Dafuq is this? *breathes and laughs nervously*
Anyway, this...thing mainly revolves around the New Game+ concept. Since certain stuff are carried over and all, maybe the Protagonist still remembers everything (like an infinite time loop).
I will be using game dialogues and whatnot. Oh, and I'll be using 'Minako Arisato' as the Female Protagonist's name, just because I got used to it already.
Summary: New Game+ When fate couldn't be any more cruel, Minako's thrown back in 2009, forced to re-live it all with only memories to remind her of what had been, and her heart's broken pieces for what could be.
Pairing/s: Akihiko/Female Main Character/Shinjiro, (Chidori/)Junpei/Yukari
Warning/s: Out-of-characterness, my lame playlist, and my sappiness. Typos and grammatical errors, and in-game dialogue in addition to really slow development.
Disclaimer: Atlus owns everything. I don't own Atlus.
Just like the ending of a movie
Our ending fulfilled the prediction of tears
Broken promises all over the ground
The yesterday that cannot be pieced together again
She couldn't see anything. There was nothing beyond her sight. Even the knowledge of her existence made her wonder if there was anything left of 'her'. To be blind or to simply not be able to open your eyes, neither could seem worse than the nothing she held now. Here, time did not exist.
She couldn't see herself, but she could still feel the shackles gripping her ankles. The perpetual reminder of her decision was the only thing that let her know that she was there.
The shackles were as warm as her friends' smiles, as light as their laughs. Laughing, crying, they were things that were easily taken for granted. Things once upon a time she took for granted. How ironic it was that these same things were the ones to pull her down now, to pull her away from everything she cared about.
"Hello, my dear." A familiar young man spoke as he appeared beside her. As he took her hand in his, she mused how he could make oblivion out to be mere silken sheets draped on his skin while she dared not to drown in the dark.
"Ryoji-kun," His vivid azure eyes reminded her of the pleasing ocean she liked so much, but would never be able to see again. "What do you see?"
Ryoji glanced down at their clasped palms and muttered, "I see a canvas covered in black."
"Oh," She gave him a small smile in return, Ryoji never did have much of an imagination. "But I see a sky without stars." She knew very well what words would come from him next.
"You don't deserve this." What charmed girls towards him was perhaps not how he could say what he wanted to say alone. The intricate gift of transforming a dull string of of words into a sonnet made only for a weeping dame, she remembered wishing, one night in December, that he had never been born with it.
But, no matter how beautiful and golden the sonnets he offered her were, they all meant the same. 'It could have all been different'. That, she knew. They all knew, but despite all of the possibilities, it was a tragedy that there had only been one solution.
It hurt Ryoji to see her smile and be reminded of the only thing that he wanted but could not save.
The restraints rustled as she brought a free hand up to his cheek. "I am not alone, you're here with me."
Ryoji brought up a hand of his own to grasp hers, lowered it and looked at her. To not be able to do anything for the person you care for the most, it was one of the worst feelings, he discovered. It was more crippling than grief, seeing the girl he ever felt so strongly for be trapped like this. To be forced like this, to spend eternity with him as a ransom for the mortal fools—it was unfair, absurd.
He could not fathom how she could still smile at him. He who took her away from those others she truly loved, he who marked the demise of the life she loved when his existence began.
"... You're too kind." The harbinger embraced her tightly, gently.
"You're just too kind..." He whispered to her, a small smile of great guilt formed on his lips.
This girl, loved by all, brought out the best there was in everyone that knew her. She had come face to face with Death himself, and pulled off something no other person could do—accept him, befriend him, love him for all that he simply was.
Yet here he was, with nothing to ever hope to give her in return of her kindness.
She missed them. Of course she missed them, but all the memories she had made with them, even for only a year, could help her last an eternity. She had more than enough to remind her of them. They've done lots of great things together. They cried and laughed together, and when one was hurt, the rest went to cheer that one on, in their own unique ways.
He had always been there, watching over her—with her.
"Dear," Ryoji smiled, finding that the girl had fallen asleep in his arms. "...I want you to be happy."
He closed his eyes as well, and allowed himself to drift along with her into the vastness of oblivion.
( PAUSE )
Due to a malfunction in the switching system, today's rail schedule has been greatly altered.
Minako's eyes jolted open and stumbled forward when the train slowed. Her head narrowly missed the solid smack she would've gotten from the cold, metal railings, stopping only inches from collision. She shook her head lightly and scratched the back of her head, careful not to mess up the barrettes in her hair.
'Huh…?' She took a deep breath and rubbed her temple gently. 'Where am I?' She lazily rubbed her eyes and looked around.
We apologize for any customers who were in a hurry. The next stop is Iwatodai.
The other passengers looked at her strangely. Those that met her gaze gave her half of a glare and she slumped further back as possible. She hoped that they would at least make an effort to hide the crossed expression they wore upon seeing her red irises.
'Breathe, Minako, breathe..' It was not the time to feel bad about being born with red eyes.
