Chapter 19: Trials and Tribulations of a High School Male

A/N: Now it's time for the males to take center stage! I'll fit in as much of them as I can in this chapter, then we might be seeing overflow into next chapter before we switch back to the usual formula.

Also, that barrier of "Understanding" that previously stopped Minato from going to rank 4 in Social Links is officially gone forever (except for some existing Social Links like Devil and Emperor), in case you didn't notice. Just felt that needed mentioning.

Finally, I'd like to thank all my readers that have been with me so far. I realize I tend to fall into melodrama and I tried to, at least with this chapter, fix stuff. Thank you all for sticking with me.

And thank you so much, Feng Lengshun, for being my beta and pointing that and the million other flaws out. You rock. This chapter still isn't perfect probably, but it's as good as I can get it right now. ...I kind of don't want to have it beta'd a third time.


SWS: Shinji: It's Kind of Funny

It's kind of funny.

Where am I now, what I'm doing...

Just a couple a months ago, I'd never even dreamed I'd be in a situation like this.

I had been at the end of my rope one night, feeling so tired of everything. I was tired of living day to day, dependent upon pills to keep myself alive. I was tired of the nightmares. I was tired of the loneliness. I was tired of knowing that my life could end any moment in some dark alley. I was tired of the pitiful thing I called living.

With a gun in my hand, I'd sat in the corner of my shitty apartment. Kurosawa had sold it to me, expecting it was just for our usual activities, but there was no way he could have known what I planned for it. Nobody knew. I put the barrel of the gun against my head. The cool metal felt nice against my feverish skin. I cocked the gun and had my finger on the trigger. I was going to do it. I remember smiling and saying "Persona" mockingly as I pulled the trigger. This wasn't an Evoker. It was a revolver.

Yet nothing happened.

You know why?

The gun had been thrown to the side so many times after so many failed attempts, it wouldn't fire anymore. The trigger was bent and couldn't be pushed all the way in anymore. After I dropped the pistol for the last time, I actually could feel the tears of relief. Nobody ever wants to die. We just think we do. I have a feeling that if I pulled the trigger then, in my final moments, I would have only felt regret. After all, I don't have the right to take my own life. There are others who deserve that right.

But now I'm here at Club Escapade without having to fear for my life. I have friends, I have a home, and I can, for once, actually smile. The nightmares still come and nights are still horrible, but the days are now tolerable. However, I'm not going to delude myself into thinking it will last forever. When I tell Akihiko what I did... when the kid of that woman I killed finds me...

I know I'll die. It's the only way to make things right. I accept that. Maybe that's why I've been putting off telling him... No, he'd never do it. Not in a million years. But if anybody were to kill me, I'd rather it be Akihiko more than anybody else. I'd rather have him avenge the people I killed.

...Yet... part of me denies that. Part of me screams "No!". Part of me says that I have to live for all those whose lives I've taken, that I should save lives and make up for what I've done. I know where that voice comes from too. Minato had woken that voice up. I think I've finally figured out what's so special about Minato. I know now why he could change me like this, why I chose to follow him.

The thing that is so special about him isn't something immediately apparent. You have to look deeper into his actions and his words.

Do you want to know why he's special?

He can give others hope. Not just hope that things can get better, but hope that things will get better and he'll do his damnedest to reach the best outcome possible. I want to follow that hope. If this shitty world is going to end, then he's going to not only save it, he'll take it one step further.

Just like with me, he'll make humanity save itself. He'll make them become better.

It's kind of funny how what we want changes.

First I wanted to be a chef when I was a kid, then I wanted to kill myself, and now I want to help a metal man save humanity.

May 17, 2009: Day Before Exams

Minato hadn't noticed it, but sometime during the past few days, he'd managed to bring the Moon Social Link, Shinji, up to rank 3. Maybe it was because he felt closer to Shinji after the small lecture Shinji had given him the other day. Maybe it was because the two of them were finally bonding as men.

"Minato-kun, Shinjiro-san, you both scored low again on this practice exam. How can you ever expect to amount to anything if you can't even do simple theoretical physics? String theory should be rather simple for you at this age," Chidori said as she looked down upon the two men.

Or maybe it was because neither of them were prepared for midterms and were suffering under the intense tutelage of Chidori.

"Says you!" Shinji exclaimed as he held up his paper. "What the hell is with all of this? I doubt we're gonna need to know the ancient history of Zimbabwe or String Theory for this exam! It's high school, not freakin' college! And how are you so smart anyway?!"

Chidori scowled as she looked at them. They were in the lounge in the back of Club Escapade, though Chidori had managed to get the two of them to drag some desks back there. Minato and Shinji sat at small desks for students, but Chidori had a large, mahogany teacher's desk that she sat at. She specially requested the mahogany. Everybody loves mahogany. Mahogany.

"Unlike you, I was taught at a very young age. You might say that my very life depended on how well I managed to perform. I do not want to resort to physical violence, but..." Chidori said with a frown. She pulled out her hatchet from one of the desk drawers. "I fear that it has now become unavoidable. I'll have to create a similar situation to how I was taught. Whoever scores higher on the next practice test, wi—"

Minato stood suddenly, waving his hands wildly.

"Woah, woah, woah! That's going a little too far, Chidori-san!" Minato exclaimed as he put out his hands in front of him. Chidori sighed as she placed the hatchet down on her desk.

"Oh, come on, Minato-kun. I'm not going to kill you. You've been getting higher scores than Shinjiro-san the entire time," she said with a sadistic smile.

"Hey! You just want to hurt me! What the hell did I ever do to you?!" Shinji exclaimed. Chidori laughed softly, mockingly. Shinjiro has just pulled the pin on a grenade. Elizabeth poked her head out from her room, curious as to what all the yelling was about.

"It's not what you did to me, but rather just you in general. You're a brute who uses violence to solve everything," Chidori started.

'Tch. That's true...' Shinji thought to himself regretfully.

"Headshot!" Elizabeth shouted off to the side. Shinjiro glared at her, but didn't say anything. Minato smirked, but he tried to hide his delight with his hand. No use in pissing Shinji off even more.

"A slob who sleeps when he's not bothering the cooks," Chidori continued.

'That's not... well... I have been doing that a lot, haven't I?'

"Double kill!" Elizabeth chanted happily. Where did she learn these references from? Minato was starting to think that Elizabeth's newfound friendship with Fuuka could change more than just how well she fits in.

"A delinquent who was almost held back an entire year and would have been held back if it wasn't for a few friends of mine," Chidori continued.

"Finish him!" Elizabeth said rather happily. Minato sweatdropped. He really seemed to be the only one hearing her at this point. What was Elizabeth's new friend teaching her?

'Speaking of which... who are her "friends"? I've been meaning to ask Minato,' Shinji thought, getting a little distracted.

"And, finally, a philistine who has no sense of art," Chidori finished.

"I can... appreciate art," Shinji said, unable to full deflect any of the other accusations. Chidori scowled as she pulled something out of her desk drawer. It was sketchbook.

"You used my sketchbook that I've been using to create works of beauty as a pillow the other day. A. Pillow. Just thinking about it makes me frustrated again. On that note... Minato-kun?" she said, turning to Minato with a small smile, "You can go for now. Your scores are actually quite good compared to his and should be more than enough to score high on this week's exams. I need to give Shinjiro-san emergency tutoring." With that, Chidori picked up the hatchet once again.

"FATALITY!" Elizabeth shouted. Everybody turned and looked at her. Minato finally let out a small bit of laughter and, with a quick nod, Minato was off to hide in his room. Chidori, not willing to be distracted, turned her attention back to Shinji. Elizabeth had passed Chidori's test exams of death with a perfect answer in each one, gaining a newfound (albeit a bit grudging) respect in Chidori's eyes. As such, Elizabeth could do whatever she wanted right now.

Shinji, however, had constantly been getting scores under 20.

This would not do.

Minato didn't know what Chidori did, but Shinji was silent for the rest of the night. No screams of terror or pain.

Just silence.

Somehow, it was even more terrifying.



...At least Chidori was fond of him, right? They were rank five, after all...

With that justification, Minato was finally able to sleep.

May 18, 2009

Test day.

For most, it is a day of destruction and failure that destroys everything they've ever known and loved.

