Author's Note: I do not own anything of Atlus's. This was an idea inspired by a fic called Beyond the Beaten Path on the BBBHKM.

Thank you to Cwister and my older sister, Seraphydragon, for betaing this!

Persona 3 Portable: Harmonia Vita

The first thing Shinjiro felt when he entered her room was not sadness or regret but anger.

Gone were the bright pink, orange, and yellow colours.

Gone was the calendar that she had meticulously scribbled on everyday.

Gone were the books, including the crappy vampire romance he had raised an eye at.

Gone was the naginata that she had carried into battle.

Gone were her trademark hairpins.

Gone was the butterfly watch that he had given her.

All that was left of Satashi Arisato was a pitiful box, rejects that her family hadn't seen worth preserving. And soon even the rejects would be broken down and scattered. Seventeen years of life deconstructed in less than a week.

"If there is something you wanted to keep you'll have to take it by the end of the week," Mitsuru had told him when she had managed to find him. Mitsuru, being Mitsuru Kirijo, had said it as professionally as if she were advertising a closing sale. "Her guardians requested that the rest go to charity."

He hadn't intended to come. He still didn't want to be here. He had put it off until the last day before Akihiko had hit him with something harder than one of his right hooks: guilt.

"If there was anyone she'd want to have a reminder, it would be you."

The box was already open on her desk. If her family had left much or hadn't tossed most of it in the trash, it was gone now. Less than half the box remained. Less than half a box of Satashi remained. It seemed like there was even less when he began looking through it. Some of the remnants brought small, needle-like stabs of nostalgia-a sports wrist band, leftover ticket stubs, a few bottles of perfume, some clipped out recipes, spare ribbons and hair ties (one or two included a butterfly design, he'd never noticed that)-while others remained simply objects.

However, nothing tangibly said 'Satashi Arisato'. It was just an incomplete collection of pieces.

His scowl deepened. He knew this was going to be a waste of time.

However, as he turned to leave, his coat somehow caught on the corner of the box. He let out a soft curse when he heard the box and its contents clatter to the floor.

He bent over and quickly began tossing things back into the box when one object caught his eye. His heart skipped a beat. How it had been missed he didn't know but there it was. Poking out from of one of the skirts was her mp3 player.

He had never seen her without it. Whether she was in her school uniform, in casual clothing, or even in those weird costumes she had gotten them to try, this had always been a permanent fixture to her.

Without the conscious decision, he shoved it deep into his pocket and was out the door.

The player remained buried in his pocket over the next two days. He never forgot it was there, it was a familiar weight that he occasionally found himself holding when he stuck his hands into his pockets as usual. He never took it out though, because if he actually looked at it he would start thinking about Satashi wearing it and how he would never see it on her again. However, after the second day-maybe something had brushed it too closely against him or he held it in the wrong place-he heard music blaring out from his pocket.

'I will, burn-my-dreeead...'

He jolted, startled. He reached into his pocket and gingerly pulled out the red headphones that cheerfully blared away at him. He stared at it as the woman's voice kept repeating, 'Burn- my-dreeead…' while accompanied by the steady drum beat and a man's voice. After the thirty second mark the man's voice took over. Shinjiro couldn't understand everything that was being sung but it sounded English. Was it American?

He was surprised when the guitar and the voices trailed off, realizing that four minutes had already passed by without him thinking about it. The player flipped to the next song. This time a light, relaxed piano played with a bell accompaniment. The sudden shift in mood made him smile, but only a little. He flipped to the next song himself.

The next song's intro shared a similar tune to the previous but it was quicker and led by the piano and percussion. It sounded catchy enough for Shinjiro to listen long enough to hear the lyrics.

'Kaze no koe hikari no tsubu madoromu kimi ni sosogu

Wasurenai yasashii hohoemi kanashisa ni kakushita hitomi wo…'

['The voice of the wind sheds drops of light onto you as you doze off

I won't forget your kind smile or your eyes hidden with sorrow…']

Shinjiro froze. He felt nostalgia again but this time it came in the image of the face of a girl still smiling in death as she had in life.