The train announcement rang.
This is the final train bound for Tatsumi Port Island. Please take care to board before our departure.
Minako was the only one to step out of the train when the doors opened to give way.
She had only taken a few steps out when the electricity seemed to die out, and strangely, so did her mp3. "Are the batteries dead?" The brunette asked no one in particular as she inspected her music player.
It was dark, not enough that it blinded her, but enough to let her know she shouldn't keep walking around the streets alone. Minako had to get to the dormitory soon, so she took out her admission pamphlet from her pocket and examined it. She had to squint—but only a little!—before she was able to fully decipher whatever was written on it.
Minako stopped, curiosity getting the best of her. She took a good look at what exactly she was stepping on. The puddles made heavy, splashing sound beneath her feet as she decided to walk faster. She stared and saw the ripples. They were slow and big, and this made Minako's brows furrow.
Was she imagining things? She chased her thoughts away. She should've expected that the place would change. She recognized the station, though it seemed to have undergone heavy renovation. She hung her earphones around her neck, and took a quick scan around. Finally, she sighed, realizing that it just wasn't the Iwatodai that molded her childhood anymore.
The reflection of the moon was unusually eerie, Minako didn't remember the city night looking like that. Strange moon aside, she continued on her way. Something, somehow, screamed at the back of her mind to just go, and seconds later she was running.
When she arrived, it didn't even occur to her that she didn't need the pamphlet for directions.
4/6 – M
Minako walked up the few steps before she could reach the dormitory's old, wooden doors. Not wanting to think over things for a little longer, she gripped her baggage tighter and proceeded to welcome herself into the dorm.
'It's better to be late a few hours than a few days.' She thought to herself, before berating herself for trying to justify her punctuality.
She realized that, if it was dark outside, it was even darker inside. She tried to make out the things around her, cautious not to just lay her hands on anything, and it wasn't because she watched that new horror movie before she left for Port Island. The task proved to be harder than she originally thought it would be.
"Welcome." Minako could not keep herself from jumping when a voice suddenly greeted her.
"You're late," The owner of the voice—a boy, said to her. "I've been waiting a long time." The first thought that came to her after her heart settled, was how vividly blue his eyes were, and how the boy strangely did not mind that his beautiful eyes were staring back at her own cursed pair.
He held out what seemed to be a formal agreement to her, with a smile she couldn't rip her gaze away from. "If you want to proceed, then please sign here."
Minako eyed it with precaution.
It was—a contract?
"There's no need to be scared." Said the pale boy, as if he knew what went through her mind. Minako took the contract, and stared as if it was going to do a trick if she paid attention long enough.
The pale boy chuckled.
"It only binds you to accepting full responsibility for your actions." He explained, as if randomly appearing and handing out contracts in the dark was something perfectly normal. "You know, the usual."
Perhaps it was the way he looked familiar to her that made her shrug and press a pen down on the sheet of paper. I chooseth this fate of mine own free will... Minako read quietly to herself as she signed her name just below it.
X Arisato, Minako
"This is it." Yukari finalized as they stopped in front of Minako's designated room. "Pretty easy to remember, huh? Since it's right at the end of the hall."
Minako nodded and smiled. "Thank you."
"Oh, it's nothing! So, anything you wanna know?"
'Are kids allowed in here?' was the first question that crossed her mind, but Minako decided against it. "None! No questions at all."
"Oh, okay." The transferee would've bid the other goodnight, but Yukari had opened her mouth first. "Um… Can I ask something?"
Minako nodded and noticed the way Yukari tensed. "On your way here from the station, was everything okay?" Yukari probably thought that that might have not turned out right.
"Mm?" The warmer brunette dipped her head to the side. How was she going to answer that? Was Yukari asking if she bumped into someone or noticed something in particular? "Hmm, I guess everything was okay...?"
"I see…" Minako noted the way those brown eyes dipped. Yukari seemingly expected a different response.
"…Never mind, then. Well I'd better get going."
Minako nodded once more and pulled up her bag, bidding Yukari goodnight. She opened the door that now lead to her room as her fellow junior started walking towards the staircase by the other end of the hall.
"Um…" Yukari turned around to face Minako, who looked at her with curious eyes.
"Yeah?" Minako's red headphones almost slipped off when she retrieved what seemed to be a rabbit doll that ended up out of her bag. She hadn't noticed it being half-open at all.
Yukari smiled and chuckled a little to herself at the discovery of her new dorm mate's mellow side. "I'm sure you still have other questions, but let's save them for later, okay? Goodnight!" She said loud enough for the berry-eyed girl at the end of the hall to hear, but quiet enough not to bother anyone else.
4/7 – Tu
Minako's Room, Iwatodai Dormitory
Minako stared at her face in the mirror, smiled and made faces every now and then. Today was going to be her first day as an official student of Gekkoukan High School, and was going to make sure she was ready for it. A few minutes later, a couple of knocks came rasping upon her door and Yukari's voice emerged from the other side.