For others, it is a day to correct the sins of the past, a day of absolution.

For the few, it is just an ordinary Monday.

Junpei, unfortunately, fit in with the majority. Especially considering he had spent so much time on training that he completely forgot he was even testing. So, Junpei needed a plan. If he just didn't show up, then he would get an automatic fail. However, if he could come up with a sufficient excuse, he could get off scot-free and make up the test later. It was on this day that Junpei decided to enact drastic measures. Faking that he was sick would not be enough.

"Junpei-kun? Look, man, I know you don't want to test, but we've got to go. What's taking you so long?" Akihiko's muffled voice said through the door. Junpei groaned in pain as loudly as he could as he shifted himself in bed.

He needed something much more drastic than faking sickness. Junpei's options were limited. Time was running out. It was the bottom of the ninth, the score was 7-4, and the bases were loaded. This had to be a home run.

"Se-senpai? Is that y-you? Augh... The door's unlocked... Please... come in," Junepei said weakly. The best part was he didn't even have to fake it. Akihiko came through the door moments after he said that and, instead of gasping in shock like Junpei had expected, Akihiko just sighed tiredly. Akihiko didn't quite understand why Junpei had to go to such lengths.

Laying shirtless in his bed, Junpei looked as if he had been mauled. A good majority of Junpei's head and chest was covered in dried blood, and barely closed wounds spanned the entirety of his chest, stretching from armpit to armpit. His right arm was hanging limply from his side. Numerous deep scratches adorned his hatless head and Junpei seemed to be sweating just from the effort of talking earlier. His bed sheets were soaked red with blood as well. How much blood did this guy lose?!

Akihiko walked over to Junpei and pressed his hand against Junpei's head. It was burning hot. There was serious infection here, serious enough to give Junpei a fever at least. Junpei laughed before breaking into a coughing fit. It hurt to laugh. Junpei had known that he couldn't fake sickness. He had to take it a step further. So he did.

"You really went to Tartarus to get your ass kicked? How far did you go?" Akihiko asked as he pulled his cellphone out of his pocket. The wounds were too serious for him to heal them all with Dia. Maybe if they were still fresh, but with how long they were left untreated, he couldn't heal them. At least not completely. Akihiko dialed 119 on his phone and put it to his ear while he put his Evoker to his head with the other. He could, at least, make sure Junpei didn't look like he got mauled by a bear. Junpei must have got some ichor in his wounds from the Shadows. That would explain how he's suffering an infection so quickly, at least.

"You know the... floors where they have really... guh... strong Shadows? I made it... to one of those. Might as well clear the way... if I'm going to get my ass kicked anyway, right?" Junpei managed to say with a weak smile. Akihiko sighed heavily.

To think that Tartarus was being used to skip exam day!

Why hadn't he thought of that?!

Shinji sat at his desk, waiting for the doom that was exam day. He'd been through hell last night, experienced things he never wanted to experience ever again. He shuddered as he suppressed the memories once again. That icy bitch was a monster, to be sure. He didn't even know that a machete and a ruler could be used together like that!

"Hey, you okay, Shinji?" Minato asked as he walked over to his desk. Shinji eyed him, taking notice that, once again, he had some small letters with hearts on them peeking out of his bag. Shinji's strong looks got him letters too, but most of them said "Fight me if you're man enough!" or "Know your place!" or "MANLY BATTLE OF YOUTH! WAREHOUSE 33!" or "Battle my disciple, Kenichi! He's history's strongest!"

Shinji never showed up to that last challenge. Of course, he got some... love letters too. Though most of them pretty much read exactly like the challenges, so he often got them confused. Nothing was more awkward than showing up to a challenge and then realizing the 'challenger' was actually in love with him. He'd beat them (as they still did want to fight, only difference was that they wanted to make out afterwards), then they'd confess to/threaten him and he'd awkwardly continue on with his daily life. Yes, there were girls that wanted to fight him. Yes, most of them were hulkish. Yes, he fought them with all he had. They may be girls (well, he wasn't so sure all of them were), but to not be serious was not only an insult to them, but also nearly cost him his life more than a few times. He'd then go home and feel like a bad person.

Shinji had a very weird daily life.

"Fine. It's been calm ever since the curing," Shinji replied dryly. But Minato didn't stop looking concerned. Behind him, Akihiko entered the classroom. Shinji's eyes immediately turned to avoid him. Minato sighed. What the hell was he sighing for?! So what if he didn't want to look at Akihiko?! It wasn't any if his business!

"That's not what I was talking about. You accepted who you are, right? You stopped fighting yourself. Shouldn't you try to make things right between you two?" Minato said, trying his best to help Shinji. Now, Shinji wasn't ungrateful for Minato's help and everything, but this was his life. Not Minato's. Akihiko had pulled him aside before and tried to start a conversation with Shinji, but it always went nowhere. It was exactly the same as before. Facing himself was one thing, but facing Akihiko, facing his friend whose life he ruined when they were so young...

It was all his fault... He had started the fire on purpose... even if he had tried to put it out afterward. He'd just been angry... childish... He made a mistake, but it was no accident. And Shinji had to live with that. There was no point in opening up old wounds.

But still, it wasn't Minato's business. Especially considering that Minato still hadn't moved to "make things right" with Mitsuru and the obvious gap that now existed between him and Labrys.

"What about you, Minato? Are you going to talk to Mitsuru anytime soon? Shouldn't you try to make things right between you two?" Shinji retorted, using Minato's words against him. He didn't even need to bring up Labrys either. It was painfully obvious there was a wall between the two of them and they both knew it. How could Minato tell him what to do when he couldn't even make things right between himself and the two girls who were like family to him?

Minato's expression worsened significantly at Shinjiro's words and, with a horrible expression, Minato left in silence to sit down at his desk. Elizabeth tried to talk to him, but Minato didn't respond, now engrossed in his own thoughts. Maybe Shinji shouldn't have brought that up, but somebody needed to do it. Shinji did think of Minato as his friend, but, because they were friends, Shinji had to help him focus on what he needed to do. Just like Minato did to Shinji when he brought up Akihiko. They had to be tough to one another, but Minato was being too nosy. Too soft. Shinji knew what he needed to do, unlike Minato. He didn't need his reminders. He just... he just didn't want to do it.

It was then that the teacher came into the room.

Shinji's eyes narrowed.

Exam time.

Midterms Day 1 Results:

Akihiko: "It was fine."

Minato: "Huh? That was it?"

Shinjiro: "Tch."

Junpei: "This hospital food sucks!"

Chidori: "The facilities that experimented on and taught me would laugh at such a test."

Mitsuru: "Do they even make difficult tests?"

Aigis: "Gah! How was I supposed to know all that?!"

Yukari: "I think I did okay."

Elizabeth: "Oh my! Is this the limit of human knowledge? How sad."

Labrys: "It's really easy when your body has Wifi."

After class ended, Minato went straight to talk to Mitsuru. However, she was quick! Before he even reached her, she left the classroom, leaving Minato with the very strong impression that she didn't want to talk to him at all.

"H-Hey! Mitsuru?!" Minato exclaimed as he chased after her.

Minato left the classroom, following the red hair that marked Mitsuru as fast as he could. Unfortunately, there was no way he could catch up with her. The mass amount of people between them was increasing as classes let their students out.

In the end, Minato couldn't catch up with Mitsuru. She was gone before he even reached the front doors.

When he did reach the front of the school, Minato sighed. Mitsuru was nowhere to be seen.

He missed his chance.

"Hey... Minato?" A small voice called out to him.

'Mitsuru?!' Minato thought as he turned suddenly. However, instead of Mitsuru, it was Aigis. She was fidgeting a little nervously and seemed to be putting on a smile over an otherwise miserable expression. She waved when he turned to look at her, and he reacted by tilting his head in confusion. What did she want?

"Hi... Senpai. Sorry. Forgot the honorific for a second. Look, I... I wanted to apologize," Aigis said to him.

"Huh? Why?" Minato responded, unsure of why she suddenly. Aigis dropped her eyes to the ground.