'Negau koto (tsurakutemo) tachimukau yuuki kimi ni moratta yo dakara yuku ne

Yume no naka (mezametara)'

['Even though it hurts (to make a wish), I received the courage to fight from you, so I will go

If I awaken (from a dream), ]

He fumbled for the mp3 player. He thought he pushed down on the stop button but the deceptively cheerful tune played away, oblivious to his mood. He let out a growl of frustration when the player lifted but caught on something that kept him from immediately pulling it out of his pocket.

'mata aeru yo-'

['I'll be able to see you again-']

He yanked the cord from the player. Shinjiro caught himself before he gave into the impulse to toss the headphones as far he could throw them, as if the music could somehow keep playing.

After that incident, he kept the headphones in a separate pocket and far away from the player.

It wasn't until April 1st that he was able to pull out the player and headphones again. Akihiko was in the other room of their temporary place, probably still thinking about what had happened. Hell, they all were, no matter how 'all right' they were with the answer. Getting the truth had been a relief, not a fix. But it was enough relief that Shinjiro found himself plugging the cord back in and slipping the clips over his ears. He fiddled with the plastic hooks and grimaced at the ill fit. He entertained the idea of slipping out to the mall and buying a new pair or waiting until tomorrow but he scowled at himself for trying to stall.

But even after making that choice he still sat there in silence for several minutes before he finally took a deep, tense breath and pressed the play button.

1. Soul Phrase -3:01-Kita Shuuhei

The first song, he decided, had one of the worse attempts of 'Engrish' he had ever heard. What little English he remembered from class was enough to tell him how poorly the English phrases were being sung, rendering half the song relatively unintelligible. Based on the lyrics he could understand it sounded cheesy and optimistic enough to make him wonder if the song was supposed to be the opening of an anime or video game. Based on the stuff she'd read, it wouldn't surprise him if it was…

"What is that?" Shinjiro asked her. He wouldn't usually have cared but the book Satashi held drew his attention the same way train wrecks drew passers-by, it looked so horrifically fascinating that it demanded to be looked at.

"This?" Satashi looked seemingly confused by his reaction, as though there was nothing wrong with a hot pink book with sparkles, lace on the corners, and cutesy characters with eyes that looked big enough to be eating their faces on the cover. The title read 'Witch Detective'.

"Yes, that."

"It's just a book."

"Looks more like a weapon of mass destruction for the eyes."

Satashi shrugged. "I don't mind. I like pink."

"Pink isn't the problem…" Shinjiro skimmed the back cover from his seat. He grimaced at the summary. It sounded like a ploddingly written romance based around a girl's first day of school in a new town with vampires somehow involved.

Satashi noticed his reaction and said defensively, "It's not that bad. It's brain candy! It's…just like when you eat you need a balance of the healthy and sweet stuff."

He gave her a wry look. "Funny you should say that, with the way you avoid your vegetables like you do."

"Uh…" Shinjiro could have laughed at the caught-off guard expression on her face. She was always so quick to lecture him that being able to push back at her weak points was refreshing. She quickly recovered though, "What about you, senpai?"

Shinjiro raised a calm brow. "What about me?"

"When was the last time you read or watched brain candy?"

"Often as I can stand it," he replied. Which, for him, was once in a blue moon.

"How about recently?"

"If this is supposed to lead somewhere, just say it already."

"There's a film festival playing today," she said. "I was thinking about going."

"A film festival?" Shinjiro replied. "I totally forgot they had those. Not that I've ever been to one."

"You should come then," Satashi suggested.

"With you?"

"Why not? You've never been to one and I'm sure you're overdue for some fluff," Satashi said with a sure smile. "C'mon. Think of it as getting a well-balanced brain diet."

Shinjiro just stared. She stared back with a look that positively radiated hopeful expectation. Finally, he snorted, "Weirdo. All right, when's it start?"

2. Way of Life- 2:21 - Mayumi Fujita

It wasn't his type of song but it fit her. It was light hearted, animated, had a steady lively beat, and if she had a theme song summing her up it would probably be this. He could easily imagine her walking down the streets with this song playing away. Based on the high play count and how she carried the player everywhere she must have…

They were halfway down the street from the dorm when Satashi stopped. She patted her pocket and mouthed 'shoot'. She looked at him apologetically, "Sorry, I'll be right back."

