((Author's note: A different take on the July full moon and its aftermath. Also, first attempt at anything involving sex or smut. Or fluffy smut.))


Akihiko breathes deeply when they step outside, forcing air to move through his lungs. His heart is still pounding from the fight and-

…And the other thing that happened. Almost happened. In a way, he's proud of how he was able to stay strong, withstand what the Shadow threw at them. But at the same time he would have liked it if that temptation hadn't been there in the first place. He would have liked it BETTER if that mind trick hadn't involved Mitsuru half out of her clothes, sprawled on a bed and looking at him in a way that still makes him swallow when he thinks back on it.

Mitsuru doesn't show any sign of what happened now that they're outside. She stays calm and poised as she congratulates the underclassmen on a job well done, and he tries to match that confidence. No showing how tense he still feels, or that his skin goes hot when he glances over at her. When she dismisses them and starts to walk away, he falls into step right behind her. His movements feel stiffer than normal, and his body is tight; like his clothes are chaffing against his skin.

"Arisato." Mitsuru's voice makes him glance up when she stops walking. "You should lead the juniors back to the dorm." Akihiko instantly realizes that he wasn't included in that, and tries not to stare at Mitsuru as she continues. "It's possible that there's a few rogue Shadows left. But if there are, Akihiko and I can attend to the clean up. We'll follow you after we've checked the area."

Meaning she wants him alone with her.

…Oh God. No. He thought he'd apologized enough, and made it clear that none of the showering or lack of clothes was HIS idea. At least, not an idea he'd make while he was thinking clearly. Maybe.

Hell, he can't even convince himself with that argument. And since it looks like those words hadn't worked with Mitsuru, he doubts that 'please don't execute me' is going to be any more effective.

"This way, please." She says as she brushes past him, back towards the street where the hotel is. And of course, he has to follow one step behind. Maybe since it's July, it won't take as long for the ice to melt as usual.

It's not long before they've left the other S.E.E.S. members behind them. But before they ever reach the hotel, or any territory where Shadows might be, Mitsuru stops, and turns back to look at him. He takes a step back, and for his troubles almost bumps his head against the wall they've stopped next to.

"…That should be far enough." She says, oddly quiet, and something in her voice forces him to look up. When he does, Akihiko gets another surprise as he meets her eyes, and sees that there isn't anything there that looks like she's ready to punish anyone.

"You…Know there's not any Shadows around here." He feels like he needs to point that out, and Mitsuru nods in response.

"No, but I need to discuss something with you. About the Lovers Shadow…" She says, and there's a moment where she breaks eye contact with him. And when she looks up at him again, Akihiko thinks he catches a flicker of uncertainty go across her face. He tries to think of something to say about that, but then Mitsuru continues before he can think of any words.

"Your balance was off on no less then five occasions during that fight, Akihiko." Mitsuru says without any preamble. "I counted at least three times where you threw those 'haymakers,' as you call them, instead of crosses. And I had to summon Penthesilea to care for you instead of attack the enemy twice as often."

She gives him a measuring look.

"Akihiko…You were sloppy at the end of this evening. I won't comment on Takeba; she's still new to this. But you, I expected a different level of performance. So tell me…Why were you so unhinged this evening?"

His balance is starting to feel off NOW as well, both from those observations…And the fact that Mitsuru feels like she has to ask him why. He wants to say 'why do you THINK I was off?' The full moon overhead is giving her hair an odd shine, a faint green light on all that red. Looking at her, it's hard not to think about how soft that and her skin felt, how addicting it was to touch both of them, and that desire for more. And there's still that flicker of a spark in his stomach when he thinks back on it, which teeters between pleasure and go-find-a-corner-to-curl-up-and-die-in-uncomfortable.

After going through that, what IS he supposed to focus on, instead?

He wants to ask her that. But what comes out of his mouth is something else.

"…Like you were any different." He wasn't planning to sound that sulky, but it still comes out that way. And since Mitsuru looks like she's about to protest, he has to keep talking to keep her from that opening.

