1013: Persona 3: Trade Me – Chapter 23Posted: April 7, 2015
Ert: Well this is a nice comfortable old set up
Cornelia: The three amigos front and center!
Nora: Well, only one place left he can be hiding. With John Freeman the others should have no problem taking him down. So, let’s get going
(Song Counter: 22)
Ert: Because those things add SO much.
Aila awoke with a start in her own bed. When she shot up and looked around, she was distressed to see that the black-haired boy was gone. She’d been left with so few answers and a dozen more questions…it looked like she wouldn’t be able to find out from Ryoji what was going on with her.
Nora: Yeah, that would make this roundabout of a plot actually go somewhere, and we can’t have that!
As she shook off the white fog in her brain, she wondered again why he was present inside her.
Cornelia: BECAUSE RAISINS!
Now that she really thought about it, she could sense his soul lounging in the depths her mind.
Ert: No you can’t, fuck you.
(Mary Sue Counter: 39)
She’d must’ve known that he was there before. She just hadn’t given it much notice, or really recognized him at first.
Ert: NO! NO NO NO! NO YOU FUCKING COULDN’T!
(Mary Sue Counter: 40)
A grumble sounded at her side. She thought she’d find Shinjiro with her, but it was Akihiko. Both relief and disappointment mixed within her (though she couldn’t tell why).
Cornelia: Methinks Aila wants to be double penetrated. It can be pretty fun once you get it down right. Tends to start out pretty messy though.
Nora: How many people does she want to bone/want to bone here? We’re gonna need a freaking spread sheet to keep track of them at this rate.
The silverette was facing her way, dead asleep. He was moving around a bit, probably getting ready to wake up soon.
Ert: Is he dead asleep or waking up soon? Dead sleep implies deeply asleep, not about to get up?
Aila’s hand rose to his short hair, stroking it lightly. It seemed to hit his internal “snooze” button; he’d most likely remain in bed for a bit longer.
Nora: Because all human beings come equipped with a snooze button. It’s right next to the video player.
Aila shook her head again as she smiled at the man beside her, but noticed something strange. Her hair, as she moved, fluttered past her shoulders. She rose for the bathroom, bringing some of the strands in front of her face. It had gotten longer.
Nora: It tends to do that honey. It’s why the man with the scissors cuts it every month or two.
As she switched on the bathroom light, she nearly let out a sharp cry. Her brown roots had started showing-but a normal touch up wouldn’t be enough to cover them. Overnight, her chocolate hair had grown back nearly 3 inches, trying to push down the locks of pink that she’d struggled to maintain. Swiftly, Aila began looking for her hair dye. The little pink bottle wasn’t even halfway drained as she shook it in her hand. It would be more than enough to cover up her natural color. She also took a pair of scissors and viciously sawed at the strands to return them to her previous length.
She wouldn’t let them come back. It didn’t matter why or how her hair tried to reset itself. She’d spend the rest of her life fighting back the change if she had to.
Cornelia: And her hair is magically growing back and rejecting hair dye because…it’s symbolic?
Ert: Persona had a character’s repressed homosexuality be represented by a flirty giant man dual wielding Mars symbols, and even by Persona standards this symbolism is shoehorned. At least Persona got its symbolism in through cool design and interesting ideas. Not just “The thing happened because cymbalism”
Nora: And the universe is acknowledging her hair as blocking the memories and is trying to counter it or something? Because pink hair dye blocks out memories? And memories change your hair color? Does even the author know what’s going on here?
Akihiko was relieved to see Aila step back outside of the store. He sometimes felt an intense panic whenever she left his side. It was a sign of weakness, and he knew it, but something in his heart kept him from trying to fight it back. When the girl caught his look, a laugh escaped her throat.
Ert: No, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of you being a psycho.
“What?” Akihiko asked. Aila put her fingers over her lips.
“You don’t have to look so alarmed when I go off on my own,” she stated. “We’re Shadow free during the day, so you don’t have to worry about me.” Akihiko’s ears went red.
Cornelia: But who am I supposed to imagine that I’m fucking while you’re gone? Shinji? Then again knowing Aila she’s probably hoping that happens. While also hoping it doesn’t happen because the inner workings of her mind make fucking TIME CUBE look easy to understand by comparison.
