Summary: Ten drabbles - on injuries, on food, on love.
Notes: 1,000 words or so - I relied on MS Word's wordcount, so it might be a little off, but oh well. Anyway, there's some Souji/Yosuke, a bit of Chie/Yukiko, a bit of Kanji/Teddie, an overload of fluff, one vague and very much not explicit instance of sex, and no semblance of order or continuity between them. As far as spoilers go, if you know who all joins the party, what the "beauty" pageant is, and don't mind mention of spending one holiday with the guys, you're safe.
This isn’t the first time Nanako’s given him a bandage.
“You’re bleeding again, Big Bro,” she says, and Souji hears, “Be careful.”
“Thanks.” He closes his eyes and focuses, trying to narrow down which small nick she’s talking about. If he picks wrong, it’ll reveal another injury, and that’s the last thing he wants her to see. The back of his hand throbs slightly – where one of those table-shaped shadows’ legs hit him, he remembers. “It’s a weird place for me to reach. Can you help?”
She does, and as she kisses the bandage afterwards, they both feel better.
“He got some!”
“What?!” Chie’s jaw is in danger of falling clean off. “Yosuke did? No way!”
Rise nods, all confidence and poise. “Observe: his shoulders are more relaxed; there are signs of sleep deprivation aaaaall around his eyes; he even forgot his headphones!”
“She’s got a point,” Yukiko hums.
Yosuke lifts his head, and all three shrink back behind a tree. “Okay, Rise-chan, look.” Chie points at the dopey grin growing on Yosuke’s face. “What does that mean?”
“Oh, we’re in luck! He’d only smile like that at the person he’s involved with, and that appears to be... senpai?!”
Chie’s not sure if she should ask, but it has been bothering her for a while. “Hey, Yukiko?”
Pencil eraser pressed to the corner of her mouth, Yukiko looks up from her homework with a quiet “Mmm?”
“Your sweater... do you wear it because it’s red?”
“Pfft, no,” Yukiko giggles. “I wear it because it’s comfortable.”
Even though Chie kind of expected an answer like that, her gut twists. She forces a short laugh. “O-oh, yeah, of course. That makes sense.”
Then the pencil scratches on paper, and without pausing, Yukiko says, “But I originally bought it because it’s red.”
Souji won’t go to a party on campus when the weather’s like this. No matter how much his friends push and tell him to just bring his roommate along, he goes straight back to the apartment instead, throws his sopping umbrella down just inside the door, and kisses Yosuke breathless. They don’t turn the lights on, don’t pay any attention to the sliding sun outside. All they focus on is the rhythm of rain and the points where skin meets skin, and when the clock clicks over to zero, with arms tight around each other, they stare into the TV.
At first, Chie thinks she grabbed a bad bite – burned, too much pepper, whatever. After another few bites, though, she notices the odd bed of green in her bento, slivers clinging to the steak.
“Hey, uh, Souji-kun?” She holds up an especially coated chunk of beef in her chopsticks and waves it. “What’s this stuff?”
She looks back at her meal. It’d take forever to make this edible - the grass is everywhere. “I don’t want to sound unappreciative, but most people don’t eat grass.”
Around a mouthful of the gross stuff, Souji says, “It’s an acquired taste.”
Everyone can see he’s jealous. Her popularity is an easy explanation; he’s never gotten the hang of cutting off teasing while it’s still playful. On the other hand, she had the affection of the entire student body (sexy and a total sweetheart!) as soon as she showed up. That’s not it, though. The other big theory is that he’s jealous of Souji, which is close to the truth. He is jealous of “them” – the easy way she throws herself into him, hugging his arm tight against her chest, unabashed and in public. The catch is that he’s jealous of her.
“That’s a cute apron you always wear. Where’d you get it?”
Without lifting its chin, the fox looks up. Rise smiles.
“Oh ho, not telling, huh? Well, we all have our style secrets.” She scratches behind its ear, and the fox shuts its eyes, leaning a little harder on her leg. “It looks brighter today. Did you wash it?” She giggles. “Ooo, I bet Kanji-kun did it for you, didn’t he? He loves cute little things like you.”
There’s a tiny tug in her head then, and her hand stills. “They’re coming back.”
Giddy, they both leap to their feet.
It’s like choosing your last meal if you were limited to either Mystery Food X or shit. “I’m not doing this.”
“Oh c’mon,” Chie says, hands on her hips. “Just pick one and get it over with.”
An array of hair ties sparkles in front of Yosuke, some with glitter, some in neon colors, all indescribably girly. With a choked sob, he points at the strawberries.
Chie laughs. “Really?”
“Nothing. It’s just, that’s the one Souji-kun said you’d pick.”
As she starts gathering his hair into a ponytail, it hits him.
“Wait a minute, you guys talked about this?!”
Teddie is already sitting on the couch, rummaging through the stack of knitted dolls there, by the time Kanji recovers enough to shout, “The hell are you doing here?!”
“I already told you.” Giggling, Teddie holds up a bunny by the arms. “I’m exploring.”
Tense as a wound-up spring, Kanji watches Teddie wiggle the doll and dance along with it.
“Don’t worry!” Teddie sing-songs, and he punctuates his words with sparkling smiles. “I’m being beary nice to her.”
Kanji groans. “Can’t ya go bug someone else?”
“Nnnnnope! It would be inappropriate to see their bedrooms before they’ve even kissed me.”
“Christmas. Sorry I didn’t bring anything.”
“Those lozenges tasted good.”
“Haven’t I suffered enough?”
“What are you talking about?”
“This is a gift?”
“What else would it be?”
“Gifts are punishment.”
“This one is! It’s insulting!”
“It’s a precaution.”
“It says you don’t believe in my ability to take care of myself.”
“It says you’re my partner. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Yosuke wears the bike helmet the next day. Chie teases him about the shape of his hair when he takes it off, but Souji’s smile is worth it.