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A Goddess Living Life

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[Minato]

Yasogami High School

Being stuck here in some facsimile version of a high school I’ve never heard of before was only the first of the weird things to happen today.

As the (co-)field leader of SEES, I (and the rest of the group) have seen some pretty ‘out-there’ things on our quest to end the Dark Hour. Being in Tartarus mid-transformation, love hotels and just-as-lovely Shadows, Strega, Fuuka’s cooking, the list goes on and on. And that’s not even counting our team’s fairly quirky nature, too.

But even by our standards, this was weird.

I mean, first you have everyone being transported to the Velvet Room, then being further transported to some place called Yasogami High School (that Minako actually seemed to recognize, something about a ‘school trip’), finding Zen and Rei, and finally basically living out Alice in Wonderland.

Oh, and we can’t forget the other group of Persona users.

Yeah, Minako and I were just as surprised as you were.

And then, just to top it all off, right after we beat the Queen of Hearts together (it's a long story), some strange pentagram appeared, spat out a future version of Elizabeth and some other girl, who then proceeded to kill-steal the Shadow we took forever to beat.

Great… Just great. As if I didn't have enough headaches to worry about. Junpei was complaining to me for ages.

I really just want to go sleep right now, but there’s no beds here. Like, at all.

Not even any sleeping bags.

Like, seriously? If you’re gonna trap us here in this school for an unspecified period of time, I’d appreciate it if I could sleep comfortably. I mean, our strange culprit had the decency to give us restrooms, they couldn’t have given us beds too? It’s not like we’re going to be studying or anything while we’re here.

At the very least, I still have my headphones, so I can just block out everything with Burn My Dread as usual.

If Minako will let me, anyway.

“Come on, Minato!” my sister pleaded with me, trying to tug my arm away from the wall I was laying against. “We should go hang out with the other Persona users! Everyone else in SEES is doing so, you should be joining them!”

“Eh, I don’t really care,” I dismissed. I’m beginning to think I should turn the volume up, just to avoid my sister’s nagging. I may have Social Links, but I’m not the social butterfly she is.

Also, I’d prefer to just develop my bonds with the rest of SEES.

“You’re supposed to the co-leader of our combined groups! How are you supposed to be a leader if you don’t even know what the other guys can do? Don’t forget, our Wild Card abilities aren’t up to full strength right now, so we’ll need to know our teammates’ skills more than ever!”

I sighed. It had already took an eternity-and-a-half for Minako to get me intricate with the specialties of the other members of SEES, I wasn’t really looking forward to having to do the same with this… ‘Investigation Team’ (what exactly could they be investigating, anyway?). “Can’t you do that without me?” I asked.

“We’re co-leaders, remember?” she reminded me. “It’s not like I can do this alone. You need to make more friends, anyway! You can’t be a hermit forever!” She renewed her efforts to drag me along, attempting to put more strength into it. “So just… come… on… already…! Why are you so resistant to this!?”

“Personal space, please,” I bluntly stated.

“No… seriously…! How are you… so freaking… strong…!?”

The sound of someone giggling broke our attention. “You two are just a fun little bunch, aren’t you?” Slowly, the two of us turned our heads to see the fashionably questioned Mariko Kusumi – otherwise known as Marie – standing about, watching us. She was holding up some sort of notebook, and seemed to be amused by our shenanigans. “I’m surprised you two can work so well together, what with being polar opposites and all.”

This was the girl that popped alongside the other Elizabeth. Aside from that, I don’t really know too much else about her, aside from the fact that she’s a Persona-user. And the fact that she’s girlfriends with future Liz.

I don’t really know what to say about that.

“Oh, hey Marie!” Minako greeted, using her other hand to wave a ‘Hello’ at her. “Yeah, everybody’s always surprised by that. Can you believe this doofus would just rather do nothing except sleep and listen to music all day?” She started tugging at my arm again. “I don’t know how in the heck he can be such a good co-leader when he’s! Like! This!”

I didn’t react to her statements, seeing it fit to just stay standing there listening to Burn My Dread on repeat. It’s not exactly helping my case, but this is how I’ve functioned for over ten years, so why would I need to change?

“You seem like you have your hands full,” she remarked with twinkling green eyes. “I could certainly write a bunch of poems based purely on the stuff I see from you guys.”

That’s another thing about Marie. Half the time I see her, she’s doing one of two things: either A) she’s writing poetry, or B) she’s listening to music. The former part I could just take as just another quirk in our universe of colorful teenagers (and Ken). She’s actually pretty good at poetry, I’ll admit, based on the scraps of paper she keeps leaving about.

I swear though, she’s putting them there on purpose specifically for me – like, the contents of each poems are always relevant to my interests… not to mention they’re written the way I write, too, which is bizarre. She tries to spin it as her being a little clumsy, but I don’t buy it, not for a single second.

The latter’s interesting for its own reasons.