“I-I know. I just…want to ensure that you don’t get lost.” It was a lame excuse and he openly sighed at it.
Nora: I can get behind people saying stupid things sometimes, because we humans can be shockingly inelegant at times, but can you make it a little more interesting to read? Please?
She seemed to adore him for his concern, but he didn’t know what her true feelings were.
Cornelia: NO ONE DOES!
Nonetheless, he decided to just take joy in the fact that she was wearing the ribbon he’d bought her. It was interlaced in her short pink bob with a braid that flowed down her right temple. Oddly enough, she wore a woven red beanie to hid the top of her head, making the purple and blue stream disappear beneath it. He hadn’t seen her wear hats much before, but it’d become her new obsession. Akihiko thought to ask her about it, but decided that it was nothing to be concerned about.
Ert: I guess outfits suddenly became important all of the sudden.
“Let’s head home,” Aila said. As they began walking side-by-side, Akihiko felt a burning desire to reach out for her hand. However, she had a small bag taking up her fingers’ attention.
“What is that?” He inquired.
“Just something I ordered last week,” she answered casually. “It’s for Shinjiro.”
Nora: Why did you order something and then pick it up at a store when you could’ve had it delivered to your apartment?
“Oh.” Akihiko hummed, trying to recall when she’d had time to get something for his best friend.
Cornelia: We’ve skipped entire months, sometime in there would be a good bet.
His thoughts were interrupted by a deep grumble in his stomach.
“Hungry?” Aila giggled.
“I guess. I had some protein this morning, but I wonder if it was enough for how much I trained….” He gave a decisive head-bob. “I need some meat right now.”
Ert: Why is it I get the feeling this version of Akihiko would have a panic attack if he couldn’t do his strict regiment of eating protein, training and being a general stereotype.
“How about the Beef Bowl Shop?” She asked. “I know it’s your favorite.”
Akihiko didn’t even need to answer; his stomach did that for him. With another laugh, Aila led the way to Iwatodai Station.
Ert: Unless it has the Super Meat Bowl Challenge, I’m not interested.
Akihiko had insisted on buying something for Aila, too, and she graciously accepted it. He ordered them a massive special, to which he devoured quickly. When he was finished, he turned to see Aila’s progress. To his surprise, she’d finished hers a the same time he had.
Cornelia: Well I guess she loves eating. CHARACTER! SEE!? CHARACTER!
“That was delicious!” She exclaimed. The boy could almost see excited stars and flowers dancing around her face. She called for the waiter. “Can I get another?”
“Me too!” Akihiko quickly added in. His stomach wasn’t quite filled. Aila smiled.
Nora: Yes! Another! Because reasons!
“This round is on me.” The bowls were brought back steaming and both companions ate them within a few minutes.
“You sure can hold your food,” Akihiko commented when they were done. Aila thought about it for a moment.
“I guess you’re right. I haven’t really been able to eat like that since I was 14. Maybe I was just really hungry….”
Ert: This feels like it’s supposed to mean something. It doesn’t though.
Akihiko put his hands around the empty bowl and stared down. It was still warm against his palms. “When I used to bring Minako here, she’d say the same thing. But she could eat like a man.”
Nora: It’s well known that women cannot eat well.
Nora: Yeah. *Cracks knuckles* We’re just such…lightweights
This was a thoughtless remark;
Cornelia: Well, at least that remark was supposed to be douchey of-
Junpei had always told him not to bring up old girlfriends when you were with the girl you liked, and Akihiko worried that he’d hurt Aila’s feelings doing so. However, she gave a gentle laugh.
“Sounds like her,” she reminisced. “I remember when we were kids, I had to take two helpings of dinner for myself, just to make sure I got enough food before she could attack it.” Aila leaned onto the table with her elbows. A faraway look entered her gaze. “Did I ever tell you that we used to have nicknames for each other?”
Ert: So she’s laughing about how she’s like her cousin when she was earlier freaking out over it. WHAT IS HER CHARACTER!?
“No.” This was a subject that easily got Akihiko’s attention. It’d been a while since someone was open enough to talk about his love.
