Writing journal #004
Your appetite is so dangerous.
Persona 4 - ... and then I fed some cats. 
13 Jun 2010
Shadow on the sun
Title: … and then I fed some cats.
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Genre: Humor, Romance
Word Count: 10,143
Prompt: Souji has a girlfriend back in the city, and is keeping up a long-distance relationship with her throughout the game

However

Souji is very, very honest with her about what him and his new friends are up to

so this poor girl is continually getting letters and emails and texts about fighting Shadows and fog-related murders and supernatural limos and long-nosed guys who tell him to make friends, and is desperately wondering what the hell is wrong with her boyfriend.

Notes: It’s amazing how cheap some of the humor in this story is. In my defense, I was writing it while on speed during a thunderstorm.

Space cadet Souji is my favorite Souji to write, just because it really does make you wonder what people see in him, haha.



The grass in the floodplains was getting long again. Chie scratched at her leg with her shoe absently, hoping that the sensation of something crawling up her leg was just in her head and not a real bug. She didn’t have the courage to look down and check because, geeze, there were people watching, and she didn’t want to look like a moron in front of them—or at least, in front of Souji, who was training with her. Souji was sitting in the shade, his hair plastered to his forehead and sweat beading on his upper lip and soaking through his shirt. He smelled terrible, but a little less so since Yukiko, Kanji and Rise teamed up and ordered some extra-strength deodorant a few weeks ago. It didn’t seem to put much of a dent into the fog of scent he projected, but it made things a hair more tolerable than usual. Chie was all for a good manly smell, but Souji was awful.

Chie went to him, holding onto her bottle of water. Souji looked up from his phone and said, “Is break over?”

“We’re not done yet,” she said, hopping from foot to foot. “I mean, unless you’re really tired. It is really hot here.”

“It’s nice,” said Souji. He flipped his phone shut, a faint smile on his face.

“Was that Yosuke?”

“My girlfriend.”

“You have a girlfriend?!” Chie yelped. Not that she wanted to date him. She always thought he was gay. Souji was looking at her with an almost hurt expression, as though he heard that exclamation a few too many times. Chie cleared her throat and laughed nervously. “W-well, what is she like, then? Your girlfriend, I mean.”

Souji looked up at the sky, as though in thought. Then he said, “Severe. She thinks that me being here has made my head a bit soft.” Souji dug into his pocket, and took out a tattered photo of four women gathered around a disgruntled calico cat. “This is her,” he said, pointing to the one off to the side rolling her eyes at the entire affair. Oddly enough, her expression and the cat’s expression were exactly the same. “All of those people there are her sisters.”

“She seems…” Nice wasn’t the right word. Neither was ‘sweet’. “Interesting.”

“She’s a very straight-forward person,” said Souji. “Suzume-san always has been.” Souji put the picture away and said, “Let’s get back to training.”

“Oh! Yes,” Chie said, still flustered by the entire thing. “I guess we can go onto trying to break the trees or something. Supreme board breaking! Hwa-taaaaa!”

“—Chie-san, maybe—”


---


Seta (Mobile)
Aug 9, 2011 5:32:18PM
clear skies today
broke foot while training with chie-san
need to go back to the TV to heal it before it swells
miss you


Since it was summer, Suzume got Souji’s text while she was lounging about on her bed and directing the fan to her face. Every now and then she’d sit up and make an effort to look as though she was busy working when she heard someone coming down the hall. At this point she could hardly care. Etsumi and Tsubame were watching television; her parents were out at work; and more than that, the last two times she sat up and made busy, it had just been her dour cat.

By now, Souji’s oddball texts didn’t faze her nearly as much as they used to. She had always known that Souji was a bit odd; their first date had been a disaster after he lost control of his bike and crashed them into a throng of people just to avoid running over an injured bird. Their second date had gone awry after the movie theater they went to caught fire; and contrary to the popular expression ‘third time’s a charm,’ their third try ended with her dumping him, only for them to get back together after he biked into her mailbox twice in one week.

Maybe she shouldn’t respond right away. On the other hand…

Aug 9, 2011 5:35:41PM
raining here (*-m-) sisters at home from college again (ーー;) soooo don’t want hang out w/ them
are these injuries metaphorical?


A text back later said that no, it was a very real injury, followed by a picture of his very bruised foot.

What the hell…

Someone came up the stairs. Suzume made no effort to move. … No, wait. When had the cat gotten so fat?

“Suzume-chaaaan—”

“Go away, Etsu-nee!” Suzume shouted. For good measure, she shut her door, locked it, and pushed her chair against the door knob.

“Suzu-chaaan, are you talking with your boyfriend? Are you doing dirty things? Suzu-chan, you should wait until you’re a little older for that kind of thing—”

“I hate you!” she yelled. “Go away!”

More thumps up the stairs. “Etsumi, is Suzu-chan being mean to you again?” Tsubame said. “Suzu-chan, open uuuup. Open uuuup. Suzu-chaaan—”


---


Seeing that her boyfriend had broken his foot while kicking girls, Suzume thought that it would be a good idea to call him later that evening after her sisters left the house. She was the youngest of four daughters. Her eldest sister, Ayana, was doing business in China and had gotten married a few years ago, but her other two sisters, Etsumi and Tsubame, returned home every summer from university. Both Etsumi and Tsubame liked to drink and liked to party. Suzume had long decided that it was up to her and Ayana to uphold the family honor, only to discover that Ayana didn’t particularly care about the family’s honor, and her father thought that worrying about what other people thought was a cheerfully antiquated mode of thought and even more, led to neurosis.

He was a lifetime optimist and a psychologist. Maybe that was why he was so calm about everything.

Souji picked up on the second ring, as always, and greeted her with, “Suzume-san?”

“I heard you broke your foot,” she said.

“Oh,” Souji said. “It’ll get better. I had some Macca Leaves handy.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Macca Leaves. They’re an item you can buy from Shiroku and—”

“That’s not what I don’t get,” Suzume said. “What I don’t get is how a leaf can heal a broken foot.”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, neither do I,” she said. She wondered if he had gone into the dungeons or if he really felt all right with ingesting strange substances in his room like drugs. Then she wondered when she had started believing him. She liked to believe that she was not gullible and not dumb, but Souji had always been very persuasive. It was always hard to know. Maybe when he returned in the spring he would say, “Did you really believe me?” or “I was just joking around with you.” If he said that, then what? She'd break up with him, she decided. He meant every word he said; she had to believe that, more than anything else. She ran her tongue over her lower teeth, trying to find words. Then she gave up and said, “Let’s talk about something else.”

“All right.”

“Who did you spend time with today?”

“Chie-san and the cats.”

Almost as though on cue, her own cat jumped onto her bed and proceeded to shed fur all over her sheets. “No Shadows?”

“We rescued Mitsuo last week,” said Souji with an air of strained patience. “We’re waiting for the police to finish interrogating him. But since he’ll be sick for the next few days, the interrogation might take a while longer.”

