Another update to my fanfic. Moving on to the Courage Test. XD I took a little longer to write because I was busy with other things and I kept rewriting this.
Well, let's hope you enjoy it!

Let me just warn you that there might be a few mistake and errors, although I did reread the story. It's just that I'm still lacking a beta-reader... X(

NOTE: Keep the following in mind when reading the story.

- "talking"
- 'thinking'

Disclaimer: I do not own Persona 4 or any characters in it.


#Courage Test#
{The Haunted Night}

Wednesday, May 18th of 2012
- Cloudy

She shouldn't be there. The ambience and feelings around her didn't feel right. It was night and the sky was dark, stars were shining and the moon was full. The temple and the area were illuminated only with small lanterns, giving the place this eerie and uneasy feeling about it. Around her, students still in their uniforms were chatting excitedly between them, girls trying to pair up with boys, the boys challenging each other, betting on who would be the most courageous of them all. Each student had also been given a paper lantern so their visibility wouldn't be compromised. Her grip tightened on hers as she noted the long line of students she was in.

It was all Rise's fault. The loud girl had been all 'Oh, Naoto-kun, let's all have fun tonight and meet at the Temple!' but hadn't even mentioned they would be taking part in this whole 'Courage Test' everyone had been talking about. Seriously, she didn't even find this 'fun'. Looking up and to the side, she frowned. Apparently, the other girl had also dragged Kanji along noticing how uncomfortable the boy looked. It just didn't seem right. They were here just for Rise's idea of 'fun'.

"It's almost our turn." Naoto heard Rise say, as the other girl placed both hands on her shoulders from behind. The four of them, Naoto, Kanji, Rise and Teddie were in the line mixed between the other first and second-year students. Only Rise and Teddie seemed stirred about the event.

The young detective whirled around to face the former idol with a scowl. "Rise, I am not willing to do this." she told her.

Rise tilted her head at this and cocked an eyebrow. "Why not? Are you scared?"

"Who would be scared of such childish games?" Naoto shook her head and groaned. "I'm not interested in such activities."

Not managing to hide her laugh, Rise merely giggled. "I think you're scared, Naoto-kun. But that's alright! It's too late to go back now…" She looked behind Naoto, watching the last pair walk into the dark path between the trees. "It's our turn now!" she said with a smile.

The four of them walked over to the table where two third-year students were. The head boy was seated on a chair checking the names while the head girl handed out a candle for each pair. "Names please," asked the boy.

Rise walked forth, hands behind her back. "Rise Kujikawa, Naoto Shirogane and Kanji Tatsumi from class 2-1, and Teddie from class 1-1."

The third-year students exchanged glances when Rise mentioned Naoto but nodded. "And the pairs?"

Naoto frowned at this. She would rather go alone than go with any of the three there with her. Well, Kanji was probably the best choice out of them, but she just knew that if she went with him, Rise would be using that as another thing to tease her. Whenever the subject concerned Kanji, the former idol seemed to find anything to be used against her. However, before Naoto could decide anything, Rise lunged at Teddie. "I'm with Teddie!" she said.

The pint-sized detective's brows furrowed at Rise's decision. She would have thought that the other girl would have gone for someone like Kanji. She wasn't sure Teddie would be able to comfort Rise during the event. Her mind told her both of them were going to end up in tears by the end if the path was the least scary. "Are you sure, Rise-san?" she asked. Naoto had thought perhaps the best decision would be for her to go with Teddie. She knew how jumpy the bear was.

Still, Rise shook her head and clung to Teddie's arm. "It'll be more fun if I go with Teddie." She winked at her and Kanji. "You should totally go with Kanji, Naoto-kun."

Naoto's eyes looked up to the boy with the bleached blond hair, who shifted uncomfortably in his place.

"Hehe…" Teddie placed an arm over Rise's shoulders. "Not to worry, Rise-chan. I, Teddie, will make sure nothing happens! This furry bear will protect you like he did for his beloved friends at the striptease club."