Shinjiro grunted in affirmation. Wakatsu wouldn't be closing for a few more hours anyway. Satashi nodded gratefully and sprinted back to the dorms. Less than five minutes later she reappeared, grinning with her headphones and player back in their usual place. She thanked him for waiting and he shrugged. People always had things they felt like they needed, whether they needed it or not: Iori and his hat, Aki and his bandages, Takeba and her necklace, and Satashi and her mp3 player.

And in her case, she had literally carried it till the day she died.

3. Wiping All Out-2:40-Lotus Juice

Before that thought could sink in too deeply, trumpets blared loudly enough to force him to turn the volume down a few clicks. It was the same band that had played that American sounding song. The male singer led this time, shortly followed by the female singer singing:

'I'm not a princess…'

Shinjiro blinked, and then he lost it. He had enough sense to cover his mouth to muffle his laughter but he couldn't focus on song. He finally got it.

"Mamudo!" Satashi cried.

Lamia answered her call and lazily flicked her hand at the Gigas. Dark sigils surrounded the horde and with a sharp snap they disappeared into the darkness.

All except for the one stubborn bastard.

Fuuka gasped in their minds. "Satashi-chan, you have to switch, you're-"

The warning came too late. Shinjiro saw Satashi's eyes start to close, to focus and switch as she always did, but she had been standing too close to the Giga. The shadow was on her before she could switch. She dodged the first blow with a back-step and absorbed part of the next strike by moving with its momentum and deflecting but what part of the attack she had caught left her unbalanced. She still had the naginata in the guard position, ready for the incoming third, but she didn't have the usual enhanced strength their Personas gave them; Lamia was weak against physical strikes.

Shinjiro internally cursed, remembering his warning to Aki about having to look out for girls. He was too far away to do anything other than whip his evoker to the side of his head and pull. Castor all too eagerly responded but he was still too fucking slow and too far away-

Iori wasn't.

"I got'cha!"

He body-checked their leader away from the Giga's massive fist. Iori snapped his sword up and had himself grounded to guard against the blow but the force was still powerful enough to send Junpei skidding backward. By then Castor fully materialized and dealt the fatal strike the Giga.

Meanwhile, the same push that had saved Satashi sent her careening head first into the nearby wall. Her head hit with an audible crack before she bonelessly slumped against the wall.

"Satashi!" Takeba was the first to respond. The archer rushed to Satashi's side and forced her to look at her. Satashi was still conscious but her eyes were glassy with disorientation. "Hey, are you all right? Talk to me! Damn it, Stupei, this is all your fault!"

"W-wait, mine!" Iori stammered defensively. "I had to get her out of the way-there wasn't any time-"

"Yeah, well I think you might have done more damage to her than the Shadow would have," Shinjiro cut in caustically, which was a lot less than he wanted to do right now if the head damage was as bad as Satashi was making it seem.

"Then what the hell was I supposed to do?" Iori snapped, but his stance shifted with discomfort. "But she'll be fine, right? Nothing that can't be cured or that she can't handle."

"Shut up and let me see," Takeba hissed.

Takeba murmured a Dia spell under her breath. Healing spells had little effect on non-Shadow caused injuries but it seemed to help enough that Satashi blinked and tried moving to steady herself. Takeba quickly steadied her and cast another Dia.

"Take it easy, okay?" Takeba said soothingly. Satashi nodded dumbly. "Say something. Anything…"

Shinjiro didn't think about it until the present, on April 1st, but Satashi's headphones had been playing a tinny trumpet as Takeba asked that.

Satashi mumbled so quietly that Shinjiro hadn't been sure he'd heard it right, "I'm not a princess…?"

Takeba stared at her, dumbstruck. Then she started laughing, "You dork! That's not what you're supposed to say!"

"What, what'd she say?" Iori asked anxiously. "What's so funny?"

Satashi must've recovered enough to realize what she had said because she suddenly turned red and started laughing herself.

