I don't own the Persona series. My envy and jealousy goes out to Atlus who does.
The Only One
"Hello, you've reached Souji Seta's cell phone. If you're getting this message then I'm either busy or the phone's off, but you can call again later, I'll be waiting." *Click*
Yukiko angrily slammed her own cell phone shut. This was the 30th time she'd tried to reach him that week and he was either not picking up his phone or he turned it off for something. Day one, she excused it as something big happening. Day two, she had been able to push the little bit of doubt and worry down and proceed like normal. Day three, worry set in as to why he wasn't answering, but all her friends that had stopped by the inn while she was working said he was totally okay. Day four, a little bit of suspicion worked its way into the worry. Day five, suspicion and worry were 50/50. Day six, now she was completely suspicious, just what was he doing that he didn't answer her phone calls all week? Day seven, today, a hurting realization entered her head . . . Rise, Naoto, and Chie hadn't visited as much as all the other friends. Yukiko walked back to the front of the inn to welcome new guests, although the smile she put on hid her deeper feelings.
Just what the hell was Souji doing? She thought he cared about her, he never did anything that showed her otherwise. He had tried out every disaster of cooking she'd done, even going so far as to smile while his face turned green a few times. He'd helped her through the hardest parts of her life so far, he'd been there to support her when she decided she'd leave Inaba, when she stood up to the camera crew of jerks, when she'd decided to stay in Inaba. She smiled as she led a newly wed couple in to their rooms, her negative feelings dissipating when she back to the shrine in the Shopping District. When they'd both come right out and said their feelings, she'd felt like she had been walking on air, no, even higher than that. Then later in his room, when she'd sadly talked about how he'd be leaving at the end of the school year, only a month away now. And a blush came to her face when she remembered Christmas Eve with him, oh how the night seemed to go on forever in the most pleasant way possible.
As she let the couple get settled into their room she saw exchange a loving, caring kiss and the negative emotions came back tenfold. She barely refrained from slamming the door shut before she turned around and stormed back to the lobby. Any members of the staff she passed quickly backed out of her way, knowing that she in a fouler mood than she had been the day before, when she had practically bitten the head off a maid that had asked what had been wrong. She half wanted to confront Souji, half wanted to dismiss the thoughts in her head as just paranoid ideas. She just couldn't understand, he said he loved her; she said she loved him; even her parents liked him, her parents.
Yukiko snapped around, ready to bite another head off. But when she saw her mother standing behind her she quickly reeled her emotions in check.
"What do you need mother?" Yukiko asked in a strained, polite voice.
"Well, a few too many people have ordered the chef's special today. He needs a few more ingredients and the only place selling them now is at Okina. I need you to run over and get them. The order's already been placed, you should be able to walk right in and pick them up."
"Of course." Yukiko nodded her head and headed off to her room to change into more appropriate clothing.
Forty-five minutes later she was standing at YasoInaba station, awaiting the train for Okina station. She'd tried calling Souji five more times while she made her way to the station, and five more times had she only gotten his voice mail. Yukiko liked her phone, that's the only reason it wasn't shattered into a million little parts on the ground somewhere by now; although that didn't stop her from squeezing the life out of it in her anger.
"Hey Yukiko." A cheery, familiar voice called out behind her.
Yukiko turned to see Chie walking up to her, a smile on her face at seeing her best friend. Yukiko managed to put on a smile of her own, regardless of the words that wanted to escape from her mouth at that moment. The two best friends exchanged small talk for a few minutes as they awaited a train together.
"So where are you heading?" Chie asked suddenly.
"Okina." Yukiko replied with her fake smile, noticing the flinch her friend had upon hearing the destination.
"A-Are you sure you want to go there?" A small amount of panic entered Chie's voice, "I heard the crime rate there has been way above average lately. I don't think it's really safe."
"Where are you going Chie?" Yukiko asked innocently.
"Me! Um . . . O-Okina."
"Then I'll be fine, as long as you're around we'll both be perfectly safe."