"I... made you tell me everything the other day. Mitsuru-senpai was listening and I didn't even notice... I need to apologize to Mitsuru-senpai too for going behind her back like that too. I... I know I'm not exactly a "nice person". I've been bothering you and questioning you and making you dredge up your past all because of my own selfishness. So, I'm sorry. I'll make sure that you get that information no matter what. You have a right to contact your family. That's all I can do to help. Sorry," Aigis said, bowing deeply to him.

[Interesting. I was not expecting her to apologize after that cold treatment she gave to you when she left,] Orpheus commented.

"T-Thank you? I... Well, I was expecting to actually be apologizing today," Minato admitted to a confused Aigis. He clarified, "I lied to Mitsuru all these years. I lied to Labrys too. They both know now and I have to deal with that. I have to take responsibility for my actions."

Aigis nodded. She then pulled out a small pouch from her bag and shoved it into Minato's hands with a smile.

"Here's some chocolate to help you feel better. I know you don't need to eat or you might not even be able to taste it at all, but it's the thought that counts, right?"Aigis said with a cute tilt of her head and a bright smile. "I've done my share of lying too. We both have to take responsibility for our actions, you know? Best of luck to you, senpai," Aigis said with a warm smile as she walked off.

And with that, the two Wild Cards parted ways.

Minato couldn't help the small smile that formed on his face.

'Labrys, Mitsuru... I'll make it up to you two. I promise.'

At the outer gates of Gekkoukan, a teal-haired girl was waiting for her friend.

"Elizabeth-san! How did you do on your test?" Fuuka asked the older girl. Elizabeth smiled as she pumped her fist.

"It was but a meager test of skill! I shall now go home and, as is customary, watch cat videos and make use of social media!" Elizabeth declared, proud of her knowledge of modern day human culture.

"Elizabeth-san, you don't need to shout something like that," Fuuka said, embarrassed by her friend's rambunctious behavior.

"Ah, perhaps you are right," Elizabeth said, a thoughtful expression forming on her face, "Pray tell, do you know how one acquires a cell phone with which to watch said cat videos?"

"You don't have one? That's a little odd. Well, we can go and get one right now if you want to," Fuuka said with a smile. To be honest, her parents wouldn't miss her right away and it would be nice to have a friend's number in her phone. Elizabeth's would be her first number in her phone that wasn't family-related!

'Things are looking up! Now, hopefully, if those other girls try to mess with one of us, we can call the other,' Fuuka thought, excited that she could actually have someone she could call if she needed help.

Well... somebody that wasn't the police, her school, or her parents. Calling any of those numbers would just exacerbate the situation.

"Wonderful! I do would like to keep in contact with all my friends! I'll finally be able to send pictures of these so-called "memes" to Minato!" Elizabeth said excitedly.

Fuuka froze.

"Minato-senpai? That wouldn't happen to be the person people call the "Pimpnato"? The captain of the kendo club, Minato-senpai? Ar-Are you two dating?!" Fuuka nearly shouted, completely unexpecting her friend to call Minato Arisato without any honorifics.

"That would be him, though I know not of this "Pimpnato". We are not currently involved in a relationship. The thought of it, however, does not seem terribly unpleasant," Elizabeth answered with a smile. Fuuka's eyes widened. Minato Arisato, despite being called the "Pimpnato", had a fan club similar in size to that of Akihiko Sanada's! The very same girls that bullied her were most likely members of that fan club! They were fan girls!

Of course, this was a large leap in logic, but Fuuka couldn't quite think of any other reason why those girls would target Elizabeth. The platinum blond was a very nice person.

'Now I understand why they're after Elizabeth! Those fan girls! Darn you, fan girls!'

The rest of the students around Fuuka and Elizabeth stopped and stared at the two of them, and then went on their way, a few of them chuckling as they left.

"Fuuka-san? Why are you shouting about girls that carry fans?" Elizabeth asked.

Fuuka turned beet red as she realized she had been saying what she had been thinking out loud. Fuuka then resolved in her heart to, hopefully someday, at least... maybe... confront this "Pimpnato" and tell him to take control of his jealous fan girls. Of course, she'd have to approach him... and talk to him... and...

No, she couldn't do it! It was too much for her!

"Stupei! Why the hell would you do something like this?!" Yukari shouted at the bed-ridden Junpei. He was covered in bandages and laying in one of the hospital beds, his face mostly covered in bruises. His right arm was in a cast and sling. Junpei laughed weakly.

"Concerned, Yuka-tan? We~ll, maybe you can kiss the booboos and make them all better?" Junpei said jokingly, ignoring her question entirely. Yukari clenched her fists with rage. How could he joke like this?! She saw his blood-covered room! To go this far just to miss a test was insane!

"Damn it, Stupei! You idiot! You don't need to kill yourself just to miss a test! Think about how we all feel!" Yukari exclaimed. Junpei's expression turned serious at that. He looked straight into Yukari's eyes, making sure she saw the pain in his expression.

"Sorry. I'm just... useless. I can't lead the group, I can't get my head out of my ass long enough to notice we're having a test, and I can't even fight that damn Shadow without Akihiko-senpai to help me. I'm weak, Yukari. I've always been weak. So, I decided to fix a few problems all at the same time. I'm useless, but I can still make my way through a few floors. I can't study, but I can buy time so that I can learn. And I'm weak, but I can make myself stronger. I broke my right arm again, Yukari. It didn't heal properly the last time it was broken, but this time will be different. I didn't just do it because of a stupid test. So, don't cry, okay? I wanted this. I wanted this," Junpei said, noticing the tears welling in her eyes. Yukari snapped her head to the side in response.

"Idiot. You're really an idiot, you know that? You even forgot the honorific for my name," Yukari said quietly. Junpei laughed dryly.

"Haha... Yeah. I know. I'm an idiot, so I can only do what an idiot can do," Junpei replied.

The two of them stayed there silently for a while.

The rest of SEES would visit. The rest of SEES would scold him. Even Minato would show up after everyone else left. They'd say hello to each other and make a few jokes with each other, but nothing significant came up in their conversation. They would get a little closer.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Magician Arcana."

However, Junpei remembered the meeting with Yukari more than all the others.

May 19, 2009

Midterms Day 2 Results:

Akihiko: "Wasn't too difficult."

Minato: "Seriously? Was Chidori's tutoring this advanced?! This test can't be this easy!"

Shinjiro: "The hell...?"

Junpei: "I wish some of the nurses here were actually hot."

Chidori: "Stress is needed to summon a Persona, so of course they had me do exams at the facility. Passing meant I was able to keep living. Then I had to fight the other experimental subjects. At least this test is easy."

Mitsuru: "I'm beginning to question the difficulty of the courses here."

Aigis: "Oh, come on! That wasn't even fair!"

Yukari: "I think I-I... did... okay."

Elizabeth: "I do love watching my writing instrument dance across this silly piece of paper!"

Labrys: "Once again, Wifi. Why do I even have to take this test?"

Akihiko sighed as he watched Shinji's form leave the classroom. No matter how many times he pulled him aside and asked him to return to SEES or at least talk to him, it never made a difference. Shinji was surrounded by a stone wall and Akihiko's fists weren't strong enough to break through it.

Mitsuru also left in a hurry, though she was avoiding Minato instead of Akihiko. It seemed as if there was some sort of problem between the two. Did it have to do with the fact that they kissed? Akihiko didn't know. He never had much time for romance. Immersing himself in training, focusing on becoming stronger. That's all he had ever done since Miki died. If he'd been strong enough, he could have gotten in there and busted her door down. If he'd been strong enough, he could have saved her. Akihiko didn't want to lose anybody ever again.

He followed her through the hallway and tapped her lightly on the shoulder once he caught up with her. She turned to look at him, her eyes widening in surprise as she looked upon him.

"A-Akihiko?" She asked, completely not expecting him to be the one to catch her so fast. Minato and her were on opposite sides of the classroom, but Akihiko sat fairly close to her. It made sense he'd be able to catch her.

"Hey, Mitsuru? Can I talk with you for a bit?" Akihiko asked, not quite sure where he was going. He didn't even intend to go after Mitsuru, let alone stop her and talk to her! He needed to talk to Shinji!

But he couldn't leave her alone like this. They were friends and she needed somebody to at least ask her what was wrong. She needed to talk to somebody and, while Akihiko felt he was the worst choice for that, he knew he was the only choice right now.

