I don't own Persona 3, Persona 3 FES, or Persona 3 Portable.
WARNING! Serious spoilers for all three games, ideas borrowed from the very first Persona game, references to the first game, and a heavily implied love triangle.
A/N: I'll have to change the male MC's "The Answer" a little since this revolves around MShe, like who gets to have the Wild Card and who plays the green-eyed monster. Otherwise it's the same story. On YouTube, I checked out the "Character Endings" video and the guy who had the most dramatic lines was Shinji. That's when I thought: "Wow, Shinji's the only member who didn't get a resolution and an upgraded Persona."
At first I outlined the story so that Akihiko could take over Aigis' role in FES, since his Arcana, the Emperor, meant leadership. But after replaying The Answer I decided that he was too focused on the future and that if he became the leader, SEES would use the True Key to escape the Abyss without learning what happened to MShe. The character who would receive the Wild Card needs to be a balanced individual who can understand the workings of both sides, past and present, protecting everyone while struggling with his or her own inner demons.
So…Shinji will get the Wild Card.
March 31st, 2010
Some time before the incident….
"…Oh, ok then. I'll tell the others," Ken Amada, the youngest member of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad, said into his cellphone. He was still in elementary, but his skill with the spear more than made up for his short stature. The young SEES member had volunteered to call up some of the other members who hadn't arrived at the dorm for the farewell party yet.
"Right," Akihiko Sanada, Gekkoukan High's "Golden Boy", replied. He was a senior and one of the first Persona users in the group. Together with Mitsuru and one other person, they founded SEES. "By the way… is Mitsuru serious about transferring her back to her room from the hospital today?"
"Yes," Ken said, his tone of voice nostalgic at the mention of their field leader. "In fact, she'll be arriving in half an hour."
"…That's good," Akihiko told him after a moment. "Even if it's only for a short while… she'll be home with the others at the dorm, just like before… just like she promised."
Ken thought about what Akihiko just said. "Sanada-san? Are you sure you aren't going to make it? She would've liked it if you were here."
There was an uncomfortable pause.
"…Yes, I'm sure. Besides, I swore to myself last October that I wouldn't let stuff like this get me down," Akihiko answered carefully, confidently.
"All right then," Ken reluctantly agreed.
After saying goodbye, Ken hung up, punched a new number, and was about to press the 'call' button when something stopped him. Why are you awake…while she's asleep?
Ken pressed 'call' and held his cell to his ear.
His cellphone ring tone startled him out of his reverie. Scrambling to answer it, he accidentally dropped it on the marble floor. Muttering an obscenity, he answered with a brisk, "Hello?"
"Um, it's Ken," said the caller. "Mitsuru-sempai wants to know when you'll be getting back." Shinjiro Aragaki looked at his watch. "I just have one more thing to buy." It was a small lie. He had already finished his shopping and was just sitting down on one of the benches at the mall, doing nothing. "Why? Did she need me to buy something?"
"Yes. Mitsuru-sempai wants-" there was a pause "-a bag of Pheromone Coffee powder," Ken informed.
"From the grocery or from Chagall?"
"Hn. Fine. Anything else?" Shinji asked, whipping out a piece of paper and a pencil from his coat pockets. "Hm…Fuuka-san needs black pepper," Ken continued.
Shinji made a mental note to himself to keep an eye on Fuuka Yamagishi while she cooked in the kitchen tonight.
Fuuka was the group's operator. Back then, it was Mitsuru who acted as support for SEES, but the shy computer-tech easily outmatched her. Since the battle with the Emperor and Empress Shadows, Fuuka has constantly fed the group vital information on their enemies, warned them of the presence of Guardian Shadows, cheered them on in battle, alerted them to who was knocked down and needed healing, provided an emergency escape route whenever Death was near, and even played some catchy background music while they explored.
"…And, that's all," Ken said. "So! Um… see you later, sempai."
"Right." Shinji hung up, put away his cell and sighed. He didn't feel like going back to the dorm anytime soon. What was the point of partying with them, anyways? He didn't have many important possessions in his room at the dorm, aside from some spare clothes. There were only three people he was really acquainted with among the members of SEES – There was Mitsuru, but it wasn't as if they were best buddies. Akihiko was his "best buddy", if you could call him that. Knowing him, he probably wouldn't even make it to the farewell party – he and Shinji shared a lot in that regard. But Shinji didn't feel like seeing him today.
Hell, he didn't feel like seeing anyone from SEES today.
Except for one member… the field leader. The third person he was close to. Her.