Chie gave Yukiko a nervous smile. Yukiko was going to Okina; there was no stopping it now, especially after Chie seemed to want to keep her from going. Something was going on, and she was going to get to the bottom of it. And thought she didn't want to acknowledge it, deep down inside she had a feeling it had something to do with Souji. So when the train came, both friends boarded silently and continued in silence as the train made its way over the tracks Yukiko sat like the prim and proper girl everyone thought she was, noticing how Chie kept looking at her out of the corner of her eye.
"Is something wrong Chie?" she asked, hoping to get some details out of her 'friend'.
"Huh? Oh, n-nothing at all. Just a little worried about the crime rate at Okina." Chie waved a hand dismissively.
"Oh come on, you're the best fighter I know Chie. They won't be anything you can't handle."
Chie laughed and smiled, her nervousness showing through again. Yukiko was positive, there was something going on at Okina that Chie didn't want her to see or be a part of.
Finally the train slowed to stop in front of Okina Station, a bustling center of activity close by Inaba. Seeing as how there was little to really do in the small town, a lot of the students from Inaba visited Okina frequently. And today, more than any others, it showed. Not just Inaba students, but other students from other rural towns were crowded around, taking in the city experience before they had to head back home. Yukiko remembered the place she needed to go, and when she headed off she was glad to see Chie followed her, looking around the crowd continuously. When asked, the kung-fu friend just said she was keeping an eye out for thieves and perverts. Yukiko put up another fake smile, deceiving her friend as she searched the crowds too, looking for what Chie was probably trying to hide. She didn't see anything by the time she reached the store where her mother had placed the order and was glad that at least there weren't a lot of ingredients for her to carry. As they exited the store, a relieved expression entered Chie's face as she thought that Yukiko would be leaving.
"Yukiko, don't you have to get back to the inn?" Chie asked urgently as Yukiko wandered off to a small kiosk in the middle of the street.
"It's okay for me to take a few minutes to look at stuff, right?" Yukiko asked as she browsed through cell phones, seriously considering breaking her current one if she called Souji again and only got his voice mail.
"Well yeah, but what about the food?"
"Nothing that'll spoil any time soon." Yukiko opened the bag to reveal the contents, and of course it was nothing immediately perishable.
"Well, okay, you're just looking at cell phones right?" Chie scanned the crowd again when she thought Yukiko had turned back.
Yukiko looked through the phones again, keeping an eye on Chie. A minute later her surveillance paid off when she saw Chie visibly stiffen and begin motioning with her hands at someone in the distance behind her. Lucky for Yukiko, the kiosk had a large mirror hooked to the side of it, allowing her to see just who Chie was gesturing at. It took a few seconds but eventually made out a familiar mass of silver hair, accompanied by a familiar set of long red hair. Souji finally noticed Chie motioning at him and when he saw the girl behind Chie, he immediately panicked, grabbed Rise, and pulled her into a nearby store to hide.
Time seemed to stop for Yukiko as she absorbed what she had just seen; Souji . . . and Rise. The name of the girl kept playing over and over in her head as she concentrated on the store the two had ducked into, memorizing every detail of it she could. When time started again, Yukiko couldn't move. She could only imagine as Souji grabbed Rise's hand, pulling her into the store. It was probably mostly empty, being a used record store, and the two were probably pushed up against the wall, to prevent any chance of Yukiko seeing them as she walked by. Now they were both noticing Souji's grip on her hand, they both blushed but neither one let go. Slowly, they realized how close they were, and started getting closer. He looked into her eyes, like he had done with Yukiko so many times before. He gently took her chin his hand, as he had done with Yukiko so many times before; and now he was pushing his lips against hers, kissing her, like he had done with Yukiko so many times before. Hot tears threatened to burst from her eyes as she tried to shake the idea of him groping her in public out of her head.
Yukiko was brought out of her thoughts as she looked down at a model phone she had picked up. She had been gripping it so tight she had managed to crack it. Luckily the owner of the stand wasn't paying attention to her and she quickly put it back, then walked up to Chie was still looking away.
