A/N: After almost two playthroughs completed in Persona 3 Portable, I've had the idea for this story form in my head. Then again, Akihiko has pretty much become one of my favorite characters, with Shinjiro at a close second. I figured I'd take on writing about Aki's early life while the thought was still fresh. This is the first story I'm writing for Persona 3 in general, so some feedback and whatnot would be appreciated. I hope you enjoy. ^^ -Kaze

Persona 3 and related stuff (c) Atlus.

The Old Days

Chapter 1

From Old Home to New Home

Spring 1996

He didn't know how long he stared at the altar bearing the photographs of his parents.

The silver-haired boy sat cross-legged on the wooden floor of what had once been the family home, his grey eyes fixed on the structure in front of him. The room was empty; the only other occupants were a dark-haired man wearing a suit holding the hand of small girl with the same color of hair.

"Are you ready, Akihiko-kun?"

The boy nodded, but he didn't move right away. Just when the man looked as though he were about to speak again, he stood and faced him, his fists clenched. He didn't look the man in the eye, however, instead staring off to the wall nearby. "…Um… Kamiya-san, what's going to happen now? To me… and Miki?"

The man called Kamiya seemed thoughtful. "Well, since you have no relatives to take you in, your new home will be the local orphanage in Iwatodai."

"Orphanage?" Akihiko shifted uncomfortably. "Is it… is it a bad place?"

"No. The people there will take good care of you and Miki-chan. There are other children there, who don't have parents, like you. I'm certain you will be able to make some friends, Akihiko-kun."

The boy still didn't seem convinced. Kamiya sighed, shifting Miki to his other arm. "Look, we have to go now. We want to get there before it gets dark. Come on, Akihiko-kun."

Akihiko looked on as he turned to leave, noticing his toddler sister's eyes on him for a brief moment. Anger and sadness welled up within him; none of this was fair. Why did they have to die? Why did they leave him and Miki behind? Why? Why?

Fighting back his tears, he ran out the room, feet pounding against the floor.

The ride to the orphanage was a one-sided conversation for Kamiya Yuuji. Sure, a social worker's job wasn't easy, and it really wasn't easy when it came to situations like these. A case like Sanada Akihiko's and Sanada Miki's was uncommon, but something he had seen before. Then again, these were probably the two youngest children he had to deal with in his career. Akihiko was only four years old, and Miki, according to his file, was just a few days shy of her second birthday.

Yuuji had tried to talk to the boy several times after they had left what had been the Sanada residence, but gave up when he remained sullen and silent. He couldn't help but feel sorry for him, although he didn't say it aloud; the last thing any kid needs is an adult pitying their situation. The only sounds besides his own occasional cough were the rumbling engine of the car and soft, classical music that played from its radio. When Yuuji glanced at the rearview mirror, he saw that Miki had fallen asleep, clutching an old stuffed rabbit that was missing one of its button eyes, and Akihiko staring forlornly out the side window.

"We're almost there, Akihiko-kun," the worker announced, making another feeble attempt at conversation. "Like I said, you'll be taken care of at the orphanage, and there'll be other kids your age…"

A short pause, then the youth spoke up, his voice barely above a whisper. "How long will we be there?"

"… Well, some kids grow up there. Others get adopted by families. It's kind of hard to say," Yuuji replied, trying to sound as light-hearted as possible.

"Oh…" It wasn't convincing enough, apparently. The boy fell silent again, this time covering his eyes with one arm. Yuuji thought he heard him start sobbing, so he decided he wouldn't say anything else until they got there.

Thankfully, the rest of the drive there would be short.

If Suzuki Reiko already had her hands full before they arrived, things were probably going to get worse.

She and her niece Suoh were outside Iwatodai orphanage for a good fifteen minutes before the car pulled over to the curb and slowed to a subtle stop.

"'Bout time," the old woman grumbled under her breath. She was already sore that her other helper hadn't bothered to show up today, and the twelve kids already in their care, ranging in age from four to twelve years old, were more unruly than usual. Damn spring break.

In a minute, driver's side door opened and the social worker clambered onto the sidewalk and proceeded to let out the new charges.

"Come on, Suoh," Reiko said. "Let's get this over with."

A woman in her middle-fifties, Reiko was a tough woman who kept her dark brown hair in a tight bun except for a few strands of grey that loosely framed her face. She always wore a plain t-shirt and long red skirt under a yellow apron and a pair of flat shoes; it was something she was most comfortable in, except when she was actually going somewhere, like shopping, but then, her niece did most of that.

Suoh was her brother's daughter, a young woman in her mid-twenties who always cared for others. Unlike Reiko, Suoh wasn't so easily worn out from being around children, and not because she was younger; Reiko believed she had a gift for it, and Suoh had told her that she would take over running the place after she was gone. Her hair was the same color as her aunts, without the grey strands, and was kept in a loose ponytail.

The conversation with the social worker took a few minutes, during which Reiko was introduced to the two children. The silver-haired boy looked just as lost as anyone, and the girl with matching hair clutching his hand looked like she had just woken up, so what was going on now wouldn't register to her yet. The two small suitcases holding their belongings sat next to them on the ground.

"How old are they, Kamiya-san?" Suoh asked, looking on with concern.

"Four and just about two, respectively," the man replied.

"Humph, well isn't this nice." Reiko crossed her arms. "Sorry you had to come on such a bad day, Kamiya. Rest assured; you know they're in good hands. I wouldn't have been runnin' this place over twenty years if I let anything happen to these kids, eh?"

Kamiya chuckled lightly. "You always speak so roughly, Suzuki-san, but thanks for taking them in." He looked down to the boy and girl, his small smile fading. "Akihiko-kun, I've got to go know. I'll be back to check on you though, I promise." He ruffled the boy's head before turning back to the vehicle.

"Don't go killin' yourself now," Reiko called after him, waving an arm. The social worker simply held up one hand and didn't turn back.

The older woman noticed that the boy stared at the car as the engine roared to life once more and drove off, his expression unreadable. His hand seemed to grip the little girl's a bit tighter.

A crashing sound from inside suddenly caught their attention, and Reiko pushed up one of her sleeves and sighed. "Sorry, Suoh, I'm gonna have to leave them to you. Get them settled in while I do some damage control."

"Of course, Auntie." The young woman's voice sounded almost angelic to her ears as she went inside the building. "Now, Akihiko-kun…"

… This was most likely going to be a long night.