Pairings: Akihiko/Shinjiro, Junpei/Chidori, brotherly!Caesar/Brutus, Minato/Ryouji, protective!Aigis/Minato, Mitsuru&Akihiko&Shinjiro
Warnings: AU, canon-rape, shounen-ai fluff, language, possible ooc, spoilers for entire game, dirty-mindedness, lolcows, wtfs, srs bsns
Summary: "Two people in harmony surpass one in perfection."
A/N: So here's a random Persona 3 collab between me and my sister (falsepuppetry ) that started when we were camping and without internet. (DON'T WORRY, I'M STILL WRITING MOULIN ROUGE!TF CRACK.) Puppet wrote most of this prologue, and I edited.
"You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you"
Julius Caesar, Act I Scene II
All he’d ever learned from movies and media was that it was obviously very white and probably wet, but what he’d never assumed was that fire extinguisher foam was really cold.
The situation Akihiko now found himself facing wasn’t necessarily extreme, but needless to say, embarrassing. He’d managed to start a kitchen fire – while trying to make a lemon meringue pie.
. . . How does that even work, in any sense, ever?
The cooking class stood as they stared at the still-smoking, charred “pie” that sat on the counter before them, shocked into silence and covered in freezing white foam. Shinji stood next to Akihiko and Fuuka, the only one who seemed uninterested with the near-calamity. The fire extinguisher was still in his hand, aimed at the failure of a pie like it would spontaneously combust in his face any second. It made Akihiko wonder if Shinji had meant to get the foam on all the other students before actually hitting the pie.
Fuuka was alternating between staring at the pie and her upperclassmen friends, the look of horror on her face displaying the only thought that was running through her head plainly on her face; ‘. . . .Really?’
It had all started not that long before, in late October.
Shinji had been admitted to one of the area’s Kirijo-run hospitals (free of charge, thanks to a certain string-puller named Mitsuru) after receiving a near-fatal bullet wound from Takaya on the fourth, while protecting Ken. Luckily, they had gotten him to the hospital in time to stabilize him and have the bullet (well, bullets, as he’d been shot twice) successfully removed. Unfortunately, the entry wounds had done enough significant damage that unless the doctors did something, he would have been left paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life.
Obviously, that wouldn’t have been pleasant, and it didn’t please Akihiko one bit, either.
After a long discussion between the doctors and the original SEES members, it was decided that if Shinji wanted to regain his mobility he’d have to agree to neural repair, followed by extensive physical rehabilitation. He would basically be left the same way he was before he was shot, albeit maybe a bit stiff and sore after heavy physical strain, but honestly, it was Shinji; he was a tough bastard that would probably wave the discomfort away with a well placed ‘hmph’.
The fact that his best friend would be able to walk again was a relief to Akihiko – he was glad that Shinji would be living in the first place – but what the doctors discovered during the procedures would just prove to be another fortunate godsend.
Apparently, not only had the repair given Shinjiro a chance to walk again, but the doctors also notified Akihiko and Mitsuru of something that they had also been able to remove from his system – they had called it an unidentifiable toxin, but the two senior SEES members had known exactly what the doctors had found.
Those pills . . . the ones Shinji had received from Strega . . .
About a week after the neural procedures, Shinjiro had entered rehabilitation after the doctors had marked the repairs as complete successes. It was true that many a time Shinji had to bite hard on his tongue to avoid scandalizing the doctor with his vocabulary. It was even more frequent that he had to resist the urge to storm out of the room, and his body was causing him so much pain that he couldn’t even stand up out of that big, soft, ridiculously comfortable couch, so he eventually (and reluctantly) just decided to deal with it to make everyone happy, “or whatever.”
“He’s free to go, Kirijo-san.”
Mitsuru nodded in acknowledgement at the young nurse posted at the Receptionist’s Desk. “Thank you.”
The nurse just smiled in response as Mitsuru, Akihiko and Shinjiro turned to leave the hospital. After three hours of signing paper after paper, Akihiko finally felt the triumph of being able to shove that stack of release forms into somebody else’s hands and leaving the hospital, with its overly white linoleum floors, its disgustingly-colored yellow walls and its blindingly bright fluorescent lights, the metallic scent of blood and cleaning bleach lingering through the hallways…
He figured that Takeharu probably paid a lot for the jobs he provided, seeing how he had so many workers in that hospital. Akihiko couldn’t imagine working there, and he almost pitied Shinji for having to spend almost an entire month in the pasty place.
Aki let Shinji lean on his shoulder as the three of them made their way out of the hospital, Mitsuru opening the door for the two of them before exiting herself. Shinji was still a bit stiff when it came to walking – he wasn’t limping, per se, more of just trying to keep the least amount of weight on his legs for a bit. He had been given a cane, but he had absolutely refused to use it, saying that having to lean on anything was humiliating enough without making himself look like an “old bag” while doing it. By leaning on Akihiko’s shoulder, people would be able to see that his difficulty was only temporary as opposed to permanent.
