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Persona 4 - (PG-13) - Meme: Valentine's Day
gellin'
rinnia wrote in starsinrafters
Fandom: Persona 4
Rating: PG-13
Summary: February hasn't been Yosuke's month thus far. He's not sure why Valentine's Day would be any different. And yet, it is.
Notes: Written for this prompt at badbadbathhouse. Souji/Yosuke. Set on Valentine's Day - that should say it all, I think.

He was like this all last week too. What are we gonna do with him?

Souji taps his pencil on the paper before scribbling a response and sliding the paper back to Chie.

He told me he’s just tired. I assumed he was working a lot.

There’s a small scoff to his side, and the note returns to his desk much quicker than he expected.

What a liar! >:( I’ve gone to Junes three times this week and I haven’t seen him once!

You could’ve missed him. Souji starts, but then he slashes it out. Maybe he’s getting sick.

He’s barely taken his hand off the paper when Chie shoves it back.

Yeah. Lovesick.

There might be something to that. The thought has occurred to Souji before, after he caught Yosuke glaring at him at lunch that one time. He was stealing tofu from Yukiko’s noodles, smiling at her chiming laughter, and when she batted his arm and giggled, “Stop!” Yosuke looked like he was going to punch him. It had jolted Souji. It still bothers him to think about it. He likes Yukiko as a friend, likes making her laugh and subtly teasing her until her cheeks glow, but Yosuke is Yosuke. So Souji backed off – should’ve known better than to act that way towards someone his best friend had asked out. Just like that, the tension was resolved.

Lately, though, Yosuke’s been acting weird in a different way. He hasn’t bothered to chat with Souji between classes, and sometimes he doesn’t even get up to stretch; he just sits, forehead against his desk, hair cloaking his features from view. It’s as if someone drained his energy. There’s just no spark. It’s been bugging Souji for a while, even before everyone started whispering about it. But then the rumors started hitting his ears, and it all got worse.

Do you believe them?

Chie twirls her pencil and stares down at the paper, confused.

Them?

The rumors. As he slides the paper over, Souji hopes he isn’t overthinking this. Then comprehension dawns over Chie’s face. It actually makes him feel worse.

The Rise thing? I don’t know. If he had an issue with you two, wouldn’t he just talk to you about it?

Souji stifles a groan. There is no “us two.”

The look Chie shoots him then, a sideways glance with raised eyebrows and a half-smile, conveys her disbelief more clearly than any written note could. He snatches the paper back and jots, There isn’t. I can’t figure out how to turn her down nicely.

It takes a long time for Chie to respond to that. Souji gives up after a minute and resumes paying attention to the lecture and taking notes again. When he turns to a fresh page, Chie’s response slips onto his notebook.

You gotta do something. She’s been telling everyone about the romantic Valentine’s Day she’s got planned. Don’t be cruel. Tell her you have plans with someone else or something. Speaking of which, a little birdie told me you’re going out with Ai (the name is written large and swirly, and Souji shakes his head) then. Any truth to that?

If Chie’s hoping for details on his Valentine’s plans, she’s going to be let down. Souji writes one word in neat block letters, hands the paper back to her, and pointedly focuses on his notes, cutting any further conversation off.

No.

--------

February hasn’t been his month.

It’s not enough that Valentine’s is tomorrow and he’s completely dateless, or that his best friend has every girl he could possibly go for falling all over him. It’s not even enough that he’s had to face that the jealousy that trills through him every time he hears someone whisper about what or who Souji’s planning on doing might have more to do with Souji than anyone else involved. No, now Yosuke also has to deal with being stuck at the bathroom door, something thick and acidic caught in his throat, listening to the girls just outside gossip.

“It’s Satonaka, right? They’re together like all the time, and I heard Seta got reservations at a western-style steakhouse in the city, just for her.”

“No way! He’s just getting in good with the best friend – it’s all about the Amagi challenge.”

“But what about the whole mopey-heartbroken-friend thing? You think Hanamura’s after her?”

“I think Hanamura’s after whatever girl will take him.”

