December 31, 2009- Full Moon...
"So... you understand." Ryoji closed his eyes, acknowledging my decision. "I think that looking into the future is a great way to live. But that doesn't mean that other ways of living are wrong."
I am a coward
I'm nothing but a bloody coward
He opened his eyes and smiled at me. "No one knows which road leads to happiness." his smile became more gentle. It was hard for me even just by looking at him. "I'm glad that I met you. This must be what it means to 'feel happy'." he held his arms apart, and gave me the sincerest smile I've ever seen. It was heart-wrenching.
I... just didn't know what to do...
Then, he spoke his final words. "Thanks for everything."
Slowly, I took my Evoker, and held it up my temple. I looked at him for one last time, steeling my heart. "Good-bye, Ryoji."
Then I pulled the trigger.
In that moment, everything stopped for me. All my thoughts began to fade into oblivion...
When I awoke the next day... peaceful days have returned again...
For why I say 'again'... I can't seem to remember...
The school year rolled on, with nothing exciting to take note of... it's as if nothing had ever happened. My year seemed to be blank.
And so, the seasons changed.
Two months later.
I walked to school, listening to my mp3, everything was fine, a little chilly, but fine. Students don't seem to notice anything exciting in particular.
"Yo!" called a voice behind me. It was Junpei. He ran in front of me and took my attention off my music, almost startling me when he jumped into my line of sight. "Damn, it's cold. But of course, you never miss a day of school."
I turned off my music, and removed my head phones, smiling (almost grinning) at him. "That's what it means to be a good student." I told him. He just scoffed.
"Man, can you believe this year's already over? Were practically seniors now." he smirked, looking at how the other students pass us by.
I rolled my eyes, still smiling. "Yeah, but you still act like an elementary student."
"H-hey, I resent that." he shot back, though not seriously.
"Just learn to grow up, Junpei. And I mean, up here." I began tapping my head. We seem to be always like this.
"HEY!" he glared at me, but then sighed, dropping the current antic. "Well anyway, just one more year... Ya think anything interesting will happen?"
I shrugged. "You never know. Maybe you'll see your name in the top ten of the school exams... maybe." though, that might cause a disturbance in the natural law of order.
"Pfft, yeah right." yeah right indeed, we all know how you are. "Well, seeing the current seniors makes me wonder."
I stopped in mid-step, my neck almost snapping as I instantly turned to look at him."You're actually thinking of studying?" has hell frozen over? And is that a pig I see in the sky? Wait, false alarm, just a cloud.
"Nah man, I mean; all the seniors fricken' do is study. Talk about boring." ah good, I almost had a heart attack. But, I'll never show how much distress that caused me. "Is that gonna be us next year?" I didn't answer him. Because... "Why do I feel like I'm forgetting something?"
I also can't seem to find the answer to that.
"Dude, what's with the silence?" he asked, genuinely concerned.
I shook my head, waving a hand slightly. "It's... nothing. I think."
He shrugged. "Whatever."
We both continued our walk to school, till Junpei noticed someone looking at our direction.
"Hey, is that girl looking at us? Dude, she's pretty cute! How come I never noticed her before?" he stared back at her with fascination while I also stared at him like a scientist fascinated on idiotic behavior. I had a mental urge to slap him. But then again...
The girl was blonde, pale skinned, calming blue colored eyes, wearing headphones that doesn't look like it was out in the stores. All of that, yet it seemed to fade away because of the expression that should not be painted along with her lovely frame.
A look of hurt in her eyes.
"What are you talking about? She lives in the same dorm as us." Yukari! Good to see you... but I'm still busy trying to stop myself from slapping this guy beside me.
"Seriously?" dude, we live in the same dorm. Oh good, I don't want to slap him anymore. "Uh...What's her name then?"
"I dunno." Yukari shrugged. Come to think of it neither do I. Now it's me who has the urge to slap myself.
"So then, why are you givin' me a hard time?" probably cause it's fun. It's always therapeutic to probe a friend (Junpei) "Anyway, it's always crazy in the dorms this time of year, with so many people coming and going. Oh yeah, did you hear? Akihiko-senpai is movin' out. Ya' know, the captain of the boxing team?"
Why does that name ring a bell to me? I know the guy, but... the thing I'm feeling isn't because of that.
"I know who he is, but I haven't really talked to him." Yukari replied. "Of course, all the graduates are leaving, even Kirijo-sempai."
Again. There's that ringing again.
"Ms. Student Council President... She's in our dorm too huh?" Junpei said, giving us a faraway look
"What's up?" Yukari asked, snapping me out of that... trance that I seemed to have been in. Probably noticed that I've been spacing out and not joining the conversation.
I shook my head. "Nothing." I gotta stop getting distracted like that.
