Title: Misfit Pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle
Summary:Because there certainly are those cases that when solved, does not bring even a bit of satisfaction. Of all people, it is Naoto who understands this type of predicament. However, it is Yosuke–aside from Souji and Rise–who can decipher it from her reticent eyes.
Fandom | Pairing: Persona 4 | Slight!YosukeNaoto, One-sided pairings
Notes: LMFAO I'm late for school. Written for iu_fanfiction's WC#43: Kink Bingo | Prompt: Silence
Gestures. Conversations. Even the sneaky glances shrouded from the warm and dynamic atmosphere of the Investigation Team, through the usual bickering to the unproductive study sessions within the group, Naoto Shirogane could read everything like a widely opened book in front of her. At very rare times, she wished she couldn't perceive it. However, as she's a detective–a highly competent one–noticing even the slightest flicker of eyes and the sudden pitches in a conversational tone are nothing but natural occurrences for her to absorb.
Naoto wished she didn't–couldn't see how closer Yukiko and Souji already are.
She thought that probably, if she did not venture deeper about the odd feeling that she has been harboring for Souji for quite a while now then she wouldn't be as dispirited as she was right now. Hadn't it been for the flitting sensation within her stomach whenever he was near her, she wouldn't have explored the vagueness of what romanticism was. She was the type of person who knew of its existence, but she was never the kind who would endeavor such a thing. Ironic it might seem, but his presence made her waver from her view of what love was, as well as the inclusions of a different sense of hurt when a loved one, purposive or not, rejects her. Nonetheless, she would not state it to everyone as much as how she have always shared her side of the coin during investigations. This was a case that she had solved days ago, only within her. Inquiring about Souji and Yukiko's relationship wouldn't be needed as their actions, as well as their friends, had been stating the obvious ever since–
“Steak! Steak!” Chie chimed loudly as she punched the air with her signature, goofy grin. Spanking Yosuke's right shoulder, she exclaimed, “The prince of Junes volunteered to give us some free steak!”
Averting her half-lidded eyes from Souji and Yukiko, she focused her eyes on Chie and Yosuke.
“H-Hey what-?!” Yosuke looked at Chie disdainfully, his eyebrows contoured in an evident sign of rejection. “Who told you that I'll be doing that? Go and get some steak of your own, Chie!”
Chie put both of her hands on her hips with her eyes glaring at Yosuke, and said, “Sheesh, it's just steak, Yosuke. It's not going to hurt your fat wallet.”
“Shut up, you steak monster!” Yosuke scrunched his nose as he bellowed at Chie.
Naoto sighed from her seat. She silently watched how Yosuke and Chie continued to argue with each other, thinking that it's just another episode of their childish quarrels and that in just minutes they would be reconciled. A small smile escaped from her lips and her grayish blue eyes softened for a moment. If only she could ward away the hurting feeling inside her now as if it's an episode of Yosuke and Chie's little dispute...
“See?” Chie chimed up, her fist now in front of Yosuke. “Even Naoto-kun seems appeased to the idea of you treating us to steak! Isn't it, Naoto-kun?”
Naoto's shoulders hitched as soon as she was addressed by Chie. “A-Ah. Chie-sempai, it is not necessary for Hanamura-sempai to do that.” she answered politely, and tore her gaze from the two of them. She, then, automatically glanced at Souji and Yukiko for a second under the brim of her cap as if it was a habit, and stared at the wooden table as if it was the most interesting object, while she continued brooding on her thoughts again.
“See?” Mimicking Chie's voice, Yosuke continued. “Naoto wouldn't step down to your level, Chie. She's not a monster like you who would only be appeased by a piece of steak!”
“Yosuke Hanamura, you've crossed the–“ Preparing for the intense battle, Yosuke quickly stood up and made way through the narrow space between the table and the seated persons. “–line!”
“Oh shit!” he cursed under his breath as he passed by Naoto, bumping her right knee and making her thighs slide slightly sidewards towards Kanji. “Sorry, Nao!”
While he ran away, he could hear Kanji's and Chie's distant shouts of reproach. At the corners of his eyes, though, he saw Naoto meekly asking Kanji to calm down, while Rise teased the way how Kanji blushed. Rounding the table without looking behind him, he noticed how Naoto quickly went back to her previous position.
Was it only him, or did she seem extra gloomy today?
