A Dark April

Chie likes jogging. There's something… freeing about the idea of running away from everything. From the envy, from her past in Inaba, from the murders that plague her head on this cold October's day. She especially likes jogging along the fields by the outskirts of Inaba, where the grass seems to be so tall that it reaches the mellow evening sky, tickling the thin white clouds as they race each other for dominance.

Unfortunately, alongside the outskirts is also the graveyard. Where everything freeing seems to become something more… prison-like. Where the gray of the graves seem to be like forsaken prison guards, always watching as she jogged past. Her ancestors are buried in there; her parents had told her once. Their names covered by moss and probably forgotten by everyone.

Because… that is the sad fact about dying, she supposes. When you've been dead long enough, people seem to… forget about you. As opposed to being alive, when you can be jogging along the outskirts of town in a green tank top and white shorts, everything forgotten as inane thoughts fill your head. Chie passes by the graveyard all the time, never really giving the place any thought until now.

Because today, on this chilly October's day, she sees someone she knows standing in the graveyard, looming over one of the graves like a real prison guard, shoulders hunched and headphones dangling around the shoulders.

And Chie wonders, how many other people does she know wear big, clunky headphones like those?

Her legs slow down, her breathing becoming heavier as she realizes that it's Yosuke standing in the graveyard. She stops, staring up at the lone, forlorn, crying figure that stood over someone's grave. As far as she'd heard, and news traveled fast in such a small town like Inaba, no one Yosuke knew had died. Unless…

For some reason, a reason Chie herself cannot even pinpoint, her face contorts into a strange mixture of jealousy, anger and envy as she thinks of the one person Yosuke could possibly want to mourn. Saki Konishi.

She swallows that envy. Buries it, packs it down until it's nothing more than a hot coal buried deep within the pit of her stomach. Chie thinks it vaguely pathetic that she's standing there, watching Yosuke, instead of doing the thing the Chie Satonaka would usually do: Brashly walking up to Yosuke and demanding to know what the hell he's doing. But… she doesn't want to bother him, and she can't even begin to imagine what it would do to a guy's ego to find out a girl is watching him cry.

A thin October breeze rolls over the outskirts of Inaba, ruffling Chie's brown hair with as much force as a baby's push. She shivers a little, the warmth of running lost in her attempts to contemplate Yosuke behind his back. The leaves of a gnarled tree rustle as it hangs over part of the graveyard like a hooked hand, leaves ripping off in a clamber of red and orange. Autumn has arrived.

Oddly, she wants to go to him. She had always been the one who pitied Yosuke, for his crush on Saki, and his resolution to capture her killer. She was also, she at least suspected, the only one in their group who had a tiny crush on him. Tiny. Small.

Or, if she were daring and brash enough to admit it, a very large, very irrevocable crush on the music-loving, annoying, stupid moron. (There she goes, belittling him.)

And before she knows it, she's heading towards the graveyard, away from the trail that lead out of Inaba and somewhere she doesn't know. Somewhere far away. Anywhere but Inaba, the small town that, in all honesty, was too small for her. For Yukiko. For Yosuke.

For Saki too, taking into consideration the recent rumors circulating around the school. The ones about her having a relationship with a college student, and Chie can't even begin to imagine what that would've done to Yosuke.

There are stone steps leading up to the hill that the graveyard is on. And every step she takes makes her feel like she's lifting some heavy, tough burden off of her shoulders. She's never voluntarily approached Yosuke before. She's always needed an incentive. Like broken Kung Fu DVDs, the promise of free steak, bodies tangled inside telephone wire. She has always, always needed an excuse. Because she has wanted to convince herself that she's supposed to like the mysterious, cool guys, the kind of guys Yukiko would like. She's supposed to be up-close and personal with those kinds of guys. She wants to be strong, for her best friend, for herself.

She stops half-way up the stone staircase, looking up at the long, thin black gate that loomed over her. She can still see Yosuke from this vantage point, hunched over like a mockery of Quasimodo, shaking with each breaking sob.

In truth, she has never, ever, seen Yosuke cry. The very thought was something incredibly distant to the teenage girl, something that didn't seem possible. She's seen him tear up slightly in pain, usually from a critical hit to the nads, but she's never seen something so incredibly… morose inside of Yosuke. She vaguely considers turning around, continuing on with her jogging and forgetting about this, for Yosuke's sake. For the guy's ego. And so she won't say something stupid, because… she doesn't want to say something stupid.