"I'm up!" Minako walked towards the door to open it.
"Good morning." Yukari greeted her with that modest smile Minako had seen last night.
"Did you sleep okay?" Minako nodded. "Mitsuru-senpai asked me to take you to school."
"Eh?" Minako blinked. "Oh, wait just a sec!"
Yukari raised a brow as Minako fixed the hairpins at the side of her head. She watched her new dorm mate don her headphones and grab a generically designed body bag by her study table. Yukari found it amusing how prepared Minako was for her first day. The mocha brunette recognized the stuffed doll happily placed beside the pillow, on top of Minako's bed.
She thought it was silly, and then endearing when Minako patted its inanimate head. 'Must be from someone special.' The last time she got a stuffed animal of her own was when her father's first anniversary came around.
"Are you ready to go?" Yukari asked after Minako finished all her morning rituals.
"Totally!" Minako beamed enthusiastically at her.
"Okay," Instantly, Yukari knew this girl was going to be her ray of happy sunshine. "Let's go!"
They took the New City passenger train "Anehazuru" to get to Gekkoukan High, and it was such an understatement to say that Minako enjoyed the ride. The train provided such a beautiful view of the sea, it was Yukari's favorite part and was fast becoming her favorite, too. It was the greatest part of the trip for Minako, who was having an enjoyable conversation with her could-be classmate—she was already a step closer to making a new friend!
"Mom, what's that?" Minako tensed and turned her attention to a little boy with ash-colored hair beside her, who pointed a finger—not at her eyes, but at the vast, blue wonder outside of the train.
"That's the sea," His mom, with hair of darker hue, said to him. "Now, now, please behave for mama." She sent the ruby-eyed girl an apologetic, yet gentle and motherly smile.
Minako smiled back at her, her way of letting the mother know that she didn't mind at all. She liked kids. In fact, she wished to have a child of her own, someday.
"Hey, we're almost there." Minako fixed her gaze upon the sea, smiling ghostly to herself.
The color of the sea. It reminded her of someone's eyes. Whose? She strangely could not remember. But, something nagged her, at the back of her mind.
"It's your first day and you already have a nanny!" Junpei watched Yukari leave and gave the new student a disapproving look. "Well, just to clear something up, I seriously didn't come over here to hit on you or anything."
The guy dropped another one of his casual smiles. "If you ever have a problem, you can tell your ol' pal Junpei about it!"
Minako smiled. She felt like she could actually and honestly trust this guy. "I'll remember that."
"Heh, cool. Well, I'll be seeing you around, then."
Minako hadn't gone too far yet when Junpei caught up with her, convincing her to let him walk her back to her dorm. She initially decided to decline. What if he lived pretty far? She didn't want to become a bother, but she should've also known that Junpei was the stubborn type. He was hell bent on making her let him as if his life depended on it. He then went on to talk about something that happened to also be an interest of the transferee.
"Oh my—you've been playing it too?!" They yelped in unison upon the discovery of their strange and sudden kinship, and suddenly there was no other answer to Junpei's offer but yes. Junpei raised his fist up in the air, which earned him a few looks from the other students dawdling around the campus.
"Could you believe that? I just had 1hp left, just friggin' one!"
Minako laughed a heartfelt laugh. "I bet you even forgot to blink during that time!"
"Ha, sure did! It was one of my most epic gaming moments."
The trip felt shorter than it actually was. Minako had never felt so connected to another person, a person she just met nonetheless!
"Ohhh hey, we're here!" Junpei paused and looked up ahead to see the building that was presumably Minako's dorm.
Minako's smile fell off.
"What? Already?" She whined.
"Sucks, I know." He laughed at the girl's frown. Or pout, rather. "But hey, we're classmates anyway."
He grinned. "We'll see each other tomorrow, okay dude?"
"Look forward to it!" She excitedly giggled, not realizing that on the first day of their friendship, Junpei had already dude-zoned her.
Minako entered the dorm after she and Junpei said their goodbyes. She found Mitsuru in the lounge, seated on the couch with her legs crossed. She was scanning through the pages of a book—a college book, Minako inwardly cringed as she identified it.
She walked past Mitsuru and saw Yukari by the dinner table.
"What are you doing?" The music-loving girl asked the bored-looking Yukari.
"Just killing time, doing nothing. You're probably pretty tired, huh? Maybe you should go to bed early tonight." The pink fanatic of the two suggested.
Minako only nodded for what seemed like the hundredth time for that day and walked off. With a yawn, she made her way up the stairs and to the second floor. She noticed a similar vending machine resting on a side, every floor had one, it seemed.
'How convenient,' she thought.
She randomly decided that getting herself a Cielo Mist before going to bed wouldn't hurt. She dropped in her 120yen in exchange for her can of fizz.
"Mm, nice and cold~~" She pursed her lips just as she took a sip of the refreshing drink. She glanced at her left, where more doors stood by the hall.
