Chapter 46: Training
"Gear up, we're going in." His voice was firm and devoid of emotion, something that he did when he was in his leader mood, but it was worse today. Actually, it had been horrible these few days. Minato was distant. Junpei felt as if his best friend had cut all emotional ties with this world.
Akihiko stretched, bending back as far as he could without falling over completely.
"Again? Arisato, we've been in there and back three times already. I think we're done for tonight."
There was silence and while Akihiko was glaring at the junior, Minato was calm, as if the bigger, taller senior hadn't said anything at all. He finally glanced away and sheathed his sword.
"Fine, but tomorrow we're coming back."
This time, Mitsuru interjected having enough of Arisato's sudden change in attitude.
"I believe that we're done for the week, actually. We have to rest and we've been coming in to Tartarus till the walls caved in for the last few days. I think a break is in order."
There was a silence again.
Junpei walked over to Minato and put a hand on his shoulder but he shrugged it off and sighed heavily. Too many things had happened too recently and too quickly. It was hard for him to cope with things as they were. There was the constant awkwardness with Yukari, then there was the full moon coming soon and there was this naggy feeling that something bad is going to happen.
Minato had been pulling all nighters in Tartarus since the little incident with Yukari. He didn't want to be alone and end up thinking and dreaming about it again. He was freaked out and he knew that there are two people in that lobby who knew but didn't want to say anything. One was fidgeting with the rim of his cap and the other was swinging her bow over her sore shoulders.
They were both giving him concerned stares, while the others, aside from Aigis, were pretty much glaring. He ran a blistered hand through his matted hair, pulling his fringe back. He saw Yukari staring again and he looked away uncomfortably.
"I'm sorry. You're right. I got carried away with the next full moon so near-by," he apologized sincerely, "We should probably just take the next few days off as you've said, senpai."
The awkward silence deepened with the odd individual cough once in a while. Fuuka was glancing uncomfortably between Shinjiro and Yukari, as if expecting either of these two to step up and break the silence. It usually was either him or her, but not tonight. Shinji was preoccupied with some lint he found in his pockets and Yukari looked like she was in deep thought.
Akihiko finally said something. "Well, let's go home then. It's about time anyway." His hard glare became softer. "I know it's been tough on you Arisato, but hang in there. Don't flip out."
The junior managed to tug at a corner of his lips. "Yeah. Thanks. And I'm sorry."
Akihiko waved nonchalantly. "No problem," he said.
"The weather's been freaky lately!"
"I know right! The typhoon was supposed to hit but totally spun out east, like it got deflected or something!"
"That's sooooo weird. Things have been real freaky lately with all the Apathy people running about and now with the weird weather. Maybe it's a sign!"
Yukari let the voices drown out, plugging in her ear phones and letting the background noise disappear as she pumped up the volume. She didn't really like to bring her mp3 to school but recently, she felt that she needed the music as a buffer between her and the world right now.
Lately, she'd found it hard to look at Junpei in the eye because she had felt so jealous and envious of him and Chidori. She was ashamed that she felt that way. Takeba couldn't look Minato in the eye either with all that drama between them right now.
Yukari Takeba... You stir up too much shit for your own good, you know that?
As she stepped into the classroom, she spotted the exhausted Arisato, cheek down on his desk with eyes shut tightly and a small frown on his face. Obviously, he didn't get much sleep last night again. She drifted over to her desk quietly, careful not to knock into his desk and wake him.
Like Junpei, she had noticed that Minato was disturbed recently. The dark eye circles were getting darker and he was paranoid and obviously sleep deprived. He kept glancing about as if he was expecting someone to be listening on him and he was always tired. Of course she wanted to know what's going on, but what could she do?
Quite suddenly, Junpei plonked himself right next to her, shocking her back to reality. He grinned widely.
"Junpei, what are you doing?" She rolled her eyes, keeping her voice low hoping that Junpei would get the hint. She didn't want to wake Minato.
But of course, Junpei being Junpei, his voice seemed to get even louder.
"Yeah so I heard that the Archery club's maid cafe did pretty well. Got some pictures from the occasion?"
"No, now go away," she growled softly. "And who told you that?"
He flashed that shark-like grin of his and wriggled his brows suggestively.