"C'mon, seriously, what's so funny?" Junpei demanded, anxiety giving way to annoyance. When he didn't get a reply he looked at Shinjiro and said, "What about you, senpai? Do you get it?"

By the time he started listening again the song was at the start of the chorus line. There was something familiar about the chorus that nagged at him. When the chorus returned he tried picking out the familiarity but the song ended and moved onto the next track.

4. Warm Feeling-2:19-Shoji Meguro

Shinjiro's frowned slightly as the new track played. There was that familiarity again. He thought he could remember it playing on the first night of the typhoon…

Shinjiro had gone up to the third floor to fetch a can of Cielo when he heard music blaring. Satashi was sitting on one of the benches with her headphones crammed over her ears but the music was turned up so high he could hear the sound bleeding out as audibly as if he had the headphones on himself. He winced at the thought of how loud it must be for her and wondered how much damage that could do to the ears. However, upon closer inspection she didn't seem aware enough to register the volume, let alone the textbook on her lap.

"Hey," he called. She didn't look up. He sighed, walked over to her, and when she didn't react to his presence he waved a hand in front of her face. Her eyes widened and she jolted back into awareness. She pulled out a headphone and sheepishly looked up at him.

"Sorry, did you need something, senpai?"

"Not particularly," Shinjiro replied. He saw her begin to slouch again and asked patiently, "What are you doing?"

"Trying to study." A yawn followed.

"And you're not doing it in your room as usual because..."

"My bed's tempting me."

"...Go to bed, Arisato."

"But it's only seven-"

"And you're passing as an Apathy Syndrome victim," he said firmly. "You're not doing yourself any favors blowing your ears out just so you can blankly stare at pages."

It took a bit more persuasion but ultimately, stubborn idiot or not, she gave in shortly after admitting she was starting to feel like she was freezing out there anyway. He followed her to her door to make sure she actually went, which she weakly complained about by saying she wasn't a kid, but when she opened the door she automatically went for the bed and dropped. He was sure that she was asleep before she hit the pillow, despite still wearing her clothes, the music still playing, and the door still unlocked.

He rolled his eyes. The least she could have done was lock the door. She was lucky only SEES members hung around the dorms…

He found his eyes subconsciously studying the room. It was a huge contrast from his room. Bright colours, chiefly pink, painted the room. Some items where shoved neatly into boxes or drawers but others were carelessly strewn about, either from lack of space or laziness. Above her bed hung a calendar covered in a variety of ink colourings without a single panel unfilled, save the days yet to come. Proof of a lived life, that's for sure.

What that said about him and his room in contrast, he already knew the answer to.

...But there was something else about the song though. It pissed him off that he couldn't remember.

5. Danger Zone-2:51-Shoji Meguro

The familiarity finally clicked during the guitar refrain that followed the piano bridge.

This song, the previous song, the song before that one, and even that piano/bell piece he had heard before…Maybe he was imagining it (either that or they all came from the same game or anime or wherever it sounded like Soul Phrase had come from and the composer had been lazy) but despite the differences in mood and instrumentation they all sounded like they contained bits and pieces of that cheesy, optimistic song.

Just like Satashi: always cheerful and certain of a positive end, whether hanging out, studying, fighting, or predicting the outcome of a show…

Even when being chased by Death.

The moment they stepped on the floor a strange atmosphere poured off the walls and assailed their senses. Something was wrong. Sure enough, Fuuka noted that there wasn't many enemies on the floor. Satashi hands tightened on her weapon and she calmly gave to order to split up and find the stairs or portal fast.

In less than twenty seconds, Mitsuru found the portal.

In less than twenty-two seconds, the Reaper manifested.

They didn't need to hear Fuuka's warning to know that Death was there. The air didn't suddenly go cold. The Reaper didn't suddenly let out an ear piercing cry or suddenly pop out around a corner. Instead, things got quiet. And then the only sound was the dragging of chains.

"Be careful! It's Death!" Fuuka's voice cried in all their minds. "Mitsuru-senpai, Satashi-chan says to take the access point now! Yukari-chan, Shinjiro-senpai, regroup with Satashi-chan, she has a Traesto gem with her."

