Ho ho! I have finally managed to come up with something that isn't a oneshot. This is my first chaptered story in a long time, though I have to admit I can't really say much since I'm probably making it a two-shot. Well, whatever, at least it's something right? I've always found the jealously in P3 funny, especially since for the most part it's all the NPC's that get all jealous And well, there was lots of scenes/NPC comments that showed people getting jealous over FeMC's relationship with Akihiko, but despite how obvious it was that Ryouji was a hot item there was only one scene that showed the girlies being jealous of her being with him. So I decided this was in order. It's only fair to Ryo-chi you know. I hope you guys all like it, please tell me what you think kay?
Disclaimer: You know, I could be content with not owning P3 if I could just get my hands on those collector headphones they have.
Such an Interesting Thing
Jealousy, she had decided, was a very interesting emotion.
Riichi could only stare down at the letter in her shoebox. She wasn't quite sure what emotion it was that was racing through her at the moment, but whatever the case it was causing her quite a bit a grief. The girl gently, cautiously, lifted her arm and stretched delicate fingers towards the letter. She hesitated slightly, curling her fingers away as if afraid, before she curled her lip in irritation with herself and hurriedly snatched the paper up. It wasn't like there was a bomb inside of it; treating it so fearfully was simply degrading to her ego.
With letter in hand, the brunette switched out her shoes for her indoor slippers and furiously tugged them on before rushing off to reach her classroom. She had accidentally slept in today (just one more thing she had to blame Tartarus for. Damn, stupid, ridiculous tower.) and since she had been successful in almost missing the last train and subsequently being late for school, her irritability level had already been at record heights. To get another one of these damn things had now blown it through the roof. She was further alerted to how close she was to missing homeroom when as she jumped up the stairs and dashed through the hallways, she found she was one of very few stragglers.
Riichi threw open the door with such force the sound of it rattling against the runners echoed. The class immediately hushed and she came to the realization that all eyes were now on her. Already flushed from her dash, the girl found her face heating up to a slightly pinker color. This was degrading. Her, the top of class, was almost late for school. The top of her class. Not only was it a horrible example to be showing, especially because she was on Student Council as well, but if Mitsuru caught wind of it, the elder woman would have her hide. A threat that Riichi was sure could be made quite literal if the President really put her mind to it.
She lifted her gaze to have the smiling face of Ryouji fill her vision. He had managed to jump up from his desk and position himself directly in front of her in the short time she had been berating herself. The fact that she hadn't been able to notice this made her flustered all over again.
"Uh, um, Ryouji, I, uh, hi?" she finally managed to stammer out. She was confused, shaken up, and severely disoriented by now. Too many things had happened today that had thrown her around, she needed to sit down and not think for a few moments.
Obviously that wasn't going to happen though, because Ryouji simply gave a flirtatious cock of his head and rocked back on his heels. "I was afraid you might have been sick. You're normally on the train with me so I was getting worried." He nodded once and his smile brightened. Riichi couldn't help but wonder how radiant one's smile could get. "But I'm glad you're here. It wouldn't be the same if I wasn't able to see you."
Riichi felt her cheeks burning up once again. She was unable to look him in the face anymore, and averted her eyes. But in doing so she was forced to realize the heated glares of almost every girl in the class. Her hands clenched in embarrassment and irritation, to which there was a responding crunch of paper. Her gaze went down to investigate and she was reminded of why exactly she was having such a bad day.
Ryouji's sight followed her own, and he pointed at the letter with interest. "A love letter?" he asked, looking far too innocent to be merely curious.
She looked back up to meet his gaze and found her expression going flat. "None of your business," she dropped, then brushed past him. Really, the cause of her distress was asking her what it was?
Not to be deterred Ryouji followed her back to her desk. She elegantly sat down and went about situating herself. The boy bent over to be on eye-level with her and asked again. "Who's it from?" he prodded. He looked slightly miffed when she continued to ignore him.