The third-years, plus Naoto, looked at Teddie with a weird look and Kanji suddenly became awkward with the situation. The shorter girl would have asked what the blond meant with 'striptease' if they were in another time and place, but she didn't as she had the feeling this was related to the world inside the TV.

"Grrr… don't mention that…" Came Rise's annoyed voice.

The head girl then took a step forward, handing Rise a white candle. The boy then looked up to them. "Here are the rules. The objective for each pair is to reach a shrine at the end of the dark and dangerous path where they will light their candle." Naoto couldn't help but notice the use of the word "dangerous". "The path is filled with obstacles and tests with various forms that will test how brave you are. As a pair you can depend on each other to work through this course. You're free to walk back if you fear going any further, but be aware that you will fail if you do so. The test will only be completed once the pair shows their respects for the spirits at the shrine. Any questions?"

"How should we return to this spot?" Naoto asked.

"Oh, don't worry about that. There's a shortcut at the end that will lead you back here to the temple. And there will be third years helping your way back." The third-year girl student replied, smiling at them.

Rise giggled. "Let's go, Teddie!" she said excitably, pulling Teddie with her.

Teddie's face betrayed him then as his eyes widened. "Not so fast, Rise-chan!"

After the two of them were out of view and behind the trees, the older girl handed Naoto a candle as well. The detective turned it in her hands, looking at it. "Good luck." The girl told them.

Turning on her heels, Naoto then looked up at Kanji who was looking back at her. "I believe we should be going then." she said, turning away and pulling down her hat to cover her eyes.

They were asked to wait a few minutes to keep a certain distance from the previous two, so they wouldn't be meeting the others on their way. Naoto took this time to think about the possible tests they would be confronting and already planning their way past. Then, when they were given the 'okay', Naoto started walking first, Kanji trying to catch up so he wouldn't be left behind.

The scream slowly disappeared into the distance, silence taking over again. Yosuke breathed in a sigh and went back to his hiding place behind the bushes. The task was easier than he had expected but he would have still preferred if he had been chosen to dress up as a hideous monster and not just some dead human's ghost. That probably had to do with the fact that he was early in the path and the third-year students wanted to make things harder as the others walked further into the darkened path.

He picked up a walkie-talkie from under the leaves and pressed on a button. "Yosuke speaking. Coming in from position number 01-004."

There was a little pause, then a voice. "How many times do I have to tell you? You're supposed to say over." Came Chie's voice. "Requesting update from your location. Over."

He sighed. "Target has successfully walked past… uh, actually ran past."

A pause. "…Over." she insisted. "Target's identities? Considering we know them, of course. Over."

"Positive. Targets were Rise Kujikawa and Teddie. Target number 021 looked shaken but was dealing well, while target number 022 panicked and forced target 021 to follow him." He hesitated before saying... "Over."

"So Teddie freaked out, huh? That's not so surprising… Chie Satonaka from position number 03-018 will bring them down. Over."

Yosuke froze when he heard the sounds of steps nearby and leaves of bushes being moved aside. He slowly straightened from his kneeling position and peered, seeing two people approaching with two lanterns with them, each holding one. He hid himself again, face determined. "Victims number 023 and 024 sighted. Will proceed with the mission. Over."

He placed the device on the ground again, covering it with the leaves and moving from his place to a nearby trunk. There was a hardly visible thread and he pulled the string causing a couple of bells to sound over the place.

"W-what was that?" He heard a male voice ask.

"Calm down, Kanji-kun. I'm sure it was nothing."

A grin spread across his face. So it was Naoto and Kanji's turn, huh? This was bound to be interesting… He stealthily maneuvered himself to another tree. At its roots, Yosuke picked up a switch, turning it on. Many lanterns were lightened, hanging by thin strings on the trees branches, making it look as if they were hovering by themselves. He also pulled on another thread causing them to start swinging.


