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Derail

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She sits on the couch, and the words aren't new to her. No, she's heard them several times, the same words every time, the same words on the same day at the same time.

And so she sits there quietly. Yukari says the same words of disbelief, Junpei tries to be confident, but when it all comes down to it it's the end. Ryoji says they will not live to see spring, but gives them a choice.

Minako is weary. How many times has she seen this scene, how many times has she gone through the same thing? Why does she keep being reincarnated, with her memories intact, on the same path as before?

Her soul is tired.

Ryoji stands and turns to leave; Fuuka calls out but he doesn't stop.

Minako knows the exact second that he will disappear.

"Wait."

Her voice is tired, with a hint of irritation. To everyone else's surprise, he does stop. He turns to her, blinks. He inclines his head, but no surprise shows on his face.

"I was wondering when this might happen," he says, a knowing look in his eyes.

"You're such a liar," Minako sighs, and stretches her arms out. "You know what's going to happen. I can't believe you do this every time."

"Same goes for you," He retorts. "I don't know why it happens either. But hey, a guy can hope, can't he? It doesn't have to work the same way every time. It can change. You have a choice, every time."

"And I pick the same one every time," the wild card snorts. "For a reason. I know why you do this; you're sincere, aren't you? Every time you ask the question, you hope that I'll pick the other answer. But you know. You know that I'm only on one course and I know where it's taking me."

Ryoji frowns, crosses his arms, and the rest of SEES is looking at her curiously but no one seems to want to break into their peculiar conversation.

"Uh…" Junpei ventures, and Minako and Ryoji turn to him, breaking their glaring contest. "Care to…uh, you know, tell us what's going on?"

"You don't die. None of you die." Minako tells them exasperatedly before Ryoji can speak, "We defeat Nyx and the Fall is prevented. The end."

The SEES blink, and Ken looks at her. "How…do you know that?"

"I've been through this so many times," the brunette sighed, her tone a little irritated at this, "I mean, fighting Nyx is never easier, but at least I know what to expect. But anyway, after that, days continue like normal, and everything is fine."

She shoots Ryoji a dirty look, as if daring him to speak another word.

He dares.

"You forget one small bit of information," He continues pleasantly, "That you die on graduation day, on the roof, every time. That does not get any easier to watch, although you appear to have gotten used to it."

Akihiko, Ken, and Mitsuru stiffen into statues; Junpei, Yukari, and Fuuka gape.

"WHAT?" Yukari shrieks, her high voice accompanied by Junpei's lower-pitched roar. Minako waves her hand impatiently.

"Passing over that—"

"UH, NO WE AREN'T!" Junpei yells, making a move to grab Minako, as if that would prevent her from sacrificing herself. He grips her shoulders, eyes wide and fearful. "YOU DIE?"

"And you've been through this multiple times?" Mitsuru questions, voice wavering. There is a heavy silence. She knows that they have all been through death; Akihiko with Miki, Mitsuru and Yukari with their fathers, Junpei and Ken with their mothers, all of them with Shinjiro-senpai. Even Koromaru, with his owner. She knows how her death would affect them, because they have all grown so close.

But maybe it's because she's been through the Fall so many times that she can't bring herself to try and comfort them, although this is the first time that she's revealed her situation to her friends.

The train is taking a different route, but in the end it arrives at the same destination.

"Yes," says the wild card wearily, "Yes. I don't know why, and I don't know how many times this is now, I lost count. This is the first time I've told you guys this. But the reason why I get stronger so much faster is because I know exactly how to kill every shadow I see, what its weakness is, and who to summon on what Arcana. From the beginning I knew all of your pasts, and all of your futures, as well. For the year, anyway."

Minako peels Junpei's hands off of her shoulders; his grip was starting to hurt. He steps back, giving her an apologetic look which she returns with a nod.

"Couldn't you have told us?" Akihiko says quietly, his gloved hands tightened into fists. "Didn't you trust us?"

"It's not that I didn't believe you wouldn't believe me, seeing as you're believing me right now. But don't you think you would be overwhelmed? I don't know what exactly goes on, but the simplest I can manage is that I am reincarnated…or…revived as the same person with all my memories. And then, I would be some kind of monster. I'm strange from the beginning, carrying Death inside of me, and I when you guys first found that out, I know none of you accepted that too quickly." Junpei looks away here, guilt and shame in his eyes at being the one who had rejected her the most during that time, but several of the others shift uneasily as they remember their unspoken feelings. "And with this? You would hate me for what I was." She pauses, and looks at all of them. "I'm only telling you this now because I'm tired and I wanted to see results, to see if anything might be different. In the end, nothing changes." She glances at the floor, tired, oh so tired, and then looks around at the faces of her precious friends. "You can't stop me. This has always been a one-way route."

She turns to Ryoji, who is still waiting patiently with a melancholy look. "I choose the same choice every time because I can't bear to relive my life again knowing that I just let the world end the last time."

She holds out her hand. "Take me with you. And don't say that you can't, I know you can. I fight Death alone, anyway."

When her friends scream out behind her, she merely smiles and everything fades.

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The next time she opens her eyes, she is on the train, waiting to go to the dorm. She knows how this works, she's been through it countless times.

But when she steps off the train, a boy steps off with her. His hair is midnight blue, his eyes silver and cool. He and Minako clash in colors. They glance at each other and merely walk.

It becomes obvious that their destination is the same.

Panic grows in her with each step. This has never happened before, but it can only mean one thing, especially as they continue through the Dark Hour.

They walk in and Pharos is waiting. He hadn't appeared after the first two times, because it was becoming apparent that she was reliving the cycle and it was simply too tedious. Besides, if she knew who Ryoji was already, there was really no point in keeping up the pretense.

Pharos looks just as confused (at least, she can sense it, his face doesn't change), but Minako's eyes widen as he hands the little red booklet to the boy.

He writes his name, Minato Arisato, on the line…

And the train derails.