"Hey Ryouji! You should stop giving Rii-tan a hard time. Cutie didn't get enough beauty sleep last night." Despite it not being directed at her, Riichi found herself mimicking Ryouji and looking up in response to Junpei. He grinned impishly and when he realized he had their attention he gave a dramatic wave of his hand.
Ryouji pursed his lips in thought. After a moment of that his face went positively pale. "How, how do you know that Junpei-kun?" he asked, voice almost failing him near the end.
It didn't take her long to figure out where his train of thought had gone. Riichi reeled back and gave him a swift kick to the shin. Ryouji yelped and staggered as his leg attempted to give way. "It was nothing like that," she ground out.
When Ryouji still looked unconvinced -she couldn't really figure out why, but she swore he looked terrified as well- she shot her glare to Junpei. The boy merely laughed in delight and continued to give that goofy grin. Sensing the animosity that was quickly brewing -and probably sick of the foolishness already- Yukari gave a loud sigh. "She was studying all of last night Ryouji-kun," the girl put in. "I was with her all night. Stupei's just being an idiot."
Junpei's responding complaints rung through the classroom, but all Riichi could focus on was how relieved Ryouji looked. When he realized she was staring at him he gave a shaky smile and jabbed a thumb over his shoulder to indicate his seat. "I'm gonna go sit down now. Talk to ya' later Rii-chan." With that parting he all but darted for his desk.
Riichi cocked her head and then decided to ignore it. Ryouji would tell her if something was really bothering him, he almost always did. She on the other hand… The girl looked down at the paper still in her hand and bit her lip. She shoved the thing in her desk and decided she would bother with it later during lunch. If she spent anymore time worrying about it the whole thing would cause everyone else unnecessary worry.
The door slid open again and Ms. Toriumi's arrival signaled the beginning of class.
"Aw Reech you're no fun," Junpei complained. She had to chuckle at how he splayed his self across her desk. "What's so important that you can't eat lunch with your best bud?"
Riichi gave a light giggle before leaning back in her seat and crossing her arms. "You're only mad cuz Ryou-kun got whisked away by his fans," she accused. He merely snorted and waved the comment away as if it were utter blasphemy. "Besides, I got a date," she stated matter-of-factly, lifting her nose in the air in a mock form of self-importance.
She wasn't sure if he picked up on the joke or not, but Junpei looked delighted either way. "Oh-ho!" he cried, making whoever was left in the class look over at them in surprise and confusion. "So I've finally managed to rub off on you eh. Tell me now, whose the lucky guy?" He leaned over in interest. In his excitement he almost succeeded in knocking his forehead against hers.
The girl merely cocked her head. "Se-cre-t," she sang. Her index finger lifted and placed itself cutely in front of her mouth in emphasis. Riichi pushed against the floor and the chair skidded backward. She managed to wiggle her way out of it, stand up, and pocket the letter without Junpei noticing before he finally straightened back to his full height.
"I bet it's Akihiko-san isn't it," Junpei said under his breath. He looked positively giddy at this prospect. "You can't hide it from me, master knows all." With a grand flourish he placed one hand on his hip, and slapped the other one down on her shoulder. "I have taught you well my young apprentice."
Riichi giggled, ignored his touch, and placed her finger back to her mouth. "Not telling," she teased again. "I'll see ya' after school," she promised, waving her hand as she danced out of the classroom. As soon as she was out of his range, she lost all of her energy. Keeping her gaze trained to the floor in front of her, Riichi shoved her hand back in her pocket to make sure the paper was still there. She didn't like lying to Junpei, but it was the only way she would have gotten out of there alone.
