playing with shapes
a rabbit-hearted girl, frozen in the headlights.
touhou project / persona 4 | gen | wordcount: 943

i originally wrote this near the end of november 2009 on the persona 4 kinkmeme, over on livejournal – the prompt was 'a character from another fandom faces his or her shadow' and i couldn't resist the call. ;C i just didn't bother posting it until very recently because i didn't think it was up to snuff. but now is as good a time as any, i suppose.

( characters are not mine, etc. )

――

There was an unfamiliar crunching sound in the air as the darkness gave way to a hazy lowlight; it started off soft and gradually grew louder, some cacophonic mixture that was like the splintering of wood and glass all at once. The ground beneath their feet was ice-cold and gritty, littered with fragments of white that looked eerily like the hands and feet of dismembered china dolls. The farther they progressed, the more of them that they found along the path.

That could only mean that she was nearby, and it wasn't too late to save –

"Oh, isn't this wonderful? We have more people in attendance for the big show~!" came a strange, lilting voice from just ahead. ...It sounded familiar, but it didn't really seem like it could have been – "Don't be shy, we want you to take a front-row seat for this performance~"

"... That's probably where she's been taken," Yukari affirmed, nodding in that direction. "We'd better be careful going in."

Looking grimly determined, Reimu pressed onward, gohei in hand, with Yukari and Marisa taking up the rear. The crunching noises grew louder still, and now the doll parts were being flung onto the dirt path as if by a careless child. And maybe it was all in the shrine maiden's imagination, but didn't that scrap of cloth on that one doll's arm look similar to her own...?

"Finally, my audience!" the voice chortled, the cracking of little doll bones ceasing as they were unceremoniously dropped to the ground. "Now we can begin."

Yukari was right, she was definitely here – in this dead end of gnarled trees and shadows, Alice Margatroid was found at last; however, she appeared to have been thrown around, looking disheveled, slightly bloodied and short on breath. ...But to their surprise, they'd also found the source of that odd, lilting warble, a doppelganger of sorts made to look exactly like Alice. The only differences between them were its blue hair ribbons and apron, and its sickly dark glow and yellow eyes.

And here it was, mercilessly taunting the real Alice, who couldn't move to run away, speak up or fight back – where was her grimoire, her doll army? What kind of magic created this... thing in the first place...? Reimu wondered, before the fake Alice broke her concentration again.

"Everyone always thinks you're so creepy~" fake Alice giggled, picking up the doll she'd previously tossed aside – Reimu immediately recognized its outfit; the pointed hat and broomstick couldn't have been based on anyone but Marisa. "They look at you, playing with your little toys, and all they want to do is run away from you! Isn't it sad~?" She waggled the doll in Alice's face, grinning wickedly before throwing it back to the ground with a violent thump. "It's no wonder you isolate yourself so much~ nobody wants to get close to you, so why bother getting close to them?"

"... that... that's a lie..." Alice's voice was weak and trembling, but she was still determined to stop this thing from breaking her completely.

Fake Alice erupted into peals of laughter. "Ahaha, how cute, she can talk now~! But no~" Her foot came down upon the Marisa doll, grinding its small body into the dirt and eliciting a wince from the real deal. "You use your 'studies' as an excuse to block yourself from what people really think! And then there's the matter of that witch friend of yours..."

It was Marisa's turn to speak up as Alice blanched. "Wh-what is she talking about? Why am I being brought into this? Alice...?"

"You lord her over everyone else, constantly obsessing over her~ she steals from your bookshelf every day, but you don't care as long as she gives you some attention, right~" Another crunch, and the doll's head popped clean off, rolling away into the dirt. "Your feelings don't mean a thing to her~"

"Stop!" Alice cried out, struggling to stand. "What are you...? Who are you? Why are you going around saying all these lies?"

Another giggle bubbled from the fake Alice's lips as she picked up the dismembered doll's head. "Aha~ don't you get it by now? You're so smart, after all~ I'm you. And you're me. There's no questioning it~"

"That – you – you're –"

"Oh, are you going to contest it~? I already told you, I –"

"NO!" Alice suddenly shouted, to the shock of the other three girls on guard. "You – you're NOT ME!"

And just like that, as if some kind of seal had been broken, the doppelganger began giggling mindlessly as a festering cloud of shadows seeped forth from all around her; her yellow eyes glowed more menacingly now, more dangerous. "Ahaha~ you've set me up for your curtain call, so now it's time for you and your so-called friends to take a bow! Oh, but I'll need a co-star for this performance of mine... why not cut straight through the heart and take your precious black-white witch from you?"

Dark tendrils darted forth, winding around Marisa's wrists and waist and forcefully yanking her forward; the mini-hakkero in her hat went tumbling down, leaving her defenseless. "Ah – what the hell? Reimu, Yukari, stop this thing!" she shouted.

"There's no other way around this," Reimu said to Yukari, pulling out her spellcards and gathering as much magic power within her as she could access. "We need to take this thing down, but we can't let Marisa or the real Alice get hurt either... let's just do our best!"

The doppelganger's glowing eyes disappeared into the haze of the dark fog, and the space around them faded into indiscernible shapes as they plunged headlong into the fight.