I personally think these two need more attention, if they even have one. I wonder why Rise X Kanji don't have much fame. Anyway, please tell me what you think! Honestly, this idea just hit my head and it kinda forced me to type it into a oneshot...
Disclaimer: All ATLUS', plot is mine.
"Hey Kanji, wait up!"
A very breathless Rise ran up the steep hill to the gray-haired teen and signalled for him to slow down. Her legs were rather short, with her being the second shortest after Naoto. And while Kanji was the tallest in their group, it was only natural that he had a muscular build and practically long legs. Which made her a bit frightened back then when she first saw him.
He turned around and stared dully at the magenta haired idol. "Oh, it's you." His voice was hard and cold, with no sense of feeling in it.
"Geez, do you always behave like that to other people other than Naoto?" Her lip-glossed mouth turned into a pout.
His face abruptly flushed hot red. "O-Of course not! What the hell are you blabberin' 'bout?" He was clearly flustered.
"Oh Kanji..." Rise smiled sadly as she walked leisurely beside the taller man while kicking pebbles along the way. She gazed desolately at the sky, which had clouds with an elegant and beautiful hue of light blue. Somehow it reminded her of Naoto, since that sleuth always wore anything that had the color blue on it. "You know very well that she likes someone else." Souji's distinctive face appeared in her mind. She always wondered how he could have such wondrously imposing eyes. No wonder Naoto fell for him. "... And now she's gone off to follow him just a week after he went back home."
"She said she was assigned to a case that just happened to be in Souji-senpai's hometown." He frowned stubbornly, a streak of irascibility showing on his face. "And I ain't gonna stop believing in that." He grunted reproachfully. "It's already the start of the new school term, but up 'till now she still hasn't come back." He quickened his pace half-heartedly, leaving Rise a couple of footsteps behind.
'I even doubt if she will come back...' Rise's thoughts were smug. 'Kanji, there're alot of girls other than Naoto. Won't you even consider me just a little...?' She sighed dejectedly before quickening her own pace, keeping in mind as to walk a little behind Kanji, as to not frustrate him any further.
A statically calm voice spoke over the other end of the line. "He was even more frustrated today?"
"Yeah. Obviously. It's like, every little thing I say about you angers him. I just don't know him anymore... He has never been this emotional," Rise replied on the phone as she played around with the phone cable mindlessly. "He's really distant now. And you, too! You jerk, how long are you going to stay there winding your head off with those ridiculous cases and Souji-senpai!? Everyone misses you half to death! Your leaving affected us all, but it affected Kanji the most... Even though he wouldn't admit it, even if we were to strangle him."
"Rise-san. These cases are not ridiculous. If they were, I wouldn't have bothered coming here at all! And about Souji-kun... That's not entirely true. I promise you, Rise-san, that once this case is over, I will immediately return back to Inaba without delay. And if it is possible, I may be able to persuade Souji-kun to coming back with me. Will that make it up with all of you?"
"... Maybe. But only if you promise. You have to promise me that you won't spend any time longer over there. And you'll bring Senpai back here...?"
"Then do me another favor." Rise brightened up slightly. "Stop calling me with -san, okay? It makes it seem that we're just aquaintances."
Naoto sighed. "Very well... Rise."
"Well, in any case I hope you do come back here in time... or else I'll have a much harder time consoling Kanji..." Rise said instinctively. Her voice was low and quiet, but it still didn't go unheard by the young detective's sharp ears.
"...H-Huh? Oh, what Naoto?"
"... You like Kanji-kun, don't you?"
"Wh-What...!? What do you mean I like him!?" Rise yelped spontaneously. "I... I-I don't, I really don't feel anything for him... you know..." The idol closed her eyes jadedly. "... Well... just don't tell anyone, okay? You've gotta swear that you won't tell anyone!"
Naoto chuckled faintly. "I swear that I won't tell anyone and I promise that I will come back as soon as I can." Suddenly there was another phone ringing from where Naoto was. "Oh, my client must be calling. I'm afraid we'll have to end this phone-call. Well, goodnight."
"... 'Night..." Rise muttered reluctantly, as though she didn't want to say goodbye to the only closest friend she had.
"And I wish you goodluck." Naoto added before finally hanging up, leaving Rise to the continuous beeping sounds of the ended phone call.
As Rise placed the reciever back to its position, she curled up in bed and couldn't help wondering.
