By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
It had been like, around a month since the last time Ryuji stepped into the Metaverse. After they stole Dr. Maruki's heart, it was supposed to be gone for good, and then after he got to Pandora, there just wasn't a lot of reason for them to do Phantom Thief stuff, which was good, but at the same time, he did miss being able to fight Shadows in the Metaverse. Having a Persona, being able to pull out all those cool moves, beating the shit out of all kinds of creepy monsters... it was really dangerous, but he enjoyed the thrill of it, especially when he had his friends to back him up.
This time was a bit different though. He was going to be having a practice fight with Makoto, his girlfriend. It felt kinda weird doin' this, especially because he didn't like the idea of fighting with a girl, but he also knew that Makoto could kick some serious ass, so he knew better than to go easy on her. Plus, he was curious about how well he'd measure up against her in a fight involving their Personas. Still, kinda awkward.
The Metaverse in Pandora was really different too. It wasn't like Mementos' creepy subway tunnels, instead, it was more like the palaces, or rather, the area outside them. Everything looked normal at a first glance, but then there would be Shadows wanderin' around, but that wasn't a big deal. Between him and Makoto, they could probably deal with any Shadow that came after this.
"Man, I missed these clothes!" Ryuji beamed as he looked at his gloves, sleeves and then down at the rest of his Phantom Thief outfit. After he was done admiring himself, he looked back at Makoto. "So, uh... where would be a good place for us to do this? Are there any safe rooms or anythin' here where the Shadows won't bother us?"
Here they were, in the Metaverse. Something about this world changed her, or maybe it was more accurate to say that her Persona was responsible. Makoto always hesitated and wondered what others thought about her, but Queen simply felt things and acted. Her emotions were no longer a liability, but a strength that gave her the ability to change things. A way to directly fight against the darkness of society.
Even if her mask was a little...inelegant, and her clothes were covered in spikes, there was confidence in the way she walked and spoke. No chains could hold her and Agnes down.
Today was somewhat different, though. This wasn't just a trip to hunt shadows, and no one else was here but Ryuji. She didn't mind being alone with her boyfriend, but fighting here just didn't sit well with her.
"Well they do fit you perfectly," Makoto said to him. She had to relax. This was just a spar. Nothing serious. She stretched her arms above her head and arced her back. "Safe Rooms tend to be places where people rest in the real world. Bedrooms, waiting rooms, restaurants... It just needs a defined barrier to keep Shadows away." They needed a good amound of space too. Maybe a club would work? "Follow me, I'll find the right building."
It took a short while to enter the main part of Ark City from the suburbs, and Makoto led Ryuji to a silent bar and lounge. The shadows kept a noticeable distance from it, and the door was hazier than usual. A good sign. She pulled the door open and slipped inside. As she suspected, the lounge was empty. "We can push some tables over to make room."
Makoto acted a lot different when she was in the Metaverse. In the real world, she still looked like she had her shit together and like she was in control of everything, but sometimes it was like she was trying really hard to not show her weaker side. Here, all that confidence felt a lot more genuine, like she really thought that she could handle anything.
Ryuji couldn't help but wonder if he changed like that too.
With just a nod in reply, Ryuji followed Makoto around, keeping an eye open for any Shadows that might be tailing them or trying to be sneaky. Nothing happened though and they safely arrived at what looked to be an empty bar, with a good bit of open space in it.
"Alright, let's do it!" he said, rolling his shoulders as he walked over to one of the tables and began pushing it out of the way.
As Ryuji got to work, he glanced around. Even once they cleared the area, it was probably not gonna be an open enough area to ride Agnes in. Not that it was that big of a deal. Makoto was used to using her Persona anywhere, but still, he couldn't help but wonder if this was sort of handicapping her a little.
They were...really doing this. The anxiety began to creep up on her now that she was watching him clear out a big enough space. Maybe she should just stop thinking about it so hard? Easier said than done, but what else could she do? Call it off without an explanation? Maybe lay down some ground rules on what they're allowed to fight with? Ryuji was tough, she knew that from watching him fight all sorts of Shadows for so long. And yet... all she could picture was that fake apartment room, lit up by bright blue nuclear explosions. Her hands curled into fists until she forced herself to stop clenching and help Ryuji out. A few minutes later, they'd cleared out a decent sized "arena". No more stalling.
