A/N: Got my P3P addiction back, and that means I got hooked on the AkixFeMC pairing again haha. So for this chapter, it features the rank five and rank seven scenes of the Star Social Link.


Stumble
But as soon as I'd see you I'd forget all of my lines
And you'd never know what I feel inside


"I heard that this place is popular." I manage to say, and then start to panic as the idea sunk in. "A-Are guys allowed to go in there..?" Because seriously, a sweets shop! I took her to a sweets shop just because I... well, she likes sweets...

A giggle comes from her, and my cheeks turn red in embarrassment.

"It's completely okay senpai." She tells me with that reassuring smile of hers.

"I-I see." I say, still hesitant about the idea. But upon looking back at her, I'm able to muster up the courage to go through this. "Then... let's go."

My eyes glance around the shop, and my slow movements probably got her to grab onto my hand and pull me towards the counter, and I nearly stumble at that. She smiles at me, and I turn red once more and look away, deciding to let her order for the both of us since... well, I have no idea what's edible here.

When I heard the woman from behind the counter announce the bill, I swiftly took out my wallet and paid for whatever Minako ordered, and that caused her to stare at me.

"What?" I ask in confusion. "I... I asked you out so..."

She just gives me that smile of hers yet again, and then leads me to a nearby table with me carrying the tray which held a slice of strawberry cake and two dessert forks.

"You sure this is all you want?" I ask in an attempt to start a conversation.

"Yeah," she nods at me. "I've got a sweet tooth but I might end up spoiling my appetite if I eat too much."

"R-Right." I nod at her and stare at the cake, the strawberry syrup letting me know just how sugary sweet this would be.

"Eat up Akihiko-senpai!" She tells me with a huge grin before forking a piece of it. I watch her chew and swallow, and from the looks of it, her eyes seem to sparkle as she makes weird sounds that tells me she completely likes it.

I pick up my fork and hesitantly take a small piece, and then place it inside my mouth – my tongue feeling the soft texture of the cake.

"How is it?" She asks me with an expectant smile.

My brows furrow slightly as I swallow.

"Senpai?"

"That was rather sweet..." I say while looking down.

"Did you not like it?"

I look up to see her staring at me, and while she may have tried to mask her disappointment with a small smile, I was able to detect it from the tone of her voice.

"Oh... I mean, I don't hate having sweets..." I clarify. "But I don't really have them that often, so I was surprised at how sugary it was." I feel really embarrassed right now. "And... and..." I look away with a dark red tint on my cheeks. "It seemed like you like eating sweet things, so..."

I try to keep my gaze down, but the shocked look on her face told me that she recalled my confrontation with her about Iori.

"Still..." I continue eyeing something else. "It was like having a lump of pure sugar in my mouth..."

"Sorry senpai."

"No," I shake my head. "It's alright. Besides, Takeba sometimes gives me sweet snacks once in a while."

She raises a brow in my direction with an amused grin on her face. "Does she now?"

"Yeah. She says that she'd be screwed if she eats any more, then shove them at me..." I hope that didn't sound like I was whining. "But that's not important right now." I lift my gaze and look at her directly in the eye, and she seems to be taken aback by that. "Um..." I somehow forget what it is that I really want to say, and end up just asking: "Are you still hungry? Want to get some real food?" and as an afterthought, I mumble under my breath: "It doesn't have to be something sweet..."

She was about to open her mouth and answer, but once again, we were interrupted.

"Oh, Akihiko-senpai!"

I blink and look to the direction of where the voice came from, and to my horror, I see the two girls from last time.

"Omigosh, I'm like, so jazzed to run into you here again."

...Jazzed?

"Say, why are you here with Junpei's girlfriend?" The girl with buns suddenly asked, and I look at her sharply. "Like, stop stealing all the single guys when you've already got one for yourself!"

I feel my fingers clench tightly, and my eyes instantly narrow down to a glare.

"I'm not Junpei's girlfriend." I hear Minako say with a calm but firm voice, and I have to admire her courage at that despite two girls glaring down at her. Then again, she fights and stares at Shadows straight on without fear, so these two wouldn't be much of a threat to her.

"Huh? Who asked you?" One of the two girls said.

I've had enough of this, so I look directly at Minako who was still calm despite the situation. "As you can see," I start, earning their attention. "I'm with Minako right now."

I didn't care much about how the other two reacted, but with the small smile our leader sent me, I end up returning it with a light smirk.

"We'll have to talk some other time." Perhaps never. So I stand up, grab my things and offer my free hand to Minako. "Let's go."

She takes my hand after holding onto her own belongings and we leave the two behind, not even giving them a second glance.

The whole trip back to dorm, I couldn't help but glare at nothing in particular. Even up until now, there are still rumors about her being Iori's girlfriend despite the fact that I've already cleared that up with some of the students, with Mitsuru lending a hand too.

By the time we arrive at the dorm, I realize I have been holding onto Minako's hand the whole time, and I wonder if my grip hurt her.

