chapter summary: yukiko, chie, and souji meet up with yosuke. in the past, souji tells his friend how the outing with saki-senpai went and refers to koual as a friend.
word count: 2052
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“Yo, Senpai, are we sure we got the right Yosuke?” Tatsumi sounds very unsure, and no wonder—the intense concentration of the young man dancing (and drawing a crowd) doesn’t seem like the happy-go-lucky Yosuke they know at all.
“Yeah, he mentioned he liked dancing,” Narukami answers, quiet but distracted, and Satonaka glances over to see Hanamura do the splits.
“Wow, he’s flexible!” She’s grinning. “He’d be a good sparring partner.”
“Don’t break him, please,” their fearless leader requests, quiet. Tatsumi glances over. There’s something in his Chief’s expression, but he can’t quite make it out yet.
“Aww, come on, he’s a Magician. Why else have powers?” she asks, and Tatsumi rolls his eyes.
“Casting takes effort, you know. If he’s in too much pain, he probably can’t do anything about fixing things. ‘Sides, why don’t you repeat yourself? I don’t think the whole room heard you.”
“Satonaka. Tatsumi,” Narukami says mildly, and they instantly fall in line.
“I can believe it, anyway. You know how he’s always listening to those seriously outdated headphones?” Tatsumi adds. “He’s probably got great rhythm. Which will help with fighting training.”
“I like the headphones,” Narukami comments, and Satonaka rolls her eyes.
“Of course you do. You like all sorts of weird things, Chief.”
“Chie!” She hears the newbie call her name and he’s not good-natured or amused like he usually is. (She realizes, as she’s sitting there, as if frozen, that it’s a defense mechanism. That he could get frustrated or swear or whatever, but people are wary enough when he’s not covering the nanotats with makeup. If he’s quiet, friendly, helpful, people are less likely to stare at him with suspicion or tell him to get the hell out.)
She feels someone tackle her and she hits the ground hard enough to break a rib or three. In fact, she hears the crack on impact, feels the instant of agony, and then it’s gone. But that’s impossible.
“Sorry about that,” Hanamura manages, voice strained. She glances at him. He’s pale, like all the ghosts in those stories Yukiko tells—no, don’t think about that!!
Think about what? She’s panicked enough she’s broadcasting. Embarrassing.
Don’t worry, not everyone’s hearing this. They’ve got some sort of interference up. What’s really worrying is that he sounds as tired in the channel as he does when he’s actually speaking, which means that he’s somehow managed to exhaust himself already.
“Are you frustrated?” she asks, and he frowns at her and suddenly the fuzziness in her head disappears too. But that was just from getting up early, not from a concussion. He’s going overboard, and exhausting himself in the process. She’ll just have to corner him in the station, where he can’t run away and maybe can do a bit of self-defense practice, work out some aggression, because that approach can’t be healthy.
“Shooters. Stopped time. Small area. Catching back up.” He stops to catch his breath, then rolls off her. “Healed ribs,” he adds.
“How hard was that to do?” she asks, knowing, in awe, worried.
“Hard.” What’s creepier is that as he loses colour and substance, his tattoos appear to have been gaining an unearthly glow. “Conscious for now.”
She takes a deep breath and begins dragging Yosuke behind a convenient truck. It’s a good thing she works out, honestly.
You cling to this ‘girl’ persona for all you’re worth. It’s the only thing keeping you sane. “If you wanted to date anyone here, who would it be?”
The representative is about to speak, but Yosuke shakes his head. “I’ve got this,” he states with determination. It’s the same sort of confidence he gets in battle, channeled, nervous surety that always gets your heart racing.
This scares you a little.
He stares straight at you. “Seta.”
Instantly, there’s protest. Chie kicks him, if his yelp is any indication, and hisses, “That’s not funny!”
He waves it all away. “This isn’t a joke. Believe me,” he takes a deep breath, then continues, “…I might be a jerk sometimes, but I’d like to think I’m not that cruel.” He rubs his leg a little. “I’ve had a long time to think about this. Actually, I was hoping that this exact situation would come up when I put in the suggestion for the Group Date Café in the first place. Guy or girl, I don’t care. I realized, well…” He rubs the back of his head a little, the tips of his ears glowing red. “Aside from the guy thing, you’re exactly my type. You’re an amazing cook. And that’s, like, eight-tenths of the battle right there.”
He winks. Your mouth’s been open a while. You’re really hoping that you don’t look like a complete idiot.
“You’re funny. You’re shy, though when you start talking you open up and it’s amazing to see. You’re really intelligent and you do sports and you play my stupid obscure games and read the same manga and I don’t feel like such a loser, you know? You’re responsible and talented and everyone looks up to you, even some of the senpai. You’ve got a huge heart and you’re an amazing hero, and you’ve seen everything that makes me feel like I’m worthless and still like me for me, and someone that amazing doesn’t come around too often.”
By this point, Chie and Yukiko are listening with rapt attention, and even Daisuke’s impressed.
Yosuke meets your eyes, and for the first time you catch that he, too, is nervous. “So, I guess I’ll say it again. I’d date you, Seta.”
You smile for what feels like the first time in months and reach out a hand, and he takes it.
“So, this really is a group date, now,” Yosuke jokes, beaming ear to ear, like this was all his idea (which you now know it really kind of was). It’s far too goofy to be smug, though, and you’re wearing a matching grin.
( >Do you believe in yourself? )