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Private Don't Stab The Messenger

Discussion in 'Centria' started by Minato Arisato, May 14, 2019.

  1. May 13th, Year 108
    Jurassic World, Centria, Pandora
    @Ryoji Mochizuki
    ~~~

    Okay, so everything was chill again. Or, it was supposed to be, until yet another person dropped onto his stand.
    Maybe the Gods just had it out for the Little Nugget, or out for Minato himself, but whatever it was, this time, he did not have Koromaru to warn him of the impending threat.
    He was taking a snack break, and... Really what... Essentially happened, was that something hit him in the back. Hard. Minato choked as the wind was knocked out of him and he hit the stone hard, scraping his palm and the side of his face against the walking path. His head throbbed with the pain of the impact and he winced, gritting his teeth.
    There was someone on his back. He could feel stunned movement and shifting, and there was something draped over his face. He clawed his way out from under his assailant and arched his back, coughing as he recovered his air, pressing his palm into his side with a wince. Oh, wow... That was gonna bruise in a bit.
    He glanced over the scattered snack bag and sighed, before shifting and turning around to check on the falling person. "Excuse me are you-"

    Pause. Minato felt his heart leap into his throat and skip several beats, eyes going wide. almost in the same moment he scrambled backwards, away, from that scarf, from that stunned face. All too suddenly, Minato was too aware of his breathing, of his heartbeat, the way his chest rose and fell, how the skin was bruising, the way he was blinking, the way his hair moved, every single motion of life in his body suddenly felt like a violent violation.

    For Ryoji Mochizuki, the Appraiser of Nyx, lay before him on the stone.
     
    #1 Minato Arisato, May 14, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2019
  2. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
    102
    Age:
    17
    Falling is a weird sensation.
    It isn't quite like flying.
    It isn't quite like anything, actually. Especially falling from a great distance, into some unknown.... well, The Unknown. That was the best way Ryoji could properly describe it -- he had no idea where he was falling from, where he was falling to.... he really didn't have any ideas in general. All he really knew is that his head ached like holy hell, and that the last thing he could remember was cracking it on Minato's bedroom floor.

    Which is exactly why when he looked up from the asphalt to see that same blue hair, Ryoji found himself incapable of knowing what to do.

    The impact was anything but graceful. Ryoji felt like he had collided with a wall, and genuinely thought that he had, until said wall buckled under his weight and sent them both cascading toward the ground in quite possibly the least gracious way one could ever imagine. His entire body seared with pain, which felt new and unusual and god damned debilitating in and of itself. He couldn't even imagine what Minato had to have felt, breaking his own fall like that. A twang of guilt seized his chest as Ryoji pushed himself up into a sitting position, scarf piling every which way and trying desperately to remain in place.

    That look of fear on Minato's face surely hadn't been what he was expecting. Sure, he wasn't expecting his other half to look happy. After all, he'd damn near just tried to kill him with his own meat sack. One couldn't exactly be happy under that kind of circumstance, he understood that much. So, he did as he would normally do. He tried to ease the tension.

    "I'm sorry about that... but it's nice to see a familiar face." Ryoji offered up a smile to Minato. Soft, gentle, unassuming. Trying desperately to hide his relief that he hadn't just accidentally killed this boy (far before he was intended to.) "Are you alright? Are you hurt?" He was tempted to lean forward and check, but something about the look on Minato's face told him that that would be a poor decision. So he sat back, inspecting his own newfound wounds with curiosity as he awaited an answer.
     
  3. The inital panic was starting to subside into a gentle wariness. Minato swallowed his heart back into his chest and forced his breathing to slow down. Pandora took whatever it wanted whenever it wanted. Ryoji on the asphalt in front of him didn't necessarily mean that his days were... Numbered. Perhaps Pandora had simply scooped him up and slam-dunked him into the box..?

    Oh man, the others would not take this well.

    "... I've been through worse." He answered quietly, leaning back on his knees for a moment before very, very hesitantly crawling over to inspect Ryoji's injuries. His touch was careful and calculated, as if a wrong move might kill Minato outright.
    ... A little less bruised than himself, though that was to be expected. Minato had been a landing pad for the other, albeit probably not a good one. He bit his lip, examining the other curiously now that they were face to face, and pointedly ignoring the bright blue and pink amalgamation of his Little Nugget uniform.

