Chapter 8 – Weaknesses & Bravery

A/N: So by now, Minako is about 6 weeks along… Mood swings are supposed to be a big deal, which I guess is why she's constantly crying xD, and nausea is a b****! Some women supposedly have bleeding around this time, sometimes lasting up to 3 days, but that doesn't mean it's a miscarriage. Just a heads up~

8/17 (Mon)

Minako couldn't stop staring…

It was just so… pink, and delicate, and small… Even from two meters away, she could just imagine its smell…

"Dude… You're seriously making that lady uncomfortable." Junpei's words brought her out of her trance-like state and she turned her eyes up at the lady's, who was frowning at her and after a moment of eye contact turned her head away in quite a cold manner. Junpei only chuckled under his breath as he noticed their reactions.

Due to a mad craving Minako was having for a caramel frappe, Junpei and her had decided to go out to Chagall Café. Sitting at one of the booths was a casually dressed woman who, by the bags next to her seemed to be out shopping. In her arms however, she was carrying a sleeping baby, gently moving him from side to side while patting his back.

Slightly embarrassed, Minako turned her gaze down at her drink.

"That's going to be you in a year." Junpei whispered to her teasingly (though half serious). Minako blushed at his words and smacked his shoulder, hard. "Shit." He groaned, trying to hold in the other curse words that wanted to spill from his mouth to not cause a scene. Minako only smirked and turned back to her drink, swirling around the cream at the top with the straw. "You know I'm was just messing with you man." She snorted, and though part of her wanted to be playful also, the bigger part was terrified of becoming that woman. "Though come on dude! You gotta give me more det-s." Minako looked up at him through her lashes as she took a sip. "Have you at least told him?" She sighed. Minako knew it was inevitable, but still couldn't find the right time and place to actually do it.

"No, and as I've told you before, I won't tell you anything else until I tell him about it first."

"Do I at least know the guy? So I can punch his face in…" He whispered the second part, making Minako smile at his protectiveness.

"How do you know he won't beat you up worse than you would him?" She raised her brows and giggled as she imagined Junpei's reaction to finding out he had unknowingly picked a fight with Akihiko.

"Jeez, is he big?" Junpei's expression turned from slightly worried, to completely perverted as he looked at her while trying to wiggle his eyebrows. After understanding what he was insinuating, Minako smacked him again on the arm.

"Oh! Gross man!" Still, Minako couldn't help but laugh along with him.

'Well, he kinda is…' She heard someone in her mind say, but quickly shut them up too. Small chuckles and laughter erupted in her mind somewhere, but she only rolled her eyes and shook her head before changing the subject.

Still, until the woman left, Minako wasn't able to keep her eyes from looking over every now and then at the small human in her arms.

8/19 (Wed)

"Dammit!" Minako cursed again under her breath as Junpei was hit by Natural Dancer's Garudyne and fainted, again. Quickly, she tried to plan out everyone's moves in her mind. "Senpai, use Rakunda to get its defense down, then you attack it Koromaru." She already had her hand in her bag, finding the Revival Beads easily enough, but instead searched for a Balm of Life to revive Junpei with full health so afterwards she could concentrate on using Media on the group.

They were really having a hard time getting its health down, having spent more than 10 min in battle already and the Natural Dancer's health was only half way down.

Finally, Minako was able to get Junpei a Balm of Life, and he slowly rose, fully healed yet with little real energy left. Still, He grabbed his sword and waited for his instructions and turn. After Koro's attack, the shadow seemed to get angry at its now significant loss of health and began moving in a familiar, sexy manner. Minako, not falling for the charm spell looked over at her teammates: Junpei and Koromaru hadn't been affected, but Akihiko… His eyes were only half open and significantly darker on his otherwise blank expression. Minako muttered a curse under her breath.

"Koro, attack it, and Junpei use your Kill Rush on it. I'll get senpai a Dis-charm." Once again, Minako went through her bag, but while she was trying to find the pocket where the neutralizing items were, she noticed Akihiko running to her. She had predicted the shadow would make Akihiko heal it, but instead it seems it had commanded him to attack her instead.

Knowing that she wouldn't have time to actually get the medicine while fending off Akihiko's attack, and for it to be better to defend herself and get it when he backed off, Minako slung the bag's straps around her arm and held up her arms in a defensive stance.

Akihiko reached her and aimed his first punch at her face, which Minako dodged, as well as the second aimed at her shoulder. Instead of letting up, Akihiko seemed to be getting more aggressive with each missed punch she jumped out of reach of. Minako'd try to push his gloved fists away with the sides of her hands, though with his sheer strength it seemed as meaningless (and painful) as if she were hitting a metal statue.

