chisotahn: ([P4] subtext? what subtext?)
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Title: Tanabata Wishes
Fandom: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Characters: Souji/Yosuke (established relationship)
Summary: As Tanabata approaches, Yosuke is stressed out and exhausted from work. Souji to the rescue!

Notes: This will spoil you in the face for events up to 7/7. More self-indulgent fluff. What can I say, it's so fun to write! Thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] frigoris for beta and advice.

This fic is also a sort of thank-you for 25 watchers - thanks for reading, everyone! ♥ I'll probably do something more... substantial in that thank-you vein once I've knocked out more of my WIP list. Enjoy!





It wasn't that unusual for Yosuke to show up at school still tired and yawning; he wasn't really a morning person under the best circumstances. That grogginess rarely lasted long, especially since Morooka seemed to have an eagle eye for any sign of weakness, and the threat of classroom humiliation was a powerful motivator.

It was unusual for Yosuke to still be stifling yawns at lunch, and Souji frowned slightly as he opened the door to the roof. Yosuke walked past him and settled himself in their usual spot, blinking a bit at the bright sunlight. "You okay?" Souji asked, after a moment, moving over to sit next to him.

"I'm fine," Yosuke said quickly, though Souji noted he had to stifle another yawn at the end of the sentence. "Just stayed up too late doing homework. I know, it's a bad habit," he added. "I'm just super busy right now, that's all."

Souji's frown deepened as Yosuke leaned against him; usually, he wouldn't protest that in the least, but for Yosuke to do anything remotely affectionate in public was very strange. "You know, if you need help studying..."

"Nah, I'm okay," Yosuke mumbled. "You wouldn't be awake then, anyway. I had to trade a bunch of shifts so I could come with you guys to rescue Rise and stuff. I just gotta make it through next week, and I'll be good."

Souji paused. Yosuke was always ready to go any time they needed to go into the TV world - they all were - but it hadn't really occurred to him that there was a price to pay for that availability. "Sorry," he said, quietly, shifting a little so Yosuke would be a bit more comfortable. "Is there anything I can do?"

"Nah, I gotta do this myself - my parents got kinda mad when they saw the work schedule. They didn't get why I switched all those shifts to 'mess around'." Yosuke sighed, then let his head drop to rest on Souji's shoulder and closed his eyes, apparently unconcerned with appearances, or too tired to care. "Mmf. Poke me when the bell rings?"

"Sure," Souji promised; Yosuke mumbled vague thanks, and Souji spent the rest of lunchtime as a pillow.


........


As the week progressed, the situation didn't get any better - if anything, it got worse, with Yosuke barely making it through morning classes, sleeping through lunch, and hurrying off to Junes as soon as the last bell rang. Souji felt vaguely helpless, unable to do much other than wake Yosuke up after lunch and bail him out when Morooka barked questions at him.

Things got so bad that even Nanako noticed; Yosuke usually came over a lot, after all. One afternoon, after a week of no Yosuke, Nanako gave Souji an almost nervous look as they worked on putting up bamboo for Tanabata. "Did you have a fight?" she asked, anxiously.

Souji shook his head and smiled reassuringly. "No, we didn't. He's just really busy working at Junes right now, that's all." He held up the bamboo branches, shifting their position slightly. "He'll come and visit again before you know it, I promise. Here - how's this?"

Nanako gave the bamboo an appraising look, then nodded. "That's good - wow, it's so pretty! Dad usually forgets about the bamboo."

Souji couldn't help but grin at her enthusiasm. "You really like Tanabata, huh?

"Yeah! Everybody puts up streamers and there's lanterns, and - big bro, we have to write wishes and hang them up!" She quickly padded over to the TV stand, pulling her box of paper and markers out of the cabinet. "I got lots of colorful paper we can use, too!" She waved a marker in his direction.

"Of course," Souji assured her, making sure the bamboo was secure before sitting down at the table. "What are you going to wish for?"

"Um." Nanako's forehead furrowed in thought. "Peace... and um... hm..."

As Nanako kept thinking, Souji picked up a marker and pondered his own blank slip of paper; he knew there was no way he was getting out of this without writing some sort of wish. "Hmm. You already took the easy one," he teased.

Nanako giggled. "You could wish for peace too, or... maybe for Yosuke-nii to come back soon?"

"Hah - he will, don't worry. I don't need a wish for that," Souji assured her. Nanako nodded, then turned back to her own wishes, humming under her breath. Souji paused a moment longer before writing on his scrap of paper.

To spend time with friends.

It was close enough.


........


Nanako was frowning at the TV when Souji came home after soccer practice; her usually cheerful greeting was subdued, and Souji immediately came over and crouched next to her. "Is something wrong?"

She pointed at the television. "It was the weather report - they said it might rain tomorrow! It can't rain! The magpies won't come if it rains!"