“I used to call her Mina.” Another giggle escaped her lips. “I remember that she used to call me ‘Ai-Ai’. It was mostly just to annoy me, but when I think back, it was actually a pretty cute name.”
Nora: *Snort* what was it you said a few chapters back Ert? That you were getting close to calling her Aye yai yai? Little close.
“I remember when I asked her to call me Aki.” Akihiko’s thoughts opened his mouth up again. However, Aila still seemed calm and interested. “It was a hard for her at first. She always called me Senpai before Shinjiro’s accident. I still remember how it made my heart pump when she said it for the first time.”
Cornelia: This makes up a good quarter of the story. Reminiscing on things that sound a hundred times more interesting than the drek we’re stuck with.
“I can tell that you two got along really well,” Aila said softly. Akihiko couldn’t tell if she was upset or not, but her outward appearance seemed to be alright.”Yeah.” Akihiko waited for her to say something more, or for something to come out of his own mouth. The many voices of the other customers filled the air between them, nearly drowning out their own thoughts.
“Should we head back out?” Aila asked. The silverette nodded.
“Yeah.” They rose quietly, paid their bill, and left the building. Even though Akihiko had switched sides while they walked, the bag had also moved to Aila’s other hand, blocking him once again from reaching out to her.
Nora: I suppose he could’ve just gone to the other side, but that would’ve been insane.
…. …. ….
Aila returned to the room sometime later than Akihiko. She’d gone to see if Shinjiro was available so that she could give him her mysterious gift.
Ert: You know, I’ve been wondering what this thing is for a while, but the wording in the narrative implies even SHE doesn’t know.
However, judging the by look on her face, as well as the untouched bag resting in her fingers, he wasn’t there. Akihiko felt his heart speed up when she came back into his sights. She gave him a smile as she set her items down by the door, but excused herself once more to shower. Akihiko tried to entertain himself by reading his latest fitness magazine
Cornelia: That fucker looks just like Shinji! God I hate him, GOD I HATE HIM!…*Looks down* Uh-oh.
then tried the news on TV. Nothing worked to cure his impatience or boredom. He was anxious as he waited for something-anything-to happen.
He glanced at his watch, but this only added to his despair. It was another 7 or so hours until their chance for the Dark Hour. It hadn’t come last night,
Nora: So we need to start writing a list of things that are poorly defined in this story. The Not!Dark Hour, Aila’s personality, how this memory thing works, how Shinji’s illness got cured and what Aigis Ken and Koro-chan were doing while Shadows were rampaging around the city
(Because…Thing Counter: 5)
and the man greatly hoped that this evening would be a chance to get some monster-slaying training done. He knew that he shouldn’t wish for such a thing; it was terrible to hope for monsters to storm the city.
Ert: I’m tempted to put in a training counter, but I’d be pushing it every three seconds. Might as well put in a comma counter.
Nonetheless, he craved it like cocaine. And thus far, there was nothing else like it that made his blood boil and pump, nor was there anything else that had made him feel so strong and alive.
Cornelia: OK! Stop it right there! I don’t care what you’re going through, if you’re honestly comparing fighting for your life to a highly addictive narcotic, you are messed up in the head, please report to your nearest mental care sector.
Nora: Anyone else remember in Twilight how Edward said Bella was her heroin?
Cornelia: Yeah and it was creepy then too!
A door closed gently as Aila came out of the bedroom. She had dressed down into a large navy polo and sweatpants.
Ert: She’s wearing that?
Her hair was dripping wet as she rubbed it out with a towel, and Akihiko noted that it looked slightly different. She seemed to have trimmed it down and the pink shade looked unusually brighter. He brushed the thought off; it must’ve just been the way the water was in her hair.
Cornelia: For someone he’s supposed to care about, he sure is slow to pick up on things about her.
Nora: Oh but Cornelia, he’s athletic. That means he stupid.
“Hey.” She muttered, coming to sit with him on the couch. Her strawberry shampoo hit his nose as she came close. He recognized it immediately; it had been the same…. “What are you watching?”
Akihiko glanced back at the TV. He wasn’t postive what was on anymore. There were bright and colorful pictures of robot men fighting giant alien creatures flashing all over the place. “I’m not sure….”
Ert: Kamen Rider?
