Something ricocheted off of his window, and Yu Narukami looked away from the late-night news program, climbing to his feet in order to investigate.
The dark blue curtains parted with a rustle as he peered out into the starry night, immediately spotting a familiar figure as she readied another pebble to throw. He hastily motioned for her to come up, not willing to chance disturbing his slumbering uncle downstairs.
In a literal flash, she vanished, moving from the pool of light emitted by the street-lamp; she materialized in his room before he even finished turning around. Yu’s smile was wry as he took in the sight of his elusive girlfriend—the minor goddess, Inaba’s guardian deity: Marie.
She dropped her bag with a careless roll of her shoulders, smiling at him with obvious delight. “Welcome back. So you’re staying for the whole summer, right? You’re going to be here in town?”
Cutting right to the chase, like always. “More or less. It’s really good to see you, Marie.”
She twitched her nose in response, but a blush was already forming. “What do you mean, ‘more or less’? Do you have other plans or something?”
“The gang and I might be going out. We’re heading to the beach near Okina, I do know that much. Maybe up into the mountains at some point over the break as well.”
She nodded. She didn’t seem that surprised.
“You’re more than welcome to come along if you’d like,” Yu offered after a moment. “We’re meeting up at Junes around 8 AM or so—we can discuss the rest of it then.”
Marie was notorious for her antisocial behavior. She spent time with everyone when she wanted to, and that was that. They all knew very well that it was probably a combination of her personality and whatever godly duties she had to attend to.
Her aloof attitude was mostly an act, after all. She loved this town and everyone in it.
She laughed softly. “I’ll think about it. But first, I…” Her blush deepened as she mumbled, “I just want to have you all to myself for a while.”
Yu’s smile turned softer as he watched her avert her gaze. Marie. She always waited so patiently—well, scratch that—so faithfully for his return whenever he left town. The simple act of stepping into Inaba blanketed him with an inexorable warmth, as if the town itself was overjoyed about his arrival.
In a way, it actually was.
“Is that so?” He said, friendly teasing in his voice. She huffed and he ignored her, sitting on his unrolled futon as he pondered some things. A decision was soon made. Yu opened his arms. “Come here, Marie.”
“H-H-Huh? What for? You better not be planning something stupid…” She was rubbing her arms and he noticed with some amusement that her boots were missing—polite indoors, as a goddess should be.
“It’s not stupid. I promise.”
“You’re stupid you biggoofycuteloser…”
She obeyed anyway, sitting with her back pressed against his chest. He draped his arms around her and pulled her closer, listening to the stagger in her breathing as her face continued to be claimed by scarlet hue. Yu removed her hat and gently set it down nearby before beginning to run his fingertips along her shoulderblades.
“Wh-What are you d-doing?”
“Giving you some attention. I’m really glad to see you, like I said.”
She swallowed hard before replying. Her voice sounded very small. “Really?”
“Of course.” Yu pressed a kiss to the crook of her neck and she stiffened; he immediately pulled back a bit and loosened his hold. “Sorry, was that wrong?”
“No! N-No. That’s not it.”
“What is it then?”
“Just…shut up and forget about it, okay? Go back to…whatever it is you’re doing…”
“If that’s your wish,” Yu said, gentle humor back in his tone. Conscious of how rigid she was, he was careful to employ only the softest touches as he kissed the spot beneath her ear. His hands trailed along, brushing against her shoulders, her arms, and downwards until their fingers were intertwined before them.
He paused, feeling the thundering of her heart and how still she was. Was she even breathing?
Yu chuckled. “All right, all right…Marie.”
“I’m not…not unrelaxed you idiot savant…”
“Yes, you are,” he stated patiently. “And that’s all right. Do you want me to stop, Marie?”
Yu surveyed her carefully. She licked her lips once, blue eyes darting, staring anywhere but at him.
“…Don’t. Please don’t. I-It…It does feel nice, I’m just…not used to it.”
“That’s fine. Neither am I.”
Her bout of shyness momentarily gave way to skeptical annoyance. “Now you’re making things up. Someone like you has probably dated a…a dozen girls or something by now!”
Yu began tracing calming circles on the back of her hands. “I’m not making things up. Before coming to Inaba, I was just an average kid. No one paid me any special attention and I didn’t really pay much attention to anyone else. I had some friends, but not like Yosuke, Naoto, and the rest.”
