Author's Note:

On noticing the dearth of Shinjiro-centric fanfics out there, I decided to throw my hat into the fray. This is my first stab at Persona 3 fic, and it's going to have the strange and improbable pairing of Shinjiro/Yukari (Shinkari?). I'll give you a moment to wrap your mind around that. All set? Good.

Most of this will be from Shinjiro's point of view, sometimes it switches to Yuka-tan's, but... (waves hand) I'm honestly just writing this for fun, and because I wanted to see how believable I can make the pairing, since poor Shinji doesn't get an awful lot of romance fic written about him (awww).

If you're keeping track, the story starts on September 4 and progresses from there, to, well...October. Also, there will be spoilers, spoilers, spoilers, so watch out.

Here goes,

--cy.


He fished around in his coat pocket feverishly. A dog tag of Koro-chan's that he'd meant to fix, no; receipt from grocery shopping in the market earlier, no; pills, not yet; chicken ramen favor packet--the hell? He was beginning to see why they just gave all of their stuff to that kid. Keeping things organized was a bitch.

Finally, he found what he was looking for.

"Don't be so careless," he called as he hurled the medical powder at Yukari Takeba, axe swinging in his other hand wildly as he did so, "I'm running out of these."

She frowned, but looked relieved nonetheless. "Yeah, well, you try fighting an electricity-aligned Shadow with a wind-type Persona."

"Still, wouldn't want your boyfriend getting upset."

Yukari gave him a look that clearly said that he'd chosen the wrong thing to bring up. Oh yeah, she and the kid had been on the outs lately. Something had happened concerning the sports coach for Kendo club, apparently.

Shinjiro Aragaki shrugged and waited for the Shadow to make its move. He hated wasting turns like this, keeping someone else alive and making bait out of himself. It made him jittery. And wasn't this whole exercise so that he wouldn't have to be jittery at night anymore?

His right eye twitched maniacally. Oops. Got to get a hold of that.

An arrow flew through the air and caught the thing right in the stomach. It writhed and doubled over miserably, lolling about on the floor just begging to be finished off. Shinjiro sighed, biding his time, and watched Yukari's face shine. Nothing like vindictiveness to up your chances at a critical hit.

"What's this thing's Arcana again? Hanged Man?"

Akihiko shook his head, holstering his own Evoker. "Nah, looks like Strength. Fuuka, some help?"

Shinjiro hastily suppressed a tremor in his hand. The axe swung haphazardly in a circle by his legs.

It wasn't like it had gotten all that bad. Yeah, Akihiko was going to have some choice words for him when (hopefully if, but Shinjiro had learned not to trust in anything that involved a "hopefully") he found out about some of the side-effects he was encountering, let alone what was causing the side-effects, but that was that. He wasn't as completely dependent on the stuff as he had been, and he found himself waking up during the night less. Maybe this ass-kicking at midnight on a regular basis was just what he needed.

Or maybe just what his Persona needed. He'd long had a feeling that Castor resented being cooped up on nights like this when there were Shadows to be sliced up. Either way, best to enjoy it while it lasted.

The Shadow looked at him pitifully from the marble floor, eyes glinting and reflecting the pale light that shone on it.

He smirked and put the cool barrel of the Evoker to his forehead.

"Let's do this."

--

"Well, looks like the new dog suit for Koromaru-chan is all that we're going to get from this, huh? Twelve chests, and except the one with the suit, every one Rancid Gravy. Ew." Yukari sighed, stretching. "Anyone else getting tired? I'm bushed."

Akihiko flexed his gloves, wincing at the creak of metal. Shinjiro wondered why this was so surprising. You fight with metal objects, they require maintenance, you deal. Stuff rusts. But, some part of him pondered, if Gekkoukan's Golden Boy should rust, what then lead?

Lead, yeah. He shouldered the axe. The lead twin to the golden idol, that was him. "I could go a little longer."

