As promised here is part 2 of the Dark/Light double-upload of my 100 themes challenge. This will be story number 19 of 100. I've almost reached the 2/10 mark and I'm rather proud of myself for that. Granted, if I'd spent a little more time working on the challenge I could probably be closer to 30 by now, but is is my hope that if I don't constantly upload, other writers might submit SoujiNaoto stories for everyone to enjoy.

Regardless, if you have not read the story Dark yet (my 18th challenge) then I ask that you visit my profile and do so.

NOTE TO ALL READERS: As I have mentioned before, I started a large Persona forum for called "Stroke of Midnight" a while ago. As it is, many of the canons are still open for the taking and as long as you can drop in once a week, I'd love to see more members come in and join. I haven't yet added sections for Persona 1 and 2 (but we have them for 3, 4, and Trinity Soul) but if someone would like to give me a list of locations in which to add for the first two games, I'd be grateful. The link to the forum is on my profile.

I dearly hope to see new members soon! I roleplay Naoto and Fiyerna is there as Souji Seta.

Souji's entire body felt light, as if floating on an invisible cloud of air. He tried to move, but his limbs wouldn't respond to his brain's command. His eyes wouldn't open either, no matter how much effort he put into trying to move them. A cool but silent breeze ruffled his hair and brushed over his face—almost like a gentle hand caressing his cheek. He tried to blink again, but still, nothing.

Am I… dead? The thought was dismissed almost immediately. Despite his body's lack of movement and response, the silverette was positive that he wasn't dead; though he wasn't quite sure he was alive either. The breeze picked up again and a soft shiver ran through his body before all was still again.

After what felt like hours, his eye lids finally fluttered, but still refused to open, leaving the teen frustrated with his current situation. What happened…? We were… battling Izanami and then… His thoughts trailed off as a sharp pain shot through his chest. That's right... Everyone is… gone. They're dead… so why haven't I died yet? Is this punishment for failing…? For not being able to save everyone? Is my punishment… to remember their deaths for all eternity?

The breeze picked up once more, harsh and cold—yet completely still and silent—sending another violent shiver down Souji's spine. He would have winced had he held any control over his body's movement, but all he could do was lie—face down, if his feeling was correct—and wait, with only his thoughts to assure him that he wasn't dead. Is this… really how everything is going to end? Just like this? The wind grew colder once more as his thoughts grew darker. Did we… fail?

"What's the matter, Souji?" A voice suddenly broke through the silence of the wind, "Isn't it too early to give up?"

What the…? Is that… my Uncle? Souji struggled to open his eyes, move, anything. He could almost feel his Uncle's presence, just a few inches away. He was sure that—if he could just lift his head—he'd see Dojima standing there, looking down at him with a sympathetic look as he spoke.

"…You taught me what a family truly is. I had my hands full with just Nanako when you came rolling in… Haha, I wasn't sure what to do. You helped me reform the bond I thought I had lost with my daughter… and create a new one, with you. I made a mess of my life, and I fell down a hole that was too deep for me to climb out of on my own… But… I can get back up as many times as I need with you two with me… However painful it gets, I'll just grit my teeth and get up as many times as I have to… Heh, a father can be pretty stupid that way, huh?"

Dojima's presence began to fade, leaving Souji alone with the icy wind once more. He tried to move again, cursing silently as his body still refused to acknowledge his movements. I don't… I don't want to be left here alone. Please… let me go to them…

Just seconds after Dojima faded, a new presence showed itself and a new voice filled Souji's mind.

"Don't go, Souji…"

Yosuke… He'd know that voice anywhere--the voice of his best friend; whom he'd spent countless covering almost every inch of Inaba with. He could never forget the brunette—or all the fun they'd had together.

"Everything inside me changed after I met you… I'm… glad we met. I wouldn't have made it this far if I hadn't been alongside you. You helped me more than anyone else even bothered to try. You stood by me, even when I was just complaining or acting like a complete idiot. You can't let it end this way, right? You won't leave us all alone like this, will you? You can keep going… right, partner?"

As he finished speaking, Yosuke faded just as quickly as Dojima had, leaving Souji alone once yet again. Soon, another presence appeared and Souji immediately recognized Chie's tough, but feminine voice. She too faded as she finished speaking, pleading with him not to give up.

