chisotahn: Firebird with the text "Firebird's Child". ([P4] don't ever leave me.)
[personal profile] chisotahn posting in [community profile] ikuzeaibou
Title: Times of Need
Fandom: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Characters: Yosuke/Souji
Summary: Fill for [ profile] badbadbathhouse; prompt is under the cut because it's spoilery.

Notes: This fic will spoil you in the face for November. What is it with me and setting fics in November? The world may never know! This was a nice, somewhat easier interlude I did while Reach Out was in beta. Speaking of which, thanks to [ profile] akisazame for doing the honors on this one. :)

Prompt: "Souji/Yosuke, hurt/comfort because I'm a sucker for it. I know it's a relatively common theme, but... after Nanako is brought back from her dungeon, Souji vents his frustration in the TV world and runs himself to exhaustion. Yosuke ends up helping him out." (I apparently just have a thing for a. being mean to Souji and b. hurt/comfort. This one's not quite as polished as usual since I was devoting 90% of my brain cycles to Reach Out, but this was a much-needed break. XD Enjoy~)

It was sheer chance that Yosuke was even on the right floor of Junes - he'd been scheduled to run interference up in the food court. But of course some stupid customer had managed to dump an entire king-size jar of pickles all over one aisle of the grocery section, and of course none of the part-time girls would ever do that kind of thankless cleanup. And that left Yosuke. Sure, he could have asked them, but he knew the kind of reaction he'd get. Cleaning up the mess himself was better than making them do it and having them snipe at him behind his back for the rest of the week.

Yosuke glared angrily at the mess of pickles, brine, and broken glass as he started mopping. Stupid part-time girls. It was blackmail, that's what it was, and one of these days he wasn't going to take it any more, and-

The sound of rapidly approaching footsteps made him look up, just in time to see a familiar gray-haired figure walk past the end of the aisle without stopping. Yosuke blinked in surprise, then leaned the mop against the shelves and darted down the aisle. "Hey! Souji! Where's the fire?"

Souji stopped walking and turned back to glance at him over one shoulder; the guarded expression on his face made Yosuke's teasing smile fade. "Hey."

Yosuke frowned. "Dude, what's up? Did- oh, man, don't tell me something happened to-"

Souji shook his head as Yosuke caught up to him. "No, Nanako's fine... she hasn't gotten any worse, or any better. My uncle's about the same." He paused. "Sorry. I need to go."

Yosuke's frown deepened as Souji started walking again; sure, his best friend wasn't incredibly talkative, but this was just weird. "Hey, where're you-"

"Nowhere," Souji said, without turning around, or stopping; he reached an intersection of aisles and went around the corner, out of sight.

"Okay, fine," Yosuke muttered, stung, then paused. The way Souji had gone was the way to the-

Oh. Oh no.

Yosuke swore under his breath and ran after his best friend, cleanup job entirely forgotten. He rounded the corner into the electronics department just in time to see Souji with one arm in the TV, ready to climb in the rest of the way. "Hey!"

Souji jumped and quickly took a step back, then whirled on Yosuke. "What?"

"What the hell are you doing?" Yosuke spluttered. "You know nobody goes in there alone! We promised, damnit!"

Souji opened his mouth, then stopped and shook his head. "Fine. Let's go."

Yosuke blinked. "Wait, what? I'm kind of working right now, in case you didn't- Souji!" But it was too late; his friend was gone, and the TV screen was rippling in that familiar white and black swirl. "Damnit."

Oh, he was so going to get in trouble for ditching his shift.

Yosuke rolled his eyes, glanced around to make sure nobody was watching, and followed Souji into the TV.


When Yosuke landed on the other side, Souji was already rummaging in the neat stockpile of equipment they'd started keeping in one corner of the foggy backlot. They'd all entered the TV world often enough that Yosuke only stumbled forward on arrival, but the sound of his footsteps made Souji jump again and turn around, an odd expression on his face.

"What?" Yosuke said, defensively.

"You followed me." Souji actually sounded surprised.

"Well, yeah! We promised, and I care about that even if you don't give a-"

"Sorry," Souji said, quietly, and despite the lack of volume the word still overrode Yosuke's irritated bluster.

Yosuke stopped mid-sentence and gave Souji a thoroughly confused look. "Y-yeah, you should be," he started, but he couldn't quite get that annoyed momentum going again. "Dude, if you want to go kick Shadow ass, all you have to do is ask. Don't go off on your own, stupid."