"You weren't loose enough to dodge things. And you almost dropped your sword a couple of times…I didn't count how many." He was more busy with trying to beat that Shadow to a bloody pulp, instead of being the multi tasker of the group. "You weren't the only one who had to suddenly pull healing duty either…There were a couple of times when you almost-"

He shuts his mouth around that, cutting off his words. Seeing her knocked onto the floor, bleeding, had made something in his chest spasm and hurt. He hadn't been happy about stopping his attack, pausing long enough to heal her…But leaving her hurt would have been worse.

That had been as bad as coming to and realizing he'd somehow climbed on top of her, had her pinned to a bed that was so soft they BOTH were almost sinking into it. When he thinks back on that he can feel his face start to go red, and this time he can't get it under control before Mitsuru notices.

o-o-o

For Mitsuru, July has always been a difficult month. The temperature starts to climb, and the Dark Hour doesn't bring any real change; it only goes from sluggish heat to being stifling instead. Both environments are constricting, and there's times where she has to wonder how Akihiko manages. The change in heat never seems to get to him, never causes him to lose that easy, calm stance that lets him move and fight so freely.

So when she saw him drop that when they stepped outside the room, and pick up something more tense as they waited for the juniors to rendezvous, Mitsuru knew that something was wrong. And that something stuck with her for the rest of the mission…Much like how it's still there, clinging to him and making him move stiffly around her.

Mitsuru is certain she knows what the reason for it might be, and that it might apply to her, too. This sensation is still clinging to both of them; thrumming and burning in the pits of their stomachs, waiting to flare up again.

That thought makes her heart pound faster, and makes her stand a little more stiffly, almost mirroring him and driving that theory home. It would be so much easier if Akihiko would just spit out the reason FOR her, so she wouldn't have to ask or think back on what happened…But naturally, he's not any better at this than she is. Seeing him go red in the face proves that much.

"You realize that you still haven't answered my question." She pushes with that, watching him carefully.

"Neither have you." He growls in response, telling Mitsuru that she needs to tread more carefully. Which sadly, she's having a hard time doing; he's right that she's shaky, and in bad form. It's hard to keep her thoughts and composure together when her blood is still trying to hammer through her head, and bring her heart back up to pounding.

AND drag her thoughts, kicking and screaming back to that room they woke up in. Her on the bed, hearing a shower start up, and that stifling heat start to work its way through clothes and into her skin. It hadn't taken much thought to shrug out of her blouse, then; that had only seemed like a natural choice.

To her shock, Mitsuru realizes that Akihiko has started talking again.

"You really have to hear why I was pissed?" Any other evening, she'd scold him for that language, or that tone of 'you should know this already' in his voice, but instead she nods.

"I really wish to CONFIRM, Akihiko. I have a few suspicions. Namely, that you weren't able to leave what happened behind in that room."

"Behi-!" He's angry now. His shoulders are set back, and that glare he's giving her is something she's only seen reserved for when his ribs are broken; that hot, but almost helpless rage he has when he's at a standstill, and can't do anything about it. His voice also sounds like it's dangerously close to the breaking point. "Are you kidding me! How can you act so calm, with what happened?"

Mitsuru doesn't return his glare as she watches him, and tries to wrestle her voice into something calm.

"I…I managed to stay calm," she inwardly winces and swallows a curse of her own when she hears herself speak. "By keeping my priorities in order, and focusing on the mission instead of what I feel- felt." She trips up over that word, and Akihiko clearly notices; he isn't as angry as she thought he was, if he's still able to pick up on that.

"…To be frank," She tries, TRIES to breathe steady, but it doesn't work. Her pulse has shifted back to that staccato beat. "To…Be perfectly honest, I…May have been having the same difficulties. Then, and now."

Mitsuru has known Akihiko for nearly four years. They've faced Shadows and exams together, and along the way they both somehow opened up just enough to share their past with each other. And she can still count the number of times she's blushed in front of him on one hand. Somehow, having her face burn while he's watching feels as bad as being without her clothes.

"…Now?" That fire in his voice is gone.

"There…Are some theories that a Shadow cannot create or foster emotions out of whole cloth. There needs to be something there, to begin with, that it can distort." She can see the thoughts starting to slide into place, behind his eyes. But they are going far too slowly for Mitsuru's liking, as they clearly have to work through several layers of adrenaline and leftover hormones that must be stacked in Akihiko's mind. The same thing feels true to her, with the strange loops her mind starts to do as it watches him.