“He was sick?”

“The fog.”

“I see,” said Suzume. No, wait, she didn’t. Just thinking about this gave her a headache.

“Are you studying for cram school again?”

Suzume took a look at the notebooks and the plastic wrappers that once held sweets, now empty and bare. She brushed the wrappers off her desk, and then, feeling embarrassed, tossed them away into the bin. “I should be.”

“I’ll leave you alone, then,” he said. “I’ll see you again in spring.”

“You’re not going to visit over the summer?”

“I don’t want to distract you,” he said. “And someone else might be thrown into the TV.”

“Right, right,” she said. She picked up her pencil and glowered at the paper. “Why didn’t I guess.”

“I mean it,” Souji said. “You’ve heard about the murders.”

“How do I know that you’re not the murderer?”

“I wouldn’t.”

“You wouldn’t,” Suzume said. Still, it was funny trying to picture it. She smiled at the thought, and then the smile spread and became a laugh. “I’ll see you in spring.”

And so hanging up, Suzume looked into the dark outside world, illuminated by flashing firebugs and the lights of houses, and wished that it would be March soon.



april, 2011


Yosuke found Souji sitting in the library, frowning at a letter.

“Hey, man,” he said. “We’re supposed to go to Junes. What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to write a letter,” he said. “To my girlfriend. Just in case something happens.”

“You have a girlfriend?!” Yosuke yelped, drawing the stares of the other patrons of the library. “I mean—haha, perfectly natural, right? You are pretty good looking. … Not that I noticed or anything.”

“I hear that a lot,” Souji said.

Yeah, Yosuke bet he did. … No, wait, that wasn’t the point. “So, what?” he said. “What are you going to tell her?” Souji looked down at the paper, and then at Yosuke. He seemed to be asking a question, but wasn’t actually saying anything. Yosuke had no idea what he wanted or what he was trying to say. “Uh?”

Souji looked faintly disappointed. “How,” he said.

“How?”

“The truth,” he said, tapping the paper.

“Dude, I don’t get it,” he said. “You’re not making any sense. Just be honest with her, you know? I’m sure she’ll get it.”

“Ah,” he said, turning his attention back to the nearly blank piece of paper. The date was written in neat penmanship at the corner. Souji bit the end of his pen, and thought some more.

Becoming uncomfortable with the gulf of silence, Yosuke said, “I’ll go ahead of you, man.”

“Yes,” Souji said, and went back to penning the letter.


---


April 16, 2011



To Suzume:

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the murders in Inaba. I’m all right. I wasn’t feeling well when I first arrived, but I’ve since recovered. Things have been a little strange. My uncle is the detective working on the case. I keep running into him around town. We may be working towards the goal to solve the murders. I’ve discovered something called the Midnight Channel, which displays the victims of the murders before they die inside the TV. I have the ability to go into televisions and summon a Persona to fight against the Shadows. Luckily, not all Shadows kill people. If you can overcome your Shadow, like Yosuke was able to, you can also


Suzume crumpled the letter in her hand. This hadn’t been the letter she expected to receive. It barely sounded like Souji—or maybe it sounded exactly like him. He was pulling her leg again. She liked how he could be a little whimsical, but this was taking “whimsy” and turning it into “possible insanity.” Was he really that bored that he had nothing to do except invent insane stories for her to read?

She took a deep breath, and scanned through the rest of the letter. Mentions of Igor-san, Margaret-san, and other… other… strange events filled the page. Suzume squinted at the letter, and considered whether or not she was insane. Maybe she was the one misreading things.

… also, I discovered a nice place to go fishing during the evenings, and tried to feed the cats.

… No. Her reading comprehension was perfectly fine.

Suzume stared at the letter again, trying to take it all in, and then decided it wasn’t worth it. As nice and gentle and kind as Souji could be, she really didn’t have time for his jokes.


---


The second letter, dated April 18th, detailed his triumphs over Chie Satonaka’s Shadow. How nice. He was making friends with imaginary parts of people he sat next to in class.


---


“So how is Seta-kun doing?” said Mami, one of her and Souji’s mutual friends.

Suzume tried to smile. Her eye spasmed and if she were a cat, her hackles would’ve been raised. “He’s doing great,” she said. “He’s even more unhinged than usual.”

“Ooh,” said Mami. “What has he been doing? Campaigning for political reform? Protesting whale hunting? Stalking local boxers?”

“He’s been fighting Shadows, jumping into televisions, and joined the basketball club, where they really, really like to polish balls,” Suzume said. “I don’t get it, Mamirin. It’s as though he’s hit his head with a boulder. He goes on and on about…” She trailed off, and then took out the first letter she got from him. “Here,” she said. “Just read this.”

Mami took a cursory look, and then said, “Wow. That’s weird.”

“Isn’t it?” she said. “It’s like one of those letters you get from doctors doing case studies in psychology journals.”

“I think it’s just a story,” she said. “I mean, where Shadows are… I don’t know… People’s confusion or something? Maybe people in the country have some serious problems.”

“That explains everything, doesn’t it?”

“Why are you always so bitchy about everything?” Mami said. “Geeze, Suzu-mumu. Always so mean. Even meaner since your boyfriend left you.”

“He didn’t leave me,” Suzume said, snatching the letter away. “I’m going to cram school now.”

“Oh, cram school. Well, you go and run away from the truth, Suzu-mumu. I’ll be right here.” Mami tapped her chest and cleared her throat proudly. “Mami Urabe, brilliance in disguise.”

Delusional nut, Suzume thought, and headed off.


---


Yosuke couldn’t blame people for thinking that Souji’s girlfriend was a figment of Souji’s desperate, sad imagination. With all honesty, he was beginning to wonder if Souji really had a girlfriend. He watched Souji drop one letter after another, but when he asked if Souji got a response, all he got was a morose, “I think she’s ignoring me” and another round of letter writing.

“You know,” said Yosuke, “maybe there’s a reason why she’s not replying to your letters.” Or picking up the calls. Or answering texts. “Maybe you’re a real jerk on paper.”

“Am I?” Souji said.

It didn’t really seem to suit Souji. Weird or not, the guy was genuinely nice. Still, he was curious… “Mind if I take a read?” he said.

Souji handed over the letter. Yosuke scanned the first few lines. To Suzume: We defeated the knight guarding Amagi-san’s dungeon. In order to do this, we had to run around the castle’s fifth floor, searching for the glass key to open the door. The fight was difficult. The knight knew a skill called

Yosuke’s jaw dropped.

“Wh—wh—what the hell?!”

“Yes?”

His mouth worked. His brow furrowed. And then a headache rammed straight into him without any remorse. “This stuff is supposed to be a secret!”

“I was thinking about moving in with her when we’re in college,” said Souji.

“W-well, don’t!”

“Ah,” said Souji, hanging his head.

