Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES / Portable and characters belong to Atlus.
Inspired by a certain thread in the P3P board on GameFAQs. Hope you enjoy. x3
September 15th, 2009
"Shinjiro-senpai? You're pretty quiet tonight," the brunette frowned to the shaggy-haired male sitting beside her on the bench. Receiving not even a grunt from her companion, Masuyo Hayami turned her attention skyward. Immediately her eyes ignored the ominous grey clouds clustered within the heavens, and she instead focused upon the moon's current phase (not quite half-full, almost banana-like in shape), inevitably contemplating the next series of events they would have to endure.
"Hmph, Shinjiro-senpai?" Shinjiro's voice was gruff, as it always was, his tone evermore dismissive and blunt. "I ain't ever at school long enough to be called 'senpai'."
"Maybe, but they haven't expelled you for poor attendance yet," Masuyo blinked, suddenly stretching her arms before a playful smile darted across her lips. "So you're still my senpai, like it or not!"
"Whatever," Shinjiro's hands remained in his pockets, gaze fixated upon the white mass who was content with chasing his own tail some way off in the distance. "You gonna play ball with Koromaru, or sit here and harass me?"
"You mean, am I gonna play ball with Koro-chan so you can have a sneaky cigarette, don't you senpai?" The girl pouted disapprovingly and nodded towards Shinjiro's hands, which were rummaging through the pockets of his coat.
"Lecturing me on my health now, are you?" He snorted, somewhat amused. "You've been hanging around Aki too much."
"Well, excuse me for worrying- especially after you got that bruise on your face and won't say how it got there," an offended Masuyo sighed as she plucked Koromaru's dog ball from the confines of her bag and stood up. "Perhaps I should've taken Yukari up on her offer to train in Tartarus tonight after all," she added deliberately, casting a sideways glance in order to survey Shinjiro's reaction. Nonchalant and unreadable beyond that.
"Damn, what are you, my counsellor?" He scoffed once she was out of earshot, and proceeded to watch his fellow SEES member saunter over to the dog and engage in a game of fetch, taking every precaution to prevent her realise he was watching from afar. Once he was convinced that Masuyo was completely occupied in her endeavours to entertain Koromaru, Shinjiro withdrew his left hand from the appropriate pocket; clutched within his fist was a translucent jar containing a number of blue and white capsules. His right hand soon emerged from the other pocket in order for the man to unscrew the lid and tip one pill into his palm- all the while ensuring that Masuyo was oblivious to his actions. Finally Shinjiro slipped the suppressant between his lips, swallowing sans hesitation- he was used to the taste and shape of the drug which prevented Castor from making unexpected, violent appearances, the drug that he consumed several times a day. With only Akihiko and his suppliers aware of his plight, he was determined not to disclose the secret to the other members- especially not her.
Speak, or rather, think of the Devil. Swiftly, he pocketed the container- though his haste led to several capsules spilling into his pocket. Cursing mentally, Shinjiro did not allow this to affect his facade. He only hoped that Masuyo remained oblivious.
"Sorry, I forgot the treats," she breezed upon reaching the wall that he was sitting upon and rooting through her bag.
"Why're you telling me?"
"Because I don't want you thinking that I've come to lecture you again, Senpai. That's all."
"Wait, Hayami," Shinjiro suddenly called, just as she was about to return to Koromaru (who was actually content with tracking the scent of a squirrel that frequented the shrine).
"Seriously, drop the 'senpai' bullshit. It's bad enough hearing it around the dorm all the frickin' time- not to mention when I'm with Aki. Reminds me of those stupid bitches who spend their lives squealing over him. You ain't like that," he mumbled rather sheepishly, his body language demonstrating his discomfort. However, he soon relaxed, folding his arms across his chest. "So just call me 'Shinjiro'."
"Only if you call me by my first name too," Masuyo stated slowly after considering the proposition.
"What? It's only fair, Sen-- I mean, Shinjiro. Gah, that feels weird to say. Can't I at least call you Shinjiro-san?"
"No," came the answer, concise and straightforward.
"Fine, fine," she surrendered with a wide grin. "Geez, the things a leader has to do to keep her troops happy," the girl complained in jest, wiping her brow in mock exasperation.
"You're really odd, you know that?"
"I dunno. The others in the dorm kinda avoid me, like they're frightened of something- except for Aki and Kirijo of course... But you... You uh..."
"I what?" Masuyo echoed, head slightly tilted to one side as she sat back down beside Shinjiro having completely forgotten about the bag of dog biscuits in her hands.
"Dammit," Shinjiro muttered inaudibly. "What I mean is, you're just... Different to the other people I know. In a good way."
"Hah, a compliment?"
"Perhaps," the male shrugged, as Koromaru erupted into a cacophony of barks, most likely due to spotting something rustling in the bushes. "Damn, what is that dog doing?"
