A/N: As requested on the P4 meme, a second installment in Yosuke and Naoto's Unlikely Two-Wheeled Adventures. Friendship fic, T-rated for one spot of innuendo.
Yosuke had found the motorcycle six weeks ago. Someone had dumped it in a shed behind some trees in the woods near school - and a long time ago, judging by the cobwebs around it and the weeds snaking round the wheels. Other than that, it'd looked pretty good. Probably less rust on it than his regular bike. He'd crept down there every day after his last class, and when nobody came back to the shed for a whole month he decided that - since he was still fifty million years from saving enough even for a used motorbike - fixing up an old one might be the best solution.
"It's wonderful," Naoto said when he first showed her it, almost reverently. "A Honda X-11."
As far as Yosuke was concerned, the only name the bike needed was My Awesome New Ride. He was about to tell Naoto this, except she was too busy running her hand over its engine with a really weird expression on her face.
"Aren't you beautiful," she murmured. It took him a moment to realize she was talking to the motorcycle.
He coughed. "Motorcycles don't have feelings, Naoto." Then he raised his palms. "But hey, if you two need time alone, let me know."
Naoto stared at him blankly. "I assumed you and I would collaborate on repairs."
Deciding his wit was wasted on her, Yosuke turned his gaze back to the motorbike. It wasn't beautiful at all. It looked slightly better than his regular bicycle, but the latter usually looked like it needed to be taken outside and shot. Still, it was a motorcycle, and it was his. Provided nobody came looking for it.
"Let's do this," he said, twirling a wrench for emphasis. "Bust out the oil-can, Naoto, and watch a master at work!"
Yosuke spent much of the next month feeling like a miserable, motor-oil-covered failure.
Five weeks, almost. Thirty-four days. He couldn't quite work out how many hours that was and briefly considered asking Naoto, until he realized knowing would just depress him even more and settled for 'too many'. Admittedly, they'd only spent a small fraction of the time actually working on the bike, but it still didn't go anywhere. Yosuke's vague hope that it would magically fix itself between sessions had long since vanished. This was way harder than repairing a bicycle.
They were giving it another go today, but every time Yosuke tried to start the stupid bike up, the engine just refused to turn over. Nothing except a weird buzzing noise from this small black... thing, whatever it was, tucked near the seat. It looked like a cylinder. An occasionally buzzing cylinder.
Summoning a few shreds of hope, Yosuke turned the key for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. Bzzz.
"I feel like a game show contestant," he grumbled. "Bzzz, you lose."
Naoto was standing by the rear wheel, hand on hip, face and white shirt both covered in black-brown streaks of oil. "Trying to start it is pointless, Yosuke-senpai. Nothing's changed since your previous attempt."
Though he'd never admit it, Yosuke wasn't sure what to change. His one remaining idea involved shoving the stupid thing in the Samegawa when Naoto wasn't looking, but he preferred his kneecaps intact. "Fine. You try it."
"Precisely as I suggested ten minutes ago." Naoto dropped to her knees and began inspecting the engine, while Yosuke aimed a petulant kick at the side wall of the shed.
Talk about lame. He'd spent weeks staking out the bike and he'd dreamed of it almost every night since he'd first found it. When Souji visited they'd just take it out into the fields, but once he got his license... oh, man. Racing around Inaba, zipping past girls he knew from school, even tearing through the shopping district - while carefully avoiding Kanji - just to show everyone what 'Hana-chan' could do. Weeks later, however, all he'd really done was help restore the paintwork. The bike was still busted, Yosuke was sick of working on it, and Naoto had developed some sort of obsession.
She'd probably start talking to it again in a minute. Naoto Shirogane, Motorcycle Whisperer.
Feeling thoroughly useless, Yosuke flopped on the grass, rolled onto his back and contemplated the sky. "I bet I could just steal a bike," he muttered. "Grab one out the Junes parking lot and zoom off."
"I have no desire to arrest you," Naoto pointed out from somewhere under the motorcycle.
With a loud and emphatic sigh, Yosuke devoted his attention to picking at the grease beneath his fingernails. Despite what he'd hoped, how a motorbike looked apparently had no connection to its ability to move forward. He'd done his best to figure out how everything worked, even found a maintenance manual online - but it was just so boring. Which meant Naoto had basically been doing all the work. Which meant he'd have to let her ride first, just to avoid being a complete jerk. Which meant he'd be on the back.