Souji had the grace to look vaguely embarrassed before bending down to pick up his sword; when he stood up, he had Yosuke's wrenches in his other hand, too. "Does this count as asking?"

"Close enough." Yosuke fumbled with the ties of his Junes apron, tugging it off and hanging it over a railing. His glasses were in his pocket, fortunately. "What's up with you, anyway?"

Souji tossed the wrenches to him, one at a time; Yosuke caught them easily. "Just needed some time to... think, I guess."

"Here?" Yosuke raised one eyebrow.

Souji sighed and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "It's not training, or anything. I didn't want to bother everyone just because I wanted to do something. That's all."

But there was a vaguely guilty tone in his voice, and Yosuke stopped what he was going to say - it's dangerous, we promised not to come here alone, that's kind of stupid - because Souji was a smart guy. There was no way that he didn't also know those things, but whatever was going on, it was enough to override those concerns. "... So what are we doing, if it isn't training?"

"... let's just go," Souji said, turning to look out at the haze, and Yosuke frowned.


He didn't realize where they were headed, at first - it had been quite some time since they'd gone this direction. Yosuke paused as the facade of Yukiko's castle emerged from the fog. "Wait, we're going here? We won't get anything out of the Shadows here-"

"I told you, I'm not here for training."

"W-well, yeah, but..." Maybe Souji was just being cautious, considering it was just the two of them, and they'd fought through the corridors of this place before - but that had been months ago. They could probably kill the Shadows here just by looking at them funny. Yosuke shook his head and adjusted his headphones over his ears. "Do whatever you want, I guess."

The echoing hallways of the castle were still thick with Shadows, though they seemed pathetically small in comparison to what he remembered. Yosuke resisted the urge to sigh at the whole thing. These things weren't even worth the minimal effort it'd take to kill them. It seemed like a totally pointless exercise - so Yosuke was taken wholly off guard when Souji ran past him, eyes narrowed as if the Shadow in front of him was a terrifying adversary rather than a squishy ball of darkness, bringing his sword down on it in a single sharp, angry movement.

Yosuke stared as Souji proceeded to obliterate every Shadow in range, not even giving him a chance to do anything - not like Souji would have needed his help anyway, given that everything here would die in a single hit regardless, but this was just weird. Souji's usual fighting style was clean, controlled, and methodical; like the way he called his Personas with a simple gesture, as opposed to Yosuke's exuberant acrobatics.

There was none of that calm control in Souji's movements now. The Shadows were dispatched with unnecessary force, both physical and magical; Yosuke's eyebrows rose as the last Shadow puffed into nothingness under a blast of lightning sufficient to take down a dozen. "Dude. Dude. What are you doing?" he managed, as Souji shook his head and adjusted his glasses with his free hand.

"Fighting Shadows, obviously."

"That's not what I mean, and you know it," Yosuke shot back, jumping in front of Souji as his friend made as if to head down the corridor after the next hapless Shadow. "You never do this. Hell, you lecture me about it!"

"It doesn't matter. There's no reason to hold back." There was an undertone of frustration in Souji's words that made Yosuke pause, just long enough for Souji to slip past him.

"H-hey," Yosuke spluttered, then drooped. Souji was right, in a sense. It didn't matter, not really. The Shadows here weren't weak enough to do any significant damage to them; they weren't going to die, or even come close to serious injury.

But damnit, that didn't mean it wasn't seriously freaking him out. He'd never seen his best friend like this, ever, and they were close, close enough that - but this definitely wasn't the time for those thoughts. Yosuke shook his head hard and ran after Souji.

He wasn't sure how long he trailed Souji around the first floor of the castle, growing more and more worried as his best friend dispatched Shadow after Shadow. Even with such wild, wasteful attacks, Souji still had a lot of stamina to burn, so it took a long time - and he probably would have kept going until he collapsed, if Yosuke hadn't made up his mind. "Dude, enough," he demanded as the last Shadow on the floor evaporated, leaving Souji standing there drooping and panting.

Souji shook his head. "I can still-"

"No," Yosuke insisted. "Geez, Souji..." He scowled and took a step back, calling Susano-o; the Persona shimmered into being over his head. Souji shifted a little as Susano-o's healing spell took effect, but the Persona's power couldn't touch the bone-deep weariness reflected in his every movement. "Just... just sit down, okay? You killed freakin' everything on this entire floor! Give it a rest!"

"Heh." Souji glanced at him, his expression unreadable - but complied. "So you're giving the orders now?"