Looking over her right shoulder, Naoto saw Yosuke running after her. She took a step backward and faced the brunette. “Is there something the matter, Hanamura-sempai?”
“A-Ahh...” Yosuke, who was still catching after his breath as he put a hand over his chest, nodded exasperatedly. Seriously, Chie had so much energy that he was quite amazed on how he survived her wrath, which seemed to extend even at the last minute of their departure from Junes. “Yep! Actually I–“ He paused from speaking. Noticing how everyone seemed expectant (especially Kanji and Rise, who were awkwardly looking at Yosuke as if prompting him to continue) of what he would have to say, he added, “I've got something to ask, a-and hey! Wait stop looking at me–“ he said to everyone with a raised brow, then back to Naoto, “It's quite, yanno, I want to speak about it personally. Sooo...” Quickly, he grabbed Naoto's left wrist with his left hand, his right hand waving at them. “Goodbye, everyone! See you tomorrow at school!”
And they left.
“W-What was that about?” Kanji mumbled, his eyes following their fading figures. He looked at Chie, who was scratching the back of her head with a shrug; Teddie, who was muttering about 'youngsters, chasing after the setting sun, welcoming the darkness as they wrap their arms around each other'; Yukiko and Souji, who were also staring after Yosuke and Naoto; and Rise, who had the most peculiar expression of all.
“Who knows,” Rise shrugged her shoulders as she turned her back, ready to set off. “Maybe there's something that Yosuke-sempai needs from her,” she said casually, her lips tugged into a gentle smile.
Kanji, as if mirroring Chie's previous actions, asked once more, “Well? Why her, then?”
Rise giggled. “Oh, Kanji-kun. Sometimes you should stop being jealous or else it might take its toll on you and you wouldn't be able to bear it for too long.” She tilted her head to the right and added, “It's a good thing you're quite extroverted, Kanji.”
Kanji's cheeks flushed sheets of red and he raised a fist in front of Rise. “Y-You–w-what are you pointing at, huh?! I-I'm not swinging that way, if that's what you're–”
“Ahaha~!” Rise let out another set of giggles, although it's more high-pitched than usual as if showing Kanji her amusement. “That's not even what I'm pointing out, Kanji! I know it's Naoto you have your eyes for, not Yosuke-sempai.” Rise winked at Kanji and added, “Don't worry, if I got it wrong, then I'll support your endeavor for Yosuke-sempai. I accept you for who you are, Kanji-kun!”
“S-Shut up! It's not what I–“
“Don't worry,” Rise looked ahead of her, the amused smile now gradually being replaced by a soft one, as if it's clouding something beneath it. “I know how it feels when the one you like, or probably, even love, has his or her eyes set for someone else.”
Kanji held back his words. Looking at Yukiko and Souji, he instantly understood what the popstar idol meant. “I-I know.”
Momentarily looking up at Kanji, Rise closed her eyes and smiled while saying, “I fully do, too, Kanji.”
“What is it that you want to ask about, Hanamura-sempai?” Naoto asked monotonously as she and Yosuke stopped at an alleyway a bit far from Junes. “Did something odd happen lately?”
Yosuke sighed, his thumb and index finger touching the temples of his forehead. “How do I say this, Nao. Hmm. You know, lately I noticed something odd, really.”
Naoto reached for the tickler in her right back-pocket, as well as a small pen. She opened it and continued to inquire. “Kindly state the case briefly then we'll delve deeper into the information, Hanamura-sempai.”
“Hmm,” Yosuke leaned against the wall beside the electricity post, his eyes now squinted before Naoto. That was when he noticed the odd, dark-circles under her long, bottom eyelashes. His eyes slid down to the pale color of her porcelain-like cheeks, then to her half-agape lips. “I've got this friend who doesn't seem to be healthy.” He blurted out. “I think that friend of mine is doing something really... you know. Not hideous but it's as if that thing is something that shouldn't be shared among us.”
Upon hearing the word “us”, Naoto looked up at Yosuke for a while, then back to the tickler. “How did you speculate such a thing?”
