chisotahn: Firebird with the text "Firebird's Child". (seven against the end)
[personal profile] chisotahn posting in [community profile] ikuzeaibou
Title: Reach Out (Part 4) - Delusions
Fandom: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Characters: Yosuke with the rest of the surviving Investigation Team + spoilers. Pairings are Souji/Yosuke (in the past), implied Chie/Yukiko and Kanji/Naoto.
Summary: AU, pseudo-fill for [livejournal.com profile] badbadbathhouse; details in the notes for the first part, here.

Souji has fallen in battle, and the rest of the team moves on without him, with Yosuke taking up the job of leader. They manage to catch the killer and continue on with their lives as best they can, but as time moves on, they begin to question if everything is truly resolved...

Notes: This will spoil you in the face for the true ending. This is part four of ten.




They don't go to Izanami that day; an adversary of that level demands preparation and planning. Still, they do peek into the new space that's formed in the fog of the TV world. It's strange, but somehow soft, more deliberately ordered, almost sterile. There's none of the chaos they've come to expect. It's almost scarier, for all that - but the Shadows sliding along the starkly elegant corridors are familiar, and they know how to deal with Shadows.

Yosuke doesn't think he's that good at tactics; he knows he doesn't have the swift instincts that Souji possessed. Still, he's learned how to cope, and it's not like he's alone in this. Their planning meeting at the gazebo the next morning is long and intense, and things happen quickly after that. Yosuke dumps most of his motorcycle savings into new equipment for the seven of them, and they head into the TV world with grim determination.

"So you came," comes the soft, mocking chuckle as they step through the arches into Yomotsu Hirasaka.

Izanami keeps whispering to them as they ascend towards her, bitter, almost mocking mentions of despair, hope, and emptiness that make Yosuke's skin crawl. They're coming unprepared, without the key they so desperately need, and she knows it. But there's no way they can just turn away, even knowing what they're missing. Yosuke's long since done with that. They all are.

And then it's time, or very nearly so, and the seven of them crouch in a huddle at the summit of Yomotsu Hirasaka. Ahead of them, the path stretches through square arches reminiscent of torii gates to frame a suspiciously wide platform. "I can sense her," Rise says, her voice trembling just a little. "She's there."

"What're we gonna do?" Chie breathes, glancing at Yosuke.

"Maybe we can... I don't know, reason with her or something? This doesn't have to end in a fight," Yosuke says, though he knows the chances of that are small. He glances at Naoto in turn; he's gotten a bit better at this whole leader thing, but he's still no good at diplomacy.

"That is a possibility," Naoto acknowledges. "But if that fails?"

Yosuke is grateful for that if, rather than the when he knows they're all thinking. "Then... we fight."

The others nod as one, and that's all the discussion that's really needed. Before they go, Yosuke transfers Souji's glasses from his bag into his pocket. A sort of talisman, perhaps.

She appears as they step through the last gate, a faint smile on her face as she floats above them. "Congratulations on making it this far... but your path ends here."

Yosuke takes a deep breath and steps forward. "All we want is the truth. You started all this, didn't you? Why?"

"You granted certain individuals the power to enter the TVs," Naoto says, and Yosuke relaxes slightly; she's so much better at this sort of thing. "You created the Midnight Channel as well. And lastly, you started a rumor about the Midnight Channel to raise its public awareness. Is this correct?"

Izanami's mocking smile seems to deepen. "Correct, save one point. The 'Midnight Channel' is indeed a device to draw hearts into this world. But it was always your individual wills that determined what appeared on it. The want to show, and the want to see... I granted a 'window' that catered to both. That is all."

"Are you saying... all you did was give that initial spark to Senpai and the others, then watched things unfold?" Rise demands. "The rumors spreading, things going wrong... that was all our fault?!"

"I granted a simple gift, to take the measure of humanity's true desire. Everything that has happened is merely an expression of that desire."

"But we got rid of the fog, didn't we?" Yosuke grits his teeth. "Doesn't that count for something?"

"I granted a gift," Izanami repeats, her smile fading into bitterness. "And what did humanity show me in return? Ugliness, base hunger - desire for petty pleasures and sordid secrets at any price. No, the fog remains here, in this realm that echoes the human unconscious. It will eventually return, called out in response to humanity's endless need for delusion."

"That's not true," Yosuke shouts, his tenuous patience slipping, but Naoto once again raises her voice and overrides him.

"I must agree that the vast majority of people are exactly as you say, but you must recognize that there is potential for change. Our mere presence here is evidence of that!"

"We don't intend to live that way," Chie affirms, putting her hands on her hips and glaring up at Izanami.

"If we were fine with the world you're makin', we'd never have come this far, damnit," Kanji adds.

"It is you who fail to recognize the truth you want so desperately," Izanami replies, looking down at them. "Even now, you continue to embrace delusion. You see only what you want to see, and believe only what you wish to believe. You truly are no different than the others, for all your awakened power - a power that I first granted to three people, and for what? One used it as a plaything, frittering it away for his own twisted amusement. The second failed to recognize what he had... and while the third showed some promise, well." She smirked. "He failed, and I have no use for failures."

"You sonofa-" Kanji growls, and Chie hisses something furious and incoherent.

Yosuke's kunai are in his hands, though he can't remember pulling them out, and he barely resists throwing them at Izanami's face. "Shut the hell up," he says, voice low, and this time Naoto doesn't override his words. "We're here now because of the person you say is a failure - and we'll do whatever it takes to finish what he started!"

Izanami's eyes narrow, and suddenly there's fog creeping in from everywhere, as it did in the shopping district. "I told you that chasing the fallen was a useless endeavor," she says, her voice low as the mist obscures her completely. "Another truth that you refuse to accept."

Their glasses do absolutely nothing against this fog, and Yosuke takes a step back. But the haze thins almost as quickly as it appeared, fading, twisting away-

... Shit.

"Whoa! Geez, it's huge!" Chie yelps.

Yosuke stares up at the white form floating above them - now much, much bigger, nearly all pretense of human form gone. But that helps, somehow; they've fought weird things before, no problem. No problem.

Right?


Izanami's distorted tones echo against the remaining fog. "Knowledge of the truth is not everything. Yet drunk with truth, you exceeded your roles, and became too involved. Now, learn for yourselves whose wrath you have brought down..."

Yosuke swallows, hard, then finds his voice. "Come on, guys, let's go! We've been through worse than this," he shouts, hoping against hope that he's right - and there's that feeling again, twisty and cold, that he's once again somewhere he shouldn't be. It really, really should be Souji here, urging the team forward, taking up a fighting stance in front of this monster-goddess-thing. Not him.

But they don't have a choice.

Chie, Yukiko, and Kanji run to stand by his side, spreading out in a rough half-circle around Izanami's huge form; Yosuke knows the others will protect Rise, and help if needed. He fumbles for his headphones, and as soon as he hits play and the familiar music floods his hearing, he starts to relax, just a little.

It's just another fight. We can do this.

"And yet you still cling to your delusions," Izanami hisses.

"We're not just fighting to solve the case anymore!" Chie shouts back, bouncing angrily from foot to foot.

"Then come, sinful sons of man," the goddess replies, dark hair billowing around her.

"This will end it all... we have to believe," Rise whispers, Kanzeon's power carrying her words.

Believe what you wish to believe.



Part 5

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let's go, partner!

August 2012

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