'Do I like Kanji...?'
Her eyes had black circles under them since she could hardly sleep that night. She had myriad thoughts about Kanji that she couldn't brush away. She wanted him to return back to his normal self. The approachable, considerate and affable Kanji. The old him.
This all began ever since Naoto went away. She remembered very clearly what his expression was at that time; it was lucidly indignant and he looked like he would do anything to stop her from leaving. At that time Rise didn't understand the feelings that swirled inside her. It was a mixture of compassion, sorrow and devotion. A feeling she had never realized. As he was willing to do anything to stop Naoto from leaving, Rise would do anything to get him to cheer up again.
"Rise!!!" A finger flicked her forehead, immediately drawing her out of her agitated daydream.
"Ah!" Rise held her hand to her forehead, half in shock and surprisement. "Oh sorry, didn't see you there. What's wrong, senpai?"
An irritated Chie stood in front of the seated Rise, crossing her arms. "What's wrong is you. You've been so out of it lately, either you won't budge when we call you or you don't pay attention when we talk to you."
"Sorry." Rise winced as she stood up. "I've just got a lot on my mind, that's all. Hey, why don't we eat..."
Before Chie could respond, a figure walked past the open door of Rise's class. It was unclear, since the person took hurried steps, but with uncommonly bleach-white hair like those it could be none other than Kanji.
"Kanji..." Rise breathed as she ran to the door and yelled. "Hey Kanji!"
He turned around and eyed her warily. "... Yeah?"
The idol waved her lunch bag in the air. "Wanna eat?"
"No, I'm done." Kanji turned around again and continued walking to the Practice Building, probably the Sewing Class.
Rise sighed and turned backwards to her class, only to be blocked by Chie. She was leaning casually against the door. "So."
"Y-Yes...?" A stammer.
Chie raised an eyebrow. "That's your problem, huh."
"What?" Playing dumb was the first thing that came to mind.
The short-haired brunette rolled her eyes. "Duh. Like it isn't that obvious. You like Kanji-kun, don't you?"
"What do you mean by that? I always call out to friends that pass by to eat lunch with us, so it doesn't make any difference, right?" Rise said innocently.
"Don't think you can fool me," Chie snapped. "Your eyes. I can just see it from your eyes. It changed just the minute you saw that guy. You seemed too distracted and too hurried."
'Dammit, I got found out, again...' Rise cursed silently under her breath. 'First Naoto, now Chie-senpai! Argh, why do I always screw up?'
"Don't worry." Chie's hand patted Rise's shoulder in an affectionately friendly way. "I'll back you up. I'm sure we all will."
"Ch-Chie-senpai..." The magenta haired girl's eyes watered.
"Oh no no no no, don't start here." Chie shook her head frenetically as she took a step back. She was beginning to suspect what Rise was going to do. "I don't any misunderstanding... Come on! Let's go eat with the oth--" Too late.
"Thaaaaank yoooouuu!!!!!!!!!!!" Rise launched her killer hug, and almost choked Chie in it.
"It's no use... Anyway, what does Yukiko mean from the last step?" Rise sighed to herself as she walked home alone from school.
"The first step in making a guy feel better, say soothing and comforting words." Chie said rigorously.
"Did that, done that, failed." Rise mumbled.
"How about giving him a gift or something?" Yukiko suggested lightheartedly.
"Not a chance," Rise shook her head woefully. "He would never accept things from anyone other than Naoto."
"As if." Chie sniffed. "You haven't tried, have you?"
"You'll never know if you don't try."
"Don't force her, Chie." Yukiko nudged Chie softly. "It's not an obligation."
"Then what, Yukiko?" Chie threw her hands up in exasperation. "This girl's so pessimistic."
"I knew it. Nothing I do would ever work against Kanji. I'm so useless." Rise said as her eyes began to water again.
"It's not the end yet, Rise-chan. There's only one option left, and this last option almost always works." Yukiko said in peculiarity. "... Just be yourself. You don't have to act all perfect in his eyes, just do anything that makes you feel comfortable."
Chie's eyes widened. "Oh yeah! That's right, Yukiko!"
"Be... myself?" Rise repeated slowly, as if registering the words in her mind.
"Be myself... In the end I didn't get a chance to ask Yukiko-senpai what she meant, because at that very moment the bell rang." Rise sighed to herself. She didn't say anymore as she dragged her feet back home.
