Paige: Another fan fiction. =_= Gah, I know, I'm crazy. Sadly, I think this is going to be a one-shot. Not really sure. I just felt like writing something so that I could finally say I uploaded something. There's shonen-ai if you squint. Or just Akihiko and Minato being really good friends. (with benefit- I'm kidding. XD)

Warnings: …um… angst, SPOILERS for P3, and shonen-ai if you squint really hard. Oh, and yes. The one Akihiko is talking about is always refered to as "him". Sorry if that's confusing, (though, it's always like this or that. So it should be easy to figure out when he's refering to Minato) :) I just wanted to write it like that this time.

The Pain

He swore he could have handled anything else. But why… why did things end up like this? Akihiko should have known something like this would have happened… he just… he just thought that since the battle was over it would all be okay now, that everyone was going to be happy together. And then it happened… first it was the shock, then the panic… and worst of all, the pain.

Needless to say, the pain didn't just wash away or slowly dwindle down to nothing. Quite the opposite, in fact, it grew stronger as the days went by.

Why did everyone close to him have to disappear? First Miki and Shinji and now… and now him. Gods… why? Why did he bother getting close to anyone if this was going to a reoccur every time that he thought that he was finally starting to rely on a person? Sadly… he wanted to cry. He wanted to give and hide away from all the pain, to give up to the temptation of falling into nothingness.

But what would that solve?

To put it simply it would solve nothing.

Akihiko let his head fall back onto the pillow as he contemplated something that had been on his mind for a while now.

Did my existence really matter to him?

The first time they had met, he was cautious. In a way, he indirectly kept his distance from the other. At first it had been easy… and technically if it hadn't of been for SEES they would have never have even met in the first place. They had no connections or ties to each other.

But then exams came around. This was when the first actual conversation between the two took place. It was one of those days where it was cold enough for a jacket in the morning but by early afternoon it was too hot for that extra article of clothing. Everyone in the house had gone to the library to study for their tests except the two of them. Akihiko had been sitting on the couch a book placed in his hands.

Then he heard the pitter-patter of footsteps on the stairs but he didn't bother to look up at the other.

"Where is everyone?"

His voice was quiet, almost above a whisper. Hearing it finally caused Akihiko to glance up. The silverette studied the other for a moment before he returned most of his attention down to his book again.

"Their out. They'll be back soon."

For a moment, he just stared at Akihiko. Then, he abruptly got out his cell phone and plopped down beside Akihiko. His fingers violently tapped on the key pad, a scowl making it's way to his features. Neither said a word for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally the other spoke up.

"I'm guessing Junpei went with them…"

Akihiko nodded, his eyes glued to the page in his book but he wasn't really taking any of the words in. More like using them as a distraction to keep his eyes from wandering back over to the other boy.

"God, that asshole." he murmured. "We were supposed to go have lunch together today at that ramen place… but I don't know where it is…"

"You want me to come with you?"

The words left the boxer's lips before he even got the chance to register them. He looked over at him to see his eyes wide with surprise. It was that look that made Akihiko almost regret saying something, but the words that followed were the ones that reassured him.

"Really? You'd do that for me? Sure, let's go."

He stood up, holding his hand down to Akihiko. "You ready to go?"

Akihiko couldn't remember what happened past that, it was all just a faint blur. He just remember that for that one moment he was truly happy. There were no fake smiles, no lies, and best of all no pain. It was funny how that one simple memory caused him so much joy, but at the same time just thinking about it began to bring about some unwanted pain.

Though, Akihiko didn't want to admit it, he was downright lonely. Days seemed to pass like weeks, weeks like years, without his leader. Nothing felt right anymore. He wasn't the only one who was like this either. All of SEES was just kind of… zombie-like now. They went through the actions of living but none of them really paid much mind to what was actually going on around them.

Someone knocked on his door, "Akihiko-sempai? You okay? You didn't leave your room at all today…"

It was Junpei. Figures.

After a minute or so of waiting outside the door, Junpei must have gotten impatient, either that or he just figured that Akihiko was in his room, and he pushed open the door.

"Yo." he grinned, leaning against the doorframe. "Um… Man… this is awkward, isn't it? It's just not the same without him anymore, is it?"

Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

"Anyway. Mitsuru was downstairs boxing up all of… um… yeah, his stuff but I got this for you. I… I just don't think I could have taken it if she would have put it up… But, I don't think he would have wanted me to have it. You take it."

Junpei tossed something through the air that quickly landed onto Akihiko's stomach. The silverette looked down at his chest questionably.

It was his headphones.

That was almost enough to cause Akihiko to break down. But never again. Not in front of Junpei, not in front of anyone. He couldn't. He had to be strong, for him, for everyone, not just himself. Right now, it didn't matter if he was in pain.

Junpei stood there watching, waiting, for something. Akihiko gave no vocal reaction to the memento. His fingers gripped the small plastic trinket tightly, seeming to be lost in thought. Junpei pulled his hat over his eyes, not wanting to break down either. "You know… I think we all took this really hard. Some more than others. You… I don't know. For anyone else, it must have seemed like you were just coasting along, like it didn't phase you. But… man, maybe it's because I've fought with you for about a year now, but I know that you're suffering from all this... probably worse than any of us."

Akihiko looked up, not sure of how to react. So he just kept a steady gaze at the other.

"Just… you know, if you have anything to talk about, come to me first. I don't want anyone else here to end up like that… The last thing I need you to do is to go off and commit suicide or some shit like that." he paused, almost as if to make sure that he hadn't lost the other yet. "So yeah. Man… this is so friggin' weird… never thought I'd be the one to say it, did ya, huh? Well, me neither." Junpei finally laughed. As nervous as it was, it still made the corners of Akihiko's lips lift slightly.

"Thanks. I might take you up on your offer."

He probably wouldn't though. But it was the only thing he could think to say in return.

Tipping his baseball cap to the other, Junpei said his goodnights and headed out the door. Akihiko stared at the place he stood for a couple of minutes. One thing was clear to him though. He would never take up that offer. There was no probably to that. His eyes snapped shut.

Was he just another precious thing that fate cruelly and unjustly took from him?

His smile flashed through Akihiko's head. And for a moment he felt at ease when he realized that someday, he was going to get to see him again. That was something that he was absolutely positive of.

Paige: Surprisingly, that took like… two months… now I only worked on it for like… a week during that whole time from beginning to end though. :D Yay for Persona fan fiction! I'll probably write this couple some more… and some Junpei action! Because as he says… he's "da" man.

Junpei: Yo! Leave a review, ya hear?

Paige: :D Yeah. Do it. I think the next thing I'm going to write is some Kenji and Minato though… (: Tah, tah for now~