"Hope you're ready for this," Makoto said, though she made no move to summon her Persona yet. Instead she took up a defensive stance with her brass knuckles. "As your senpai, I'll let you have the first move. How does that sound?" Her stern look was broken when her lips twitched with a smile. This was getting easier as she talked. Fighting was supposed to be fun. A way to let go, not worry over the past.
Ryuji noticed that it took Makoto a bit before she started helping out. It looked like she was thinkin' about somethin', but what? Was she worrying about how safe this was? It didn't sound like that much of a big deal to him, after all, if a Shadow showed up, they'd just beat it up and carry on, right? Ryuji didn't know how the Metaverse here was like, but it couldn't be that different, right?
Once they were done with all the prep work, Ryuji got in position, keeping some distance between them and looking ready to move at any moment. Makoto was giving him the first move as his senpai which... well, it was fair, but still... Eh, this would be fine. If they could survive fighting against a god, they could take hits from each other.
"Alright! You better be ready!" Ryuji grinned, though this one had more of an edge to it. His hand moved to the opposite end of his mask and then he pulled it off in a quick movement. "C'mon, William!"
The skeletal pirate captain then manifested behind Ryuji and then pointed his arm cannon towards Makoto. It began glowing yellow, with sparks flying out of the barrell before then shooting a single, powerful bolt of lightning towards Makoto. Magic wasn't his specialty, but it sounded like a good way to get things rollin'.
Well that was a quick escalation. But then again, Ryuji wasn't the type to start off slowly. As soon as William was summoned, she tensed in anticipation fo his next move. An electric spell, one of his less powerful abilities. Makoto dodged the bolt with a roll and landed back on her feet, immediately running at Ryuji. His Persona didn't keep her away in the slightest, even as it loomed ahead of her.
"Agnes, come to me!" Her mask burned away, and a black and gold armored motorcycle drove alongside her. They needed to take it easy, but she couldn't just avoid using her Persona. That'd be disrespectful to Ryuji. Makoto pulled herself into the seat and revved the engine. Agnes charged at Ryuji, but stopped and swerved on the front wheel before they collided, using the back half of the bike as a weapon against him as they reversed directions.
Makoto dodged the Zionga with ease, just like Ryuji had expected her to. It was just an opening move, after all, if she couldn't dodge that, it'd be a sign that she was getting really rusty. That done, Makoto summoned Agnes and began charging right at him. Of course, he wasn't going to just stand there and take it, so Ryuji tried to sidestep it, but then Makoto stopped and wheeled Agnes around, catching him by surprising and slamming him with the bike.
This knocked Ryuji off his feet and sent him flying onto one of the tables that got pushed away, William disappearing by the time he had landed. He grunted as he jumped back onto his feet. Makoto's comment only getting him to smirk as if nothing had happened.
"Yeah, I am," he said, then pulling out his mask again and resummoning William. Red and yellow streams of energy began gathering around him before closing in, charging him up for his next attack. "So why don't you try getting closer again?" he dared her as he began stepping closer, watching her movements.
Makoto stopped on the spot and waited for a response when she realized how hard she hit Ryuji, but let go of her breath when he stood up from the pile of tables. Not badly injured, then. He even managed to set up a Charge. Agnes "growled" and jerked forward a couple of inches.
"I hope your reaction time's better than that, Skull!" she called, before the motorcycle accelerated at him. A thin layer of defensive magic shimmered into place around her, anticipating a physical strike. Her heartbeat raced, but less out of fear and more from genuine excitement. It'd been a long while since she'd fought like this, and it was easy to immerse herself entirely in the desire to win.
So she was going to challenge him head on, huh? Ryuji had expected her to do the smart thing and try to keep him away, but maybe this was her daredevil side coming out, especially since this wasn't a "serious" fight. Well, whatever he reason was, she was gonna regret it.
