Tick tock, tick tock.
If Yukari had her bow on her, she'd probably shoot the damn clock off the wall. It was driving her nuts, the way it echoed in the silent room. She really should get up and stretch her legs. Go for a walk, get some air, and clear her mind.
She also knew that she'd continue sitting where she was, because she would never forgive herself if something happened while she was gone. Thus, she resigned herself to waiting in this seat, surrounded by the rest of her former (current?) teammates.
Her fingers found her cell phone and began fiddling with it. She flipped it open and closed, the clack of its plastic hinges a welcome respite from the clock's gears, no matter how the sound drew Akihiko's glare.
Yukari hated the waiting game. She hated being utterly helpless, like she was on that day when all she could do was watch and pray as Minato rose to confront Nyx. She spent so long trying to be strong, and she only just learned what it meant to walk into the future with her head held high. She could carry the past with her without it being a burden.
Her questing fingers found the strap that now adorned her phone. Attached at the end was a small version of Pink Argus from one of the Featherman shows; Yukari wasn't sure which one, but she could ask Ken if she really wanted to know.
Yukari remembered the way that Minato would take the couch with Ken to watch Featherman on Sunday, and sometimes, how she'd join them. She didn't see the appeal all that much; it was pretty childish, but it wasn't hard to be infected by enthusiasm from two boys who weren't often so outgoing. Minato had gifted her the new strap not after she'd given him her old one.
To her, giving Minato her original strap had been multilayered, but the most important reason was that it signified her decision to go forward. She carried her father with her always--Isis was a symbol of the resolve she gained from him, and her winds, an ever-present reminder of that strength. The passing of the strap was an acknowledgement that she had more than her father now, that he would still be there even if she didn't hold onto him with such desperation.
All of her fears, all of her emotions--they were now things she shared with Minato. The new strap wasn't a replacement for her old one but something that nestled alongside it on her phone and in her heart.
Minato was good at things like that. Silent support most of the time, which morphed into sharp confidence when necessary. For someone who looked so apathetic, his empathy always surprised her, but it was always welcome. A feather-light touch that gave her didn't dictate her future but guided her to the resolution she needed.
She'd made her choice. She'd decided to be firm about what she wanted, and Minato encouraged her the entire way.
Now it was like being left behind all over again.
She was trying oh so hard to look forward in the future, to stay steady on the path to her decision, but it was difficult. It was more difficult than ever.
Everyone was closing themselves off. Perhaps one of the greatest things that Minato had done for them was bring them together as more than just a group of disparate members. They'd been forged in the fires of the underworld, yes, but he'd been the one who bred them into the team they were (had been). She grew alongside everyone, from the girl who couldn't even muster the courage to use her Evoker to the woman who could call the winds with barely a thought.
Now, she felt so utterly alone.
Ken and Koromaru, the latter barred from the premises, were waiting at the dorm due to the late hour, with Fuuka as their quiet escort. Akihiko only paused in his steps to glance at the clock, grimace, and continue on. Junpei was as silent as he had been after Chidori's death. Mitsuru looked like she was back to the Ice Queen of Gekkoukan High, and Aigis...
Something in Yukari's gut twisted at the sight of Aigis as still as a statue.
She had been the one to be by his side before this uncertain future. She'd been there when the rest of them forgot. And if... and if this turned out to be the last time they could be with him, then she'd be the one to hear his last words.
That it was Aigis and...
Yukari carefully shelved those thoughts. It wasn't the time or place for them, though old bitterness welled up inside.
Right now, she could see choices arrayed before her, what paths she could take. She knew which one she wanted. She placed her hopes onto the one that had her side by side with those she loved, but...
The pragmatic part of her could not deny that it might not come to pass. If she had to, she could ride the winds high into the future. Running far and hard, rushing forward without looking back, into the future they fought for so that she could create a world that deserved life. She would throw herself forward, never stopping, because if she stopped she'd have to think, and if she had to think, her steps would falter. She could not afford to waste the opportunity they'd been given.
She'd much rather do it with people by her side. It would be easier with everyone else.
But, as the doctor stepped out and Mitsuru rose to greet her, Yukari could read the future on their faces.
It looked like her choice had been made for her.