He entered the hospital slowly, tote bag in one hand, small bouquet of flowers in the other. Perhaps it was the cold and gently falling snow that followed the young man in, but his face looked a tad worn, tired to be more accurate. Still, he strode past the reception desk and made his way to the top floor, chest growing a little tighter as he ascended to his destination. It had been a few months since his last visit and it pained him to have been away for so long; acclimating to a new lifestyle unfortunately caused such things to prevent one from doing as they wished. Still, as much as it wrenched at his heart the brunette had looked forward to this since his birthday passed in August.
Once he’d reached the top floor, memory guided his steps to the the room he had visited countless times in the past year or so - almost two, now that he thought about it. He had to stop outside the the room, and almost chuckle at its number: 1212, the same as the day’s date, December 12th. It also happened to be the patient’s birthday, thus the contents of the tote bag. The young man took a deep breath as he entered, opening the door slowly despite knowing that it was impossible to disturb the room’s occupant.
Shinjiro Aragaki paused in the doorway to take in the room, which hadn’t changed in the four months since his last visit. The respirator, heart monitor and other necessary medical equipment stood at the bed side; a jumbled mess of wires running under the blankets to ensure the young woman’s survival. At that, his gaze locked in on her face, the same as he remembered, though her hair was longer, almost messily so. It was clear it had been awhile since someone had visited or at least been permitted to tidy her up. He was glad to see the same six hairclips still in place in that design she loved so much.
The chef sat in the one chair the room provided, glad that no one had been to visit yet today, though there were signs the others had been here within the past few days. A few balloons and cards, all reading “Happy Birthday” were by the windowsill, the place he decided to leave the tote as he went about setting the flowers in the empty vase on the small stand beside the bed. This was routine for the Hierophant, he had done it once a week, every week until his birthday, when life caught up with him, and he found himself lacking the time to visit the person he loved more then his own life. Once the flowers were set, the contents of the tote were revealed: a small strawberry shortcake.
The brunette didn’t remove the cake from its container as he returned to his seat though, the celebratory item comfortably resting on his lap. “Happy Birthday, Mina, sorry it’s been so long.” He spoke cheerfully, trying his best to hold back on turning into a emotional mess. He knew she couldn’t respond, it was impossible, her soul was at the Seal and the only thing keeping her body going were the machines that were hooked up to her. Still, while he would prefer to be speaking with her, Shinjiro would make no complaints; for now, this is how things had to be.
“Remember how I said I’d gotten into that major culinary school outside Iwatodai? They hired me on as one of the chefs in their top restaurant. It pays well enough that I don’t need to worry about the tuition and I even was able to afford a new apartment.” He began to relay all that had transpired in the past four months, laughing now and again over small things, events he wished she could have seen: Akihiko getting drunk back in September, Mitsuru asking him out on a date a few weeks ago, Iori and Yoshino moving in together now that she had finally started to recover.
“The apartment is near the old dorm, so I get to go to the shrine if I have a moment, but mostly I’m at the campus going to class or working. I barely have time to take care of Koro now, so he’s at Aki’s usually, sometimes Fuuka’s.” As he continued, Shinjiro could start to feel tears prick at his eyes, his breath caught in a hitch every few sentences. “Fuuka’s also coming along as a cook, she might be almost as good as you now… She still has those accidents though.” Another laugh, this one accompanied by a tear, a precursor for what wished to spill forth.
Tenderly, he reached out, his great, calloused hands taking hold of her petite one. Only now did he notice that she had gotten thinner, lack of movement slowly degenerating her muscles. Even her face, shallow cheeks, the bones more prominent then he recalled. Even if she was alive, Minako Arisato was slowly wasting away, most likely because there just was no soul there to give the body the life it seemed to need.
Another tear as his head dipped, forehead at rest on his hands as more tears started to flow down his cheeks, the hitches becoming sobs. “I miss you. I miss you enough that I’ve started feeling lost. Cause I see you in my dreams up there, watching over everyone all alone.” Heavier and heavier the sobs got, his breathing deepening. “And now I… I finally get back here, and see you like this… And it just feels like your leaving, again.” It shouldn’t hurt this much, it shouldn’t hurt to just look at your most precious person and feel the world shattering around you.
“Please… Don’t go, Mina… Just, please come back soon.” Shinjiro Begged, because the woman he loved looked to be on the edge of death. “You’re stronger then any of us… And I know… I know you want to protect everyone, but you have to-” His pleas stopped at the sensation of a small movement, one he barely noticed. Through the tears, he could see it, just barely, the Fool’s hand trying to hold his far larger one, even if it really was nothing more then a small twitch, she had moved for the first time since going comatose. And the tears and sobs only resumed again, only this time, bottomless joy fueled them, not the crushing sadness of before.
“Even if I’m not right here in this room, Mina.” The Hierophant whispered, a smile crept to his tear soaked features. “I’ll always be here, at your side, and I will never leave you. I’ll wait as long as it takes…”
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> A proper way to initiate conversation with persona user Shinjiro Aragaki, is to converse about the topic of his cooking, as he is very passionate about it. Not to mention good, so perhaps if you get on his good side he’ll share and allow you to try some…
This has been sitting in my sketchbook for awhile, so finally colored it.