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Persona 4: Ten Steps (Part One)
[Artwork] firebird's child
chisotahn wrote in ikuzeaibou
Title: Ten Steps
Fandom: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Characters: Souji/Yosuke (eventually) + ensemble
Summary: AU, longfic; fill for this prompt on badbadbathhouse:

"Souji/Yosuke, established relationship [getting to know each other], where Souji never told anyone about being able to enter the TV. So, even though Chie and onward somehow ended up with Souji, Yosuke never wound up knowing about the shadow world. For months on end, Souji has been keeping his otherworldly adventures a secret from his predictably ignorant (yet suspicious) boy [best] friend (though he's still your Magician).

Preferrably later in the game, Yosuke appears in a Junes-exclusive interview (bonus if the media was filming Junes without permission), and thus, dungeon time ensues."

Only... well, slightly modified. ;) You'll see! (And of course this still ends up being Souji/Yosuke. This is me we're talking about, after all!)

Notes: This will spoil you in the face for events up to August + elements of November. This AU roughly follows canon - for the first few months of the game, everything happens as it does in canon with the obvious exception of Yosuke's absence. The first two victims remain as they do in canon. Souji's awakening takes place with Chie instead.

Anyway, this is part one of sixteen. (Yes, I am in fact crazy, and I apologize in advance for the flist spam this will create for the comm watchers!) Many thanks, as always, to frigoris for her most epic beta yet. I hope you enjoy! ♥

"-forecast said it might rain at the end of the week. We gotta make sure we make it," Chie began, hissing urgently into Souji's ear.

"We'll be fine," Souji reassured her, glancing at Yukiko; she nodded, a determined expression on her face. "It's only been three days, and Teddie thinks we're almost at the top. All we have to do is save her."

"I think I'll be free today," Yukiko replied, leaning in close. Class hadn't started yet, but they still had to be quiet and careful; their conversation was nothing like the ordinary gossip that swirled through the rest of the classroom. "We shouldn't have any problems getting into the storage room today either."

"I'm good for today, too. I'll ask Kanji at lunch." Souji was sure Kanji would be more than ready; their kouhai seemed anxious to prove himself, clearing his schedule by force if necessary. Sure, the staff of the Amagi Inn gave Kanji weird looks whenever they slipped through, but that didn't matter. They'd get used to him, just like they'd gotten used to Souji. "If he's free to go, then we can-"

The classroom door slid open with a loud thunk as it hit the stopper, and Chie sat bolt upright. "He's here!"

Souji and Yukiko quickly turned back to sit properly in their seats, focusing their attention on their homeroom teacher. While King Moron's taunts had ceased to have any real effect on them, there was no reason to give him any openings. Souji blinked, though, as he realized Morooka wasn't alone - there was another boy trailing behind their teacher, taking up an awkward position next to the podium. That was familiar. Another transfer student?

But Souji knew what had to be coming, and Chie elbowed him lightly as Morooka cleared his throat. "Listen up," he demanded, gesturing sharply at the new student. "Looks like we got another chunk of garbage from the city."

Souji winced inwardly as the boy's eyes widened; Chie sighed, very quietly. "Couldn't even come in at the start of the term like you're supposed to," Morooka went on, glaring at Souji for a moment before continuing his rant. "Comin' in because of that big new store they're building, huh? Money-grubbers like the rest of 'em. Enough wasting time - hurry up, give 'em your name and sit down!"

The new transfer student recovered fairly well; Souji had to give him credit for that. "Hi, I'm Yosuke Hanamura... uh... nice to m-"

"So sit down already," Morooka interrupted, pointing sharply at the empty seat behind Souji. "Right behind Seta."

Souji resisted the urge to sigh aloud - Morooka's jabs were so predictable - and instead watched as the new student edged his way across the classroom, a vaguely embarrassed expression on his face. Morooka kept going on about "money-grubbing city types coming in here with their big stores and their big plans and-" but Souji tuned him out after a moment, choosing instead to risk a glance back at the desk behind him. The new student - Hanamura - was emptying his schoolbag into his desk as quickly as possible. He met Souji's gaze for just a moment and grinned, a little shyly; Souji returned the smile before turning back to face the front of the classroom.