"...Oh, sorry." I let go of her hand, feeling strangely cold without the feeling of her warmth. "Did I hurt your hand?" I ask her, trying to smile to keep her from asking about what I had been thinking. "...Sorry about what happened back there."

"It's not your fault senpai." She tells me with a smile, but I have to disagree, because I know for a fact that those girls will continue to pick fights with her just for hanging out with me. Still...

"I'm glad to hear you say that." My smile falters as I think back to her own personal admirers. "All this about me showing off and taking someone else's girlfriend..." my brows knit at the idea that the rumors haven't died down at all. "There are people in my class saying things about me, too..."

"I'm sorry about that senpai."

I look at her, seeing her hang her head low.

"Minako." I feel my breath get caught in my throat when she looks at me. "...I had fun today." I said with a smile. "It's nice to have sweet things once in a while."

She smiles as well and nods in agreement.

"We should go out for pancakes next time."

Her head tilts in confusion. "Pancakes?"

And I laugh lightly in embarrassment. "...I like them." I admit. "Does that seem like the kind of food I wouldn't like?" And I pause before recalling something. "Say, you're in the cooking club right? Maybe you can make them for me."

She laughs at that and nods her head. "I'll remember that senpai."

I can't really tell just what it is I'm feeling with having her around; when she laughs or smiles, I feel like I'm at peace. When she looks at me, I feel like my heart stops and my breath gets caught in my throat.

This happens for a number of times when we go out, and for weeks it has always been like that – her laughing and smiling while I feel too stumped to say anything that I really mean to say. I can't even forget about what happened at Wild Duck Burger when she mentioned something about feeling sorry for the kid who was apparently whining and everything.

I had dismissed the boy as energetic and full of spirit, mainly because I hadn't been paying attention actually since I was too distracted with thinking about these weird feelings I have when she's around.


"Senpai, watch out!"

I look up and manage to step aside in time when a Shadow had attempted to punch me. The moment I dodged it, it stumbled and fell to the ground, and I immediately call for an all out attack which Minako quickly approves as she, Yukari, and Koromaru run towards me and we all finish off the Shadow.

Once it was defeated, Minako calls for a five minute break to not wear ourselves out, with Yukari casting her Mediarahan on all of us to keep us going.

"Senpai."

I look from the floor of Tartarus to Minako's eyes.

"Is something bothering you?"

My mouth opens but the words get caught in my throat, and I end up shaking my head and turning away with furrowing brows.

"You know you can tell me."

"Yeah." I manage to say. I practically told her about my past and most of the things that has been bothering me - except of course those feelings that I have when she's around. "I just got a little distracted about something."

"That's not like you."

I give her a wry smile, sensing her concerned tone. "You're right."

She lowers her gaze. "Maybe you're tired and you're not telling me."

"No," I shake my head. "I'll definitely tell you if that were the case."

"Then what's wrong?"

I stay silent once again, because how can I tell her that she's the reason why I can't focus properly?

"We're good to go!"

I thank Takeba for calling Minako's attention, plus Koromaru's enthusiastic barking to fight more Shadows. I laugh at this and walk towards the dog and give him a pat on the head.

"I agree with Koromaru." I said with a grin, and from how Minako keeps looking at me, I can tell she won't drop our topic too easily, but will let it slide for now since we're in Tartarus.

"Alright, let's get going." She smiles at us and turns to a corner while we diligently follow her lead. "Shadow up ahead!" She declares. "And it's glowing red – this is going to be tough!"

"Nothing we can't handle." I say with a smirk, and she sends me a grin before hitting the two Shadows from behind.

"Senpai!"

I nod at Minako and perform my debuff skills on them in order to weaken them, while Minako increases our defenses against the strong physical attacks these guys give.

When one of the two Shadows performed a power charge skill, a trickle of sweat trailed from the side of my forehead as I thought back to what happened in the lower floors when we first encountered these guys.

Takeba was almost left unconscious at that time had she not been able to withstand the attack, and she's pretty important when Minako first told me of her strategies. From what I noticed, ever since she learned of my persona's abilities, she hasn't onceleft me below Tartarus when my ribs healed, all the while switching Takeba with Mitsuru or Amada for healing, and Koromaru with Aigis or Iori, and if Shinji feels like it, she'll pick him to come with us to increase our chances of winning.

"Koro-chan!"

I look towards Minako and then at Koromaru who immediately cast a Masukukaja on us to increase our agility. I turn back to the enemy when the one who cast a power charge on itself starts laughing a deep and evil chuckle, and before I knew it, my feet move on their own when it had its eyes set on Minako while readying a strong physical attack to direct to her.

Her grip on her Naginata was tight, as if she was preparing herself to counter it or perhaps lessen the impact. Everything felt like slow motion when I rush to her, when the Shadow's fist was close to hitting her, and I suddenly feel my shoulder bumping against her body, with me taking the place of the hit which sent me skidding to the back and down on the floor.

"Sanada-senpai!" I hear Takeba yell out with Koromaru barking in worry. I do not reply and turn to look at Minako who was on the floor as well and looking at me with wide eyes – shocked at what I had just done. My eyes shift back to the Shadow that had knocked me down, and I quickly get back up to my feet and prepare to hit back.