She was silent. Thoughtful. Perhaps still disbelieving.
He rested his chin on her shoulder. “And no one like you.”
Marie leaned forward a little and looked to the side. “I swear, do you actually think about anything before you say it…?”
“Hey, I do a lot of thinking. Usually I ponder three possible things to say and calculate the scenario that’d result.”
“You’re such a dweeb.”
“I never said I wasn’t. Problem is, everyone seems convinced that I’m cool for some reason.” Yu grinned to himself as he noticed how calm her stance had become. Good. The warmth of their combined body heat seeped down and warmed his very soul, further fanning the fire already burning in his heart.
He loved her. He really did. Loved this grumpy, naïve, selfless goddess.
Yu slowly pulled their hands apart, and Marie’s heartbeat increased again though she didn’t freeze up like before. Her pulse only pounded faster as his hand slid up her shirt. Laying a palm flat on her back, he gently scratched his nails down her spine, simultaneously kissing along the side of her throat.
“A-Ahhh…” She bit her lower lip, eyes squeezing shut.
He gauged her reaction, quickly tracing a heart on her back before nudging her shoulder a little, urging her to turn around and face him. She did so, but with great shyness, head dipped down so that her bangs hid her eyes.
“You all right?”
He swept her hair aside and kissed her forehead, following that with placing two fingers beneath her chin. Once sufficiently coaxed into lifting her head—her eyes remained firmly shut, and her trembling fingers were clutching his shirt—he gave her a kiss, deeper than ones they’d shared in the past, pulling her closer as he marveled.
There was the strawberry lip gloss that she wore, along with some wild, indescribable taste; if made to describe it anyway, he’d have said it was akin to warm rain, or the watery sunlight that broke through storm-clouds. An electrifying sensation.
When they finally broke apart, Yu wasted no time in stroking her hair, finding a calming rhythm as he waited for her to meet his gaze. She eventually did, but not before letting out a little, pleased sigh that caused her eyes to ripple with prismatic shades.
“J-Jeez…I never said I came in here for this,” she complained, her absolutely content tone lacking any actual venom. She shifted so her curled form could rest again him, her head leaning on his chest. Yu continued to stroke her hair as he wrapped an arm around her.
He suppressed his smile. Or rather, tried to. “Sorry, then.”
“Don’t say things you don’t mean. You jerk…you loser…”
She trailed off though, and they sat in tranquil silence for a time.
Yu eventually looked down at her, noticing how distant her gaze had become. A strange, silly thought crossed his mind and he decided to voice it while he had the opportunity.
“What about you?”
“…What about me?”
“Over the course of your long, immortal life, did you ever…do something like this with someone?”
He wasn’t asking due to jealousy or another petty, empty reason like it. It was simple and pure curiosity. Nothing more. He thought surely it had to be a yes—
“I don’t know.” Her grasp on his shirt tightened. “I can’t think of anyone right off the bat. Some of my memories are so old, they’re barely there…Like…how the Midnight Channel looked with bad reception.”
Yu wanted to kick himself for the spontaneous relief he felt. “Oh. I see. Sorry, I was just wondering…”
Marie sighed again, burrowing deeper into him. The low, thrumming groan of contentment she made reminded him of a cat's purr. “It’s fine…no big deal…but there’s no way I’m ever going to forget you.”
“Of course. As long as we have our bond, we’re always together.”
She gave a little nod and a second later...he realized with a jolt that she’d fallen asleep on him.
This was an awkward position.
Yu rested his back against the wall and huffed in amusement. There were worse situations, he supposed.
He was willing to take things as slow as need be. Anything, anything at all, to ensure Marie’s comfort and happiness. That was the important thing.
That thought firmly in mind, he nodded off himself.
Marie woke up first, blinking in confusion at the scent of body-wash filling her nose. Her blush could have burned down a rainforest as she—slowly—untangled herself from his embrace.
She sensed his uncle moving about downstairs. Judging by the smell beginning to flood the house, he was probably hoping to surprise the other residents with breakfast. Time to make herself scarce.
With studious precision, Yu was settled comfortably into his bed. Marie retrieved her hat, giving her boyfriend a fond look as she prepared to slip away.
She’d see him later at Junes.