    "... So, new arrival?" Move the conversation to something he could talk easily about: Pandora. He stood and offered Ryoji a hand to pull him up. "You're probably confused. I'll answer what I can."
     
  4. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    He's been through worse.

    Well, if Ryoji hadn't felt the wind get knocked out of his sails with the actual physical fall, he sure as hell did now. He wasn't exactly about to question what Minato meant by that. He was perfectly content to let that sentence hang out in the open. More than content, actually. So he should stop thinking about it, really, he told himself.

    The closeness of the two of them now that Minato'd leaned to examine him was... nice, he had to admit. He was finding far too much comfort in the familiarity of this boy. He supposed that maybe, he should stop that, but maybe, he should stop that later. You know, once he had any idea where the hell he was.

    "New... arrival?" Ryoji parroted, taking the other's hand to help himself up with a soft word of thanks. He dusted himself off, making it a point to ignore both how weak his legs felt and how ridiculous the outfit Minato was wearing was. (Pink and blue were... quite the combination. And what the hell was a Little Nugget?) "I guess you could say that I'm confused, yes. ... New arrival to where, exactly? The last I'd seen you, we were in your bedroom together." He explained, waving a hand in gesture. "And now we are...?"

    The scenery around him was new and strange. All the more reason to cling to familiarity, he supposed.
     
  5. Minato led him to a bench near the stand so he could sit, while Minato himself leaned against the stand's counter. It was vaguely, uncomfortably surreal to be seeing Ryoji again after all Minato had been through. The choice he had made in not killing him, the subsequent battle with Nyx, and Minato's own ascension into something not quite human to seal her... It still weighed silently on his mind. The last months of his true life played on repeat in the back of his skull, dripping into the pool of his memory.

    It was more instinct than forced observation that he realized how confused and vaguely upset Ryoji was. It was odd, being able to read another person like Minato had learned to read Ryoji over the ten years they'd spent tied together.
    He bit his lip at the comment about his bedroom. That really did it's job in placing Ryoji: December 31st, 2009. Right before the stroke of midnight.

    "In Pandora." He finished the question the minute it left Ryoji's mouth. "Alternate dimension. It's... Kind of based on the whole 'Pandora's Box' thing in terms of structure. Plus it kinda just... Kidnaps people from their own dimensions and transplants them here for a bit, then takes them back. Doesn't care about the timeline of your world, just takes whatever from whenever it pleases."
    He hesitated, then began a question of his own. He had to know if Ryoji here meant something else as well. Did his arrival mean she was here too? "Is Nyx...-?"
     
  6. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    Alternate dimensions weren't really something Ryoji had ever considered.
    It was slowly becoming apparent to him that... damn, it really didn't seem like he'd considered much.
    Thinking back on it, he supposed that alternate dimensions had probably always been a possibility. He'd been so absorbed in the workings of his own world that he hadn't even thought about other ones. What did the other ones matter to him, really?
    Except... they did matter. At least a little bit. Considering this one -- Pandora, he now knew -- had decided to grab him by the ankle and throw him on top of a food stand that just so happened to be run by the guy he spent ten years stuck inside. Life works in weird and mysterious ways. Ways that Death had yet to get acquainted to.

    Seated on the bench now, Ryoji placed his hands on his knees, bent over at an odd angle as he listened to Minato speak. What a weird, interesting world this Pandora was.

    "Sounds pretty rude of it, don't you think?" He asked, laughing lightly. "Or is taunting it not the right thing to do? I wouldn't want to anger a universe."

    Ryoji felt his heart fall as soon as he heard Minato's next question.
    He tilted his head back to look up at the sky, breathing a soft sigh.

    "... here?" He completed the question for the other before shaking his head. "No, I don't believe she's coming. I don't think that my arrival here has any connection to her at all, really. ...That's a relief, isn't it? It's... just me." He tapped his fingers against his knees, leaning his body back and keeping his eyes toward the sky. "No need to worry about The Fall. At least, not to my own knowledge."
     
