chisotahn: Firebird with the text "Firebird's Child". (souji: pensive)
[personal profile] chisotahn posting in [community profile] ikuzeaibou
Title: Ten Steps
Fandom: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Characters: Souji/Yosuke (eventually); ensemble
Summary: AU, longfic; fill for this prompt on [ profile] badbadbathhouse; details in the first part, here.

Notes: This will spoil you in the face for events up to August + elements of November. This is part nine of sixteen.

Souji and Nanako sat in companionable silence, listening to the soft sound of the rain outside. Nanako was working busily on her summer homework while Souji sat on the couch with a book, offering encouragement and advice as needed. "Big bro, did it rain that day we went to Junes? I don't remember," Nanako asked, after a moment, her brow furrowed in thought.

"Yeah, it started on the way home, remember? We had to run down the street so you wouldn't get wet."

She giggled. "Yeah, that's right! Thanks, big bro!"

Souji smiled and settled back, then paused as his phone started to ring; Yosuke, according to the caller ID, which meant it could take a while. "Hey, I'm going to go upstairs for a little bit to answer this, okay?"

"Sure! I'm just drawing the pictures now," Nanako said with a grin; she held up her book for his approval, and Souji couldn't help but smile at the stick figures. They were remarkably detailed, considering.

"Okay. I'll be back in a few minutes." Souji quickly headed for the stairs, flipping the phone open before the call could go over to voice mail. "Hey, what's up?"

"Oh man, oh man. Souji, I am so dead."

Souji blinked at the panicked tone in his best friend's voice; he went into his room and pushed the door halfway closed behind him before settling on the couch. "What's going on, now?"

"Dude, this is serious, I- do you even watch television? Don't answer that," Yosuke groaned. "I was just on the freakin' news."

"... what, like on TV?"

"Yes, like on TV, what do you think!?"

A flicker of unease awoke in the back Souji's mind, but he tried to ignore it. "So why were you on TV, anyway? Did you rob a bank or something?"

"Souji- argh, this isn't the time for that, seriously," Yosuke spluttered.

"Sorry. What happened?"

"There were some dumb reporters lurking in front of Junes, interviewing people - word on the street, or something, I guess - about Junes, and what people think about how it's supposedly destroying local businesses or something," Yosuke said, with an exasperated sigh. "They grabbed me on my way out of work 'cause I still had my apron on, and then I let slip I was the manager's son and they stuck the camera right in my face. I was hoping maybe they wouldn't use that footage, but they ended up airing pretty much everything I said, and hardly anything from anyone else they interviewed! They called it an exclusive Junes interview, goddamnit - my dad is going to kill me!"

Souji sighed into the phone. "Look, it can't be that bad. What did you say?"

"Doesn't matter... look, Junes is weird, okay? You're supposed to go through official PR channels for this kind of thing. It's some big corporate deal. But I was tired and I just wanted them to leave me alone so I could go home, so I babbled a bunch of stupid crap and damnit. My dad'll be home soon, so I have... what, maybe a few minutes left to live? I'll leave you some of my stuff in my will, okay?"

"Nobody's killing anyone." Souji rolled his eyes. "Just calm down, alright? I'm sure everything will be fine."

"Yeah, well- shit," Yosuke swore, and Souji heard a muffled sound in the background, perhaps a door slamming. "He's home. Damnit. Call you later, maybe, if I'm still alive." With that, he hung up without waiting for a response.

Souji just shook his head and flipped his own phone closed, then padded downstairs, trying to ignore both the sound of the rain on the windows and the uncertain feeling in the pit of his stomach. But they'd caught Mitsuo, it was over, Yosuke could be on TV every night if he wanted with no harm done. Souji made himself stay calm, exactly as he might have before fighting a dangerous Shadow. The only thing he had to worry about was Yosuke's dad actually killing him, and that wasn't going to happen.

"Is something wrong, big bro?"

Souji glanced down at Nanako; she was looking at him, concern in her eyes, and he smiled. "No, nothing's wrong. How're the drawings coming along?"


Almost midnight.

Souji snapped the curtain closed, that movement practiced and familiar; how many times had he watched the clock hands tick towards midnight, wondering what would show up on the blank TV screen as rain drummed on the roof overhead? But there shouldn't be a damn thing. He should be going to bed. There was no reason for this... and yet he couldn't quite make himself sleep. But it'd be fine, and when nothing happened he'd have the ultimate reassurance. The sharp tick the clock made as it hit midnight seemed unnaturally loud, and Souji unconsciously leaned forward slightly, focusing on the TV.

And then his breath caught in his throat as static crawled across the screen, tainting it with a yellow glow, revealing a dark shape that fuzzed at the edges - but Souji had no doubts, as indistinct as the image might be. He pulled out his cell phone in one quick movement, and he gripped the thing hard as he dialed Chie's number.

"Souji?" Chie answered, her voice sleepy; he'd woken her up, but he had no mental room to feel bad about that right now.

"Chie-" The static faded from the screen even as he spoke, leaving no light behind. "Chie, listen to me. The Midnight Channel was just on."

"W-what? Wait, are you serious?" Chie spluttered. "This better not be a joke-"

"It's not a joke, I swear - it was just on, and Yosuke was the one on it. There was a special on the news earlier tonight, and..."

There was a long silence from the other end, and then Chie swore under her breath. "But we caught the guy! Didn't we?"

"I don't know. I thought we did too, but... I saw Yosuke on the Midnight Channel. I know I did."

"I believe you," Chie said, but she sounded shaken. Souji couldn't blame her. "Okay. Uh. Meet at the... maybe the gazebo tomorrow? If this is really... really still going on, we gotta talk to everyone."

"I'm not letting this happen," Souji said, and it came out more like an order than he'd meant it.

"Well, at least Yosuke-kun won't yell at you for following him around like Kanji-kun did," Chie said with a laugh that quickly faded. "Uh. We'll... see you tomorrow, I guess?"

"Yeah. Thanks, Chie - I'm sorry I woke you up."

"S'alright, I'd be freaking out too - heck, you saw me, I did freak out with Yukiko... try and sleep, okay? G'night."

Souji listened to the drone of the dial tone for a moment before lowering his hand and closing his phone, letting it slip through his fingers and fall to the ground. He had a feeling sleep was one thing he wasn't going to be able to do tonight.
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