chisotahn: Firebird with the text "Firebird's Child". (don't ever leave me.)
[personal profile] chisotahn posting in [community profile] ikuzeaibou
Title: Reach Out (Part 10) - Life
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 [ 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 ten of ten. Thank you for reading. ♥

"How on earth are we ever going to explain this?" Naoto says, shaking her head and smiling; they're all laying on the grass on a sun-covered hillside, breathing in the fresh, clean air of this new world.

Souji winces, just a little. "Oh, I don't think anyone will notice the Midnight Channel," he begins, only to get cut off by Yosuke elbowing him lightly. "I... have no idea."

It certainly is a problem, considering they'd rather not give any of Souji's family a heart attack, and Yosuke really has no clue how they're going to explain any of it. While at the moment the actual explanation doesn't seem to matter so much - here under the warm sun, all together, all alive - there's a hesitation in Souji's words now, and Yosuke turns his head enough to shoot Chie a worried glance.

Chie nods, just slightly, then gets to her feet and stretches. "Anyone up for a swim? I want to wash all that dead-goddess stink off."

"That's a great idea," Yukiko chimes in, smiling softly as she gets up. "What about you guys?"

"I'm way too tired to move," Souji says, quietly. "You go ahead, though."

"I'll stay with you, Sensei-" Teddie begins, but Rise grabs him by one ear and tugs, hard.

So Chie, Yukiko, and Rise go, with Teddie asking them urgent questions about scoring that will probably get him thrown into the sparkling new lake. Kanji and Naoto end up walking away together, saying something about exploring, and then it's just the two of them left on the grassy hillside, looking up into the cloudless sky.

"Reminds me of the riverbank," Souji says, after a moment.

"Heh, I haven't been down there in a long time. Not since... well, you know."

There's a long silence, then a soft sound as Souji shifts position. Yosuke leans his head to one side to glance at his best friend, then sits up sharply, breath catching in his throat - because Souji isn't laying down on the grass anymore. He's sitting up, knees hugged to his chest, trembling in every limb.

"S-Souji!" Yosuke scrambles to sit up too, and scoots over to wrap one arm around Souji's shoulders, holding him tightly. "You okay?!"

"No... sorry..." comes the muffled reply, and a shudder runs through Souji's frame as he shifts to lean heavily against Yosuke. "Everything was so... so scattered and you said I... really... was dead... I- what're we going to do now-"

Yosuke just squeezes him tighter. While Souji's always taken things in stride, what's happened to him is profoundly disturbing, entirely outside anyone's definition of normal. He's sort of amazed that Souji managed to hold it together this long, but at the same time, it's very like Souji to wait until the important things are finished before letting himself collapse. "Hey, so were we... I mean, not for months, but-"

Souji buries his head in his hands. "But they- I- you said my body showed up on top of Junes, and they cremated it... me-" He abruptly pulls his hands away from his face and pinches the back of one hand hard enough to bruise. "Ow-"

"Souji..." is the only thing Yosuke can think of to say; what the hell do you say at a time like this, anyway? There's no precedent.

"And everyone," Souji continues, still trembling, "you all... it had to hurt so much, and my parents and my uncle and oh god, Nanako-chan..." He turns to look at Yosuke, frightened, guilty tears tracing down his cheeks. "And it was so... so... damn it-"

"I know," Yosuke says, quietly. "I... saw everything, all those... everything." All the little pieces is what he doesn't say aloud, because that's really not going to be a comforting thought for Souji, imagining himself all broken up into mindless bits and echoes. But Souji shudders again, and Yosuke has a feeling that the thought's come to mind anyway.

And it is like the riverbank, like when Yosuke cried for Saki-senpai, only this time it's Souji crying and shaking for those lost months, for all the pain they all suffered at his loss, for a seemingly endless time spent floating senseless in a sea of noise. So Yosuke tries to do for Souji what his best friend did for him that day, way back when. He holds on, and after a moment Souji turns, lets go of his own knees, and clings to Yosuke instead. It's a strange thing, to whisper quiet reassurances and lightly stroke at his friend's hair, but if anyone's earned the right to break down now, it's Souji.

Yosuke's not really sure how long they sit there, with the warm breeze carrying the scent of flowers past them. But, eventually, Souji takes a deep, shuddering breath and pulls back a little, easing his desperate grip on Yosuke's clothing; his face is tear-stained, eyes red, reflecting a bone-deep exhaustion that Yosuke can only barely comprehend. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I'm so sorry - I can't imagine... how much it hurt... but you did what I couldn't do..."

"... Any of us would have done the same thing," Yosuke tries, before his voice fails him, and he has to pause for a moment to get his composure back - because it had hurt, more than anything. "I... I would have done everything just the same, I think, even if things didn't turn out this way..."

Well. No. Not everything.

"Look, I..." The words echo in Yosuke's mind, carrying with them the hopelessness of that foggy night, of the sight of Souji's body tangled in the telephone wires atop Junes - but the pain of that memory is eroding under the warm sun, with Souji leaning against him. "Damnit, I didn't manage to say this properly before-"

Souji just looks at him, still with that lost look in his tired eyes.

Yosuke sighs. If there's ever a time for this, it's now. Even if it should have been months ago. "I just... I need you, damnit," he mumbles. "I need you. I... love you." He hears Souji make a small, startled noise, feels him tense, and wonders if he's said the wrong thing. Yosuke ducks his head and closes his eyes as he presses his lips against Souji's; they did this and more back then, but that was - literally - a lifetime ago.

For a moment, Souji is completely still, not moving at all, but then his lips part under Yosuke's. It's quick, relatively chaste in comparison, but somehow profoundly intimate for all that. When Yosuke shakily pulls back and opens his eyes, Souji is smiling - just a little, but what's there is genuine. "Something to come back to," he says, quietly.

"God, I missed you," Yosuke breathes before Souji returns the kiss, and this time it isn't chaste in the least.

And they're going to have a lot to explain - why and how Souji can possibly be alive and well when the seven of them saw him die, when his family saw his corpse; and, to a much lesser extent, why he and Yosuke are now kissing each other desperately on a sun-drenched hillside in what used to be the twisted, deadly world inside the television. And it's not going to be easy, none of it, and there will be a lot of hard questions and a lot of pain when it comes to the first part... yet there will also be joy, and terrified gratitude.

And the second part will help immeasurably.

"Love you, too," Souji whispers, tangling his fingers into Yosuke's hair.

"Don't ever leave me-"

"I won't."

For right now, none of the hard questions matter.
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let's go, partner!

August 2012

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