"Yeah, if I have to. Somebody's gotta take care of you if you won't take care of yourself." Yosuke shook his head and sat down next to Souji, slipping his headphones down to rest around his neck.

"Maybe you should," Souji said, after a long moment. He put his sword to one side and tugged his knees to his chest.

Yosuke blinked. "Maybe I should what?"

"Give the orders."

"... what?" Yosuke shot Souji a startled look, but his best friend had shifted to rest his forehead against his knees, and his expression was hidden by the fall of his hair. "No!"

"I keep thinking about it," Souji said in response, his voice low. "About everything I could have done differently."

Yosuke bit his lip. "Souji..."

"I could have been more careful so Namatame never found out who we were... never would have had a reason to go after Nanako..." Souji tightened his grip on his own knees. "Could have figured out who he was sooner... could have hidden the warning better so we would have been home and- damnit-"

"We saved her," was the only thing Yosuke could think of to say.

"We shouldn't have had to!" Souji clenched his fists so hard that the knuckles turned white. "And I keep thinking about it, and about how scared she had to be... she's had enough happen to her already without this, without me making things worse because I couldn't protect her!"

"It's not your fault-"

"I could have prevented it. I didn't," Souji said, his words clipped. "And now Nanako and my uncle-"

"Are both alive, damnit - and so are Rise and Yukiko, and Naoto and Kanji... hell, me and Chie too, 'cause I sure as hell wouldn't have been able to fight my own Shadow! You did the best you could!" Souji turned his head and stared at him, and Yosuke realized he'd been shouting at the end. "S-so quit beating yourself up," he mumbled, suddenly self-conscious, a faint flush appearing on his cheeks.

Souji just blinked, then sighed raggedly and turned away again. "The house was just so empty, I couldn't stand it any more. I had to go do something..."

"And you picked this? Why? Uh, I mean, obviously you're kinda... pissed off at the Shadows because of everything, but..."

"Didn't want to think anymore. Fighting does that. That's all."

"Dude, if you'd asked, you know I would've understood," Yosuke tried, but Souji shook his head.

"I told you, I didn't want to bother anyone. No reason to drag anyone else into it. This was just for me. Selfish." Souji laughed, but there was no mirth whatsoever in the sound. "And now you're worried about me."

"W-well, yeah- obviously," Yosuke said, with a frown. "Geez... you're allowed to be 'selfish', y'know? I bother you all the time! You don't always have to be perfect, dumbass."

"I'm the leader," Souji mumbled, still not meeting Yosuke's gaze.

"So?" Yosuke gave him an exasperated look. "That's not fair. Hell, you saw all the crap about me that I didn't want anyone to see, ever - the stuff I didn't even want to admit to myself! What's you being 'selfish' compared to that?"

"That was different-"

"No, it's not! You got to see the absolute worst, and you still risked your life. For some loser you hadn't even known for a week! " Yosuke shook his head, sharply. "You could've left me there, man. I wouldn't have blamed you. But you didn't. And then even though you knew what I was inside, you still... y'know..." Talked to me the next day? Trusted me? There was too much to fit into one sentence, so Yosuke just trailed off, trusting Souji in return to know what he meant.

"I couldn't just leave you there," Souji said, after a moment.

"Well, I can't either! You're worried that being... being human is going to freak me out, that you have to be some perfect person just because you're the leader? We're best friends, damnit, and that counts for more than you giving me orders when we fight together! You're way more important to me than just that!" Yosuke punctuated his speech by reaching out, grabbing Souji's shoulder, and shaking just a little; Souji tensed under his grip, then relaxed, just slightly. "Got it?"

Souji was quiet for just long enough that Yosuke squeezed his shoulder once more, without the shaking this time; finally, his best friend turned his head towards him again, his glasses slightly fogged and askew from burying his face against his knees. "Heh, I told you. You're not bad at giving orders."

Yosuke just frowned at him. "Got it?"

"Yes, yes, I understand. Thanks," Souji said, offering Yosuke a weak smile, but Yosuke could tell Souji wasn't done agonizing internally. There was still that blank look in his tired eyes as he turned back and settled against the wall with a sigh, and Yosuke was all out of words, because while he could absolutely counter Souji's worries about appearing weak (whatever the hell that meant), the stuff about Nanako-chan and Namatame was... difficult.

Logic was Naoto's job, not Yosuke's.