"The magp- oh, right." Souji relaxed and ruffled Nanako's hair. "Don't worry. I'm sure everything will be fine."

"It has to be fine," Nanako proclaimed, shifting to stare out the window as if she could hold back the rain by sheer force of will. "It'd be awful if they had to wait a whole 'nother year... poor Orihime-sama..."

Souji glanced up at the bamboo hanging in the corner. "Why don't you wish for good weather?"

Nanako brightened immediately. "Yeah! And that'd help Orihime-sama, too, so I'm sure she'll grant it!" She reached for the box of paper and markers, pulling out one of the colorful scraps they hadn't used. "Thanks, big bro!"

"No problem," Souji said with a grin, then paused as his phone rang in his pocket. "Hang on - let me get this, and then I'll help you hang it up, okay?" Nanako nodded enthusiastically as Souji got to his feet and pulled out his phone; to his surprise, it was Yosuke. "Be right back," he told Nanako, then hurried upstairs as he answered. "Hey-"

"Hey," Yosuke echoed, his voice faintly tinny. "Can you hear me okay? I'm in the downstairs break room, damn place is like a concrete bunker or something-"

"Yeah, you're fine. What's up?" Souji glanced down the stairs to make sure Nanako was still thoroughly occupied, then went into his room and sat down on the couch.

"Not much - break time, figured I'd actually talk to you for once, since I kinda... didn't at lunch." Yosuke sounded frustrated. "You gotta stop me from doing that."

"Stop you from sleeping? No way. For all I know, that's all the sleep you get these days."

"I'm not that bad," Yosuke insisted, then sighed. "This really sucks. I'm sorry, partner."

"It's okay, really. You sound better now than you did at lunch, at least."

"Food court coffee." Yosuke's disgust was clearly audible. "It tastes like boiled crap, but it does the job."

Souji made a face. "That's cruel and unusual punishment."

"No kidding. At least I've only got one more day of this - I get off at eight tomorrow, and then I've got Friday off. I think I'll just sleep all afternoon. It'll be amazing," Yosuke sighed. "Did you know you can't really live on four hours a night, even with coffee?"

"At least you'll get out in time to see the Tanabata lanterns?"

Yosuke groaned. "Don't talk to me about festivals... or anything requiring special events, sales, or whatever. I never want to see another bamboo branch or streamer again."

"Heh. I guess it's hard to get excited about special occasions if they mean more work."

"Always, dude - but it's not your fault. Blame the Junes marketing machine. They'll grind any holiday into the ground, even this one. I am not looking forward to Christmas."

Souji winced. "Well, you've got a few months to get ready for that."

"Yeah, thank god." Yosuke paused, then sighed again. "Ugh, and -" Yosuke's voice dropped into a whisper. "Dude, you're gonna think this is dumb, okay? But - I really, really miss you. Heh, even though I saw you at lunch. Stupid, huh?"

"Nah, that's not stupid. You did sleep through most of it," Souji reminded him, though he couldn't help but smile into the phone. "I know exactly what you mean, anyway. It's not the same."

"Nope, it's not." Yosuke made a frustrated noise. "Well. One more day, right? Ugh. And now I gotta get back to work... and I've got another damn essay to finish after my shift, too..."

"One more day," Souji agreed.

"Yeah, yeah. I'll make it, don't worry. See you later, partner."

Souji listened to the dial tone for a moment before flicking his phone closed and tucking it back in his pocket, then stood up and headed downstairs, an idea percolating in the back of his mind.


........


As predicted, the skies were overcast on the 7th; Nanako kept glancing anxiously at the clouds all through dinner. When Souji left the house after doing the dishes, he took an umbrella with him, just in case. The breeze carried the scent of rain, and it rattled the Tanabata streamers and lanterns as Souji made his way across Inaba to Junes.

Wherever Yosuke was working, it wasn't in the grocery section; Souji idly picked out a few things and paid for them, since he was there anyway. He lingered for a moment by a large display of fake bamboo - now marked 50% off - before making his way over to the break room door to wait for his best friend to emerge.

It took a little longer than Souji had anticipated; he could just barely see a sliver of the sky from his position, and he watched it shift from muted sunset orange to dark gray as night fell. The employees going in and out of the break room largely ignored him. Souji was beginning to worry that he might have missed Yosuke when the door opened again, and this time a familiar figure walked briskly down the aisle, headphones already pressed tightly over his ears.

Souji quickly caught up to Yosuke, tapping his oblivious best friend on the shoulder. Yosuke actually jumped; he quickly tugged his headphones off his ears and turned. "Can I help- hey, what are you doing here?"

Souji grinned. "Waiting for you, obviously. I'm glad to see you survived."

"Geez, Souji - ugh, don't do that. I thought you were a customer. The other night some old lady caught me on the way out and kept me for a whole half hour. I thought I was gonna keel over." Yosuke swatted at Souji with his rolled-up apron.