Pillion. He might as well stick bows in his hair and invite Rise over to gossip about boys.
He frowned at a nearby cloud, drumming his heels against the ground. "Souji's coming back to visit next month, Naoto, we have to get it working by then."
"He's been gone for ages. I don't want him to think I sat around and did nothing." Frowning, Yosuke pushed himself up onto his elbows. "He'd have had this fixed weeks ago."
"Unlikely. I far exceed his capabilities in this area." Naoto slid out from under the motorcycle and wiped her hands on a nearby cloth. "With or without your assistance."
During their frequent adventures in fixing pushbikes - much to Yosuke's disappointment, all the repairs in the world couldn't stop him from crashing into things - he'd gotten used to Naoto's limitless ignorance of other people's feelings. "Tin ear, Naoto-kun, like I said."
Naoto ignored him, busy flicking through the print-out of the manual. "Why does Souji-senpai's opinion matter so much?"
"Oh, come on! Don't act like you don't get it. Back when you first joined the team, every time you came up with a theory or answer? You looked right at him."
She shifted onto her knees, head firmly turned away. "I... I did no such thing."
"You wanted him to think you were clever and capable." Yosuke let out a breath, trying to blow his hair out of his eyes. "Same as me."
Simple as that. Souji hadn't seemed all that amazing when they'd first met, but over time something changed. Souji changed. And it was all in good ways: getting smarter, no longer sleeping through class, always knowing what to say. Objecting to that would be petty. So it was probably fitting that Yosuke did, because it proved that after almost two years in Inaba, he'd barely changed at all.
"Souji-senpai has... a certain effect on people," Naoto said quietly. "Sometimes I wonder if he takes advantage of that." She paused. "Subconsciously, I mean. He's a good man."
Yosuke had once wondered Naoto might have had a thing for Souji; after all, practically half the town had felt the same way. Yosuke had even wondered if he did too. For his own sanity, he eventually decided that he was just envious and that Naoto was incapable of getting 'things' at all. Except for mysteries. And, apparently, motorcycles.
Two things they had in common, then: bikes, and inferiority complexes that had been kicking around for years but only turned galactic in the presence of one Souji Seta.
Yosuke grunted as he pulled himself to his feet. "Yeah. Souji's the big hero, huh?"
"Thus making us his sidekicks."
"Maybe not just that." He shot her a grin. "Get this bike working and we'll wow the girls just like him, you'll see."
"I do not consider that a benefit," Naoto said flatly.
"Fair enough," Yosuke mused. "But it'll happen. Remember last Saturday? Chie, Yukiko and Rise all practically begged me to come out here and work on the bike."
"I believe they simply told you not to get in the way of Kanji's cooking lesson."
"Whatever, Naoto. They were definitely begging you to go clothes shopping that afternoon. Shame they couldn't find you, huh?" He shook his head. "Must've been lonely hiding in the shed for three hours."
Naoto turned vaguely pink and tugged at the brim of her cap. "I-I wasn't hiding! I simply don't see why we need to-- Souji-senpai is not going to care what we are wearing when he visits."
Grinning again, Yosuke winked. "He's gonna be blown away if we get this bike working, though."
"Which we most certainly will." She nodded enthusiastically; or as enthusiastically as she ever managed. "It just requires a little determination." Her expression darkened. "If we are permitted to keep it."
"What, you seriously think someone's gonna come get it?" Yosuke poked a finger at the occasionally-buzzing mystery cylinder. "They can't just abandon something then take it back, can they?"
Naoto settled back on her haunches. Somewhere in Yosuke's mind, the Lecture Alarm started ringing.
"In the eyes of the law," she began, "we may be on thin ice. The motorcycle does indeed appear to be abandoned. However, legal entitlement to an object does not require physical possession, despite the... "
Part of Yosuke was deeply distressed at the prospect of losing the motorcycle, particularly if he never got chance to ride it first. Fortunately, under the weight of Naoto's fascinating discourse on the complex concepts of legal ownership, the rest had automatically shifted into thinking-about-wheelies mode again.
Obviously, Yosuke just didn't understand. Naoto sincerely doubted he could.
