Story Title: The Arcana in Mourning

Chapter Title: V: Hierophant

Author: Mathais

Rating: T

Fandom: Persona 3

Warnings: Persona 3 Spoilers, based on FES.

Pairings: Social Links/Minato

Summary: After the Journey but before the Answer is the mourning. Shorts on the Social Links.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Persona 3; I'm just here to play.

OoOoO

V: Hierophant

Bunkichi was getting old, he knew. His bones and joints ached, and it became harder to move with each passing week. Nowadays, though, Bunkichi found that he minded the passage of time even less than before. He felt at peace with the onset of his mortality.

As long as he had Mitsuko, of course.

Gekkoukan High's graduation was yesterday, and in the past, the changing of seasons and the passage of knowledge as young adults headed out into the world filled him with melancholy. Now, he was more all right with it. Now, it meant that his son's legacy—the students he so loved, his knowledge and generosity—passed on to a new generation to spread evermore.

Bunkichi was old enough to know that nothing lasted forever, but he was also old enough to wish that change didn't happen so quickly. He was better able to let go with the thought that his son may be watching over his students even now—that his spirit, if not his memory, lived on.

He knew who he could thank for this too, who he and Mitsuko could give gratitude for allowing them to move forward. That kind, quiet boy who carefully let them step into the future, to value knowledge and those who came after rather than selfishness and the remnants of before.

Bunkichi owed a lot to Minato for what he did for them. It'd been a while since Minato last visited. He didn't begrudge the poor boy though—he'd looked so tired the last time he'd seen him. Maybe he would cheer up over a melon bread.

Bunkichi greeted the day with a smile, puttering around his and Mitsuko's store as Mitsuko worked in the back.

And then he all but panicked when a young girl came in, obviously distraught though doing her best to hide it. "Young lady, are you all right? I... I have some dried persimmons!"

Minato always loved getting snacks from them; they never failed to cheer him up no matter his mood.

"I'm... I'm fine, Kitamura-san," the girl said. Propriety said that Bunkichi had to accept that answer, no matter how untrue it was. "I... I just... I just had to tell you, because I know how close Minato-kun is to you."

"What happened?" Bunkichi asked over the sudden sinking feeling in his stomach.

"Minato-kun's been hospitalized. He collapsed during the graduation ceremony," the girl said, and Bunkichi's sinking feeling crystalized into fear.

No, no, this couldn't be happening. This couldn't be true. This wasn't real, right?

Minato, their precious Minato, couldn't—

Bunkichi was startled out of his thoughts when his wife let out a loud gasp and dropped the books she was holding.

"Mitsuko!" Bunkichi shouted and raced toward his wife, damning his stiff knees the entire time.

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This wasn't real. This wasn't true.

Mitsuko felt her breaths come in short pants and her chest tighten as her world narrowed.

No, no, no. Not again. It couldn't happen again.

Minato was so bright. He was quiet, yes, and while initially it had been because of shyness and hesitation, Mitsuko had watched him grow into self-confidence, where he only spoke what needed to be said and could be understood even without words. The way he moved and the way he acted were things that Mitsuko had not seen in a very long time and had thought to be missing from most of the young students who passed through their store. He had so much charisma around him that he naturally gathered people, and Mitsuko wondered what he would do with that kind of pull even as she and her husband joined those who were just beginning to circle him.

She needn't have feared, however. Above all, Minato was kind. His heart shined so bright and warm that she felt blessed to know him.

Minato was one of a rare breed nowadays.

In some corner of her heart, Mitsuko admitted that Minato reminded her so much of her son. It was in his kindness, his willingness to help others, and in the way he aided she and her beloved in the bookstore. It was in his silences and his rare words that rekindled her love for the newest generation.

To lose Minato would be like losing her son again and repeat the backslide that had her spurning the newest generation in favor of conserving the past.

Mitsuko was no longer young, and she should have been used to losses by now...

"Mitsuko, Mitsuko," she realized Bunkichi, her dear Bunkichi, was saying by her side.

"I'm... I'm all right," she said.

"He's still alive," Bunkichi said. "He's still alive. He can still make it."

"Right, right," Mitsuko said, trying to regain some of her equilibrium. "He's still alive."

"I... I will take my leave then," the girl said.

"Stop, please. You look like you need a moment," Mitsuko found herself saying. "Would you like some tea?"

"I, I don't mean to impose," the girl said hesitantly.

"It is no imposition. Please take a seat while I prepare some snacks." Mitsuko stepped into the back room, where she quickly heated some tea. She stuttered a bit when she discovered the dried persimmons (why was it always persimmons?) before forcing herself to gather and arrange them on a platter.

As she shuffled out, Mitsuko said, "Do you know that Minato-kun loves persimmons?"

"Really?" the girl said.

"He gobbles them up whenever he comes," Mitsuko said fondly as Bunkichi nodded with affection. "He's always snacking on something—"

And as she prattled on, Mitsuko wished from the deepest, deepest part of her that Minato would be all right, that he could get better. Right now, however, it was her job—her and her dear Bunkichi's—to help those who came after them get past this.

For Minato and for the memory of her son, who would have done the same thing.

Bunkichi clasped hands with her, and she smiled.

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Notes: Sorry, not one of my best. I had trouble getting into their heads.