The thing she was really thankful for was that Ryouji hadn't been there to interfere. It had unknowingly become normal for her to eat with him and Junpei (though she supposed it was already pretty normal for her to eat with Junpei. It had become almost ritualistic after they realized that the both of them got dumped by their friends, namely Yukari, more often than not during the lunch period.) and he always got unnaturally worried when she was unable to. She also wasn't sure why, but she was unable to lie to him. Perhaps it was the unbelievably comfortable sense of nostalgia he brought her. So even though an uncomfortable ball had formed in her stomach when the girls had, quite literally, dragged him away with them, she had been elated at the same time. She wasn't sure if she would have been able to shake him off had he been here.
She climbed the steps, rushing through the small area of the senior hallway she had to go through -she didn't want to accidentally run into Akihiko, especially after Junpei's teasing she was sure had been heard by the class- and eventually succeeded in climbing the last staircase to the roof. Both physically and mentally exhausted now, Riichi pushed open the door and made her way across the expanse of the roof. It wasn't completely devoid of people, but most of them were either small groups of boys, or couples, and none of them really paid her much attention, other than the group of sophomores that all stopped, whispered amongst each other, and looked at her with adoring eyes. She hadn't thought her popularity had extended to the underclassmen as well. Perhaps she needed to stop hanging around Yukari and Misturu at school. Being near such eye-catching people sometimes brought about it's own troubles.
She managed to find a corner that was away from the others, and Riichi flopped down unceremoniously. Her hand removed itself from her skirt pocket, fingers still delicately clutched around the paper. After looking it over for a few moments she smoothed it out before gently opening it. Her name was written in the same royal blue ink and looping letters, there was no doubt that it was another one of those.
Do everyone the favor of getting rid of yourself. Just because Mochizuki-san is nice to you doesn't mean you can monopolize his kindness. There's a limit to being a man-eater you slut.
Riichi sighed and crumbled the thing in-between her hands. She knew it.
The first one had come about three days ago. At first she had come to the same conclusion as Ryouji; a love letter. It was probably because she had gotten so used to them after having retrieved so many that the possibility of receiving one of these instead had never really occurred to her. When she had opened it later that day, all it had read was "Die". To say she had been surprised was an understatement, but it had opened her eyes a little, and she had gradually come to the realization that it was probably from one of the girls in her class. Maybe even a joint effort by a group of them. She had begun to notice their glares whenever she was near Ryouji. That on top of the fact that she was close to Akihiko, already a massive heartthrob even if he was incredibly dense to it, had probably set them all off. Despite the fact that most of it wasn't really in her control, Riichi figured it was probably her own fault.
Girls' jealously was really an interesting thing.
Another sigh escaped her lips and Riichi found herself leaning tiredly against the concrete wall behind her. She had never experienced the emotion, so she couldn't really say she understood what was going through their heads. Having never taken such an interest in a boy, anything related to this was completely new to her. She clucked her tongue and briefly considered tearing up the note and slipping the pieces through the gaps in the fence, but decided against it. She didn't want to have being a litterer on her conscious as well. That and there was always a possibility that if she didn't rip them up into small enough pieces, someone would find a few of them and get the gist of the letter.
"Maybe I should I should tell Ryou-kun to keep some distance for a while," she muttered. For some reason the very thought of that made her chest ache. When she had decided that was probably out of the question she pursed her lips and glared at the floor. What else was there to do?
After a moment Riichi lifted her gaze and steeled her expression. "This is just stupid," she declared to no one. The girl picked herself up and crunched the paper into an even smaller ball. Letting a bunch of schoolgirls dictate who she was hanging out with. There were so many things wrong with this picture it was making her sick to her stomach. She fought shadows on an almost daily basis, she went on trips that anyone would call a suicide mission into Tartarus, she had enough stamina now to win a Marathon, and she was the leader of a group that risked their lives everyday. What could a group of girls do that was worse than what she had already seen? She gave one swift nod in affirmation of this, and then proceeded to walk confidently out the door, down the stairs and back into the classroom. Halfway there she had chucked the letter away ferociously in an attempt to further concrete her decision.