"Me to know and you to find out." He barely had time to dodge before Yukari swung her elbow at him and managed to reach out and nicked his cap off of his head. The tall, lanky boy chuckled as he picked up his cap from the ground and sauntered back to his seat. Just as Miss Toriumi walked into class, Yukari finally heard Minato stir.
He would awake slowly, first his head would lift and she knew that he would stretch and pop his neck and finally blink lazily as he surveyed his surroundings. It was just something that Yukari had picked up about Minato, amongst the other little things that he does habitually.
She didn't have to turn behind to know that Minato did just as she had predicted, just by listening to the soft rustle of his shirt against his jacket was enough for her to know what he was doing.
Yukari had a pretty hard time concentrating on class today with Toriumi being feistier than ever with her pop quizzes and her attention is constantly drawn to the boy sitting behind her. Time seemed to crawl by and she couldn't think of anything other than the feeling of Minato's steel blue eyes on her back. It was unmistakable.
She had felt it all the time when they were together and it used to make her feel safe because she knew that if his eyes were on her, he wouldn't notice Erika brazenly flaunting her assets in his face. But now Yukari didn't even want to think about that little tramp. She wasn't important. What's important now is to try to get through the training and the next full moon without screwing up.
"Are you ready, senpai?" Minato asked Shinjiro as the brooding senior pulled at his beanie and nodded wordlessly. He then turned to the others, mainly Junpei and Yukari, and held about 2 seconds worth of eye contact before they picked up their gear and headed up the intimidating flight of stairs.
The group stood right before the large doors at the end of the stairs and took a deep breath to steady their nerves, a sort of ritual that the S.E.E.S did before they went through the oversized doors.
Yukari clutched her bow tightly and closed her eyes, knowing that the rest of them were doing the same. The moment she opened her eyes, they were over 200 floors up above Port Island.
"It still freaks me out ya'know," Junpei shuddered, pulling his oversized sword over his shoulder, careful not to cut himself in the process, "I still get iffy whenever I open my eyes and I'm in a totally different place."
Yukari jumped when she heard Shinjiro snicker. It was uncharacteristic of him and she cocked a brow up as she watched him try to force back a smile.
"You should've seen Aki's face the first time we came back in here."
Junpei grinned, feeling accomplished having Shinjiro open up like that.
"Yeah? How was he?"
"Excited. Annoying. He kept jumpin' about like a friggin puppy," he scowled, but his tone was light and that was how they knew that Shinjiro wasn't actually upset about it. Yukari beamed, briefly wondering how it was like when it was just the three seniors back then.
She felt as if they could be from a sitcom. Three friends living together under one roof. Imagine the sexual tension and the hilarity, especially with characters like Mitsuru-senpai, Akihiko-senpai and Shinjiro-senpai. She shook the thoughts out of her head when her gaze fell on Minato and she held it there for a moment.
He was smiling too, probably thinking about the same thing as she did. They tended to be on the same page when it came to things like this, and she ached when she realized that she could no longer walk over to him and wink knowingly. They just weren't on these terms anymore.
He caught her stare and the smile disappeared. She could tell that he was thinking the exact same thoughts and they both glanced away soon after. Yukari focused on her breathing, trying to get her head back in the game. They were in Tartarus now and this was no time for her to get distracted.
"Alright," the blue haired teen announced solemnly as he unsheathed his sword, "Let's go."
The group tackled the floors quickly, running through the maze and avoiding shadows as much as possible. Every once in a while, they were forced to fight and every time the quick combo of Io's Garulaand Orpheus's Agilao, the shadows are usually cooked by the blazing inferno before much damage could be done.
By the time they cleared the next five floors, the team was well worn and even Shinjiro was wiping the sweat off of his forehead, sweeping his shaggy brown hair away from his boyish face. Junpei chose to lean against the corner, fanning himself with his cap. He had even removed his jacket cause it was getting so warm in there.
The chamber they were resting in was cleared of shadows. A chest sat right in the middle atop a small mount, but it was already been cleared out by the group. Just another mysterious trinket that only Minato seem to know what it was good for. Yukari shut the golden container gently and let gravity sit her on the chest.
She was finding it hard to keep up with Minato's new maniac training runs in Tartarus, but she didn't want to say anything. It was hard enough for them to be in the same team with him ordering her around, but she wasn't about to make things even more uncomfortable for the both of them.