Going back to the previous tree trunk and making the bells ring again, he then prepared for his next move. 'Time for the ghost to show up…' He grinned one last time, before then trying to keep a serious face. Picking up a lantern for himself, he then stood up slowly making himself be noticed by the other two. He was wearing a lot of make-up and face powder (much to his dismay) so he wouldn't be recognized in the dark.

"Who dares walk into my territory…" he said in a dreadful and haunted voice. Voice acting was actually one of Yosuke's strong points. "I will punish you…"

He was surprised to see Kanji scared, even maybe, trembling in his place, his mouth agape, eyes widened, and legs threatening to step back. Beside him, Naoto was staring at Yosuke with that usual expressionless face as if it were nothing. Looking better, Yosuke thought perhaps the girl was forming a way to pass the current test. But who would have guessed Kanji feared this sort of things. Maybe it was expected from Naoto to stay calm since she was a top detective after all…

"What the hell?" Kanji blurted out.

Yosuke narrowed his eyes. "You will not walk past here... I will place a curse upon you beings…" He saw a look of surprise on Naoto's face. 'Shit, she recognized me!' He began thinking of what he was supposed to say next and trying to disprove the detective girl's of her discovery that he didn't pay attention to the other presence there, not until he heard a growl.

Kanji was glaring at him, his eyes flashing with anger and Yosuke felt himself cower a little. It was all futile since the tall boy was acting like a mad bull. "Alright! Ya wanna mess with us? Ya gotta deal with me! Uraaah!"

Yosuke's eyes widened to the size of plates and he took a few steps backwards just as Kanji lunged at him like a lion attacking for its prey.

"Kanji-kun, wait! That's—"


Everything became a blur. Yosuke didn't know what exactly happened then. He felt himself falling back by force and his head hit the ground painfully. There were also a few strange noises that sounded like growls. Blinking rapidly and trying to focus his view, Yosuke slowly managed to get his sight back, although his head was still spinning. The darkness of the night also didn't help, but he was certain there was a mad person towering over him, his eyes glaring at him and then, a few seconds later, softening and turning into surprise.


The boy with the brown hair groaned, sprawled on the ground with his arms and legs wide open. He felt like he had been crushed by an elephant.

There was a sweet voice beside him, or at least it sounded sweet comparing to the mad lion who attacked him earlier. "Yosuke-sempai, are you okay?"

He turned his head to look at Naoto and grinned, lifting a hand to show her a thumbs-up. "I-I'm alright…" In truth he still felt crushed. "This is nothing…"

"Did I kill him?" Kanji asked.

Yosuke moved to sit up, groaning. He saw Naoto glaring at Kanji, who now had an apologetic look. "You're taking this way too seriously, Kanji-kun." she said.

Kanji looked down and Yosuke felt a little sorry for the guy. "Hey, it's all fine, guys! It's only fun if you take it seriously." He grinned at the taller boy from his position on the floor. "You're some tough guy… Remind me not to get on your bad side again."

"Sorry…" Kanji said with a frown.

Yosuke shrugged and leaned back on his hands. "Well, off you go. You guys can't stay here forever since there's going to be another pair coming up… Test completed! After all Kanji here took down the ghost will all his might." He laughed then lifted an arm to show his bicep. "Don't worry, I'm perfectly fine. I'm tougher than I look."

Naoto looked at him for a few more seconds before nodding and standing up, grabbing her lantern in the process. She glanced towards Kanji mentioning him to follow her. "Let's go."

The other boy nodded and Yosuke watched the two of them disappear into the distance.