Aila stared absently at the screen. Something seemed to be on her mind.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
Aila nodded almost immediately. “Yeah. Just tired.”
Nora: All that nothing really wore me out!
“Have I been keeping you up?”
It had been brought to his attention one day that he snored like a bear during the night. Maybe that was what kept her awake.
Ert: Oh thank god. Also, how come we haven’t seen this in all the times we’ve been seeing him sleeping
“No. I’ve just been having weird dreams.” She shook her head, splattering drops of water on Akihiko’s shirt. “It’s not a big deal. They come and go, like any other thing.”
Cornelia: Not important enough to actually show apparently, just like most of the things in this story.
“Okay.” Akihiko knew better than to push the subjects. She didn’t seem to want to talk about her night-visions. Their gazes returned to the TV.
It was probably hours later that he noticed the girl dozing off beside him. They’d lost track of the time sitting there together. Aila had tried to make occasional small-talk when the silence got too consuming and Akihiko returned it to the best of his ability. He found it hard to focus on much as that familiar scent kept wafting his way.
Nora: That scent that doesn’t seem to warrant any adjectives.
At last, Aila sighed. “Well, let’s turn this off and head for it. I’m beat.”
“Yeah.” He wasn’t all that tired, but knew he’d need some rest. If nothing else, he’d fall asleep shortly after hearing Aila’s light and steady breathing. They turned off the little box and retired to the bedroom.
Ert: The little box, because “Television” is too complicated.
Inside, Akihiko allowed Aila to slip into the covers first. Then, he took of his shirt and boots (not bothering with his jeans) and climbed on top of the blankets. He never really needed them, any way.
Nora: Because he’s a manly man? Honestly this story is kicking that dead horse so much that it’s starting to get intestines on its shoe.
He’d usually just kick them off later when he got too warm. In the darkness, he started to feel pleasantly comfortable and nearly fell asleep a few minutes after his head hit the pillow.
“Akihiko?” Aila whispered beside him. He opened his eyes and vaguely saw Aila’s red pair staring over at him.
“Don’t you think it’s weird that we sleep in the same bed together?”
Ert: Just. FUCK already!
He thought about it for a moment. “Not really.”
“Well…why do we do it?”
Cornelia: Because you want to bone! Is it really that complicated!
Nora: Seriously, I haven’t even gotten to cuddling in my relationship.
Akihiko had no answer. “I don’t know. It just….”
“Feels right?” Aila finished. Her companion nodded against the pillows.
“Yeah. It’s like we’ve been doing it since forever. Plus, it allows me to protect you from Shadows if the Dark Hour comes.”
Ert: Something that would be impossible to do if you were a room over. And yet at the same time, doable while I’m asleep.
“I suppose so. But have you ever slept next to another girl like this before?”
The answer hit his brain like a loose barbell. “Only one.” They mulled over the identity for a moment; both knew exactly who he was talking about.
Cornelia: I swear, Minako gets twelve times more characterization than Aila. Minako was this, Minako was that, Minako was this, Minako was that. Oh and Aila wasn’t that trait that Minako was.
“It seems kinda…intimate for two friends to do, don’t you think?”
Ert:……..Friends…….*Head desk* I give up on these two.
Akihiko felt his heart sting at the word ‘friend’. Was it because he thought of Aila as more than that?
Ert: DUUUUUUUR I DUNNO!
“I don’t know. I’ve never been the expert on that sort of thing.”
“Me either…,” Aila admitted. The silverette attempted to read her face, but didn’t get much in the dimness.
“Do you want me to leave?”
Nora: Well that came out of nowhere. Then again considering the rest of the story it fits right in.
“N-no, it’s fine. I just…wondered if you thought it was weird. Most people that share a bed usually are….”
“Are what?” He tilted his head, which made it lift slightly off of the pillow.
“W-well, they’re usually doing something more…” It took her a long time to find the right word, finally settling on, “Physical.”
“Oh.” He understood now. He would’ve been lying if he said that he hadn’t thought about it at least once before, but that was due to his past. When he and Minako had shared a bed, they’d admittedly lacked in the actual sleeping part….