"O~kay." she glanced at the girl, she's been staring at us the entire time. I felt another kind of ringing as I look at her. "Hey, there! Are you looking at us?Is something wrong?"
She looked down to her feet. Somehow, my heart felt lighter when I couldn't see the expression on her face. "Um... It's nothing." she said, before she started running towards the school. She ran in the weirdest way...
Junpei was the first to talk after the girl left. "She looks kinda depressed, doesn't she?"
The ringing doesn't seem to want to stop now. And it's louder.
Junpei's face lit up, like he just thought of something. "Wait, do you think she might be interested in on of us?" my hand twitched.
Yukari laughed at him, ignoring the glare he sent to her. "I'd doubt it."
"Ouch, that hurt." dude said it in the funniest tone, and his face didn't even show any signs of joking. Must've hit a nerve.
"Good job, Yukari." I gave her a thumbs up, for now, forgetting about the weird feeling that I've been getting.
"I was talking to you too." Ouch...
Two days later. March 5- Graduation Day...
My second year is about to end. I need to head over to school. If only the ringing hadn't been getting stronger...
Graduation came for the seniors, I just kept myself busy with my music, blending in with the row of students, and resisting the urge to bob my head with the beat till "Next, a word from the Valedictorian." one of the teachers announced. I figured I might as well listen since it IS the last day. "From class D, Mitsuru Kirijo."
"Thank you." said an elegant, red-headed student as she walked out from behind the stage, and stepped up to the podium. "This last year, I've accepted an important responsibility as Student Council President."
Responsibility. The word echoed in my head, almost blending in with the ringing.
"When I first addressed you from this podium, I spoke to you all about seizing opportunity while you had the chance... Well, it must have been fate that intervened and gave me an important reminder of this..."
Fate? Anyone can change that, if only they tried hard enough.
"As many of you may know, my father unexpectedly passed away due to illness..." she looked away for a slight moment before continuing. "To tell you the truth, after losing my father, I also lost much of my self confidence. You see, I had over-estimated my ability to handle everything alone."
..My ability... alone... No. I can't do everything alone. It's just not possible.
"Few people can be that strong. There are times when we cannot stand without the support of others."
...Support... from others...
I began clutching my head as the ringing intensified. "I..."
"What's wrong Minato-kun?" Yukari leaned forward from behind me.
"No... nothing." I answered, but my head still hurt, and the ringing wasn't helping either. It also felt like something was crushing my heart.
Mitsuru-sempai continued. "After my father's death, I received many kind words from many people. You all taught me the value of allowing yourself to be cared for and protected. I would like to continue going forward with the support of those around me."
...to be cared... protected... going forward... support... of those around me...
My headache worsened, and I was beginning to sweat. There's something about those words, they hurt... why? My vision also began to blur.
Junpei looked concerned, putting a hand on my shoulder. "Dude, you okay? Maybe you should skip this?"
"No" I held up a hand to stop him. "I'm fine." it's calming down.
We heard Mitsuru-sempai's voice sounding more strained. "For us graduates, it was truly an honor to share the last three years with all of you. Thank you so much... for those wonderful years..." she tried to hold back her tears, but her voice says it all.
I held my head up, and stared at the ceiling. The headache had disappeared and... everything seems clearer to me...
"...She seems kinda bummed, doesn't she?" Junpei said. "I guess, even President's cry too..."
"She's only human." I answered, still staring at the ceiling, only letting my eyes shift but not my neck.
Junpei began looking around the gym, turning his head from left to right. "Hey, where's that girl?"
"What are you talking about?" Yukari asked, curious since Sempai had already finished her speech.
Junpei turned to her. "You know, the girl we saw the other day. I assumed she'd be here."
"You won't see her here." I answered. She wouldn't be here. She has no reason to.
"Ah, her." Yukari spoke up, allowing me to slip every other noise to the background. "Well, there's a lot of people who aren't here. Actually, I'm surprised YOU didn't skip." truth be told, I'm surprised too.
"Heh, I thought about it." Junpei smirked. "Anyway, next year it'll be our turn." I held my tongue from correcting him. "What have you got planned, Yuka-tan? College?"
Yukari hummed in thought, posing with a hand under her chin. "I haven't really decided yet. What about you?" she asked, looking at me.
"No idea." I answered as I looked down and pressed play on my mp3. Ah, a perfect tune for the right moment: Memories of You...
"That's what I thought." She giggled. "You know how the President was crying? I can sorta relate, since my dad passed away too." she started to reminisce about her past. "But, that stuff she said about seizing opportunities? Gimme a break. We're only in high school. I mean, yeah it's important, but can't it wait a few years?"
I closed my eyes, stopping myself from voicing my thoughts.
"...But anyway, there's really no hurry to decide what we wanna do with our lives, right? I mean, high school's hard enough as it is."