They laugh. Yosuke presses his head against the door. There’s no way he can walk out there now; he’s not going to give them the satisfaction of mocking him right behind his back as he walks away. They’ve got to leave sooner or later.

“Anyway, didn’t you hear? Seta booked a room in the Amagi Inn for tomorrow, and if you ask Amagi herself about it? She just blushes!”

“Oh my god. They’re so doing it.”

“Well, if they’re not, they will be soon.”

There’s a wistful sigh. “I wish I could be in that room with Seta.”

“You and everyone else in school.”

And that sentence burns.

“You know you want him too!”

“Uh, yeah? Never said I didn’t.”

Then they laugh again, and with speculation about Souji’s... endowments thick on their lips, they finally leave. Yosuke thunks his head against the door a few times. Clamping his headphones firmly over his ears and thumbing the volume up to blaring, he steps through. He doesn’t talk to Souji in class that afternoon, and when school ends, he jogs home without a glance back. This close to Valentine’s, he probably wouldn’t be able to fight through Souji’s harem anyway.

Things aren’t any better when he gets to school the next morning. There’s a cluster of girls blocking the classroom door, some on tiptoe, some crouching, all whispering as they peer into 2-2. Yosuke sighs and prepares himself to struggle through, but as soon as he draws close and mumbles, “Excuse me,” the throng disperses as if someone had doused them in water. From behind a mountain of gifts, equal parts gold-trimmed professional boxes and homemade bundles wrapped up in cloth, Souji waves. Despite his foul mood, Yosuke smiles at the lingering traces of terror on Souji’s face. “Rough morning?”

“It was ridiculous,” Souji says weakly.

Tilting his head, Yosuke gives him a lop-sided smile. “You don’t look too damaged.”

“All emotional.” Yosuke sits down at his desk, and Souji twists around to face him, grimacing when his elbow knocks a few (thankfully still sealed) boxes to the floor.

“If you eat all that chocolate, you’ll get diabetes.”

“That’s a myth.” Souji cracks open a small heart-shaped package and holds it out. “Want some?”

“Dude. I can’t eat your Valentine’s chocolate.”

“Why not?”

As Yosuke fumbles for an answer besides “Because!” Kashiwagi saunters in. He’s halfway surprised that she doesn’t drop yet another box of chocolates on Souji’s desk, but then Souji’s face fades to white and Yosuke decides he must’ve gotten to school too late for that show. “Hey,” he whispers, jabbing Souji in the shoulder, “which one’s from Kashiwagi?”

Mute and with wide, unseeing eyes, Souji points at a box. No, wait, three boxes - one long box with two small circular ones taped to it. It’s Yosuke's turn to pale.

As class passes, students thrumming with excitement and mumbled gossip every time Kashiwagi turns to write on the board, that wearily familiar gloom sinks over Yosuke. At some point, Chie nudges Souji and passes him two matching wrapped boxes in red and green. Yosuke can’t hear her, but in the rush of her lips, he can clearly make out “Yukiko.” With a groan, he flops down on his desk.

Lunch rolls around, and the cloud of girls engulfs Souji again, whisking him away to the rooftop in a flurry of giggles, bento boxes raised triumphantly over their heads like war banners. Blindly, Yosuke gropes around in his desk for his fruit lozenges. It’s then that his hand hits something – a block that crinkles as his fingers curl over the edge. Moping momentarily forgotten, he draws it out for inspection. It’s a present, wrapped in silver paper with alternating frosted and glossy stripes and circled twice in orange and red ribbons that match his headphones. Yosuke looks around for any clue as to who might’ve left it, but the only people in the classroom are engrossed in conversation or their meals. No one spares him even a glance.

Carefully, he pulls the ribbons loose and tears the paper along one side. The box inside is a non-descript white, new and unmarked. When he lifts the lid, a slip of paper flutters out onto his lap.

I made these. Hope you like them.