“What’s wrong with you?” Yosuke said. Try as he might, his voice kept cracking all over the place. “You can’t send these things to a girl and expect her to get it!”

“So you think I should explain things from the beginning?”

“I think you should send a normal letter,” Yosuke said. “You know. Something sane.”

“I see,” said Souji. “Maybe normal will do.”

Maybe because Souji seemed a beat and a half off of normal, but Yosuke felt compelled to watch Souji write the letter to make sure that nothing strange snuck into it.


---


To Suzume:

There isn’t as much to do in Inaba as there is in the city. I spend my days at the local megamarket, Junes, with my friends. One of them is a bear a bit odd. His name is Teddie Edi. He has blue fur fur … hair. Despite his childishness, he really is a serious person on the inside. Even if he is hollow empty hollow kind.

Today I bought a sword from the local metalsmith. It’s a nice sword. I sent a picture with my letter. I don’t know if I’ll be able to bring it back with me to the city, though. I imagine that the police will have some things to say about that. My uncle Dojima was able to let Yosuke and me off the hook last time. I don’t think that the city will be as forgiving. Just think about the guns. After that I went to the floodplains and fed the cat. After that I talked with some people. I’m doing errands for them. One of them wants me to find her twin sister. (I hope the sister came home. Otherwise things will be awkward the next time I see her.) Someone else wants me to find him some alcohol.

There is a liquor store in town. Maybe I’ll buy some and bring it back with me. We can get drunk together.

I miss you wish you were here.

Souji



It was like receiving a copy of someone’s botched Mad-Libs, Suzume thought. She looked over the letter again, and, either out of stress or because it really was that funny (my friend, a bear—a bear!), cracked up all over again.

It’d be best to reply. The poor guy was beginning to sound desperate.


---


Seta (Mobile)
Apr 27, 2011 7:15:23PM
rained
rescued yukiko amagi-san from her shadow
she’ll be all right
tired. miss you. please respond. ( つ Д `)


Nodate (Mobile)
Apr 27 9:52:00PM
umm O?O Amagi-san’s the girl who was kidnapped right O?O
just got out of cram school (>__<) heading 4 home now


Seta (Mobile)
Apr 27 9:55:23PM
yes, amagi-san was kidnapped
she's all right now
planning on questioning her when she’s better
can I call


Nodate (Mobile)
Apr 27 10:02:15PM
lol `kay
wait until im home still on the bus
talk 2 u soon ツ <3 <3 ~~



---


Dojima had just reached the obituary section of the newspaper when he heard a commotion up in Souji’s room. Nothing more than a scrape or a bump, he thought. At least, that was he thought until the bumps and banging were joined by some clanging. Dojima squinted up at his ceiling. That was either the sound of a very bad accident, a boy who couldn’t keep his feet in front of one another, or a shark being set loose indoors.

“Souji?” he called. “Everything all right?”

A slight pause. “Everything’s fine,” Souji said, his voice muffled. And then there was more clanging. Dojima spat out the toothpick he was sucking at and went up the stairs. “Hey! Souji!” he said, knocking on the door. “What’s going on up here?”

The door popped open a crack. “Moving furniture around,” said Souji. “Nothing to worry about.”

“This late?” Dojima said. “Nanako’s taking her bath. She’ll be sleeping soon.”

“Sorry.” Souji opened up the door a bit more. For all the talk of moving furniture, the room looked exactly the same. He scuffed the ground with the toe of his shoe. “Waiting for my girlfriend to come home so I can call her.”

“You have a—” Dojima caught himself. Well, he shouldn’t be so surprised, but Souji was always so… quiet. Handsome or not, the boy probably responded to love confessions with a nod or a shake of his head. “How nice. She’s out pretty late.”

“Cram school.”

“I see,” said Dojima. “Well, don’t stay up too late. And keep it down in there.”

“I’ll fold envelopes,” Souji said, and shut the door again.


---


Everyone was asleep when Suzume returned home except for the cat, who hissed when she opened the door and dashed into the dining room. She slid off her shoes and padded over to the kitchen. She had eaten a dinner from the convenience store, but she really, really wanted something sweet now that she was home again. Maybe that was why her mother kept asking her if she was getting fat.

She took the food back to her room and collapsed onto her bed. It was a bad habit to eat up here, but she really was quite hungry, and she didn’t want to take Souji’s call in the kitchen. Her parents slept on the first floor. She checked her clock. Ten thirty-two. As though on cue, her phone chirped. Hah. She knew it. He always called two minutes past their promised time.

“Hey there,” she said, smiling into the phone.

“Nodate-san? This is Kuroda from cram school…”

Damn it. “Sorry,” she said. “I’m busy right now. Can you call back later?” With that, she hung up without letting Kuroda finish. How had Kuroda gotten her cell number to begin with? She bet Mami or Keita gave it to him.

She waited another two minutes before deciding to call him herself. She dialed Souji’s number. One ring. Two rings. Three rings… This wasn’t like him…

“Hello?” someone said. It was a man’s voice. A very… manly voice. “Who is this?”

“I think I have the wrong number,” she said.

“Are you trying to reach Souji?” said the man. “Give me a second. He left his phone on the kitchen table.”

“Ah… Thank you.”

A second later, Souji said, “Suzume-san?”

“Hi,” she said. “Did you get my letter?”

“You’ve been ignoring me.”

“I know.” She bit into a sweet. Peanut butter filling. Crap. Her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth. She took a swig of water before replying. “Um… I’m sorry. I thought you were joking.”

“I was serious,” he said.

“How was I supposed to know that?” she said. “And you know what? I tried that Midnight Channel thing in my own room and didn’t see a thing.”

“Maybe it’s because you were asleep.”

“Fat chance of that,” she said. She stood up and strolled to the small television set on the corner of her room. The glass reflected her face and the soft cream walls of her room. It certainly looked solid.

“I could lie to you, if you’d like.”

“I don’t think you’d be able to,” she said, and gave the TV a good poke. Nothing. Maybe she’d have to wait until midnight. … No, what was she thinking? That was completely insane.

“I could do it,” said Souji. “If that would make you feel better.”

“It wouldn’t,” she said. “Is your friend Teddie really a bear?”

“… Yes.”

“So he’s what, a local television character? The town mascot? The electronics aisle mascot of Junes?” Did Junes even have a mascot? All she knew was the jingle: Everyday young life Junes. No, wait. That wasn’t how it went. How did it go again?

“He lives inside the TV, where he helps us find kidnapped people’s dungeons by using his nose to traverse through the other world.”

“And today I met an alien from Mars.”

“That’s ridiculous. Everyone knows that there’s no life on Mars.”

“But—”

“It’d make more sense if he were from Vega,” he said. “Or the Sombrero Galaxy.”

Suzume, despite herself, smiled and said, “Nerd.”



may 2011


May 2, 2011


To Suzume:

Thought you’d like to know that Yukiko Amagi is feeling better. She doesn’t remember anything about her kidnapping or who threw her into the TV. She’s still a little shy around me. What do you do to make girls less afraid of you? I’m planning on taking her inside the TV to help develop her fighting ability. She might not look like it, but she has potential to be


“Stop,” Yosuke said.