"Oh right!" Masuyo leapt to her feet, bringing the index finger and the thumb of one hand to her lips and producing a shrill whistling noise. His ears pricking up, the dog scampered to her side- immediately detecting the aroma of the treats. Koromaru's reward was swiftly delivered as she knelt beside him, accompanying the biscuit with a scratch behind one ear.
"Didn't know you could whistle like that." Remarked Shinjiro.
"I haven't been able to do it for very long. When I was a little kid, my dad tried to teach me..." Masuyo's sunny disposition momentarily faltered, but the young woman was soon able to recover and grinned at Shinjiro. "It's okay though. I'm fortunate enough to have happy memories of him and my mother, even if they're hazy. Sometimes I wonder 'what if?', but then I look at what I have now, what I've achieved and what I have to do, and I don't feel so lonely. Besides, if the others see me moping, how are they gonna feel whilst we're running around Tartarus?"
"That's what I meant about you being different. You just get on with it, always with a smile on your face- except for those times when you're nagging me about smoking. Sorry, did I make you feel self-conscious?" He quirked his eyebrows as Masuyo's grin faded, reaching down to pet Koromaru.
"Maybe just a little," she shrugged, giving Koro-chan one last stroke before rising. "But I do wish that you wouldn't smoke too. Like I kinda hinted at before Akihiko-senpai's not the only one who worries about you."
"'Scuse me?" Shinjiro blanched.
"Well um," a somewhat red-faced Masuyo smiled, willing the ground to open up and swallow her entirely. "I reckon we should head on back before the Dark Hour arrives, yeah! I mean, I don't wanna be outside when everyone transmogrifies into coffins, plus I still haven't eaten dinner yet and I've got a tonne of studying to do. Koro-chan, are you ready to go home?"
"Hayami, you haven't eaten tonight?"
"No, and I'll probably skip dinner," she sighed, as they began to traverse back to the dormitory.
"Well, I'm gonna fix Koro-chan up with something to eat- might as well make you something too..."
"The crap she cooks ain't gonna keep you healthy," Shinjiro mumbled to the ground.
"Oh... I see," Masuyo nodded, she too averting her gaze. "Well, um, if it's not any trouble, thank you very much."
"'Sides. Yamagishi said she was gonna cook tonight, and I ain't eating that shit again- especially if I've gotta re-heat it."
"It's not that bad," Masuyo rolled her eyes as she defended her friend. "Fuuka's still learning. We can't all be master chefs like you!" The girl sent him a goofy grin, followed by a playful punch to his arm. "Hey, didn't you give her some lessons? A student is only as good as her master!"
"I knew you'd spout some crap like that," Shinjiro groaned, kicking a discarded can across the pavement, the clatter of aluminium rocketing across concrete filling the silent void that followed.
"You take it back then?"
"Fine, I take it back," came his defeated sigh, "but tonight, you're eating my cooking. No-one else's."
Masuyo was glad that the moon had been shrouded within the pot-bellied grey clouds at that moment, for her cheeks flushed scarlet once again- only this time companioned with an incredibly goofy smile.
Floor 3, Hallway
Three girls were seated around a square table beside the vending machines on the third floor of the Iwatodai dormitory, engaging in casual banter concerning school and the general affairs of life.
"Have a nice shower Masuyo?" The pretty brunette garbed in pink broke away from the discussion in order to address the newcomer who had appeared at the top of the stairway that led to the floor below. "You guys were gone for a while. We were starting to get worried."
"Sorry," Masuyo chewed her lower lip, depositing her bag of toiletries on the tabletop as she approached them. Taking a seat, she pulled the towel draped about her neck and proceeded to dry her hair. "Koro-chan started chasing a squirrel, and--" She was cut off by three sharp yaps, Koromaru had obviously followed her upstairs. Wincing with combined guilt and embarrassment, the girl had an inkling as to what would happen next.
"Koro-chan says that you and Shinjiro-san spent a lot of time talking and worrying about each other."
"Oh really?" Yukari grinned deviously, glancing from Aigis to Masuyo.
"Fuuka-san's cooking is also... Very bad, in Shinjiro-san's opinion."
"Okay okay Koro-chan! So there was no squirrel chase; I lied," Masuyo sat down and held her hands up as if at gunpoint to demonstrate her defeat, before all but collapsing upon the table. "Gah, it's not like that between Senpai and me... And I'm still beat from last night's training... Talking of training, I've gotta finish the assignment tonight, or else Mitsuru-senpai'll get mad because of my grades slipping or something... Ugh..."
"I know my cooking is awful, but..." Fuuka piped up. "I could make you something to give you some energy if you wanted, Masuyo-chan."
"Thanks Fuuka, but I'm okay at the moment. What?" Again, she was interrupted by Koromaru's barks.