"All done." She said happily, closing her eyes to hold back the tears, replacing the sadness with anger.
"Oh, good." Chie smiled at her, "Ready to go back."
"But don't you have something you need to do Chie?"
"Me? . . . Oh yeah, that can wait." Chie smiled again, "I can at least make sure you get on the train safely."
"Thanks Chie, I don't know what I'd do without a friend like you."
Yukiko put on one last fake smile. Chie nodded and started leading the way back to the station; Yukiko trialed a few feet behind her, but quietly. So quietly, in fact, that Chie didn't notice that, as they passed the record store, Yukiko looked in and quickly spotted Souji and Rise with their backs to the door, then quickly ran inside, hiding herself behind a large shelf as she watched the two of them. After a few minutes Souji turned around and walked to the door, Rise followed and they both scanned the crowd, taking care to make sure they saw everything. Their shoulders slumped in relief when they didn't see any sign of Chie or Yukiko, and they took a few steps out the door, still in the calm of the store but more towards the crowd.
"Whew, that was a close one Sempai." Rise said, smiling at the side to Souji.
"Yeah, I was worried she almost saw me for a second." Souji said.
"Worried who almost saw you for a second?" Yukiko asked, having gotten a few feet behind Souji and Rise.
The pair jumped a foot in the air at the sound of Yukiko's voice then spun around to see her, her expression calm. She looked at the both of them, her expression not changing, despite the anger she wanted to unleash, despite the sadness that threatened to overwhelm her, despite the hot tears that were desperate to get out, giving her eyes a crystal clear sheen and amplifying whatever look she gave with them. Souji donned a nervous look, as did Rise, although to Yukiko it looked more like disappointment at being caught, like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
"Kujikawa-san, it's good to see you." She shifted all of her attention to the idol, making her squirm a little, the formal way she used the idol's name was unnerving as well, "When I was coming here earlier Chie was telling me that the crime rate around here increased. I'm glad Souji was able to accompany you, keep you safe."
"O-Oh yeah, you know Sempai. Always ready to help a girl in need." Rise stumbled through an excuse, not sure of what was happening, just having a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Yeah, don't I know it." Yukiko laughed, just a bit too long for the two friends in front of her, when she was done she turned her attention to Souji, "So, Souji, are you getting a new cell phone while you're here? I was sorry to hear how your old one broke."
"What? No, my phone is fine." Souji took out his phone to show her, prompting a curious look from Yukiko.
"Really?" she pulled out her own phone and started going through the screens, "Cause, I've been calling you all week, and all I ever get is your voice mail." She showed her screen to Souji, revealing the recent calls to him.
"Oh, must be something wrong. I'll have to have a look at it later." Souji pocketed his phone, a sense of foreboding reaching him.
"Yeah, you should." Once again, Yukiko's attention went to Rise, "Kujikawa-san, why were two just in this store?"
"Oh, th-that store?" Rise pointed the record store behind Yukiko, getting a nod for affirmation, "Well . . . m-my grandma has an old record player, and a good sized collection. It got me interested and I wanted to pick up a few new ones for her, as a thank you for being so nice to me."
"Really? It wasn't because, while you two were walking down the street, you saw Chie motioning at you two, or I behind her with my back turned to you? You didn't see me in the mirror attached to the kiosk, because I could clearly see you two as you ran in there." Yukiko's expressionless mask was lifted, and she started glaring at the two.
"Yukiko, this isn't what you're thinking it is." Souji said cautiously
"And just what do I think this is Souji-kun?" venom poured from each work Yukiko spoke.
"Something bad, but I swear it isn't." Souji took a step forward, wanting to calm her down, "I can promise you this isn't what you think it is." He took a few more steps, nearly in front of her, now using all the emotion his held for her he spoke softly, "Yukiko-"
*SLAP!* The second Souji was within range, Yukiko's hand shot out and connected with the right side of his face, sending him reeling to the side.