“Yes?” Souji said.

Yosuke tore up the letter, shaking his head. “Just… stop.”


---


Souji’s cell phone was a cheap model that didn’t allow him to access anything if there was no reception. It was annoying. Once he had flown overseas and tried to check the time. His watch was out of synch and he could barely understand the Dutch the attendant spoke, so he thought to look to his phone, but it was stuck on the “Searching for Reception…” screen. He had checked his phone the first time he went into the TV World, and got the same screen. For better or worse, he couldn’t use his cell.

That didn’t mean that he couldn’t use a stand-alone camera instead. And if that failed, a Polaroid. After another tumble into the television, he located Teddie and asked him to stay still for a second.

“Um, you’re taking a camera with you into battle?” Chie said. “Isn’t that a bad idea?”

“No,” he said. “It’s for taking pictures.”

“Well, I know that…”

“What does this do, sensei?” Teddie said. “Is it a new weapon? Is it something I can use in battle?! Will it help me score?!”

“Yeah, I’ll show you how to score,” Yosuke said. "I'll teach you with some footballs, that ought to keep the girls from trying to punt your head in.” From the corner, Yukiko frowned at both Teddie and Yosuke. Good thing neither of them noticed. She looked as though she was planning on testing the edge of her fan with their necks. “Stay still, Ted, partner and I are going to try something out.”

Teddie perked up. “Oooh, what should I be doing again?”

“Wh—I just told you!”

Souji snapped a picture. Then he took a look at the preview.

“How’d it come out?” Yukiko said, peering around his shoulder. “… Oh, that’s too bad. It’s all blurry.”

“Hey, what was that?!” Teddie said, shielding his eyes. “What are you trying to do to me?”

“We’re trying to get you on camera,” Yosuke said. “Stay still for a second—hey!”

The problem might be the fog. He took off his glasses and put them over the camera’s lens. Now he couldn’t see well enough, either…

“Oh, give me that,” Chie huffed, taking the camera from Souji. “Geeze, you really are absentminded sometimes.”

“‘Get me on camera’?” Teddie cried, his fur standing on end. “That’s diabolical! You can’t capture me! I won’t let you! Rockeeeeeeet powerrr!” And with that cry, he launched himself at Yosuke, catching Yosuke square in the groin.


---


Because of the midterm exams, Souji’s next round of texts, e-mails, and letters were all relatively normal. Suzume, for one, relished the normalcy. Their exams were a week apart: Suzume’s were next week, and she had some mock exams for cram school coming up at the end of the month. As much as she wanted to puzzle out Souji’s strange life and misadventures and his—obsession with the weather, she suspected that trying to think through things would send her down one hell of a rabbit hole. He prefaced the first text of the day with a miniature weather report. She thought there might be a correlation between the weather and his messages, but there wasn’t. The closest thing she got out of him was a distant, “I change my ringtone depending on what the weather’s like outside.”

More than that, she still couldn’t believe him entirely, or even at all. Maybe she could believe him on a selective basis. If it was true, then she’d have to worry about him and whether or not he was losing blood and limbs. A text message in April read, “rained in the morning ran out of SP had to stop bleeding with medical powder” followed by a suspicious, “it really burns.”

The day that her exams started, though, she got a text from Souji reading, “sunny today
finally established social link with yukiko-san
going to fuse some personae later so we can rescue kanji-kun if he gets thrown in
good luck with your exams”

… She didn’t understand it. He already had one Persona. What did he mean by ‘fusing’?


---


“My boyfriend’s a serial kidnapper,” Suzume complained to Mami. “Everyone he meets seems to get kidnapped.”

“Ooh, that so, Suzu-mumu?”

“Can you stop calling me that?”

“Noda-chi?”

“Sure,” she said. “Fine, whatever.”

“If he’s from a small town, then he’s had to meet just about everyone,” said Mami. “Does that mean he’s kidnapped everyone?”

“Hey… He’s not really a kidnapper.”

“It’d be cooler if he was, though,” Mami said. “I mean, can you believe the book you’d be able to write if Seta-kun really is a serial kidnapper and murderer? It’d make a great book. You’d make millions instantly.”

“’Dear diary: my boyfriend likes to kill people. I can’t wait for the book deal. With love, Suzume.’” Suzume rolled her eyes and shouldered her bag. “That sounds like a real bestseller.”

“Well, don’t hate me when I make all the money instead. Where are you going?”

“To the library,” Suzume said. “My phone’s not loading the e-mail Souji sent this morning.”


---


The library was so crowded that the librarian nearly turned her away. Luckily, a gaggle of girls exited the library a few seconds later, and she was allowed in. She went straight to the computers. Someone had abandoned their computer; and after a quick check to make sure that the person wasn’t about to come back any time soon, she set her bag on the floor and logged onto her e-mail account. She ignored the dirty look the boy sitting next to her was giving her. Who cared what he thought? He was using his lunch block to play bad Flash games.


To: Suzume Nodate (nodatingpolarbears@gmail.com)
From: Souji Seta (monochromehair@gmail.com)
Subject: Some pictures

To Suzume:

The last time we talked, you said you had some doubts about my friend Teddie. He’s the one with the blue fur. I decided to take some pictures of him with a camera. Some of the pictures came out a little strangely. He really is cuter if you see him in person. Yosuke (the one who gets kicked a lot) drew a picture of him for you.

I miss you. We’re still looking for clues to locate Kanji-kun, so we can’t do any exploring inside the TV until those are over.

Souji


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Teddie Picture.jpg View as HTML Download
lol souj i gl wit ur gf hope this is okay lol.jpg View as HTML Download


Against her better judgment, she clicked on the pictures. The first picture was out of focus. In it, a giant black blob was attacking a boy with bleached hair and orange headphones. In the second picture, someone had drawn, in pencil, a round ball with two cat ears and colored in the head, hands, and feet blue and the body red with what were either very bad colored pencils or crayons. Suzume took in the sight of his handiwork: the oddball composition, the strange fuzziness, Souji’s inexplicable decision to put his camera behind his glasses. It was cute and a nice gesture. More than just a ‘gesture’ really; that was the kind of person he was. He brought her sweets after cram school, cooked lunch for her on days when she complained about leftovers, and had rooted through countless movie theaters looking for her lost purse on dates.

Suzume leaned back in her chair, smiled, and thought, ‘What the hell?’


---


“Hey, dude,” said Yuuichi to Tadashi when Tadashi returned to his computer. “You know Nodate from class 2-A?”

“The golf club team’s manager, right?” Tadashi pretended to think, and then nodded. “Yeah.”

“She left something for you.”

“Cool,” he said. He took a look at his screen. Then he said, “What the fuck?”