The note is handwritten, but the text is precise and heavy, as if the writer wanted to disguise any distinguishing features. Yosuke picks up one of the chocolates and flips it around in his palm. There are some small details that make it obvious it was handmade – slightly uneven coating, and a few faint fingerprints around the sides. Besides that, the chocolate, criss-crossed with white chocolate over the top, looks very professional. He bites into it tentatively. The inside is strawberry-flavored mousse.

Somehow, even with an ache in his chest, Yosuke smiles.

That smile, sweetness on his tongue, and bright ribbons twined around his fingers carry him through the rest of school and most of the afternoon. It’s around five when the haze wears off and he’s left with his TV droning on unnoticed while he watches the street below his window. Couples pass by every once in a while, girls in dresses that flutter like over-saturated origami paper on the pressed sleeves of men. Yosuke nibbles at another handmade chocolate. He actually got quite a few boxes over the course of the day, some of them Junes brand, most of them with no romantic interest, but he doesn’t feel like eating any from those. He’s taken a while to acknowledge it, and he’s still not entirely comfortable with the idea, but he’s pretty sure that none of the girls are whom he actually wants to go out with.

A girl in a red blouse, red skirt, red pumps waves at someone out of view and scurries off. Shouting a half-hearted goodbye to Teddie (who may or may not actually be home – with sparkles like his, who knows how many ladies and studs he scored to be his valentines?), Yosuke slings on his coat and heads out for the shopping district.

It occurs to him as he’s walking that he doesn’t really have a plan. Doesn’t have a goal, even. He just knows that he can’t sit in the house all night, and wandering around seems as good a waste of energy as any. It works for a while; he stays well away from Junes, instead grabbing a beef skewer from Souzai Daigaku and gnawing on it as he heads for the textile shop. If anyone else is feeling lonely today, it’s gotta be Kanji. There’s no way he had the balls to make any plans. When he gets there, though, all Kanji’s mother can tell him is that he left with a small young man about an hour ago. Absently wondering if she means Naoto, Teddie, or someone else entirely, he changes course towards Daidara. Looking at kunai should cheer him up.

It’s in Daidara that he hears the whispering again. Three girls are clustered together in one corner, shifting awkwardly on stocking clad legs as they scan the swords on display.

“Does he really like this stuff?” one asks in a shaky voice.

Another girl twirls her hair and chews at her lower lip thoughtfully. “That’s what Hisako-chan said. According to her, if he’s not with friends, he’s here.”

“Scary,” the third girl hums, drawing out the word. “I guess if it was anyone besides Seta-kun, I’d be worried.”

Internally, Yosuke groans.

Shaking a finger, the second girl says, “If we want to stand out, we need to get him something unique, something he really likes! Otherwise, we won’t stand a chance.”

“I’m worried we don’t stand a chance no matter what.”

One of them asks, “What do you mean?” in unison with Yosuke’s thoughts.

The girl stammers, “W-well, didn’t you see him with Kujikawa-san and Ebihara-san at lunch? They were debating how to split up his night so that both of them could see him. It’s like they’re c-competing, and with two girls like that both doing their best...”

“... It’s over,” the third girl says at length, resigned.

The second girl breaks in with optimism, bubbling about how it’s never too late to sweep someone off his feet, but Yosuke barely hears it. It’s like she’s talking through cotton. He does his best to focus on taking steady steps to the exit, which is harder than he expected. The girls are whispering again, and if it’s about him, for once, he doesn’t care. He can tell when he’s made it outside by the subtle change in lighting, streetlamps washing his shoes in yellow, and the icy wind on his face that feels almost warm in comparison. With his head down, he doesn’t see the person idling on the sidewalk before he ricochets off his chest.

“Yosuke?”

This night just gets worse and worse. “... Souji?” Yosuke looks up and immediately regrets it. Though there aren’t any girls immediately visible hanging on him, which is an unexpected comfort, Yosuke can tell from Souji’s slow frown that he didn’t miss the glassy sheen to his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Yosuke offers a little too quickly, and when Souji’s expression doesn’t change, he continues, “Just... you know... no date and all. It’s kinda embarrassing.”