"Alright, William! Show them some real power!" Ryuji yelled out, grinning confidently.
The skeletal captain's normal hand then began glowing with energy, not too different from the previous charge, before diving at Makoto and trying to slam her fist at her. Or rather, the attack was more directed at Agnes than Makoto, but since they were kinda the same, it didn't really matter.
Agnes tried to swerve to the side and keep their momentum, but William's fist caught the motorcycle and knocked both it and the rider over. Makoto hit the ground hard as Agnes faded, stunned from the hit. It was definitely strong, but she picked herself up without hesitation. Just a little bruised, but not enough to make her give in.
"That's more like it!" The Rakukaja spell had some more time left on it, so she decided to counterattack instead of healing. Running at him clearly wouldn't work again, so it was time to swap tactics. She touched her mask and called on Agnes again, though this time they stayed in place. Her Persona burned blue with magic as she started up a nuclear attack, only for the engine to audibly falter at the last second. The Freila went wide and exploded farther to the left of Ryuji, destroying a few tables. Makoto's smile fell, and she shook her head to try and clear it, leaning against Agnes. Usually her Persona was very in-sync with her, but that felt like they were straining against each other.
The punch landed and Makoto and Agnes were sent flying by it. For a bit, Ryuji was worried that he might have gone a bit too far with it. He wasn't really used to fighting against actual people with his Persona, so it was hard to tell what was too much and what wasn't. Makoto picked herself back up pretty quick though and, judging by the way she was talking, she was still far from done.
She was really cool when she got herself all worked up like this.
Now that she knew better than to face him head-on again, she started aiming a spell at him. Ryuji was ready to get out of the way but... for some reason, the spell was way off and didn't hit anywhere close to him. It just wrecked some tables instead. He looked back at Makoto, worried. It didn't look like she was dizzy or anythin', so... what happened?
"Yeah, sorry." Makoto's grip on her bike tightened as she twisted the handle. And now he was worried about nothing, how embarrassing. What was up with her? She thought she was over her aversion to using nuclear spells, but now she couldn't aim them right. Or was it just because she didn't want to hit Ryuji? But she wasn't even trying to seriously hurt him! "I overthought it, that's all." Agnes was still being obstinate, refusing to attack again. Makoto frowned at her Persona. Was this really necessary? Come on, just one spell-
The motorcycle finally roared to life again and tried to hit Ryuji with an even weaker Frei, the burst of magic not much of a threat. She huffed in annoyance before recalling Agnes. This was downright pathetic. What happened to all that progress with Ren?
"I can't...use my Persona. Not like this," she admitted, her resolve weakening by the second. There was no hiding it anymore.
There was something wrong here. Makoto looked like she was having trouble all of sudden. Just a while ago she was charging at him like nothing, but now she couldn't even use a spell against him. What happened...?
When she did manage to fire off a spell, it was a really weak one. It did catch Ryuji by surprise, but all he did was cross his arms in front of him and took it, barely feeling anything from it. At best, the impact pushed him back a bit. Funny how back when they were first starting, a spell like this would've hurt a lot, but now he could take it without even a scratch.
But that wasn't important right now.
William disappeared and Skull's mask reappeared on his face. He jogged over to Makoto, their fight apparently over.
"Whaddya mean you can't use your Persona? Did somethin' happen?" he asked, his voice sounding more and more worried
She couldn't look directly at him, deciding to study his shoes instead. It was getting harder to concentrate on the here and now and not start thinking about Ren standing there, waiting to die. Her stomach churned. She couldn't pretend that this was okay anymore.
"I can't do it. I can't give it my all because it's too much like"- she started to say, closing her eyes. How did she even explain this? It was hard enough to bring it up that first time with him and Futaba. What would he say once he realized what she did? Makoto took a step back from him and tried to catch her breath. "How...much do you know about what happened to Ren last winter?" she asked. "When he was framed for another crime and almost sent to the Wastes?"