"I'm home. Grandma, are you there?" Rise called out as she entered her home which was also the popular Marukyu Tofu shop.
"Yes I am, sweetie," an elderly voice called back from the upper floor. "Hurry and change, it's time for your shift."
"Be right there." She walked solemnly to the empty counter, which had the Closed sign on it and flipped it over to Open. She switched her uniform with a typical white Marukyu apron which had light flowers embroidered in them, with the symbol of the shop on the top left.
A good afternoon's nap was just what she needed. There were just too many things that happened that day, things that made her head just want to explode. But she knew better than letting her grandma do all the work. Her grandma needed more rest than she did. Furthermore, Rise's shift only lasted a few hours, so she doubted that anyone would come by at this late an hour. But her theory proved wrong.
The door's bells chimed as a customer came in.
"Welcome to Marukyu Tofu shop. Our special today is Ganmodoki, Momen and Silken Tofu. Only 75 yen for regular customers." Rise said monotonously as she stocked up on newly arrived tofu, not bothering to look at who came in.
"Yeah. I'll take three momen tofu." The voice answered. It had the slight familiar ring to Rise, cold, hard and masculine.
The idol whipped around and took a good stare at the customer. "... Kanji?"
"Huh? Oh, hey Rise." the ivory-haired teen looked slightly surprised, but it vanished as quickly as it came.
"... It's rare of you to come by." Rise said as she picked out the the tofu he requested.
"Yeah, my Ma just wanted me to buy some tofu for tonight's dinner. She told me to buy some at Junes, but that place's far away. This one's closer," He grunted. "... And cheaper."
The magenta-haired girl chuckled as she handed the plastic bag of tofu into Kanji's open hands. "Here ya go. 225 yen, if you please."
"Huh? I'm not a regular customer here." Kanji protested as he fumbled around for his wallet.
Rise winked. "You dork, can't you see I'm doing you a favor here? Just pay and take it."
"You're one heck of a girl." Kanji said with a faint smile as he took and payed for the tofu. "See ya around." He waved imperceptibly and exited the shop with a soft jingle of the bells.
Rise glanced at the clock next to her. '6 o'clock. Might as well close the shop, as well as settling some matters with that guy.'
She untied the apron hastily and threw it to the hanger as she grabbed her bag and ran out the door, not forgetting to switch the Open sign to Close again and saying a temporary excuse to her grandmother to go out.
A holler made Kanji pause and turn around to face the caller.
Rise ran breathlessly as she approached the surprised Kanji. "I'm coming with you."
"I want to go to Tatsumi Textiles with you." Rise said stubbornly.
"Uh... what for? There's nothing there that'll interest you." Kanji replied with a dazed expression on his face.
"I... er... have some business to take care of." Rise lied. It wasn't really a lie, though. She did have business to take care of... with him.
"Sure, whatever. Just don't take too long, 'kay? The store's about to close." The former delinquent shrugged.
Rise nodded eagerly and both walked side by side to their destination. Thankfully Kanji wasn't so inimical today. 'Naoto, wish me luck.'
"Here we are." Kanji said simply as he opened the door to the textile shop. "Ma, I'm home. I brought the tofu you ordered."
"Thank you, darling." An aged woman appeared from the doorway of their house and accepted the bag. She smiled pleasantly as she noticed the girl that Kanji brought with her. "My, Rise-chan, welcome! Do you need anything?"
"No, ma'am," Rise replied as she nodded politely. "If you would allow me some time to be able to talk with Kanji-kun privately, then I'd be extremely grateful." Kanji gazed at her quizzically.
Mrs. Tatsumi looked slightly taken aback by the idol's request. There were not much people who would spend time with Kanji, not to mention in private. "Y-You... You want to talk to him in private?"
"... Is it a problem?" Rise furrowed her brows in worry. "It's okay if you decline, then I'll just head back home. I apologize for bothering--"
"No, no my dear. It's perfectly fine. You are welcome to talk with him in private. It just surprises me that anyone would want to spend time with Kanji-chan. It's a relief that Kanji already made friends. If you want, you can go to Kanji-chan's room. I'm a little busy down here." She answered with a wink.
"Ma! I told you to stop calling me that! How many times do I have to shut you up about it! And you Rise, what the heck do you think you're doi--" Kanji began.