Cornelia: *Facepalm* You know, SHE HAS THE SOUL OF THE AVATAR OF DEATH INSIDE OF HER! I think there are other things we could be focusing on her rather than whether Akihiko popped Minako’s cherry or not!
This was all different though. He hadn’t known this girl as long, and she’d already shot him down for a relationship leap once before. There was nothing like that between them. Nothing. He swore. Everything was completely innocent about his feelings.
Nora: We have been on this god damn train for nearly twenty chapters. WHEN DOES IT FREAKING END!
Ert: That’s one thing I freaking despise about fiction. When you know that a couple is going to get together but they keep dragging it out and out and OUT for “drama”.
Aila reached over and touched the scruff along his chin. She seemed to be fascinated by his jawline and the curve under his nostrils
…pretty much anywhere around the area of his lips. He felt every muscle twitch under her fingers. She was so cold, despite having a warm shower, and the way she moved over his skin was so entrancing. He felt like he was being electrified in very small, concentrated amounts…which was strange, as he was immune to most lightning abilities, right?
Cornelia: GET IT!? He’s immune to lighting attacks! Because when he’s getting intimate with his lady friend (FUCKING FINALLY!) we need jokes about strengths and weaknesses! BECAUSE YOU KNOW! RAISINS!
Suddenly, her fingers rose and landed on the bandage about his left eyebrow.
“Does it hurt?” She asked. Her finger pushed against the edges, ensure that the white strip wasn’t fraying.
Ert: Why the fuck is she doing that? What does this have to do with any of this?
Something about the way she touched it made him snap inside. A memory surfaced-in both of them-and he recalled his old love asking him the same question. After he’d made his excuses and had explained where the wound came from, he’d received a kiss on it.
Cornelia: WHAT! DO THE MEMORIES! ADD!? And for all of Aila’s hatred of being just a shadow of Minako, the story keeps hammering it in that that’s all she really is. What point is this story trying to make about ANYTHING!?
With a curious gleam, Aila lifted herself up to do the same thing. It sent Akihiko’s mind into a spiral. He felt something intense and fiery implode in his chest.
Goeth: Was wondering when that was going to go off.
He moved a hand to her waist and he pulled her into his torso. Then, his hand rose to awkwardly grasp Aila’s cheek. He held her gaze to him as he leaned down for a kiss.
Ert: Well at least the will they or won’t they crap is finally over. And oh boy, this is gonna hurt.
The girl beneath him made no effort to move away. Her hands were pinned between his pectorals and her chest, and she decidedly let her palms rest against his muscles. They set off a blaze in his heart to which he eagerly deepened the embrace. Her every utter of surprise, her every touch, her every smell was intoxicating as he kept her close to him. It kept his heart pumping and his senses begging for more.
Cornelia: Dude, I know kissing can be fun, but calm the hell down. In both ways.
He overpowered her lips at first, taking no time at all to consume every inch of them. Aila’s part in the act was admittedly hesitant at first, but then she fought back. They started battling to maintain whatever control they could get over each other.
Nora: Because kissing is always, ALWAYS a battleground.
Akihiko pushed one of his hands through her wet hair,
Ert: She got out the shower hours ago and her hair is short now. It still isn’t dry?
entangling the strands around his fingers. A few of them became stuck, reminding him that he needed to be as gentle as possible while massaging her scalp. Aila at last found a way to distance him slightly so she could move her hands to his back. They were able to instantly find every crease and scar that brought him pleasure,
Cornelia: I’m sorry, wot?
Nora: Scars are pleasurable? *Rubs cheek* Not feeling it.
like they’d done this sort of thing dozens upon dozens of times. He let out a noise that he hadn’t heard in years, surprising the both of them.
Ert: The story once again feels we don’t need to know what the noise actually is, so I’m going to assume he’s letting out a noise much like the moan of a sexually frustrated hippo.
It was just like this once. This had been his addiction.
Cornelia: Cut the shit, the drug comparisons aren’t endearing.
Being with Her had been a thrilling and energetic experience, giving him a workout that he’d never since been able to duplicated.
Nora: You know, capitalized pronouns are supposed to be reserved for God. I’m not eve gonna touch that one.