Chie slid a note onto his desk a moment later. What a jerk, it said, in angry letters pressed hard into the paper. Souji just nodded, slightly - he'd managed alright when he'd arrived in Inaba and been the target of King Moron's harsh words, but that didn't make it any less frustrating.

And then Morooka started actually lecturing in earnest, cutting off Souji's train of thought. He tucked Chie's note under his own notebook and made himself pay attention. He'd have to talk to the new student some afternoon - when he didn't have to hurry off to the Amagi Inn with the others right after school.


Souji got off the bus with a weary sigh. They had successfully rescued Rise, and she was safe now; the bus had passed the police cars on the road as the cops headed for the Amagi Inn, sirens blaring. The team had carefully set up the scene, and Rise used the last of her energy to pull it off - she'd been in the woods, lost and wandering after waking up in the forest where her kidnapper had presumably taken her, and stumbled out to the main road in sight of the Inn. Hopefully the story would stand up, but the alternative - sorry, officer, I was actually inside the TV - was so ridiculous that anything seemed plausible in comparison.

They were all exhausted now, and Souji was no exception - he couldn't remember feeling this tired after a rescue since the very first one, when it had been just him and his newly-awakened Persona against Chie's Shadow. Then again, they had taken out two powerful Shadows in a row today, and it was only because of Teddie that they'd beaten Rise's Shadow at all. Everything ached, and Souji wanted nothing more than to go up to his room and collapse on the futon.

Not that he could do that, of course. Souji paused on the sidewalk in front of his house, took a deep breath and stretched, wincing as his aching muscles informed him of exactly how much he'd overextended himself today. Nanako would be home; his uncle likely wouldn't be. Dojima had probably been called in the second Rise had been found.

Sure enough, as soon as Souji opened the front door, Nanako jumped up from her usual seat in front of the television. "You're back, big bro!" she said, eagerly. "Dad left a while ago. He said they maybe found Risette!"

"Really?" Souji asked, putting down his school bag and slipping off his shoes. "Is she okay?"

"I dunno... but I think so! Dad didn't look mad when he hung up the phone, or hurt, or..." Souji let Nanako lead him into the living room; she perched on the couch next to him, talking excitedly about what her dad had said, and about her day at school, as the TV droned on in the background. He felt a little guilty for not giving his little cousin his full attention, but he had so little energy to spare.

" what did you do today, big bro?"

That actually required a response - but he couldn't tell Nanako about going to the Amagi Inn, even if he didn't mention Rise. "Hm, school was pretty normal... ah, except for one thing. We had a new student transfer into our class."

"Boy or girl?" Nanako asked, tilting her head to one side.

"Boy. I think his family might have something to do with Junes?"

And that was the magic word; an excited smile spread over his little cousin's face, and she bounced slightly on the couch. "I love Junes! I can't wait until it opens up! Dad hasn't had time to go to Okina City in forever..."

Souji chuckled and ruffled her hair. "Yeah, he's been pretty busy, huh?"

"Mmhmm... but it opens in..." Nanako paused, a look of concentration coming over her face; she quickly counted her fingers. "Two weeks! Then we can go all the time! Every day! 'Cause every day's great at your Junes!" she sang, beaming.

"Your Junes," Souji echoed, obediently, then smiled as Nanako bounced again in delight. "I'll take you the first day it opens, I promise - but right now I'm hungry. Did your Dad say anything about dinner?"

"Um... there's some ramen..."

"That sounds good to me. What flavor do you want?" Souji asked as he got up, and while the movement brought another twinge from his abused muscles, he hid it well. Normally he'd make a proper dinner for himself and Nanako, but he was just too damn tired right now.

"Shrimp!" Nanako said, instantly, and she darted ahead of him to grab the shrink-wrapped bowls from the cabinet.

The TV caught Souji's attention as he walked past it, and he paused for a moment. "-correspondent in Inaba reports that teen idol Rise Kujikawa has been found alive and well after her apparent kidnapping three days ago-"

"Big bro?"

"Coming," Souji said, and turned off the TV.

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You're welcome.

Use less italics next time though.

Shadow!Yosuke says NO U!

I'm going to shove an italic tag up his nose next time. Don't think that I won't!

*shriekflail of joy, goes to read now*

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