Curious, she made her way towards them, and she stopped in front of the first door. There was the absence of a nameplate, and it didn't take her horror movie knowledge to know that the room was definitely empty. Despite knowing, she still touched the cold, metal knob. She tried to open it, twisting the invention but was only left feeling like a fool.
She should've known that it was locked. What did she expect to happen? Minako took a deep breath. Was she hoping that someone was there?
She found herself laughing bitterly. 'I'm... What, am I being delusional now?'
Strange, it was a dorm, yet she hadn't seen the other occupants yet.
The dorm left her with a strange feeling of familiarity. The rooms, the furniture, even the innocent design of the carpet appeared as though it mocked her. Like they all just knew something she didn't.
"But... this door..." Her scarlet gaze fixed itself intensely upon the door in front of her.
"Come on Minako," She violently shook her head. "Yukari's right, you're just tired." She told herself, repeating it over and over until she was convinced and took another sip of her Cielo Mist.
"You're just imagining things." Minako said to no one in particular as she climbed up to the third floor and entered her room.
"Nobody occupied that room." The beady eyes of the rabbit doll passively greeted as she flopped down the mattress. After having prepared everything for the next day, she drifted off to sleep, with the doll placed tightly in her arms.
4/8 – Wed
Minako rubbed her eyes for what seemed like the fourth time, with the same frustration that she had the first time. They already stung when she touched them and she could only hope that were were not swollen.
4AM, flashed her clock.
"Why can't I fall asleep?" She let out a heavy, aggravated sigh.
What was bothering her? She whined softly, burying her face in her pillow. Nothing, she could think of nothing at all. In fact, she deemed herself as a happy girl. She had nothing to worry about. Yet.
So far, her stay in Port Island has been pretty good—she even made friends! But despite of the many reasons she could find to rightly label herself as happy, there was just one that managed to slip off her list. It was at the tip of her tongue, and it was because of it that she just couldn't get the rest that she deserved. She kept turning and tossing, but even if she closed her eyes, sleep just didn't come to her.
She was restless, and she simply didn't know why.
"Good morning." She whispered to the rabbit doll that was in her arms.
With a smile, she placed the doll cautiously beside her pillow and got up, walking to her window to take a view of the tranquil scenery outside. The sky was still dark, but pretty. There it was, the enigmatic crescent dangled playfully as a small curvy streak across the blue curtain.
She loved seeing the moon. It wasn't as bright as the warm sun, but it was simple and stunning. It meant comfort for an orphan who needed someone to listen during those nights that she cried alone.
"Good morning to you, too, Moon." She greeted, a smile gracing her lips as the stars twinkled faintly, aiding the orb in lighting up the wide, morning sky.
It was funny, because when she was a little girl, she actually believed that the stars and the moon were best friends.
"Oh, she's back."
"So, this is our new guest!"
Once Minako had gone back to the dorm, she was greeted by the sight of Yukari and an older looking man. Shuji Ikutsuki, he told her as he waved a friendly smile.
Minako reflexively smiled back—a miniscule curve of her lips, but a smile, nonetheless. Something at the back of her mind made her uneasy about him. Knowing that judging a person right away was bad, she dismissed the nagging feeling inside her and locked it away.
"Is there anything you'd like to ask?" Ikutsuki had cut off her train of thought.
"Nope, no questions." Minako responded, slight indifference spelled out all over her expression. "Please excuse me Ikutsuki-san, I need to go and study now."
Minako caught the flash of disbelief in Yukari's eyes towards her actions. How can she tell her that she couldn't trust him? She would, maybe. Just not yet. Minako decided that it was best if she conversed with this 'Ikutsuki' some other time. She didn't mean to act rudely. She'd never do anything to intentionally offend anyone, but there just seemed to be something about the man that threw her off.
She had seen him before, she had, definitely.
"Oh, no, it's okay Yukari. Like they say, the early bird catches the bookworm after all."
4/9 – Th
When Minako awoke the following morning, she was a little dazed. She found herself just staring up at the ceiling. Moments passed by so slowly, like it was the trend of her life lately. She didn't bother to check on how many minutes have passed by anymore before she shut her eyes again. She groaned, putting a hand over her strangely red eyes.
"Good morning." Lying on her side, she saw Rabbit-chan smiling to her like always.
Other people would definitely call her weird once they knew that she talked to her doll. Somehow, she didn't mind. Rabbit-chan was special, as special as the leather watch always wrapped around her wrist. Then she remembered that she had a lot of important things tucked away when she transferred.
Minako decided that it was best not to think of too much too early in the morning, she had to relax. She got up to get ready for school, stepped out of the premises of her room to take a quick shower and returned only for her bag. She threw one last glance at her bed, where the doll resided.
She was damn proud to say that it wore the little dress Minako herself had sewn for the rabbit, and thus, she shortly noticed that the big ribbon tucked under its chin was painstakingly off. Her gaze stayed locked on the doll for a moment, before she reluctantly ripped it off and took a step out of her door, making a soft 'click!' as it closed.