"DON'T YOU DARE SAY MY NAME LIKE THAT YOU CHEATING BASTARD!" Yukiko yelled, letting out all her anger.
"Yukiko." Souji righted himself and tried to talk to her again, *SLAP!*, only to be met with another slap to his right cheek.
"You said you loved me! You said you wanted to make every moment until you had to leave count!" a small crowd had formed around the yelling girl, watching the spectacle with interest, but Yukiko didn't give a damn about how this looked, "When Nanako-chan was in the hospital you let me cry in your arms! When she died I was there for you! And then, on Christmas Eve, we-!" Yukiko left the sentence unsaid, but everyone understood, "I guess you started seeing this slut on the side instead of just breaking up with me, variety's a good thing right! You had me, and you had the girl willing to open her legs for you the second she saw you!"
*SLAP!* Yukiko had changed the hand she was holding onto the bag with and delivered a strike to Souji's left cheek now, her own hand stinging from the force, but she didn't register the pain.
"Hey, I'm not a slut!" Rise yelled, angry at the insult.
"Skank, whore, hussy: take your pick!"
"Rise no!" Souji stepped in front as Rise made a move to jump at Yukiko.
*SLAP!* Yukiko delivered another hit with her left hand. As he recoiled to the right she dropped her bag to free up her right hand. *SLAP!* She struck him with her right, sending him back to the left. *SLAP!* She dealt the final slap with her left, knocking him off balance and sending him to the ground. As he fell, time seemed to slow down again, the tears couldn't be held back anymore, and started to flow freely. She continued to glare at him as he fell to the ground, getting a good look at her face, just like she wanted. If he even remotely cared about her still, the sight would break his heart just like hers was breaking. He landed roughly on the ground, and she grabbed her bag, quickly leaving the scene behind. She didn't care about anything, see anything, hear anything. Somehow she managed to get back home, shoving the bag in her mother's hands and ignoring the questions as she ran through the halls, still crying.
Two Days Later
Yukiko hadn't left her room for two days, not since she had caught Souji and Rise. She didn't need to leave to hear all the rumors and gossip about what had happened at Okina. Students from all different schools quickly channeled the confrontation through friends and phones, spreading what happened all the way back to Inaba. Her phone had been ringing almost constantly the first day, until she shut it off. All she did was lie in her bed, in her pajamas, letting tears flow freely from her eyes. The first day had been filled with loud sobbing; the second day the sobs had gotten quieter, and now they were nonexistent, although the tears still kept coming. What made things worse were the memories, every happy memory she had with Souji kept replaying in her mind, again and again. It didn't help that all the mementos they had gathered together were at the head of her bed, she had always wanted them to be the last thing she saw as she fell asleep. Now they just sat there, tormenting her with happy memories and stomping all over the shattered pieces of her heart.
Her parents had called the school to excuse her, not knowing how long this would go on. The maids were kind enough to bring her food and something to drink often, although she didn't eat much. And sleep was elusive, coming and going and always leaving her exhausted and with even more tears, from good dreams of Souji to nightmares of him kissing every girl she could think of, even going farther with a few right in front of her. She didn't mind that it was raining outside that night, the light from a nearby street light managed to make its way to her window and illuminate her room dimly. Thunder and lightning cackled in the sky, thought it went unheeded by the crying Priestess.
She opened her eyes as a burst of thunder sounded a little strange. Then she heard it again, but there was no flash of lightning. She sat up in her bed, looking over at her window. A brief moment of fear went through her as she saw a figure crouching outside her window, braving the slippery roof and freezing rain. A flash of lightning revealed wet silver hair and silver eyes against a slightly athletic form. Before she knew what she was doing, Yukiko was across the room and opening up the window. A very wet and very cold Souji gave her a small smile as he saw her. The smile wasn't returned; instead she gritted her teeth, started glaring at him again, and extended a hand out.
*SLAP!* Once again, her right hand connected with the left side of his face.
"Okay, I deserve that." Souji said calmly, turning back to face Yukiko. *SLAP!* "And I deserve that one." *SLAP!* "And that one too."