"I promise it won't take long!" Rise called out as she stormed upstairs with a cursing Kanji hot in pursuit.
"Wow... this room... It's so manly! I've never been in a boy's room before!" Rise commented as she gazed in wonder around the room. It had a whiff of Kanji's scent, and the surroundings were simple. In one corner there was a bed, with a few posters on the wall. Next to the bed there was a wardrobe; a basic, wooden wardrobe. There was a TV in the center of the room, probably used for watching the Midnight Channel. But now the Midnight Channel was no more. The Investigation Team had finally found the truth, and solved the case to the very end. Inaba had finally returned to its normal and peaceful self. But yet something felt out of place. Without those two pieces the puzzle would remain incomplete.
"What...? You've never been in a boy's room, before?" Kanji scoffed. "So what's the big deal?"
Rise ignored him and paced around the room until her hazel eyes fell upon a shelf filled with none other than dolls. But they weren't just any dolls, either. "These are so cute! Can I touch? Can I touch?"
"Huh? Oh sure... do whatever you like." Kanji said.
"It's us. All of us." Rise breathed in deeply as her gaze shifted from one doll to the other, delicately touching them as she went. The order was from Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Teddie, Souji, Naoto, Kanji, then Rise. There was also the addition of Nanako. They were all perfectly designed, and the expression on each face were similar to each of their own unique personalities. Kanji really noticed the finer details. The Rise doll was especially cute, it definitely looked like a mini version of her. The earrings, the cheerful smile, the hairband were all there. But she couldn't help but wonder why Kanji still placed Naoto next to Souji when he clearly looked like he didn't approve of them... dating.
When Rise questioned that matter to him, his expression changed abruptly. A frown was now seen clearly on his face. He didn't bother answering her, instead he walked over to where his couch resided and sat down, his gaze facing downwards.
"Kanji...?"'Oh shoot, I just hit the wrong jackpot. I'm so stupid!' Rise mentally slapped herself for being so careless. "Kanji, I'm sorry. I said the wrong thing... again." She walked to where Kanji was and sat down. An awkward silence hung in the air.
"... Nah. S' alright," Kanji replied, breaking the silence. His face was no longer angry, but it was pained. "It's not that I hate them bein' together and all, but..." He trailed off, unsure of how to continue.
"..." Rise kept quiet in fear of saying the wrong thing again, and instead studied his features. He no longer looked like the hostile, cold person that he had been those several weeks. He now looked as if he just needed someone that very minute to comfort him. He was just yearning for someone to be there for him, to acknowledge him. It was just a misfortune that the person he had wanted to acknowledge him seemed completely oblivious and dense to his actions. Continuing to remember about those two would only bring him more sadness and pain. "Er... Kanji?"
When Kanji kept silent, Rise took that as a sign to continue. It was now or never. Just be myself..."I... hope you'll listen to what I say... Um... It's not over yet. Just because the person you chose has already chosen someone else, it doesn't mean that you have to keep dwelling for that person. I'm not asking you to forget her, of course... I just wanna let you know... That you're not alone." Rise took a deep breath before adding quietly, not caring if he heard or not, though she would be embarrassed if he heard but happy at the same time. This was so not like her. "That I'm here for you."
She said it. The thing that had just threatened to spill out of her mouth. She was already embarrassed of herself for being so mushy over him. It would just add to the embarrassment if he didn't listen; or even hear, a word she said. A few more minutes of silence made her feel edgy, and she was afraid that her indirect love confession was a failure. Her face was already red hot, though she doubted Kanji would notice anyway. After a few more minutes, she couldn't stand it anymore.
"Um... It's already late in the evening... I have to get home... Uh, I'm sorry if I added more trouble for you. See ya!" Rise forced a smile as she stood up from the couch awkwardly, leaving her feeling quite unsteady because her legs were stiff and shaky. Just as she was about to leave, a hand grabbed her wrist, which stopped her from walking. Rise blinked her tears back in surprise as her head whirled backwards to the one who had grabbed her. "K-Kanji?"
"H-Huh?" the bleach white-haired teen looked as if had just woken from a daydream. After a few moments he realized what she was talking about, and he jerked his hand away unwillingly. "Ah, sorry, m-my hand just moved on its own."
"Kanji," Rise sighed as she faced Kanji again. "You don't have to hide anything from me, you know. Tell me what's really on your mind. It's okay."
