When Shinjiro awoke in his hospital bed, he was alone. Couldn't remember where he was, what happened to him, felt like his head was clogged full of dough. He remembered a loud noise...? It was several moments before the doctor arrived.
The older man explained that Shinjiro's recovery was a miracle and he wasn't ever expected to awaken. As the doctor continued to explain, he pulled a small pocket watch out of his lab coat. "This saved your life," he explained as he lay it on the table next to Shinjiro's bed. There was a bullet lodged through the center. Was he shot...? By who...? Shinjiro felt like there was something important in front of him, but no matter how he reached, he couldn't remember anything.
"You should rest. You've been unconscious for a very long time; it will be a while before you can recover." The doctor left.
Shinjiro tried to piece things together for the next few days. When he looked at the bullet, he felt angry, tense, frustrated and scared. The watch made his heart race, his chest feel heavy... but he was at peace. Soon, he began to understand that he wasn't feeling those things because of the items themselves, but rather because what they made him remember, distant and foggy images playing at the edges of his mind.
"Today's Graduation Day, y'know." The doctor said one day, looking over Shinji's charts. "Reminds me to.." The doctors words faded. Graduation Day. Something tingled at the front of his mind. A soft voice... "We did it. We're going to meet on the roof of the school on Graduation Day." His hand tingled, recalling a warmth. "You're gonna come, right?" Her laugh. "I know you can hear me, Senpai. I'll be waiting."
Shinjiro sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed. He grabbed his pants from a chair meant for visitors.
"Mr. Aragaki, you can't-!"
"You gonna stop me?" Shinji glared at the man as he pulled on his overcoat.
"If I must, then-" The doctor's words were cut short as Shinjiro struck him across the face. He fell to the ground in a limp pile.
"Sorry, but I've got somewhere to go."
He ran out of the room, the white walls blurring as he made his way out of the building. Memories flooded back to him, being asked about Yamagishi in the alley, hearing about Ken joining SEES, coming back to the dorms, cooking for everyone, the watch, the night he spent with her before the battle, the sound of Takaya's gun ringing in his ears, how hard she tried to smile for him as he blacked out for what he thought was the last time.
Before he knew it, he was bursting through the front doors of the school. His head was spinning like crazy, but he didn't care. He remembered dreaming. Dreaming he was in a dark place, but she was there, shining like a star. He remembered that the moon tried to rend her to pieces, but she stood resolute. He remembered speaking to her, her finger in the air, a bright, blinding light, an indescribable feeling washing over him.
The breeze brushed his hair about gently, and he was struggling to catch his breath. Everyone was standing in a circle around a bench. Akihiko was the first to notice. "Shinji...!" His voice was surprised, but there was something else behind it. Akihiko's expression grew pained and complicated, and he stepped aside to grant Shinjiro a space.
Shinjiro stepped forward. There she was, napping in Aigis's lap. That idiot, she always acted so simply without thinking what other people might think. Shinjiro couldn't hide a small smile. Everyone was gathered around her, like always, but unlike always, they were silent. Shinjiro wasn't even sure if they had noticed him yet.
He looked at those around him. Aigis had silent tears streaming down her face. Junpei looked like he had been hit by a bus. Mitsuru had gone white. Akihiko still had a pained look on his face. He looked at her again. She was silent. She was still.
Shinjiro fell to his knees and grabbed her hand. It wasn't as warm as he remembered. He wanted to scream, shake her awake, but all that came out was a strangled whimper.
He had a dream that night. He was sitting on that bench, she was resting in his lap. Her eyes were open and she was smiling.
"You idiot." He choked back a sob.
She wiped the tears from his face. "This is how it should be." And then he awoke, and he knew she was gone forever.