Souji's leaving left small ripples in the hearts of those he had touched; I'll always be in your hearts, his partner had said and Yosuke knows it's true.
But absence makes the heart grow fonder and it's working in Junes, watching the stray customers wander about that makes Yosuke sigh over and over again as he wonders how Souji is and whether he's reached home in the city yet.
It's an hour later that, while watching the large TV they'd often gone through, Yosuke notices something. He sees onscreen the live footage of a train wreck and a reporter he doesn't recognise speaking urgently towards the camera. He catches the word 'collision' and the phrase 'no survivors' and his blood grows cold.
Yosuke whips his phone out and dials. The call to Dojima's house rings and rings but does not go through. Caught in a wave of panic, Yosuke keys in his number and dials, crossing his fingers and staring and staring at his phone-
It picks up.
"Hello?" It's Souji's voice, even if his partner sounds sleepy and confused.
Yosuke lets loose a breath he didn't know he was holding. "H-Hey, Souji?"
"Hmm? What's up?"
"Sorry," Yosuke says, "did... I wake you up?"
"No worries, I have to get off soon anyway."
"Right... So you aren't dead..."
"What?" For some reason, Souji sounds amused over the phone. "You thought I was dead?"
"The news reported a train accident," Yosuke manages as calmly as he can, "well... I just thought... You know..."
"That would be a tragedy, wouldn't it? Izanami in the underworld would claw her way to me and demand why I died the day after defeating her."
As morbid as the words are, the tiny amusement in Souji's voice creeps over the telephone line and Yosuke laughs out loud. "Right, she'll never forgive you for that." Quietly, he added, "Neither would I..."
Souji's following silence allows Yosuke a closer listen to the commotion on the other side. There are murmured voices and whispered conversations so much that Yosuke wonders how exactly Souji had slept there.
The sound of a second call coming in through the line rings in their ears. Yosuke jerks back in surprise but realises that he must not be the only one anxious to contact Souji.
"...so I'll see you again, right, partner?" Yosuke finishes albeit lamely but waiting for the promise to come.
"Of course you will," Souji breathes and Yosuke believes.
It's five minutes after his conversation with Souji that the phone rings again. The ID picked up is the number of Dojima's residence and as soon as he whispers moshi moshi to the phone, Nanako speaks up.
"Y-Yosuke," the little girl says, whimpering, "the train... Big bro's..."
A tiny piece of his heart shatters upon hearing her trembling voice and he smiles, despite Nanako not being present to see his face. "Hey," he says gently, trying to emulate the gentleness that Souji had often showed, "it's okay. Souji's not dead. He's alive."
"N-No...?" Nanako sounds confused.
"Yeah," Yosuke replies, still smiling. "I talked to him via phone just now. He's okay. He's alive. He's coming back to us, like he promised."
"Like big bro promised?"
He waits a few seconds to let his words sinks it. Just as he's about to say more, Nanako shouts first:
"B-But! Dad got a call from uncle and they're going down to the station because uncle said my big bro died!"
Nanako's sadness and anxiousness, Nanako's message, Nanako's sobbing voice. Because it's Nanako, Yosuke knows it's not a joke. No such cruel prank could be played on such a sweet girl, Souji would make sure of that.
"I... spoke with him," Yosuke says disbelieveingly. "I... spoke with him... on the phone..."
"I know," comes Nanako's voice quietly, sadly, "I talked to big bro too..."
It's the next day that the group plus Nanako gathers in the foodcourt of Junes, crowded around their usual table. Rise's eyes are red, she's sobbing still - and so are Yukiko and Chie, both looking down. Kanji looks as if he's about to cry any second and Naoto had her chin dipped, head turned to one side. Nanako sits beside an empty seat, fists gripping the hems of her skirt as she refuses to make eye contact with anyone.
"...I don't believe this," Yosuke says finally, voicing the thoughts of everyone present. "He can't have... died!" He glances at them all, from one person to the next. "I talked to him! I spoke with him, on the phone! They were reporting live! I talked to him and he said we'd see him again..."
"M-Me too," Rise cries, "I talked to se-senpai on the phone when I heard the news and he said h-he was okay..."
"Yeah!" Kanji adds in, "there's no way he died because he was talking to us!"
Naoto shares with Yosuke an uncomfortable look before she says, "Actually... according to the doctor, senpai was said to have... died instantly."
It's Nanako's turn to cry, burying her head in Teddie's shoulder.
"I-I mean..." Naoto stutters, glancing awkwardly at Nanako. "No, that was not what I was going to say... Perhaps it's easier to see it for yourself." She takes from her bag a phone that Yosuke easily recognises as Souji's. Pressing a few buttons, Naoto hands it over to Yosuke who peers cautiously at the screen.
Naoto had scrolled to the received call list and there Yosuke blinks, shocked, as he sees all their numbers and more, most of them taken after the live reporting of the train accident.
"God," Yosuke says, handing the phone with shaking hands to Chie who gasps loudly. "That... What..." Yukiko's eyes widen and Rise covers her own opened mouth.
"What the hell?" is Kanji's response.
The phone comes back one round and Yosuke holds it in his hands again. His brain whirls, trying to make sense of the situation, but only one truth comes to his head and the only reaction he knows he can do is to cry, remembering and smile through his tears.
Notes: Written for the P4 kink meme; prompt was basically Souji's train wrecked. There were no survivors.
I chose to write this idea keeping in mind that I wanted a crying Nanako and Souji being Souji as Yosuke's last image of him. The ending I left rather vague but I had two ideas in mind:
1: Souji was dying as he spoke to all of them; he did not die immediately - it was a lie conjectured by... Guess who?
2: Izanami, Izagami or Margaret allowed him to speak with them after he had already died.
Either way, he had not wanted their last memories of him to be their tearful farewell at the train station. Though... it didn't really work.
eta: Since I've been questioned in a review if I'm a "whiner that hates Souji because he lives and Minato dies", I'll say here now: no. I love Souji, I've never played P3 and I just happen to like the prompt that was given here. Sorry, anon.