Akihiko shook his head and breathed a little heavier than usual. "Ugh, I don't think I could. My stomach's feeling weird." He smiled sheepishly. "You always had more stamina than I did, Shinji."

Shinjiro shrugged and watched as even their blue-haired companion slumped in unison with the other two. Damn. It sucked being the only one.

Eventually, they began the long trek of heading back to the dorm. Since their group had grown past the carrying capacity of Mitsuru's motorcycle, transport from Tartarus to the dormitory had begun to be an issue. The Dark Hour was the length of a regular hour, so things worked out great if they arrived, spent an hour, and then took the midnight trains back to the dorm. Leaving earlier, though...

"Crap." Junpei said, as they hopped the barrier by the ticket booths, coffins forming a neat line behind them. "You know, after joining you guys, I never really feel safe taking trains anymore."

Yukari frowned. "That was just one time, Stupei. Besides, it's not like these trains are going anywhere. We just have to, well, walk."

"Aw man." He sighed, throwing himself theatrically down on one of the benches. "Can't we just wait here for the Dark Hour to end and then catch a train?"

"Of course not." Mitsuru interjected, gracefully vaulting the turnstile. "That would be unethical."

"Besides, I think the people here might get a little weirded out," Fuuka added, "you know, seeing a group of people appear out of nowhere and then try to board a train. We'd probably get questioned." She thought. "Or arrested. Maybe both."

"Yeah, yeah, go on and ruin my idea." Junpei sighed, reluctantly leaving the bench. "But don't tell me that you weren't secretly hoping that we didn't have to walk the whole way home ourselves either."

Shinjiro watched and walked on, trying to disguise his disappointment.

They could have had one more battle, just one, something that would get it out of his system for the night. Damn it. He needed to be exhausted to really sleep well, so tired that even if he tried to exert himself all he could push himself to do would be to get back to his bed and sleep.

Those were the nights when he didn't have to worry about the dreams or about waking up before he wanted. Tonight, though, probably wasn't going to get added to that happy number of peaceful slumbers.

He felt his fingers twitch and he suddenly missed the handle of his axe.

"Hey, you got a moment?"

Yukari had slowed down her pace to keep stride with him and was looking at him with that expectant gaze of hers. Shinjiro frowned. No, tonight was definitely not going to be a good night.

"There's something I wanted to talk to you about." She said, still looking at him. Shinjiro kept his hands spaded in his pockets and his eyes firmly ahead of him.

"Yeah, what?" He replied.

She took a moment. "You mentioned not wanting to make my 'boyfriend' worry earlier. You know..." She trailed off, her lips tasting the word "boyfriend" like it was something sour.

Shinjiro rolled his eyes. One of the perks of wearing a beanie all the time was that you could do things like that and not have people notice it too often. Was he actually going to have to respond to this? He could already tell where this was leading.

"After a summer together, you two are done already? Well, that was quick." He said glibly, wanting to get this over with. Generally, being offensive worked alright.

Yukari frowned. "Hey, it wasn't the whole summer. I just thought that, well, maybe there was something to him. I mean, he answered a lot of questions in class and everyone was saying that he was pretty cool."

Shinjiro sighed, and straightened his peacoat. "Look, do I seem like someone you'd go to to play relationship councilor? I'm sure Mitsuru or that blue-haired girl--"

"Fuuka."

"Whatever. One of them's got to be just dying to help you. Hell," he said, "throw a slumber party with all of them for all I care. Maybe not the robot one, though." He still had some misgivings about that one.

Yukari sighed. "It seemed like things were going so well. I mean, I even invited him back to my--"

Shinjiro walked a little more hurriedly. "Do I really need to hear this?"

"What, don't you want to help me out?"

"No."

A pause. They cast their shadows on the still pavement, cars halted in motion on either side of them. Shinjiro had thought that this was pretty neat the first couple of times he'd done it on his own: walking through a highway when all the traffic was as frozen as the promise of snow on the air. Coffins were crammed into carseats (somehow) and headlights blazed on unfalteringly.

