a/n: I feel this is horribly cliché for this fandom/series and there's probably a million fics out there like it. But, now you have a million and one fics like it! That felt like a Margaret attempt at humor, hm. Anyhow, I penned this while I was incoherent with sadness after beating the game the first time, so please excuse any overt hidden-bawling-moments I screwed in.

This should be obvious, but ending spoilers, etcetera.

Disclaimer: Oh, everyone should know what would have happened if I'd own Persona 3. Clearly, considering my vainly shed tears, I do not.

Of the Old is the New

Spring.

It was a season of beginnings, of auspicious relationships, of renewed life.

Aigis was still gently leading him to the school. He had slept so well yesterday, but still awoke feeling sleepier than usual. Again, he felt exhausted, the strength evaporating off his skin, but like the past month, he couldn't stop and welcome the slumber that beckoned to him. He could have easily gotten rid of the cumbersome weight on his bones, but he didn't.

He still had a promise that he had to keep.

When they arrived at the rooftop, he was tired beyond belief. Somewhere inside, he dimly remembered all those stairs he had climbed before in that tower and a weak chuckle died far before it had been born.

She held his hand and sat down on a bench, then tugged at him to use her lap as a pillow. Gratefully, he lied down and looked up at the robot's face.

Cherry blossoms swayed and fluttered in the spring breeze, which the girl promptly commented on. The most he could do was stay silent.

The weariness was coming back, but he swayed it off until the moment came.

He listened to her cry like a human, profess ideals and love like a human, and realized – though he had a feeling he knew already – that she too had found meaning, just like Ryoji had prophesized.

Minato wiped away her tears, hoping to bring a smile.

"You're right. What am I doing?" She understood, after all. There was no need to be sad.

I'm not dying, he wished he could say. I'm just going to… sleep.

He pondered what everyone was doing - Kenji, Kazushi, Yuko, Chihiro, Keisuke, Maya, Mutatsu, and everyone he knew – what would they be thinking of right now?

Even as he almost ruefully thought of what they would do in the future without him, he took silent solace in the fact that he was at least able to give them a future, even if he could no longer be with them for it. Was that sufficient enough to portray how much he treasured them?

As he heard Aigis give him her deepest thanks, he tried to muster up a smile, but couldn't quite get there yet. She merely gave a calm and pained look in return.

Voices – familiar ones – echoed in the backdrop of life. The sleep clouding his mind stood still for a moment as he remembered those voices.

Long ago, he would have wanted to return to them. He still did, but he knew where he was to stop.

The transient blossoms peacefully twirled in the wind. Breathtakingly bright sunlight shined down on him with the warmth of a hundred smiles – perhaps his friends'? – and Minato felt it calm him.

"You must be tired." Tired. The word laced his eyelids. "Please, get some rest. I'll stay right here with you."

Some rest, she said. It would be a lie to call it a nap, but he knew there was a beginning to it somewhere and agreed.

Aigis gave a smile filled with emotion. "Soon, all your friends will be here by your side." He heard them, he heard his friends, but they sounded… so far away. Yet, a happiness unfelt for what seemed like ages touched his heart. They remembered and it meant he could leave the future to them.

It was not death, but liberation.

He no longer had to fulfill his role or had desires to pursue aside from one and he knew what he needed to do to accomplish it.

He faced the end, not with lament or grief, but with a clear and enlightened soul.

He understood it all, the extent of his life and his goal. There was no more 'unknown, nothing to fear.

With that, a relieved and peaceful expression descended upon him. A smile forever ingrained upon his lips, Minato closed his eyes, giving in to the calls of his body, and felt the spring breeze rustle his hair. The calls of his friends still resonated within his mind and the smile remained; there was nothing more for him to do in this place, his role and duties over. It was up to them, now.

His mind seemed to float out of his body and boundaries into fresh freedom, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

It wasn't only the end.

It was a whole new beginning, too.