He looks stressed, almost pained as he filters that information, and she feels the strangest desire to put her hand to his face to smooth his expression out.

"Akihiko, the point I'm trying to make is that you…You are…Someone I greatly care for."

There isn't any fog or strange whispers in her mind now, but her thoughts are still a mess; a war of doubt, confusion, and not knowing how exactly one is supposed to go about admitting this strange emotion that's been smoldering in her since waking up. Embarrassment, a foreign emotion to her, is starting to trip up her tongue, and that cool head she prizes so much feels like it's entered into a losing battle.

"And I…Am loathe to leave something so important unfinished."

She wonders if he'll flinch away when her fingers brush his shoulder, or if he'll try to shrug her hand off. When his hand comes up, she's certain that he's about to do just that…But then his fingers close around her, black glove against white skin. There's a desperate strength in his grip, which she can see reflected in his eyes.

"You're okay with…Con-continuing?" Akihiko has always had a half talent, half debility for being so blunt with things. This time, she's glad for it. "Why?"

"Because I doubt this will blow over in just an evening, and things will revert back." That encounter had…Done something to her. To them. Just like that first shot with an Evoker, it feels as though a door has blasted open in her mind, and she can't shut it. Penthesilea stirs for a moment at that thought, but stays in the back of her mind.

"I'm not about to ignore what happened. Particularly when you- When we've been affected so deeply." Her head feels like it isn't spiraling around quite as fast when she admits that. "So…I am freely offering this to you." She states that again, trying to make it clear to him that there isn't any Shadow driving her actions this time.

Then, more quietly, she adds. "I also…Would like this. And…You."

Before he can notice that her face has almost matched her hair color, Mitsuru tilts her head forward. She knows that he can feel her breath on his face, from the way his body goes stiff. Then her lips close the rest of the distance, and gives him something else to feel. If this is how the skin around his mouth feels, she has to wonder what it feels like to actually kiss him on the lips.

She finds out when he turns into that kiss, and meets her mouth with his own. That tension in his body turns into something different. Hungrier.

It's amazing, how warm his mouth is, and how sensitive hers suddenly is. For a moment she feels like the ground has dropped out from under them, and she grips Akihiko's hand more tightly. There's a pleasant chill that suddenly runs down her back, and something in the back of her mind is thrumming with pleasure.

When they break apart, it feels like coming up for air. There's a pause, and she can see that while Akihiko has lost some of that stress, he's still hesitant. Mitsuru takes that as a sign to take the lead again.

o-o-o

Until tonight, Akihiko had never really considered just what Mitsuru's lips felt like, or how her hair smelled. Now he starts to bask in both of those things, even while his thoughts feel like they're getting torn in two different ways; either that this is Mitsuru he's kissing, or that…It's Mitsuru he's kissing, and he's still a bit shocked that she's so warm under his skin.

Their mouths linger over each other for a moment. He thinks this how you're supposed to kiss someone. Maybe. He can faintly remember something about tongues as well, but he's only ready to take this one step at a time.

He's at a loss when they break apart. Kissing had been good-

No, that's not right. It had been amazing. But where he's supposed to go from here, he has no idea. There's no bed, and he's not even sure if what he'd done before had been right, thanks to the Shadow. He watches Mitsuru, hoping for some sort of sign or clue, as she pulls her hand away from his.

"You'll want these." Mitsuru fishes around in her skirt pocket for a moment, before holding her hand out. He stares at her, and the squares of plastic in her hand.

"How did you get-" He starts to ask, and she cuts him off with a curt wave of the hand.

"You think that I didn't notice how tense you were when we were done fighting? Akihiko, I know you better then that." She looks away from him for a moment, taking a close look at the buttons on his vest instead.

"Besides, we were in one of those hotels. It wasn't difficult to find a few at the front desk, before we left the building."

"You were planning this?" He stares.

"No!" She almost yells that, and Akihiko can see her sides move as she forces a deep breath, until her composure is back in place, if a bit ruffled. "I…Simply took a few precautions, after watching you. In case things took a turn like this."