So something did happen that wasn't letting her go all out. She did spend a lot of time in Pandora already, so maybe it shouldn't have surprised him to hear about. Ren went through a lot of stuff too. It all just made him wish he'd been there to do something about it, or at least try to help them out.
Speaking of Ren's stuff, Makoto was bringing it up all of sudden. Was she involved in it? Well, actually, that wouldn't be too surprising. He doubted Makoto would just stand there while everything happened with Ren, well, unless he kept quiet about it, but it didn't sound like it.
"Uh... he told me all about that flower stuff. That he got framed for attackin' Mishima, broke an arm, got put in jail... all that shitty stuff," Ryuji answered, his voice sounding progressively angrier the more he talked about it, just thinking about Ren going through all of made his blood boil. "He also said somethin' about some asshole 'friend' of his tryin to kill him, but I think it was before all that," Ryuji folded his arms, a quiet grunt escaping him. "Did somethin' happen to you back then too?"
Ah, so he knew...pretty much all of it. Great, that saved time. Makoto honestly wasn't sure what to make of Ren not telling Ryuji it was her that came close to killing him. Trying to protect their friendship? Probably, but she didn't think it was worth hiding the truth. He was the one hurt, so why was he still doing her favors?
There was a lot that happened specifically to her in winter, but even now it just felt like a giant series of mistakes. She couldn't really frame herself as a "victim" in any capacity during that mess. She did her best to make up for it, but it still happened when it really shouldn't have if she just talked to...anyone. Makoto shook her head.
"That last one was me. I...had my own problems and hid in the Metaverse for a while. Ren followed me, and I didn't want his help. It turned into a fight and I almost went too far." It felt like someone else was talking, and she was just waiting for the inevitable reaction. There was no way Ryuji was going to brush this off, and she couldn't blame him for it either. "He wouldn't fight back. I stopped attacking him and he left."
Ryuji had guessed that something bad had happened the last time Makoto went all out in a fight. Probably ended up really hurting someone around that time. He could understand that a bit, he wasn't exactly the best at holding himself back, especially when he got pissed. He was better now and, thankfully, nobody got hurt by him like that.
So when Makoto revealed that when the person she had almost killed was Ren. That she was the friend he'd mentioned. Ryuji immediately recoiled back as if the reveal had actually pushed him back. She told him what happened, but it didn't really amount to much. He could barely pay attention to what she was saying to him due to his state of pure disbelief.
"You did it?!" Ryuji yelled out, not even bothering with volume. "W-What? Why? Why didn't you want his help? What happened?!" his voice sounded confused, rather than angry, but already his questions were more like demands than simply asking for information.
She glanced up at Ryuji as he raised his voice, only to look away again, her entire body tense. She told herself she wouldn't run away again. There was no easy escape from this. She had to get it over with, even if a part of her really wanted to drive off somewhere and hide for a while. It was childish.
"It was my own fault!" she snapped, before catching herself. "...I was jealous he had other people to rely on, and I should have handled it better. I didn't want to talk to him when I felt like I was nothing." She was too weak and needy and she had to prove she didn't need him to survive. Crawling back to him in that moment wasn't an option. She was so angry just hearing him try to convince her to come back, that it was like being blinded. "It was stupid, just"- Makoto turned and headed for the door. "I'm going home," she said quietly.
Ryuji was struck silent as Makoto explained what happened back then. He... couldn't really understand it. How did Ren have people to rely on but she didn't? Even if they weren't all in Pandora, there were still a good amount of Phantom Thieves around, why couldn't she rely on them? Did she think she was the one that needed to be relied on? If so, that was, well, pretty stupid.
Either way, Ryuji didn't know what to say at this point, and Makoto was already starting to leave. This whole thing was just... hard to process. Makoto nearly killing Ren, how she felt at the time... he felt like he was missing a lot of important info, but it didn't look like she wanted to talk about it anymore.
He wanted to tell her to wait so he could talk to her but... was that even the best thing to do now? She was done and he didn't even know what to say. His feelings on the matter were so conflicted, he couldn't find any words to say to her, and she wasn't giving him the time to sort himself out.
In the end, he said nothing and just watched as Makoto left the room.