Shin Megami Tensei, Persona, and Persona 4 are owned by Atlus. Characters, names, and likeness are used here without permission. This is a work of fiction, and any relation to real events or persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

Firebrand
A Persona 4 Story by Mayumi-H, AKA Bonusparts


Yukiko steps onto the school roof, the heavy metal fire door creaking on its hinges. The sound is explosively loud in the still March air.

She doesn't belong up here.

This is Hiyori's place. The talkative girl comes up here nearly every day, to practice telling the weather. Except for today. Today, Hiyori is downstairs, in the ninensei classroom, waiting for a boy to visit her, to offer a gift of chocolates: hidden affection, seeking attention. Maybe Hiyori will meet up with him and maybe she won't; it doesn't much matter, in the end. There will be other boys to pique her interest. Maybe not today, but someday.

This is Chie's place, too. Yukiko's athletic friend comes up here most days (except when it's raining), to sit on the barrier wall and swing her legs, waiting for someone – anyone – to join her: to train, to gossip, to talk and taunt and play. Except for today. Today, Chie is at Junes, searching for the boy (she knows which one) who gave her the "gift" of a slow-moving, spiky caterpillar in her shoe box this afternoon: blatant vexation, requiring retaliation. Maybe Chie will catch up to him and maybe she won't; it doesn't much matter, in the end. There will be other chances to punish him. Maybe not today, but someday.

Yukiko walks over to the edge of the roof, resting her hands on the fencing. Around her slender fingers, moisture forms: impassive cold meeting anxious heat.

He asked her to meet him here, up here, on the roof, away from it all...or at least as away as they can get: from scrutinizing, investigating eyes, and pricking, curious ears; from giggling, whispering lips, and clouded, befuddled curiosity. So she's come, even if she doesn't belong.

And then she thinks that he doesn't belong, either. He's a transient; an ephemeral, drifting wish; a flickering wick of light – the light of her, of them all – that's fading, fading oh-so quickly as their time together ticks down to the day when the train will take him away from her and everything that they've come to be. And she knows that if she could, she would burn those tracks and melt away the vessel of his leaving, the way that he melted away her terrors and jealousies and secrets...

...And the icy walls around her heart.

"Yukiko-chan?"

His voice – at one time so stoic and aloof, but now so warm and inviting – makes her turn, and rush to his arms. She collapses against his chest, holding him so tightly that she can almost feel her heat pass from her to him, to shield them for at least a little while from the cold, hard world around them.

"You came," he says, sounding almost surprised.

Yukiko cranes her head up and gazes into his grey eyes, frameless and clear. "Of course I did," she replies. "You asked me to."

Souji strokes his hand upon her cheek, and he smiles, a little sadly. "I wasn't sure if you would," he whispers. "I mean, it's not exactly fair, what with me leaving in-"

But she doesn't want to hear the words, so she doesn't let him finish. Instead, she wraps her arms around his neck and presses her lips to his, sharing the heat of her friendship and her love and all of the feelings that he's brought to bloom in her, since that beautiful and cold December night when they first pledged themselves to each other amid a conflagration of fiery kisses and sizzling embraces.

After a long minute, Souji pulls away, the warm plume of his breath wafting between them so thickly that she can almost not see through it.

"That's why I chose you," he murmurs. And he smiles, as he looks at her. "My firebrand."

Yukiko looks away and giggles, despite the heavy weight in her chest, until he cups her chin and makes her look at him again. "Anata-?"

He chuckles, his lashes heavy as he glances down, to the hand just now coming out from the pocket of his gakuran. "Kimi," he whispers, and then he presses a small box into her hand. "I'd like you to have this."

She moves her fingers across and beneath the paper without even looking, because she doesn't dare look away from his face. Until the box lays open in her palm, its hanging lid bobbing against the inside of her fingers. Then she looks down, and the spark of reflected light from the little metal charm is like the striking spark of a match, catching the focus of her eyes. And she blinks, feeling a sudden burst of love for him.

"Honoo," she says, sounding out the kanji character in the center of the emblazoned flame etched into the surface of the charm. She looks up at him again, smiling wide as she feels herself flare.

He smiles back at her. "You'll always be my firebrand," he says. And then he kisses her, once more, and again, until they both lose count.

They stay like that for a long time – long after Hiyori and the rest of the students have gone home; long after their kouhai make their way to Aiya for a warming order of hot ramen; long after Chie has exacted her revenge and Yousuke sits in the Junes break room with a package of frozen vegetables held in his lap while Kuma pesters him about why girls kick boys when the boys bring them presents – in each other's arms, where they both belong.

Maybe there will be other days like this left to them and maybe there won't; it doesn't much matter, in the end.


AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Done for Marureenu's Persona Pairings! Week, Day one: School Roof, over at deviantArt. Also done for fellow Souji/Yukiko writer moyabomb, to whom I promised this short a long, long time ago.

I kind of rushed this one, because I wanted to get it in before deadline...but I rather like it nonetheless. I've been wanting to do this Yukiko/Souji story for a while, but it never seemed to come to fruition in its original incarnation. This Pairings week was a great motivation for me to finally write it.

Hiyori is just a name I came up with for the weather girl who hangs out on the roof of Yasogami High School. Her name means, in Japanese, "weather."

...And, of course, readers of my story "1 More Chance!" (in the Megami Tensei section) should recognize the significance of this moment...!

I hope you've enjoyed it!