Now to get ready for the next victims…

They had been past about six tests already. Every single time Kanji had freaked out in every possible way, In the first stop, he was so quiet Naoto swore he looked like a statue before snapping and yelling so loud he scared their senior schoolmate; on the second one his face looked so twisted the poor girl that was supposed to scare them fainted from fear; the third, Kanji bit his nails so much he was almost drawing blood when Naoto made a deal with the fox demon who was, in fact, just another sempai; at the fourth test, Kanji had overreacted and attacked Yosuke; and at the fifth, he almost wet in his pants when they got a scare by a third-year student who suddenly jumped at them with a loud scream (that had made even Naoto jump); when they reached the sixth they were greeted by a bloodied girl in a gown and Kanji fell backwards on his behind, scrambling away from the girl as much as possible. Now they were heading for the seventh test and the boy was shaking all over while following the detective girl.

Naoto had been constantly looking back to the other boy over her shoulder, checking to see how he was dealing with the whole thing. By the twentieth time, she stopped in her tracks and turned around to face him. "Are you alright, Kanji-kun?" She felt the need to ask since Kanji hadn't been able to stop shaking for quite a while.

Despite that, however, he nodded to her and forced a smile. "S-s'good! I-I-I'm o-okay!" He had stopped walking when Naoto did and was now standing in front of her. His hand moved up and he scratched the back of his neck. "I-It's not l-like I-I-I'm a-afraid or a-anything… I-I'm n-n-not!"

She frowned, easily seeing through his lie. It was clear that the tall boy was scared even if he was denying it. A single look at him and anyone could come to the same conclusion. "You don't need to be scared, Kanji-kun, there are no real spirits. All you've seen until now were merely constructions, tricks and illusions. There is nothing to fear."

In response to that, he narrowed his eyes at her. "Dammit, I said I'm not—" He stopped speaking abruptly when he saw Naoto reach out a hand for him. His brows furrowed in confusion, now suddenly uncomfortable. "W-what?"

Naoto sighed and kept her arm stretch, offering Kanji her hand. "Take my hand." she said simply.

Only he didn't. He stood there staring at it, his mouth open. He couldn't move a muscle.

Seeing this, Naoto impatiently repeated herself, taking a step towards him. "Take my hand, Kanji-kun. We'll feel safer that way." She made sure to use the plural so that he wouldn't feel offended.

Kanji hesitated, but seeing no other choice as he knew Naoto was stubborn, he took her small hand with his big hand. The difference in the size was almost ridiculous, but he tried hard not to think about the fact that they were holding hands so that he wouldn't faint from being so close to his crush. But then, choosing between spirits and Naoto was becoming a conflict so he decided to clear his mind a little, feeling his cheeks warm when he felt her hand pull him with her. The connection did help him ease and he was no longer trembling.

He just knew he had to be dreaming… This was too good to be true.

Although they had barely made a few minutes of walk, hand-in-hand, and Kanji felt shivers running down his spine when a creepy but strangely familiar noise reached his ears. He stopped, forcing Naoto to stop with him and he hesitantly looked around. "Ya hear something?" he asked, keeping his tone low.

Naoto frowned and dropped her shoulders. "You are most certainly hearing things." she told him, trying to convince him she was telling the truth even if there was indeed something they were supposed to hear. She watched as Kanji remained nervous, keeping an eye on his surroundings. A few seconds later and she heard it too. It sounded like… someone was crying.


Kanji cringed and, without realizing, stepped closer to Naoto. The other girl didn't say a word about it as she was now focused on trying to find the source of the sound.


She felt Kanji go rigid beside her. Looking up at him, she noticed he looked almost pale. In order to get his attention she tightened her grip on his hand. "Kanji-kun?"

He jumped visibly. Then, took a few seconds to compose himself. "Uh, wha?" He blinked down at her and shifted uncomfortably in his place. "Oh, uh… it's just, this sounds very familiar. I heard it before…"

Naoto raised an eyebrow at him. "You did? Where?"

