Author's Note:

Playing through P3P, I became a big fan of the FMC and Shinjiro's relationship. Shinjiro's always been a favorite character, and when I found out that you could play through his social link with the FMC, I was intrigued. So naturally expect spoilers like crazy, since this is meant to investigate the relationship between these two characters post October 4.

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

-cy.


All he saw were elevators.

Yeah, sure, there was a hell of a lot of blue in this place, but the elevators would be one of the few things that he would remember with clarity after. He wasn't sure how he'd come here, but as the plush rug compressed under his boots, he knew it was somewhere strange, somewhere he hadn't been before. He was in a place of many elevators, all of them going up, cutting through the cool white light for a moment beyond a grate at the back of this blue room. None of them ever went down and nor did they ever stop or slow enough for him to get a good look at who was traveling inside of them. It was like being in a subway station, or waiting for a train where no conductor ever pulled the brakes to let you get on.

He blinked a few times as he looked away, adjusting his eyes to the darker light of the room, discerning a table, a chaise.

"Ah, so you've come."

Shinjiro Aragaki started, his quick gaze flicking over to the old man with a long, pointed nose sitting behind the table. The man wore a nice suit and a nonplussed but intrigued expression, as though he was less surprised to find Shinjiro here than the renegade had been to end up in this place himself.

"Where the hell am I?" He asked, slouching and stuffing his hands into his pockets. He wished that he'd brought his axe; why hadn't he? Something in his mind ached, told him that there had been a reason, a good one, but he couldn't remember it... "And who the hell are you?"

The man at the table smiled. "Ah yes, that is the right kind of question to ask. But it is also one to which you may not wish to know the answer. This place is a space between worlds, a curtain drawn across the domains of sleep and consciousness, the line that marks the border between one part of the mind and another. Do you remember why it was you came here?"

Shinjiro bit his lip. No, he didn't, that was the weird part. All this crap about domains and shit was not the straight answer he was looking for. Still, the strange man with the pointed nose didn't seem to find this annoying, rather, he just sat in that chair, smug as all get out, and when he saw that no reply was forthcoming from Shinjiro, continued.

"It is rare that we have a visitor such as yourself. And yet, though it would also have not been possible had you not been awakened to the power of Persona, without your connection to my current guest you would never have been able to find this place." He paused. "You are, of course, a very special visitor in your own right. But I must make it clear that it is ultimately up to you what you do with your time here."

"My time?" Shinjiro repeated. Everything that this man had said seemed counterfeit, false. Current guest? What was this guy, a maitre d'? There wasn't even anyone else here in the room except for the two of them. But something irked him more. Since when did he have choices to make about how he spent his time? Shinjiro frowned. He'd had something to atone for, something that only he could do, something that had kept him up late into the night at a back alley in Port Island...

And then it all came together. Well, shit.

"So I'm dead, huh?" He said with a wry grin, waiting for an answer he already knew.

He'd been shot. Yeah, now it was all coming back now. Cautiously, his hands traveled up his peacoat along his stomach, feeling for the bullet hole, surprised and then worried when he couldn't find it. Swallowing, he slowly let his hands drop. He and the kid had been talking on the anniversary of his mother's death, talking at that spot behind the station, and then those Strega bastards had shown up and shot him. He'd repaid his debt, alright, the life he'd taken two years ago had been paid off with his own. But still, if he really was at peace, why was he here?

"Shouldn't I be in-" Shinjiro stopped, shook his head and let the rest of the sentence trail off. "I dunno, somewhere more eternal than a blue room with elevators?"

"Perhaps." That man's knowing smile was damned infuriating, Shinjiro frowned. "Can you think of nothing that would tether you to the world, nothing that would draw you back?"

Draw him back? Shinjiro's frown deepened. He'd taken care of everything. He'd had a good, long month to know when he was going to die and he'd made sure not to leave any loose ends. Except...one had cropped up anyway.