Shinjiro wasn't surprised to hear Fuuka report less than ten seconds later that Mitsuru had gone back with the promise to see them on the ground floor. Good. That meant one less person to worry about, leaving himself, Satashi, Takeba, and the Reaper.

Fuuka fired off quick, precise instructions for the three of them, where to run and where not to. Her voice spiked in worry when Shinjiro almost took a right turn at a cross corridor but she continued rattling off without preamble.

He came across Satashi first, nearly slamming into her from around the corner. She swallowed a gasp of air when she stopped for that brief instant before they were off north. Takeba was up ahead, coming into sight as she came barreling from the left. Satashi called out to her and Takeba waved back in relief as she ran towards them.

"Everyone, get back!" Fuuka suddenly cried.

Before Fuuka finished the gap between Takeba and them was filled with bullets.

And then the Reaper appeared, forming a wedge between them while simultaneously casting tarukaja on itself.

Its gaze swept towards Takeba. Her eyes went wide with fear. She stumbled backward, further away from them. Fuuka was shouting some more directions but it was a narrow hallway and when the Reaper raised its guns the archer darted towards the only cover, the room nearest to her left. The Reaper quickly advanced, blocking off Takeba's only escape.

Takeba whipped the evoker to her head and cried "Garula!", unleashing her newest, most powerful ability. The wind barely ruffled the Reaper's cloak.

Shinjiro sucked in a breath. His finger was already on the trigger of his evoker and he gripped his axe tighter. Castor fed off his desire to wipe this asshole out and pushed in his mind despite by the knowledge he'd barely be able to knick the death incarnate. At the very least it might draw the Reaper's attention off Takeba long enough.

Castor burst out and stabbed at the Reaper through the heart with his lance. The Reaper remained undeterred from its target.

Beside him, Satashi closed her eyes, maybe checking which Personas she had and if they could do any good before opening them and swallowing deeply. She pulled the Traesto gem from her pocket and without a second thought and hurled it at Takeba, "Yukari! Catch!"

Takeba barely caught it. She was confused but then her eyes went wide with realization. "You're too far away! You and senpai won't-"


Takeba looked like she was about to protest but the Reaper twirled its guns threateningly until they were on level with Takeba. Takeba's survival instincts kicked in at the last moment and she squeezed the gem. A bright white light surrounded her and as the guns burst at where she stood the bullets harmlessly passed through her afterimage.

The Reaper threw back its head angrily, cheated out of its target. It turned back to glare at its second choice of prey but Shinjiro and Satashi were already running.

Shinjiro was ahead of Satashi. Though she was smaller and lighter he still had the longer legs. He looked back for her with the corner of eye when he could but the sight of bullets falling just out of range was a strong motivator in keeping his eyes glued forward.

They lost some time at another cross pass when Fuuka faltered in her directions. They hadn't gone down that route so she was just as blind as they were and the way that led to the access point was far off and blocked by the Reaper. They tried left first but hit a dead end at the end of that hallway. They ran back out and went right this time.

The corner of the hall they took blasted itself into dust as the Reaper's bullets narrowly missed Satashi's head.

Somewhere along the way, Satashi let go of her naginata in lieu of speed. Almost predictably, by the universe's bad sense of humor, minor Shadows began chasing them once she abandoned her weapon. Two Arcane Turrets flanked the next entranceway and Shinjiro wanted to scream in frustration. They didn't have time for this bullshit. Castor could easily pummel them down given enough time but-


Lightning crackled down on the enemies, temporarily hindering them.

"I can take care of enemies," Satashi told him between breathes. "Just run!"

Shinjiro didn't have to be told that twice: he heard the chains and banging close behind them. They ran by the tanks and the enemy, having recovering from their electrical shock and enraged at their prey escaping, lashed out at the next coming target.

Their screeching death cries and how quick the screams died only motivated them to run faster.

The other Shadows on the floor, seemingly deciding that the possibility of blood outweighed the threat of the Reaper, began materializing from their hiding places and chasing them. The duo tried avoiding them for the most part but there were still those who got too close or in their way. Shinjiro swung his axe and called on Castor on the enemies he could while Satashi kept firing agilaos, garulas, bufulas, and whatever else she had in stock but it was tiring her out fast. He found her lagging a bit more little by little and she almost stumbled over the fading corpse of Shadow.

