1033: Persona 3: Trade Me – Chapter 25Posted: April 28, 2015
Nora: We are hauling ass back there but he might reach you before us! He’s got a pretty good head start!
Goeth: Copy that! I’m bringing the plasma cannon online! I’ve added a few laser turrets to the defense grid as well. They were meant for point defense, shooting down missiles and the like, but with enough concentration they should still be able to put one hell of a hole in him.
Ert: We got anything else?
Goeth: I appreciate your faith in my Ert, I really do, but I’ve only got two hands and whatever drones I can get rigged together. We’re kind of in the middle of nowhere and I’ve been focusing most of my efforts on repairing the engine. And by repair I mean, pull out whatever bits aren’t completely fried and using them to build a new one. I’m making progress but with the lack of materials out here you have no idea how much stuff I have to jury rig. I honestly am holding the laser turrets together with duct tape.
Ert: When we get to a place where we can properly restock, you need to build a force field for this place.
Goeth: *Rolls out paper* already have the blueprints written up. Study them at your leisure. Won’t stop capital ship fire, but anything smaller will have to take its time getting through. Should stop boarders to.
Woods: *Takes blueprint* I’ll look at that and figure out what parts the doctor will need. Until then, might as well get back to reviewing.
Woods: SONG! Seriously, the nonexistent novelty of that gimmick wore out in chapter 3.
(Song Counter: 23)
Finally, they’d been able to return to their apartment. The repairs were finished and Mitsuru didn’t mind them living there as long as they didn’t stay during the Midnight Hour.
Woods: They just NOW figured this out? Also that means they’re pretty much never sleeping there because the Dark Hour happens EVERY NIGHT…oh wait, my bad, that’s the normal Dark Hour. The Not!Dark Hour just shows up whenever it feels like it
It was too obvious a place for Shadows to attack, since they now knew where Aila lived. Nonetheless, through all of the insanity of the past few months, the girl had never felt more at home.
Goeth: There’s also the fact that they can zone in on her (Through smell apparently) but yeah, them knowing her address is the big one.
So, as the boys had other matters to attend to, Aila remained in the apartment alone. She knew that Mitsuru had bugged most of her clothing, so she didn’t ponder going outside too much…even if she desired to speak with Shouta again.
Ert: Mitsuru is getting a little creepy…then again Aila DOES randomly run off, so bit of a gray and grey situation here. Also, ALL of her clothes? Why did Mitsuru tell her that? Just tell her about the bug in her shoe, Aila would get rid of it, think that the problem is over, and then she would never suspect the other bugs.
Goeth: I taught you well!
Ert:…I need to go soul search.
Aila was reminded of his words about Minako, that she was trying to take her over and steal her cousin’s body. It was something that Aila didn’t want to believe. However, considering how violent her mood/memory swings had been as of late, she wasn’t able to find any reasons to argue in Minako’s favor.
Woods: The irony here is that they spent the entire story building up who she was and then completely threw it out the window. And yeah, in some cases that can work because you’re playing with expectations, but it has to make SENSE! Not just “You know how you thought this character was X? Well it turns out they’re Y.” ESPECIALLY when it directly contradicts canon.
The trouble was, though, why were the memories trying to take her over? Minako was the Great Seal, and therefore couldn’t have any influence over the events in the real world. Was there something else at work? Something that no one was seeing?
Ert: I’ve been screaming this since the start of this stupid plot twist. Characters talking about how things make no sense doesn’t excuse lousy writing.
A Shadow before had said He would stop her. That He would be the one to slay her before a great destiny could be realized. If Mina wasn’t the cause of this memory overload, then who was? Maybe Shouta had some more answers…..
Ert:…He…capital H He. The big man? Because if YHVH comes after Aila, she is FUCKED.
Aila had been forced to give back Minako’s trinkets, as Mitsuru had without words declared them to be dangerous weapons in the girl’s hands. Aila didn’t disagree, but there had been one item that she’d managed to keep; it was Ryoji’s silver ring. It was the only object that made her feel calm and comforted.