"He says, Masuyo-san is not telling the truth tonight," Aigis translated.
"Great, the dog's become my conscience," groaned Masuyo. "I'm gonna get started on my homework."
"Make sure to dry your hair properly, else you'll get a cold again Masuyo-chan," Fuuka smiled warmly.
"Will do," she nodded, rising and picking up her belongings.
"Why did you shower downstairs anyway? Did the one in your en suite stop working again or something?" Queried Yukari.
"No... I just felt like taking one as soon as I got in, rather than be probed by you guys."
"Ah, to cool down after your 'walk' with Shinjiro-senpai?"
"Darnit Yukari, I said it's not like that!" Masuyo protested.
"Then why are you bright red?" The girl chuckled. "Aw, it's pretty cute if you ask me."
"Huh? What's cute?"
"Ah, Shinjiro-senpai! W-what are you doing here?" Exclaimed Masuyo in a high-pitched squeal upon catching sight of the man in the dark red coat and black hat standing beside the banister.
"Bringing you some yaki soba," he stated, completely ignoring the others. "And looking for Koro-chan. Hey boy, your food's ready too."
"Thank you," Masuyo bowed her head, dashing forward and almost snatching the platter from his hands.
"Hey, Hayami. Chopsticks."
"Make sure you eat it all."
Yukari glanced at Fuuka, who nodded her head in amusement. Aigis meanwhile was more interested in Koromaru, who padded over to the male and followed him back down to the lounge. Before Masuyo could escape to the safety of her bedroom, Yukari grabbed her by the crook of the elbow and hauled the girl back to the table.
"Ohhh no, you're not going anywhere. Since when did Shinjiro-senpai cook just for you?"
"He cooked for Koro-chan too, I wouldn't read into it too much," pouted Masuyo as she snapped her chopsticks apart. "Besides, he teaches Fuuka. Isn't there more to read there?"
"Masuyo-chan!" Yelped Fuuka, her cheeks flushing a tomato red that rivalled the SEES leader's previous embarrassments. "Shinjiro-senpai and I..."
"I know, but I'm just saying!" Masuyo countered, teasing several strands of noodles with her chopsticks. "Think about it from a logical perspective."
"The logic being that Shinjiro has a soft spot for a certain transfer student who just so happens to live in this dorm. Right, I get it!" Yukari nodded mischievously.
"I am sorry to interrupt, but the thermal reading around the yakisoba is rapidly decreasing. Your best option is to consume it, Masuyo-san."
"Well, I'm gonna go eat this in my room," the exasperated girl muttered, defiantly collecting the bowl and her bag and traipsing over to the farthest room along the corridor. Ensuring the door was securely locked behind her, she sighed and placed the plate on her desk after dropping her bag to the floor and clearing the space of various documents.
As usual, the meal was delicious- the combination of the noodles, pork and sauce was enough to disguise the tastes of the vegetables that she was not so keen on. Within minutes, the entire contents of the plate had been devoured, and Masuyo's appetite was satiated, Yukari's taunts no longer a bother- if the situation were to be reversed, she knew that she would exhibit the same behaviour towards her friend. Exchanging the plate for the folder containing pages of her notes and half-completed assignment, she set about rummaging in her bag for a pen, the reference books that she had borrowed earlier from the library and her music player. Browsing through her play lists, she finally settled on an artist and slipped her headphones over her ears. Five minutes later, and they had been wrenched off and slammed down upon the blank piece of paper.
"Darnit, I can't concentrate," Masuyo groaned as she rubbed her eyes. "Every time I try to write about the samurai, I think of naginata, which makes me think of Tartarus, which makes me think of SEES, which makes me think of him. Mr. Ono's not gonna appreciate an essay on how well Shinjiro Aragaki uses his weapon..." She immediately placed her head in her hands. "Oh God... I did not just think that... I do not have a crush on Shinjiro-senpai... I care about him... As a friend... Yeah, that's it... I've been hanging around him lately because it's good to know one's comrades!" She punched the air defiantly and then frowned, contemplating something. "But I did feel a little funny inside when he offered to teach Fuuka to cook the other day... And whenever I see him smile, I... Gah... This isn't getting my work done. Focus, Hayami!"
Floor 1, Lounge
The entire room was shrouded in darkness, save for the pool of light emanating from the television set that partially illuminated the face of the sole human occupant in the lounge.
"... And that's the weather. At the tone, the time will be midnight. Good evening. It is now September 16th. Here is a re-cap of the news from September 15th."
"Heh... Just nineteen days left 'til the next full moon, Koro-chan. You and Aki ain't the only ones I'll miss," Shinjiro sighed, his arm drooping over the arm of the couch and gently scratching the slumbering dog's neck as the world silently slipped into the Dark Hour. "But keep that between us. Things are easier that way."