He honestly hadn’t thought that he’d ever find it again. No other woman had been like her…and yet Aila was so close to being her that it reminded him of old times. Hell, she even bit his earlobe the same way that She once had. It had the perfect amount of pain and pleasure at the same time, surely leaving an obvious mark-.
Ert: Uh. Not that I’m against being a little kinky, but considering that this is happening right after the painfully long will they or won’t they, I’m getting a little whiplash.
A gasp sharply entered his ear and Aila pushed him off. She scampered to the farthest end of the bed, pressing a startled hand against her heart. She stared wide-eyed at Akihiko, something electric and upsetting flickering between her irises. The boy sat up in alarm.
“Did I hurt you?” He asked. He was readying an apology-he knew that he could be too intense sometimes-but was halted by a shake of her head.
Cornelia: HE HURT YOU!? YOU ONE WHO BIT HE!
Nora: Uh, English speak good?
Cornelia: When want.
“No.” She was panting and Akihiko figured her face was a flushed as his was. “I’m….”
A selfish part of him wished that she hadn’t stopped, or at least that she’d resume the electrical rhythm he’d been missing for so long,
Ert: Aren’t those two the same thing?
but he pushed it away. The panicked look in her face made his blood run cold.
“What’s wrong?” He asked. A hand instinctively reached towards her, but Aila not-so-casually hopped out of the sheets.
“I’m fine. I just need to take a quick breather.” She grabbed a hoodie from the floor-one of his-and tossed it over her head. Akihiko caught a glance of her bare stomach as her hands reached above her head, but quickly looked elsewhere. She kept her back to him as she approached the door.
Cornelia: So much healthy communication in this relationship isn’t there?
“Wait!” He called for her, rising from the bed as well. What happened? What had he done to make her run away from him?
Nora: I don’t know man, I’m sure it’s something stupid.
Aila swiftly turned around, her anxious gaze halting the boy in his tracks. “I’m fine. Really. Please just…stay here and get some sleep. I’ll be right back.”
With that, she escaped, practically sprinting to the door. Akihiko had half a mind to go after her, but instead felt himself fall heavily onto the mattress. There was no chance he’d get any rest until she returned.
Ert: Welp, time to masturbate.
…. …. ….
Aila stumbled down the hallway, her mind a blur. She’d been taken over again-she’d nearly lost her own mind to those old feelings. Sure, she herself had been the one making-out with Akihiko at first, but then she felt her soul start to be pushed aside, just like before.
Ert: I fully admit to not paying full attention to how this whole soul/memory bullshit works, but I’m pretty sure this was not brought up before.
Suddenly, her limbs had known just where to touch him and where she could rouse the most noise out of his throat. Listening to his moan had been intoxicating, admittedly, but she was distressed because it wasn’t her doing the actions anymore. Someone else’s feelings had crept their way into her movements. Someone else had guided her to those sensitive scars and curves. They’d wanted to take over, to have those sounds all to themselves, and Aila had barely resisted their takeover.
Nora: Look, either have Aila get taken over by an evil spirit or stop bringing up this memory/soul thing every five minutes, especially when it’s not going anywhere. Seriously, no one DOES anything about this (DYEING AND CUTTING YOUR HAIR DOESN’T COUNT!) No one talks about it, no one researches it, no one tries to find solutions, it just happens and Aila gets sad. Rinse and repeat.
Her feet led her to Shinjiro’s door. Surely, he’d be there by now.
Cornelia: I’ll kiss HIM!
She wanted to talk to someone about this, for someone to understand that she’d been the one to want to instigate a scandalous affair in that bedroom…but, as she considered the mess her head still was, she thought better of it and kept walking.
Ert: And Akihiko wasn’t an option for this because why?
Nora: Mind a mess or something. Because the narrative says it is.
Aila felt tears of frustration rise to her eyes. There was another thing bothering her about this event. When she’d felt Akihiko’s arms wrap around her, new memories had surfaced. The way he’d touched her was just the same as he’d caressed her cousin. He’d aimed for all of the clumsy moves he’d used on Minako, maybe with or without realizing it. Aila hoped it was the latter. She hoped that he’d just used those moves on her because they were all he knew. She hoped that he’d been kissing Aila, not….
Nora: Well you could ASK him. But no, that’d make too much sense.