    Minato Arisato likes this.
  7. Minato felt the tension in his shoulders ease and he felt himself smile, pushing off the stand and coming over to sit next to Ryoji on the bench. The Appraiser of Nyx without his mistress... As Minato was without his journey. Both of them without much to define them from home. Minato found it strangely liberating. Maybe here... They could both outrun their destinies, if just for a few months or -- dare he wish it -- years. There was something so incredibly comforting about Nyx just... Not being here. Minato didn't need to seal shit. He could keep living his life properly, go to college maybe, make friends, do dumb teen shit...

    Maybe he and Ryoji could stay friends. Become a pair that their destinies ripped from them.

    "Pandora doesn't seem to get insulted." He gave a shrug, glancing at Ryoji with a curious sparkle in his eyes, like a star or silver moonlight. "Unless she's trying to punish me... You're the third person that's fallen from the sky in my general vicinity... But you are the first person that actually fell on me, so if they're trying to hit me with my friends for target practice..." He made a little gun shape with his hand. "... Bullseye, finally."

    Another pause, before the smile became soft. "It is nice. Neither of us have to die here."
     
  8. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    The sudden weight of Minato sitting on the bench next to him made Ryoji feel at ease. As if, at last, he could tell that the other wasn't... afraid of him. It was nice, he decided. There was, after all, no reason to fear him. Without Nyx, he was almost purposeless. He held no significant power over anything. Having that fact aired in the open made their situation feel so much less hostile.

    "That's a good thing. I'll tell it that throwing me onto you was really, incredibly rude then." Ryoji looked over to Minato, taking note of his eyes twinkling. He looked... happy. Relieved. An emotion that Ryoji wasn't used to seeing on his other half. It brought a weird sense of joy to him. ".... Wait, really? It picked a hell of a person to throw on top of you." He laughed a little. "Still, I apologize. I would've landed anywhere else to not hurt you, but I don't really think I had much of a choice."

    He mirrored the smile on the other's face. "... That's right. Neither of us have to die. We can just... be. You can just be. There's nothing in your way now. I'm thankful for that." Ryoji tilted his head back to look up at the sky once more. "You can do things as any other teenager would. Like..." He gestured at the food stand. "... this? ...That uniform is quite the look on you."
     
  9. Ryoji was apologizing for falling on him, and it felt so natural that Minato gave a faint chuckle in response, nodding his head gracefully. Ryoji couldn't control his falling after all; Pandora was a strange mistress and seemed to make it her job to confuse and confound her inhabitants beyond their temporary natures in her grasp.
    The chuckle turned into a laugh at the nod to the uniform, and he looked down at it with a bright, fond smile. "I know, it's ridiculous isn't it? It's meant to draw in kids or whatever..."

    He sat up, now scanning Ryoji with a little more excitement. "I've been here for..." He hesitated, and then started counting on his fingers. November, to December, to January, to February, to March, to April, to May... He blinked, mouth slightly open. He could barely believe it.
    "... Six months." He liked the way it sounded on his lips. "So I can probably answer any other questions about... Pandora's structure and stuff."
     
  10. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

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    Age:
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    "It's certainly... a look." Ryoji pointed out with a laugh, reaching one hand out to touch Minato's shoulder in another gesture. It was delicate and gentle, still acting as though any slight touch from himself would startle the other into (another) new plane of existence. Though the general pleasantness of the conversation was enough to quell most worries, it wasn't doing such a great job of squashing that particular one completely. This was a somewhat new side to this relationship, after all. Adjustment time was needed. "But not a bad one. I've always thought you could pull off whatever you put on even if it's totally ridiculous. You're only proving me right, here." He joked, pulling his hand away to poke Minato before finally settling it back down in his lap.

    Six months. So Pandora liked to hang on, at least for a little while.
    Okay. Sounded like a plan. There were much worse places to be than here, Ryoji decided.

    "Structure." The word felt weird in his mouth, for whatever reason. "I'm not entirely sure about structure, but... where are we, right now?" He paused. "I don't mean 'in Pandora'. I mean, is this a theme park?" He looked from side to side, observing the scenery. The dinosaur motif was... apparent. He hadn't really bothered to look past the person right in front of him, but by the time he had, he realized that said motif was almost offensive in it's abundance. "... A theme park about dinosaurs?"
     