"Hey Yuka-tan-," Junpei wheezed suddenly, holding a finger up, indicating to her to give him a second, "- Hgeee. Geez. I need to work out more often."
"Like you ever did in the first place," she tried hard to suppress a grin that was slowly crawling up her face. Junpei irritated her sometimes, but she found it hard to stay mad at him. Especially since he had Chidori, he had tried so hard to become a better man.
Junpei scowled at her, but he quickly regained his momentum.
"Anyway, a friend of mine called in a favour. He asked me if I could ask you could get Takumi to return him his bike."
Yukari narrowed her eyes at Junpei, shooting him that 'are you kidding me' look. She could see, from the corner of her eyes, that Minato was stiffened and was turning his body away from the two of them, pretending that he couldn't hear them.
Junpei didn't seem to get the message and Yukari almost groaned. Since Chidori, Junpei had also grown much more oblivious to other people and the need for subtlety in certain subjects. She shot her glance in Minato's direction but Junpei didn't seem to see it. Or if he did, he was just outright ignoring it.
Finally, Takeba conceded defeat. It felt as if she would never get rid of the Takumi siblings.
"Tell your friend that I am not doing you any favours and what did I ever do for him to even imagine that I'm in good terms with either of the Takumis." she said through gritted teeth.
Junpei shrugged lightly, as if he hadn't sensed that Yukari was upset at him.
"Meh, I wasn't even that close to him anyway."
By the wall next to Junpei, Shinjiro had cocked his brow and very soon, he lost interest and decided to return to minding his own business. She could've sworn that she heard the brooding senior mutter something about 'second years' and 'more drama than that show on at 8pm'.
The group rested for another few minutes before Minato had them geared up again and they headed up to the next floor.
"There's a powerful presence in the middle of this room..." Fuuka's voice floated through the air, "Please be careful."
Minato could almost see Fuuka having her hands clutched to her chest in prayer as she said that. He turned and set his gaze on his team mates. Shinji was riled up and ready, his hulking axe rested on his broad shoulders as if it weighted nothing. Junpei was excited as well and Minato could tell from the that little twitching on his best friend's face that he needed an outlet for that pent up energy soon or else he's probably gonna explode on them.
His gaze then fell on the girl tightening her bow. It made his heartache whenever he saw her and he fell in love with her all over again. Minato didn't even know what they were now. They had both agreed that they wouldn't talk about it till the next operation was done, but he was starting to fear that she was just avoiding it indefinitely.
Didn't he know Yukari well enough?
He could still remember this one time where she had left a box of knick knacks on her desk. She told him that she would be keeping those away that night. The next day he had asked if she had cleared away the knick knacks and for a split second, he saw that look on her face where he'd known that she had completely forgotten about it.
"I'll get around to it," she had said. A whole month later, Minato was dead sure that the box of knick knacks were probably still stilling at the corner of her desk. Yukari only did her work at her coffee table anyway.
"Hey bro," Junpei's voice cut into his thoughts. "We don't have much time left."
He shut his eyes tightly and nodded as his daydream about their happier days crawled back into the recesses of his mind. The dim lighting in the chamber was starting to give Minato a headache and he decided that the faster they were out of here, the better. He's had enough of Tartarus.
The team ran up to the winding corridors and finally led them to a wall that felt strangely out of place. For one, the walls were discoloured and were bricks instead of the strange colour disaster that were the walls of Tartarus.
And it's medieval. Have I seen this somewhere?
Before Minato could let his thoughts process, the walls started to move and 3 pairs of legs seemed to grow out the bricks. He could sense his friends tensing up and getting themselves ready for the fight. He had seen this before. The towers that were usually weak to Yukari's breeze, but they were never quite this big and even their smaller counterparts already had a bitch of a defence.
"This is going to take a while," he muttered under his breath.
There was a soft growl that came from the shadows, but Minato couldn't quite place where exactly it was emitted from. It was a walking brick tower. It wasn't even supposed to have a voice, let alone growl at them. Shinjiro had run off to the back side of one of the towers, summoning Castor who'd immediately rammed itself at the shadow, taking out a large chunk of the wall.
That wasn't quite enough to get rid of it completely though.
Yukari was mounting an attack next, with her slung across her chest, knowing well that her arrows weren't going to make an impact on the walls. She fired off her evoker and let loose Io. The persona released a powerful Garula spell that knocked off one of the towers, letting Junpei climb atop and plunging his great sword down right into the soft black material that filled the inside of the towers.