Then she looks back up at him. "I think that I made the right call, though." All he can really think of doing in response is nodding, and taking those packets. He slips them into his pockets, for later.

He almost wants to hit himself after thinking that. 'Later' is probably just a minute away, with how his heart is starting to pound. Maybe less, once Mitsuru grabs him by the vest and pulls him closer.

The first thing they do is fumble with the belts around their waists. Actually, the FIRST thing Mitsuru does is pull his hands onto her hips, and show him where the buckle is on her gun belt. Then she lets him do the same with his unoccupied hand.

Their motions are clumsy, but with a little work they manage to get the gun belts off, then drop them and the Evokers to the ground before they're panting too hard. Mitsuru's sword follows, making a louder clatter, while the knuckles Akihiko uses just make a dull clank.

Those sounds are all painfully loud in the emptiness of the Dark Hour, and his senses feel like they're almost buzzing out of control. His heartbeat booms in his ears while Mitsuru's breath echoes alongside it. His hands and arms can't seem to decide whether they're clumsy and confused, or wired, bursting with frantic energy.

He almost wants to punch something to help work some of that nervousness off. But there's no Shadows left here; just Mitsuru, still looking at him in a way that makes that spark he'd shoved into the back of his mind after waking up start to glow again.

"Akihiko, you're not going to freeze up on me, are you?" Mitsuru says that in a way that causes his ears to burn. He can feel her fingers start to brush up against his neck and collar. In response, he tries to swallow whatever keeps making his thoughts and hands freeze up, and mimic what Mitsuru is doing.

o-o-o

He seems to gain some confidence when she reaches up to undo his tie, enough that Mitsuru doesn't have to tell him to do the same with her ribbon. He brushes her hair out of the way, tucking it back behind her ears and shoulders so he has better access to her neck.

There had been some strange pleasure, having him on top of her, giving up some control for a change. And even now, when she doesn't have her mind clouded, it still sounds appealing. That goes through her mind as Mitsuru takes him by the shoulders, and turns him around so she's the one with her back to the wall. The bricks dig into her back, a sharp contrast between that bed she was laying on just a few minutes ago. But that sharp feeling keeps her thoughts anchored, unlike before, and Mitsuru knows she wants to be aware of all of this.

Akihiko's eyes are wide and staring, and his hands are hesitant when they change positions.

"It's fine…" She murmurs, pulling his hands back up to her blouse and back to the buttons and her ribbon. "I…Liked giving up a little control to you. But I don't want you to leave this unfinished."

And there's a moment where one of his hands goes up, as the other is busy with her ribbon, and carefully brushes her bangs out of her face, so he can really look at her. He hasn't lost that cautious, bordering on scared (although she'd never tell him that out loud) look. But his gaze is also surprisingly alert and discerning, and Mitsuru tries to match it as she looks back at him, to give him a little more confidence.

Akihiko's hands still move slowly, and she finds that her own fingers move to help him. They brush and bump against each other, but together they get her blouse open. Her skin is suddenly able to breath better, and there's a moment where her breath hitches as Akihiko carefully runs a hand over her neck and shoulder. She starts to lean into that, but stops when she realizes that this doesn't feel right. There's no skin on skin, like before. And when she opens her eyes, Mitsuru sees why.

"Take those off." She orders, and gives his gloves an affronted look.

He surprises her with a short laugh. "Still in control, huh?"

"I want to give up a little of it; not all of it. And you haven't taken your gloves off yet." She keeps her eyes on the problem, until he gives another laugh, this one more shaky, and starts to tug them off. Something about that motion and his laugh makes her feel oddly, comfortably warm. It's nothing like that bit of summer heat that's still clinging to the air; more like something curled deep in her chest and stomach is slowly starting to unfurl through her.

o-o-o

She wants this. She really wants this…And him. Akihiko keeps repeating that thought as his hands drift down.

Compared to his hands, Mitsuru's are a lot more sure; she's already pulled off his vest, and is now working on his shirt. The clasps on her skirt are something of a mystery for him, but Akihiko can't help but feel a brief surge of triumph when he figures out how to undo them and pull her skirt off.

Black lace underwear. Of course it matches her bra. Before, he'd been more focused on her skin than what she was wearing. But now, he really looks at her, and realizes that it suits her.