  11. The familiar touch was nice. Minato hummed happily, adjusting the stupid baseball cap on his head and then playfully pushing Ryoji at the compliment and the poke. "Oh shut it. I deserve a compliment like that if I wear something horrific. At least the uniform matches my color palette a little!" Not by much, but he could think of scarier things. Like neon green... Or something.

    He nodded as Ryoji questioned the area. "Yeah it's a dinosaur theme park. It's called Jurassic World, I think. Like a bigger, cheesier version of Jurassic Park, with all the cloned dinosaurs and rides and themed food and stuff. It kind of just... Appeared in March and hasn't gone away yet, so I'm working here until it does."
     
  12. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
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    Age:
    17
    Ryoji laughed, genuinely this time, before leaning over to steal the baseball cap from Minato's head and place it on his own. He then inched his way to the other end of the bench, hoping to avoid another playful push. "You're right, it does match your color palette. You also look like an adorable stick of cotton candy." He teased. "At least it isn't neon, right? That would be something else."

    Ryoji then hummed in response, taking the information in. A theme park... about dinosaurs... with real (cloned?) dinosaurs. Pandora was seeming more and more like something a child wrote down to share with their class by the minute. He wasn't sure yet if the idea of it was terrifying or absolutely, ridiculously interesting. Both, he decided.

    "What'll happen if it does go away?" Ryoji questioned, raising an eyebrow. "Will you just be out of a job? Will we all forget it ever existed? Everything here will just... vanish?" He paused. There was that uncomfortable familiarity again. And there he was, making the conscious effort to push it aside. "... Or will there be dinosaurs running amok in a different part of Pandora?"
     
  13. Ryoji stole his cap and spoke exactly what Minato was thinking, which made him grin quietly. There was a mystical sort of synergy to the two of them, bouncing off each others' sentences as well as thoughts. Somehow the pink and blue swirl matched the pale yellow of Ryoji's scarf, like a pretty pastel... Dream, or something. It reminded Minato of frozen yogurt for no immediately discernable reason.
    It looked nice on him.

    "Mm. The island'll vanish, but everyone's gonna still remember it." A light, easy shrug. "Pandora takes people and places in and out, but the random places only seem to be around for about three months before they disappear like they weren't here... And the places never bring in like... Actual people, or take them out, I think. The park just appeared completely staff-less, so Pandora just filled it, and I think it'll just vanish with all the dinosaurs. We are on an island..." He paused, tilting his head and then putting his chin in his hand thoightfully. "But the park island's tiny compared to the rest of Pandora... Honestly I should take you home, but warn everyone else first..."
     
  14. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
    102
    Age:
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    "We're on an island?" Ryoji couldn't help but feel like he was parroting almost every bit of information he was given. Maybe it was to get it all straight in his still-somewhat-reeling mind, maybe it was for clarity's sake, maybe it was just to bug Minato a little. Wasn't exactly sure, didn't exactly mind. "I guess that's a good thing. It's probably better to keep dinosaurs away from, you know, the general population who aren't paying to see them. Still, that's reassuring. It's nice to know that I won't completely lose my memory of crashing on top of you in a park full of dinosaurs." He laughed again, reaching up to fiddle with his new bit of stolen headgear. He was certain the two of them together looked a sight now -- Cotton Candy Boy and his other half, Frozen Yogurt Boy.

    The second Minato had mentioned 'home', Ryoji felt himself tense.
    Warn the others.
    Fuck.
    The others were here.

    What would they even think? Would they want to kill him? Would they harbor resentment for his actions? The possibilities were endless, but he couldn't imagine any of them were good. Not that he could blame a single one of them for hating him. Much less could he blame any of them for being afraid of him. He knew what he was. They knew what he was. It would only be natural to be... opposed to his existence, whether he was still tied to Nyx's coming or not.

    But, like hell he was going to let those fears show. He wouldn't know what they thought until he met up with them again. Everything rolling around in his mind were just possibilities, and that was all. For all Ryoji knew, they'd be happy to see him again. Especially in a normal state, not one tied to the sign of the end of the world.