There was a loud screech that startled even Shinjiro. Minato stared with his eyes wide and his jaws hanging slack. The blackness within the shadow seemed to crawl out from the top of the tower and Junpei jumped off with a yelp, disgust and surprise fighting to reign on his face. The blackness seemed to have teeth as it screamed and finally melted back into the brick fortress.
The shadow was up again.
Minato lost no time at all as the second tower lunged itself at him. He's parried to the side and let himself go on a defence as the rest of the team tried their damnest to fend off the shadows. Shinjiro was doing the best he could trying to imitate Junpei's little success previously, but it was hard for Castor to swing that high and Aragaki was too big and bulky to go climbing on the shadow.
The tower growled again. After several failed attempts at lunging at Minato and missing completely, the shadow began to batter at Minato, forcing him to summon up his toughest Personae to shield himself.
"Jesus-" The tower was coming at him again, as if it were infuriated at the lack to progress in this fight. Minato knew that he didn't have much time left, that the dark hour was ending soon. He had to end this fight, but all he could manage to do right now was try not to get hit. He could barely dodge the blows, let alone counter them.
From the corner of his eye, he could see Junpei and Yukari trying to recreate that first success but failing miserably, mainly because the tower was so focused on Yukari, she hardly had the time to dodge the pounding. Shinjiro couldn't help since he was barely holding his own with the third shadow.
"Time to bring in the heavy artillery, bro!" Junpei screamed from across Minato. He was obviously getting exhausted, having to swing that hunk of metal around, but Junpei wasn't about to give up. He wasn't about to let Yukari down. And neither was Minato.
As the Archer was chased about, she had near misses that kept her adrenaline pumping into her blood stream. She had been hit a couple of times, not hard enough to be anything fatal, but painful enough to nearly knock her unconscious a few times. She had been thrown off and smashed into the wall once and if it wasn't for Junpei, she's been obliterated.
Shinjiro wasn't doing too well either. His beanie was knocked off and blood was trickling down from his forehead to his chin. The tower had summoned up flames and ice that had Shinji coughing up blood, but he was soldiering on. Castor wasn't one to quit so easily too. And that this moment, the thought of dying here and now and abandoning Minako was too much for him. It wasn't time yet. There were still things he had neither said nor done, and there were still unfinished business with Amada.
It didn't take long for these feelings to reach Castor, and it empowered the persona. Shinjiro fired off his evoker and Castor appeared immediately, flying towards the tower and piercing it with its spear, chipping right into the bricks and the length of the spear went clean through the thickness of the shadow.
The creature screeched. Its voice echoed painfully around the chamber and off the walls. It sounded like an animal getting skewered. As it came to its knees, the bricks fell apart and the black insides spilled out to Shinji's feet. Sharp, white teeth and what seemed to be an eye ball rolled out from the goo and disintegrated along with the rest of the shadow. Aragaki took just a second to gather his shaking nerves.
"GET OUT OF THE WAY, JUNPEI!" Yukari didn't know if she could scream any louder, but as soon as her voice left her throat, and the words reached her friend, she pulled the trigger and Io mustered her last reserves of energy to summon a huge gust of wind that seemed to weaken the shadow. The legs that grew out of the bricks shook and fell and the shadow was left immobile.
Junpei, who had jumped right out of harm's way, was just now was trying his hardest to pick himself up and carry his sword at the same time, but it was too tiring and he was already exhausted. Minato was barely surviving with that other shadow, but he tried to help whenever he could find a breathing space. Shinjiro had just defeated his pursuer but he could use the rest.
"Senpai looks like the living dead," Junpei managed to chuckled between breaths. This gained him a sharp glare from Takeba and he mouthed an apology immediately. Directly diagonal from Yukari was their leader fighting off his own share of demons. Shinjiro, knowing that he was too wounded to jump in right now, opted to help pull Junpei out of the fight. Of course Iori fussed, but a stern glare from the older man shut him up almost instantly.
Shinji cast a weary glance towards the battleground and felt a growing dread in his chest. If those two didn't finish the fight soon, they won't be going home tonight.
"What are we gonna do-" Takeba screamed across to Minato, cutting off mid breath as the tower lurched again.