He wanted to see her so much, but at the same time he dreaded casting his eyes on her.
Because seeing her in this state – with her eyes closed, her breathing faint, and her skin so cold to the touch it felt like Death himself had dragged her soul away with him…seeing her like this was a constant reminder of his failures. She also had honey brown hair and ruby red eyes – it was the most obvious, yet illogical reason. Shinji could name two other pretty, bright, endearing girls with similar qualities….
Miki. Sweet, innocent Miki.
Both he and Akihiko had tried, even getting themselves wounded, to drag the girl's tiny body back to safety. But it was too late. She was so young, and several pieces of glass and debris had lodged into her chest. Miki's last words had been "Thank you", as if the boys had done enough.
Then there was Ken's mother.
When the burden of his Persona grew heavy, Shinji needed someone to talk to – and Mrs. Amada showered him with kindness only a mother could give. She was almost practically his surrogate parent. So when Mitsuru detected a Shadow in the residential area where that kind woman lived, Shinji was the first one on the scene to destroy it… but in the heat of battle Shinji had lost control of Castor and ended up fatally wounding the person he tried to protect. When he came to, she was almost dead. She had just enough strength to open her eyes a crack and thank him for trying to protect her.
When he rejoined SEES and picked up his Evoker for the first time in two years, he swore that he wouldn't let anyone die because of his weaknesses, and look what happened: yet another fragile, brown-haired girl had smiled at him and given him thanks.
Meanwhile, the other SEES members were gathered in the command room.
Mitsuru Kirijo was sitting at the head of the table in a comfortable leather armchair. She was the unofficial "club president" of SEES, and born into wealth. She was also the first known Persona-user with the "natural" potential. What's more, her own family, the Kirijo Group, was responsible for the whole Dark Hour affair.
Mitsuru looked expectantly at Fuuka and Ken for updates.
"Yukari-chan can't make it after all," Fuuka informed her and the others, clicking her cellphone shut, taking a seat on the couch next to Ken. "…Sanada-san says that he's busy at the gym… I doubt he'll make it in time, either," Ken added, looking at his friends.
Junpei Iori sighed dramatically. "Man, what's up with those two? The dorm's closing down today! We have so many memories of this place… They could at least see it off, right?" Last year, Junpei was the member whose personal opinions made the least sense. But after all the tough battles they've fought together, all the secrets they've unraveled and the death of Junpei's sweetheart, Chidori Yoshino, Junpei had mellowed and matured. He was more patient now, less selfish. He was braver and stronger, too.
Next to Junpei, sitting on the floor was Koromaru, the unique dog who could summon a Persona just like the others. He seemed to comprehend what Junpei just said because he bowed his head and his ears drooped. He whimpered softly.
Mitsuru smiled at Junpei in understanding. "It can't be helped… Yukari and Akihiko just see things differently. They've both started down their own chosen path… it's a good thing." "…You're right, sempai," Fuuka agreed, but at the same time her face showed her uncertainty.
"We can hardly blame them," Mitsuru continued, looking pointedly at her teammates. "These days, I seem to get busier and busier… If I didn't need to collect the last of our equipment here I probably wouldn't have made it either."
"So… today's the day we're finally gonna have to give up our Evokers and armbands, huh?" Junpei eyed the said equipment on the table. "I hate to let them go, but… it's not like I got a use for 'em anymore…." Suddenly feeling bored, he idly counted the Evokers aloud. "Let's see… two, four… w-wait, how many Evokers are there supposed to be?"
Suddenly, the Command room door opened, and Aigis, the anti-Shadow weapon they "recruited" last July, entered. Aigis was different than the other mechanical maiden models created before her in one important way – she experienced emotions just like a normal human, thanks to an incident at the Moonlight Bridge.
Aigis approached the table with an apologetic look on her face. "Mitsuru-san… I was unable to locate the last Evoker." "It's alright, Aigis. I actually anticipated that," Mitsuru replied matter-of-factly. "Indeed, I can think of one – no, two people who could have taken it."
Ken scratched his head, confused. "…Huh? You have an Evoker too, Aigis-san?"
"No," Aigis answered carefully. Unlike the other members, Aigis did not require an Evoker to summon her Persona – although she developed a human heart, she was still technically a robot – she had a "Persona Summoning Sequence" installed in her. "Mitsuru-san simply allowed me to hold on to "her" Evoker for safekeeping," Aigis explained to the young SEES member.
"…" Fuuka knew this, of course, but wisely chose not to comment on the matter.
"…" Mitsuru shifted slightly in her seat, aware of the sudden change in Ken.