Junpei nodded. "Yeah, I agree with that."
Yukari began to think, before sharing it with us. "Here's what I think" Yukari started. "Sometimes you're better off not knowing. As they say; ignorance is bliss."
This time, I had to bite my lip to stop myself. I tried not to make any movement to show them that I was struggling to stop what I wanted to say.
"Besides, you can't always be thinking about the future. In the end, it doesn't matter as long as you're happy." She shrugged, smiling a bit. "You've gotta live in the moment; carpe diem, right?"
"... Yeah, I guess so." Junpei agreed. Genuinely considering what Yukari had just said. "Whew, that was some speech."
"... to be honest, I'm not that strong of a person." Yukari admitted. "That's why I get so worked up so easily. It's hard to explain, it's just the way I am."
I nodded, even though the question wasn't really directed to me.
"Hey, I know where you're coming from." said Junpei, offering a kind grin. "Thinking about that stuff just gives me a headache. So, I try to avoid it as much as possible."
Yuari giggled. "Now, that's the Junpei we all know and love."
"Everyone's so uptight each days. They just need to chill out." You're always on holiday-mode, Junpei. "You know, take it easy for a change."
"What're you gonna do if that plan backfires?" Yukari asked.
"Well, that'll be that. But for now, let the good times roll." he grinned. "Karaoke, anyone? Let's celebrate our future."
I turned off my mp3 and sighed.
"A graduation party, huh? I'll if he goes." Yukari said, jabbing a thumb at my direction.
"Well in that case." he turned to me. "I won't take 'No' for an answer. I'll buy you a drink, alright?"
He doesn't know what he's offering. Well then, get ready to empty your wallet, Junpei. "Sure, why not." I smiled, and nodded.
What else can I say when 'Sorry' is not enough?
And so, everything ended... NYX came, and I know that I died. Everyone did.
I remembered everything, Mitsuru's words... triggered it. I don't know how, but, I remembered.
In an empty dark place, I was lying down, staring at the endless darkness that lay before me. There was nothing to do, nothing to see... nothing else worth feeling. I was simply wasting my eternity within the abyss.
"I had given you one year," a voice rang. "I've warned you not to falter, yet..."
"I KNOW." I screamed. Whether it had been my imagination or not, I didn't care. The emptiness that I have right now, it's too much. "I screwed up. I didn't know what to do. I made the Fall happen, Death lingered inside of me for ten years. I'm only human, what did you expect me to do?" I tried to cry. I tried to shed even a single tear, yet nothing came. I'm hopeless. Even now.
"You are not JUST a human. You are special." said the voice. It seems that I've gone insane.
"Why me? Why did it have to be me? Was I chosen? Was this just some kind of cruel twist of fate? Of the billions of people, why me?" I squinted my eyes as a tiny blue light approached me. The closer it got, the more I realize what it was. "Its you, again."
It was the blue butterfly that I saw on the day of my arrival in Iwatodai. I knew it wasn't my imagination. And now I'm sure.
"Tell me, if you were given a second chance, would you seize the opportunity?"
I sneered. What difference would it make. "I don't know." I answered.
"What if you were given the chance to repeat the year, repeat your journey?"
I glared at the bug, unconsciously willing myself to 'Stand' in the darkness. "YOU BASTARD! Do you even know what I went through? What all my friends went through?" I don't even give a damn that I'm talking to a bug. "We worked hard, believed that what we were doing was right. Then what? Everyone got plagued with misfortune, a friend DIED, Strega wanted to kill us, and even our supervisor USED us like pawns to destroy the world. AND YOU WANT ME TO RE-LIVE THOSE MOMENTS!"
"What if you could change those?"
I paused from my anger.
"You posses the Wild Card. It takes many forms, and is bound by none, with its powers, YOUR powers, you may change your fate. There are limitless possibilities for you."
I clenched my teeth and sneered. "'Every choice has its consequence' 'Nothing in life is free' 'Nothing is easy'. Everything I learned, I gained from painful experience. I will not be used anymore. Your offer doesn't interest me." I turned around and started to walk deeper into the darkness.
"Time never waits" it began.
I froze in mid-step, almost like in a spell. I felt like I wanted to hear more.
"It delivers all equally to the same end." I closed my eyes and stood still, listening to the words. "You, who wish to safeguard the future, However limited it may be... You will be given one year; Go forth, never falter, With your heart as your guide..." I clenched both my teeth and hands. I could almost feel the blood in my nails, and feel my gums bleeding. "You have no choice, your path was already destined. You merely took a wrong turn, which led to this." the butterfly flew past me, in front of me, then it turned into a blue door, a door that I knew all too well.