Souji nods, cell phone open in his hand and his thumb poised over the keypad.

“Uh, you... calling someone?”

Souji’s gaze darts from the cell phone screen to Yosuke back to the phone before settling off to one side and on nothing in particular. “Maybe.”

His previous tension suppressed for the moment, Yosuke laughs. “What’s going on? Are you actually nervous about something?”

Souji ducks his head with a faint smile. “Asking someone out is always difficult.”

“I hear ya. But...” It’s a risky subject to bring up, but he is curious, and a guy should be there for his best friend on something like this. “Isn’t it a little late for that? I mean, it’s almost dinnertime. Don’t you already have fifty dates?”

Sighing, Souji shuts his phone. “Date offers are different from dates.”

“That’s true – I guess you should only go out with a girl if you like her too. Wait.” Impossible. “You were... you were going to ask out someone who didn’t ask you? There was a girl who didn’t ask you?!”

Souji’s eyes are bigger than Yosuke’s ever seen them. “It’s not like the whole school asked me.”

“Practically!” Yosuke goes down the mental list, ticking the girls off on his fingers, and with every name, Souji looks a little more exhausted. “I’d kill for chocolates from any one of them,” Yosuke grumbles.

“Valentine’s Day is special.” Yosuke looks at him questioningly, but Souji’s eyes are closed. He’s completely shut off. “It doesn’t matter how many people give you chocolates.”

The red and orange ribbons suddenly feel heavy in Yosuke’s pocket. “What matters is who.”

“Right.”

“And Miss Right is cued up on your phone right now.”

“Not anymore.” Souji waggles the shut phone at him. “My secret’s safe.”

Yosuke smirks. “You’ll tell me.”

“Someday.”

“Now.”

“Nope.”

“Later?”

“Maybe.”

“How much later?”

“After dinner.” Souji turns and starts to walk away, calling over his shoulder, “Are you coming?”

Yosuke chokes on nothing but air. “Me?”

“There’s no one else here.”

“Okay, but,” and the heat rising in him is only partially from sprinting to catch up, “what about your phone call?”

Souji pockets his phone and smiles so subtly it might’ve just been a twitch. “It can wait.”

Yosuke doesn’t question him about it as he lets himself be led to the train station, nor does he bring it up on the train or when they’re walking through the city. It takes them arriving at a steakhouse and Souji holding the front door open for him to bring the subject back up again. “So it was Chie.”

Souji lets the door close partway. “Are you trying to say I’m treating you like a girl again? You can hold the door for me if that’ll make us even.”

Yosuke glares at him and strides past into the restaurant. A maitre d’ in long dark pants and an immaculate shirt blinks at him. “Do you...” He pauses, looking the disheveled teenage boy over from scuffed tennis shoes to wind-ruffled and slightly askew hair. “Have reservations?”

“Two for Seta,” Souji says calmly behind him. Another maitre d’ pushes forward, this one a blonde woman with a fresh face who, menus already in arm, beams at them.

“We’ve been expecting you. Right this way.”

Souji steps aside to let Yosuke go first. They pass table after table, moving through the main restaurant and towards the private booths in the back. Squinting at a prepared setting up ahead (complete with flowers in the center, oh god), Yosuke laughs uneasily. “Betcha didn’t expect to get people like us tonight.”

The maitre d’ purses pink lips in a smile of barely suppressed glee. “I love unexpected couples. Escorting businessmen and their arm candy gets old.”

Yosuke can hear Souji’s quiet laughter. He grimaces. “We’re not-”

“Don’t worry,” she cuts him off. They arrive at the booth, and she extends the menus with a flourish and a wink. “My lips are sealed.”

There’s something said about their waitress for tonight (Margaret – Yosuke remembers the name because for some reason that, of all things, made Souji jump) being with them shortly, and then they’re left alone, sequestered in cushy crimson upholstery and flickering candlelight. Resting one arm on the table, Souji asks, “What did you mean?”

“About what?”

“So it was Chie.”