He remembered a flash of brown hair against a sickly green sky, a pair of hands contorted with grief, and how she'd cried at the end even when he'd had her promise not to. Yeah, alright, maybe he'd have liked to have spent more time with her. But both of them had known that it never would have worked out.

Shinjiro turned to look at the man behind the table again, this time his eyes dark and calculating. He hadn't learned to survive for so long on the streets of Port Island without knowing when something was up and how to get out of it. It was dangerous not knowing who you were dealing with, and right now, this man seemed hold all the cards.

"So where am I anyway?" He asked again, voice gravelly and suspicious. "I'm not alive, because this sure as hell doesn't look like Port Island or any hospital that I've been in before. So I've gotta be dead."

"Almost, yes."

Just having the man say it, confirm it, shook him. But the man continued as though unaware of his guest's discomfort.

"And no, this place is not part of the physical world as you know it. This room is a venue between worlds, somewhere that you would never have seen if not for your peculiar connection with a single person with an unusual talent, unique even among Persona users. Can you not imagine who I am talking about? She is at the heart of all things, both as my guest and the key to ending the Dark Hour. She also attaches, or so I gather, a particular importance to you, otherwise you would not have been able to come here."

"Wait," Shinjiro repeated, "you don't mean-"

There was only one person that he could think of. God damn it, all it came back to her.

"She has chosen a fate riddled with danger," the man continued, "one that she may perish by before she fulfills what it is she set out to do."

"I know that." Shinjiro cut in, impatient. "All those guys knew that when they signed on. What does this have to do with me?"

"Everything." The man looked him in the eye. "Should you choose it, you could be the key to her victory. There is no guarantee that your actions will bring about the result that you wish, but without action, she will certainly fail. There are greater challenges ahead that even she, as she is now, will not be able to surpass."

"You mean she's gonna die? Before those guys get rid of the Dark Hour?" His mind raced. Hell, this seemed like every wrong move in the book: making deals with weird men when you knew you were dead. But if he didn't... "She can't. She can't die."

Not after all the time that she'd spent on him, even when he'd told her not to bother. He remembered making hot chocolate for her when he prepared his own cup of coffee, then listening to her talk as they sat together on the couches in the lounge. She'd gone with him to every damn restaurant in Port Island that he'd dragged her to, and even when he'd realized that he was taking up too much of her time and called her out on spending so many evenings with him, she'd just laughed and tugged him along anyway.

She'd helped him face his death, even though it had scared the crap out of him. And now, after all that, she wasn't going to be able to get rid of that damn tower.

After all that, she was going to die.

"No way. She's gotta win."

With a shrug, the man gestured to the table before him. "If she is to succeed, then she will require your help. However, whether you choose to give it or not is something that you must decide for yourself. All choices have consequences, as you know very well."

After the man's gesture, a paper and a white quill pen appeared. The gold lettering on the paper gleamed in the light from the elevators passing behind them, and Shinjiro read it carefully.

"'I chooseth this fate of my own free will, huh?'" That was it? Well, it didn't seem like that much of a demonic contract if that was all it said. "So all I've got to do is sign this and she'll live?"

"Signing it will allow you to set events into motion that will ultimately benefit her as she strives to gather power for her final battle against the forces that oppose her. Perhaps she will live. But, understand, if you do choose to sign, there are no-"

"No guarantees, yeah, I know." There were no guarantees in anything anymore. Shinjiro picked up the quill pen and looked askance at it. Hell, he didn't even know how to use this thing. That bastard would be lucky if his signature even came out looking like chicken scratch than anything binding. Even if it was valid, he still couldn't pass this up. Not after all the time she's spent on him. Not after she refused to give up.

He signed it, his name coming out a little rough and blotched but on the whole still legible.

"Alright, fine." He crossed his arms over his chest. "But you damn well better tell me what I gotta know to help her."

"Very well." The man nodded appreciatively and the contract vanished with a stroke of his hand. "Shall we start with the formalities, then? My name is Igor. Welcome to the Velvet Room."