    "I'd never say no to going home with you," Ryoji told Minato, winking at him. "but warning the others might be a good idea. ...Wouldn't want to catch them off guard."
     
  15. Minato didn't miss the vague tensing of Ryoji's figure when he mentioned the others, and he was in all honesty... Kind of looking for it. Minato had reacted with fear, because Nyx arriving would destroy this extension of life he had been given, and he wasn't quite ready for that anymore. Akihiko might react with anger. Shinji and Mitsuru too. Only Minako might react with anything otherwise, maybe even a warmness for their spiritual friend... But Minato was sure they'd all come around eventually. After all, Ryoji was no Appraiser here, no Avatar, no promise of the Fall. Here he was just Ryoji, in Minato's stupid uniform cap, laughing brightly.

    "Oh, is that so?" Minato teased, feeling his heart ache strangely. It hadnt yet been two months since he last flirted with someone -- That honor would go to somewhere around the 29th of May -- but, and this was a bit of a vengeful thought, Goro hadn't even waited a month with Amamiya. It was perfectly within his rights to find a kind of joy in the attention.

    ... Didn't mean he didn't feel slightly guilty though. Maybe... If this went any farther, he'd wait a little longer. A wave of doubt fell around his head that he silently tried to conceal under another smile.

    "I'm sure it'll be fine... Wow..." He leaned back in the chair, smiling. "We just need a little more luck, and Iori'll show. It's the Kyoto hot springs group in the making again. Sanada's here, and Kirijo... Aragaki from another timeline is too, and my... My sister-me-person. Minako. Plus Koromaru... And like thirty other people who either know what Persona is, or have Personae themselves. It's crazy."
     
  16. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

    Posts:
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    Age:
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    Deep breath in, deep breath out. Ryoji willed himself to relax. Getting internally worked up about what his (former? God, could he even call them friends anymore? Would they still consider him a friend? He had no idea) friends would think about his arrival would do him no good. What was to happen would happen. He figured it wouldn't be too bad, not with Minato at his side. Minato was all Ryoji really needed anyway.

    "It's absolutely so," Ryoji informed him, chuckling lightly. "I'd be out of my mind to decline any kind of offer from you."

    He then sat himself back as well, head tilted toward the sky again, the brim of his stolen hat blocking most of his view.
    He sighed softly, hoping not to catch the other's attention. Ryoji'd noticed a minuscule shift in Minato's demeanor, but he wasn't about to call it out.

    "You want to recreate the Kyoto hot springs group?" He laughed. "I was under the impression that that trip was never to be spoken of again." He leaned over to gently nudge Minato before settling himself back into place.

    "Thirty or so other people? That's insane." Insane, unfathomable, all the same to him. There were more people with Personae other than S.E.E.S? ...Alternate realities, he reminded himself. Of course there were. There had to be, in the grand scheme of things. "Plus, nearly all of you... this place just loves us, doesn't it?"

    However... 'sister-me-person'? Ryoji didn't remember Minato having a sister. He could recall vaguely talking to someone else, in the form of Pharos, but his memories of then were hazy. Was that a sister? Was it Minato himself? Ryoji genuinely couldn't remember, and his eyebrows momentarily knit together in confusion. ... Well, he supposed that they'd cross that bridge when they got to it. He wasn't really in the mood to think about it now, after all.
     
  17. He chuckled and winked at the nudge. "Yeah... It's probably more like, fifteen or twenty... most of them journeyed after me, but a few of them were in the 90s." He nodded, pushing hair out of his eyes. "And there's a couple that use more than one Persona like I do. Some of them are like... Proper Fools, and the others are the ones from the 90s. Something changed between our groups, I guess..."

    He had sent a few quick texts in between their conversations, getting varied responses from Sanada and Minako and- oh there was Aragaki. Cool.
    "... Most of them seem pretty chill." He nodded lightly at his phone, silently pleased. "I think they're a little surprised, but... Pandora just does that... You have to roll with the punches and all. Kirijo hasn't responded, but she trusts me... Here. I'll walk you to the dorms in the park. We can make the trip to the actual city tomorrow or so?"
    He stood up and offered Ryoji his hand. His off-time was coming up anyway, he could skip out a little early and walk Ryoji somewhere.
     