"Dude, you ok?" Junpei yelled over at her, his sword up yet clearly -at least to her- a little limp, while Koromaru was busy trying to get his dagger into the shadow. Minako grunted as Akihiko's left fist made contact with her arm. Deciding it best to focus on the boxing champ's attacks, she threw the bag over to Junpei.

"Here, keep yourself alive and both of you attack it when your health is high." She closely avoided another punch aimed to her jaw. "And find a damn Dis-charm please!"

Now without the extra weight, Minako was planning on hitting Akihiko back to maybe snap him out of the trance,

'But how?'

She was barely able to avoid his punches, let alone get a hit in on him.

Minako crouched down with a small squeal, surprised by the strength he was obviously putting into each punch. She looked up at his face and gasped a little, shocked by their emptiness. It reminded her of another time he was under a Lover's influence, and for a moment her mind panicked, and a chill ran through her body.

Suddenly, he was aiming again but her shoe slipped while trying to escape from the side, causing her to fall back on her butt.

Everything was just happening so quickly that even though she tried to get up, he was just too agile and jumped on top of her; his fist pulled back one moment and the next it was shoved into her gut, leaving her breathless from both the hard blow and the pain.

"Minako-chan needs help!" Fukka's voice was filled with worry as she notified the others.

"Dude, we've almost got it! Koro-chan, co-op attack!" Junpei also wasn't able to find the Discharms either, but he took another Medicine before jumping in to stab the Natural Dancer while Koromaru attacked it again.

Meanwhile, Minako had her hands over her stomach, a part of her mind panicked about getting hit in that general area. With Akihiko standing with his legs on either side of her, it was hard to imagine a way to escape… unless-

A few seconds after the last hit, and while she was still considering her options, his fist came down again, and while she tried to move to the side to avoid it as much as possible, his punch still came down on her left side, pushing in her bottom ribs.

Minako let out a loud groan as the pain filled her senses. Suddenly enraged and knowing she had no other option, with great strength she lifted her leg up hard, hitting Akihiko in the crotch.

It definitely resulted in the wanted effect, as Akihiko lowered his arms to grab himself, though otherwise was still expressionless. He stood motionless for a few seconds -enough for Minako to push herself away and lean against a wall- until he fell to his knees, head against the floor.

Away from them, Junpei and Koromaru were really making progress with the Shadow, having made deep cuts into its backs and legs. If Minako wasn't also in great pain she would've stood to fight it too, but from where she sat, she only prayed for the shadow to not use wind attacks.

With one last huge swing, Junpei slashed the shadow hard enough to completely destroy it and for a few seconds everyone just stood where they were, trying to catch their breath and revel in the shadow's defeat.

The first to move was Koromaru, who ran over to Minako and pushed her arm with his nose while whining.

"Shit man, you ok?" Seeming to suddenly remember her 'delicate state', Junpei dropped his sword and also moved over to her. Minako grimaced as she made to sit up more.

"I'll be ok."

Akihiko also moved, pushing his face off of the floor with a hand; now with the shadow gone, its trance was broken, though the pain was still very much there. He groaned as he lifted his head up to look at them, hands still between his legs.

"Fuck. What happened?"

To say he felt horrible was a complete understatement.

As they made their way home, Minako had an arm around Junpei and the other around her torso, whereas Akihiko was being helped by a very stoic Aegis. Both were limping, though trying their best to keep their pain from being totally obvious to the team.

Seeing her bending over in pain, knowing he had caused it was making him feel like shit, to say the least; she rarely got that way from fighting with enemies so to see her like that because of him made Akihiko want to be swallowed by the earth…

When he came to and the others explained what he had done, he apologized various times to Minako, who only smiled with furrowed brows and shook her head and hands at him, claiming she was fine and "actually proud to have survived a boxing champion's uninhibited punches". A moment later she moaned and bent over, hands on her knees.

If his balls didn't feel like they had already been kicked a foot into his body, he'd have Junpei take his best shot.

8/20 (Thu)

The latest trip to Tartarus had really taken a toll on Minako, who still wasn't sure how to deal with the things already going on, and now had to add to it all another case of shadow influence coming between her and Akihiko (which only made her remember things she had been trying so hard to forget), as well as bruised ribs, and the panic feeling she'd get when she'd think about the baby being affected… It also didn't help that the Personas in her mind were unraveling as well.