Apparently her resolve wasn't as strong as she had thought it to be though, because when she stepped inside 2-F's classroom, the hoards of secret glares she could feel boring into her were making her rethink her decision.
She was pretty happy that the rest of school had gone by without a hitch. Despite her earlier resolution, Riichi had been on the lookout for any signs of foul play all afternoon. When the last bell had rung she had found herself heaving a sigh of relief she didn't know she had been holding in. Either they had decided that just harassing her via notes was the way to go, or maybe they were giving her a day to see what her decision would be. Either way she was grateful.
Riichi stood and collected her bag, hefting the strap over her shoulder to procure a better hold over it. She was prepared to walk across the room and out into the hallway, when she was interrupted halfway through her journey.
Ryouji cut in front of her, holding out his hand for her to take. "Would the princess like an escort home?" he asked, smiling sweetly.
Riichi couldn't help but freeze. Her first instincts were merely to giggle and take his hand. In fact, she had already raised her own hand in an attempt to link it with his. It had become such habit to simply go along with whatever it was he wanted, that she was beginning to wonder if maybe the girls weren't right to be angry with her. To anyone it did look as if they were exceptionally close. She supposed too close in the eyes of all of his fans.
Seeming to sense her hesitation, Ryouji's smile gained a slightly worried tinge, and he almost seemed to lunge for her hand. As a reflex Riichi pulled her arm back and ducked sideways to avoid him. When he had steadied himself he gave her such a pained and confused look that she felt obligated to apologize.
"S-sorry Ryou-kun," she said, using the nickname she had given him after they had each decided they felt too familiar with the other to be calling each other formally. "You surprised me, it's just habit." She tried to laugh it off, but found herself faltering when he didn't seem to believe it. Riichi bit her lip and clutched her bag closer to her. "So," she started, "Where to today?" Trying to further apologize, she took the initiative and gently slid her hand into his, lacing their fingers together.
Ryouji smiled, though it was obvious how forced it really was. For some reason this made her chest ache almost as much as it had earlier on the rooftop. Riichi opened her mouth to say something else, and was promptly interrupted by the arm that was slung over her shoulders.
Junpei gave her a light shake and moved his other hand to give Ryouji a thumbs up. "What's up guys?" he asked, completely missing the awkward atmosphere that had enveloped the two. "Leaving already? How cruel, won't even wait for your ol' pal Junpei."
Ryouji gave a forced chuckle and tried to feign penitence. "Well, Rii-chan was all ready to leave, and I thought I should escort her. It's dangerous for someone as pretty as she is to be walking out there alone."
Junpei nodded understandingly, rubbing his chin with his free hand as if in deep thought. "Ah I see, so Rii-tan's the primary offender." Suddenly a grin enveloped his face, and Riichi found herself being shaken roughly. "How sneaky you are girly, trying to ditch me twice in one day." She gave a yelp as he clutched her neck tightly in a hold and used his free hand to clench into a fist and gently drill her head with it.
Vaguely she felt Ryouji's grip on her hand tighten, then release. Despite being preoccupied, a small part of her felt almost desperate when she felt his fingers slip out of hers.
"Junpei, get off," she snarled, squirming this way and that in an attempt to release herself. The boy chuckled joyfully before finally rewarding her efforts. Riichi panted from exertion and focused her glare on him. "Stupei," she muttered as revenge.
Junpei glared right back at her. "I don't need you calling me that to," he snapped. Riichi responded by refusing to look at him. He sighed and shook his head before sidling up between her and Ryouji and throwing an arm over both their shoulders. She took it with surprise. She noticed Ryouji took it with reluctance.
"So," Junpei started as he drove them out of the classroom and en route to escape the school. "Ryouji, how was lunch huh? I bet it was heaven being surrounded by all of those girls." When they had reached the gates he released them and shoved his hands into his pockets joyfully,
Ryouji took a while to answer, and had to be shaken to finally come out of his daze. "Huh? Oh, yeah, it was nice," he said, smiling tiredly. "I'd have much rather'd eaten with you two though," he continued. Riichi found herself smiling despite herself.