I didn't want to admit it to them, but I was afraid, there was nothing I could do. I've harnessed the power of Death, and even that, was overwhelming. Nxy was more powerful, after defeating the the Hanged Man Arcana, I felt it. It was only a split second, but I felt it.
More powerful than anything that we've faced, more powerful than anything that I have endured. Not even the Reaper gave me same fear like Nyx did. That night when Ryoji came to our dorm, my resolve had faltered. I couldn't bring myself to fight it, nor let my friends face it. There was nothing we could do. My escape was right there before my eyes, I couldn't just let it slip away.
"We meet again." a voice said, bringing me out of my self-loathing. I looked up and saw a woman outside the door.
"Elizabeth..." I spoke her name, almost unaware of the smile the crept up my lips.
"Please come this way." She gestured into the door. "The master is waiting."
I hesitated. "I..." It took me a moment to contemplate about my actions. Will this really help me?
"Please, Minato-sama. There is no need to hesitate, you are a valued guest." she offered a kind smile.
I couldn't help but wonder: Still a guest? "But my actions..."
"The master will answer all of your questions. Now please..." she bowed. And I couldn't say no.
I was reluctant at first, but what else could I do? So, I entered the door. It was the same as ever, though there was one thing that was different. "Are we moving down?"
Igor was sitting where he always sat, his hands forming a bridge under his nose. "Welcome back, have you made your choice?"
Choice? "But I died, I let everyone down, and caused the Fall. What more painful choices do I have to make?" I made my way to my usual seat and lumped down in a boneless heap.
"Ah, yes. That choice was tragic." He hummed. "But that does not mean our contract is void."
I looked up to him, raising a curious brow. "How can that be?"
He waved his hand, and the contract appeared on the table, still within the red folder. "With your actions, you have unlocked a new path. Every choice you make will always have its consequences, as well as its rewards. Remember this; death, is merely a phase that every creature encounters. It ends one phase, and begins anew."
"So, what? It's like reincarnating?" this is getting confusing.
Igor nodded. "Yes. But in your case, you will merely travel back in time , but with a very big difference."
I took a deep breath, bracing myself for what ever the news may bring. "What kind of difference?"
"You shall see." he said, showing me that eerie grin. "Elizabeth." he called her to come closer.
Elizabeth took her book, and placed it on the table. The pages began to flip, and all my Persona card flew in the air. "These, are the proof of your journey. They will follow you, no matter what decisions you make."
All of my personae. Orpheus' card flew in front of me, then Surt, Scathach, Alilat, Odin, Kohryu, Cybele, Thor, Melchizedek, Arahabaki, Norn, Siegfried, Attis,... Thanatos, Byakko, Beelzebub, Chiyou, Helel, Sandalphon, and Asura.
"These are the bonds that you have established during that year. You aided them through their journey, and these Personae are the result." Igor said. "If you may, I would like to make a personal request."
A request? From Igor? "Sure, if I can help."
"I would like you to let me borrow Orpheus and Thanatos."
What does he want with them? Still, I agreed. "Sure, but what do you need them for?"
He chuckled... a very creepy chuckle. "They are required for you to return to your friends. Be warned though, you have lost your place in their minds."
Mind, maybe. But he never said anything about being out of their lives. It pays to read between the lines. "Okay then. Is their anything else you should warn me about?"
"A female counterpart."
What? "That's vague... but I know you'll tell me when the time is right."
Igor nodded. "Now then. I mustn't keep you here for too long. Until we meet again."
I stood up. "Yeah, until then." I grabbed two cards in the air, and gave Orpheus and Thanatos to him. With the deal sealed, I walked out. Before closing the door behind me, I heard the cards being flipped. "A fusion, huh."
I closed the door. I was back in the dark room. Behind me, the Velvet Door disappeared. Withing the darkness, a tiny speck of light started to creep along it. It began to swallow the abyss, leaving an empty white void in its place. I closed my eyes, and waited for whatever was going to happen next.
When I opened my eyes, I was in the white room. An endless horizon of white tiles presented before me. Pharos was also there, with his back turned. "Go on." I heard him whisper.
I started to walk towards him, and noticed that there was someone else there with us. It was a girl. With red hair, wearing the uniform of Gekkoukan high. In her hand, was an Evoker. Slowly she raised it, and pointed it to her temple.
"Ah... so this was what Igor was telling me." It wasn't hard to guess the what, where and when. This was the night that I would never forget.
I walked towards them, passing by Pharos. I gave him a quick glimpse from the corner of my vision. He didn't seem to notice me. I turned back to the girl, she stood with her back turned. She was hesitant. I stood behind her, and leaned closer. As I did, I tiny smile formed on my face.
I spoke the words that forever changed my life, as I felt like it would also forever change hers.
My breath brushed by her ears.
Our eyes glowed with eerie grins starting to form on our faces.
With her mind set...
she pulled the trigger.