Mitsuru nodded and pulled him into an empty hallway. Most of the students had left by now (they really wanted to go home). Mitsuru moved to lean against one of the walls of the hallway, crossing her arms as she did so.

"What is it, Akihiko?" Mitsuru said, letting her Ice Queen expression slide over her.

"Mitsuru, are you okay? Did something happen?" Akihiko asked her kindly as he looked directly into her eyes, his expression soft. Mitsuru let out a sigh.

"Akihiko, what would you do if you found out that somebody very close to you had been lying to you for a very long time? And, because of that lie, you realize you were treating them inappropriately for all that time. What would you do?" Mitsuru asked, ignoring his questions and concern.

Akihiko immediately thought of Shinji. He knew there was something odd about Shinji's story. He knew that Shinji was lying to him. When Shinji gave him that notebook... When Shinji told him the fire was his fault, even if it was an accident...

"It would have to be for a good reason. Maybe that person just found it hard to tell me. If that's the case, I'd have to try to understand them. I'd forgive them, just as they would forgive me for me treating them wrongly. After all, it's not like the time we spent together never happened. It could have been a lie, but the memories still exist. Finding out the truth that the person kept hidden would only help you better understand them, right?" Akihiko answered, imagining him and Shinji. Like it or not, they were family. There was nothing Shinji could say that would make him stop thinking of him as a brother.

Mitsuru smiled at his words, but there was still sadness in her eyes.

"I suppose you might be right," Mitsuru said quietly.

With a smile, Akihiko said, "You don't have to blame yourself for everything, you know?"

Akihiko left then, leaving Mitsuru to her thoughts.

"Sir. I do believe this is the right path to go. With this, we'll have some sort of contingency. In a worst case scenario, we'll still have a trump card," Ikutsuki said over the phone. He was sitting in his office presently, his phone pressed to his ear.

{...Fine. It is an investment. Minato Arisato will rebel against us. When that time comes, we need to be prepared. Do it,} the rough, partially roboticized voice replied.

"Thank you, sir. Thank you."

May 20, 2009

Minato was awoken in a rather unusual way.

"We're no strangers to love..."

A voice, singing in English, was right next to his head.

"You know the rules, and so do I~"

He opened his eyes, to see that, in his room, was Elizabeth standing next to his bed, holding an iPhone right next to his head.

"A full commitment's what I'm thinking of.
You wouldn't get this from any other guy."

Minato opened his mouth to say something, but Elizabeth put a finger to her lips and shushed him. He didn't know why he was going along with this ridiculousness, but he decided he might as well see what the purpose of this was.

"I just want to tell you how I'm feeling.
Gotta make you understand!

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down!
Never gonna run around and desert you!
Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye!
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you!"

At this point, Minato sat up, grabbed her phone (she had been far too into the music to keep a good grip on it), silenced the singing, and asked, "Why?"

To which Elizabeth replied, "You have been Rick Rolled by the soft, musical voice that I managed to access with this "cell phone"!" Elizabeth then started laughing, apparently finding the whole ordeal funny. "Haha! Fuuka-san said this was indeed a way that teens had fun with another, but I did not know the jocularity of such an action would lead to a joyous outcome!"

Minato facepalmed.

"Anyway, I've come to deliver a few announcements. You should visit the Musician's Hall at some point next week. The VIP room's guest also required an audience with you sometime in the next two weeks. Finally, the Forge has been updated to reflect your current state. I've also been looking into ways for you to get stronger outside of Tartarus as going in and running into your old companions may end up being rather awkward. I do believe that battling against Shinjiro-san and Chidori-san in training could be the solution," Elizabeth said, delivering the news with a cheerful tone.

"And the remodeling of the Velvet Room?" Minato asked. Elizabeth clasped her hands together joyfully.

"It's only a minor change, so we were able to accomplish it rather easily. This new plan of yours is far better than just preventing others from killing it and letting it run around. However, it will be dangerous. Are you sure you want to do it?" Elizabeth asked.

Minato looked at her and sighed. "Do I have a choice?"

"Yes!" Elizabeth exclaimed."You are free of your destiny! You can come and live with Igor and I in the Velvet Room if you wish. You have an eternity of life ahead of you. Let the one who took your destiny deal with saving the world!"

Minato smiled wryly. Part of him would love to run away. It was that same cowardly part that made him run away so many times before, that made him not chase after people who needed him. And the one who took his destiny was Aigis. He originally hadn't thought that Aigis could possibly be the same person who appeared on the bridge years ago, but it would make sense if she was.

But he couldn't tell her. It could change her for the worst. So, in order to make up for that lie that he told her, he had to at least try to take some of that burden back. He couldn't leave it to her to save the world.

'Still, to think that Elizabeth cared that much for my well-being. I always see her smiling, but... maybe I should try to understand what hides underneath that smile,' Minato thought to himself.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a persona of the World Arcana."

"Yeah. I can't do that. That would be going against my contract, right?"

Elizabeth nodded hesitantly.

Minato stood and stretched, then moved towards the door.

"To offer me something like that... It's tempting. Very tempting. Worst comes to worst then, you know, keep the offer open, okay?" Minato said. Elizabeth smiled as she picked up her phone and pushed the 'Play' button.

"We've known each other for so long.
Your heart's been aching but you're too shy to say it.
Inside we both know what's been going on.
We know the game and we're gonna play it."

Minato left, leaving Elizabeth alone in his room. She quietly sang the next part of this ridiculous song.

"And if you ask me how I'm feeling. Don't tell me you're... too blind to see."

Midterms Day 3 Results:

Akihiko: "That was tiring."

Minato: "It's too easy... I'm scared."

Shinjiro: "What the hell is with this test?!"

Junpei: "Maybe I should be studyi— Oh, wait! Hot nurse approaching!"

Chidori: "They would electrocute me when I got an answer wrong in order to help build stress. This is nothing in comparison... I'm depressing myself with this... Maybe I should stop thinking about the past and eat some chocolate instead. Yeah. That sounds like a good idea. Now, where are Minato's chocolates he brought home?"

Mitsuru: "Too easy. Somebody is getting fired."

Aigis: "When in doubt, pick a random answer! 25% chance of getting it right is better than 0%!"

Yukari: "I... think I-I... d-did... okay... Maybe..."

Elizabeth: "This test had quite a lovely style of font!"

Labrys: "Wifi beats test again!"

"Over here, Minato!"

Outside of the school gates, a lone girl with a white ponytail stood waiting for Minato. He hadn't expected Labrys to be waiting for him like this, but she waved him over nonetheless. He walked up to her, unsure of what to say. Things had been awkward between them for a while and she had still refused all of his attempts to make friendly conversation. She really hated him for lying to her, huh? She'd said that she did last Full Moon, but part of Minato really wished that it wasn't true.

"M-Minato, I-I..." Labrys started before being unable to continue. "ᶜᵒᵐᵉ ᵒᶰ, ᴸᵃᵇʳʸˢ⋅ ʸᵒᵘ ᵖʳᵉᵖᵃʳᵉᵈ ᶠᵒʳ ᵗʰᶦˢ⋅" She clenched her fists and said something to herself, leaving Minato confused. "I... d-d-donuthatyu!" She suddenly exclaimed, making Minato only more confused.

'Did she bite her tongue?' Minato thought confusedly. Was it even possible for her to bite her tongue?

"Donut Hat Yu? Or Don That Yu? I'm sorry, Labrys, but I don't really understand," Minato said with an embarrassed smile. Labrys smacked her cheeks with her hands, leaving two big red marks on her face. The action confused Minato. After all, it looked like she was trying to encourage herself or something. What about Donut Hat Yu required encouragement? Or was it Don That Yu?

"Alright, I can do this! Look, what I'm tryin' to say is that I don't hate ya, Minato! I just kinda, you know, overreacted and stuff. So please... please don't hate me," Labrys said suddenly, dropping her eyes shyly as she fidgeted.

"W-What?" Minato asked, still very, very confused. Why was everybody coming to him so suddenly? Why was Labrys saying she didn't hate him? Why? Were things not getting worse for once?