“. . . and the food; you would think with the huge-ass salaries these guys get paid, they could at least put a little thought into what they’re feeding their patients. Once a week I was served what they like to call ramen. It’s even worse than that insta-shit you eat at home, Aki,” Shinji ranted as he and Akihiko awkwardly hobbled over to the private vehicle Mitsuru had alerted that would bring them to Port Island Station. “And the protein shakes – is that the kind of protein shit that you eat, or was mine worse?”
“I can’t say, Shinji, I’ve never tasted a hospital-provided protein shake,” Akihiko answered lightly as he slid into the car next to his best friend. He had to say, Shinji’s rant was proving to be amusing. “How about once we get home, I’ll let you try some of mine, and you tell me which is worse.”
Shinji rolled his eyes, scowling, “Like hell. The minute I get home, I’m making myself some real food, and there ain’t nothing you two can do to stop me.”
Shinji then took to staring out the window angrily, grumbling something about quality and Hagakure ramen.
Nobody conversed much during the rest of the way back to the dorm. Akihiko and Mitsuru exchanged a few words on the monorail regarding the upcoming full moon on November 3rd.
“Mitsuru,” Akihiko started. He quickly glanced over to Shinji, who had dozed off in the monorail seat next to him; his expression while asleep was only slightly less irritated than it had been just previously. “I still don’t really understand.”
Mitsuru looked up from the magazine she’d brought with her for a minute, before sticking her thumb in it to mark her page and setting it on her lap, “You don’t understand what?”
Akihiko sat back in his seat, crossing his arms and watching the daytime scenery outside the opposite window of the monorail speed by. “I wasn’t told in detail, about how the doctors were able to reverse the effect of those pills. They just told us that they had discovered an unidentifiable toxin and that the neural repair was able to reverse their effects.”
Mitsuru closed her eyes in thought, humming in acknowledgement.
“Ever since they informed us of that certain discovery, I’ve come up with a number of theories as to why a physical procedure would reverse the damage done by a mind-attacking drug,” she started, crossing her legs and allowing her foot to bob unconsciously in space as she thought her words through.
Akihiko arched an eyebrow, “And?”
The redhead frowned, “Well, one idea I had was what if the drugs actually didn’t attack the mind? What if they targeted the user’s physical body? This then had me think that if a Persona is a direct amplification of a person’s psyche, then wouldn’t a Persona be negatively affected by the damage done to a physical body?”
“Hm,” Akihiko set his elbows on his knees, head in his hands, thinking out loud, “then if Shinji was trying to weaken Castor by taking the pills, he was actually weakening himself? He had to damage himself to keep his Persona at bay?”
“Precisely,” Mitsuru answered with a sigh.
The silver-haired senior hummed again, massaging his temples tiredly. He sat back up, and the rest of the trip passed in silence.
“For your Persona to have a weakness, the Persona-user has to have a weakness... and I don't.”
Upon returning to the dorm, the three of them had been greeted with the usual warmth by the fellow SEES members. Akihiko was relieved to see that Shinji wasn’t necessarily displeased, just obviously uninterested. When somebody said something like “We’re so glad you’re back,” he simply replied with a quiet “Yeah” or “Thanks” before going back to playing with Koromaru on the floor. After pleasant greetings and one or two short conversations, everybody became basically oblivious to the fact that Shinji existed in their dorm again, losing themselves in their own little conversations.
Akihiko noticed that the only person that seemed to dwell on the fact that Shinjiro had returned was Minato, who stood leaning against the wall near the bulletin board, blaring his music into his ears while he watched Shinji play around with Koromaru. He couldn’t tell if it was troubling or amusing their squad leader, seeing that the junior had a vague smile playing on his lips.
As people came and went from the Iwatodai dorms to meet up with friends or shop at Paulownia, not once did Akihiko leave the dorm, preferring instead to say he had some training to do or class reading to finish. The actual reason he had stayed, though, was so he could keep a dedicated eye on Shinji. Like the brunette had said, he was busying himself in the kitchen. The boxer was surprised that he could actually move around enough to be able to cook himself one hell of a bowl of ramen. He figured that Shinji was just a stubborn bastard and, despite any pain, he would do anything to not have to eat more ‘protein shit’. He was really determined to get his quality ramen. He still wasn’t in the condition to go on his own to Hagakure and probably didn’t want to anyway. Besides, his own cooking was just as good as Hagakure’s, if not better.
The night died down quickly; Minato deduced that going to Tartarus that night would be an (obviously) bad idea, so he, Junpei and Ken decided to hit the hay early. Yukari and Fuuka had taken one last-minute shopping excursion to the Be Blue V; Aigis had gone into standby in her own room. Koromaru was asleep on the floor, and Mitsuru had gone up to her room to study a bit. After some prodding, Akihiko had convinced Shinji to head upstairs and get some rest, leaving Gekkoukan’s Golden Boy on his own in the lounge. He was lying on the couch, trying his hardest not to fall asleep as he stared at the ceiling in thought.
Ultimately he failed, and ended up nodding off on the couch, his recently patched-up boxing gloves left lying on his stomach.
Shinjiro Aragaki had been dismissed from the Port Island General Hospital on November 1st, 2009, and at the time, Akihiko had no idea what the next two months would hold for him.