"Yeah, you totally picked me on purpose."
In the field of flowers under a too blue sky, Minato stared at Yukari with a look that said, I'm innocent until proven guilty. And then promptly turned his head so his long bangs hid his face like a veil.
"Ugh," Yukari said.
She repeated this noise when they found the portrait. Yukari in a dapper groom's hat with Minato in delicate white. Minato cradled just as delicately in Yukari's arms.
"It's a good thing I'm short." Minato said. And continued walking ahead. Yukari rolled her eyes and caught up to him. There were no monsters, which was weird, after fighting battle after battle in the dungeon. And after playing that weird love match game, Yukari was agitated thinking about it all over again.
"I'm not your soulmate."
"I know." Minato said, finally looking over at Yukari with a frown. "It's not real. I don't know why you're upset."
"Because you brushed me off!"
Minato had the decency to look ashamed and quietly apologized, "What you have to say is important." And it was this quiet stillness that made Yukari decide, once her crush and resentment had died off, to pursue being Minato's friend. He played at being cool and mysterious like Yukari played at being cheerful and confident. They played well but it was also about hiding the scrapes and bruises underneath. The soft parts that threatened to flicker away like a lone candle in the breeze.
He was a hopeless dork who loved to bake snack cakes and nap on Yukari's shoulder while she traded e-mails with her archery teammates. Junpei took a picture of them once and saved it as, The Golden Years. It was cute, but she'll never admit it out loud.
"It was obviously fake, I thought you were just going to bullshit your way through it."
Minato shrugged, "I tried to."
"See, you say that. And yet..." Yukari gestured to herself. "I'd believe you if you ended up with Koro-chan. Or that.. bear thing from the other team."
"Koro-chan deserves more than I can give." Minato said, so seriously Yukari couldn't keep from snorting. "And I don't have any bear treats on hand."
The mood seemed to be fixed, now that they're at the end of the path. And in front of a church, apparently. Weird. Yukari and Minato exchanged a look.
"They really went all out for this charade."
"Both good and evil really are equally dramatic," Minato said, reaching for his evoker. Yukari readied herself for what ever might be inside, and was stopped by Minato's hand when she reached for the door handle.
"You need another minute?"
"No." Minato admitted. And then took a deep breath. "I picked you because it felt safer to think of a friend."
Yukari blinked. Cogs rolled. Her brain printed out a status report and oh.
"You and me and some takoyaki are gonna have a talk, after this."
Minato smiled sheepishly and proceeded to throw open the door when she called it. The following battle with the twisted priest was rough but went smoothly once the others tumbled in moments later, Junpei shouting, "I'm the best man, right, Yuka-tan?!"
"Not in your dreams, Stupei!"
The Group Date Labyrinth sat empty once again after they returned.
In the cafeteria Minato was on his third helping of takoyaki and avoiding making eye contact when Yukari finished her shake. Biting the tip of her straw, she let her thoughts roll around in her mind.
"So, you didn't want Seta-kun to know?"
Minato nodded, slouched shoulders seemingly dropping lower.
"I shouldn't be surprised. You guys got along really well from the beginning." She probably shouldn't tell him it looked like they were on a date when they explored the festival together earlier. Or maybe she should.
Minato soured at her comment.
"Don't tease me."
"It's suppose to make you happy! The hot, weird guy you like might like you back."
A group of students came into the cafeteria chattering happily, pulling Minato's attention away long enough for Yukari to toss popcorn at him. He brushed the salt off his cheek and ate the falling pieces.
"When are you going to tell Misturu-senpai you like her."
"Ugh," Yukari said, disgusted with Minato's complete lack of subtly. "I don't like her. She's so difficult."
"Shut up, Minato."
Minato gave her a small smile at the lack of heat in her reply. "She's just like you, that's why you like her."
"You're seriously reaching over there, short stuff."
"You're both proud and have something to prove. But you're more willing to accept someone's help."
Yukari stared at her empty drink and tried to bite her tongue. Misturu-senpai was beautiful. And elegant. And absolutely difficult to talk to, she refused to back down and never had a straight answer for anything Yukari had wanted to know. She didn't give anyone any allowances.
...just like Yukari, and what happened when she liked Minato. Just because he made her face warm, it didn't mean he could get away with anything no one else could. He couldn't sneak past her defenses, and ruin her plans. Plans to get to the Kirijos.
And he didn't. And Yukari was here. This weird dimension of students and snacks and not right shadows, with Misturu Kirijo. Who had to deal with underclassmen and her fellow upperclassmen and never, ever admitted she might be lonely.
Frustrated tears Yukari didn't want to give burned in the corner of her eyes.
"Hey," Minato said.
"What," Yukari asked, eyes glued to her cup.
He opened Yukari's hand and dropped a foiled candy into it.
Yukari stared at it in confusion.
"We did get fake married." Minato reminded her, eating his own chocolate.
Yukari unwrapped the kiss with a laugh that squeezed tears down her cheeks.
She ate the sugary treat.