Disclaimer: I don't own P4.

Dedication: Not nearly enough stories for the charming Soji/Yukiko and Soji/Rise pairings, I feel. Both are adorable, but are overlooked because of the rampant love for Naoto. I love Soji/Naoto too, and all, but it's all right to love the other straight Soji pairings, too! So please spread the love. We know Soji does…

Want to Be Close

By: TYSON GRANGER

Dojima would have skewered me with questions if he caught me doing this. Of course, the entire point of sneaking out of the house in the middle of the evening was that I didn't get caught, and I am quite aware of that. I took extra care as I descended the stairs not to wake the sleeping giant that is my exhausted uncle, passed out in a particularly precarious position atop the couch opposite the flashing television. He must have been watching the news when he passed out, I think as I tiptoe to the door, sliding my feet inside of wear-worn sneakers before slipping silently out the door. The extraction of myself from my home here in Inaba was a success, and it was something that I had become used to doing over the last few months since the murders had come to a close. These outings are a secret I am loathe to share…a secret I resolved to keep between us. After all, some things are only meant to be shared with the person that you love.

I have a secret, you see. It's one that I don't share with my uncle nor my 'little sister', and even my friends on the Investigation Team are mostly in the dark about what I'm doing late at night, sneaking out of my own home to go elsewhere. Where I am going is a privilege that only one other person is privy to know, and that person is waiting for me there, patiently anticipating my arrival. Their thoughts are precious…especially when they are reserved for me, and once outside I walk at a brisk pace towards the station where the late night bus runs to the outskirts of the city. There I will arrive at my destination, the chill of the night air and the lingering rays of moonlight in the sky no longer upon me as I step inside the back entrance to the famous Amagi Inn.

It is there that I see her first, waiting for me in the empty hall in her beautiful pink kimono, floral patterns lining the fabric as her dark eyes scan my body with a hint of worry tucked neatly beneath the surface. I know that she is relieved that I've arrived safe, but as always, there is the threat that they will see us during my stay here with her. The secret, you see, is not just mine to keep from my uncle, but this is a clandestine scene kept from her own parents as well. She scans the hall and smiles softly when I remove my shoes, step up into onto the wooden floors, and place my hand on her shoulder in a reserved, tender greeting. Her cheeks are painted a beautiful red then, and without speaking she slides her silky fingers in mine and leads me just a little further down the corridor to a door jammed open. Pulling me inside slowly, she peers out into the hall one last time and then slides the door jam back inside, closing the shoji behind us.

Alone at last, I am finally able to take a moment to appreciate her fully. Yukiko Amagi…daughter of the manager of the famous Amagi Inn, a charcoal-eyed, black-haired beauty who had drawn the interest of so many of Inaba's youths that asking her out had been dubbed by the tasteless nickname "The Amagi Challenge". Her thin frame made her appear frail, but beneath the thick kimono he knew that she was much more capable than she appeared, quite deadly in fact with a fan between her fingers. She was strong, capable, and beautiful in a way that made you jealous. Unless you were close enough to really know her. And then, she was simply beautiful. My eyes drink in the sight of her, and I know that it would be pointless to really say anything to her at the moment. She is still a little nervous about my entrance and needs to settle down before the mood shifts to what we're hoping for. This isn't the first time the two of us have met like this, after all.

The first time had been somewhat on impulse, nearly a month after a wonderful Christmas we had spent together. I think that was the first time that she had really considered to herself what it was going to be like for the two of us when I left Inaba to return to my home. She called me around midnight and sounded scared, positively miserable in the idea that I wouldn't be here to graduate with her next spring. I hadn't given the idea much thought myself, though the way she spoke, I could already imagine how painful the separation was going to be. Yukiko asked me, softly, timidly, if I would come over and speak with her…just stay with her a little longer that night…and I could hardly deny it. I arrived at the inn a little after 1 a.m. and we sat in the lounge, talking for a while about little things, anything to take our minds away from the weight of my impending departure. And around 2 I was ejected from the inn by a particularly frazzled assistant that had suspected foul play, biting out barbs about the inappropriateness of my seeing her so late, sitting so close beside her.