After Chie came Yukiko, then Rise, Kou and Daisuke, Kanji, Nanako… Everyone that he'd shared a precious bond with. Each one of them whispering soft words of encouragement, or desperate pleas for him to stand up once more.

The wind had grown warmer, just faintly, as Souji felt the compressed feeling in his chest slowly start to fade. Everyone… they all came. Everyone, but…

As the realization dawned on him that the single voice he longed to hear most never came, he felt all the hope that he'd gathered from his friends start to fade. The wind was quickly growing colder again, but the silverette couldn't find it in himself to care. Everyone was able to come here… They were able to talk to me, but… Does this mean she's really…?

"S-Senpai… If you stay down… I won't ever forgive you."

Souji froze, his body going rigid with shock as, almost on command, the voice came.

"You… you gave me a reason to stay just as I am. You accepted me for who I was… all parts of me—both the good and bad. You made me feel—for the first time—like I had a reason for existing… a reason to want to exist. For someone like you to leave me in the dark halfway like this… Senpai—Souji-san
please, stand up… Just once more, please…! I—everyone—is rooting for you. Let's fight this together… Because no matter what… you needn't be afraid. We're always together… always."

Naoto… Souji tried desperately to call out to the sleuth, screaming for his body to listen to him, to move… Just to let his voice work, but everything felt as if it were made of lead and nothing seemed to want to listen to him. No! Damn it! Let me move, please! Naoto! Don't go…! Take me back!! Take me to where everyone else is! I-I…

The presence faded and Souji felt the resolve the gentle voice of his beloved brought him begin to crack. Never before had he felt such a strong urge to cry in his life, and he was sure that—had he been able to—he would have been sobbing.

Something warm pressed against his cheek, contrasting harshly against the cold breeze that surrounded him, and the painful feeling in his chest seemed to suddenly vanish. His eyes opened a sliver and he could make out the faded shape of what looked like an arm in front of his eyes, which explained the warm against his face—it was a hand. Small, soft, and delicate.

His heart began to flutter quickly—he knew that hand. The soft, almost silk-like, hand that had brushed over his cheek so many times before as he sat in his room, arms wrapped tightly around the slender waist of the young female he'd fallen for almost immediately—despite the beginning doubts he had with himself over her gender when they'd first met.


He could hear her voice again. The gentle, soothing voice of Naoto—the real Naoto. Not the forced deep tone, nor the attempted masking of a male's voice over her own… Simply Naoto's true voice, speaking to him softly.

"Stand up… Stand up and keep fighting… because I know you can win this. You're so strong… you always have been, so don't let this be your final battle. Keep fighting and come back to us. Senpai, I love you… Don't leave me alone, please…"

The hand vanished, but the warmth it had caused did not. The cold wind had stopped and a warm light surrounded Souji's still body. The lead weight that had taken him over quickly became lighter as his eyes finally opened, taking in the soft blue light that surrounded him.

Naoto… Everyone…

He pushed of the ground with his hands, quickly pulling himself back to his feet. The area around him was covered in fog, but the chill had died completely, leaving him with only the soft warmth of the light that surrounded him.

In the back of his mind, Souji felt Izanagi's presence pushing forward, enveloping the silverette with a burning passion as the Persona burst into form above behind him.

Will you continue to fight…? A voice echoed in Souji's mind. The bonds you have created with those precious to you… they are all lending you their strength. Their power is your own… Will you keep fighting?

"…Heh," Souji couldn't help but chuckle as he bowed his head, running a finger under his eye as his vision burred faintly. He nodded, chuckling again. "…Yeah. I'll keep fighting… Until I have nothing left to fight for…"

The silverette closed his eyes as he felt Izanagi nod in approval. The God-like Persona moved forward, and Souji felt its powerful presence change, suddenly bursting into an aura of power he'd never felt before. It was warm—just as the light had been—and confidence filled his being as he opened his eyes once more, looking up into the glowing crimson eyes of Izanami.

I'll keep pushing forward… The silverette reached for his glasses, tossing them aside as Izanami roared in protest, screaming that he shouldn't be able to withstand her attacks. Because as long as I have them… I have something to come back to.

He smirked softly and raised a hand, pointing towards the goddess as he felt Izanagi form behind him again. So wait for me, Naoto, and everyone else… Because I'm coming home.