She keeps her MP3 player at a fairly high volume, allowing me to listen in to her music tastes. While there are certainly a few J-Pop songs in there, she shares a lot of the tracks that I listen to. Mass Destruction, When the Moon Reaches for the Stars, Deep Breath Deep Breath – it’s literally my entire soundtrack of tunes in there, plus some of my sister’s.

Literally all of it. Even the remixes.

And that’s not even mentioning her rapport with Future Elizabeth. The two are so… ‘buddy-buddy’ together (for lack of a better term to use), much like me and Elizabeth now. Future Liz seems to drag Marie around a lot, but I notice the latter never seems to mind.

“That’s great and all,” my sister grunted, “but that doesn’t really help me out with moving Minato to actually do something.”

“Well, if that’s the case, I suppose I could lend a hand.”

…hang on, what?

Without warning, I abruptly found myself being hoisted off the floor, Marie carrying me into a bridal position by some abnormal strength. “H-Hey, put me down!” I exclaimed, uncharacteristically a little panicked. I haven’t gotten through this repeat of Burn My Dread yet, let me listen to it a little longer!

“Oh, don’t be like that, you weren’t going to be listening to anything other than Burn My Dread anyway.” Wait, how did she know—? “Besides, you know your sister is right! Just think of this as an… extension of your Social Links.”

I groaned. Between the two of them, I’m never gonna be able to just sit around today, am I? “Fine, fine,” I grumbled, “just so long as this doesn’t take too long.”

“YEAH!” Minako cheered, pumping her fists straight into the air. “FINALLY!”

“See?” Marie grinned. “Sometimes, you just need a little help to get things done. Something I’m sure Minato would know if he bothered to get a little more social, like you said.”

Yes, I get it, do Social Links and all that stuff. Please stop badgering me over them. I get enough of that from Igor.

“Ha ha! Someone actually understands my plight!” my sister cheered. Good for her, at least. “Oh, the days of finding someone who can help me drag Minato out the door are over at last! Now… Uhh… Say, Marie, do you know where the Investigation Team is?”

You gotta be kidding me. She wants to go learn more about the other Persona-users and she doesn’t even know where they are? I mentally sighed. That’s… typical of her. Sometimes I wonder how she handles dealing with all of her Social Links.

“Oh, don’t worry, you can find them hanging about the halls. Come on, I’ll even join you!” How nice, I gotta go through double the pain. Marie didn’t seem to share my opinion, though. She kind of seems way too eager to socialize. “Maybe we can even get the other SEES members in on this, too. How about it?”

“That sounds great! Let’s do it!”

And so here I am, being dragged by Minako and Marie to go properly meet the members of the Investigation Team. Admittedly, it was pretty interesting – these guys cover about the same strengths across each member as we of SEES did. A Wild Card, single element users, Physical attackers, a couple dedicated healers, etc.

And also Naoto, who has both Bless and Curse. And Almighty spells.

Someone won the lottery in the Persona skills department.

While I was ‘getting intricate’ with the Investigation Team’s specialties (yes, I know that sounds weird, shut up), my mind kept coming back to Marie and her… overall weirdness. She was a different sort of quirky from Elizabeth and the other Velvet Room attendants. And there was something about her that was just… familiar, in a way I couldn’t put my finger on.

Her mannerisms, her writing style, her song interests, the way she knows how to interact with us… the way she seems to intimately know me inside out.

Then it hit me. One single question that simultaneously gave me an answer and even more questions.

Just why is she so much like me?

And… I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that question.


[Marie]

Heh, I forgot how antisocial and sleepy I used to be. Who knew just what a single year’s worth of bonds and friendship could do to someone like me?

Seeing myself in the hallway, trying his best not to get involved in socialization with the other Persona-users is an interesting process, truly.

In any case, it is a little weird, seeing your past self like this. I mean sure, SEES and the Investigation Team come from two different time periods, that’s one thing. But then there’s me and Liz, who come from even further in the future than the Inaba crew. And we’re a weird contrast against our younger selves.

Time travel can be a little bit weird, sometimes. The same can be said for the lives of us Persona-users.

Just look at me: I was once an ordinary male student, and now I’m an overpowered goddess with a ruler of power for a girlfriend.

…oh, you’re… uhh… probably wondering what some of the context for this is. Lemme put it to you this way: I used to be Minato Arisato.

No, really.

Like my past self, I went on a complex journey and eventually ended up saving the whole world from basically themselves. But to do that, I had to become a giant, really resilient door to prevent a malevolent deity from helping the world end itself. I… couldn’t exactly do a lot as a door, so it was admittedly kind of boring. Especially since I was cut off from my friends and all.

Luckily, my girlfriend Elizabeth – I call her Liz – managed to give me a new body to use while my old one was a door by ‘borrowing’ some leftover energy from another goddess – Izanami. Said other goddess promptly gave me a magical girl-esque transformation sequence, the powers of a virtual goddess, and then just let me be to show humanity their awesomeness.

I’m abridging this a little, but trust me, it makes sense in context.

Liz and I were supposed to be just relaxing a bit back home, but then we were unceremoniously dropped into this alternate dimension. With me and my friends from the past, a group of different guys from a little later in the future, and then us.