The second time I came, the woman apologized profusely, realizing after a conversation with Yukiko that I wasn't just another person…that to her, I was somebody special. It was that assistant who, after that night, began to run interference for the two of us when we were to meet one another in the rarely-used spare room, situated snugly between the hot springs and the back entrance, making it an ideal location where I could slip into the inn unnoticed and see her for a while as the rest of the Amagi Inn went about its business none-the-wiser. It was during the second visit that we began our now-routine of sitting together in the secluded room and sharing some fresh-brewed tea, talking about the little things that crossed our minds. It never really crossed my mind how natural it felt, or how much like a married couple this made us seem. Not even once. …I swear.

This meeting between the two of us was the fifth since the initial one, and it doesn't take long for us to fall back into the comfortable act of sitting across from one another at the table, sipping the herbal brew Yukiko had waiting on me, and sharing conversation about the happenings within our group of friends, within the school, and whatever else came to mind. It feels just about right, and though I don't say much personally, listening to her speak is relaxing in a way that I can't quite describe. It's like being stranded in the forest near the river…you don't need to be near it for the sound of the falls to soothe you. Her voice is like that to me. It doesn't matter what is on my mind, if I hear her voice and know that she is nearby, I can be at ease. It's cathartic in a way. I take a small sip from my cup and notice the way she hesitates when she looks at me, the noticeable shifts in the pigment of her cheeks. I can tell in an instant that she's keeping something back from me, but it's not something I need to ask her. She'll let me know what she's thinking when the time is right.

"Thank you for the tea," I venture quietly when she reaches a lull in the conversation, not wanting to appear impolite when I find her company to be more than favorable. She blushes a little and looks away into her cup, taking a sip as she whispers a near-inaudible 'you're welcome' in return. There's something that she wants to ask me, I can already tell by the way that she keeps glancing up at me when she thinks I'm not looking. I want to make it comfortable enough that she can ask me, and so I decide to do something a little unlike myself and say a little more. It's not as if it's not true, anyway, and I know that on the rare occasion that I speak up long enough to compliment her that she tends to enjoy a little flattery. "You look beautiful in that kimono, Amagi-san. It…suits you," I tell her honestly, and the response is what I had hoped for. The flush of her cheeks and her soft smile after are priceless.

"Y-you think so?" she asks shyly, coming out of the shell of her hidden thoughts nicely as she shifts where she sits. I nod in agreement and her gentle smile lights the room, instantly releasing the tension between us, "thank you…Soji-kun. I mean…for the compliments." She fumbles with her words just a little, but her meaning gets across perfectly. I'm glad that I was able to make her smile like this, to feel just a little bit better about herself and whatever she has on her mind. I raise the cup of tea to my lips as she appears to consider something just a little more, and then place it down on a saucer when she decides to at last voice what's on her mind. "Soji-kun, may I come…just a little closer?"

The question catches me by surprise, though I suppose that it shouldn't. Yukiko had always been more of a reserved girl, quite proper when it came to relationship matters, and even in this secret sort of situation she was probably not going to be completely comfortable without asking first. I try not to let the surprise show as I school my eyes quickly, and I nod simply in agreement, sliding over on the mat so that she can sit next to me. I don't wonder if perhaps it's a little too close for her. I want her to know that she can feel free to be near me, be as relaxed as she wants when we're together. I want her to know that as much as she wants, I want to be close just as much as her. And I smile pleasantly when she slowly stands from the other side of the table and moves to the space I've cleared at my side, lowers herself to sit, and then gently leans her shoulder against my body. The feeling is altogether perfect.