Having previously established that he had no appreciation for machinery, mechanics, or anything even vaguely connected to thermodynamics, Naoto had given up trying to teach him both how engines worked and how to do much more than change the motorcycle's oil. He had, however, helped in restoring the paintwork and removing the rust. It was the one thing he was truly interested in, even if he didn't welcome Naoto's insistence that they clean and polish the motorcycle before putting it back in the shed at the end of every repair attempt.
It was the least she could do for such a beautifully crafted creation. Sleek red and black and chrome that shone in the sun; glowed, even. Naoto inwardly cringed every time her hands accidentally smudged it with grease. She'd tried to interest the rest of the team in the endeavor, both wanting to show off the bike and hoping that at least one them might show a trace more more mechanical aptitude than Yosuke. Both Rise and Yukiko had seemed improbable options from the start and hadn't disappointed her. Chie had insisted that running everywhere was far healthier, regardless of practicality. Teddie had heard from Yosuke that bikes attracted girls, and would therefore be shot if found within a fifty foot radius of the shed. Kanji, meanwhile, had taken a very dim view of the whole affair, mumbling something about damn bikers and how even Naoto had better not ride it past the store after ten at night.
No matter. For all Yosuke-senpai's impatience and ineptitude, repairs were progressing. Naoto couldn't deny being a little frustrated by their slow pace - but in situations like these, the activity itself mattered as much as the outcome. Same with the gadgets, the detective tools and the watches she'd taken apart and reassembled merely as a hobby. This time, the outcome itself would also be amazing.
A theoretical top speed of 240 kilometres per hour; with modifications, perhaps even more. The faster something went, the better said something was. It might not be the most scientific of heuristics, but Naoto didn't particularly care.
"Seriously, Naoto, are you just gonna stare at it all day?"
Perhaps there was an airstrip somewhere nearby. She could claim it was for police training, couldn't she? Grampa would hardly object. Nor would Yakushiji, provided she first proposed using the estate lawn instead.
"Because I'm getting bored. Really bored. 'Go home, bust out the guitar and write a serenade to the bike that can't move forward' bored."
"I can't wait to ride you," Naoto murmured to the motorcycle - ignoring Yosuke's sudden peculiar choking sound.
Naoto stared at him in disbelief. "You mean you've never been on one before?"
"No," Yosuke admitted, kicking one foot at the kerb. "But I've watched people do it." Which was basically the same thing.
Naoto blinked at him.
"C'mon, guys are born knowing this stuff, it's genetic. Besides, I bet riding's easy."
Naoto blinked again. Her left hand was patting the bike's gas tank, as if trying to console it.
"Don't you make my bike hate me," Yosuke muttered, then pulled a coin from his pocket. He'd intended to let Naoto have the first ride, but up-close the bike looked incredible and the passenger seat incredibly stupid. "Come on, let's toss for it."
Drawing herself up to her full height - in other words, somewhere near Yosuke's chin - Naoto fixed him with a glare. "You are not riding this motorcycle first."
"But I found it!"
"And I repaired it! Furthermore, I would like at least one attempt prior to you running him into a wall."
Yosuke raised an eyebrow. "Him?"
Just for an instant, Naoto froze - then tipped up her chin. "Yes. Him."
"Did you name it too?"
She scowled and thrust a bright yellow motorcycle helmet against his chest. "I would have every right to do so. All you did was paint it."
"...Yeah, I know." Shoulders slumped, Yosuke managed a small shrug. "Sorry. I just don't have the knack. But, hey, we all have our talents. I bet you can't play guitar."
"That wouldn't help fix a motorcycle," Naoto pointed out, swapping her cap for a dark blue helmet and leaving the former on top of her toolkit.
"Whatever. Are we going to do a test-ride or did you just call me out at six in the morning for fun?" Eight weeks in total, one more till Souji arrived. Yosuke had to at least learn how to ride the motorcycle in a straight line by then.
Naoto nodded and climbed onto the bike; 'climb' being the operative word. Her feet barely touched the pedals and she had to stretch forward to reach the handlebars. Yosuke debated his two options: let her ride and risk an intimate experience with some concrete, or mention her height and get shot.
At least they were just riding round the parking lot. As he swung his leg over the passenger seat, he let out a deep sigh.