“That’s what I said, too,” said Yuuichi. He bobbed his head up and down as he started another round of Bejeweled Blitz. “I think she has the hots for you.”

“Get outta here,” said Tadashi, closing the pictures. “I bet you just did this to fuck with me.”


---


“My girlfriend thinks you can draw well,” Souji said to Yosuke on their way to school.

“Geeze, no need to rub it in,” Yosuke said with a grimace. “I knew it was bad, but you don’t have to be so straight forward.”

“I mean it,” Souji said. He took out his phone and showed Yosuke a text.

Nodate (Mobile)
May 23 6:08:04AM
just got up [(- -)] sooo tired
btw ur friend yosuke’s drawing skills could use sum sharpening lol d(>w<)b


“What part of that says that she thinks it’s okay?!”

“She’s normally very blunt,” Souji said. “If she didn’t like it then you’d know it.”

“Yeah, I know it,” Yosuke said. “It’s kind of obvious. You still have her listed by her family name in your phonebook? Kind of cold of you, bro.”

“No.”

“But what if you get the number of more than one Nodates?”

“I won’t,” Souji said. “The only Nodate in Inaba is Susumu Nodate. He’s in the ICU and doesn’t know how to use a cell phone. Both of his children moved out of Inaba and currently live in—”

“Okay, okay, enough,” Yosuke said. “Where do you get this information?”

“I’m working at the hospital.”

“As what, a nurse?” He winked and said, “Oh, sensei, you can stick a needle in me wherever you want—that kind of thing, right?”

“A janitor.”

“And what did your girlfriend have to say about that?”

Souji flipped through his texts again.

Nodate (Mobile)
May 27 1:04:32AM
lol u just got back ಠ_ಠ u should get another shift (¬_¬) (¬_¬)
neway go 2 sleep u need ur strength 4 the dungeons
… lol tv dungeons


“… She seems to be taking it all pretty well,” Yosuke said.

“She thinks I’m a little crazy,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I would, too, if my boyfriend started talking about that kind of stuff.”

“Oh, so you found one?”

“That’s so not what I meant.”



june 2011


In an effort to find something to talk about with Souji that didn’t revolve around her issues at cram school, her complaints about her sisters and parents and cat, or his increasingly absurd texts (“was able to level up both strength and chariot today, what arcana would you be?” –she thought it might have been a come on, but what did he mean by “chariot,” anyway?) she decided to read all of the books that Souji read, just for the sake of it. She didn’t really care much about reading—she was planning on going into business, and business was about two things: statistics, ruthlessness, and blatant manipulation of expectations—but she was tired of wondering what he meant when he mumbled things like, “What should I use to make a unicorn?” into the phone.

“Oh, no,” she said, cradling her phone against her shoulder. She was eating dinner and holding the bowl in one hand and chopsticks in the other, and she was destroying all of her preconceptions regarding her own dexterity—which was to say, she was dangerously close to dropping her phone into a bowl of soup. “We are not reading Witch Detective.”

“It looks like it could be fun.”

“I’d rather read another Man’s Life book.”

“You don’t like those?”

“It’s not that I don’t like them, but they keep talking about how you should ‘be a man’ and ‘not a pussy,’” she said. “You’d think they’d have nicer things to say about them if they like it so much.”

“Yes,” said Souji. “They are… big dicks. Would you like to begin our discussion of Witch Detective today or tomorrow?”

“How about never?” she said.

“If I read it, I get a bonus item. The local library is offering a prize for reading twenty books off their recommendation list.”

“Seriously?”

“… No. I know there’s a bonus item. I just don’t know where you get it from.”

“So it’s like a scavenger hunt,” she said, relieved to be able to bring the farce that was her boyfriend’s life back down into reality. “Kind of.”

“Yes,” he said. “Suzume-san. You are the murder to my skully.”

“I. I don’t understand.”

“No,” he said. “It’s all right. You are the skully to my murder. My molder.”

“Your… molder.”

“Yes,” he said. “My Mulder.”


---


Seta (Mobile)
Jun 24, 2011 6:14:01PM
need to know more about rise kujikawa
she just got kidnapped
do you know anything
ps clear skies


Nodate (Mobile)
Jun 24, 2011 9:44:23PM
lol sry was @ cram school (>__<)
also lol – who cares about weather q(;^;)p
uuummm shes the 1 who does the qt pie CMs, rite? (o__o)


Seta (Mobile)
Jun 24, 2011 9:47:11PM
sorry for bothering you


Nodate (Mobile)
Jun 24, 2011 9:55:50PM
r u mad O?O
sry but i was rly busy (x__x) + im not into CMs or gravure stuff
u can try the net gl w/ th at


Seta (Mobile)
Jun 24, 2011 10:52:00PM
it's fine
I’m not mad
go study.



---


It was the second day of their investigation. Since Souji already had his lead, Yosuke thought that they’d take the day a bit easier than most. It’d be a walk-with-purpose day, not a run-frantically-around-town-for-answers day. He had packed some extra food in his pack in anticipation of dungeon crawling that day, ignoring the part where Chie had already helped herself to one of the onigiri he bought from Junes and the part where he ate another one of the onigiri to make himself feel better about Chie stealing his. Crazy dragon lady. She’d never get a boyfriend, and if she did, the poor guy better get a freaking sturdy groin cup.

When classes ended, he expected Souji to sit at his desk and start another letter. He could picture it already: To Suzume: I am about to embark on another adventure into my TV land dungeon fun happy times. If I die, you can have the cat food and the catnip. And make sure that you use those magic mushrooms I’ve been growing in the corner of my room for your own consumption.

“Let’s go, Yosuke,” Souji said.

“Already?” he said. “Classes just ended. Aren’t you going to write something to—”

“No,” Souji said. Yosuke couldn’t see Souji’s face; he was still getting his notebooks together. It was a weird pattern of his: he came to school with papers and pens sticking out of his bag every which way, and left it with a briefcase so neat that he could eat lunch off of it. “We need to rescue Rise-san.”

“You must really like her, huh,” Yosuke said with a wink. “Well, I can’t blame you. Every red-blooded man needs something to—”

“Yosuke.”

“Huh?”

Souji snapped his brief closed, swung it over his shoulder, and stood up. His expression was blank, neutral, empty, but everything about his face seemed too tight. “Enough.”

“… Okay?”

“Go find Chie and Yukiko,” he said. “I’ll get Kanji.”


---


“We just gotta find this photographer guy, right,” Kanji said. He walked half a step behind Souji, and couldn’t figure out why. It felt right. Maybe because Souji was his senpai, but he didn’t give a shit about that kind of stuff with Yosuke or Chie. Maybe with Yukiko, but that was because his mom would give him shit if she caught him treating the young Amagi badly. “That’s it?”

“Yes.”

“Uh,” Kanji said, reaching for some topic for conversation.

“Yes.”

“I didn’t say nothing, senpai.”

“Yes.”

