Disclaimer: I don't own Persona 4. It belongs to Atlus.
Note: I was bored… Don't ask me.
"Naoto, when are you returning to Inaba? Everyone misses you! Come on! We'll have a huge get together! Senpai said he's coming back soon! Will you be there? Bye!"
"Hey Naoto! How's school going in Tokyo? It so much different from Kyoto, isn't it!? Well, hope you're well, bye!"
"Hey Ms. Third Year at Tokyo U! I just saw the cutest thing! I was in Inaba and Kanji was sitting at the station sewing! He wasn't even waiting for a train, but...! Pft! He was so shocked to see me there suddenly! Oh well, I'm visiting grandma today. I got you a suvonier too! Hope to see you soon!"
Ten years worth of phone messages...
"Naoto! I'm in Osaka! I know you're here! We need to have a small reunion! Think you can get off? Okay, call me back if you can!"
"I just heard something from Yukiko-senpai. Something's going on in Inaba. I'm heading out there for a few weeks. Will you be there too? Call me back."
"Naoto... could you come out to Inaba? I'm... staying out here for a year to get some things together. Nobody's seen you since you and senpai got on the train... and we need to see you in person. Well, uh, bye..."
"... Naoto, seriously, can you come out? You've been gone for 6 years straight... I'm kinda begging you now. Please, it's important. Everyone's here but you... okay, bye..."
"It's me again... Naoto, please come to Inaba today. It's the holidays and... no, forget it. If it really mattered to you, I wouldn't be leaving a message right now. Call me when you go out to Inaba. I really wish you came out sooner. Bye."
"Naoto... no, never mind. I'm in Inaba. I know you're on your way from the last call. Call me when you arrive. Bye."
Beep! You have no more new---
Naoto closed her phone and leaned back as the train pulled into the station. Rise left so many phone calls, but she never had time to reply. Ten years... had it really been so long? Yukiko must be running the inn by now. Souji had supposedly come back and they had gotten married.... Yosuke left town and came back for Chie too. Teddie was wandering in and out of the TV, mostly meeting with Rise and Kanji. Kanji must be running the Textile shop too; no, his mom would still be there. Rise returned every so often, but they had all come back sometime. Her? This was the first time since the murders stopped. She had gotten on the train with Souji, but they weren't lovers. She had to further her studies for the sake of the Shirogane name.
She rose and gathered her belongings before stepping off the train. She looked around and smiled faintly. Nothing had changed... she was glad for that much. It was nice to get away from the city where it was all hustle and never a time to have a warm cup of tea. She blinked as she walked down the stairs, staring at the wooden bench next to the vending machines. Longer brown hair with bleached tips falling before his eyes, Kanji sat there wearing a blue yukata, stitching away at a doll. She strolled over, "Well, I wasn't expecting to find you here."
"!? N-Naoto!" Kanji jumped to his feet, knocking most of his stuff down, and then cursing, "Shit... U-Uh... wow, y-you finally came back!"
"Well, after Rise filled my phone's memory with all her messages, I would have to return sooner or later," she replied. "I'm glad to see you're well."
"Y-Yea... y-you've changed," Kanji said. He was still the same nervous teenager she met back in high school and it was comforting, but he... he was definitely a man now. He didn't have a ring on his finger. Probably enjoying the single life like her.
"Still helping your mother out at the shop?"
"Yea. The dolls've been sellin' and the classes have been goin' well. I-I make stuff at request now," he said, turning red, "It's pretty damn popular cause of Rise too. She keeps wearin' them to her parties and shit after concerts. I'll never be done workin' and... It's not such a bad thing."
"Hm... don't overwork yourself," Naoto commented.
Kanji frowned, "Like yourself? Nah, I'll be fine. I have workable deadlines so it's all good... damn, I'm supposed to watch the shop. Ma's going out of town for some errands. You'll... I don't know. Visit later?"
Something about his voice seemed desperate.
"Sure... I'm meeting up with Rise. I'll come after that."
Kanji nodded, smiling, "'K... I'll make something for then. Later..."
She watched him walk off before pulling out her cell and calling up Rise.
"Naoto!? Y-You're in town? Okay, I'm at Junes. Huh? Oh, I'm getting flowers. I'm going to the cemetery later... y-you'll come with me right? The others will be there."
"Sure I'll go," Naoto said, "I'll be at Junes in a moment."
"So, what's the occasion?"
"Huh? O-Oh... well, its January 19th... We agreed today would be the best day to visit..." Rise replied quietly, hugging the bouquet of crimson roses tightly as they walked past the headstones. Naoto looked up, seeing the others at the top of the hill, dressed in black. Souji held Yukiko's hand, smiling weakly when he spotted Naoto and Rise walking towards them. Chie, Teddie, and Yosuke had their heads bowed before a plot.
Naoto whispered as they approached the final steps, "Rise, I promised Kanji-kun I would meet up with him later. Do you want to come wit--"
"... What are you talking about Naoto?" Rise replied quietly, before approaching the others. It left Naoto confused and she stood to the side, unsure.
Chie waved her over, "C-Come on..."
"Yes... his mom brought them here a while ago," Yosuke murmured as Naoto walked up.
Rise sighed, "That was nice. I got these flowers imported weeks ago. I hope he likes them too."