As much as he made her irritated sometimes, Chie did like Yosuke. As a friend. And, from far away, a crush.

She took a few more steps, somewhat hoping that he'd notice her, and mainly hoping that she'd find the words to speak to him. Everything's choked up inside. Knotted, gnarled.

Chie wants to say something, but she wants to say the right thing. And she wonders what Souji would do, because the dude's a Welcome Mat that likes it, and he helped her with a lot of things. With her desire to be accepted as a woman, with her desire to not be seen as 'That friend of Yukiko's'. She thinks, Souji would start with saying his name, and that's what she does.

"Y-Yosuke." And it comes out way too timid. Way too scared, as if Yosuke were a complete stranger, and not a friend she's known for several months.

He jumps a few feet in the air, whipping around as if Chie had just threatened to kill him and he needed to protect himself and… holy shit, was he a mess.

There are red patches on his skin, fresh tears dripping messily down his face, and he looks so… depressed. So incredibly depressed, that Chie actually backs away, as if she'd touched a hot stove. When Yosuke notices who she is, his face goes blank. He's stunned, and she can only imagine what's going through his head.

She can't pretend like she didn't see him crying. They both know that. And before she knows it, he's taking the sleeve of his jacket and hastily wiping his tears. Hiding the evidence that yes, he has emotions.

The thin white clouds above them seem to move just a little bit slower, and the October winds seem to get just a little bit colder. He's avoiding her eyes, purposefully, looking down at her running shoes and maybe contemplating the many times the soles of those very shoes have come into contact with his junk. And no, he is probably not thinking of that. He is probably licking out his bruised ego.

"What do you want?" He grounds out the words like they're some sort of poison. Like it's cyanide, hidden between the cracks of this teeth. He's regained his composure, Chie supposes.

"Um… Uh…" The words are choking inside again, and she doesn't, truly know what to say. Funny, because she usually has a thousand things to say to him. "Yosuke… A-Are you okay? You're not…"

"Go ahead." He tosses his head to the side, brown hair splayed against his forehead, tears brimming at the edge of his brown eyes. "Just make fun of me already and be done with it, okay?"

"What? I'd never-"Her words are choked, even in protest, and the tiniest flare of anger rushes through her. Yosuke tosses his head again, and she can see the smallest hint of fire in those big brown eyes. He's grounding out words again, between pale teeth,

"Yeah you would! Just… leave me alone, okay?"

"You are such a moron!" She's stamping those running shoes on the ground now, railing at him. Because he is, he is a moron because he doesn't notice the way she looks at him when they're together. She hates him sometimes.

Yosuke apparently has nothing to say to that, because he's bending his head downwards, staring at her running shoes again. She's not surprised that he doesn't have anything to say to that, because she suspects he's been in the graveyard a long time now, knowing Yosuke. And Yosuke would be a moron in that respect. Saki's dead and crying about wouldn't bring her back to life.

If only she could tell him that. If only.

So instead she brashly walks over, grabs hold of his white, fur-lined jacket with both hands, and presses a rough, open-mouthed kiss to his lips. His hands are flailing at her sides, she can tell he's surprised and truthfully, Chie is surprised with herself. She's never taken any action. Ever. But this… she doesn't have anything to say to Yosuke that'll make him feel better.

Yosuke steps backwards, dragging Chie along with him. He's pressed against Saki's grave, and he has no other choice than to press into Chie's body. He's not melting with the kiss, he's reacted, but his mouth hasn't moved and considering how much he runs his mouth, that is an actual surprise. He's warm, Chie notices, and smells vaguely of strawberries and pepper. (Which is an odd concoction within itself)

And damn, he's one hell of a kisser.

They're dueling with their tongues, bodies pressed into a ball of warmth that seemed to give the chilly October air the middle-finger, and after a while, they separate, gasping for air. Chie's fingers are still coiled into his fur-lined jacket, and there are dark red patches glowing on her skin. She looks up to Yosuke, and threatens,

"If you tell anyone-"

"I won't." For once, he sounds sincere. "And Chie?"

"W-What?" She literally cannot believe what she's just done.

There's a small smile on his lips, he leans back into Saki's grave. She's forgotten, for the moment.


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