"It was only just you and me. The two of us were the only ASWs. I told ya what happened to the other ASWs, right? Well, ya know... I was kinda relyin' on you. I know that wasn't fair for you, but I didn't have a choice. For the longest time, I didn't see you as you, ya know? You were, like, a symbol for me. So, when you told me, that symbol got shattered. Now I think I know what my real feelings are. So, don't hate me, okay? You're—! For me you're—! You're... important to me," Labrys said, her face turning bright red at the last admission.

Minato laughed out loud.

"W-What's so funny, you jerk?!" Labrys exclaimed, embarrassed. After a few moments of laughter which really pissed off Labrys, Minato calmed down.

"You, Labrys! You're still the same. I don't hate you. I could never hate you. And I've been worrying about you hating me and despising me all this time, but you've really just been embarrassed, haven't you? That's why you wouldn't let me say anything. You always go to extremes when you get embarrassed. Like that time you learned how sensitive your Papillon Heart is when somebody touches it. You disappeared for a week when that happened," Minato said with a big grin.

"Sh-shut up! That was years ago and it was your fault I made those weird noises!" Labrys exclaimed. She sounded angry, but the smile on her face told Minato she got the message he was trying to give her. The two suddenly burst out in laughter at the memory.

"Thank you, Minato. You pushed me to find something I couldn't have found without your help. I'll show you what I've found as soon as I get it. I still love you, Minato," Labrys whispered as she grabbed onto his hand with bother her hands, bringing it to her chest and giving it an affectionate squeeze.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou choosest to create a Persona of the Fortune Arcana."

And then she released him and skipped away, leaving Minato once again confused.

Although their meeting had gone well enough, that last bit was just... odd. What had he pushed her to find?

Months later, Minato would deeply regret not chasing after her and finding out.

"WOOOH! PIMPNATO! YOU'RE MY IDOL, DUDE!"A random person shouted. Minato's face started to turn red as he entered the school.

Could people please stop calling him that?! He wasn't a pimp at all!

He was just... you know...

Kind to women?

But then Mitsuru and Labrys...

Elizabeth was clinging to him a lot and Chidori was even somewhat kind to him now...

'Holy shit. I think I might be the Pimpnato.'

[Goood. Accept your swag. Use your swag.]

"Junpei-kun! Which doctors are the best interior decorators?" Ikutsuki asked the bed-ridden teen.

Junpei sighed as he answered, "I don't know."

"Room-atologists!" Ikutsuki answered with a big grin on his face. Junpei facepalmed. It had been four hours! How was it even possible that Ikutsuki had four hours worth of hospital puns?!

"Ikutsuki-san, what do you want?" Junpei asked the bespectacled man. Ikutsuki chuckled as he pushed his glasses up with his index finger.

"I've been here for four hours and you now ask that question? Quite frankly, I'm disappointed," Ikutsuki replied.

"Hey! I think— I might have— Damn it, I didn't," Junpei said, downtrodden. Ikutsuki grinned evilly.

"Well, I have news. You'll be retaking the exams next week. The doctor noticed that your bones in your right arm had fused together oddly and, even though it's broken, there are still parts that are odd. He'll have to break it again soon. So, you'll have to fill in the bubble with your left arm. I can't get them to postpone retakes any longer. Now, onto the second matter," Ikutsuki said, readjusting himself in his seat next to Junpei's bed. "What if I told you I could make the right arm of your far better than ever before? If, say for example, we were to do more than just merely break it again? After all, you're working to save the world as its hero! You deserve all the assistance you can get from the Kirijo Group."

Junpei smiled brightly before he suddenly frowned, his right eyebrow raised suspiciously. "What's the catch?"

Ikutsuki only smiled.

"There is no catch," he lied.

May 21, 2009

"Chidori-chan? Where did my chocolates go?" Minato asked as he entered the lounge, using the familiar form of addressing her. Just like she'd grown to call him "Minato-kun", he'd relaxed enough around her to use the "-chan" honorific. Chidori simply shrugged in response. She was drawing something he couldn't quite see while she was sitting there in her uniform, ready for school. They were waiting on Shinji and Elizabeth to get ready before they left.

"No idea," Chidori responded a little too quickly. Minato narrowed his eyes in suspicion and began to walk away when Chidori called out to him.

"I've been hearing you chatting to Elizabeth a lot. You have a plan, don't you?" Chidori asked. Minato turned to her and nodded.

"I do," he answered tersely. Chidori sighed heavily.

"Would you please tell me?" Chidori asked him tiredly. Minato winked at her.

"I'm supposed to show you. Not tell you, right?" Minato said mischievously. Chidori threw her sketchbook to the side in irritation.

"Damn it, Minato, if this plan involves you foolishly risking your life just to make a point, then don't even try it!" Chidori exclaimed, letting her real feelings show through. She was dying! Minato was still living! Even if she wanted him to help her, she didn't want him to die trying! The world would be better off with him around and with her gone. It was a fact that she accepted. The only reason he wasn't telling her must be because...

"What reward isn't without risk?" Minato asked with a smile as he walked towards the kitchen, intending to head towards the main floor of Club Escapade.

Chidori could only frown and mutter "idiot" under her breath again and again.

Midterms Day 4 Results:

Akihiko: "I should probably study more..."

Minato: "I... I can't be this smart... can I?"


Junpei: "Sunday is the day. It's going to happen on Sunday. Damn it, why can't I calm down?! It's just one surgery!"

Chidori: "That idiot's got me distracted. I think I might have missed something."

Mitsuru: "That information about the Shirogane family... was for Minato? Why did Aigis tell me that so suddenly the other day? I was... distracted during the test."

Aigis: "Don't feel down, Aigis! You only need to pass! Who cares about going to university?!"

Yukari: "#Crying"

Elizabeth: "How many innocent trees suffered and died for this test? Truly, such a sacrifice shall not be in vain."

Labrys: "The Wifi was an upgrade I got a little while back, actually. Completely worth it."

"So that's that. What do you think I should do?"

Minato sat on a barstool in Club Escapade. The Club was open and customers were steadily streaming in. Performing on stage tonight was 3NOZ, a band that often rocked the house with strong vocals and even stronger guitar solos. They were playing their trademark song, "Kami Thinks", and their lead singer, Aruhi Miyasuzi was very talented.

Minato, however, was paying no mind to who was playing. Rather he was paying attention to the brown-haired man, Vincent, he was called, who was speaking to him. Minato was, aside from talking to the man, experimenting to see if he could form a Social Link with this person. Sure, he seemed to stand out, but Minato had never really felt an inclination to talk with the man before. Then the man, a seemingly random visitor to the bar, called him over.

Which was odd.

So, under the guise of the performer "Makoto Yuki", Minato had decided to speak to him. Vincent had congratulated him on his performance the other night and the two began to talk. The conversation oddly enough, turned to Minato's current "girl problems" he was having. He wasn't even entirely sure how they got onto the topic.

"Man, I think you should just try to, you know, talk to her. Is there any place where she always is? Chasing her after class doesn't seem like the smartest thing in the book," Vincent said, giving his usual noncommittal shrug.

"That's just the thing. It's exam week, so Student Council isn't meeting and I can't just invade her dorm," Minato replied. Certainly, he could probably walk right in, but he promised he wasn't going to go back until he finished what he needed to. After he did his plan, he could cut all ties with Strega. But with Ikutsuki at the dorm most likely watching him for any suspicious behavior, he couldn't risk giving him any wrong ideas. Besides, dorm invasions had to be against some sort of rule.

Vincent smiled. "You know," he said, "She probably has a cell phone. Couldn't you try calling her? Maybe have somebody else call her and tell her that they want to meet with her."

Minato facepalmed so hard that he swore he somehow hurt his metal hand.

He didn't have a cell phone. Well, he did have one once... At some point. But when you go fight Shadows... property damage was to be expected. The Kirijo Group stopped paying for him to have a cell phone after the seventeenth one. They even got him a Nokia once and, while it survived things that no man ever intended it to face, Minato ultimately lost it in Tartarus. Deep in his gut, Minato still believed the Nokia lived on. As for new cell phones... Luckily, Strega had money.

Wait. Strega had money. He could make armor again.

Wait. He could make armor. He could make armor. If he could make armor, then...

"...!" Minato breathed in as sharply as if he'd suddenly seen the ghost of his father making out with a clown.

If this was a cartoon, a light bulb would have appeared over Minato's head.