On the way home, she tried to walk straight and keep a slight smile on her face, but even she felt it was too forced. Finally, they had made it to the dorm and after trying to give a small speech about being proud of everyone's hard work, and shaking off another one of Akihiko's whole-hearted apologies, she stayed behind in the lounge with Junpei while the others went off to rest. After making sure no one else could see, she let go of Junpei and bent over, hands on her knees.

"Minako, you want some meds or somethin'?" She only shook her head and tried to keep her breathing short, feeling that if she breathed deep, she'd start crying, and she felt that that much self-pity was too much to show to others -even Junpei.

"Just thinking about walking up three flights of stairs to go shower is killing me." She said with a small chuckle at the end. Suddenly, she felt his hand on her back, and hoped he couldn't tell she was lying.

But even Junpei isn't that dumb.

"I'll help you up dude."

An hour after arriving home, Minako had finished bathing, had slipped into bed, and was now flipping through the channels of the tv, not wanting to be left more time alone with her thoughts and feelings for tonight. Her eyes were so swollen from crying in the shower, she could bare keep them open. Deciding that nothing was actually interesting, she left a cheesy romcom movie on and tried to sleep.

The pain was still there in her abdomen, but after the hot shower and making sure nothing was broken, she was able to rest a little more easily.

At least for a few hours.

Minako woke up early with a bout of nausea. It had been a while since she had last thrown up, but she had never really gotten over this symptom.

She groaned as she sat up in bed, and though she had the intention of getting the rice cakes from her bedside table out, she suddenly had to run to the sink to vomit, which was more hellish than usual with her body being as sore as it was.

Half an hour later though, she was rinsing out her mouth for the fifth time and felt completely drained and exhausted. Slowly, she walked over to the tall mirror on her closet; Minako barely recognized herself as she looked at the dark circles under her eyes, her cheeks looked horribly dented in and her skin was an awful pale yellowish-white.

Again, she was letting self-pity consume her…

She just felt so tired

Without thinking about it, her eyes went down her body, and widened quickly and painfully as she noticed the red on her grey pajama shorts.

Her mind went back to the fall and punches she had endured earlier. Some Personas seemed confused and others defensive, but she ignored them as she took a deep breath and replaced her bottoms and put in a pad, folded the stained clothes, and examined the bed sheets which were also stained.

Carefully, she sat on the edge of the bed and worked out a plan, deciding that something needed to be done, and now.

Getting out as much bravery as she had left in her (it may have helped that the strong, smoldering Sati had pushed her way to the front line), she grabbed her phone to check the time.

6:24 am

Knowing senpai, she'd probably be awake by now…

With a knot in her stomach, she typed.

"Senpai, I need to ask a favor. Are you available?"

A couple of minutes later, she received a reply text.

"Of course, Arisato. Would you like for me to go to your room?"

"I'll go to you."

Carefully, she got up, got her purse and left the room. It felt like forever to get to Mitsuru's door especially since she was dragging herself as quietly as she could for the other girls not to notice. The good thing was that it only took a couple of knocks for Mitsuru to quickly open the door.

"Come in Arisato." Minako nodded, and seeing how badly she was walking, after closing the door Mitsuru almost grabbed her elbow to help her. Minako turned halfway to the sofa though, and with deep breath and tears threatening to fall she whispered,

"I think I want to go to the hospital now."

A/N: Again, not much romance, but at least we're getting somewhere! Not really but bah… I do miss Shinji though *sighs* but I guess her priorities are def elsewhere at the moment! Plus, I'ma have to add him in soon, since it's almost time he joins SEES again and all, so jesss… Next chapter, I'm planning something pretty huge~ Mitsuru becomes a full-blown Mother Hen, and Aki… I thiiinkk he's going to find out… And also Shinji? xD This story is not turning out how I originally planned... I thought Fukka would be first, then everyone else, minus Aki who'd just be the fool in the dark, but I just don't think that would be fair anymore… Plus, I obvi want them together before the end and time is really catching up :( Specially with Shinji :(((

Anyway, I had also though that Minako would message Junpei first, early a.f. crying and he'd get up running to her, and get Mitsuru and a damn ambulance stat all by himself, but ehhh He's done so much already! I couldn't kill him like that. Plus, I think it's time Minako get her courage back, and guurlll she gonna! xD

Thank yall so much for the reviews! I know I'm horrible at updating, but it really is beautiful to receive real, significant comments, criticism, and tips. Anything yall wanna see next (someone asked for a shadow battle, so deryago!), just include it in there and I'll see what I can do.