Without thinking, Shinjiro shoved his evoker back in his pocket, reached back to clamp his hand around her free hand and dragged her along with him. She held on tightly while she kept blasting away with her evoker.

Finally, finally, they ran past the stair-room. He skidded past it but Satashi dragged him back with surprising strength, this time leading him. He spun, off balance for a moment, before he managed to right himself in the direction of the stairs.

Meanwhile, the sounds of chains grew louder and louder.

Satashi got a foot onto the bottom stair.

Fuuka called out a frantic plea to hurry up because the Reaper was right behind them.

Shinjiro didn't bother trying to climb the steps, he just threw his protesting legs forward in a leap of faith.

The two were only halfway up the stairs when they hear the cocking of pistols.

Shinjiro couldn't help but look back and down the two barrels of the impossibly long revolvers. Shit, shit, shit-

However, the Reaper remained rooted and unmoving at the bottom of the stairs.

They stared at each other, Satashi, the Reaper, and him, without moving. The Reaper was only a meter away but it was almost like there was an invisible barrier around the stairs. For a moment Shinjiro thought it was just toying with them. All it would have to do was pull the trigger and be done with it but after what felt like an eternity it lowered the guns and let out a sound that sounded suspiciously like a snort before floating back to the doorway, its eyes never leaving them.

Satashi met its glare evenly and, in a surprisingly childish gesture, stuck out her tongue at the Reaper.

Shinjiro gaped at her. "Y-you idiot! Now it's probably going to chase us on the next floor too."

"He won't," Satashi said, matter-of-fact. "He's Death. He's got plenty of time to wait."

6. Memories of You-6:09-Yumi Kawamura

Shinjiro felt his shoulders stiffen as the piano and percussion intro played again. He wasn't going to press stop this time. He couldn't. It wasn't fair when she-

'Hakanaku tayutau sekai wo kimi no te de mamotta kara'

['Because you protected this ephemerally floating world by your own hand']

He smiled humorlessly.

Satashi Arisato slowly outstretched a lone finger towards Nyx. In a bright flash of white light, she became a stone statue, covered in barbed wire and outstretching her arms.

Guard duty for an almost guaranteed eternity in exchange for keeping the suicidal world afloat.

'Ashita koso (itsu no hi ka) mou ichido kimi ni aeru to shinji hitori mayoi'

['Tomorrow for sure (one of these days), I believe I can see you once more as I wander alone']

Not likely. He had missed out on that once. He'd had one chance, he could have had one more chance to see her properly before the end but he'd been too slow and too thickheaded to realize it until it was too late.

His legs had led him to the same back alley he had been shot in. He imagined Aki would bitch him out when he found out that Shinjiro had skipped out of the hospital early but it just meant Aki would have something else on the list of things to lecture him about.

He frowned, leaning his head into his hand. It was weird. He knew that Aki had gone on about certain things over and over again but Shinjiro couldn't remember exactly what those things were. He could guess what they were but he couldn't fully commit them to memory. He'd been feeling that a lot since he woke up. The doc had said that it was natural for there to be some gaps in his memory, that maybe he blocked something out or maybe his mind hadn't completely recovered. Her words had pissed Shinjiro off for some reason. He'd been shot in the chest, not the head. Why should his head be 'off'? And if he was blocking something out, shouldn't it be about him getting shot? However, the doc insisted he rest and that everything would come back to him eventually.

However, Shinjiro couldn't stop thinking. There were no decent distractions in the hospital. Daytime TV was a hell in itself, the food was only a step above that one girl's-Yamagishi?-and he was as fond of the hospital staff's personalities as they were with his. The police had stopped by to question him once he was awake about what happened between Shinjiro and...whoever had shot him. The vagueness in his answers bothered even him.

What was he doing that night?

He was meeting someone.

Who were they? Were they his attacker?


Why was he living on the streets in the first place? Didn't he have school?

He just was.

Was there anyone else that night?