Yosuke hides his face in his menu. “Some girls at school were saying you made reservations at a steakhouse in the city for you and her.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” Yosuke peers over the top of the menu to see Souji peering right back. “How do you not hear these things?”

Souji shrugs. “I don’t listen.”

Turning his attention back to the menu, Yosuke swears under his breath. He doesn’t have to look up to know Souji’s waiting for an explanation. “This place is spendy,” he mutters. “No matter what I get, I think I’m gonna have to use my credit card.”

“I got it.”

“W-what?” At least the solitude means he won’t get shot any glares for his outbursts. Yosuke leans forward and lowers his voice. “Okay, don’t get me wrong; I love a free meal as much as the next guy, but like I said, this place is spendy. There’s no way I can let you spend that much on me.”

“Dojima gave me enough money to pay for my date and me.”

“I’m not your date!”

“You’re the one here with me.”

“Oh man,” Yosuke moans, letting his head fall forward and into his open menu. “How can you say stuff like that with a straight face?”

“I’m smiling.” Sure enough, when he looks up, there is a soft, genuine, not-at-all-mocking curve to Souji’s lips. Suddenly, Yosuke understands how all those girls feel when they swoon.

“Y-you know what I mean.”

The smile transforms into a full-blown smirk. “I thought you hated Dojima.”

“Other way around.”

“Won’t it be funny to know he’s paying for you to have a steak dinner?”

With renewed vigor and a feral grin on his face, Yosuke resumes his hunt through the menu. Margaret arrives not too soon after, black clipped hair and cinched black apron shiny in the candles’ glow, and Yosuke orders filet with as much pride as if he’d just dispatched a shadow single-handed. When the waitress turns to Souji, he hands back the menu with a simple, “I’ll have the same.”

Yosuke waits for her to disappear around a corner before he hisses, “What was that?!”

Souji tilts his head and looks at him in utter surprise. “What?”

Gesturing in the direction Margaret went, Yosuke scoffs, “That! You didn’t even look at the menu. I figured you knew what you wanted already!”

“I did.” As if the answer is obvious and Yosuke’s just babbling nonsense.

“You ordered the same thing I did.”

“Yes.”

“That’s what you knew you wanted.”

“Yes.” Yosuke watches him expectantly, and Souji sighs. “When I bring lunches, I pick what you eat. It seemed fair.”

“I bet Chie would’ve ordered something weird on the side. You are so lucky I’m not her.”

Then Yosuke takes a shaky drink of water, painfully aware of Souji’s eyes on him (and slightly hopeful at what that might mean). Souji just nods, faintly, and sips from his own glass. There’s a pause for a minute, both still and silent. Yosuke feigns intense interest in the way the candlelight wavers on his knuckles. Finally, Souji says in a tone he probably meant to be blasé, “I didn’t pick this place for Chie.”

“Huh?” Yosuke’s honestly stunned. The steakhouse, the nervousness (since she is a close friend of his), the not spending Valentine’s with Rise-chan or Ai-san even though they’re both incredible Grade-A goods... and just when he thought everything made sense. “Really?”

The way Souji looks at him is foreign and completely unreadable. “There are other people who like steak and would enjoy a trip to the city.”

Screw cautiousness. Yosuke’s ready to play along, and if it blows up in his face, he’ll deal with it then. “It’s funny,” he starts, and even though Souji’s eyebrows aren’t visible, he can tell from the shift around his eyes that they’re raised. “Girls are supposed to give the guys stuff on Valentine’s Day. Paying for dinner like this kinda makes you the girl.”

“That’s okay,” Souji says softly. “I’d rather treat my date as an equal.”

“I know what you mean. I used to think my ideal girl would be someone I could protect. That’s still kinda true, but now I’m thinking it could be good to date someone where I’d be less of a protector and more of a...” Yosuke trails off and waits for Souji to pick it up. If there’s anyone he can count on to not disappoint him, it’s Souji.

He doesn’t fail. “A partner?” Souji’s fingers find Yosuke’s on the booth seat and, after a few testing touches, they intertwine.

