Entitled: Of Wanting
Fandom: Persona 3
Length: 2,000 words
Setting: Spans the series, as well as a few years after.
Disclaimer: I do not own Persona 3 and etc.
Notes: Yay, complicated relationships! I am in my element. And a happy shipper, if a shameless one.
It starts off in a dark room with two kids and two guns and a very ugly equation.
It doesn't quite start there.
It's just hard to remember what came before that, because the solution to the problem is two guns at two temples and the boy looking at the girl and her two eyes blinking calm, and she says, "Do as I say," and Akihiko swallows and wonders if maybe he should have run away, or actually, he isn't wondering about that at all. He's wondering why he didn't—
It really starts in a dark corridor, just the two of them (is this a pattern?) and Mitsuru Kirijo smiling at him in that curved, unhappy sort of way. Professional. She looks very clean while they discuss mutual nightmares and she pulls out a gun and he waits for her to give him some answers.
She doesn't have them. She raises her chin and settles her crossed arms against her chest and says in an even, confident voice that she doesn't know much more than he does. But she can see the same things he can and that—that makes it easier, somehow.
"Wait," he says when she turns to leave. The word jumps out of him, without any thought backing it, "Wait."
"Yes?" she inquiries, politely, and it takes him a minute to find the words for what it is he's trying to express—and can't. It's knowing but not knowing at all, and that doesn't make any sense—none of it makes any sense, so he swallows the itch.
"I don't need time to think it over," Akihiko says.
Kirijo shoots herself elegantly, her gun at her temple and held so straight he could have measured the right angle. She looks straight into his eyes and he's fast but not fast enough, so the blast goes and he's already half-caught her, palms burned cold as something wicked and spiked bursts from Kirijo and whirls—then dissipates. The half-second of slack leaves her and she straightens, shaking out her hair.
Freezer burn on his fingers. It aches and twists and burrows down deeper and he has to push his teeth together and look at Kirijo and her mahogany eyes.
"I'm sorry to have startled you," she says, crisp. He lets go of her and steps away, wondering if he'd imagined the quiver of breathlessness lining her words. She arches her eyebrow and commands, "Do I have your attention?"
He curls up his fingers and nods.
It's just two kids in a dark room with coffins and monsters and each other. He tastes power and crushes the trigger and the two of them exchange half-smiles.
Something shifts, and he starts thinking of her as Mitsuru.
People come and go. Important people, good people. Shinji.
Shinji dies and Akihiko buries him on a Wednesday with blood curling through his teeth and dry eyes. Mitsuru stands besides him and neither of them mention the money she had spent on the funeral. It's a box of ashes in the ground and it isn't Shinji, and Akihiko takes air into his throat and holds, and Mitsuru touches his wrist when the clouds break, her hair falling out of its pretty curls, and all he can say is, "Wait."
His brother rests in earth and air. His sister lies in fire.
He lets the breath out, and with it goes support, and Mitsuru says nothing when he cries, just stands frozen in the rain while their lips turn blue.
Except one day, it's Mitsuru's turn. It's Mitsuru's time to loose and she doesn't crack so much as shatter. But it's the heiress speaking to corporate executives with lips touched pink to match her eyes, closing deals, picking up the broken pieces of everything but herself and— the company, the company is healing and moving forwards as smoothly as could be expected.
He doesn't see her for a week and sits through class shredding the edges of his paper and waiting for her to call, which she doesn't. Of course she doesn't. That week is the height of his boxing career and he spends it trying to figure out who he's mad at.
She strides into the lounge one night with a brief case and a stylish tote, her hair a little mussed but otherwise composed. Junpei accidentally dumps his ramen into Yukari's lap, and Mitsuru announces over Yukari's shrieks that she's returned. Akihiko starts to say something, "Wait—" but Mitsuru's already adjusted the strap of her bag and reached the stairs, climbing fast.
"Wow," Junpei says, when Mitsuru's left and Yukari gives up on strangling him, "She seems…you know, normal."
"Shut up, Junpei," Yukari frowns. Akihiko says nothing, just keeps on standing next to his chair, staring at the place Mitsuru had once stood. Slowly, he sits back down. Junpei darts a glance towards Akihiko, then raises his eyebrows at Yukari.
"Well…" Fuuka peers up the stairs, "I guess…considering the circumstances, I mean, she seems to be pretty well." She chews at one lip, but goes back to her computer nevertheless.
