Preface (This is about...)

Falling in love. Falling out of love.
The closeness of two hearts. The distance between two people.
Walking in the rain. Feeling your heart catch on fire.
Awkward(less) silence.

(something beautiful and real).

Someone once told me, "The best relationship is when you both know you're in love with each other, yet you stay friends."
At the time I had no idea what that meant, nor did I care to analyze it. But now I see... all too clearly.

Here's to all the broken promises, all the hello-less goodbyes.
Here's to all the times I leaned on your shoulder and all the times your hand clasped mine.
Here's to you. And also me.
So here's to you, and all we used to be.

I. Syndicate

Baby close your eyes
Don't open til the morning light
Baby don't forget
You haven't lost it all yet

AKIHIKO SETTLES ONTO the living room sofa and sighs contently. The television is on and the anchorman continues to drone on about Apathy Syndrome. He bites the inside of his cheek, picks up the remote from the coffee table and flips it to a random channel. Now a weatherman goes on and on about tomorrow's weather. Sunshine and rainbows, he says confidently. In the background he can hear Yukari scold Junpei about his overdue assignment in English class. He lets out another sigh, leans his head against the soft armchair and closes his eyes.

It all starts during his last year of junior high. Boxing is all he has to his name and quite frankly, it's all he cares about. He finds a left-hook much more interesting than the value of pi, so while he's learning about perfect squares he's secretly making a fist and practicing it's trajectory. He loves the way it looks and more importantly, the way it feels. It's not that he's angry or disturbed, but instead rather bored.

After school and the big match is over. He's walking down the hallway, victorious as always. He tries his best to block out the high-pitched noise of squealing fangirls and unnecessary chatter of bitter rival schools. They never seem to notice how much they annoy him. Maybe it's just not them-maybe it's everybody. He wishes they would just... disappear.

He stops walking and right when he thinks he's alone, he hears a girl say something. He doesn't quite catch it because his mind's somewhere else. He doesn't sense her-which is odd because he senses everyone. She comes into his line of sight rather quickly and that's when he notices her footsteps are louder than theirs, almost like she wears boots for the sole purpose of making a bold statement. The noise reverberates between his ears. Click, click, click.

He decides to wait so she runs into him instead. He studies her expression for a moment, deep red hair ending in waves of curls. A bright headband struggles to keep her bangs from her face and fails miserably. She mentions something about waiting for him there and he comes to the conclusion that his charm has no bounds. He turns to lean against a close-by pillar and she smiles at him. Now that he's as comfortable as he possibly could be given the situation, he decides to ask what she wants. She gives this incredulous look and questions why he isn't asking her who she is instead.

The next thing he knows, she's talking about requests and enemies. Before he has the chance to say anything, she's saying how they're not human and it has something to do with what he's been experiencing at midnight. Then she just comes out with it, she knows what it's like. Or, she knows what it means and that he should come with her.

At a complete loss for words, he stands up and asks who she is. He has an inkling of who she is, but figures it's about time he knows for sure. She keeps pushing all the right buttons, telling him he can challenge himself more this way. Then she's pointing a gun to him, saying what he wants to hear and all he can do is think. First he thinks it's some kind of joke. All right, all right, you got me, he wants to laugh. But the look in her eyes is intense and he knows she's serious. So he listens to what she has to say and nods his head.

Weeks later he's standing in front of a four-story dorm, staring through the living room window. He clenches his fists and wonders what on earth possessed him to listen to her. He barely knows her and yet here he is. It's weird being alone with her at first, but a few months later another Persona-user, Shinji, joins. He feels relieved since he's there and it's no longer the mere two of them standing there, it's three of them now.

That's when it happens, the incident. For some reason he can't place the blame on anyone but himself. He figures it's a lot easier being angry at himself than other people but no matter what he says, Shinji won't be persuaded. Shinji doesn't talk about leaving. He doesn't talk about anything for awhile. Then suddenly one day, he wakes up and he's gone. Not in his room. Not in the dorm. Nowhere to be found. He slept on the couch that night, waiting for him to return. Then three becomes two.

A few months later Yukari is introduced to their team. Mitsuru tells him that she has the power as well and has agreed to join their team. He immediately notices there's some kind of animosity in the air, but he shrugs it off immediately and they continue their days in strained peace.

Then months later, she arrives. At first he classifies her as strange because she rarely talks, but when he watches her from the corner of his eye he can't help but think she's nice. Since he's out of commission for awhile Mitsuru appoints her as leader and he can't help but feel jealous. Instead of sulking about it he collects himself, then slowly gives her the most perfect, fake smile he's ever given and says he believes in her, she can do it, he's behind her all the way and all that propaganda they feed you in kindergarten.

Because really, that's all he's ever known.

Heavily inspired by Meow Factory's "transatlanticism".

The first chapter is meant as more of an intro, so I apologize if it's a tad boring. I'm working on this as a side-project to A La Carte. Romance and drama are inevitable.