Woods: So she just held onto the other ones for shits and giggles?
She knew that she was closer to the boy when she wore it on her finger or on a chain around her neck. She hoped that it’d help to keep her safe…if there was such a thing anymore.
Goeth: Hate to rain on your parade, but in the original Persona 3, three people died fighting the Shadows. In this story, no one has. You have it pretty darn good.
Aila went to the mirror in her bathroom. She’d stopped trying to dye her hair over and over again; the roots would start growing back full-force when she tried to bury them.
Ert: Because memories = hair color. Don’t question it, just let the story keep its stupid logic.
It was futile to fight back. As she stared into the glass, she felt her mind grow heavier. It was harder trying to remember what she herself looked like, anymore. She’d had distinct differences from her cousin before, especially in her facial features, but now she could only seem to focus on all of the things that made her similar to Minako.
Goeth: Distinct facial features that were never brought up, so losing them now seems rather pointless.
Woods: Also that whole “futile to resist” thing is horse crap. That’s the problem with this story, the characters just stand around with their mouths hanging open hoping that their problems with solve themselves.
The front entrance opened. “I’m back,” Akihiko called. Aila cast her eyes to the sink.
“I’m in the bathroom,” she returned, closing the door softly.
“Oh, okay.” She heard footsteps move past the bathroom. “I’m going to take a nap.”
“‘K.” Since the night they’d kissed, things had been awkward and quiet between the two roommates. The silverette had in addition become more and more concerned about her well-being, which hadn’t helping with their shaken bond.
Woods: Isn’t it obvious!? To help their bond he needs to not give a shit!
In truth, Aila hadn’t remembered much of the night she’d found Minako’s treasures. She’d probably seemed insane when she’d returned to Akihiko calm and collected, as though nothing had happened.
Ert: Heh, yeah. SEEMED. Sure.
After the events of the last full moon, she’d at last recalled the steamy details, but didn’t bring them up. It was enough that she’d rejected him once; it was best now to try to forget the second stab to his heart.
Goeth: *Draws knife*
Ert: Frankly at this point I’m tempted to let him off the leash.
When she grew tired of looking at herself, she exited the bathroom. To her surprise, Akihiko was waiting for her outside. She jumped upon seeing him.
“Sorry,” he said quickly. His cheeks turned pink; no doubt he was thinking of their embrace. It was obvious in his face that he that the memory troubled him. “I just…wanted to see if you’re alright.”
Woods: And knocking was far too Herculean for me.
Aila looked to the bandages over his ears. “I think I should be asking you that.” She had to repeat the statement for the boy to hear, but he just shrugged.
“It’s fine,” he said. “Nothing too serious. I’m more concerned about your health.” Aila felt the weight inside her mind expand.
Ert: So it’s bigger but has the same weight?
He was being too nice; she’d nearly demolished her friends’ hearing that night. They were lucky enough to come out with minor injuries.
Woods: Lazy writing 101. Even though the main characters are in constant danger, the worse that they get are a few scratches.
“I’ll live.” Her default answer. It hadn’t failed her before, but she felt that its winning-streak was straining to keep up to her close-calls.
Goeth: Don’t you just love the open communication between these two?
“Alright.” Akihiko tried to hold her gaze, but she couldn’t take his concern.
She waved him off quickly, stating that she was going to take a shower. He retired to her bedroom after much hesitation; despite the awkwardness between them, it seemed that they couldn’t sleep without the other’s body or scent or breathing noises on the same mattress.
Woods: That sounds contrived and inconsistent. Because it is.
When she was busy with other things, Akihiko would always nap with Aila’s favorite jacket over his shoulders. The smell she left on the fabric was enough to lull him into slumber. Aila found herself doing the same when she was alone.
Ert: It sounds like they’re only distant because the author says so. Then again I could say the same thing about ALL emotional development in this story.