“Oh, c'mon.” Yosuke let out a heavy heave, his shoulders already sagging at his sides. “Nao, I know you're not someone like Chie who seems to be more than willing to share a big part of her life by simply saying 'steak'. You're not like Rise who's out in the public for some work that includes pleasing people. You're not Teddie-ish, ugh the very thought of you talking about explicit things is just horrible. You ain't Kanji, I think, never me who'd always put a foot in my mouth. You're not like Yukiko–“
Naoto stiffened for a second, but Yosuke barely noticed.
“–who's with Seta now. You're more of a Seta. Yes, you're just like him. You two like to keep things from us, and you wouldn't bother to share it with everyone even though deep down it hurts.”
Naoto stayed silent, her eyes now focused on her shoes. She's unused to this. Very much. This feeling of hurt, as simply as how Yosuke described it, has been spreading within her system ever since she learned of Yukiko and Souji's relationship. But she would be less than willing to share it, at least not to Rise as she's her best friend. Someone, though, like Yosuke had noticed. Did she give away herself to her friends too much? Was she also as easy to read by them, as how she does to her friends?
“Cut the chase, Hanamura-sempai. What are you pointing out?” she asked stiffly, afraid that her tears might suddenly break out from her eyelids.
“You like Seta, don't you?”
“W-What... Hanamura-sempai, do you hear what you are talking about? I don't think I have time for such improbable yet existent things such as romance, as there are goals I have already set before me ever since. Finding someone who can... fill such an aspect is not a part of my priorities, thus–“
“Damn it, Naoto! You know,” Yosuke cupped her shoulders, an eyebrow raised, his eyes looking straight at her. “There's no point in denying it! What am I here for? That's why I followed you, so that you'd be able to face it – the truth – together with someone.” Yosuke raised his voice in disbelief towards the petite female in front of him. Surely, she's a tough guy for cases and such, but in accepting her true feelings, she's just like others who have a weak side that when hit, crumbles. “You want to be thrown in the TV world again, face another of your Shadow's dilemma, and have another tearful jerk within you?!”
Naoto stayed silent, her grayish blue eyes bolted towards the brunette's. “S-Sempai...” was the only thing she could muster.
“Another thing!” Yosuke's grip tightened a little, his glazing eyes staring down on her. “You should start giving yourself a break, Naoto. I know it's a part of you, being serious and such, but sometimes you have to let your other self out. That aside, Souji's not the only person around here. You'll grow up as well as how all of us will, of course. You're still young. We are all still young. If this kind of feeling–of attraction, or of love that you're trying to suppress that's hurting you, then there's nothing we can do but to tone it down by sharing it with someone. Probably you've already told Rise about this, but don't forget that I'm also here to hear you out.” Yosuke sighed, and let go of her shoulders. “Actually, everyone is ready to listen to you, Naoto. You don't have to hold every type of emotion within you, okay?”
And tears suddenly trickled torrents from her eyes.
“A-Ah! Wait, Naaaoo! Stop crying–I didn't mean to–“ Yosuke frantically reached for his scarf and offered it to her, but as soon as she started rubbing her eyes in a manner that greatly reminded him of her Shadow, he let his scarf remain unnoticed in his hand.
“I see I've been reproached for my... natural tendency to stay quiet about my feelings, while I usually share my thoughts only about serious matters.” Naoto managed to say in between her sobs. “However, I do realize that it's not an easy task to share my... my feelings to others, especially about this matter, Hanamura-sempai. Nevertheless,” Naoto's eyes rested upon Yosuke's hand which held the scarf, and she offered a genuine smile that broke through her quite contorted and miserable crying face. “I would like to take your advice into heart, sempai.”
Yosuke sighed. “That's a good thing for you, Naoto. I would like to suggest, though, for you to not mimic Chie's 'Steak!' or else she'd suddenly blame me for, I don't know, influencing you?”
Naoto chuckled and asked, “Then, does Hanamura-sempai like Chie-sempai?”
Yosuke choked, his cheeks quite tainted with pink. “Ah, aah... she's an interesting female. You know, being that strong and such. But nah, she's got her eyes on another person and... and I don't really want to become a second choice for that matter.”
Naoto's shoulders slumped. For some reason, she let out a chuckle rather than consoling with what seemed to be Yosuke's dilemma. She had a sudden inkling as to why Yosuke said it to her. “It might be rude for me, but would you mind if I borrow your scarf?”
Yosuke grinned at Naoto and reached the scarf to her and said, “No problemo, Nao.”
Next time, it would be her turn to follow him and ask him why.