For a second he met her gaze, but after he locked eyes with her for a second he immediately looked away with a slight red color on his cheeks. "... Would you... stay? Just a little longer...?"
Rise took a moment to register what he had just said to her before she smiled her most endearing smile to him and returned to her position on the couch. But this time it was different. She wrapped her arms around Kanji and gave his shoulders an gentle affectionate squeeze in an effort to make him feel comfortable. She didn't know what she was going to do; she had decided to just follow her instincts. She closed her eyes and just take in the sound of Kanji's breathing as she leaned her head on his shoulders a little. He showed no signs of rejection, so she thought it was alright. It was what he needed, after all.
A few more passing moments of silence. But it wasn't the awkward kind of silence anymore. It was a comforting one, moreover there were no need for words.
"... Thanks." Kanji said as he looked her straight in the eye. He wasn't the talkative type, but hearing that one word already made Rise feel as though she was hearing a million. There was no longer hate or bitter anger in those strong, powerful gray-white eyes of his. This time it was downright different. Now it held a utterly unique warmth that Rise had never seen in anyone's eyes, even Souji.
Rise met his gaze in awe. It was so hypnotizing and she couldn't -or more precisely wouldn't- look away. Now she had seen an utterly different side of Kanji, one that was never shown in public, or to their group. It was his side he wouldn't dare show to just anyone. Now she wondered what Kanji thought of her as. Little by little, Kanji's face same closer and closer, until...
The sound of someone clearing his throat made Rise and Kanji pull apart with a violent lurch. Both were exceedingly flustered as each looked the other way. But after a few seconds Rise dared a glance at the person who spoke and gazed in immense astonishment as a beet red color decorated her cheeks. There stood two unbelievably familiar people that Rise had lastly wanted to see that very second. "Souji-senpai! And..."
"... Naoto!" Kanji finished as he glanced alarmingly at his former crush. "I... We were... uh..."
"Did we arrive at the inappropriate time? I'm sorry, we had intentions of surprising you all, but..." The young sleuth chuckled inwardly as she observed the sight before her. "... Maybe we shouldn't have bothered you. Please continue, we'll take our leave."
"Yeah... Pretend you didn't see anything." Souji added with a mischievious smile and took Naoto's hand in his. "Come on, Naoto, we should go see the others."
Rise gasped. "Wait...! Don't go yet! I'm so happy to see you two, I... we thought you wouldn't come back!" The idol tackled each of them individually in a tight embrace.
Souji laughed and returned the embrace while patting her back gently. After a few moments the idol engaged into a heated conversation with Souji, demanding explanations of why he hadn't come to visit them at all during the holidays and whatsoever. As amazing as always, Souji had the patience to answer her bombarding questions one by one, which usually were more than enough to make anyone go wild. But as usual, Souji wasn't just 'anyone'. He was the one who had led their team to defeat the cause of all the havoc, Izanami. Without him, everything would be a mess. As Kanji watched this going on, Naoto took the chance to approach him.
"Kanji." Naoto greeted with a soft nod.
The ivory haired man stiffened as he looked up at Naoto. "Oh... hey. How've ya been?" He forced a small laugh.
The navy-blue haired young woman smiled in return and, to Kanji's surprise, held out her hand. "I sincerely apologize if I've caused you enough trouble. I was so oblivious to you and your feelings all this time, and-"
Kanji blinked but after a few seconds grinned casually. "No worries," He shook her hand and unexpectantly hugged Naoto in a friendly way. "Thanks to you, now I've sorted out my true feelings." He whispered in her ear before he released her.
She gazed at him quizzically, and then she understood what he meant. "Ah, yes."
Rise and Souji, who had just finished talking quite some time ago, watched the whole scene in blissful content. Naoto and Kanji had finally repaired their friendship, and Rise couldn't feel any happier than she was now.
"... Rise." Naoto turned back to Rise, who was questioned her by raising up her left eyebrow and the detective winked. "Take care of Kanji for me, okay?"
"What da hell...!? Naoto, stop doing that!" Kanji yelped in embarrassment. But as soon as Rise's eyes met his, they both knew the answer.
"I will." Rise answered with full certainty and a convincingly bright smile. She was never going to let Kanji feel down again, she would try her best to keep him jovial. Why would she go through all the trouble to do that? It was all because of the power of love, and she was certain that Kanji was feeling the same way.