When she reached out to slap him again Souji quickly brought up his hand and gripped her wrist to stop her. He held it gently but firmly in his hand. She continued to glare at him as she struggled to free her hand as he just looked at her, an apologetic and caring look over his face. He kept the look even as she started twisting her whole body to break free, but to no avail.
"Let go of me!" Yukiko almost yelled, but her voice was weak from not being used.
"Not unless you agree to stop for a second and listen to me." Souji said forcefully.
"No! No, I'm not going to listen to you lying to me!"
"I wasn't cheating on you with Rise."
"Oh please, you were really there to get records?" Yukiko stopped struggling and settled for glaring at him, the tears running down thicker again, "You avoided my calls for a week, and then I caught you, red handed, at Okina."
"I was avoiding your calls because I was nervous."
"About being caught!"
"About this!" Souji reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. It was suede covered in dark blue or black and was wet, just like its holder. Souji shoved the box in Yukiko's hand and let her go.
Yukiko stumbled back a few steps, still glaring at Souji. Gradually, her gaze shifted to the small box, and her expression became curious. She opened it cautiously, and couldn't hold back the gasp as she saw a ring with a good sized diamond on it, with ruby inlays all around; an engagement ring. She looked from the ring, to Souji, then back to the ring.
"Red looks good on you." Souji said with a small smile.
"What is this?" Yukiko asked, finally calm.
"If you'll let me in, I'll explain. It's cold out here."
Yukiko finally noticed that Souji was shivering, and was completely soaked from head to toe. She nodded her consent and allowed him in, closing the window quickly after him. They both stood in silence for a few moments; Souji dripping on the carpet as Yukiko gently fingered the ring.
"I didn't answer your calls, because I was scared I'd ruin the whole surprise." She looked up as he began his explanation, "I spent that week looking for the perfect one. I wanted Naoto, Chie, and Rise's opinions, and being a good friend of Risette, I was able to get a good deal on the ring. That's why I was with Rise that day, I needed her help to get a good deal."
"You . . . You weren't-"
"I would never, ever, cheat on you." Souji walked forward and gently plucked the box out of Yukiko' hand, then got down on one knee, "Yukiko Amagi, will you marry me?"
Yukiko stared at him for a second, soaking in all the new information and connecting the pieces. All their friends, whenever they had visited her, had always been smiling like they knew some secret she didn't. He'd spent a lot of time with Naoto, Chie, and Rise because he wanted their opinions and help picking the ring. They only had a month left together until he had to return home, but here he was, kneeling on her bedroom floor, asking for her to marry him.
"Yes." Yukiko started nodding her head up and down, her tears turning into tears of joy, "Yes, I'll marry you."
Yukiko held her breath as Souji took out the ring and slipped it onto her finger, smiling like an idiot all the while. Yukiko took a moment to let him stand, watching the ring seem to shine on her hand. When he was standing she moved to wrap her arms around him and kiss him.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." Souji gently put his hands out to stop her, "I'd love nothing better than to kiss you right now Yukiko, but I'm soaking wet and frozen through to the bone."
"That's fixable." Yukiko smiled as she took his cold hands in her warm ones.
Souji finished putting on the last of his now dried clothes, looking back at Yukiko as he did. She smiled at him from her bed, messy from 'warming him up'. Souji couldn't stop the huge smile that reached his face as he looked down at her, and decided leaving could wait a few more minutes. He sat down on the bed, and then wrapped his arms around her as he took a lying position next to her. Yukiko snuggled in closer to him, not ready to let him leave, with the ring still on her finger. Souji started kissing her neck, enticing a few giggles from the girl until he started planting them on her lips.
"No." Souji said as she moved to lie on top of him, "I really need to get home. Uncle Dojima's been looking for me for the past two days."
"Haven't you been home?" Yukiko asked as he sat up, putting on his shoes.
"No, I heard he was looking for me when he got word of what happened Okina. He seemed pretty mad so I hid out at Kanji's until tonight."
