They who had been SEES and were just now remembering it ran forward as one. Laughter sprang out; they simply enjoyed the occasion of being alive. They had won. They were victorious. And they were all here to celebrate.
Minato smiled at them and then closed his eyes.
Aigis continued to run her hands through his hair as the rest of SEES drew closer. It was all she could do.
Minato smiled at them.
The boy, their expressionless leader who jealously guarded his thoughts and emotions behind a blank mask, had smiled at them.
Junpei was the first to notice as he said, "Oi, Minato, I know you're a lazy bum, but what are you doing here sleeping? You've been going to bed early this past month!"
Yukari grew worried. "H-Hey, Minato? I know you're a heavy sleeper, but are you all right?"
Nothing but what should have been the steady rise and fall of his chest... except there wasn't even that.
"Minato-senpai?" Ken queried, his voice wavering.
Akihiko immediately dropped to his knees and put his ear next to Minato's mouth. His face paled abruptly. "He's not breathing! Aigis, help me lay him down!"
Aigis quickly moved to do just that as Yukari let out a small scream and dropped to her knees. Junpei looked like someone had just socked him in the gut, while Fuuka had her hands over her mouth, quietly shaking her head in denial. Ken just froze, eyes widening and body trembling.
Mitsuru simply stared for a moment as Akihiko performed CPR before she began to bark out orders. "Yamagishi, go to the entrance and direct the paramedics up here! Answer no questions! Amada, Yukari, calm down or move out! Iori, Aigis—" she broke off as Aigis turned her head and simply looked at her. "—Iori, guard the door and make sure no one gets in here. Aigis, help Akihiko with CPR." When no one moved save for Akihiko's desperate resuscitation attempts, she barked out, "Move!"
As everyone scrambled away, Mitsuru ignored the tears burning in her own eyes and whipped out her cell phone to call some Kirijo doctors to handle what was wrong.
Their joyous reunion drained away into harsh reality.
They had won. They were victorious.
...and they knew, finally, the cost of that victory.