Dodging another blow from the shadow, Minato managed to run over to Yukari's side and he grabbed her hand, pulling her away from the next blow from the second shadow. "Stay behind me!" he huffed.
He was tired, running out of breath and sweaty all over. Bruises were turning purple on his thighs and chest and he could see that she was barely alive as well. He had one chance at this and this was the first time he had ever tried it. Igor called it a Fusion Spell.
"When you're in a dire need of help... You can always use a fusion spell." Igor grinned, wider than he ever had before, "However summoning two personae at once can be very taxing to your mind and body... Only use it when you have no choice at all."
Minato heaved a heavy sigh. He hadn't had a choice right now.
Yukari didn't know what was going on. He had pulled her away and directed both the shadows towards the two of them. He'd stood defiantly in front of her, shielding her away from the enemy. She was about to scream at him, shrieking like she'd never shrieked before, but suddenly, she felt a change in Minato's psyche.
He held the evoker to his temple, but his hands were shaking. She'd never seen them shake like that. At least, not since the first time he'd fought a shadow, but even then they weren't quaking like they were now. He was terrified, but he was fighting it.
He pulled the trigger almost hesitantly and she wondered for a brief moment, just what persona had Minato Arisato shaking like that?
What Yukari came to witness wasn't anything she had imagined. She couldn't help but let a small, reluctant smile crawl up to her face. Just as she thought that she had known all there was to know about him, Minato Arisato continued to surprise her. Of course it didn't take any one persona to get him like that.
He had fired off the evoker and yelped painfully as the blow of the gun almost knocked him off his feet. To everyone's surprise, not one, but two Personae appeared in front of Arisato. The Personae Siegfried and Ares stood proudly by Minato. They poised their gears simultaneously and swung as hard as they could, right at the same time. A small tornado engulfed both shadows and it seemed as if invisible blades were cutting and stabbing at the shadows. The wind had knocked the towers off their feet and the blades had somehow penetrated the thick walls.
Two primal screams later and the shadows disintegrated into nothing.
"We have to wear winter wear from now on... It's so heavy, my shoulders hurt. But I looked in the pocket, and I found a lost possession!" the tall, lean volly-baller sighed to the girl next to her.
Her shorter, chubbier friend groaned, "My shoulders hurt too... Plus, I hear weird voices... And I've got a headache..."
The tall girl stopped in her tracks, staring at her confused friend in horror, "...P-Possession...!
Minato laughed discretely as he strolled into the school compound. He liked to put on his head phones and not turn on any music. It let him eavesdrop on people without worrying that they might notice. And it didn't hurt that once in a while he'd heard funny conversations.
He walked with a small limp, no thanks to the disastrous run by Tartarus a few nights back. The team had managed to make it out alive, but Mitsuru was not amused. In fact, she had banned further training until the operation itself.
Minato didn't protest. He was too tired to even lift his arm above his head for the next few days that he'd rather thanked Mitsuru for banning them from training. He had much rather concentrated on his school work right now and he'd never thought there would come a day that he'd think that.
The familiar voice of his best friend was music to his ears. Minato spotted Junpei strutting towards him with a grin on his face and a bandage wrapped around his forearm.
"How's the arm?"
Junpei shrugged lightly.
"Not bad. Chidori was nagging about it though." A sheepish smile had crawled up to his rugged, boyish face. Minato smiled gently. He was happy for Junpei, but it made his heartache when this reminded him of his own failing relationship.
"Hey so," Iori walked Minato towards the classrooms with a silly grin plastered on, "I overheard Kaz and Yuko talking the other day. Apparently Yuko's got some bad glasses."
"Oh, I heard she went and got new ones didn't she?" Arisato felt a tug at the corner of his lips.
"Yeah she did, but she said that she cheated on the eye exams."
The two stepped into the classroom laughing.
The tall, baseball player pulled up Yukari's empty seat as Minato sat at his own desk.
"Yeah, and guess what Yuko said?"
"I'm very competitive," Junpei guffawed, slapping his knee for emphasis. Minato couldn't help but laugh outright as well, not so much for the punch line but at Junpei who was making a fool of himself right now. But as he did, his felt a sharp pain on his chest and was reminded that he still had three bruised ribs.
"Junpei, get off of my chair!"