“… Okay,” said Kanji. “Guess you’re pissed about something, then.”

“No.”

“… Huh?”

At that, Kanji saw Souji’s lip twitch up. Then he laughed and said, “Kanji-kun. What was your upbringing like? Do you like children?”

“Uh… kinda loose, I guess,” Kanji said, scratching the back of his head. “And children… yeah, sure. They’re kinda horrible, but they ain’t so bad when you get to know ‘em, right? Why d’you ask, senpai?”

“I was curious,” Souji said. “I wanted to know if you wanted to leave anything behind in case you died.”

“Uh… I guess something I could leave my Ma or… something.” Kanji bumped straight into Souji. “H-hey—”

“Sorry,” Souji said, bending over. “I was feeding a cat.”


---


He wasn’t mad at her. And even if he was, then—well, Suzume tried to tell herself, “Fuck that, hell if I care!” but she didn’t feel mad enough to swear at anything. He was four hours away by train. Aggravatingly evasive or not, she missed him. She missed being able to resolve things by seeing him in the halls and exchanging greetings. They didn’t really fight in the way her friends fought, which was to say, she never had the impulse to chuck rocks through his window, and he was very skilled at not being an asshat. That was because Souji was mostly incomprehensible to normal people and she was prone to verbally knifing people when she got angry.

She should just break up with him. Doing this long distance thing was driving her crazy. It was probably driving him up a wall, too, because he kept going on weirder and weirder tangents. She didn’t really get him, but she liked him more than any other guy she had met. He was weird, but he was reliable. Even if he sometimes tripped over his shoelaces because he forgot to tie him on his way out the door.

It had been three days since he bothered to contact her. She didn’t even get one of his weird letters about his new friend who liked to knit skulls and demonic looking cherubs or the girl who was afraid of her own shadow and needed to ward them off with jasmine perfume (“smells terrible send help,” he had texted. She bought him a pack of gum) or random facts about the local trees that he learned by talking with a gardener whose eyes never quite pointed in the same direction at the same time. It didn’t bother her. Well. It did bother her. But she had cram school and regular school and her duties as the manager of the school’s golf club, and it was surprising to find out how much free time she had once she stopped thinking about him. (The golf club manager thing sounded like a throwaway thing, but they were in the city and the nearest golf course was twelve kilometers away. She couldn’t exactly arrange for them to practice on the top of a building. They’d get lawsuits.) It was easy to forget about him, the way she forgot about her laundry, or the way she'd lose pencils steadily throughout the year without particularly caring or being upset.

Suzume’s phone buzzed. She checked it, half-expecting a drunk text from one of her sisters or a weather report or spam, but instead just got an eyeful of Kuroda asking her what their homework was. She scowled and deleted it without mercy. Why the hell hadn’t she blocked him from her damn phone yet?

She had thought at least he’d text her about their one year anniversary yesterday, but then again, she hadn’t done anything, either.


---


Nodate (Mobile)
Jun 28, 2011 4:23:04AM
omg i hate cram school (>___<) (>___<) (>___<)
2 dark 2 see the sky
its been 1 yr since we met lol i forgot


Seta (Mobile)
Jun 28, 2011 8:18:31AM
rainy morning going to let up by afternoon
didn’t forget was busy
sorry will talk later


Nodate (Mobile)
Jun 28, 2011 8:37:44AM
okay lol (^___^)


Seta (Mobile)
Jun 28, 2011 12:23:11PM
ressentiment means hatred and jealousy.



“Well,” said Mami, peering over Suzume’s shoulder, “that last one isn’t ominous or anything.”

“He once texted me to tell me that my home was most likely to be robbed at eight in the morning,” Suzume said. “This is normal for him.”

“Really?”

“Yup.”

“Weirdo.”

“Yup.”


---


In an effort to get back in the normal swing of things, Suzume called Souji after dinner. Souji picked up on the second ring, sounding as though he just woke up.

“You sound tired,” said Suzume.

“Mhmm,” Souji said. “Too tired to even read.”

“What did you do today?”

Souji said nothing for a moment. Then he said, too flatly for it to be true, “Nothing.”

“You went into the dungeon today, right?” said Suzume. “Kujikawa-san’s.”

“It depends. Do you believe me?”

“Souji—”

“Do you believe me?” he said again, this time sounding almost afraid and mostly angry. “Tell me.”

“Does it matter?” she said. Souji made an incoherent noise into the phone. She didn’t know if he was tired or frustrated or something else entirely. It could have meant anything, but what she knew for sure was that he was angry. So he really was mad. Well, if he was mad, he should just say it instead of stewing around in it. Being with him was a pain in the ass sometimes. “Damn it, Souji.”

“Yes,” he said.

“It matters?”

“No.”

“You’re such a…”

“I want you to believe me,” said Souji. “Because what I’m doing is important to me. I can’t lie, so I can’t tell anyone else. My friends need me to be a leader, so I can’t complain to them. If I can’t rely on you to believe me, then let’s break up.”

“Then let’s break up,” she said. “Because if you think anyone could believe you—”

“I tried.”

“I know you tried—”

“I like you.”

“I like you, too, but—”

“If you like me, then believe me.”

She laughed at that, and not in the good way. “You’re really saying ‘if you like me, then you’ll believe me,’ aren’t you?” she said. “Fine. I won’t believe you and I won’t like you, either. Is that okay with you?”

There. She said it. And she wasn’t going to take it back because this time she meant it. She didn’t know if she wanted to do this anymore: wondering and worrying and not knowing. And in any case, if all he wanted from her was to be believed, then screw it. She didn’t need that in her life. And she knew that he didn’t, either.

“Suzume-san.”

“What?” Shit. She was crying. She wiped her face against her sleeve. Crap. Now there was mascara and eyeshadow on her white shirt. Why did she even bother trying sometimes?

“I take it back,” he said. “All of it. I like you more than I like being believed.”

“You don’t mean that,” she said. “You can’t just make an ultimatum and take it back.”

“I like you more than I like being believed.”

“Why would you want to be with someone who thinks you’re stupid?” she said. “And why would I want to be with a guy who’s probably lying to me and laughing about it with his new friends?”

“Then let’s stay together,” he said. “Because you don’t think I’m stupid, and I don’t lie.”

“Hey, you…” He was always so opaque. Someone once told her that talking to Souji was like looking into a mirror. She forgot who said that. It was someone she didn’t think very highly of, but didn’t particularly dislike, either, and in any case, it didn’t matter. To Suzume, it was more like looking into the bottom of a very, very murky puddle, a puddle that held something unexpectedly—nice beneath the murk and mud. Something she didn’t want to give up or surrender, no matter what. “Okay. You win. I’ll believe you.” She tugged at the edge of her collar, unsure if what she was feeling was relief or irritation. “Happy anniversary.”



july 2011


July 30, 2011



To Suzume:

It’s okay. Mr. Morooka died, but we’re going to find his killer soon.