He climbs the stairs later and pauses long at the landing, staring at her locked door, before he goes back to his room and thinks of desperate white noise.
Nyx comes and Akihiko watches Mitsuru die. The world ends, black out, he stands on skeletons and turns her over, catches her lolling head, throat clogged up with ice and her eyes open yellow and she smiles and he smiles back and it's just them and it's all wrong. Wrong like fire, and turning away and running, but it's not fire—he's faced fire, this is ice and he is dissolving and there are people yelling—Miki and Shinji and his parents, dying all over again.
Mitsuru stands at his side while he watches and breaks.
Akihiko wakes up shaking.
Minato isn't cremated or buried. He simply fades, without fuss or trouble, from existence and from memory. People remember him, but they don't—actively remember him, not enough to notice that he's gone. A hollowed out boy, locked around his passenger.
When their underclassmen have gone to bed Mitsuru holds him back, manicured nails against his arm. "I have to leave tomorrow," she says, "Company business. I—don't expect to be back for some time, and I wanted to say goodbye, incase I didn't get another chance."
"Okay," he says, because he can't think of anything else. She straightens, drops his arm and extends the same hand for him to shake.
"Thank you," she says, formally but with warmth, "For coming with me that day, and for staying after that. You were—you are—a very…" and suddenly she stops, when he takes her hand but doesn't shake it, and only looks at him, her mouth slightly open. Mitsuru Kirijo, at a loss for words.
"I don't—" she starts again, and then stops. Akihiko just stares at her, not expectant, just—waiting. Mitsuru shakes her head and pulls back her hand, "Well. I expect this is premature of me to say. I shall likely see you again before term starts—"
"Mitsuru," Akihiko interrupts her tiredly, "I know."
"That isn't the point," Mitsuru insists, "The point is that I—the point is that no one knows my weaknesses better than you do." She takes a breath, "And I value your friendship very dearly. I just want you to know that, now that everything is over. You were the first one to—when you joined, I wasn't alone anymore."
He boards the train to Tokyo a week before term starts with his bag in his lap and an old woman at his side. She tells him about her cats and he looks out the window and thinks about the things he's leaving behind.
"Lovesick?" the old woman asks, and he shakes his head no. He's not.
He starts school the next Tuesday on a partial scholarship, spends his free time at crappy part-time jobs so he won't have to sit in an empty apartment. He sees Mitsuru's picture in a business magazine and rips it out, folds it into his wallet, then takes it out and throws it away because he isn't the sort of guy to do something like that. He takes it out later and tucks it into a drawer, underneath his old clothes.
Half a year passes until he comes back home one day and Mitsuru's sitting on his bed, lip tucked in nervously. He drops his bag to the floor, not totally on purpose, and she rises.
"Sorry," she says, "There wasn't anywhere else to sit."
"It's fine," he says, and then, "What are you—"
"Isn't it your birthday?" Mitsuru asks. He blinks at her.
She takes him out for dinner and is gracious enough to let him pay. She walks back with him, looking perfectly at ease with the chilly night air. Akihiko shivers.
"I've missed you," she says, "You wouldn't believe some of the people I have to work with. I had a fiancé—I guess I never told you about him, but I've managed to avoid capture," she says this last part with the touch of a smile. Akihiko doesn't say anything for a moment, chest tight.
"What'd you do?"
"I bought out his company," Mitsuru says, offhand, and he grins. They walk close enough for their shoulders to bump, and he thinks of the old woman on the train. A tension he hadn't even noticed was seeping away.
"You should let it crash and burn," he suggests. Mitsuru half-smiles, a little wryly.
"That would be unprofitable."
"I intend to."
"Good." He's so satisfied by this that he almost doesn't notice when she stops walking. He turns back.
"Akihiko," Mitsuru says, in a strange sort of voice, "Would you—"
"Mitsuru," Akihiko interrupts, "I know."
"Yes," she agrees, "But let me say it anyway. When all of this is over," she gestures at the world at large, "School, and—what business needs to be taken care of—would you still be there?"
Akihiko is eighteen years old when he kisses Mitsuru Kirijo for the first time—and the second before he does she looks straight at him, like she had the night they'd first met and she'd shot herself in the head—and everything begins again.
"Okay." He takes her hand. It's freezing, but he's used to that.