'With the right protection... with the ability to make armor...'

His plan (which, to be honest, had been downright stupid and dangerous), now had a key component it had been missing.

"I see I inspired an idea. You know, I once had a problem with two girls. I don't know what I can say about this "Labrys" girl and I haven't met "Mitsuru", but being stuck between two girls isn't pleasant. My advice? Pick one. Pick the most exciting one. Playing it safe is boring, Minato," Vincent said with a smirk. He pulled out his wallet, slammed the money down onto the bar, and stood to leave. "Sorry, but I gotta go. I've got things to do and I'm really not supposed to be here. Plus I don't want to keep the wife waiting. We might meet again."

Vincent put his finger up to the mole underneath his eye and touched it, causing the mole to come away. He put another finger to his lips and winked before flicking the fake mole away. Minato's eyes locked onto the sudden movement, watching the fake mole until it hit the ground. When he looked back up, Vincent had disappeared. Like that American hero, Batman. Huh. The childish part of Minato's mind that had been quiet for far too long mused that perhaps Vincent was Batman. That would be quite the twist.

However, the adult part pondered the oddness of the meeting. Vincent had called him Minato, yet didn't Minato introduce himself as Makoto? And why didn't any Social Link form?

'Who is Vincent? There's something off about him,' Minato thought to himself.

[I doubt it's something significant. If it is, we'll find out eventually. No use worrying about it now,] Orpheus answered.

Minato didn't feel reassured. Later, when he asked the bouncer if he'd seen where Vincent had gone, the bouncer would deny ever seeing a man that matched the description. Minato definitely didn't feel reassured.

"Shinji," Akihiko called out to the man. Shinji was leaning against the wall of an alleyway. They were meeting at the docks, the usual spot where Shinji hung out back when he was a delinquent. Shinji had texted him, telling him to meet him there. It was a few minutes until the Dark Hour, so Akihiko already knew what Shinji was expecting.

Shinji looked up at Akihiko, his eyes shining darkly below his beanie. He moved off the wall and walked towards Akihiko, clenching his fist tightly. He was just going to say it. No hesitation. No more delaying. Perhaps he was rushing into it, perhaps the pressure from exams and everything caused him to rush recklessly, but, nevertheless, he needed to do this. He needed to tell Akihiko the truth. Then he'd let Akihiko beat the shit out of him and cut their bond. Maybe Akihiko would even kill him. At this point, Shinji didn't care.

'Then again, he might not kill me,' Part of Shinji thought before he shut it up. He didn't need to doubt himself.

"Akihiko. I want to tell you the truth. I figure you deserve it."

"This has to do with the fire, doesn't it?" Akihiko asked with an unwavering gaze. Shinji nodded. One minute to Dark Hour. It was getting to be time.

"I accepted part of myself. Minato gave me the key to do that. I had to swallow the guilt and reach a full acceptance of who I am. You see, Akihiko, I am a horrible human being. The fire wasn't an accident. I started it. It's all my fault," Shinji said, guilt and regret clear on his face. He couldn't even raise his eyes to look at Akihiko.

"Why?" Akihiko asked, surprisingly calm about the whole ordeal. Akihiko's expression was as unreadable as a stone wall as he spoke, yet Shinji didn't let the surprise show on his own face. Instead, he merely answered with the most truthful answer he could come up with.

"Because I was scared that I would never find a home. Because I was angry. I blamed everyone else for nobody adopting me. I thought everyone else was holding me back. I was childish, but that's no excuse. I tried to stop the fire once it started, but that doesn't redeem me. The truth is, Akihiko, that being with you ever since that fire has been pure hell. I didn't just burn the orphanage. I burned a part of myself too and the flames won't go out. So, Akihiko, I want you to beat 'em out. Kill me, beat me, the choice is yours. Just do it," Shinji said as the world shifted into that of the Dark Hour. Akhiko clenched his fist, but said nothing. He only stared at Shinji.

"Say something. I know you're angry, so at least hit me for this. Do it," Shinji encouraged.

Yet Akihiko said nothing.

"Don't just stand there. Do something!"

Yet Akihiko did nothing.

"You deserve it! Do it for Miki!" Shinji shouted at Akihiko.

"DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME TO DO IT FOR HER!" Akihiko shouted back twice as loud. He stepped it to Shinji, his Evoker already drawn. He got up into Shinji's face, inches away from him before suddenly headbutting Shinji. He followed up by grabbing Shinji and kneeing him in the gut and then finishing it with an elbow to the back of the head as Shinji doubled over in pain. The elbow dropped Shinji to the ground and Shinji, although still conscious, didn't move to get up.

"Heh. Well, there w—"

"Fight back," Akihiko said coldly, interrupting Shinji. "Get up and fight back. Are you going to tell me you have nothing to fight for? Nothing you need to stand for? Do you want to die right here, you dumbass!"

Shinji didn't move to get up. Akihiko kicked him.

"You don't even deserve my jabs and haymakers. You hear, that, Shinji?! You don't deserve that right! Boxing is meant for two people to fight on equal terms. Get up!" Akihiko shouted as he threw away his Evoker.

Shinji didn't move to get up. Akihiko kicked him again.

"You dumbass! Idiot, moron, quitter! Don't you have any will to fight?! Why are you still alive if you want to die so much?! You want me to kill you?! Do you think Miki would allow that?!" Akihiko screamed.

'That's right. Miki, I'm sorry. You wouldn't want this, would you? And Minato, I chose to follow your lead and join your team. I chose to fight for a chance to save everybody. Dying like this is irresponsible. Tch. How stupid. I can't even die when I need to,' Shinji thought.

"No. She wouldn't."

Akihiko attempted to kick Shinji again, but Shinji caught his foot and pulled him down with it. Shinji took the chance to get to his feet and Akihiko rolled backwards as he fell before getting back to his feet flawlessly. The two faced each other and smirked. They would both fight. They would both show their feelings the only way they knew how. They both weren't much for words, but when it came to fists...

They were both better than Shakespeare.

Under a green sky with an ocean of blood shining behind them, the two men charged each other. In the distance, the sinister tower pierced the heavens while the blows exchanged during this fight rang out through the empty night air. Blow for blow, hit for hit, the two were evenly matched. Akihiko, with his boxing, fought like he always had. Shinji, with his street fighting, fought like he always had. They were two sides of the same coin, two warriors that had walked different paths. Akihiko's speed couldn't beat Shinji's strength. Shinji's strength couldn't beat Akihiko's speed.

The two of them fought and fought until even after the Dark Hour ended. They fought until the sun rose and exposed their battle to the light. Bloodied, battered, and beaten, they finally stopped. The two fell to the ground side-by-side, smiling as if they had become the best of friends once more. Their chests rose and fell as they tried to regain the breath needed to stand, and their fists bleed from the conversation they had.

Akihiko's fists had said, 'Dying is giving up! If you feel so bad about it, then make up for it! I won't forgive you until you make the effort!'

And in reply, Shinji's fists had said, 'I'll show you who is giving up! I'll find a way make it up it!'

And perhaps, if they had lived in a different time, their battle would have become a legend.




"Oh, shit. Exams!" Akihiko shouted, unintentionally cursing.

May 22, 2009

"Shinji!" Minato shouted as the teen in question stumbled/limped into the lounge. Minato was holding a small, empty bag.

"W-What?" Shinji asked, taken aback by the anger in Minato's voice. His lip was bloodied, he had a black eye, and there was a cut beneath the other eye. Overall, Shinji was looking as if he'd received a serious ass kicking. Akihiko, wherever he was, was not looking any better.

"First, you disappear and come back beaten up only a few hours before school, then you almost oversleep school and then Chidori-chan finds this in your room," Minato said, motioning to the bag. It was the very same small bag Aigis had given him that had previously had chocolate in it. Previously. From her spot on the couch in the lounge, Chidori smiled maliciously.

"I'm innocent. Look, I bet that she ate it and planted it in my room. Think about it, why was she even in my room?" Shinji replied.

"I was merely cleaning that pigsty you call a room. You dare have the gall to blame me after I was trying so hard to be kind?" Chidori retorted coldly.

"After your "tutoring", I think I have the right to blame you."

"Is that what this is about? Well, you'd be doing better on your tests if you didn't stay out all night and fight, you delinquent scum."