She felt a sob escape her throat. There she went again; she’d been trying to make a statement about wishing that she could apologize to Minako for all of the times she hadn’t shown her utter and complete acceptance, but she once more found herself pissed at the girl for butting in.
Ert:….*Sigh* What? Where was it implied that she was going to say anything like that?
Aila hated that She flooded her mind whenever she got close to making real emotional progress with one of Her old friends and lover. It wasn’t fair; couldn’t she just let her younger cousin have a life? Why did She have to overwhelm her like that?
Cornelia: You’re just NOW asking these questions? And between Minako and Ryoji, how many freaking people are living inside her body now?
Aila stopped and bit her lip until it bled. She wouldn’t cry.
Nora: Little late on that one.
She wouldn’t feel hatred for the person that she’d loved most. She didn’t want those vile and harsh poisons filling her system until they turned her heart black. This was exactly what she’d been trying to change about herself…. Why did it have to be so hard?
Cornelia: You need to establish what you actually want before you can complain about how hard it is.
The ambience flickered without warning; the Dark Hour came, making the world become slow and eerily quiet. Aila knew that she should return to her room. Akihiko would surely come after her now that it was midnight. However, something made her stare forward for a few extra moments…and it was just long enough.
Ert: Of course it was.
At a hallway intersection ahead, she saw three other paths that anyone could take. Crossing the ones horizontal to Aila’s position was a massive black dog with yellow eyes. Its stride was nothing more than a casual walk, but its leg length got it in and out of Aila’s sight within a few moments. Its matted black fur flowed almost like steam as the air pushed against it. It brought out the creature’s deadly amber gaze,
Nora: Yellow or Amber? They’re similar but not the same.
showing a merciless killer lurking within its being. They stared right into Aila’s very soul,
Cornelia: And boy is it getting crowed in there. Good thing there wasn’t much there before the roommates showed up.
for just a moment, recognizing her as a much slower and weaker prey. It made her insides jump and her mouth swear. The hulking monster huffed through its nostrils, releasing an unsettling amount of steam, and went on.
The flash of it was enough to make Aila’s knees weak; she’d never seen something so fierce and threatening before.
Ert: All the shit you’ve been through and it’s a wolf that paralyzes you with fear? Not the fifty fingered mommy dearest?
She felt like she was in one of those horror movies where she knew a monster was lurking the building and thought it’d come after her if she tried to run. So, she stood there, paralyzed by fear, and uncertain of what to do next.
Nora: Summon your Persona?
She wanted to run. She wanted to retreat back to Akihiko. He’d be able to protect her. Hell, even if she could make it as far as Shinjiro’s door without having her neck snapped by the creature’s massive jaws, she’d have a chance of living.
However, the wolf didn’t enter her sight again. It had apparently kept walking. To where, Aila didn’t know. And, although every thought inside of her screamed that she should sprint for her damn life, something made her walk towards where it had disappeared.
Cornelia: This woman would stuff her face into an oven I swear to god.
Peering down the hallway corner, she saw nothing still. She held her breath as she stared at each and every shut door. There must’ve been thirty of them all leading to a dead-end. She wondered where it could’ve gone; there was nowhere left to escape.
Ert: Except, you know, around thirty doors.
Then, she caught a glimpse of an astral tail flickering through the closed door at the very end of the hall. The breath she’d been holding released in terror. Now was the time to run. Get away, she thought, get away, before it comes back.
Nora: Yeah, I mean who knows how much walking it could do.
However, an unknown instinct made her move forward again. It wasn’t courage. It wasn’t Minako’s memories. Nor was it curiosity. It was something else entirely.
Cornelia: We call it stupidity honey.
Aila went to the door and opened it after maybe a 20 minute panic-ponder within her brain.
Ert: Twenty minutes huh? Yeah, this wolf isn’t a thread and I will laugh if the story tries to tell me otherwise.
It was a storage room; that much was clear. Boxes upon neatly stacked boxes were pushed up harshly against the wall, leaving plenty of places for monsters to hide in their shadows. Aila took a step inside. The wood made a creak. She drew in a breath, but nothing came out to snap at her. She took another cautious step. Then another. Then another.
Cornelia: If something wants to happen soon that’d be nice.