"H-Hey... he always liked flowers. I don't think he would care what kind they are," Yukiko said, leaning against Souji's arm. Naoto blinked, "I... don't understand. What's going on?"
"Naoto, it's Kanji's birthday. Why else would we be here?" Rise asked like it was obvious. Naoto blinked, but then her eyes widened, darting over to the headstone. Without a doubt, it read, Tatsumi, Kanji; January 19, 1995 - December 24, 2018. She stepped closer, touching it like it wasn't real, but she felt the cold stone under her fingers, the deep engravings of his name… she stumbled back and Rise calmly stepped forward, smiling slightly, "Hey Kanji... Naoto finally came back. You don't have to wait anymore. Hehe... she looks so different now...wish you could see her."
"W-When did this... h-how?" Naoto asked, but no one answered. Finally, Rise came over and took her hand, leading her to a bench nearby.
"... Whenever I came to visit... I think it was the cutest thing... Kanji would be sitting by the train station, waiting for you to come back. I mean, I don't blame him. Senpai and Yosuke came back every now and then... a-and you said you would visit. He became so brave after graduation. He said when you returned, he was going to ask you out; he was still totally crushing on you," Rise said, smiling again, but then it dropped, "He waited... and waited... and waited... Naoto, he waited everyday for six years in the same spot, sewing until he had to go home... e-even when he got sick. Severely sick..."
Naoto remained silent, waiting for Rise to continue.
"When he was well, I teased him, calling him your Hachiko, but then one day, Yukiko-senpai called. Kanji was taken to the hospital after being found passed out on the ground. I stayed for a year, hoping he would get well, just like the others. What did he do? He sewed in his hospital bed, stared out the window, growing paler each day... the hospital isn't far from the train station and he checked every time a train came in to see if you were getting off. Naoto, why didn't you return our calls? Why didn't you return mine? H-He was dying... he was dying and wanted to see you."
"But couldn't he get treatment? Why didn't he...?" Naoto started, but Rise shook her head, cutting in.
"I don't know... I think what he had was terminal. Anyway, Yosuke-senpai got mad one day and yelled you were never coming back. Kanji just smiled, saying, 'I'll still wait'. I have a feeling... what Yosuke-senpai said got to him though. His health got worse as fall came. He couldn't breathe on his own and he couldn't sew anymore, he was too weak. December came a-and I said I'll get you to come back for Christmas... stay alive, she'll come home," Rise sighed, a few tears falling. "I called you... I know I did, but... we were all with him at the hospital with his Mom and then... he finally said it... "
"... She... isn't comin'... h-huh?" he wheezed, resting against his pillows. The clock ticked loudly in the room while the others remained silent. Yosuke felt terrible, thinking he had some cause behind Kanji's progression, but Rise felt just as bad.
She shook her head, "No, Kanji... Naoto's coming to see you. S-She'll come back... she'll come..."
She trailed as he stared out the window, watching the snow fall, silent tears rolling down his face. His mother frowned, "Oh, Kanji. My dear..." She started crying as well.
His pulse started to drop, the steady pulsing beeps becoming broken as each one was later than the last. He continued to stare out the window, tears falling freely. Yosuke choked, "K-Kanji, come on... don't give up."
"You were right, senpai... she might... never come back..." Kanji whispered, his eyes starting to drift. His mother placed a hand over his, feeling cold spread to his fingers as he smiled weakly. "I'll... still wait... ... I'll... wait..."
His eyes dulled and closed as his body slumped against the pillows. The monitor's beeping slower more, but then finally trailed, flat lining.
"Kanji? Kanji...? No... Wake up! Please, wake up!"
"It was snowing when the funeral was held... he looked so nice... and it seemed like the whole town was there," Rise said, "Everyone... except you... and that just made everything feel wrong."
"... I-I don't understand... I just saw him at the station and he looked fine..." Naoto stuttered.
"Naoto, he's been gone for three years.... why didn't you come home?" Rise asked. She shook her head and rose to her feet, walking back to the others. Naoto was speechless, watching Rise leave, but then looked down.
Ten years... she had stayed out of touch to focus on work. Why? She shook her head, frowning. Why, why, why...? It seemed so stupid now. She stayed out of contact and this happens.
She rose to her feet and trudged down the hill. Now that she thought about it, he had been wearing a yukata at the station. It was, by far, too cold for it, but then again, Kanji never cared about weather. It was her fault this happened...
"You came to visit. Thanks..."
She looked up, blinking, but then noticed Kanji was standing next to her in the blue yukata. There were tears falling from his eyes and a smile on his face, "I said I was gonna keep waitin'... I love you, Naoto... I just wish... I was alive to say that."
He disappeared in the cold gust, but she heard him whisper, "I'll be waitin'... Goodbye Naoto..."
Me: Interpret the illness as you want. I'll post the next chapter of Veluti in a day or so.
Someone asked, so, here I go. Hachiko was the name of an Akita who, on a daily basis, went to the Shibuya train station to meet his master when he would come home from work. However, one day, Hachiko's master didn't return. He had died, but Hachiko continued to go to the Shibuya station, waiting for his master. Hachiko continued to wait for 10 years until finally dying himself and a statue was erected in Shibuya for the loyal canine.