Laughing, though whether out of embarrassment, relief, nerves, or some combination of the three he’s not sure, Yosuke covers his face with his free hand. “I’m not your date.” Souji’s hand goes slack and after a moment he tries to draw it back, but Yosuke grips tight. “You never asked me out, dumbass.”

“Yosuke.”

“Yeah?”

“I like you. Will you go out with me?”

With a grin, Yosuke squeezes his hand. “Why not?”

Souji leans in, and Yosuke immediately tenses. He just asked him out – there can’t be a kiss this soon, can there? Not that he doesn’t want it. He does. He’s imagined this moment enough, plenty of times on plenty of nights... and he cuts that train of thought off before this gets even more awkward. So say a kiss happens. What does he need to do? Souji’s a guy. That means he needs to tip his head left, right? No, wrong! Right! They’re facing each other, so if they both go right, it’ll work out. That means girls go right when they kiss, too. Everyone goes right. And then they kiss. Sometimes with tongue. Oh god, should there be tongue?

A throat clears, and Yosuke half-expects to feel Souji start drumming his fingers impatiently. Instead, he follows Souji’s sideways look. Margaret, a large plate balanced on each hand, gives them a tight smile before setting down their dinners and striding away on straight legs. Yosuke hangs his head. “We’re going to have to be more subtle, aren’t we?”

“Yes.” Lifting Yosuke’s chin with his free hand, Souji presses a quick kiss to his lips. Before this, Yosuke knew what kisses felt like. He’s not completely inexperienced. Still, he’s not prepared for the very literal tingling that brief touch leaves him with. For his part, Souji looks a bit breathless, but he pulls himself together and finishes, “After tonight, we’ll be more subtle. After tonight.”

Reluctantly, they separate their hands, but Yosuke scoots closer in exchange. The steak, delicious as it is, is much bigger than Yosuke would like. He wishes it would just disappear. There are more important things than eating.

Judging from the way Souji’s pushing his steak around his plate, he’s thinking the same way. He gives up entirely, setting his fork down and leaning just enough to bring their shoulders into contact. “Did you like your chocolates?”

Yosuke sets his fork down too. Maybe they can just take the food home. “I thought they were from you.”

“That good?”

“The strawberry filling,” Yosuke chuckles. “I think you’re the only one who knows me well enough to know my tastes and can make food that’s not deadly.”

Their hands meet again, and Souji sighs. “I tried to be subtle.”

“Yeah, the handwriting. I noticed.”

“There’s more of them.”

Yosuke glances at him, intrigued. “More?”

“I made a ton of those chocolates. The rest are back at my house.”

“Inviting me back on the first date? I thought you were trying to be subtle.”

“Tried to be subtle. Past tense.” Souji smiles. It’s halfway between innocent and laced. “I promise my intentions are good. Besides, Nanako’s home. I think she even has some chocolates for you.”

Yosuke shoves Souji out of the booth. “What are you waiting for?! Go find Margaret so we can pay and get out of here!”

“Should I be worried that you want a girl’s chocolates so much?”

“I like you.” His cheeks must be bright red, but Yosuke really doesn’t care. Besides, Souji’s are too.

When they get to Souji’s house, Nanako’s waiting for them, wrapped and beribboned box in hand. She stays up with them as long as Dojima will let her, gleefully trouncing Yosuke at answering quiz show questions, and after she’s tucked in and wished pleasant dreams three times in turn, Dojima tells them with an edge of suspicion, “Don’t be stupid,” before he goes to bed as well.

Nothing much happens that night, but what does is precious. There are some more kisses, a few of which will fuel Yosuke’s fantasies for a long time afterwards (maybe even forever), and when they curl up on the futon together, they don’t lay back to back. There’s no need to rush, Yosuke reminds himself over and over as, with an arm over Souji’s waist, he drifts off to sleep. Really, he doesn’t want to rush. This is his relationship with Souji we’re talking about here. If there’s anything worth doing right, it’s this.

Oh, and just so you know? The filet tastes even better in their shared lunch the next day.