It was nice, until the Dark Hour ended and the high-speed reality of just where they were standing kicked back in.

"Shit."

Everyone else had made it to the other side of the bypass and were well on their way to the dorm, nearly visible in the distance. How many minutes did they have left?

"Hey, you don't have to swear at me! I'm trying to sort my feelings out here. I don't need crap from you on top of--"

"Shut up." He grabbed her arm and began to march her a little bit faster through the sea of cars and trucks. A semi loomed disastrously in front of them.

Yukari looked like she had some choice words for him, one look at his face and she was silent, eyes catching some of his countenance.

"Senpai?" She whispered. "What is it?"

Was that an engine he heard?

A pair of lights whirled behind them, and a cool wind raced under his boots.

"Shit shit shit." He said under his breath. He pulled her like she was a rag doll and ran.

Something swung past them, casting shadows on either side. Yukari was pretty fast, he realized, as she moved with him once she'd gotten over her shock. A truck careened their way, a few cars were near misses, but for the most part, they were able to make it to the other side of the highway. Shinjiro caught someone hurling a very colorful swear at them from one of the trucks and was tempted to answer back with something equally descriptive, but decided against it. Tonight was just not his night.

The two of them walked in silence for a little while, until the the front steps of the dormitory were before them.

"Full moon tomorrow, huh?" Bad dreams undoubtedly awaited him. It happened every time.

Yukari looked up at him sharply, as thought deep in thought. "Uh, yeah. That's right." She fumbled in her pockets for a key, brow furrowed. "Weird, I don't feel as tired as I was back at Tartarus."

"Just be careful."

She almost had time to do a double-take, eyes wide, when he opened the door and Junpei's face poked out at her confidently.

"Oooh, Yuka-tan, out late with Shinjiro-senpai now, huh? When's my turn? Seems like just yesterday you were all over--"

"Can it, Stupei."

By the time she'd gotten through the group of people wanting to know if she was alright, what she and Shinjiro-senpai had been talking about, whether Shinji had decided to leave SEES after all, and the myriad of questions about how they escaped the highway rush, she saw that the stairs were empty and that the second floor hallway was curiously devoid of life.

Yukari Takeba shrugged, and went to her room. Hey, maybe the guy just turned in early on nights like this.

--

Yeah, right. He'd known it wasn't going to be a good night from the start.

And sure enough, it wasn't. He awoke somewhere past three, drenched in sweat, visions of horses and blood-soaked spears cascading through his mind, lingering in the dark spots of the room. His breath came in gasps, and his heart pounded like the beat of a war drum. Same old thing, but it never felt this bad when he remembered it later. He kept his eyes pried wide open, not trusting the darkness to be tame, even in the dorm. The sounds of soft breathing carried through the hallways as he stepped out, clicked the door shut, and made his way down the stairs.

Hands slick on the railing, he concentrated on calming his heart before reaching the landing. Someone had left the lounge light on, which was good, because fumbling around in the dark and trying not to give into the tremors rarely was a good combination. He was lucky that the last time he'd done this no one had heard him fall. Even before he'd left SEES, full moon nights had always sucked. The drugs exacerbated it initially, but at least he didn't have to deal with it each night anymore, which was what he'd wanted. He grimaced. Hell, nice to know that at least something around here stayed the same, no matter how much stranger this place got. Full moons just sucked ass, no matter what happened.

Sweat beaded on his brow and his mouth was dry and tasted of old envelopes, the kind that had been left in the drawer too long, stale and flat with impatience. He swallowed and nearly choked. Somehow managing to wrest a glass from the cupboard, he filled it with water from the tap and drank, long and deep, until he felt the world settle into a more familiar earthquake.

Shinjiro Aragaki exhaled and slumped into a chair by the table. So much for exhausting himself. Castor was relentless and ready tonight.

Just a little longer, he thought, the embrace of sleep clouding his mind, as he felt his way up the stairs and back into his room. Just a little while.

He was really starting to hate full moons.