When she was in the bathroom again, Aila turned on the water, but didn’t get in. It was just background noise as she sat fully clothed on the ground. No matter what happened between them, Aila did not want to hurt Akihiko. He was precious to her, yet she only seemed to cause him pain and confusion. This cursed fate-wherever it was leading her-meant that she’d never stop making him suffer…not as long as Minako’s memories intruded.
Goeth: Yet you keep taking the half assed approach that honestly seems designed to maximize both his misery and ineffectiveness. You don’t want to hurt him, yet you stay near him, keep sleeping in the same bed as him and make no move to end your relationship with him, while also doing nothing to stop the memories. You say you don’t want him hurt but you never actually do anything to prevent him getting hurt.
Ert: I just get a sickly sticky feeling from reading this story. That feeling you get when you sit down on a bad day and you feel like crap but you just keep lying there anyway.
Slowly, she stood from the ground and approached the toilet. Hidden behind it was the prescription bottle Shouta had given her. She took them to the mirror and rubbed off the steam that gathered on the glass. Aila took one last clear look at what she was seeing; a girl without reason or strength or choice in her destiny.
Woods: She is indeed without reason or strength.
She was nothing, simply because she wasn’t allowed to be anything but a house for the memories to gather. A house for something that wanted her body for itself. Yep, she was just a shell for such things….
Goeth: No, you’re nobody for a lot of other reasons.
Aila gripped the bottle in her fingers. No. She still had the ability to make choices.
Ert: Of course she does. She’s been making bad ones all story.
Not just because she’d been told so by Igor so long ago, but because she was here now, holding an item that could easily mean her chance at retribution. She could choose to struggle through the takeover without help…or she could take the easier path and begin her battle anew from there.
Woods: Or, you know, ask for help. These people kind of have more experience with this crap than you do.
Without a resolved sigh or much thought, she twisted off the cap and poured two capsules into her mouth. The funny part was that only moments after they entered her system, she felt a hundred times better than she had in months.
Goeth: Well, she took her happy pills that may be some kind of illegal narcotic. I’m sure everything will be fine now.
Ert: Didn’t this woman learn to not take random drugs? For Christ’s sake she lives in Japan. Getting caught with weed there can cause the justice system to come down on you like a hammer.
A memory had tried to intrude…it had something to do with the pills and one of the other team members…but it was gone before she could really examine it.
Ert: ARAGAHHHHHHHHHHH! “Oh, if she had just looked around the corner!” I HATE THIS TROPE!
…. …. ….
Shinjiro wondered why he ever agreed to this. He watched Aila fumble with her naginata as she tried to adjust her hold on the staff.
Woods: Whatever it was you agreed to, I imagine the reason was hormones
“Just stop,” he told the girl at last. Aila did so and Shinjiro sighed. “What the hell happened to your form?”
Aila gave a childish pout. “I usually have Fate help me fight.” The boy before her pinched the bridge of his nose. He was suddenly starting to feel exhausted.
Ert: Actually you rarely use Fate anymore. You’ve been using other Personas.
“Maybe it’s best to just use your Persona when you’re in trouble.”
Aila’s head hung low. “But…I can’t rely on that. I want to be able to fight without her…” Aila gripped her naginata, her knuckles bleaching. “I want to be strong enough to protect myself and everyone else…without my powers.”
Goeth: Because why use ungodly powers to defeat supernatural powers when you can use a sharpened bit of metal instead?
Shinjiro gave a small “hmm” with a smile. Aila flushed.
“Nothin’.” He shoved his hands into his pockets. “We don’t have much time. Mitsuru’s only lettin’ us in here for a few more hours. So start swingin’.”
Ert: Yeah, been meaning to ask, where are you and what are you doing?
This girl had asked him to train her only a few days before and he found it difficult to argue with her motivation. As Aila practiced her strikes, he shook his head and told her what she was doing wrong…which was with every swing she made.
Woods: Yet this was never brought up before and she seemed to be able to use her spear perfectly well before because DURRRRRRRR!