Junpei interrupted her glee by chuckling. "It's probably better that you didn't, little miss heartthrob here had a date today," he teased.
Riichi found her spirits falling at once, especially when she noticed Ryouji's face lose color for the second time today. "Is, is that so?" he asked, trying hard to keep his smile on. "But, wouldn't that make you jealous Junpei-kun?"
Both Junpei and herself looked at each other for a moment before turning their confused expressions towards the other boy. "Why?" they both chorused.
Ryouji seemed to find this exceptionally surprising. "W-well," he stammered, their blatant confusion successful in confusing himself as well. "I mean, aren't you two, well, you know…"
Junpei got it before she did. He made a face before shaking his head. "Hell no man. I mean, Reech is a great girl and all, but we're pretty incompatible."
That was all it took for the girl to understand as well. She choked slightly and the other two took a few moments to make sure she was okay. "Are you serious?" she asked when finally settled. "Junpei would be the worst boyfriend ever." Despite the fact that she was entirely serious, a teasing glint entered her eyes.
"Gee thanks," he retorted. "But you know you're not much of a catch yourself." Riichi bristled at this. "Hey Ryouji, know how many bad habits she has?" Still surprised all the boy could do was shake his head in the negative. "Well she eats enough to feed a whale, sleeps out on one of the couches in the lounge and snores all the live-long-day, and is completely defenseless."
Riichi, who had been getting redder as the list went on, tugged at his sleeve furiously. "Junpei shut up," she ordered.
He decided to ignore this. "She had this really creepy guy come up to her on the street once and asked her how much she wanted to be in a video shoot. She totally agreed to go with him after coercing a months supply of instant ramen outta him. If I hadn't been there who knows what mighta happened to her."
Junpei sniggered as she gave another tug at his sleeve. "Shut Up," she ground, now completely furious. When he only continued to snigger she narrowed her gaze. "Junpei also has bad habits," she put in. The boy stopped laughing in favor of looking at her warily. "There was this time when the dorm all went to Shirakawa Boulevard," she started waiting for his answer.
"I thought we weren't ever going to talk about that," Junpei snarled, keeping his voice barely above a whisper to keep anyone from her hearing it.
Riichi merely shrugged and smiled giddily. Ryouji, now confused for a different reason, decided to give his input. "I think those are all really cute traits," he said, making Riichi blush beautifully. "It makes me glad I keep an eye on you after school though. If anything happened to you I'm not sure what I would do."
There was such a gentle sincerity in his voice that she found herself almost melting. Her eyes met his and for a moment all that existed for her was him and his soft smile.
Obviously unable to read the mood, Junpei spoke up again. "So now that that's out in the air," he said, "Let's get back to how your date went."
Ryouij's face fell once more, and Riichi found herself cursing the moron who decided to ruin the happy atmosphere they had just managed to recover. "It's wasn't a date," she responded. "I just had to meet someone."
The capped boy in-between them was having none of it. "Psh, don't give me that. She went to meet Akihiko-san." His grin went absolutely dark and Riichi found herself curling her lip at the look he was giving her. If he had been any more obvious to what he was thinking, he would have had to say out loud, 'Hanky panky went down'.
"No, I didn't," she sniffed. "And would you stop smiling like that, it's creepy." She shivered in response, and refused to say anything more until he gave up and allowed his regular smile to surface. "I just had to respond to something."
Ryouji looked relieved for a short moment, before once again looking down. "You mean that letter earlier?" he ventured. Her surprised expression was all he needed as an answer. "So, what did you say?" he asked, his voice petering out at the end.
This seemed to get Junpei's excitement level back up. "You mean you have another admirer?" he almost shouted. "Damn, he's gotta have balls of steel," he laughed. "I thought they were all terrified of trying to get you after you went home with Shinjirou-senpai."
