryoji interrupted, smiling slightly at her confusion. "That I would be watching over you all. I know what you talked to Yukari-san about."
Minako hung her head slightly. If he knew about what she told Yukari, then he would surely know about the time she was upset, and he would know the reason why. She felt guilty. She didn't want him to know about that, but it couldn't be helped. "I'm sorry." An apology was not the answer to Ryoji's first question, but she felt that she had to say it. However, she got over her fear, and it didn't bother her anymore. He had asked her if she was afraid, and she knew her answer.
"It's alright," Ryoji smiled. He took her hands again and asked once more, "Are you afraid?"
A smile came back to her face, and Minako happily lifted her head. It was true that she was afraid of knowing when she'll die, but this time was different. "I'm not afraid at all," she said confidently.
Ryoji's grip on her hands tightened. "You'll be living on borrowed time."
"I know. I'm not afraid anymore."
There was nothing but concern and worry in Ryoji's eyes, and that was why she kept smiling despite the depressing things she was saying. There were three weeks from when she talked to Yukari until the fight with Nyx to think about things. And there was only one thing she thought about: the possibility of death. Having her friends at her side made it seem less scary, and she slowly realized that, thanks to them, she was no longer afraid. Even with the Great Seal, she decided to sacrifice herself to save them. As long as they lived, then everything would be fine. Besides, if all that awaited her was "death," then surely there was a bright side, and she found it.
"Because you are 'Death,' right? So I'm not afraid."
That didn't seem to be the answer Ryoji expected, and he didn't seem happy with it. His grip on her hands was still tight, and his own hands shook slightly. "Such a reason…"
"Even if I'm wrong, I have no regrets."
Ryoji stared at her, as if he didn't believe what he just heard. Minako stared right back at him, and the determination in her eyes did not waiver. She was serious, and nothing Ryoji could say would change that. Not that he wanted to. He wanted to talk to her about the consequences of using the Great Seal, but her view seemed to keep her at ease. That was good. Now he didn't have to worry. He sighed and finally smiled at her again.
"Well, no one knows what happens after we die, so you may be right."
Minako pulled her hands free and gently touched Ryoji's face. She slowly brought her face closer to his and smiled. "I know I'm right…" She paused for a moment. "I love you." And with that, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his. They stood in each other's arms and enjoyed each other's presence for what could be the last time.
I'm not afraid to die because I know I'll see you again on the other side.
Ryoji was gone when she opened her eyes, and she lay outside Tartarus surrounded by her friends.
All that remained was to live peacefully on her borrowed time.
Notes: Finally, a Ryoji/Minako scene that's not a flashback! ^^ I was sad that Ryoji didn't get an ending scene on the rooftop before Minako died, so I guess this is what I would have liked to happen. I hope the lack of battle description didn't bore you, but the fight really wasn't the main focus of the epilogue.
Anyway, this is the final chapter of Make Your Decision. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Thank you all so much for your kind reviews! They made me want to update faster despite my schoolwork. I have a couple more ideas for other stories, so hopefully we can meet again when those get written. But until then, thank you so much!