written for akihiko's birthday (9/22), clearly posted a bit late. playing around with 2nd person; pardon the quality.

If I tell you I'm strong,

will you play along?

—You're running. You're running and lost and running, your side aches and you can only think, I wasn't in this bad shape, I wasn't this fucking weak, why is it harder now, why is the air heavier now, why is blood slicker


than water. Your lungs ache, your side aches, your head pounds and fingers scrape tight over your shoulders, nails piercing skin, and you're breathing ash. They tell you to stop and you try and break free, slip on the cement and bloody both knees—Where is she? Where is she?—And Shinji is hugging you, arms pressing your arms to your sides, mouth grim and eyes watering, you try and kick him and cry instead: where is she where is she where where where

is my sister.

—But that was ten years ago.

You pick yourself up from the cement and your pants are heavy with blood and you're running again, counting footfalls as beats to a song. Faster. I won't—

You can hear Mitsuru calling for Shinji over the mobile, wondering why he hasn't yet replied, you wait anxious, shifting from one foot to another, in the ring, waiting, on the defensive, strike, leave yourself open, give me a sign, a lead to follow, you wait and wait until he replies. And then it's too late.

(she's dead)

He stumbles to you covered in dirt and tells you he couldn't control his Persona.

He stumbles to you covered in soot and tells you that Miki is fine.

You stumble to him covered in blood and

—you can't stop running, you won't be too late. Action, not inaction. Call, not response. The moon is full and heavy, the sky is clear and bright and sick; you know where to look and the Shadows leak from corners and walls, thick and wet and bloody-black. You don't have time for this you yell at them, but it's a fight and you never run from a battle, never run in your life, never have, never will—run, flee, hide, escape, you could have saved her, you could have saved Amada's mother, you could have acted, you could—

Electricity burns and your mouth fills with smoke and lightning, sharp and hot, and you keep running.

(she's dead i'm sorry she's)

—You keep running.

(please god don't let me be late this time)