When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
When on Shirakawa Boulevard, get naked.

Tuesday July 7th, Dark hour.

I never realized how good a hot shower feels.

I mean, everyone likes a hot shower. Or a cold one, when they need a wake-up call. (I know I've had one for that purpose a few times.) But there's something almost . . . alluring about it this time. Don't ask me, Mitsuru is better at words than I am.

I'm not at the dorm, that's for sure. Otherwise the shower would be white and my shampoo would be on the rack and I would be able to hear Junpei's video games from down the hall. No, this place is an irritatingly gaudy violet all around, with cheap hotel crap for wash goods. You know, those travel-sized bottles of soap that you can never get the stuff out of anyhow.

Embrace your desire . . .

Excuse me?

Oh shit. Now I'm hearing voices. Wasn't I doing something? Crap, I know it was important. I think. Wasn't it?

I am the voice of your inner self . . .
Enjoy the moment . . .
That which cannot be felt is merely a dream . . . The present is all we have.

. . . Huh.

Let your desire free you from your shackles . . . such is my wish.

Hold on a second. Desire? For what? To get stronger?

No thanks. I'll do that on my own.

You cannot deny your instincts . . . Embrace your desire . . .

Are you implying something?

And all of a sudden, she's in my mind. I never think much about girls; it's distracting. And she's a prime example of it. She's distracting. The way she talks, her cheerful attitude despite it all, her friendliness, her trust in everyone . . .

The way her hips swerve when she walks, how strong her legs look in her battle stance – and her personality isn't the only thing that's perky . . .

The shower water's burning now. Might as well get out.

"Hey, it's your turn next." There she is waiting for me, as I walk out of the bathroom. And she looks . . .

Wait a minute.

Hold the damn phone.

I'm standing here half-naked in front of a junior. Not just any junior either – the transfer student and the best persona user I've seen. When I first stepped out, she looked pretty determined about something – now she's a bit taken aback by my apparent nudity.

". . . ?"

Oh yeah, I'm half-naked. All of a sudden, the towel around my waist feels like it's not covering anything.

Ohh shit.

I'm half naked.

"Whoa!" I retreat a little, back against the bathroom door. "Wait, what the hell? What's going on here?"

She just quirks a brow, but there's a subtle redness about her face. "Put your clothes on," she crosses her arms.

I raise a hand out of habit to say . . . something. It's hard to form words at first. Being naked in front of a girl with a crappy piece of cloth between her and your manhood kind of does that to you. Hm.

"Y-you're absolutely right," I stutter, retreating into the bathroom again and slamming the door behind me.

God damn, I pant.

Frickin' Shadows. This is their fault! They fucked with my head and look at what happens; I look like an idiot, pants-less – hell, clothing-less in front of the new girl. (The unbearably cute new girl.)

Oh they are so going to get it, the bastards.

Once, I'm fully clothed, o-of course. Pants . . . where'd my pants go . . .

"Oh, I can finally reach you!"

Shit!

That made me jump. I took a deep breath; it's just Fuuka. I thank whatever powers above that she doesn't have any visuals on us besides her senses. I try not to make too much noise; Fuuka's talking to her outside.

"Can you two hear me?"

"What's going on?" I hear her reply on the other side of the door I'll let them sort things out. Now that I have pants on again, I don't know where my shirt went. Was the bathroom this damn confusing when I went in the shower?

"-hiko-sempai, can you hear me?"

I wasn't really listening – it's hard to listen and button a shirt properly, okay? – but I catch the gist of it.

"Y-yeah, loud an clear!" I shout back, louder than I should've but . . . fuck, did she really have to see me in the buff like that? Of all people!

I think Fuuka asked what happened, but I don't bother to reply. Too busy finding socks and shoes – huh, I didn't realize I had mismatched socks this morning – and making sure I look normal enough.

Okay, all set to go. Everything's back on. I forgot how protected you feel when you're clothed.

Back out of the bathroom, she's still there waiting for me, calm as usual. "Alright, let's go," I say, clearing my throat. This won't be awkward because it was an accident. As in not my idea.

Oh who am I kidding? That was the biggest freaking mindfuck of my life since I started using my persona.

"Um, and about earlier . . ." I get her attention again, as she heads to the door. She turns her head just so that her hair bounces cutely, and despite her readiness for battle, her expression is just damn adorable—

Cough. Damn shadow influence. Yeah, shadow influence . . .

"Could you keep that a secret? Please?" I pleaded, hushed like someone was going to hear. I'll never hear the end of it if Junpei found out. Or even Shinji. Hell, even a hard faced guy like Shinji would be laughing his ass off at my expense.

I am never coming to Shirakawa Boulevard again.


Junpei and Yukari were waiting for us on the 2nd floor, just like Fuuka said.

"Hey, you guys alright? Did anything happen?" Junpei asks.

She shakes her head. (Thank god, she wasn't gonna tell – n-not that I expected her not to keep her word.) "What about you two?" she asks.

We both look at Yukari and Junpei. The latter is grinning like a fool, but that's nothing new. Yukari replies uptightly, "No, nothing happened. Now let's go!"

As we all turn to head out – to destroy the mirrors like Fuuka tells us – she looks back at me, and smiles. There's something gut-wrenchingly charming about it, so I look away stupidly.

Damn shadow influence.


AN:
Oh Akihiko. [/blushes] You'll always be my favourite, even if I'm going to date all the guys in P3P and STILL ship you with Mitsuru.

I have to say, I was immensely happy that it was Akihiko in the shower and not Yukari for FeMC/Minako/Hamuko's scene. Not only because of my immense dislike for Yukari, but there's enough undertone yuri for everyone in her jealous/hatred/bitchiness to Mitsuru. (Who is far more epic. [/is biased])

I know she's also 'the protagonist', but I think there should be a character tag for Hamuko too. She's just that awesome. (And I consider her a different character than Minato; they have opposite personalities, after all.)

Out of curiosity, I replayed the boss battle with Junpei and Mitsuru in my party and as I expected: Junpei takes Akihiko's place to burst out of the bathroom in his birthday suit. Which really, with the absolute sweetness of his new Social Link, I'm A-Okay with. [/thumbs up] Maybe I'll write Junpei's side of this too . . . what do you think?

Also, the quoted script is from the actual game - from what I remember of the scene and have copied from youtube videos anyhow. I just did the thoughts and such in between.

Anyhow, thanks as always for reading! Reviews make me a happy camper.

Also, I guess I should put a disclaimer . . But really, if I owned Atlus and Persona, would I really be writing -fan-fiction?