I rush to it, ignoring how the others protested, and I pull back a fist and punch the Shadow with all my might, following it up with two more which results to a critical hit, sending it down at that.

"Now, Takeba!"

Takeba stammered out a "yes" and summoned her Persona to perform a wind attack on the two Shadows, eliminating them in an instant due to their weakness for the element and from the previous attacks earlier that drained most of their lives.

"Senpai..."

I turn to Minako while shaking my left fist to get the blood flowing. "Don't worry. I can still keep going."

She tightened her grip on her naginata and lowers her head. "That blow almost killed you."

I turn elsewhere, feeling nervous and awkward at the situation while Takeba and Koromaru wait for us, eyes keeping a look out for any other Shadow.

"Suzaku." I hear Minako say in a soft voice, and I can feel the diarahan skill healing me.

"Mina-"

"Everyone split up and search for the access point."

My eyes widen at Minako who still keeps her head lowered.

"O-Okay." Takeba says as she and Koromaru part from us to carry out the order.

"Minako I-"

"Split up and search for the access point." She repeated, still holding onto her naginta.

"...Roger." And I turn and leave her there, because even if we've grown close, she's still the leader when it involves SEES activities, and everything she says is absolute when in Tartarus.

As I turn every corner of this wretched place, I can't help but think if taking the attack meant for her earlier was a mistake, or if it was wrong to do so – but I couldn't help it when I realized how that could have hurt her greatly, and I don't want her getting hurt if I can help it.


"Senpai?"

I look up from my bowl of ramen, my thoughts from last night fading when I meet Minako's gaze.

"Well... um..." I stammer a bit; I asked her out after school and I don't even say anything? Nice. "How are you?" I end up asking, looking into her eyes that are full of confusion right now. "Physically, I mean."

I watch how she blinks a few times before looking at her own bowl of ramen. "How about you, senpai?"

"Huh?" I turn away at this; she still hasn't dropped what happened in Tartarus last night. "O-Oh... I'm alright."

"You seem conflicted."

"..."

"...Senpai?"

"It's just that..." I close my eyes and recall how that Shadow was about to land a hit on her. "When I watch you fight... I get... I don't know, I feel... angry."

"I'm..." she stutters. "I'm sorry."

I am taken aback by this and quickly look at her. "No, I didn't really mean it that way." And my hand ends up scratching the back of my head, feeling troubled at where this conversation is going. "It's not so much that I get angry, but I get irritated- no, that's not it either." I sigh heavily. "I guess I get... nervous."

"Do I seem unreliable senpai?"

"No." I smile lightly. "You're really doing a great job." Despite my words, I can still feel the tension between us and how thick it is. "Is..." I turn back to my ramen. "Is there any way... that you can avoid having to fight?"

Her eyes widen and turn to me.

"Oh... never mind, sorry." I look down once more. "Forget what I just said. I mean, you're trying the hardest out of all of us, I shouldn't have said that to you."

"Should I... still be the leader?"

"No that's not it!" I blurt out. "I think you're the only one of us who can take that role, and I mean it!" I realize my outburst, and I calm myself down before speaking again. "Sorry. I'm confused myself." I let out a sigh at this and ask myself what I'm saying.

"Senpai..."

"Minako," I breathe in and exhale. "Deep down, I know why I don't want you to fight... it's just that... that..." I feel heat rise to my cheeks and I turn away. "I'm worried about you."

I'm sure she's staring at me, and I'm certain she's smiling – I can feel it.

"C'mon... Eat." I nudge her bowl while trying to avoid her gaze. "Eat up."

We then start to eat our food, the other customers' chatters filling in what would have been an awkward silence. From time to time, I would glance her way, watching how she still has that smile on her face, and how her cheeks seem pink, and for some strange reason, I find myself smiling at her expression.

What the hell has gotten into me?


A/N: So, guys? I'm wondering if I still have Akihiko in-character here. Let me know please! Also, since I started playing and getting hooked with P3P, I've been thinking up of a possible story, though I'm not entirely sure if I'll go for it just yet – even if I do have the first chapter written out; in any case, here's a peek:

"Master, the Shadows will never disappear, just like Tartarus and the Dark Hour."

"We can still hope – now that we have two Wild Card users, there is a higher chance that the Dark Hour will finally end."

The torch on either side of Igor flickered for a bit, and the silence came back into the room.

"Now that the alliance between families is broken, the Kirijo and Arisato must now stand on their own. We shall see each other again when a new generation of Persona-users come. From now on, only the leader, Arisato Minako, has access to visiting me, as well as who she chooses to bring with her."

So the story is kind of like P3P itself; it still has the Dark Hour, still has the Persona, but I'm basing it more on a fanart I spotted a year ago wherein Minako is seated at some sort of chair, with the male SEES members (including Minato) and Koromaru surrounding her like guards or knights – whichever floats your boat. So I guess you can grasp what the story may be about. The trouble with it though is I have no idea about the ending – much less how it would flow.