Akihiko thinks that as he hooks his fingers over the lace, and she squirms a little as his hands brush against her hips. In the back of his mind, Akihiko realizes that she was right with ordering him to take his gloves off first; this wouldn't feel half as good with something between them.

Not that he's ready to admit that out loud. Instead, he presses his lips to that space right over her stomach as he kneels down.

Her hips twitch under his mouth, and Mitsuru's stomach flattens out as she exhales with a soft moan. Her hands have found their way into his hair, but they freeze when she makes that noise.

A small part of Akihiko feels surprised at how protective he feels, when he hears that. The rest of him is more busy with trying to figure out how to make her hands go back to combing through his hair, and steady her breath.

"It's alright," he says softly, pulling his mouth away from her. "You can give up a little control?" She makes a hesitant noise, but he thinks he can pick out a 'yes' in that. "You can relax and let your guard down a little, too." He brushes a thumb over the fabric as he says that, and gets rewarded with another, slightly louder gasp. Her hands are running through his hair again, and when Akihiko glances up, he sees that her eyes are closed and her lips are parted open. He wonders if her breath isn't clouding as it leaves her mouth, but what really draws him in is how much softer her expression is.

Seeing her without her clothes makes his heart race. But it's something about how her control is starting to crack a little, how there's something on her face that's different from that calm look that sends a twinge through his chest.

"Please…" Her voice is soft and rich, and if this is what she's like under that mask, he wants to see it more often.

He's careful when he pulls her underwear down; there's so much lace that he doesn't know how to get it over her boots, but he manages, somehow. She helps him, stepping out of them, and he makes sure that he puts them on top of her skirt, to keep them clean.

Something else black and lacy falls down next to them, and when Akihiko looks up, he has to swallow for a moment. Mitsuru is looking down on him, pale and exposed, and he doesn't think he's imagining that she's dropped a little more of that mask. When he stands up, he's sure of it.

"You don't want to take those off?" He glances down at her boots, black leather that makes the skin they're against look softer than normal.

"And lose what height I have against you?" She raises a critical eyebrow at that, making it clear what she thinks of that question. "I'll be fine, and I'd rather be looking at your face, not your neck."

'Now hurry up,' says her tone, while her face has a softness that adds a 'please' onto the end of that, and he's quick to obey. It doesn't hurt that there's something about how she's standing, just in those, that's a bit…Wow.

He hopes she doesn't notice how much he's fumbling with his pants, but after a moment she impatiently reaches over and tugs them down for him. He somehow remembers to grab one of those condoms out of the his pocket before they fall out of his reach. The cloth pools around his feet, making it hard for him to move.

But maybe that's okay; she can't move very much with that wall against her back, so he'd like to think this balances them out.

The moonlight keeps doing weird things to her hair color. The green light seems to almost suck out all the colors aside from red, making it richer. He can't help but notice that her bangs also insist on falling over her face, meaning he has to brush them back again. Mitsuru peers out from under them at him, and for a second she almost looks as confused as he feels.

He'd known what to do before, or at least, he had something in his head whispering advice and encouraging him-

And that almost makes him lose his nerve when he thinks back on that. Now he doesn't have that sick, slightly syrupy feeling and voice making his thoughts feel hazy. But he's also just feeling his way along, hoping he's doing this right.

Mitsuru murmurs something when his hands run up her sides, and Akihiko decides that maybe picking his way through this isn't so bad after all. Better that he can think clearly…Clearer, at least, and knows she wants this as much as he does.

He manages to tear open the condom wrapping easy enough, but his hands start to fumble when it comes to putting it on. And somehow, when Mitsuru reaches down to help that doesn't make it any easier to stay steady. They slip up several times before he gets it right, but he hopes Mitsuru doesn't expect him to be an instant expert.

Then again, this is Mitsuru.

He looks up to see that Mitsuru doesn't look annoyed with him. Her eyes are dark, almost all pupil. And there's a strange tenderness in them, right next to how possessive they look.

Her hands have trailed up to where his arms are, and he feels his muscles start to twitch as her fingers run over them. Something almost crackles under his skin at her touch-

That's when her arms snake around him, so she's running a finger down his spine. There is a flare of something hot and electric that runs right down his back with it, and his hands go up on their own and yank her close.