"You could stay here for the night." Yukiko's voice was laced with hope that he'd stay.
"No, I really should face up to him. I need to tell him the truth." Her disappointed look didn't go unnoticed by him though, "Hey." He cupped her chin and pulled it so that she was looking into his eyes, "I love you." He leaned down and proved it with a gentle kiss, "I. Love. You."
"I love you too Souji."
That last phrase made him smile. Unwillingly he got up from the bed and walked over to the window. The rain was coming down less hard than before but he was still going to get soak by the time he reached the Dojima residence. With a final look back at his fiancé, Souji opened the window and jumped on the sill.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow, future Mrs. Seta." He smirked at the idea, liking the sound of it, and then jumped out into the rain, shutting the window closed behind him.
The next day was a bit confusing to Yukiko. Naoto, Chie, and Rise had arrived at her home early. She and Rise quickly apologized to each other about the harsh words exchanged between them and made up. When they were done, the three guests dragged the Amagi girl to her hot springs for a few hours, constantly asking to see the ring and asking about how he proposed. Yukiko left out the finer details of the night before, regardless of Rise's prompting, and soon all the girl were in a fit of romantic sighs. Rise didn't hesitate to bring up Kanji or Yosuke to Naoto and Chie, who immediately blushed bright red each. Whenever Yukiko began asking what they were doing at her home they quickly changed the subject, until they decided it was time to leave the hot springs.
She was quickly dragged back up to her room, where Rise was quick to point out "The scene of the crime" as she put it. The girls quickly went through Yukiko's make-up, even pulling out some they had brought themselves, and began applying it to each other. A manicure, pedicure, facial, individual hair dos, and turn with the back massager later, they were sorting through Yukiko's closet. Rise was quick to dismiss certain tops and skirts, looking for something specific she kept saying. Once again, Yukiko started asking them about what they were doing and what was going on but they changed the subject again. It was sunset by the time the three girls had shoved Yukiko into something to wear, and she swore she saw Rise slipping something into her own backpack. They quickly began packing up their stuff and pulled the girl outside, waiting anxiously for the bus to take them to the shopping district.
When they arrived, they rushed Yukiko through the streets, straight to Tatsumi Textiles. The store owner greeted them all warmly and pointed them to the back. Yukiko was filled with more confusion as she was led to a dinner while they continued talking from earlier. Her confusion skipped her mind until she saw how late it was, at which point the girls pushed her into a bathroom and told her to change into the kimono Rise had taken from her room. It was dark blue with red lotus flowers all over it. Yukiko changed quickly, and was surprised to see all the girls wearing very pretty dresses when she exited the bathroom. They began pushing her outside again and straight to the shrine. It was dark now but she could tell the shrine was decorated, lanterns were lit all over and as she made her way up the stairs, she could hear people talking. Upon reaching the top the first thing she laid eyes on was Souji, standing by the offering box with an official looking man on the steps in front of him. The moment his eyes rested on her he became unable to look away, but she saw all of their friends and people she knew standing around, quietly looking at her and Souji.
She made her way to Souji, noticing that Nanako and Dojima were standing by him, both looking very happy. As she reached him and stood by Souji, all their friend and acquaintances filled in behind them.
"You look beautiful." Souji said quietly to Yukiko.
"Souji, what is this?" Yukiko asked breathlessly, she was at a loss for words.
"I didn't want to wait to get married. I'll be leaving, and we might not see each other for a long time, but I want you to know that I'm serious about us." He gently took her hand in his, "I'm willing to commit myself to you right here and now, forever."
"Me too." Yukiko said, leaning forward to plant a kiss on Souji's lips.
"Hey, hey, hey, it's not time for that yet." Dojima said, causing laughter to come from the crowd behind them
Both teens smiled as they held each others hands, the minister's words washing over them. This is what they wanted; this is the love they knew they could always believe in. As they both finally reached the end, they knew they would never find another person like the one before them, and that was okay, because they would never need to.