Minako stomped back inside and scooted over to the said doll, fixing the fabric. She picked up Rabbit and held it up in the air, her eyes never left its beady ones. Once she had decided that her beloved stuffed animal was now okay, she placed it back on her bed and left the dorm.
"See you later Rabbit-chan!"
Gekkoukan High School
Arriving in front of the school gate, the sight of a tired-looking Junpei greeted her. "Yo..."
Minako tilted her head to a side, raising a brow. "Didn't get any sleep last night?"
Junpei yawned. "I did, but man! I'm still so sleepy today. In times like these, it's best to sleep during class!"
"Don't sleep in class." She said to him as she turned off her mp3. She took off her headphones and hung them around her neck as they started to walk together towards the building.
Junpei gave her a look. "Whaaat? Why do you have to be all serious? That feeling of being completely recharged is the best!" He reasoned.
"Hey, what would happen to you if I'm not around to pass you the answers then, huh?" Minako said to him in a teasing manner. "It's not like we're gonna be seatmates forever."
"Buuuut we'll be buddies forever, I can feel it!" The guy wearing the cap grinned. "You'll help me out, right?"
Minako didn't really mind that it seemed like Junpei had already grown used to addressing her so casually, occasionally calling her 'dude' and the like. Really, she didn't. The guy even made her feel warm and fuzzy and always welcome. She pretended to shrug and to appear like she wasn't paying attention to Junpei and his upcoming 'power of friendship' speech.
"Hey you, no fair! Look me straight in the eye!" They stopped on their tracks as Junpei scooted in front of her and placed both of his bigger hands on each of her shoulders.
"Say it too! The buddy pact!" He looked at Minako's red-berry eyes without fear and equipped with a dead serious expression that appeared too funny that the girl had to clamp her mouth shut.
"What do you want?" He shook her playfully and gently, his almost-frown broke into one of his wide grins. "Come on, we've got each other's back covered, right, pal?"
"Okay, okay," Minako laughed. "Now get off before Yukari sees you."
With the mention of the pink fanatic, Junpei winced and raised his hands up in the air. "Yikes! Yukaricchi's cute and all, but sheesh!"
"Wake up, children!" The man's voice practically boomed inside the premises of the classroom, jolting almost the whole class awake. "Now, open your textbooks."
Nobody was enjoying.
Minako was very tempted to just sleep through the subject period, just like what Junpei had said that morning. She glanced over to his side to find him literally dozing the day off. She suppressed a smile and a laugh. Really, if this academic routine continued, he would get himself into trouble sooner or later.
'Really, that guy.' Junpei was absolutely something, and although guiltily, Minako was still silently laughing to herself.
She looked around to see if someone else had noticed him sleeping, glad and disappointed that she saw none. They were all busy keeping themselves bloody awake. It didn't seem like Junpei was going to wake up any time soon, and lunch was still a long way to go, so Minako decided to just focus on her notes. She scribbled extra helpful information and illustrations, just in case it turned out that the easy-going guy needed them later on.
'We've got each other's back covered, right, pal?'
What he had said to her earlier played in her mind, making her smile to herself. It felt so nice. It had been a while since she had heard something similar. It was so nostalgic, even.
"Arisato-san?" A feminine voice whispered behind Minako.
"Yes?" She leaned a little to let her know she had heard her, while keeping her eyes on the board in front to appear focused on the lecture.
"Mind if I borrow an eraser?"
She checked to make sure she had one and passed it to her classmate just in time after Ekoda turned to write something on the board. The girl muttered a quiet 'thank you' as Minako continued on taking down the notes. She halted every now and then to re-read everything she had written so far, to see if it was starting to look messy. She also doodled down on the little corners of the pages, to make it look livelier.
"Eh?" It was the only thing that slipped out of her lips when she noticed that she had scribbled tiny drawings of a funny-looking moon with an unusually grouchy face.
"Hmm, something is missing." She thought to herself.
The moon looked rather lonely to her.
"Oh, I know!" As if a light bulb had lit up over her head, her lips made an 'o' shape before she brought her pen down again.
By the end of Classic Lit period, Minako's notes were full of silly drawings of her funny-looking moon, and of stars wearing boxing gloves.
After being toured around Paulownia Mall by Yukari, Minako went straight home. It seemed that the sleep monster had trailed after her from Ekoda's class and waited until she got back.
She was greeted by Mitsuru like before, and had a small conversation with Yukari about how having a dorm helper around would be quite helpful. The talk made her realize that none of them really knew how to cook. Although it was much more convenient to have instant noodles ready before they went to school, it was a very unhealthy routine to fall into. Maybe she could try cooking for the others whenever she had free time?
"You should probably go to sleep," Yukari suggested and smiled just as Minako covered a yawn. "Mr. Ekoda does just that to students."