He can't believe how smooth her skin is against his. His thoughts are buzzing with that same electricity he felt flare up along his back-

And then they go still for a moment as something else, something that isn't Polydeucus brushes up against them. And that part of his mind doesn't react violently, either. It just…The only word he can think of is reaches, and he can feel Mitsuru make a surprised noise as he feels that cool presence comb through his thoughts again.

"H-hey." He also can't believe how shaky he sounds. "Did…You didn't just feel…?"

It's suddenly very hard to get his words out correctly. Polydeucus feels like he's trying push any thoughts that aren't related to what's in front of him out of his head. The Persona is suddenly reaching again, and his hands grip at her back when he feels that icy presence brush up against him again.

Mitsuru dips her face into his neck in a nod, making a delicious 'mmm' as she presses up against him. He doesn't know how she manages it, since it feels they're pressed together as tight as they can possibly go. He finds that he doesn't mind, though, that Mitsuru keeps surprising him with those noises and movements.

"I did…" She's whispering against his neck, her breath still cool as it brushes against his skin. "I never thought it would be like this; having them react as well."

She doesn't sound too upset over this discovery, though.

"In a way, it makes sense. There's a…A full moon out." She stammers, and he can feel something cool and powerful brush up against the back of his mind. He doesn't think that crackling, electric feeling is limited to his own skin now, either. "They've been summoned several times already so it-"

This time she doesn't stammer. Just gasps, and makes a whimpering noise as they touch again. He thinks he can feel something of her thoughts behind that chill, too; frantic, confused, and in a jumble of excitement that matches his. And on the edge of that, something shaky, hesitant-

'Vulnerable,' Polydeucus whispers that single word. Which is weird, because it should be the other way around. He's the one that's weak against ice…But he can also feel her quivering, and when he turns his head to watch her, Mitsuru does look like that. Her eyes are half closed, like she's trying to hide that her composure has been peeled away. There's nothing measuring or aloof in her eyes now, either. Just…Mitsuru, as a person. That's all he can see, and Akihiko feels a strange sense of privilege from that.

"It's alright." He says that again, softly, as he moves a hand up from her back and starts to stroke her hair. He thinks that's supposed to help, in this situation-

It does. She's still quivering, but there's something different about it. And when their Persona brush together again, Polydeucus feels a LOT more defensive, and he has to bite back a gasp of his own when something cold straddles his mind.

"Ready." She whispers into his hear, and somehow gets past all that. "I'm ready…Just hurry." He nods, feeling her hair brush against his face, beautifully smooth. She's right, though; he doesn't know how much longer the Dark Hour will last, and besides that, the way one of her legs is trying to wrap around him shows she's as desperate as he is.

o-o-o

When Akihiko pulls away from her, Mitsuru feels another one of those moans building in the back of her throat, this time out of protest. She swallows it; she is a Kirijo, after all, and her will should reflect that.

One part of her mind is still trying to tell her how reckless this decision is. That part is swiftly drowned out with how satisfying this all feels, and Penthesilea practically humming in content.

That's what truly makes her relax against him. The other presence in her mind isn't screaming urgency or danger into her ear as this happens, unlike before in the hotel. She isn't trying to ignore Penthesilea, either, which Mitsuru thinks is probably a good thing; when Akihiko kisses her along the neck and runs a hand over her thigh, the Persona surges up, making her thoughts start to drift and her body go cold. The air doesn't feel as hot or oppressing, now. Even her breath is starting to fog up as it leaves her mouth.

His hand is still brushing her hair as he pushes her back against the wall. She leans into that touch, surprised at how much she enjoys it. She likes when his fingers get tangled up in her hair, too, as he puts his hand between her head and the concrete behind her. It's not as soft as the pillows, but Mitsuru can't help but think she likes this better; it isn't luxurious, it is even a little uncomfortable, but it still makes her blood sing in a way that makes her toes curl inside her boots, and a spot between her legs throb.

Akihiko's other hand works down to her waist, brushing the skin there with surprisingly gentle fingertips, and she feels her hips start to try and buck again. But this time, his hand pushes against them, and keeps them steady.