As he tried to instruct her, he wondered often if he was being too harsh. However, the girl took each and every word to heart, and did (finally) show signs of improvement after an hour or so.
Goeth: I’m not sure how you can be too harsh when training someone to fight monsters, but whatever. He could at least use a cattle prod, that’s a good motivator.
…. …. ….
“Sorry,” Aila mumbled again. She’d been dragging her feet on the way home and feared that she was upsetting her friend with how slow she walked. However, Shinjiro didn’t mind her exhaustion. It allowed them some time to relax before getting back to the apartment…and the obsessively protective Akihiko. Honestly, Shinjiro didn’t know what to do with that boy. He felt just as concerned for Aila’s safety as the silverette…but at least he didn’t smother her with it.
Ert: Smother her? He asked her one time how she was feeling then walked away after twelve seconds, how the frakking hell is that smothering someone?
“Tch,” Shinjiro said at last, uncertain if it was meant to be towards her or Aki. Luckily, Aila knew him well enough to discern his “happy” noises from his upset ones. She gave a relieved smile.
“Well, if you’re okay with it, can we take a quick break?”
Shinjiro turned to see that she was about to collapse.
Woods: He might have pushed her harder than is healthy if that’s the case. That or she’s royally out of shape.
“Sure,” he mumbled. They were in the Paulownia area and found an empty bench to rest at. Several of them surrounded the fountain, which glittered gently as it reflected the starlight. The two companions sat close together at the long seat, but not too close. Aila seemed to be staring hard into the ground. Shinjiro considered asking her about it, but didn’t want to start a bad habit of snooping
Ert: He’s right guys! When a woman stares at the ground, it’s HER business what she sees in it.
(like a best friend who’s name he wouldn’t mention).
Woods: Can Shinji and Akihiko just fuck already?
Aila noticed him staring and he quickly looked away before their eyes could meet. He could sense her curiosity.
“If you want to talk, then talk,” he said to relieve her wonder. “Otherwise, it ain’t any of my business what you’ve been worrying about for the past few weeks.”
Goeth: Actually it kind of is. Considering that it involves you. But whatever.
“Okay.” Aila was quiet for a moment more. Her red eyes shot lasers into his cheek bone, to which he tried to deflect by scratching at his eyebrow.
Goeth: HEY! THAT’S MY DESIGN!
Then, at last, the small voice materialized: “What…was it like, when you had a Persona before this?”
He met her eyes; there was something deeper to the question. “Before the Shadow Operatives?”
“Well….” He knew what she was really asking now; he could see it in her pale face.
Ert: And what does this have to do with anything?
“When Ken’s mom….” He didn’t know how to start this story. Minako’s memories probably gave her the gist of things already. “I was never able to get that night out of my head. It started killin’ me to know that I was still alive when she…wasn’t.”
“Oh.” Aila shifted uncomfortably. “What did you do?”
“Somethin’ really stupid.”
Woods: So what exactly is Aila learning from this conversation?
“What?” He met her gaze. He wanted to be honest with her, but….
“….You already know.”
Goeth: Translation. He wanted to tell her about the drugs that he took but that would inform Aila that she’s doing the dumb, therefore he won’t because logic is outlawed in this story.
“….Yeah.” His near-death experience hung over them like a dark cloud, but Shinjiro wondered just how much she really knew about it. To clear the ambience, Aila adjusted herself to kneel backwards on the bench. Her fingers traced the fountain water behind them. “This thing is really pretty. I can see why everyone likes to hang out over here.” She looked like a child-albeit a really tired one, but a child nonetheless. It made Shinjiro chuckle. Something inside of him was surfacing: an oddly-place confession.
Ert: Well that incredibly important conversation that was connected to something deep inside Aila is finished, let’s move onto stupid things!
