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For the Last Time

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Shinjiro Aragaki did his best to make sure not to leave anything behind. He possessed little more than what he had on his person, and fiercely guarded his personal space so that he wouldn't be attached to anything or anyone. The decision to return to SEES was an exception, although it had more to do with his debt to Ken Amada than his wish to stay close to his friends. Shinjiro was ready for anything that would come before and on October 4th.

One girl changed everything.

At first, she was just an oddball hung up on ghost stories. Later, he learned that she was the field leader of SEES, which piqued his curiosity. So, that's the one Aki and Mitsuru rely on most, huh? Knowing what his two friends were capable of, Shinjiro admitted that he found the young girl fascinating. He thought that was all he would see in Minako.

He found her even more fascinating as he spent more time with her, but he didn't realize it until the day he cooked for the entire dorm. I cooked, and they enjoyed the food. "It was so simple, and all I had to do was do it…" He wouldn't have done it if not for a certain individual who had enabled him. Someone who had known him for a couple of months was changing how Shinjiro saw himself.

Now, Shinjiro was almost afraid of October 4th approaching: not because he was scared of death, but because he had come to enjoy and treasure every moment he spent with her. Even the battles in Tartarus meant something to him, as he fought alongside her.

It was October 3rd when Shinjiro found himself wishing that he weren't on borrowed time. He knew the wish wouldn't change anything, since the persona suppressant had long taken a toll on his body. Even if he were to live through the next day, he probably wouldn't live to see the end of the year. All he could do was face everything before himself head-on and deal with it.

In the meantime, he figured he could cook for his dormmates -- his friends -- for one last time. It wouldn't be a feast, but there should be enough food for everyone. Even these idiots should know how to microwave leftover pasta, Shinjiro crossed his fingers after filling a large pot with water. It's as easy as boiling water for those goddamn instant noodles.

Shinjiro was about to clean up when he heard someone stepping into the kitchen.

"Smells good in here."

Shinjiro could recognize the voice anywhere.

"It's just pasta."

"It's NOT 'just pasta' when you make it." Minako grinned at him. "Had I known you were gonna cook, I wouldn't have had instant noodles!"

"Your problem, not mine." He glanced at the containers full of pasta before he focused back onto the utensils in the sink. "What do you want?"

"Well, I came down here to get some tea, but…"

"…But?"

"…Nothing. Do you mind if I make my tea here and now?"

"No. Go ahead."

Neither of them spoke while Shinjiro was cleaning up and Minako eas preparing the tea. By the time he was done, she was sitting at the table, where two tea cups were set. "Here, Senpai," Minako said as she urged him to sit down. "You've cooked for all of us, so you totally deserve this cup of tea."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Come on, I can see how much you've made. But I promise I won't speak of this to anyone… on one condition."

"…What is it?"

"Can I pleeeeeeeease have some of that pasta? Please? One mouthful will do."

"Alright." Shinjiro scooped a small amount onto a plate, which he brought to her with a fork. "Try some."

It was the moment he recalled as he collapsed on a pool of blood.