He hesitated before speaking. "At the Amagi inn… the room we were staying in, it was the room where one of the murder victims had been… it was cursed, man! W-we heard the announcer's spirit weep during the night… I-it sounds the same…"

"So am I correct to believe that what you're saying is that we're now hearing the announcer's cries? That makes no sense, Kanji-kun. This place has no connection to Miss Yamano. Besides, I doubt there would be a curse with the case now closed." She shook her head and sighed. Talking with Kanji about reasoning when the other was as scared as he was and believing in spirits and ghost, the only way to prove him wrong would be to show evidence. But she didn't know herself what causing the noise. Perhaps a recording?


She turned, her ears picking up the cries and headed towards the source, pulling a very reluctant Kanji behind her. Sure enough the sounds got louder and she was beginning to doubt her own reasoning. The crying felt too real… if someone was faking it, then they had to be professional actors, because those crying sounds were transmitting so much haunt…

"Naoto, s-stop it! This ain't good…"

She wasn't convinced and dragged him along with her, making sure their hands kept connected and the other boy wasn't going anywhere. And sure enough, there was… something. As they approached the source, the both of them could make out a large and round shadow. The crying was now much louder as they were closer and they exchanged glances between them.


"W-what is that?" Kanji asked, feeling a little shaken again.

Naoto shook her head, uncertain. She looked back to the shadow just as it cleaned its nose on a blanket. If that was a person, it was one hell of a terrifying thing. The body was curled up by a tree, the back turned to them.

"Isn't that Hanako-sempai?"

Kanji looked down to Naoto when she spoke, then looked to the shadow. Well, if it was that fat sempai who had the idea that she was sexy, he couldn't tell. All he knew was he was freaked out by this.

On the other hand, Naoto had begun wondering if this was their next test.

"WHY… Why must they make me do this? I'm too beautiful for this! Buuuuuuhuuuu… I'm not supposed to be a scary myth…"

The two second-year students raised their eyebrows. Now they were sure that it was Hanako. "Hanako-sempai?" Naoto called.

When the shadow turned to them, both jumped, their eyes widening, mouth cringing and they almost toppled over. Hanako's make-up was so ruined her whole face made her look like the most terrifying thing they had ever seen. Surprisingly they both reacted at the same time. They screamed, yelped, fumbled and tried to make a run for it. Kanji was faster at running so he ended up hoisting Naoto up and over his shoulder, without awareness of the actions he was performing.

They disappeared so fast from view they left a tear-stained, make-up ruined Hanako blinking before she went back to cry.

"Teddie, stop being a coward!"

Rise groaned running to catch up to the bear. The blonde was hiding behind a tree, seated on the ground, his arms over his head as if trying to protect himself. She sighed at the view and brushed a hand softly through his hair. They hadn't been dealing with the tests quite well. The both of them had been freaked out since the first stop, but Teddie had successfully passed them all by running away further into the path instead of going back. Rise was beginning to regret her decision of going with Teddie and wishing she had a guy like Souji who she could cling to and ask him to protect her. Teddie obviously didn't fit the role.

"Come on, Teddie! We need to get going… this isn't over yet." When he didn't move, she gave him a little push. "Hey, where's that brave king who swore he'd protect me?"

At that Teddie looked up, stood up in a blink of a eye, his face all determined again. "He's still here. There were just… some unfortunate events. I wasn't expecting a few things…" He chuckled. "There are a lot of scary things in this world that I wasn't aware they existed."

Rise crossed her arms. "They're just tricks…" she said.

Teddie smiled at her. "Then we must fight against these… tricks."

She rolled her eyes and grabbed his arm. "Come on, let's go…" She was scared herself but if she lost it the both of them would be doomed. Also, she was the only one with a lantern since Teddie had lost his a long time ago, so they needed her. Pulling at his arm she guided him so they could continue their way. She stopped after her first step, however, when she couldn't find the way and felt unfamiliar with the surroundings. Sweat rolled down her neck.

"Rise-chan?" Teddie asked, leaning forward to have a look at Rise's face. "What's wrong?"

She bit her lower lip nervously. "I think we're lost…"

Thank you for reading. ^^