This is the first letter I’m writing to you without Yosuke’s help. He says that he thinks I can do okay by myself. I think he’s right. I should be able to do these kinds of things without his assistance.

Since the last time I’ve written to you, we’ve made Rise-chan a part of our team. She’s very enthusiastic and straightforward. I hope that the two of us can become friends. I’ve enclosed a picture of Teddie, who now has a body, standing besides his old body. Chie-san and Yukiko-san bought his clothes for him. His new form is a little strange, isn’t it? I don’t understand how his hair swoops over to one side like that. I asked someone and they said it might be achievable if Teddie uses occult magic. Then he extended an invitation to me. Since the club meets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I had to decline, since I have to level up my other social links on those days, and I’ve already maxed out my Knowledge. I’m glad that Occult-san felt safe enough to invite me into his club. I’ll be sure to run some more errands for him in the future.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I would like to let you know that I believe your arcana is the Emperor. Do not feel bad if you’re not a man. I’m sure it’s a very good fit for you anyway.

Hope it’s sunny in the city.

Souji



---

After rescuing Rise, Souji, Kanji, and Yosuke decided to go for some drinks—which was to say, they decided to go to the Junes food court. Chie and Yukiko, perhaps wisely deducing that they did not want to lug around their armor and weaponry about for the rest of the day, went straight home. Yosuke thought they were missing out on a big opportunity, but quickly saw the wisdom of their choice when they tried to move more than five meters in any direction. Kanji was carrying a table on his back, Souji couldn’t sit down because he had shoved his sword down the entire length of his pants leg, and Yosuke kept poking himself in the thigh with his knives. That wasn’t to mention the armor that made all of their hips look enormously fat. Yosuke could barely sit down without either cutting himself or making the top half of the armor rise up past his shirt collar and jab him in the neck.

“Can’t we ask Daidara next time to make these things a little easier to hide?” Yosuke complained. “We’re his best customers, after all…”

“Art,” said Souji.

“Yeah, it’s for the art,” Kanji said, trying to sit down. He couldn’t; the table on his back kept bumping against the chair’s arms. “’sides, you can’t push him, y’know? Guy’s gotta express himself. Part of the craft.”

“Yeah, the craft,” said Yosuke. “The craft of what, making rainbows?”

“No, the craft of being a total badass,” said Kanji. “Dipshit.”

“I want steak,” Souji said.

“Yeah, sure, Chie,” Yosuke said. He waved over to the counter. “Well, if you want it so badly, it’s right over there.”

“Treat me?”

“Since when did I become your boyfriend? Buy your own food.” Souji frowned. “What, you’re saying that your girlfriend would’ve paid?” Yosuke snorted, and jabbed his thumb into his armor. “Oh, fuck, ow! My thumb!”

“Senpai’s got a girlfriend?!” Kanji squawked. “I—I mean, nothing wrong with that or nothing but—”

“I know, right?” Yosuke said. “It’s kind of weird that partner has someone. Not that there’s anything wrong with you or anything.”

“So people keep telling me,” said Souji, looking thoroughly unimpressed by the entire exchange. “I’m going to order something to eat. Any requests?”

“Steak yakisoba for me,” said Kanji. “And that new grilled chicken plate. Oh, and some of that protein special. And—”

“Yeah, I think that’s enough for one guy,” Yosuke said. “I’ll have melon juice.”

“Steak yakisoba, grilled chicken plate, protein special, and melon juice,” Souji said, ticking off the order on his fingers. He nodded smartly and headed for the grill, saying, “I’ll be back in a second.”

Yosuke and Kanji watched him leave. Then Kanji cleared his throat and said in a low voice, “Hey… Uh, Yosuke-senpai. I was wondering. Does senpai really have a girlfriend? I mean, I’ve never seen her around or nothing.”

“They’re long distance,” Yosuke said. LDR. That sounded like some weird STD.

“And, uh… does she really exist? Because the other day he was askin’ what I thought about kids and my plans for the future, and then he said that he wanted to know because he was worried what would happen if I died and shit so—”

What the hell, Souji? “I’ve seen pictures of them together,” Yosuke said. “And they write letters, so yeah, I guess she’s pretty real.” Yosuke put his hands on the swell of his lacquered hips and watched Souji trying to find a way to adjust the sword in his pants leg without actually removing his pants. “I mean, if a weird guy like that can get a girl, why can’t I?”

Kanji smirked.

“Oh, shut up,” Yosuke said, as Souji accidentally jabbed the old lady in front of him in the hip with his elbow.


---


Since her sisters were coming home from college soon, her parents had Suzume clear out Tsubame and Estumi’s old rooms. They had previously been used for storage and her father, being a meticulous record keeper, merrily stashed away many of his notes, textbooks, and patient files in the rooms. They did this every summer Etsumi and Tsubame came back, and Suzume would complain more, but it was certainly preferable to having one of them in her room. As a child, she shared a room with her parents until she turned eleven, when Ayana went to college. Ayana, being a mature and responsible child unlike certain goofball siblings Suzume could think of, immediately got an apartment of her own. The last time Ayana came home, Suzume roomed with Etsumi and it had been hell. She’d rather sleep on their lumpy, miserable 1980s couch.

Far away in a corner of the room, she found various things: a box full of her sisters’ old school things, the robes Ayana wore to her college graduation, a half-used set of butterfly stickers. Since Etsumi and Tsubame would’ve looked through her things, too (she knew this for a fact because Tsubame had a copy of all of her report cards on her hard drive), Suzume opened up the box full of school things and sorted through them. It wasn’t nice, but neither were her sisters. Not that it mattered. If pressed, then she’d admit that all she was doing was unethical and unjustifiable, but she wanted leverage over her two sisters, and she had used that time when they threw her into the coffee table to blackmail them so many times that it had lost its power. Oh, no. What she was looking for was some real juice. Even if their parents already knew, her sisters always kept their grades and things hidden from Suzume, and she wanted some damn recompense.

… Hey, what the hell.

Why did her sisters’ box of grades have photocopies of Souji’s first love letter to her?


---


To: Souji Seta (monochromehair@gmail.com)
From: Suzume Nodate (nodatingpolarbears@gmail.com)
Subject: lol look what I found

lol i was looking thru some boxes in tsubame-nee’s room and found these
(dont ask y they had them (>__<))
remember these lol

gl w/ things

suzume

Attachments Download all as .zip

june 26 2010 letter.jpg View as HTML Download
lol she has a photocopy of this one 2 wtf tsuba-nee View as HTML Download


June 26, 2010
To Nodate-san:

My name is Souji Seta. I am the one who hit you in the face during gym class. I apologize. In retrospect I should have seen you attempting to steal the homerun. When I swung my bat, I did not see you until you were on the ground.

I greatly admire your willful nature and hardheadedness and ability to politely suffer through pain while I was setting your nose back in place. If you’d like, I can bring icepacks to your home. Please go out with me.

Souji Seta.



