"Hey, Minato-kun?" My company asked me. "What're you thinking about right now?" I paused to look at her, and she had a truly inquisitive look in her eyes.
The girl was Yukari Takeba- one of my dorm mates and close friends. Her brown eyes seemed to sparkle in the light of the dorm lounge and her stare was loving and calm. There was no sense of ulterior motives behind it- she actually wanted to know what I was thinking about.
Why did I find that so weird? Maybe it was I was so used to being subtly judged by everyone else in my daily life, it felt weird to not be? Maybe it was because my passing thoughts were the weirdest things? I wasn't able to narrow down a reason, and that bothered me.
"Nothing special, really." I lied. It was a pretty easy lie nonetheless, considering I never changed my facial expression. Yukari gave a sigh and got off the couch we were both sitting on.
"Sometimes, I really wish you'd just open up to me. It sucks not knowing anything about you." She folded her arms over her chest and walked away from the lounge and up the stairs.
"Yo, Yuka-tan! What's the matter with you?" I heard Junpei coming down the stairs trying to greet her, but all he got was a resounding "humph" before she continued upstairs. A rather confused Junpei made his way down the stairs and sat down on the couch opposite where I was sitting.
"Dude, what's up with her?" He asked me, pulling out his PSP and starting a round of what I assumed was Dissidia Final Fantasy. I sighed.
"We were talking for a little bit, then she got mad because I wouldn't tell her what I was thinking about." I rolled my eyes and pulled out my phone, flipping it up to see what time it was. It was only shortly after class, as I had sat down with Yukari rather quickly after I had gotten home.
"Well, can you blame her?" He said, frantically mashing the buttons on the PSP. "I mean, its not like you're someone who really shares a lot about yourself. Hell, I'm supposed to be your best friend, but I hardly know anything about you."
…Damn. I guess he did have a point. But to be fair, I never realized just how high I had built the walls around me. Looking back, there was certainly some times where my frosty attitude and expressionless demeanor worked against me.
"The weird thing is though, is that I kind of feel okay with it. I'm actually kind of content to fade into the background and not draw a whole lot of attention to myself." I sighed and placed my hands in the pockets of my pants. "I guess I always have that mentality since I'm never in one single place for very long."
"…You say something?" At this point, Junpei had unglued his eyes from the screen of his video game to look at me, and also make himself comfortable.
See what I mean? I'm too distant around people, but they don't even pay attention when I try and open up. Oh well, it's my own fault for thinking now would be the time for things to change.
"Not really, no. Its not important." I rose up off the couch with my hands still in my pockets. "Do me a favour and tell that if anyone wonders where I went, I'm out at Paulownia, okay?" I walked over to the door and picked up my winter coat from off the rack and buttoned it up.
"You got it!" Junpei remarked, returning to his game. I rolled my eyes as I stepped out of the dorm.
On the train ride to Paulownia, I was looking at my phone when I was suddenly brought back to the memory of Yukari from earlier on today. It was weird, but when she asked me what I was thinking about, the way her eyes looked made me think of someone else.
I wracked my brain for all the possibilities of when I had seen someone with those eyes. I thought for the entire train ride there, my headphones blocking out the sounds of the bustling train and world around me.
But then, I figured it out. I remembered when I had seen that expression before. Elizabeth had worn that expression when her and I had last talked. Not like when I had last been to the Velvet Room, but when I had taken her out of the room and we had paused our adventures around my school in order for the two of us to talk.
Elizabeth's child-like attitude towards the world and how it worked astounded her. She knew very little about anything at all, and it was pretty endearing. I've had to explain the customs and workings of our world and society over various outing to hotspots in Port Island, and she took it all in with merriment and a childlike joy.
I smiled thinking about her. No matter what situation I was in, Elizabeth always found a way to bring a smile to my face.
The train ground to a halt and I stepped off, stretching out my arms and my back. The ride was only a few minutes long, but I felt like I had cramped up in that time.