Ryouji cocked his head, confusion now overcoming whatever it was that was making him depressed. "Why would that scare them off?" he asked.
Riichi sighed and placed her head in her free hand. "It's nothing Ryou-kun," she assured. "Junpei's being a moron. They're not afraid of anything."
"Au contrair," Junpei piped up. "That's right though, he had that accident before you showed up. Well Ryouji, let me tell you."
Riichi gave another sigh, this one more exasperated than the last, and shook her head. "Here we go," she muttered.
Junpei ignored her in favor of paying attention to Ryouji's eager gaze. "Well, before summer vacation ended, all the guys were all over Rii-tan here. Under my guidance she was a hot item you know." Ryouji nodded energetically to show how attent he was. "Well after school started back up we got another member, Akihiko-san's old friend. Shinjirou-senpai was a pretty cool guy, but he was damn terrifying if you didn't know him. So when he actually came to school for once and ended up walking her home, he scared the living daylights out of all the guys gunning for her." Junpei chuckled and nodded his head curtly. "Well I guess some of the ones really serious about her still tried, but Senpai showed how much he appreciated that really quickly."
Ryouji found himself silent for a few moments, before he looked back up at the two of them. "Were you two dating?" he asked tentatively, as if afraid of the answer.
Riichi shook her head. "No, we were just good friends. He just got mad because they kept trying to talk to me whenever he picked me up. Shinji-senpai was, well, pretty antisocial." She couldn't help but chuckle at the memory of it.
The black-haired boy nodded again before straightening up. "So," he began, and she swore that he steeled his expression. As if he was preparing himself for something. "How did you respond?" When both she and Junpei cocked their heads quizzically, he tried again. "To the letter," he specified. "How did you respond?"
Her mouth formed an 'o' and Riichi found her free arm lifting to wave in front of her face. "I said no," she answered. It wasn't really a lie, though the question wasn't the same. It hadn't been to an admirer, but she had pretty much told the girls 'no' in a sense. While Junpei looked almost disappointed, Ryouji looked enormously relieved. She opened her mouth to ask about it when he looked down at his watch and yelped.
"Shoot," he cursed."I promised Yumi-chan I'd meet up with her and a few of the other girls at a café in a few minutes." He looked sincerely apologetic, but Riichi found herself biting her lip in irritation. "I'll see you guys tomorrow, take care of her alright Junpei-kun? I'm counting on you!" Ryouji smiled radiantly before giving a quick wave and dashing off in the other direction.
"Don't worry, the princess is safe with me!" Junpei called out in reassurance after him. He chuckled lightly before giving Riichi a light shake and forcing them to move foreword. "That Ryouji's sure a character," he joked. "You should feel special since he takes such great pains to take care of you." Junpei laughed merrily and grinned down at her. "Of course you're our little princess too, so we can't lose when it comes to protecting ya'."
Riichi laughed along with his joke, but her heart wasn't in it. Her chest ached horribly and though she wasn't sure why, she knew she didn't want him leaving. The thought of him laughing along with all those girls was forming a lump in her throat that no amount of swallowing would get rid of.
"Hey." Junpei brought her out of her thoughts and she looked up at him to show she was listening. "Did something happen between you two?" he asked. "He's been acting weirdly ever since this morning. And that whole thing about us dating was really out of the blue as well."
The girl bit her lip and shook her head. So she hadn't been the only one to notice it. That both relieved and worried her. At least she wasn't reading too much into it, but at the same time it meant that something was really wrong if Junpei had seen it to.
He shrugged and fixed the lip of his cap. "Oh well, he'll feel better once he's on his little date. Being surrounded by hotties is enough to lift any guys spirits you know. The lucky bastard," he laughed at the ending and gave her a reassuring smile.
Riichi forced herself to smile back. She was glad Junpei was feeling better about the whole thing. But that idea had only managed to make her feel worse.