A box was pushed to the furthest end of the room and had a peculiar glow as she slinked further into the room. Its gold glimmer encased all of the cardboard. Aila noted that it was one of the smallest boxes among the piles…but it was the furthest away from all of the other one and sat just past a gap in the brown mountain and the end of the room. There had to be something in that corner, waiting eagerly for her to make the wrong move. She had no weapon, no Evoker, and barely enough lung power to alert the other residents of an attack.
Nora: I swear, she somehow manages to get dumber with each passing paragraph
This time, she really did try to leave. But as she turned to the door, the box made an annoyed hum. It didn’t want her to ignore it; it wordlessly stated that she had better come open it before it opened a can of whoop-ass on her little pink head.
Ert:……………………………….What. The. Fuck.
In confused obedience, she listened to the box’s unfriendly urges. She looked through every crevice as she did for the black wolf…but it was no where to be found. When she was at the box, it gave her an approving note. She bent down, slowly lifting the flaps away from each other and noted that someone had recently opened this box before.
The items inside were strange to her. Among them was a small silver key, a rabbit doll, and a leather-bound watch. There were other items, too, but they at first didn’t make any sense to Aila. Who’s junk was this? she thought. Slowly, she reached down to pick up a pig key holder…then her mind shattered.
Goeth: Well that’s a shame. I’ll get the dust pan. No way I’m getting anything worth while out of this one except maybe protein. And even then it’d be limited.
Memories. Love, friendship, struggle, overcoming adversity, getting over the fear of meeting new people. These items were symbols of what Minako had given to her friends and loved ones. These were her treasures. These were her…everything.
Cornelia: they’re not magically something important just because you say they are. You need to build this shit up!
…. …. ….
The Dark Hour ended before it had even begun.
Nora: Oh fuck off.
Akihiko had sprinted up and down hallways searching for Aila, but she wasn’t anywhere in sight. Desperately, he called out her name. Had a Shadow gotten to her before the world returned to normal? Was she lost? Alone? Hurt? He didn’t know, and this made his movements faster but sloppier. He had to find Aila and hold her in his arms, just to ensure that she was alive.
Ert: I assume you also need to check her pulse with your tongue. You know, just to make sure.
Maybe she went looking for him in their room, he thought. Maybe she came back of her own accord. He ran back, nearly knocking over Shinjiro on his way. He tore the door open and called her name again. No answer. He searched the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom-anywhere that had places to hide. There was nothing but cold, empty air in each area.
“Akihiko?” A voice called at last. He returned from the bedroom to find the girl standing in the entry. A sigh of relief escaped his throat.
“There you are!” He nearly yelled. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
Cornelia: And now that I’ve found you, we can go back to making out!
The girl seemed odd.
Ert: Sounds like Aila to me.
She was quiet and held a gentle smile on her lips. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you, but I’m alright.” She walked over to him, placing a hand on his cheek. It was strangely warm. Akihiko searched her eyes for any signs of what made her act so calmly, but saw only a distant look. She gave another smile, reached up to kiss him on the cheek, then went for the bedroom.
“Aila,” he called. The girl looked over her shoulder.
“Don’t stay up too late,” she commented. “We’d better get some sleep.” It was as though she didn’t even remember what had happened minutes ago. She seemed to have forgotten all about their steamy embrace and Akihiko’s panic as she ran away from him.
Cornelia: because god forbid we actually talk about the memory problem that she has.
He watched her leave and, for a moment, could only stand and ponder what action to take next. She’d left no explanation of where she was, no statement about how their kissing had made her feel, and no apology for being for making him worry. He went to go and question her about it, but she was lazily resting on their mattress. Her head hadn’t even made it to the pillow; she looked to have just fallen over onto the sheets and passed out.
Nora: Like it was said earlier. Such wonderful communication between these to.
Akihiko wasn’t sure how long he wavered in the doorway, observing her exhausted form as it breathed in and out very slowly. When morning came, he felt more and more uneasy. The girl’s skin was pale and he thought that he saw her hair grow three inches in the hours she rested. It must’ve been the sleep deprivation.
Ert: Once again memories do whatever they want. And that’s the end of the chapter. I’m running out of time and I’ve been up late doing this, so good night everyone! *Thump* Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.