…Maybe I should go and see her, just to check up on her. It must get lonely with it being her and Igor almost all of the time...
When I got inside Paulownia, I looked and saw a major influx of people in the main plaza. There were people lined up and out the door for Mandragora and Game Panic- not hard to believe, but something I never truly understood. Regardless, I passed them by, my headphones tuning them out. Instead, I went for the back alley exit from Paulownia, which housed a door to the Velvet Room.
There were a couple of adults and some older teenagers smoking cigarettes standing outside, but they were either preoccupied with their phones or in their own conversations to notice some high-school teenager slip through a magical blue door that led to another dimension.
Upon my arrival, I sat down in the chair that I always sat in and removed my headphones, letting them hang as I paused my music.
"Welcome to the Velvet Room, Minato. How may I assist you?" Elizabeth asked. When I walked in, I swore I could've seen her smile just a little. I shoved my hands into the pocket of my coat and gave a short yawn.
"How are you today, Elizabeth?" I asked, gauging both her and Igor's reaction. To my expected prediction, Igor did nothing but sit with his hands under his nose, his beady eyes never blinking and that smile never fading. However, Elizabeth blushed for a few moments before she redeemed herself.
"I'm quite well, Minato. You seem to be in a good mood tonight." She remarked, her eyes fixated upon me in the mono-coloured room. I nodded to her.
"Thank you, Elizabeth. I know this is somewhat out of the ordinary, but do you want to go anywhere?" I asked her. Elizabeth lit up like a lightbulb as a wide smile appeared on her face.
"I'm quite exhilarated by the oppourtunity. However, after our last outing, I cannot think of another place I would want to go…" She paused, putting one of her gloved hands to her chin in contemplation.
"Well, I know a place." I spoke up. "It's just the coffee place in the mall, but it's not busy right now."
"I remember seeing advertisements for something called 'Pheromone Coffee' when I was with you last. I must wonder though- how would someone go about putting scents into a beverage?" I smiled and tried my best to hide a chuckle.
"They're not actual scents, Elizabeth…" I remarked as she joined me, placing my Compendium upon Igor's table and joining me upon my arm. I looked at Igor, and for the first time tonight, he moved by giving me a short but knowing nod. Sighing a metaphorical breath of relief, I exited the Velvet Room with Elizabeth in tow.
When we got out of the Velvet Room, the alleyway was clear. Glad that no one saw us emerge and having quick flashbacks to a few close calls, the two of us exited the alley and got into the actual mall.
Elizabeth seemed to have an overload of nostalgia upon entering Paulownia. This was actually the first place she wanted to go on our first "date", and I obliged. I looked at her and saw that she had the same sense of wonder and joy that she did the last time she had come here.
…Igor really does need to let her out more often. For all the times I had come here, this place was pretty mundane in my eyes.
We walked into the coffee shop, and as I predicted, the place was a ghost town. Well… ghost town relative to the absolute zoo that was Game Panic and Mandragora. There were still people here, but just not as many.
We both ordered a cup of coffee and we sat down in a small booth away from everyone else.
"So, this is the 'Pheromone Coffee' you told me about. Are you sure they don't blend scents into this beverage?" She asked me, one of her eyebrows raised. I laughed and smiled.
"I'm quite sure, Elizabeth. They call it that because it's supposed to stimulate your own pheromones, or something like that." I shrugged. I remembered hearing an explanation as to why it was called that a long time ago, but I couldn't recall anything about that now.
Elizabeth held the cup in both of her gloved hands and took a precautious sip. Normally, first-time coffee drinkers can have a myriad of reactions, but Elizabeth sat there calm and sighed.
"What a marvelous taste! I do say that I'm feeling quite warm even in my toes!" To be fair, considering this woman did manage to eat fourteen meals in the process of a few hours at the strip mall, I shouldn't be surprised that she could drink coffee without a problem. Black coffee, nonetheless.
"I take that you like it?" I asked her, and I got a calm nod in reply.