“I owe Her my life, ya know.” He stared up into the sky. Aila’s burning gaze speared him again. “Can’t tell you how many times she probably saved me in other ways, but it was the damn pocket watch that took the bullet….literally.” He sighed. “If She hadn’t found it….” He sometimes wondered whether he would’ve been happier in death. Maybe then, he’d get to spend an eternity with her…..
Woods: Wait no, we’re still being serious. I guess. I don’t get why this story can’t just pick a topic and stick to it for more than five seconds.
Then again, considering where Minako really was, he probably wouldn’t have gotten that luxury.
“Oh, that reminds me!” Aila crossed her legs over the bench, facing towards her friend. She pulled a small white box out of her jacket pocket, then put it on Shinjiro’s lap. He picked the square up, his eyebrow raising beneath his slumping hat. “Open it! Open it!” As Aila clapped her hands in hope and excitement, Shinjiro gave a laugh; it was nice that she was trying to lighten the mood for them. Slowly, he peeled the lid off of the box.
Goeth: Thinking about the time you almost died? GIFT TIME!
Before him sat a bronze pocket watch, shining brightly in the fountain’s reflective gleam. He picked the thing up, weighed it in his hand, then swung the chain that it was attached to.
“What…” He didn’t know what to say to her. In truth, the watch was beautiful. It’s craftsmanship was perfect down to the interlocking notches along the edges. He gave Aila a strange look. “How much did it cost?”
Woods: A bazillion dollars probably. And considering that Aila hasn’t been doing anything in the way of work, she probably bought it with Mitsuru’s money.
“Shut up and take it,” she hummed, sounding more adorable than threatening. “Does it really matter? When I saw it, I knew it was perfect for you.”
Ert: Yeah you see, you have this one pocket watch as a keepsake from your dad, so clearly you want more pocket watches.
Shinjiro felt something on the back and went to turn it. However, Aila’s hands overtook his.
“There’s an engraving,” she admitted, “but I don’t want you to look at it yet. You can read it when no one’s around.”
Ert: NO QUESTIONS!
“Okay….” He was confused, but felt his heart start to…warm? Was that warmth creeping into his already sweating body? That reminded him that he needed to stop wearing turtlenecks under his damn coat….
Woods: Great, more male characters who go “How does emotion?”
“Do you like it?” Aila tried to read his expression, but it was clear that she wasn’t getting anything. Shinjiro stared at their joined hands, his fingers clenching over the cold but welcoming metal.
“Thank you.” He said it softly-so softly that he didn’t think she’d hear him. However, she started to beam.
“It’s actually my way of saying thanks to you,” she told him. “You’ve been really supportive and understanding since we met.
Ert: He’s barely done anything. So I don’t really buy this bond.
For a while, I thought it was because I look like Mina, but in all honesty….” She blushed at their hands, but didn’t move them right away. “I feel like you’re one of the only people that sees me.”
Goeth: What about Akihiko?
Woods: FUCK HIM…please. It’ll be HAWT!
Shinjiro wanted to consider that for a moment, but she’d already pulled back and stood up.
“Well, I’m rested enough. Let’s head home.” She tried to smile, but it was obvious to Aila’s friend that she wasn’t feeling any better than before.
Ert: So in other words this was a massive waste of my time? Give the story credit, at least it’s consistent in that regard.
He put the pocket watch back in its box, then shoved it into his pocket. As the girl started faltering forward, Shinjiro grabbed her arm. She felt very warm in his grip.
“You worked out too hard today,” he muttered.
Woods: And you did nothing to stop her even though you were the one pushing her. Douche.
She gave him an absent hum. Before she could pass out, Shinjiro helped her onto his back. She wasn’t light, but she wasn’t heavy either. He was certain that he’d be able to carry her back home without any accidents. As she pressed into the piggyback, Shinjiro felt her breath against his neck. It made the hairs stand up, but he kept his stride slow and calm. He didn’t even care that others among the nightlife were staring at him; having her on his back was…strangely calming.