  18. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

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    "They all sound interesting, at any rate. But... the 90s? That's practically eons ago." Ryoji joked. ...They spanned decades? Not surprising, but certainly interesting. He found himself wondering, just momentarily, what these other Users were like. Were they anything like the group of people he'd come to know? He'd learn in due time, he guessed. Or maybe not. Pretty much all depended on how they felt about interacting with Walking Death.

    Again, not things to be thinking about right now.

    Ryoji felt the tension in his shoulders ease with the confirmation. Alright, the rest of them were surprised, but not malicious. Surprised, he could deal with. He was surprised himself -- at least there was some kind of common ground.

    "That makes more than one of us, then. ... I'm happy to hear that, in any case." He nodded as he stood, taking Minato's hand for support. The ache in his own wasn't lost on him, and he hoped to whatever god Pandora happened to possess that Minato's didn't feel nearly as bad. He nodded, giving a soft hum of confirmation. "That sounds alright with me. I'll follow you wherever regardless." He winked once more, following it with a smile. "... Paaaartially because you know where you're going, but even if you didn't."

    He turned to look at the stand before making a soft noise of realization. "Wait, hold on a second -- is it alright for you to be leaving? Are you still supposed to be working?"
     
  19. "My shift's over in three minutes, Ryoji. I'm alright." He chuckled, taking him forwards by the hand along the pathway. The stones were slate gray, and his shoes stood out against them as the two walked, with Minato occasionally checking the groupchat, and at one point bursting into laughter as it dissolved into something utterly and totally just... Crass. It was hysterical and he probably drew some stares, but he never really stopped holding Ryoji's hand.
    Minato's own was warm, in fact he was very much... Alive. Living in a way he was never living back home. There was a new, almost soothing vibrancy to him, the way his eyes glittered, the volume and shine of his hair, the pink flush of skin... It was a freedom to be. A freedom to live a little longer, unchained by destiny.

    They made it to the dorm, still hand in hand, Minato taking out the key to his room and inserting it into the door with a hum, the door opening and swinging inwards.
    It's a bit like a hotel, a bed, a bathroom, a few chairs for sitting in, and it's scattered with bits of Minato. Jackets, a few books, a phone charger, a 3DS strewn across the bed, a backpack in the corner. The space is lived in, he's been using this room for quite a while by now...

    "Welcome to my weird staff-room." He snorted, gesturing to the area. "They let people sleep at the Park if they live too far away, like in Elysium or something."
     
  20. Ryoji Mochizuki

    Ryoji Mochizuki Persona

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    "I'm just checking! Maybe I'd fallen on you in the middle of your shift. I had no way of knowing!" Ryoji laughed again, letting Minato pull him along. Not like he knew where the hell he was going anyway, and like hell he was about to let go of this boy's hand.

    Minato's newfound vibrancy was... refreshing. Ryoji had never had the chance to see him like this. Not that he could remember, anyway. The Minato he remembered had always been... well, depressed was the long and short of it. Not that Ryoji could have blamed him in the slightest. Not when he was the cause of the damned depression. Seeing him now laugh, smile, and be generally cheery filled Ryoji's heart with something he couldn't quite explain. Equal parts relief and happiness, maybe. Minato deserved every bit of happiness after what he went through. Now, that he was finally able to experience being a person sans the weight of the world hanging over him... he was something else.

    A good something else. A better something else.

    Ryoji had only realized that he'd zoned out once they made it back to the dorm. Even that was different. Well, outside of the obvious reasons why. Though still obviously a dorm room, it was clearly splattered with more things that were Obviously Minato than the room he remembered being pulled from. It was actually lived in, to some extent. It looked like somewhere a teenage boy would live, instead of some... sterile environment he was forced to exist inside. Ryoji willed his heart to stop squeezing in his chest -- why was this, of all things, so oddly significant to him?

    "Thank you. I'm honored to be a guest." He bowed, not even bothering to resist his urge to snort as well. "Elysium. ... I'm going to have to write all of these names down until I get a handle on them."