"So tell me… what do people do at places like these? I can't imagine that coming here only for the coffee would be all that exciting." I shrugged.
"Well, there's actually a bunch of stuff you can do. Whenever I come here, I'd usually come with my music and some homework and work on that for a few hours. The coffee actually helps me focus."
A moderately unnerving thought- I just shared more to Elizabeth in that one sentence than I did with Junpei in the past week. He's supposed to be my best friend, and he doesn't even know that I come here to work on homework… Weird.
"Minato?" Elizabeth saying my name snapped me out of my thoughts. "Is something the matter? You seem distraught."
"Eh? I guess that I was just kinda concerned by the fact that I've told you more about myself as a person than I have my best friend."
An even more unnerving, but potentially good thought- I said that without thinking, instead of my default 'nothing really' that I give to almost everyone else.
"And why is that?" Elizabeth took another sip and stared at me. I looked and saw that she had those same, warm look in her eyes Yukari did not even an hour ago. The only difference was that her golden yellow eyes seemed to look at me with nothing but wonder and admiration. She was genuinely curious, and she looked genuinely concerned.
"…It's kind of a long story, but I'll explain the best I can." I sighed and took a sip of my coffee. God knows I'll need it.
Over the next few hours, I explained my entire life story to Elizabeth. I talked about all I remembered about my childhood, some of the places I had been before I got to Port Island, some stuff relating to Personae that I knew or had figured out for myself…
And the best part about it was that Elizabeth listened. Rarely did she interject, and even then she only did that to learn more about whatever subject I was talking about- but she was attentive through the whole thing.
We had a few more cups of coffee throughout the night, and I might have gotten Elizabeth hooked on the stuff. Oops.
As we left, we paused and looked at the gigantic fountain in the middle of the plaza. The crowds had died down because it had gotten late, and it was a nice feeling.
"Do you remember this?" I asked Elizabeth, pointing to the fountain. The first time she saw the fountain, she dumped the equivalent of a Tartarus run in yen into that fountain, under the premise that she would be granted a wish.
"Yes. The fountain that is supposed to house spirits rumored to grant wishes." She paused and gave a pout. "Unfortunately, I know what I want to wish for now, but I have no money to offer the spirits. I sighed and rooted around the pockets of my coat and gave her the small amounts of change left over from our coffee.
"Use this." I told her, giving her the change. "It's nothing like the amount you had before, but I think this will suffice also, so long as you know what to wish for." Nodding, we both walked up to the fountain and she tossed the small amount of coin into the fountain. It landed with a quiet 'plop' and we walked away.
We reached the alley leading back to the Velvet Room and I sighed.
"I hope you had fun tonight. You mostly just listened to me talk, but I hope that was fun enough." Elizabeth said nothing, but instead wore a large smirk. Curious, I anticipated what she would do next, but was caught off guard when she pulled me in for a soft, romantic kiss.
Elizabeth, to put it simply, was an amazing kisser. I didn't even know why or how that was possible, but I wasn't going to argue with it. One of my arms found a way around her waist, and her gloved hands found their way into my hair as we kissed.
"…What are you doing?" I asked with short breath as we parted.
"Is it not obvious, Minato? I am granting my wish." She drew me in for another kiss and I moaned softly.
"Elizabeth…" I sighed out as we parted. "I… I didn't expect this."
"We both learned a lot about each other tonight, and I thank for both the oppourtunity and the knowledge." She smiled at me, and I could sense she was genuinely thankful.
"Good night, Elizabeth." I kissed her cheek before she started to walk towards the Velvet Room. I wasn't too sure, but I could swear she was swooning and blushing all the while.
…Figuring now would be a good time to get back to the dorm; I put my headphones on and resumed my music. If anyone asked, I'd just tell them that nothing special happened.
A/N: I'm not even sure where this came from. To be fair, I don't see many pairings involving the Velvet Siblings and I feel like they do deserve it. The three of them are all pretty good characters and pretty funny to boot. Regardless, this one is pretty out of the ordinary, but I hope you guys like it!