"Maybe I wouldn't need to go and leave this place if you weren't always such a freakin' icy bitch!"

"Oh, and who do you think provokes that response? You're the one who forces me to go to such extremes."

"Hey, Minato. I think we should cure this girl. It's obvious her Persona is driving her insane," Shinji said to Minato, his glare focused on Chidori.

"Ha. Like I'd be willing to let myself turn into some sort of monster for a solution which only barely worked once and for a cause that barely has any proof to back it up. That's why I tasked Minato with finding a way to prove he can save the world. Just as he has placed faith in me, I have placed faith in him," Chidori replied, glaring at Shinji. Both Chidori and Shinji then looked at Minato, wanting him to enter the fray and say something.

"Come on, don't you think we should see what she's really like and cure her?"

"Please do tell this barbarian that he knows absolutely nothing and he should leave the problem alone for now, Minato-kun."

Their looks intensified as they each moved closer to him, each of them seemingly gigantic to his form which seemed to be shrinking by the second.

Minato silently looked at the ground, his shoulders shaking.




"I just... wanted some chocolate..." He said sadly.

Oddly enough, those lonely words caused them to back off.

Sometime in the near future, Minato would need to get these two to work together and stop fighting... His plan would not work if they were unable to function as a team.

Midterms Day 5 Results:

Akihiko: "...My foster parents are going to kill me..."

Minato: "Am I a genius? H-Has the god of education smiled upon me?"

Shinjiro: "Huh. I did okay."

Junpei: "They're going to do more than just the arm? Sure, the idea of stabilizing my body or whatever makes sense, but... I dunno. Can I really trust these guys?"

Chidori: "...I wonder if Minato-kun has more chocolate?"

Mitsuru: "Exams were easy. After them, though... I won't run away. If Minato wants to talk, I'll let him approach me. I'll give him the choice."

Aigis: "I just... Why does the god of education hate me?"

Yukari: "#ROFC (Rolling On Floor Crying)"

Elizabeth: "This is quite the game! I do love spotting the errors in the test and writing helpful notes to educate the test creators!"

Labrys: "Ya know, I'm beginnin' to think that school was made for machines rather than humans. It's obviously easier for us."

Mitsuru didn't run away immediately after class. Noticing this, Minato sighed in relief as he moved towards her. She was looking towards him as he made his way across the classroom, expecting his coming. She was biting her thumb nervously, clearly not quite sure if waiting around for him was the best idea. Nevertheless, she waited.

"Hey," Minato greeted.

"Hello," Mitsuru replied.

A few moments of silence passed between them.

'How do I start this?! Do I just apologize for lying or do I apologize for having her find out secondhand because I told Aigis? Do I try to start it casually and work up to it? I really didn't think this through!' Minato thought frantically.

'What do I do?! Do I let him speak or should I go first? Should I start with apologizing for being so inconsiderate or should I try to be casual with him so he's in a good mood? Come on, Mitsuru, you should have thought this through!' Mitsuru thought frantically.

After what seemed to be the longest couple of seconds, Minato spoke.

"Umm... You wanna head to the roof? I think we should talk somewhere quiet," Minato asked.

"Y-Yes... Let's."

""I'm sorry!""

At the rooftop, the two apologized at the same time.

"No, I should be apologizing! I lied to you for years and deceived you!"

"No, but I need to apologize to you as well! You were treated as a machine for years by me and the Kirijo Group because we automatically assumed you were an ASW! We robbed you of your childhood!"

"No, but I didn't deny it! It's my fault!"

"Yes, but your parents had just died! What were you supposed to do?!"

"...Right," Minato said, not having a proper response for that. Mitsuru reached a hand out towards him, but retracted it, the troubled expression on her face mirroring his.

"Hey, how old are you?" Mitsuru asked, hoping to change the subject. Minato smiled at that.

"Huh. I barely keep track of my own age. Let me think... I was born January 31st, 1992... So, I'm 17. A year younger than you, Mitsuru," Minato answered. Mitsuru let out a sigh and then looked towards him, smiling.

"I can't believe I'm a year older than you. "My bodyguard" has really been a kid all this time. It must have been hard for you to look after me at such a young age," Mitsuru said as she crossed her arms. Minato shrugged.

"Labrys really took care of both of us. I just was there to fight off the Shadows at night."

Mitsuru shook her head. "No, that's not true. You did a lot more than that. We never even celebrated your birthday..." Mitsuru trailed off, the expression on her face distant. Then her eyes seemed to focus and she charged forward to jab at Minato's chest with her finger, a determined look in her eyes. "We need to celebrate your birthday next year. I won't hear any excuses! I'll plan the whole thing myself! It will be the largest party you have ever seen, you hear! So you better make sure you stay safe!" Mitsuru exclaimed. Minato tried to move closer to her to comfort her, when Mitsuru suddenly shouted.

"Damn it, I don't want this! I don't want you wandering around out there by yourself doing who the hell knows what and not even telling me! I don't want this guilt! I don't want any secrets between us! I don't want to feel so powerless to help the one person who has always been there for me! I don't want to be going through all this angst all the time! I don't want any of it! What I want is," Mitsuru trailed off, her eyes focused on the floor. "Why can't we just go back to how things used to be...?"

Minato embraced her.

"We've changed and we keep on slowly changing every day. We can't go back to how things were before. I can't go back to who I was before. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing," Minato said gently as he stroked her back. "I'm sorry for lying to you. I'm thankful that you don't hate me because of it. I'm sorry for not telling you what I'm doing or where I'm going, but I need to keep these secrets, at least for a little longer. It's not your fault because it's mine. You aren't powerless to help me because the mere fact that you exist helps me every day."

Minato responded to each of her worries with ease, understanding her and what she needed him to say. With a small smile, Mitsuru hugged him back, holding onto him as tightly as she ever had.

"Shinji says we always blame ourselves for everything, so that's where the angst comes from. But don't worry. We may be changing slowly, but we're still changing. As long as we have people with us to remind us that we're not alone, that we can be victims sometimes, we'll be fine. Until we can reach the point where we're no longer blaming ourselves, we'll just have to rely on others to remind us that it doesn't have to always be our fault, Mitsuru. Right now, we dramatize things way too much. We don't need to be so angsty and melodramatic, you know? It's okay to laugh," Minato said with a smile.

"Yes... I suppose it is," Mitsuru replied, trailing off in thought.

"Hey, Mitsuru? What did Ikutsuki-san say when his joke list got blown away in the wind?" Minato asked, releasing the hug.

"I... don't know," Mitsuru replied, still introspective.

"He said, "Oh well, I guess it's back to square pun!""




"Ahahahahaahahahahahngk! O-Oh, God, that was— Hahahaha! That was terrible! Hahahahahaha! I-I can't, haha, b-breathe! Hahaha! O-ow my stomach, hahahaha!" Mitsuru then burst out in laughter. She was doubled over laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. The joke wasn't even that funny, but the timing and the fact that Minato of all people did it was enough. Minato smiled at her before soon joining her in her laughter.

Eventually, she calmed down and managed to look at him with a bright smile on her face. One he hadn't seen since she was a little kid.

"Thou shalt have our blessing when thou chooses to create a Persona of the Empress Arcana."

"Anyway, Minato, Aigis-chan told me everything. How she was trying to get the Shirogane's contact information in order to barter with you so she could find out about what happened ten years ago. I've got the information with me right now. I think you deserve it," Mitsuru said happily as she pulled the paper out from her pocket. Minato took it, gave her a quick hug and, with a quick exchanging of goodbyes, he was off. He'd prepare himself tonight.

Tomorrow he'd make the call.

May 23, 2009

Midterms Final Round:

Akihiko: "It wasn't a K.O. Looks like we have to go to the score cards."

Minato: "Wow. That was pretty good. "


Junpei: "If I can get my pitching arm back, then it's completely worth it!"

Chidori: "...I keep doodling pictures of Minato-kun when I finish the test. Odd. I was hoping my subconscious wanted to doodle something more challenging."

Mitsuru: "I have the feeling I didn't get first this year."

Aigis: "Hahahahaha! I survived! Yukari-chan, we're going out for ice cream!"

Yukari: "...Ice cream sounds pretty good right now."