"…!" Ken quickly looked down at his lap in a vain attempt to hide his facial expression from his sempai, pretending to be interested in his hands.
Junpei jerked in his seat, sensing the tension in the air. He cleared his throat a little too loudly and tried to break the awkwardness of the situation by saying, "H-hey, guys? D-don't get all gloomy again, I mean – c'mon! I don't think that's the way she wants this to end…."
Everyone glanced uncomfortably at Ken, who was still staring at his hands. Ken was one of the three SEES members who was the most affected by the situation their leader was in. Fuuka, who was sitting the closest to the young boy, could see the dark expression that had crept over his face and couldn't help but sympathize. Ken really looked up to their leader. Everyone in their group saw how attached he was. Yukari had even managed to convince Fuuka that he had a little crush on "her", too.
Which was why everyone in the room was slightly surprised when he raised his head to meet Junpei's gaze and smiled in chagrin. "I'm sorry…you're right," he conceded. But then something flickered in his eyes and was gone. "It's just that, I still wonder… why did this happen?" Ken continued, unintentionally revealing one of his deepest doubts to his friends. "The doctors didn't find anything wrong with her afterwards… it just seemed like she fell asleep, didn't it? ...She will wake up, won't she?"
Fuuka folded her hands primly on her lap and considered her words before suggesting, "She probably used up all her power to protect us… at that last battle."
Aigis shook her head. "At the moment, it's useless to try and guess at the reasons why. However, I am certain she didn't blame anyone for what happened." She smiled encouragingly at Ken. "Instead of pondering, let us wait for her to wake up so she can explain it to us."
Junpei grinned. "Yeah! Ai-chan's got that right! Our leader's pretty tough, after all. Just watch - one day she'll open her eyes and ask, "what're you guys doing in my room?" But, hey – " he suddenly turned serious. "I'm glad to see you're still hanging in there, Aigis. I mean, back then, it was like protecting her was all you could think about, so when the doc told us he wasn't sure if she'd ever open her eyes again – "
"She will wake up," Aigis interrupted determinedly. Suddenly, at that moment, Mitsuru's cellphone rang. She quietly excused herself, standing up to move next the window. "Remember - no matter how many times she was knocked down in battle, she always stood back up," Aigis continued. "Yes," Fuuka agreed, hope returning to her face. "And nobody knows that better than us. With her, none of the Shadows we've ever faced stood a chance."
"Speaking of her, it seems she's finally arrived from the hospital," Mitsuru announced with a smile, making her way back to the group. Ken jumped up from his chair. "Really? Let's go see her!" He yelled excitedly. Everyone else nodded in agreement and stood up as well. But then, Aigis said a loud "Um, everyone, I…", making everybody stop in their tracks.
"What is it, Aigis-san?" Ken asked.
Aigis wrung her hands. She looked uncomfortable. Comprehension filled Mitsuru's face after a moment. The cool, controlled teen decided to help poor Aigis out.
"Aigis is returning herself to the lab tomorrow," Mitsuru explained. Fuuka brows drew together in confusion. "Huh? The lab? Aigis, are you going to commute to school from there next semester?" Everyone turned to Aigis for an answer, but she remained silent. Mitsuru felt she had no choice but to intervene once again. "She has decided that… she won't be enrolled as a senior."
Junpei's eyes bugged out in surprise. He jumped to his feet. "Seriously? Why? Can't Aigis stay in school like before?" Aigis looked apologetic. "The decision was mine. I'm sorry I didn't mention it sooner…. I enjoyed being with you all, but I need to find my own way of life." Noticing the disappointment on her friends' faces she stopped rambling and said instead, "Oh, but you can come visit me anytime."
"Aigis…." Fuuka whispered.
Mitsuru cleared her throat discreetly, trying to get everyone's attention. "Think of it as a new beginning for her. Anyway… we seem to have gotten off the wrong foot. Today's not meant to be a sad occasion. Shinjiro will be cooking a feast for us tonight, just like last September (A/N: This happened during the FemC path Moon S. Link. Check Youtube for the video). I've also ordered excellent sushi for us all. The same as before, actually."
"T-that would be great!" Ken exclaimed. His eyes had this cute, boyish sparkle as he thought of the sushi. It looked like he was feeling better already. Junpei pumped his fist into the air in victory. "Beef! Pork! Hot soup! Cake!" He cheered, daydreaming about the food Shinji cooked last year.
With that, everyone hurried downstairs to welcome their leader home, unaware that tonight would be the longest night of their lives.