Not the most romantic of scenarios, if I’m being honest.

But hey, at least I get to see SEES and me as we were all the way back in 2009, before all the major tragedies happened one after the other. Seeing past me be all lethargic and my sister being all energetic again… it just really hits home, you know?

I can tell past me’s a little suspicious, though. I’m not surprised; I mean, it’s not like I’ve completely changed from when I used to be Minato Arisato; I still hold my bonds with SEES quite closely, and hanging out with them is still a highlight of every day here. And I also know that Minato’s heard that my tastes in music are exactly the same as his, among several of my mannerisms.

(I imagined that my more upbeat personality would give him less cause to be suspicious, but, eh. Can’t win them all.)

And I’m really certain he doesn’t know what I really represent in terms of his future. The things he’ll need to sacrifice to save the world, to save his friends, and the life that Elizabeth helped give back to me.

At this stage, he’s not likely to take it well. He used to be me, I’d know.

But he’ll get there, in time.

…hopefully not anytime during this adventure.

That’d just be awkward.

“Hmm, you seem to be taking this rather well, Marie~!” Elizabeth’s voice came up beside me. Turning my head, I saw her skipping toward my side, still as energetic as ever. Seeing our past selves hasn’t slowed either of us down, huh.

“What can I say, Liz?” I responded. “We’ve been through some pretty weird things in our time, though nothing probably not as weird as this. It’s… a rather interesting scenario.”

“If I must say, it is nice to see us as we were just a few years ago! It’s bringing back so many memories. There’s so much I can introduce myself to, and so much to share! Ooh, remember last month when you burned your mouth on that curry?”

“Hey, it’s not like you told me it was that spicy!” I protested, my face flushing. That thing was so hot it may have well have been on fire! Hell, I even spat a bit of fire after ingesting the thing. It’s a miracle that thing was even cooked in an actual kitchen. “Though admittedly…” I smiled mischievously. “…it’d be fun to do the same to my younger self.”

What? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same.

Besides, isn’t this a great time to be ‘building character’?

“Now we are getting places! …or was the term ‘getting somewhere’?” Liz mused for a moment before continuing. “Eh, not important. Maybe they have one of those fountains at this school! I think this institution could do with a little donation, wouldn’t you say? The food is not quite as versatile as I think it should be. Needs more takoyaki.”

I… could’ve sworn there was enough takoyaki here, but if Liz doesn’t think so, eh, I’ll go with it. I’m sure Rei would appreciate the donation, anyway.

She eats even more than me and Minako combined, and that’s saying something.

“You know…” I began, my mind trailing, “seeing ourselves like this really highlights how much we’ve changed over the past few years. I almost can’t believe how different we were.” It feels so long ago I was lethargic; now I’m bursting with a little too much energy. Heh, I just realized – I’m exactly the type of person I used to dislike. What a host of irony, huh?

It must make past me exhausted.

I wonder how he’s finding my poems, anyway? Surely he has to have noticed the subject matter I write specifically for him. I bet he’s tearing his hair out trying to figure out what it all means. I know me; mysteries were never my strong suit.

And there’s so much more to play around with SEES and the Investigation Team. I should ‘accidentally’ drop some of my poems around them too, get them all confused – especially when I act clumsy about it. Playing up quirks like that is always a hilarious experience, I should do it more often when we get out of here.

“Yes. It’s almost supernatural, isn’t it?” Liz agreed. “It’s almost difficult for me to avoid giving out ‘spoilers’, I believe they’re called. It is hard not to want to share the happiness I felt once I finally found what I was looking for.”

“Don’t worry. You know eventually they’ll be able to feel it,” I said to Liz. “But for now, I’m going to have a lot of fun teasing myself about it.”

“That’s the spirit!” Elizabeth cheered. She looked out toward the crowd of SEES and Investigation Team members. “It looks like they’ll be moving on soon. You don’t want to be left behind, now~”

“Oh, you’re right!” Quickly, I rushed over back to the younger Arisato twins. (It feels kind of weird referring to my old self in third-person, but that’s time travel for you.) “So, how have you guys been doing?”

“Terrible,” my younger self complained. “Can I just go back to listening to music now?”

“We’ve gone over this already, Minato!” Minako replied. “You gotta get out of your shell sometime, and besides, we still have the rest of the Investigation Team to go! Come on, let’s go find them!”

My younger self groaned as Minako pranced away. It was kind of hard to tell Minako and I were twin siblings, what with the way I used to act and all. It’s kind of endearing, in a way.

“Well, you heard the lady!” I said. “You’ve got a duty as co-leader to complete, after all.”

I started off after my sister, relishing at the sound of my past self’s grumbling. Just to confuse him more, I decided to deliberately drop another one of my poems for him to read, carefully letting it slip out of my bag without suspicion.

As I walked away, I heard him bending over to pick it up. “Another poem…?” I heard him mutter, and all the while I was giggling under my breath.

Man, this really is fun.

I wonder how confused he’ll be now?