The lanky boy stood up slowly, a hand held to his lower back as he did. He eyed Yukari up and down with a sleazy smile on his face, knowing damn well that she hated it when he did that. A small white bandage was plastered on to her left cheek and he knew that beneath her thick winter clothing were bandages that wrapped her torso and left shoulder. Just another normal day after a trip to Tartarus.
"Damn girl, someone's a little feisty this morning."
Yukari didn't even bother glaring at Junpei and swiftly clawed at a chunk of his flesh at his aching lower back. Junpei yelled 'momma' so loudly, the class didn't even notice that Mr Ono had already arrived in class and was actually joined in with spectating his student's demise.
"Alright enough, enough!" Ono announced. "Get back to your seats. Today I have a very important lesson to go through!"
He walked over to the podium and adjusted his helm with a prideful shine in his eyes and a gleeful grin on his wrinkled face, "I'll finally get to tell you about Masamune Date today! I couldn't sleep a wink last night, I was so excited!"
Although he was met with groans, Mr Ono continued enthusiastically, "Let's get started! We'll begin with Date's early life. In 1567, at Yonezawa Castle..."
With that, Yukari just had a feeling that she knew exactly what the topic of Minato's daydreams would be.
Shinjiro Aragaki sat alone at the bench by the empty Shrine. The moon was almost completely full and dogs all over town were howling sadly into the night.
The wind blew a little and Shinji shrunk into his maroon peacoat. He had worn a pair of grey woolly gloves that a certain someone had given him as a gift, she had been especially proud since she'd sworn that she had made them herself.
He'd believe her. The gloves had uneven knots here and there that were sometimes very distracting and uncomfortable, but it was his favourite pair of gloves, and his only pair of gloves.
Unlike that night during the summer, there weren't usually people at the old shrine at this time after dark. He liked it. He liked the quiet and he liked having his own personal space to think. Although he wouldn't have minded bring Koromaru along, but the dog had already been walked by Mitsuru and they had already giving him a bath.
Something in his pocket vibrated and he had a pretty good idea who would be calling him at this hour.
"Hey Shinji! I know you asked to meet tonight but I'm a little busy with the girls," Minako's voice came through the receiver, "How 'bout we reschedule?"
Aragaki shook his head unconsciously, knowing full well that Minako couldn't see him doing it, but just doing it out of habit "Maybe not. I'm gonna be busy soon, I uh... I don't think I have enough time left."
"Time left?" Minako started chuckling. Her voice was sweet melody to his ears, "Alright. But I'll see you soon, kay? And are you still looking for that pocket watch of yours?"
Shinjiro groaned, and she knew exactly what he meant. Minako started chucking again, "I'll keep an eye out." There were some giggling and cooing on the other end and Shinji cringed. "Alright senpai, I gotta run. I'll see you real soon. I love you."
He felt a painful aching in his chest, and Shinjiro replied, "I love you, too."
Author's Note: It's been a while! I have to say, I'm really surprised that after all this time, there are still so many people who'd read Memories of You, even though I haven't uploaded a real chapter since a couple of months ago. Anyway. I've had fun writing this, especially since I've been under alot of stress from school. And if any of you are any good at using the 'Gamemaker 8.1" program, do contact me! I'm dying. D:
I've read all of the reviews and I'm really glad that you guys have enjoyed it as much as I've enjoyed writing it!
And Guest, in response to your question, it's my fault. I don't write as well(-ish) as I do now back then. What I mean was for that scene to happen out by the lounge. not in Yukari's room. Minato has never been in her room. Not yet anyway. And Akihiko wasn't allowed even to the third floor isn't because he cannot go up there specifically, but because it would be extremely usual for him to be there as he would never go up there, not for any reason at all, and it was usually Mitsuru who would seek him out, not the other way round. It was safer for Mitsuru to be down at the second floor instead. Also, in case you start to wonder why Minato is allowed up there, it's because I feel that everyone trusts him, and trusts that he isn't the kind to go up there for the wrong reasons. (Unlike Junpei.) (Also, for some reason, everyone's very comfortable with Minato so that's a reason too.)
I hope you guys have enjoyed this chapter! Do leave a review behind! I enjoy those :) And I especially enjoyed that anon comment who wrote to the lyrics of 'Call me Maybe'. That made me giggle. HAHAHA!
Beta-ed by Pervy Monk
You've been awesome, and thanks for helping out despite me being MIA for so long.