…A girl (maybe, if his dreams weren't leaking into his foggy memories…he couldn't remember his dreams any better than he could those gaps…).

Was she the shooter?

That'd been about the point he told them on no uncertain terms to go fuck off.

He heard a can rattle behind him and whirled around. He already had a glare on his face, partially from his already foul mood and partially because in that part of town if you didn't establish your personal boundary people wouldn't leave you around.

Instead of one of the regular punks, he saw a girl in a Gekkoukan High uniform. Her eyes were wide and her mouth matched with open mouthed surprise.


He tried placing her to memory. He remembered.

"You're one of the kids from the dorm, right? What the hell are you doing here?"

She blinked at him. Her mouth fell open, as if to say something, but she closed it and shook her head. When she looked at him again she was smiling, the smile felt strangely crooked to him for some reason, and she said, "I just...wanted to check something out. You're Akihiko-senpai's friend, right? I'm Satashi Arisato."

He should have remembered then. If he had, he would have known why that smile felt wrong. If he had then he would have had one day instead of less than a minute. If he had, he would have understood what she really wanted when she said:

"All of us at the dorm are meeting on the roof of the school to celebrate graduation. I'm positive Akihiko and Mitsuru-senpai would love to see you there."

'Mabayuku kagayaku hitotoki minna to issho datta

Kakegae no nai toki to shirazu ni watashi ha sugoshite ita

Ima ha tada taisetsu ni shinobu you I will embrace the feeling'

['That brightly shining moment, I was with everyone

I spent that time without knowing it was irreplaceable

Now, so that I'll just recall it fondly, I will embrace the feeling']

On March 5th, he had been halfway to the school. He wasn't walking that way because of that girl's request or because he had planned on watching Aki graduate but just because he wanted to stay out of the hospital a while longer.

And then everything came back and he was running.

'Waratteta naiteta okotteta kimi no koto oboete iru

Wasurenai itsumademo kesshite until my life is exhausted'

['I remember you laughing, you crying, you angry

I will never forget for all time until my life is exhausted']

His chest was burning, his legs ached from lack of use, the puncture marks from the IV needle stung in the cold air, and oh fuck it hurt more to run now than it did from the Reaper. He didn't care about that. The girl he had been dreaming about, she had been right in front of him and he hadn't remembered. How pathetic was that? The crooked smile came to mind, unnatural from the one he remembered. She was probably going to give him an earful later when he finally caught up. What he was going to say then...he figured the first thing he was going to do was chastise her for pushing a sick guy so hard. After that…he'd tell her whatever. They had time.

He ran past the school gates and through the lobby for the first time in two years. The corridors were empty, for the graduation ceremony he guessed, so no one was there to gawk at the stranger rushing through the hall and to the stairs that led to the roof.

He heard voices just ahead of him as he grabbed the door handle. It wasn't a surprise when he threw it open and saw everyone else in SEES already there and running on their own. It was a surprise for them though, based on the looks on their faces. Iori was asking why and how he was there but Mitsuru said it could wait, they had time. Satashi and Aigis were waiting.

She was lying across the bench with her head on Aigis's lap. Her eyes were half-open and facing the doorway. She was looking at them-a part of him selfishly wished it was him she was focusing on-and she smiled. Not that crooked one in the alleyway but one that radiated cheer and satisfaction.

Leave it to Satashi Arisato to find the positive side, no matter what the reason, and that smile lasted even after her eyes closed forever.

Shinjiro was sure, that as Metis had said, she must have died content and without regrets, with her own 'answer to life'.

'Kimi ha ne tashika ni ano toki watashi no soba ni ita

Itsudatte itsudatte itsudatte sugu yoko de waratte ita

Nakushitemo torimodosu kimi wo I will never leave you'

['You were definitely by my side back then, you know

You were always, always, always smiling right next to me

Even if I lose you, I'll get you back. I will never leave you.']

So you're watching over all of us, huh?

He swallowed down the burning feeling that clawed at the back of his throat, trying to ignore the slight shake his shoulders had developed, and reflexively pulled his beanie over his eyes.

Then just keep watching me. I won't be adding to your burden.