"I bet we all looked like zombies. The guy seated near me had bloodshot eyes, and it was really difficult to keep myself awake." Minako said, almost in a mumble, and felt her eyelids grow heavy.
When she almost fell, Yukari had jumped and stopped in an awkward pose as Minako shook her head and laughed. "Ah, I guess it's best that I go sleep now."
She bowed to the pink-clad dorm mate, as an apology and as appreciation for her concern.
"I'll see you tomorrow then." The said girl just nodded.
Minako bid goodnight and walked towards the stairs. Yukari watched her until she disappeared to the second floor, just in case she fell asleep before she even reached her room. Minako appreciated the act, Yukari was being like a big sister. Although Minako didn't like it that her carelessness was making other people worry, she was grateful she had nice people as her dorm mates.
"Rabbit-chan, I'm back~" She had immediately flopped down on her bed the moment she had stepped in her room.
She felt so tired that she forgot to change into her night clothes before she indulged in the softness of her pillows.
"We didn't even do anything stressful today.." She spoke to herself quietly, hugging the tiny-dress-wearing rabbit doll close to her.
"Mm, goodnight Rabbit-chan..." Minako slowly closed her eyes, as she finally let the sleep monster cast upon her its spell and take away her consciousness.
Minutes before the clock struck midnight, she found herself wide awake. The drowsiness completely disappeared, as if she had sipped some strange elixir.
"Maybe I'll just get a glass of water.." Minako got up, and had only taken a few steps forward towards her door when she felt the building shake.
The girl dropped on the floor rather ungracefully when she attempted to take a step and the second trembling of the dorm began. She heard commotion downstairs. Something was obviously wrong, but instead of cowering in fear like normal people would probably do, she forced herself to stand. She gathered up the courage to see what exactly was going on, the same moment that the hand of her watch struck midnight.
"I want to be by your side."
Minako nodded, returning the other's content smile. "I'm sorry you have to be stuck with me today, too, Aigis."
"Please do not speak that way!" The blonde female spoke. "Minako-san will never become a bother! I will never hesitate to accompany you wherever you may wish to go."
"Ai-chan," She never failed to see her own reflection in Aigis' cerulean eyes.
"I want you to be happy, too." She didn't deserve to be this loved, to be cared for as much as Aigis does. She wasn't special, after all. Just a girl who happened to be there, at that time.
"I am happy, Minako-san. You make me happy," Aigis smiled so brightly, it rivaled the twinkle that Minako saw in Akihiko's. "It makes me happy that I am by your side."
Minako's eyes widened. An image flashed in her mind. It was only for a brief moment, but she recognized the smile. She recognized those eyes—as blue as the sky—and Minako knew them too well—loved them.
Just then, abrupt banging came upon her door.
"Wake up! Sorry, but I'm going in!" Yukari announced before forcibly opening the wooden entry of her room. "I don't have time to explain. We have to get out of here now!"
"Hurry! We'll leave through the back door!" Minako nodded.
"Best friends forever, huh… Yeah, I like the sound of that." He thought to himself quietly, looking straight ahead of the horizon as the gentle breeze continued to kiss them.
They were once again on the rooftop of the school. It seemed that all of them went there to spend comfortable time by themselves, to think about everything that they have experienced so far. It was a place that held special meaning for them.
"The view here is nice."
She could see that Junpei's anxiety had subsided. The trademark smile had returned and if he was still scared, he didn't show it. Everything felt comfortable whenever the guy was around. They've had their own share of spats and green-eyed monsters, but they've gotten through them all.
Nothing could ever ruin their now rock-solid friendship, not even the end for humanity.
"Minako!" Yukari shrieked as the said girl fell to her knees. "A-Are y—"
"... I felt that I just really wanted you to enjoy them. You're a precious friend of mine, after all."
Minako was at awe at the headphones that was now in her grasp. The timid-looking girl smiled modestly at her as the more outgoing of them seemed to be at an absolute loss for words, still staring at the accessory she had made.
"I'll take good care of them!" Minako exclaimed, replacing her old headphones with the ones her friend gave her. "I'll be using them now, Fuu-chan!"
Fuuka chuckled to herself. "You have icing on your face, Minako-chan."
'What…' The grip Minako had on her newly-obtained naginata grew tighter the more images flooded her mind.
'What are these...?' The first ones scared her.
They showed her faces of people she didn't know. Or rather, of people she thought she didn't know. The memory played at the back of her mind like a long-forgotten video. It reminded her of all the times she had gone through before.
Memories of them smiling, and crying, and she was there. Minako was with them. Some made her want to break down and cry. She started to remember, little by little, and soon after, she understood why she felt so anxious. Everything still seemed hazy, and her head felt like exploding for all the things that suddenly bombarded her.
Her head and her heart throbbed in pain.
"Ssh, you have to keep still, okay Koro-chan?" Minako whispered to the furry canine, who looked up at her as if to say 'okay' as she continued to carry him in her arms.
