Promise to Keep

So... yeah. I've been playing P3P pretty much compulsively since I got it and I absolutely fell in love with this pairing. I know I'm a huge AkixMina fan, but Akihiko's was just... yeah. I loved the romantic side and all the cute little things that could happen if you spent more time with him or talked to him during events once it was maxed out romantically. He really is such a sweetheart... This story, however, is based on the Christmas date, so there are minor spoilers for the gift he gives the FeMC and the end of Persona 3 if there's anyone out there who still doesn't know what happens.

Did anyone else get the Akihiko NG+ ending and felt the urge to cry when he said, "From this moment onward, we'll never be apart..." right before the protagonist "dies"? Atlus... thou art a cruel company. That's just not right... Akihiko lost everything. His sister... Shinjiro... and then when he finally finds someone he can love, when he finally finds something to make him happy again... IT'S TAKEN AWAY! *huffs* At least Junpei gets Chidori back and everyone else in the game is pretty much set for life as far as themselves go but... I ramble. I hope you all enjoy the story.

Ah... I'm also considering a sequel for this from Hamuko's POV, but I'm not sure if I would have her return or not. I guess that all depend on what the readers want. Thanks again!

Edit: Title typo has been fixed. Now I just have to wait for to upload the correction...

The soft crunch of snow under a pair of boots echoed throughout the otherwise quiet night as one Akihiko Sanada made his way through the gentle fall of snow. Despite the cold weather, he was dressed in little more than his normal winter casual, the only noticeable difference being the lack of his infamous red scarf. In its place was a scarf made of a soft material in a pale and creamy off-white; a gift he'd received back in his senior year of high school. His hair, still bright silver, was darker than usual from all the fallen snow it had absorbed, and was slowly taking on a powdered-sugar hue as more fell. Raising a black gloved hand, he brushed the offending flakes that hadn't absorbed into the light strands away before returning it to his pocket where he clutched a small package between his fingers.

"It's cold tonight, isn't it…?" he murmured softly, taking a moment to pause and glance up toward the sky. "Much colder than last year. Maybe… I'll light the fireplace when I get home." The boxer chuckled at the idea and his head as he quickened his pace. While the hour was no longer dangerous, he had yet to fully break the habit of making sure that he was home before the stroke of midnight. However, tonight, it was especially important that he made it home in time. It was Christmas Eve, and he had someone waiting for him; he had a promise to keep.

Happily, the apartment he'd rented out for himself wasn't that far from the shop he'd gone to visit, and he was home shortly after. The silverette abandoned his shoes at the door and discarded his coat over a hanger before carefully removing the scarf around his neck and draping it over a hook. Out of habit, he ran his hand through his hair once more to ensuring that no more flakes had snuck their way inside. When he was satisfied, he reached into the front pocket of his jacket and pulled out the small box he'd been clutching tightly earlier, and placed it in his pants pocket as he moved into the main part of the house, turning lights on as he went.

As he entered the living room, he glanced toward the top of the fireplace and smiled faintly. Everything was exactly where he'd left it. "I'm home," he called out, knowing it was far too late for him to receive a reply in the first place. "Now, a fire… and some hot chocolate. That'll be nice." He nodded silently, as if answering his own silent question and slipped into the kitchen, pulling two mugs from their hooks under the cabinet as he went. The hot chocolate mix was already sitting on the counter, as he never saw much point in putting it away during the winter, and beside it on the stove, the kettle sat, waiting to be used.

Several minutes later, Akihiko was reentered his living room with two steaming mugs of the sweet drink clutched tightly in his hands. Both were set on the floor beside one another to allow him to reach for a small box of matches that sat near the metallic gate that protected his carpet from hot ashes that flew astray. After three attempts, a small fire had been started and the silverette allowed himself a small noise of approval. The flames were bursting into life much faster than normal, but he couldn't find a reason to complain. His heater was practically broken, and he hadn't yet gone out to get the materials he needed to fix it. A large fire was welcome.