"It feels so nice, Soji-kun," she mumbles contentedly, snug against me as I fumble around with the idea of putting my arm around her or simply letting her rest undisturbed. It's not often that I can't decide what to do in any given situation, but with Yukiko I always find myself taking modest, half-steps forward. She feels so delicate there, so precious, I'm afraid that if I make the wrong move I might shatter the perfect peace between us. And somewhere in the back of my mind I know it's a foolish notion, she knows it's foolish, and Yukiko relieves my concern when she closes her eyes and drifts her silky fingers to my hand to take it, gently placing it over her shoulder so that I can hold her. Her weight presses against me and my fingers trace the outline of her slight shoulder. I think to myself that her touch is surprisingly light, even more than I remember, and I find I can't imagine my nights without it. She is intoxicating, scent and touch, sight and sound…everything about her tonight draws me in. Was this what she was planning, I wonder? If so, I don't mind sharing this as well.

"Souji-kun," she pierces the silence with a slight voice, as if afraid to ruin the moment. A silly thought, I think. But I would understand if she felt it. I look down in response to my name and her face is tilted upwards, leaning back into my arms. She blushes prettily and her eyes are shimmering, beautiful. Full. The sight of her lips and the thought to indulge the last of my senses in her, taste, is like a magnetic pull towards her. I feel like I know what she'll say, and it's only for words such as those that I resist the pull. Though I'm slipping, gently slipping…she notices and I feel her breath against my skin, lips parting to speak the delicate words. "I love you."

I love you, too. I think it, but any words I might have spoke are muffled against her soft lips, moist and bittersweet. She tastes like tea and it's so very like her. My fingers thread idly through a cascade of onyx hair, smooth and thin, delicate as she was. I feel her shift back and I lean a little over her to keep us connected while her arms slide over my shoulder and around my neck. I ignore how that feels. Yukiko is a flower and I dare not see her wilt. My hands instead slide over her sides and wrap around her back, holding her against me. Our fervent kiss ends abruptly when her back touches the floor, a sign that things are going just a little too far. It's still too early and she's not ready. I'm positioned over half of her body and I think for a moment that this must look a bit inappropriate to anyone passing by. Good thing there wouldn't be anybody coming by. Yukiko seems to realize the same thing as I do, so she pecks my lips again, then buries her nose into the nape of my neck. I have to ignore pointedly how that feels.

"Will you stay tonight, Soji-kun?" she asks me timidly. She isn't so much embarrassed as she is concerned that I'll say 'no'. I'm not sure how I know that. I just know that I know. Perhaps that's the bond that we share? I don't think about that often, but it's probably right. We've been through more than middle-aged lovers, and she's always been by my side. I can tell in an instant that she's thinking about it again. She's thinking about my departure in the spring. "We don't have that long…" she trails off in her thoughts, not wanting to voice the painful truth. It was a month at best. March 21st was coming far too fast. I'm going to miss nights like this most of all. "Please…?" she pleas. Silly Yukiko…do you really need to ask?

My grip on her tightens ever-so-slightly and she takes that as my assent. Smiling gently, she slides her fingers over my neck and pauses at my chin. Dark eyes meet mine and she brushes the pad of her thumb over my cheek. I don't say anything, but I can guess that the look in my eyes is what makes her smile grow. I feel peaceful, powerful, and gentle all at once. My hand mimics her own and fingers leave warm trails on her skin as I touch the pristine skin of her cheek as softly as I can. She is lovely…and strong…and then there is this tiny little part of her that nobody else knows but me. It's the glimmer in her eye and the tint of her cheeks. This is what it's like to be in love.

"Yukiko," I speak her name with the reverence of a prayer, but the response is silence, save the rhythmic sound of her breathing. Her arms have settled around my shoulders and hold me to her body, the strength of her grip belied by the softness of her embrace. The warm tuffs of air that escape her tickle the tiny hairs at the bottom of my neck, and realize that she's sleeping. She must have been exhausted from her job, I think to myself…but she still waited up for me. The sound of distant footsteps echo in the halls, and I relax and stay silent, waiting until they pass to let out the breath that I hold. For her sake, I'd rather not get caught like this. But for her sake only.

Because Dojima be damned, I could stay like this just a little longer, too.