He's murmuring something, but Mitsuru can't pick out the words. It sounds reassuring, though, and she lets herself start to get carried away by his voice as she watches him.

Her vision blurs as he slides into her. Mitsuru thinks that she cries out something, and God, Dieu, dios Mio…The words start to blur together in her mind, but through that she can still feel him and it hurts-

That hand on her hip shifts around, running up her stomach to Mitsuru's breasts, and that pained noise changes in her throat into a sound that feels almost hungry.

"Mitsuru? Are you okay?" She can just hear Akihiko past the trilling Penthesilea is making, his voice worried and close to her ear.

"Y…Yes. I'm fine. I'll be fine." She's beginning to feel just a little delirious, but the pain is starting to subside. Or at least pale in comparison to what else she's feeling; that brush of his hands against her skin, how he feels inside of her, and inside of her, as she can just feel the edges of his thoughts and Polydeucus almost pulsing with energy.

His lips find hers, and in a quick pulse some of that energy feels like it's crackling through her as well, arcing from his tongue to hers and spreading through her until it curls up in her stomach, a startlingly warm contrast to how cold the rest of her feels.

"Aki…" The name slips out between their mouths, and in a very, very faint way Mitsuru feels embarrassed that she can't say his full name without gasping. He doesn't seem to mind it though, groaning in response, and tangling his fingers even deeper into her hair.

She doesn't know how long they stand there like that, adjusting to each other, and that embarrasses her, too; her perception of things is starting to get buried in what's happening now. For all she knows, the Dark Hour could end in the next second and some of those coffins a street over could round the corner and see them, but Mitsuru finds that she can't bring herself to care. Especially not when Akihiko starts to move inside her, his strokes strong and steady. Even his breathing is falling into a rhythm as well, panting and hot, but still in a pattern and so like him; just the way he sounds after practice, or a fight, and Mitsuru finds that her breath is starting to match up with his.

Her hips also start to move in time with his and Mitsuru thinks that, for all that this is her first time, she must be doing a few things right, with how pleasure is thrumming through her mind and leaving her dizzy. There's also that hint of otherness to her thoughts, telling Mitsuru that the other part of their minds is also starting to mesh together.

o-o-o

He's got a greater appreciation for the fact that Mitsuru kept her boots on. It makes it easier for their mouths to stay together, and she's right; Akihiko likes having her face right where it is. He likes feeling her breath on his face, likes having those sounds she makes echo inside his mouth.

Loves feeling that warmth from where their bodies meet for a long time. The rest of her sends a shock of cold through his skin when his hands or hers move somewhere new, but the more familiar spots stay warm.

Even the leather feels good against his legs, smooth and supple, and different from the silk of her skin. Warmer too, with the way it traps heat from where their legs slide together.

Mitsuru is doing more sighing now, which he thinks he likes better than those nervous gasps she'd made at first. But the most satisfying thing is those low, throaty noises he can coax out of her…And hearing his name. Akihiko can just catch the way her voice catches when she says it, cutting it off to one syllable. And while he thinks he can hear a hint of embarrassment, the way she says it makes that energy under his skin flare and burn. That pleasure keeps coming in jolts and shocks as they move against each other. It's a sharp contrast through that pervasive, but oddly enjoyable coolness that's starting to settle over the surface of his skin.

The very tips of Mitsuru's fingers are still cold, and a hiss slips out between his teeth when her nails skim over his back. When her fingers dig into Akihiko's shoulders, he doesn't know what that sound he makes is, exactly; something between a groan and a gasp, but he knows that he doesn't want her to stop. Doesn't want any of this to stop. His body is humming like a power line, and somewhere in the very, very back of his mind, in the part that isn't crackling with electricity or having something cold tease at it, Akihiko thinks that post adrenaline buzz from boxing has been toppled from being the best thing he's ever felt.

Mitsuru arches up, pressing herself on top of him, and Akihiko is suddenly so very glad that his ribs are fully healed, and he's kept up with his training. He needs both to hold her up and keep her steady as Mitsuru clings to him, pressing down, against him, and her arms tightening around him with strength that Akihiko never thought she had.