Ert: Another problem that this story has. “Well you see there’s shadows and Personas and all this over stuff but…LOVE TRIANGLES! LOVE TRIANGLES LOVE TRIANGLES LOVE TRIANGLES!” Seriously, name three love triangles that WEREN’T pains in the ass.
She kept muttering something as he carried her home. He couldn’t catch all of it, but the noises still made him chuckle. She was like a child, sometimes reminding him so much of Aki that it was startling. They were perfect for each other….
The thought made his chest churn in agony. He was doing it again. His heart was starting to wish for something that he felt wasn’t his to desire. He hadn’t deserved Minako and certainly didn’t deserve this…saint
Woods: *Snort* Yes, please tell us how this little brat who can’t tell her ass from her elbow is a saint and how you two are perfect for each other.
Nonetheless, having Aila close and feeling her touch had saved his life-both literally and metaphorically.
Goeth: Yes, because of those poorly explained healing powers…in fact are we certain Shinji didn’t just go into remission?
He had felt something similar to this before, but this was somehow different. He wished that he could understand what it meant. She wasn’t Minako, and therefore didn’t give him the same feeling of comfort as She once had, but there was definitely something in Aila that made his soul feel at peace.
Ert: This story just cannot make up its mind if it wants to make Aila looking like Minako a good thing or not. One scene it’s bad, next scene it’s good, then reverse, repeat until eyes bleed.
All too soon, they were back at home. Aki was still up, waiting near the door like a puppy would for its master. Upon seeing the unconscious Aila, he started making panicked faces. Shinjiro swiftly brushed him off and took the girl to her room. He didn’t bother changing her out of her jeans, shirt and jacket; he may have been a thug, but he had some manners. Instead, he pulled the covers up to her shoulders. She gave a happy sigh and burrowed into the soft sheets. This roused another chuckle to Shinjiro’s throat, but he buried it. Now was not the time to feel…whatever it was that tried to breach the wall around his heart.
Woods: It’s called love Shinji, I know you have a dick but you’re allowed to know what it is.
As he watched her snooze peacefully in the bed, he felt an urge swell over his head.
He tried to bury that, too, but it persisted mercilessly and threatened not to let him leave until the act was committed.
Glancing back for any signs of Aki, he let his fingers run through the girl’s half-pink hair. It was enjoyable for a moment.
“Dammit, you’re burnin’ up,” he stated, throwing another blanket over her. She must’ve caught a fever when she overexerted herself.
Goeth: Because that’s how fevers work.
She gave another moan, this one a bit more stressed than the last. Shinjiro was freed from his spell and swiftly left the room, refusing all vicious desires to glance back before closing her door.
Woods: Take a cold shower man, for God’s sake.
“She okay?” Akihiko asked. He sounded casual enough, but the mutt couldn’t completely disguise his worry.
Ert: Mutt? What is this guy’s deal? Do these two hate each other for no reason just to drive him a Twilight style rivalry?
“She has a fever,” Shinjiro muttered, all kindness and serenity from before leaving his voice. “She probably got it from too much exercise. She just needs some rest.” He walked past the boy, heading to his bed-couch. He sat back into the cushions as he waited for Aki’s to retire to his own quarters. A creak and click did sound, but it was coming from Aila’s room instead. Damn that silver-haired maniac.
Goeth: Checking up on the sick person. Freak.
When all was quiet, Shinjiro pulled out the new watch, as well as his old one. Looking at both-one disfigured and long past its prime while the other shining promises of something great and new-he let out a long, slow breath. He’d keep the silver one, he decided, if for no other reason than he owed it his life. He tucked the piece inside of the box and started arranging a spot for the bronze beauty. He’d almost completely forgotten about the secret engraving when he caught sight of it against the dim moonlight outside. It read this:
“However long the moon disappears, someday it must shine again.”
Ert:…The fuck does that mean?
Woods: Well, with that, things have come to an end for this chapter. Next chapter is the last one that exists for this story so-*ROAR* was that the alarm?
Goeth: Yup. He’s here.