But, well, Souji had comforted him before several times, especially that one day on the riverbank, and even if Souji wasn't actually crying it'd probably still work... but not that girly arms-around-the-waist business. Yosuke shook his head and scooted over closer to Souji, then shrugged one arm up and over to rest on Souji's shoulders. Yeah, a manly kinda-sorta hug. That'd work.

Yosuke wasn't expecting Souji to make a quiet noise in the back of his throat and slump against him, shivering ever so slightly from nerves or leftover adrenaline or possibly both. And he was really not expecting the weird answering shiver that raced through him when Souji did exactly that. "H-hey, you okay?" he stammered, abruptly way too aware of how warm Souji felt, leaning against him like that.

"Yeah... just tired," Souji replied, and closed his eyes.

They sat there for a long while in silence, Yosuke trying not to think about anything - and especially not about a few particular things. That was a challenge with Souji right there, leaning against him and taking deep breaths, calming himself down. Yosuke contemplated putting his headphones on just for the distraction, but someone had to listen for Shadows, just in case one oozed down the stairs or something.

He thought Souji might have actually fallen asleep for a few minutes, but at last his best friend shifted a little, then opened his eyes and smiled. "Thanks, Yosuke. That was... pretty stupid, huh..."

"Next time you need to quit thinking, pick some other way to do it," Yosuke scolded, then bit the inside of his cheek hard to forcibly distract himself from the host of images his mind supplied of other ways, what the hell. He was abruptly really glad Souji wasn't actually looking at his face to see the hot flush that spread across it unbidden; yeah, sure, maybe he'd thought about those kinds of things before... once or twice... but - no, damnit. That wasn't the way it worked-

"Like what?"

You did not just say that. "U-uh. Watching... watching TV? Reading a book? You've got a million books, right? Maybe the stuff under the futon-" Not helping! "Uh. You know. Stuff?" Souji just sighed, though this time the sound was more amused than frustrated, and shifted positions again so he wasn't slumping quite so much.

Which, of course, meant his face was now right next to Yosuke's rather than comfortably hidden against his knees. Yosuke stared for a long, horrified second at the way the exertion of battle had left Souji's hair tousled and his cheeks pink before snapping his gaze sharply in the other direction. Was Souji doing that on purpose?!

"Stuff, huh?"

Yes, yes he was, the bastard; there was definitely a slight teasing undertone to the question. Damn Souji's perception. "Hey, you said I wasn't bad at giving orders, right?" Yosuke said, still looking pointedly at the far wall.

He could tell by the way Souji's body shifted against his that the other boy was tilting his head to one side. "Yeah?"

"Don't ask me what kind of stuff."

Souji made an amused noise. "Ah."

There was a long pause.

"... What kind of stuff?"

Oh, goddamnit. "I told you not to ask," Yosuke accused, and whipped around sharply to capture Souji's lips with his own, part of him vaguely horrified that Souji had managed to goad him so easily... and part of him, well, not.

After a long moment, Yosuke pulled back in an embarrassed huff. "You know," Souji said, slightly out of breath again, "just because I said you weren't bad at giving orders doesn't mean I have to take those orders." But Souji's cheeks were pinker now, from more than just exertion, and he certainly didn't look annoyed with what Yosuke had just done, and oh man Yosuke hoped Souji really had gotten rid of all the Shadows on this floor, because this was really distracting.

"Shut up," Yosuke muttered, face flushed, and tugged Souji off-balance with the arm still wrapped around his shoulders. It was quite easy, considering how tired Souji was at the moment; while all it really accomplished was getting Souji's weight leaning on him again, it also shifted their positions just enough to give Yosuke a much better angle. He brought up his free hand and tangled his fingers in gray hair, then nipped almost angrily at Souji's ear.

Souji made a startled, pleased sound and pressed against Yosuke, shifting so that he could run one hand down Yosuke's side, fingers catching in a way that made Yosuke shiver again. Yosuke leaned in quickly and pressed his lips hard against Souji's, tasting the faint saltiness of the other boy's sweat. Souji returned the kiss hungrily and worked his hands under Yosuke's shirt, and if his touches were a little bit fumbling from his previous exertions, Yosuke certainly didn't notice - and, in any case, both of their minds were quickly taken off such shallow concerns.

"Y-you feeling any better now?" Yosuke managed - barely - after a few minutes.

"You were right," Souji replied, twining his fingers through Yosuke's.


"Your way of not thinking was much better than mine."

Date: 2009-03-23 12:02 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-03-25 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Since you unmasked, I will too. ^^ I requested this one, and I still love you for it.


ikuzeaibou: (Default)
let's go, partner!

August 2012

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