The cold comes off of her and seeps into Akihiko like a wave, biting at his skin and muscles as it burrows into him. It stings, chills his sweat, but also feels…God, he hopes this is how it felt for Mitsuru when they connected. His muscles tense and relax as the chill rushes through him, and he can feel just how warm Mitsuru is against and around him.

o-o-o

Mitsuru is shuddering against him, but not from cold. It's like something has jumped between them; like he's somehow managed to press a handful of lightning past her skin and left it nestled inside her. It's curled around her heart, making it pound and her blood sing, and every nerve in her body feel suddenly alive, wired and sensitive.

Something surges through her, something different from the ice and electricity. Her thoughts go blank for a moment, and she leaves the wall behind, leaning against Akihiko instead. Somehow they keep each other up, even though they're both shaking, as they ride out the end.

It feels like a long time before she remembers how to properly breathe, or stand without gripping his shoulders. Their lips aren't touching anymore, but she still feels like there's a current running through her, now starting to come just in flashes.

"Ah…" Akihiko tries to form words, between breaths. Mitsuru keeps her hands on his back, running over his ribs to try and help steady him and ease his words out.

"Amazing." Her hands freeze, and her back stiffens. She can feel him smiling into her neck as he keeps talking. "You're amazing."

"…As always?" She tries to sound steady when she asks that, but it still comes out wavering. Akihiko nods, brushing their cheeks together and making a soft noise as she relaxes again.

"Aki, this was…" Mitsuru is certain that the words will come to her in a moment. But sadly, she doesn't get that moment, because over the pounding of her heart, Penthesilea stirs again. This time, the Persona isn't reaching for anything, but just whispers something in her mind.

'Another closes.'

And just over their hearts, they can hear a voice, distant, but it echoes off the buildings clearly.

"Senpai?"

Apparently, they still have enough energy and connection to move in synchronization, because Akihiko flinches at the exact same time she does.

"Mitsuru? Akihiko? Are either of you there?"

"Arisato-!" Mitsuru hisses as Akihiko moves out of her, but she doesn't take in the sensation for very long; she's already following his lead with scrambling to put her clothes back on.

They've both gotten remarkably good at shedding and donning clothing tonight, Mitsuru reflects as she pulls her underwear and bra back on, somehow managing to get the former back over her boots without it catching on anything. Akihiko has already managed to pull his belt back around his waist, and is working on his shirt.

She's surprised he has the presence of mind to hold out her blouse for her, once he's pulled his vest on. Mitsuru takes it, fumbling with the buttons as she listens for those footsteps.

She has no idea how Akihiko manages, since he has twice as many layers to deal with on his shirt and vest. But they manage some semblance of order (even though a small voice in her head tells her that she's at least one button off, that Akihiko's shirt isn't tucked in, and her ribbon is horribly rumpled) as Arisato finally turns the corner and finds them, thankfully both clothed.

"Finally found you." At least he also sounds like he's breathing hard. Probably from searching the streets; she'd never been specific on where she was taking Akihiko. "Fuuka says that she's scanned the area, but hasn't been able to find anymore Shadows. Thought I should tell you."

She's very certain Arisato notices how disheveled they both look, but he doesn't comment on it. Instead, he waits for her to answer, and Mitsuru makes certain that her voice is clear and level when she speaks.

"…Thank you for informing us, Arisato. However, your priority is your teammates. We can manage by ourselves, and you should hurry back to them."

Beside her, Akihiko manages a nod, and a choked sounding "Y-yeah."

Out of the corner of her eye, Mitsuru watches Akihiko. He doesn't loosen up until Arisato gives a nod, and she doesn't think that she's imagining, that there's an uncomfortably thoughtful light behind the junior's eyes. He only gives an 'okay' in response, though, and then turns back towards the direction of the dorm.

"…We should follow him, before he elects to come back and tell us about something else." Mitsuru turns back to Akihiko once Arisato disappears from view.

"Right." Akihiko breathes that out, his voice sounding strained. Just at the edge of her thoughts, even though she's lost some of that connection between them, Mitsuru thinks she can pick out a hint of nervousness creeping back into him.

He loses some of that tenseness when she curls her fingers around his, and allows him to slid a hand around her waist. When they walk back to the dorm, this time he stays by her side.