"Miss, pets aren't allowed inside the theater." The guard had told her with a hard frown once they had reached the entryway.
"But... Koro-chan is a doll. I have to bring him everywhere!" They ignored the looks that other people threw at them, and Minako put up one of her infamous puppy-eyed looks. "He's a gift from a good friend who lives overseas..."
The man eyed them suspiciously, but gave up soon after he had lost to the girl's pleading. Koromaru wiggled and wagged his tail in pure excitement once they finally got inside. Minako laughed a small laugh and reminded the jumpy dog to keep still. Later on, they were kicked out of the theater by management. Koromaru, of course, was beyond disappointment. He growled and whined and whimpered as they stood out of the theater.
"Don't worry." Minako smiled at Koromaru. "I'll buy the DVD so we can both watch it, okay?"
The loyal canine was more than happy to hear it.
They had to run.
Minako grabbed Yukari's hand as she sprinted. She had no time to reminisce, they had to live through this first!
When they arrived at the lounge, the archer appeared relieved, until Mitsuru's voice turned up in her ear piece. The static ruffled the communication, but it failed to hinder it that the two were still able to hear each other well.
Takeba, do you read me?
"Y-yes! I hear you!"
Be careful! There's more than one enemy! The one we're fighting isn't the one Akihiko saw!
Minako already knew by Yukari's expression that something had come up and whatever that something was, the girl definitely did not expect it. Her own apprehension had died down, but she knew the other junior's didn't.
"W-what?" A loud, impact was heard shortly, earning a sharp gasp from them.
Yukari didn't even have to tell Minako anymore before they hurriedly made their way up to the second floor. There was the sound of shattered glass, and thunderous noises. Such reverberation could only come from something so huge and heavy.
"W-what was that?" Minako saw the panic shoot throughout her dorm mate.
The shaking didn't stop.
"It's getting closer!"
"Let's keep moving! Come on!" Deciding that they both didn't have time for any of it, Minako grabbed Yukari's wrist once more and they rushed their way up the higher floors. She wouldn't risk the possibility of either of them getting hurt, nor getting caught.
She had to keep Yukari safe.
"You... You're our leader!" Yukari glared at her. It happened so rarely that it caught her off-guard. "And, w... what would I do if you died?"
Minako knew that her friend lashed out at her because she was surprised, stunned, and whatever else it was that they felt at the moment. She herself was nervous too. It all happened in such a short amount of time. She didn't mind the pain that stung her palm, she was just glad that neither one of them were badly hurt. If she was any second too late, she wouldn't have gotten away with just a scratch.
"You idiot..!" It was one of the very rare times that Yukari pulled her into a tight hug, one that was so tight that Minako thought Yukari coould probably throw Junpei over her shoulder if she really wanted to.
Eventually, they reached the rooftop.
"The door's locked, I think we're safe for now..." Yukari concluded as she heaved a small sigh. "...?"
They whipped their attention towards the far edge of the building, where numerous hands invaded their view. One stood out from the rest, and held up a queer, blue mask. Another batch of hands came into view, holding blades in the grasp of each. In response, Minako pursed her lips and prepared herself. She brandished the naginata and waited for the right moment to rush in. The eye holes of the monster's mask appeared to stare so intensely at them, and its nonexistent gaze locked with the transferee's vivid red eyes.
'Magician...' She glared as it crawled forward, mindlessly swinging the metal blades in its hands.
Magician crept closer, and a swirl of fiery red blazed beneath it before flames swept the hesitant Yukari violently off to the sidelines. The evoker slipped out of her grasp and flung towards Minako, who lowered herself and picked it up. Facing straight ahead, she looked up at the shadow straight in its mask's empty eyes.
The shadow mocked her, dared her to aim for herself. Magician dashed forward for an attack, and Minako only stared at its horrid form with a smile as she brought the gun up to her temple..
And pulled the trigger.
"It's so nice to see you again." She opened her eyes to find herself in a room covered in blue and velvet. "You still remember the Velvet Room, I suppose?"
His lips trembled as he struggled for the words to escape his lips. He felt nervous, and so he fiddled with the hem of his jacket. It was a little unbelievable for such a level-headed individual such as himself. She could clearly see that despite the anxiety that was chewing on him, he was doing his best to express himself, to let himself be heard for once.
"Is something the matter, Ken?"
Ken stared down at the floor momentarily before looking back up to meet his senpai's gaze. "It's okay if I take a little more of your time, right?"
"Can I... stay here for a little longer…? Can I?" He observed as Minako blinked her eyes, before flashing her that smile that made him feel funny every time he went out to eat with her.
It wasn't before long that Ken found himself smiling as well. She always had that effect on him. No matter how awful his day had been, whenever he hung around with her, all the blues would be chased away. This girl, she was six years older than him.
He knew her heart belonged to someone else, but he loved her anyway.
"Please, have a seat." He said to her and traced the serious expression etched across Minako's features with his gaze.
