First Persona Fic. This is just the prologue. Hopefully you all will enjoy this.
Out of everyone in the circle of friends she's had, Kanji Tatsumi had always been the most interesting. Like a riddle waiting to be solved. It had come to her immediate attention the first time she had spoken to him during her initial involvement with the case. Several rumors had been flying around at the time about Kanji Tatsumi (a gang member, a troublemaker, possible drug dealer). She had been told that he was a loud mouthed and violent adolescent. She had found him to be a stuttering simpleton after the couple of times she had interviewed him. He didn't come off as much as the 'punk' that people claimed he was—even if his clothing suggested it.
Once she got involved with the 'team' she had noticed that Kanji Tatsumi was aggressive, reckless, loud, and liked to settle most of his problems through brute force (particularly where shadows are concerned). Then she'd spy on him giving dolls to children and telling them that he would make more. The fact that she found out; albeit, accidentally, that Kanji knew how to sew things and actually used this skill to make things for children had been a startling realization. As far as she had noticed, he had always tried to keep up the 'tough guy' routine in front of everyone; but he actually goes and willingly sews small dolls for children.
It was odd… and borderline cute. The latter opinion being a bit illogical to her at first. She noticed other things soon after that, usually when the two of them were with the rest of the group. The group would make remarks (Yosuke in particular) regarding Kanji and herself. Joking, teasing, hinting at something she seemed too absorbed in the case to really understand. Kanji also seemed to speak to her differently then the rest of the team. Nervous, hesitant, and unable to hold eye contact very long with her; something she had often associated with the fact that she's involved with the law enforcement and he was often considered a suspect for many things.
She had noticed all these small, and what she could see as obvious now, hints in regards to the riddle known as Kanji Tatsumi; however, she hadn't the time to really work the riddle out or spend the adequate time necessary to really come up with a hypothesis during the case they were working on. Sometimes, during the free moments she would simply stare at him when he wasn't aware and try and work out a general overview on what to classify Kanji Tatsumi as.
There were only a handful of times that the two were actually alone and while she barely spoke more than a few lines during their mostly one-sided conversations, she always paid close attention to what he said and his body language. She liked to pick things apart while they conversed, from his tone of voice, the poorly structured speech, to the nervous habits he picked up that she only saw him display when speaking with her. The routine continued throughout the term until the case was solved and Inaba slowed down once more.
That's when she really could work on her own private, personal investigations. Kanji Tatsumi started spending more time at Tatsumi Textiles then with his friends (apparently making dolls was doing wonders for the shop) and this put a damper on her whole Tatsumi Investigation. More times then she cared to admit she found herself passing the shop without entering and would convince herself it was because the shop was on the way to the estate even if there's a shorter route.
It wasn't until two weeks ago when she was with Rise Kujikawa and completely dazed in the middle of the conversation with her that the idol finally said something that made her think.
"I think you miss Kanji."
"Yeah… makes sense. He had been trying so hard to get your attention and now when he's busy you're dying for his. Who would have thought all he had to do to win his crush over was to ignore her?"
"That is illogical."
The conversation ended with that and they had separated shortly after on their own ways. Begrudgingly, she had found herself passing the Textile Shop for the umpteenth time before she raced home to really think on what Rise had said. It was two weeks of heavy research, multiple different hypothesizes, twenty-two different perspectives all leading to, generally, the same conclusion. She missed Kanji. Actually she had accepted that three days after speaking with Rise. He had been a specimen she had never completely unraveled yet so it kept her detective wits at work while there were no cases to solve. It wasn't until she woke up this morning after writing in her journal that she had the deflating realization that Rise's observation had been correct.
She likes Kanji.
It was a fact she faced and accepted but didn't know what to do with it. There was also the fact that during her two weeks of trying to figure this all out that she went back to draw a conclusion that she had stupidly been unable to catch onto the fact that Kanji had a crush on her and probably had one for a long while. With her sudden epiphany on her own feelings and his sudden absence, she wondered if he simply no longer harbored such feelings toward her.
She also knew that if he did like her still, he was not the type to really take any initiative with them and that if she honestly wanted some sort of relationship, it would be the result of her acting first. For someone in her career path she felt it would be illogical to get into any entanglements. Long hours away from home and odd work hours would leave very little social interaction between herself and anyone. Secondly, statistically, high school relationships didn't last long (she had taken the time to research it). Lastly, even on the off chance she decided to ignore the illogicalness of a relationship and decide she'd be okay with one, it would require her to take the initiative and she wouldn't know the first thing about relationships and how to get into one.
Further research indicated that men were the ones that usually initiated a relationship with the opposite sex, often showering affection to the female to display their desire for courtship. Research also showed that quite a number of males often felt it degrading for a female to take the lead in a relationship. Kanji Tatsumi has issues regarding how people view him and often tries coming off as 'macho'. This meant she would have to settle on an idea that would allow her to take the lead while fooling Kanji into believing he had gathered the nerve to ask her out to begin with.
Of course, this also meant that any plan she did formulate would require Kanji to stop going immediately to the shop to work after school. Excessive precise planning and preparation would be required. Fortunately for one Naoto Shirogane…
…that's exactly what she excels at.