Elizabeth: "Awww! Is it over already?"

Labrys: "I get the distinct feeling that Mitsuru and Minato became closer. I need to intervene in that. I won't let her win!"

Minato put a coin into the pay phone. His hands shaking, he dialed the number.

It rang several times before an odd, low tone played. Minato remembered this. His grandfather was paranoid. In order to contact him directly, his parents needed to say a pass phrase. A pass phrase that they taught him at a young age. After his uncle passed away without children, Minato was heavily analyzed by his family members to see if he had what it took to become the next Shirogane family detective. This pass phrase was to be used in case of an emergency or in case a vital, time-sensitive piece of information needed to be given without delay. Day after day, they had made him learn this. There was no way he would forget it.

"You know my methods, Watson," he replied.

A high-pitched beep played and then a gruff, familiar voice answered.

{What took you so long, grandson?}

SWS: Akihiko: Facing the Past

I couldn't forgive Shinji. I know I'm a hypocrite. I know I had told Mitsuru I would forgive somebody if I got into situation like this, but...

I couldn't. Not when he acts like a coward. If, back then, he were the Shinji I had always known, then maybe. But he wasn't.

Part of me had really wanted to kill him, to crush his throat right there, but Miki would never approve. She loved us both and hated when we fought each other. The thought of us dying would instantly bring tears to her eyes. She acted tough on the outside, but she was the most fragile girl on the inside. She was the type of girl you'd want to protect with all your heart. Eventually, our fighting grew less and less dangerous until we finally gained her approval. Sparring was allowed.

I fought Shinji back then because I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't kill him, but if I could get him to fight back, then there was hope. Hope that he could change and right the wrongs of the past. Hope that he could become somebody that I could forgive. I could never say all this to him back then. I was bad with words. I could only figure out what I think or what I want after a good fight. In the end, we were the same. By fighting each other, we both learned what we wanted.

I wanted my brother to live and become better.

He wanted to redeem himself.

I had thought back then that, 'It might be possible that we'll be able to hang out like we used to. I'll forgive him when I can actually see the Shinji that I used to know. I'll only forgive him then. That's a future he has to work towards, but I believe he can do it. If my brother puts his mind to it, he can pull a stop sign out of the ground and beat Shadows to death with it. How can this be harder than that?'

And, as it turned out later, I was right to put my faith in him.

Omake: June 21, 2003: Papillon Hearts

"Hey, Labrys-san? What's this?"

"Gwah! Fumyaaaa! Uwaah... P-Please... do-don't touch..."


"Y-You b-b-bastard... Hng! T-that's u-unf-Ah! Pl-please, I d-don't think I c-can t-take anymore! I-I'm gonna b-break!"

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO DOING IN HERE?!" Mitsuru screamed as she ran into the room swinging her rapier around wildly.

Labrys was on the ground, her face red and sweat-covered (so realistic!) as she panted heavily and shivered. Minato, meanwhile was crouched over her, a confused look on his face as he rubbed a small piece of metal under her ponytail. However, after seeing the anger on her face, Minato switched his armor to Pixie's.

"I'm innocent!" He exclaimed before using Trafuri to teleport out of the dangerous situation. Mitsuru glared at where he used to be before she shifted her gaze to Labrys.

"Have fun?" She asked angrily.

Still panting and unable to talk (and more than a little dazed), Labrys nodded.

Labrys, out of embarrassment, disappeared for for an entire week after that.

Next Chapter: Fusion Rampage!

Junpei undergoes surgery to fix his arm! Minato makes a very important phone call! And then everybody is up for fusing! Aigis wants the Velvet Room, Minato wants the Velvet Room, and Igor wants them to leave him alone! The Forge has changed, and a familiar face now calls it his home! And wait, somebody is waiting for Minato in the Musician's Hall?! And the Reaper wants to talk to him?! What about C.Y.F.R.? Will they manage to do some team building exercises?!

Don't miss the next chapter of M1N470!

A/N: Quick announcements! First, the poll is done! I'll be starting up a forum on this website by the next time I update this story. The two people who voted against it are still welcome to come join us.

Fandom Flux, the podcast I'm in, has moved to Youtube! Link is on my profile! I first appear in Episode 4 and then become a recurring cast member alongside Slicerness, Casey W, and Kenchi618!

And thanks, Mr. Haziq, for the inspiration to do some really awesome Vincent stuff. The idea of having Minato and Vincent talk was really awesome and will now lead to an even more awesome story thing. He deserves full credit for inspiring that entire scene with his brilliant idea.

Now, There was a lot of Mitsuru in this chapter. For those who prefer Labrys, she'll be getting a very, very big spotlight, but not for a while. As for Chidori, since people seem to like her and Minato a lot, I won't be forgetting her at all. She's much too fun to write.

So... we'll be seeing a lot of Chidori and Elizabeth now, with less of a focus on Labrys and Mitsuru for a while. And Junpei's "surgery" will be rather... interesting. After all, Ikutsuki is completely trustworthy.

Also, for those of you who don't know, this Vincent is from one of the endings of Catherine. Yes, that ending. Yes, it will be expanded upon. What? Don't know the game Catherine? Don't worry. His stuff will be explained when it matters more.

I planted a lot of seeds for future plot stuff in this chapter, so look forward to them growing up! :D I also erased a lot of the original omake. I felt like it was getting too intense.

Oh, and Minato's Grandpa Shirogane is not a nice person. You'll find out next chapter.


Never say that I do nothing for you guys :3 Zero-Senpai notices all of you. :D

Now, I just want to say, this story is close to piercing the heavens and reaching 400 reviews. I never even dreamed I'd get this far with this fic (though I wanted to...). Thank you so, so much! I'm not worthy! Now, if everyone reviewed... I could pretty much double my review count... then I could dominate the world... Seriously, though. Thank you. I really am not worthy!

After all... I Rick Rolled ALL of you! MUAHAHAHA!

Review Reply Time!:

Minikun: No. Nonononono! NOT MARA!

Uvon: *Super Big Applause*

monhanfan4g: I hope this chapter mixes the light and dark tones well. And yeah... He hasn't told her... Hehehe...

Will: You think that's where this story will take a new turn? Man, your mind will be blown at the next Full Moon then. :D Shinji's Persona didn't change... yet. It's close, though. And I threw in a few references :3

psychoyoshi79: Yeah... Aigis isn't likable right now. She's just desperate and obsessed and finding out her past right now. Once she does, however... that's when the development starts. And Mitsuru is a total sweetheart.

Fallen Freedom: I told her hai :D AigisHidetoshi? Coming right up! I'll explain Akinari later... Will thrown in more MinaChi... And Jin Shirato will be very, very important after the next Full Moon. He'll be assigned a very important job that may change him for the better.

KinZer0:...You're awesome. Thank you very much for the kind words.


BloodBoredom: Thank you! Fixed it!

stoke66: Thanks, man! Aigis and Yukari will get their chance to develop soon (Aigis will probably get hers sooner rather than later).

overlord7: Thanks!

Sacchin: He's da Original Pimpnato! Watch out for his swagger!

salman21: Chihiro level 9... I'm scared...

sidestory: There won't be a Social Link between the two Wild Cards. At least not yet. I kind of want their bond to be one that isn't defined by Social Links. And thank you for having the dedication to list out all those Slinks.

droffatsstaford: Yes, yes it was a reference. And now it's a thing. REJOICE!

Bboy46: Might not have a signing of the book with Katsuragi appearing, but... maybe... Anyway, as we see in this chapter, they bonded with Minato, but Shinji and Chidori have yet to bond with each other. And don't get me started on Elizabeth. Reference wasn't intended, but, to me, she reminds of Margaret from No More Heroes 2. I listen to her song, Philistine, as I write her parts in the story.

Sorata Shioya: Thank you so much for updating the TV Tropes page! You are a boss! A boss, I say!

Undying Soul98: Fallout isn't actually that bad. It shows how far they've come since this story began. Their bond is too strong for something like this to wreck it. More Elizabeth in this and upcoming chapters, and more Reaper next chapter!


Question of the Chapter: It's been a long time, so let me ask this one more time. What armors/Personae do you want Minato to get? You decide!

REVIEW, FAVORITE, FOLLOW! Pretty please with chocolate on top?