Seta:

You are a klutz for hitting me in the face with a baseball bat, a harebrained ditz for thinking I could forget about who you were, and a moron of colossal proportion if you think any girl would say yes to that.

Meet me in front of the Hachisuka fountain tomorrow after school.

Nodate





epilogue.


Seta (Mobile)
Mar 20, 2012 8:03:16PM
bad news
today I died
good news I’m okay
wait for me tomorrow at the platform?



---


The cherry blossoms would blossom soon, Suzume thought. She couldn’t understand why they would want to. It was cold. It was very cold. Her knees were freezing. She’d sit down on one of the benches, but it was a midday train, so the platform was crowded; and more than that, if she sat down than the back of her thighs would be cold, too. It really was something of a no-win situation. She was so cold that she wanted to die.

Since she had come twenty minutes early, she had bought two baked sweet potatoes from a vendor. She was waiting for Souji to return before touching them, but the smell coming out of her bag was tantalizing, and she’d swear that one of the little kids was planning on stealing her bag to get the potato. Like hell, she thought. That boy could get his mother to buy something for him instead.

A horn blew. From the north, the train drew steadily closer. The rush of the train coming into the station blew her hair back and disturbed the pleats of her skirt. She counted the cars as they passed: one, two, four, six. The train came to a stop. The doors opened. She half-expected to see Souji walking out of the car right in front of her, but she didn’t see him. She looked left and right across the platform, frowning slightly. Maybe he had dyed his hair. Maybe the people out in the country were more sensitive about rules and regulations. Then again, his friends wore all sorts of things that would’ve gotten shit from her own school.

“Suzume-san.”

She looked to her right. There Souji was, in his hideous brown coat and wool turtleneck that her grandma knit for him the Christmas before last. He was carrying a bag in one hand and a sunflower more than a meter tall in the other.

“Where did you get that?” she said.

“Brazil.”

“Flowers there are probably in season all the time,” she said, taking the sunflower. It was unexpectedly heavy. “Thanks.”

Souji nodded. He took her hand and said, “Let’s go somewhere quieter.”

“… Okay.”

“I thought I’d let you know that even if you become full of maggots, I wouldn’t leave you.”

“Somehow, that’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me,” Suzume said, laughing. She looked up at him, and saw that he was looking at her with expectation. She handed him the hot sweet potato and said, “Here.”

“Ah,” he said, and shouldered his bag. “Thank you.”

She watched him free the potato from its tin foil wrapper and breathe in deeply. His first bite looked as though he was about to float away in esctasy. “Come over to my place,” she said. “My parents are out traveling and it’s spring break, so I can invite our friends over.”

“Where did you find this potato?”

“I’ll pretend that was the sound of you agreeing with me,” she said. They were a ten minute walk from her bus stop. The bus would come another half hour. She took a breath and grabbed onto his arm. “If I were a god,” she said, “I would turn you into a cow to hide you from my husband.”

Souji nodded his head in understanding. “I do like beef.” He brought her a little closer to him, probably to share body heat. “I bought you another gift from Inaba.”

“Oh?”

“It’s a kitten. Do you want to see it now or…”

“You can show me it afterwards,” she said quickly. “Once we’re back home.” She steadied him when he tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and said, unsure of whether she meant it sarcastically or sincerely, “Welcome back.”

He looked faintly surprised, as though he hadn’t noticed he was back. He looked down at her, at the trees, and smiled. He had acquired laugh lines; and with a smile like that, it really was easy to see how he had won over so many people. Not that she had been impressed by his smile at first, but it certainly left an impression. He kissed the side of her head, squeezed her hand, and said, without irony or indifference, “May I drop the honorific?”

She considered it for a moment. “Yes.”

“Suzume.” He kissed her again. “Thank you for the potato.”


back to index.
Comments 
13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
I should have suspected you were the one who wrote this fill. :)

Even several days later, I'm still impressed by how well you managed to make the Souji/Suzume work. Pairing an OC with a canon character is hard but you pulled it off.

I can just imagine the first impression everyone would have if Suzume met the rest of the cast...

Suzume: *Oh my God, they're really real.*

Inaba Cast: *Oh my God, she's really real.*

Souji: *I wonder if Nanako has any grass growing in the fridge. Mmm. Grass.*

13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
What can I say? I'm like a thief with ten fingers: everyone knows my... wait, most people have ten fingers.

Haha, thank you. They were fun to play off each other. I can only imagine what kind of mishaps Souji gets into in the city. "No, no, no, don't walk into traffic, there are cars coming!"

Haha. Then there's a long pause where they stand there trying to find something to say.

Inaba group: ...

Suzume: ...

Souji: Goose.

And that's how they ended up eating dinner at a horrible French restaurant.
13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
i giggled the entire way through this and loved every second of it.

“I thought I’d let you know that even if you become full of maggots, I wouldn’t leave you.”

/FILES THIS AWAY FOR POSSIBLE FUTURE USAGE
13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
Thank youuu.

SOUJI IS THE MOST ROMANTIC ROMANTIC WHO EVER ROMANTICED.
13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
THIS. My friend told me about this (shoulda known) but yeah, OC/whoever is hard to pull off but, of course, you did rather effectively and humorously. <3

13 Jun 2010 (UTC)
*THUMBS UP 8D*
14 Jun 2010 (UTC)
I...really love how you wrote Souji in this. He was strangely spot on. Everyone's interactions with him were perfect, and I loved the dialogue and all the letters/texts/etc. Well done! ♥
14 Jun 2010 (UTC)
Writing Souji is always fun because he can be whoever you want him to be (... almost). Add to that to some of the really crazy options the game gives you ("eat grass?" >yes") and crazy space cadet Souji works perfectly.

Writing letters for fan fic is something I hate so much, so glad to see it turned out fine.
14 Jun 2010 (UTC)
Yesss, space cadet Souji is basically my headcanon for him when he's not being pimp!Souji which I also approve of, I'm not really picky so I love when people write him like that. ♥ It makes me feel like I'm a little less weird for imagining him like that, ahaha.

ah, I'm a sucker for epistolary-style fiction, so. :3
31 Jul 2010 (UTC)
This story is quaint, weird, and made me giggle to myself more times than i have for a while.

All in all I enjoyed it very much ^_^ And your characterisation of Souji, I must say, suits him very much... especially the way he talked about what he did in game-terms. Loves it. ♥

*mems this*
11 Sep 2010 (UTC)
Came over here from a link at TVTropes and I just wanted to say this is absolutely adorable and very, very funny. I rather warmed up to Suzume by the end as well-- she wasn't Mary Sueish at all. Adorable!
08 Oct 2010 (UTC)
This is an amazing and amazingly bizarre story. I love this rendition of Souji.
22 Jan 2011 (UTC)
*continues to cackle to death or drowning* This is GORGEOUS. They really do care about each other... and it's so lovely to see that Souji learned from Izanagi's mistakes. XD
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