The bike choked the first time Naoto tried to start it; the engine spluttering and refusing to catch. She muttered something unrepeatable under her breath, but kept trying. Meanwhile, Yosuke inspected himself in the side mirror and decided he looked like a pillion-riding banana.
"Come on, Conan," Naoto coaxed. "You can do it."
Yosuke had a vague memory of a bad American movie he'd seen on late night TV. "You named the bike after a big guy with a sword?"
She shook her head. He instantly felt the weight of a withering glare; pretty impressive, given their positions and the helmet completely covering her face. "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
Yosuke was about to ask who that was - a different guy with a sword, maybe? - when the engine finally caught.
He'd been prepared for the noise. For all Kanji's efforts, the bikers still sometimes tore up the roads around the shopping district. He wasn't, however, expecting the deep, throaty roar that rolled up his legs and shook his whole body. "Holy crap," he muttered.
Naoto, on the other hand, sounded ecstatic. "Good boy!" she told the motorbike, then revved the engine loud enough to cut straight through the early morning quiet.
The bike was actually purring. Over Naoto's shoulder, Yosuke watched her pat the handlebars - then instinctively grabbed her waist when she revved the engine a second time and shot out of the parking lot.
Speech was a challenge: partly because of the rumble reverberating up his spine, partly because of the helmet, partly because he was trying not to scream. "Naoto! You -- you aren't supposed to -- t-take this on the road!"
Naoto made a gesture that might have been a shrug. Out on straight stretch of tarmac, she shifted gears and let out the throttle, and the bike accelerated even more. Yosuke's resulting shriek might've been terror, might've been exhilaration; unable to decide, he settled for wrapping his arms tighter around her - hoping she was too distracted to shove him off the bike - and screwed his eyes shut. It didn't help. All he could rely on was sound and feel: the tires screeching against the road, the wind whipping through his jacket, cars honking their horns. It felt like every time they took a turn, Naoto just went faster, till Yosuke swore the motorcycle would skid right out from under them. The Junes Heir and the Detective Prince, face-planting at high speed because the latter thought braking was for wimps.
Every bump in the road was magnified, the bike almost leaving the road with each one before crunching back down into the gravel. Yosuke swore there were never this many potholes when he'd ridden in a car. Naoto was probably aiming for them. He grit his teeth and forced his eyes open just as the bike swerved round a truck and cut it off, earning a long blast on its horn and sending his insides into acrobatic back-flips. He didn't dare look at the speedometer. "Psychotically Fast" was a good enough description - and Naoto didn't even have a license for a bike this size.
Man, he really, really should've settled for the pushbike. Sedate, quiet, didn't kill you when you crashed into walls, no need for insane midget detectives at the handlebars.
"Enough!" he yelled hoarsely at Naoto's helmet, close to where he figured her ear would be. "G-go back!"
Whether she'd genuinely had enough or just took pity on him, Yosuke didn't care. Focusing all his attention on not being sick, he closed his eyes - and didn't open them until he felt the jolt of the shift between the main road and the Junes parking lot. The nausea kept building even as Naoto brought the bike to a standstill by the back of the store, at which point Yosuke half-leapt, half-tumbled off the pillion seat.
"Y-you drive like a lunatic," he informed her, before his legs gave way and he flopped down next to the kerb.
Naoto pulled off her helmet. "Wimp," she chuckled. Leaning over the handlebars, tufts of hair sticking out at wild angles to her head, she actually grinned at him - before quickly grabbing her cap from atop the toolbox and putting it on.
"Lunatic," Yosuke repeated. "By the way, I left my stomach back near that truck. You better go fetch it."
"Stop fussing. That was immensely satisfying," Naoto insisted, with a small and happy sigh.
"Immensely terrifying. See if I ever ride with you again," he muttered.
"As prior warning," Naoto responded sagely, "it will be difficult to impress Souji-senpai while driving like an old man."
"Dude! I swear you broke the law a dozen times - and I'm not even talking about the under-aged part!"
Naoto hopped off the bike and shot him a glare. "I am well aware of traffic regulations and precisely how far they can be stretched. And age has nothing to do with ability." She shrugged. "Besides, you were wearing a helmet."
There were so many things wrong with that line of reasoning, it was unsalvageable. Deciding that Souji could just go impress himself, Yosuke rolled over onto his back and waited for the world to stop spinning.