Standing up, he reached for one of the objects he'd glanced at earlier upon his arrival and picked it up, giving the item a fond look. It was a picture frame made of dark cherry wood, and carried a picture that, thankfully, had yet to show any signs of age even after ten years. The photo inside had been taken when he was still a senior in high school, sitting under a tree with mixed leaves of orange, red, and gold, showing off their bright fall life. In his lap sat a brunette female with auburn eyes and hair tied back. His arms were draped casually around her waist, and while both had known the picture was being taken at the time, neither had bothered to look at the camera. Warm smiles graced both teen's faces, but they had been too focused on each other to realize that a flash had gone off and the moment was recorded in time forever. "I made us hot chocolate," Akihiko murmured quietly to the picture. "Extra marshmallows in yours. Just the way you like it."

Before sitting down, he reached for a second item that had been sitting beside the frame and picked it up. Both were placed on the floor beside the fuller of the two mugs and shortly joined by the boxer himself. A small smile had somehow made its way to the silverette's lips between standing and the floor, but it didn't fade, even as his voice started to waver when he spoke. "I'm sorry I'm late. Work ran later than expected, and I still had to pick up your gift. I got something… different this year." Akihiko reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box, holding it in front of the frame, as if the people pictured inside might suddenly move and turn to examine it. "Mitsuru and the others keep telling me it's pointless to waste my money on things like this, but I don't care. I promised you, didn't I? I've never broken a promise I made to you before, and I don't plan to start. You never broke the ones you made to me."

With a soft chuckle, the boxer opened the box and held it out again, watching as the simple, but elegant rose quartz ring sparkled dully in the firelight. "You always seemed to like red and pink; it's rose quartz. The woman at the store told me it symbolizes unconditional love; I thought it would be perfect…" he paused, inhaling sharply as he forced himself to continue. "I… I should be giving this to you on one knee, you know? I bet you'd be ready to smack me if I did, though. Then you'd call me an idiot for telling you not to cry, but in the end… you'd say yes, right? We talked about it once before when we were in my room together. That day I asked you what you saw when you thought about the future." Another breath, sharper this time. "I… I never expected you to say that you… saw me."

Blinking back the stinging sensation that had suddenly formed in his eyes, Akihiko dragged his sleeve across them quickly and reached for the larger box he'd retrieved from the shelf and opened its lid. A gentle chime of music filled the room, and different coloured glimmers of light reflected off the ceiling as the fire's light poured down on the contents of the box where nine other pieces of jewelry sat, glimmering brightly as if they were brand new. The ring, still nestled in the box it came in, joined the other pieces with the gentlest care Akihiko's fingers could provide before the box was shut again and the music stopped. "…I never did get to answer you," he suddenly spoke, trying to ignore it as the sting returned. "You… you asked me what I saw, but we were interrupted." He reached for his hot chocolate and took a sip in an attempt to calm himself, but the drink tasted bitter against his tongue. "I saw the same thing I still see, even if it's foolish." A sniff, followed by a soft 'plop' as a droplet of water hit the frame. "It was you; always you… still you. I saw you and me… together in the world we'd saved from Nyx. And… we were happy."

Another plop, followed by several more. "Ahaha, I guess I need to dust again, huh?" Akihiko chuckled weakly, using his sleeve as a makeshift napkin once more. "Today should be happy…" he trailed off, listening to the loud and echoing chime of the town's clock as it struck the final call of midnight. His eyes closed briefly as the tears that threatened to fall were forced back and a gentle smile took their place as he opened them again. Silver eyes shifted from the fire to the photo, and the smile brightened slightly.

Picking the frame up, Akihiko touched a finger to his lips before lightly touching the top of the brunette female's head. The next time he spoke, his voice was stronger, filled with the affection he still held for the female. "Merry Christmas, Hamuko."