"I'm afraid my assistant cannot entertain you right now." Igor continued impassively. He gestured to the empty space beside him.
"You need not concern yourself with such trivial matters." He said to her, that eerie smile never leaving. "You still are our honored guest, after all."
It was strange of him to suddenly ask about how she was doing, but Minako was more than glad that he started up a conversation. She responded by asking him how he himself was doing, a hint of concern in her tone because she had noticed that he seemed put off. He invited her out to eat, but it only had been deafening silence until now. She decided to stop playing with her meal because it reminded her too much of Shinjiro.
She distracted herself and returned Akihiko's steel silver gaze.
He was troubled, and his expression clearly showed it. She didn't understand, but she found out that she was the cause of Akihiko's stress. She was troubling someone, and she didn't like it one bit. Of course, being the sweet guy deep down that she knew he was, he immediately cleared up what he had said.
"Is... Is there any way that you can avoid having to fight?" Once again, he looked away from her. "Oh... Never mind, sorry. Forget what I just said. I mean, you're trying your hardest out of all of us."
"I'm sorry.." Akihiko's knuckles turned more white in frustration. "I shouldn't have said that to you."
And with that, Minako thought, she shouldn't be going on like some fake doll with a smile painted on her face. She had people she cared about, and people who cared and worried for her in turn.
"Why am I alive?" Her voice cracked.
She didn't mean to say it the way she did, but it was making her chip away to realize that she shouldn't be there. That she shouldn't be able to breathe and blink and laugh with Junpei over the past few days.
Everything felt like a dream, until fate slapped her hard on the face by flooding her with her memories. When she had that nagging feeling, she didn't expect to remember that she was with Aigis last, that she was smiling when she breathed her last breath.
"I... I was with Aigis... on the rooftop...We...?" She just couldn't stop thinking.
What the hell was this sick joke that life was pulling on her? She was supposed to be dead. She died. She sacrificed her own life so that everyone else could live.
Had her sacrifice been for nothing?
The master of the Velvet Room could only provide her the little assurance of remembering her, and what had happened during her past life, no matter how absurd it sounded, even to her. "While it is true that I do recall the events of having welcomed you in here before, I cannot answer the questions that trouble you."
'This does not make sense!'
Her insides felt like they all twisted and turned, in ways that seemed impossible. She shook her head, taking a deep sigh, as if to convince herself to calm down. Igor's smile appeared to crease ever so slightly at her predicament. Minako's expression had twisted into something that of hurt and confusion.
This was reality.
She was alive.
Just when she thought she would never have to cry her heart out again because she had already lost everything to the incident that happened ten years ago, Minako found herself grieving with something that hurt as equally, if not more.
"Why…" She didn't understand why it had to turn out like this. "Senpai…!"
"Don't cry…" The man weakly said to her, coughing.
She couldn't help it, she wanted to say to him. She knew she made a promise, but her heart refused to listen and calm down. Seeing him like that, it shattered her façade. It was as if she just watched her whole world go down in flames. She couldn't take it. If she could just take the wounds from him so she would be the one in misery, to ease him of the pain, she would.
She really couldn't help it. The tears just kept coming all by themselves, blurring her vision of everything.
"J-just hang on, o-okay?" Minako stuttered violently, something that was supposed to be very unlikely.
She wasn't even aware that she was absolutely shaking. She could easily hear the others lose their cool, going on about hospitals and how there were none available during the Dark Hour, but she was stubborn. She kept on pulling the trigger of her evoker and using healing spells, of which none seemed to have any effect.
"No, no, no!" Even if Shinjiro gave up on himself, she refused to give up on him.
"This is… how it's supposed to be…"
"I..." Her face lit up with strong determination, as if she had come up with a decision as heavy as the one she made when she decided to face Nyx.
"I'm going to change the future." She answered, staring right back at Igor with full power this time.
"I see that you've made up your mind."
'I'm going to save all of them,' She recalled all the events that she could remember happening throughout her first round, all the people that got hurt.
'And I'm going to save him this time…' Minako thought to herself, a painful sensation coming down upon her chest as she bit her lower lip.
Igor continued to observe her, with big eyes that seemed to scrutinize her for any hesitation. Finding none, he joined his slender, gloved fingers curtly and nodded. "…Very well."
Meeting her friends-turned-family for the first time, the ordeals they had to face, and the difficult choices they had to make to ensure humanity's future. They were just silly teens, going through adolescence and struggling with high school. Having experienced the horrors of the Dark Hour, and facing against the creatures that should have never existed, it all made them come out stronger and wiser. The emotional turmoil that was thrown at them resulting from the loss of people close to them and to assure that no more shall come, it was what greatly helped them to form such a strong bond.
"I look forward to your next visit, until we meet again... Master Minako."
End of chapter.
... I named the rabbit doll, Rabbit-chan... /facepalm
Anyway, thank you for taking the time to read this chapter! It turned out longer than I expected. Any comments or suggestions? Don't hesitate to leave a review!