"Ow! Hey - can't a guy pick up lunch for his cousin in peace?" Souji brandished his shopping bag as evidence.

"Oh, sure - since when do you buy bento? You're the one who always goes on about homemade lunches and stuff," Yosuke said with a snort, then sighed. "I guess I'm not gonna complain, though. Let's get out of here before someone really does ask me something."

"Don't worry, I'll fend them off. I'm a customer, right? You're already busy. With me. Come on, I'll walk you home."

"Sounds good - oh, man, don't tell me it's raining," Yosuke added, eyeing Souji's umbrella. "I didn't bring anything-"

"It isn't. Not yet, anyway." Souji gave the sky a speculative look as they stepped through the front doors and out into the street. The breeze still rattled the lanterns and the fake bamboo strung along the sides of the doorway, but Souji had to admit it looked nice, even if the bamboo was plastic. "I hope it stays away for a little while longer. Nanako was worried that the rain would keep the magpies away."

"The magpies?" Yosuke blinked and looked at the swaying lanterns as if he'd never seen them before. "Oh... oh, yeah, right. Heh. Man, I remember when I cared about that kind of thing."

"You? Huh, I didn't peg you for the romantic type."

"Oh, shut up," Yosuke grumbled, giving Souji a half-hearted shove. But there was a relieved smile on his face as he took a few steps away from Souji and stretched. "It's finally over - just gotta get through this last essay and I'm good. Man, there were moments when I was sure I was done for. Totally doomed, never going to see you again..."

"I missed you too," Souji said, with a smirk.

"Not so loud," Yosuke hissed, then grinned sheepishly and glanced down the street. "Let's... let's take the long way back, okay? Along the floodplain road?"

"Are you sure? I'd rather you didn't die of sleep deprivation." Souji gave Yosuke a vaguely concerned look, though he couldn't deny that he'd welcome his best friend's continued presence; he'd had precious little of it as late, other than those lunchtimes largely spent serving as a pillow.

"I'll be okay." Yosuke glanced away for a moment. "Anyway, I kinda... um."

"Missed me too?" Souji said, with his best innocent expression.

"Ugh, yes, now shut up and get moving," Yosuke groaned, and Souji grinned.


........



They ended up perched on the riverbank, talked about nothing; while there had been people here and there in the streets, lighting lanterns and looking up at the cloudy sky, the floodplain road was completely deserted. "Man... I guess this weather really isn't any good for star-watching," Yosuke said, stretching and tilting his head back. "Too bad. I bet you can see the stars really well out here."

"You bet? What, you've never looked?" Souji raised one eyebrow at his best friend. "It's really nice, especially compared to the city. You should come with me next time. The overlook is a great place for stargazing."

Yosuke glanced away, though it wasn't quite quick enough to hide the blush that crept over his face. "Yeah, whatever."

Souji couldn't resist. "It's a date, then."

Yosuke's blush deepened, and Souji had to scramble out of the way as Yosuke tried to elbow him in the side. "You're the worst," Yosuke proclaimed. Souji just grinned and sat down again; on impulse, he reached out and found Yosuke's hand. "Geez," Yosuke sighed, but he didn't pull away.

The two of them sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, with only the wind in the leaves and the sound of the river for company. Still, as the wind picked up again, bringing the scent of rain, Yosuke made a vague, grumbling noise. Souji gave his best friend a questioning look. "Something wrong?"

"I gotta do the rest of that damn essay," Yosuke muttered, reaching up to run his free hand through his hair. "I should probably go back, but..."

"Yeah, you probably should-" Souji began, then paused as a flicker of light on the river's surface caught his eye. He tilted his head back and glanced up at the sky. There was a wide gap in the clouds just overhead, through which the night sky and the stars were clearly visible. "Hey, look up."

"Huh?" Yosuke sounded confused, then complied, his grip on Souji's fingers tightening as he did so. "Whoa..."

"Told you," Souji murmured, as they looked up at the shimmering line of the Milky Way high above them, two stars shining particularly brightly.

"Nanako will be happy, huh?" Yosuke said, after a moment.

"Yeah, she will." Souji smiled. "And so, after a long separation, the two lovers meet," he added, giving Yosuke a sidelong look.

It took Yosuke a few seconds to get it; when he did, he tried to pull his hand away, but Souji wouldn't let him. "Oh, come on, that is the - that is the most cheesy thing I've ever- ugh. It was just a week- and... and I am not Orihi-mmf-" But Souji had long since learned the best way to cut off Yosuke mid-splutter; sure enough, Yosuke relaxed against him as he deepened the kiss.

"I didn't say you were," Souji said with a grin as their lips finally parted. "I just meant that I missed you. That's all."

"Hmph." Yosuke shook his head, then sighed and leaned against Souji, essay forgotten again for now. "Missed you too. Idiot."
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let's go, partner!

August 2012

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