Yosuke had Problems. Lots of them. And right now they mostly revolved around things like waking up in the dead of night dragging along a dead horse in one hand and trying to fend off a really, really angry girl possessed by a god with the other.
And on top of that, his pants were completely ruined, and he was soaked to the bone in freezing water. What had Susano-O been doing, trembling through the rice fields with a… oh. Oh, shit, he remembered this myth, horse and all.
"Suuuusaaaanooooo-O!" Amaterasu shrieked, and holy shit she was glowing so brightly that it was a freaking miracle that no one was running their way. A miracle provided, he thought with a sense of palpable relief, by Yamato Takeru, who was casting Mamudoon spells on the area as quickly as he could, damping Amaterasu's brightness to the level of, say, a very bright light bulb rather than the sun. Rise was standing just out of the way of Yamato Takeru's spell range. Kanzeon probably picked up on Susano-O trampling through the rice fields before Susano-O even did it. Kamui… Well, Kamui was commuting with nature. Some help he was.
"I—wait," he said. "I mean, Amaterasu—"
"Yes! I mean, no! I mean—" He gave up trying to reason with Amaterasu, and instead offered her the horse. "Look! This is for you."
"Do you think that's funny, Susano-O?" She was picking up the horse. Or trying to. Thank god Amaterasu wasn't a physical powerhouse like Kanji, because he'd probably be dead if she were.
"Please tell me Souji's going to be here soon," Yosuke said to Rise, backing away from Amaterasu.
"He and Kanji-kun are running around looking for Chie," Rise said. "Geeze, what is it with things tonight? It's like there was this mass possession party or something. Rokuten Maoh woke me up trying to talk Kanzeon into trying to level up."
"According to Naoto's notes, one of the second years is holding a séance right now," Yamato Takeru said. "Susano-O, please calm Amaterasu down. I do not believe I can keep casting these spells."
Yosuke didn't bother asking 'well, how?' Yamato Takeru wasn't the kind of guy who liked to answer questions. Snotty prince.
"Look," he said to Amaterasu. "I'm… I'm really sorry about the rice fields. And what I did to your scarf that one time. And… and that one time I made you hump the sword—"
"You lyiiiiiing, fooooollliiish, hypercompetitiiiiiiive boooooy—"
"Maybe you should try complimenting her hair," Rise said. "Or maybe you could get Susano-O to come out and solve all our problems instead."
Yeah, Susano-O had better come out. This was all his fault: the dumb contest in which he swallowed one of Yukiko's scarves and tried to get Amaterasu to go down on a knife, that one time when Susano-O got raging drunk and went streaking through the entire town, that one time when Susano-O went to Souji's house to persuade Izanagi to let him back into Heaven—the entire thing was utterly ridiculous, and if it weren't for the fact that Susano-O was using his body to do all this, Yosuke might have even found it kind of funny. Might.
It's your fault, Yosuke said to Susano-O. Own up to it and come out!
No, Susano-O said, pouting a little. Don't want Dad to get mad at me.
Izanagi would be even more pissed off if Amaterasu brought morning four hours too early.
Well, thanks to you, we're going to be grounded for a year.
You should go into the TV more often. Things are so boring ever since that old dingbat god got put in his place. Besides, the only way to make her stop would be to get that Suzuka Gongen. Or to hit back.
Except that if Yosuke hit back, then Amaterasu would lock herself in the bomb shelter again. The last time that happened, they had to convince some of the third years to hold a concert in the back of the Amagi Inn to get her out. The local newspaper called the performance the worst thing to ever grace the ears of the town, and none too politely suggested that there was a reason why the music schools had rejected them: sheer suckage.
Amaterasu glared down at the horse, and then set it on fire. Funny how all the gods and goddesses of compassion never actually seemed that compassionate when they came down to Earth. Then she looked at Yosuke.
"Why do you hide behind that mortal boy, Susano-O?" Amaterasu said. "Are you too afraid to face your own sister?"
Well, that did it. Susano-O's pride, once offended, was a hard thing to tame again. Yosuke tried to push him back down—gods knew that Susano-O was never very kind to Amaterasu—but when he resisted, Susano-O simply bullied his way out. Yosuke's mind went blank.
When he regained control of his body, he was lying next to the charred horse, and Suzuka Gongen was banging on the door of the bomb shelter. Kanji and Izanagi were waiting for him.
"Susano-O," Izanagi boomed. "I am very disappointed with you."
"But," Yosuke said, "I didn't do—"
"For your disobedience, we will tear out your fingernails and toenails one-by-one until you repent." Izanagi gave pause. "Or at least, we will when you reappear into this world instead of cowering within the boy like the fool you are."
Susano-O, for once in his life, bit his tongue. Yosuke, in turn, winced, and prayed that Izanagi and Susano-O would be able to make up without the nail-ripping. With a crack of thunder, Souji reasserted control over Izanagi, and looked down at Yosuke sympathetically. It was more like 'annoyed', but Yosuke liked to pretend Souji was annoyed on his behalf.
"Well," he said, "how are we going to get her out of there this time?"
"You can't think of anything?" Yosuke asked, a little pained.
"This is the fourth time in the last two months," Souji said. "I'm sure you can think of something. Do you think we should invite the band back?"
"No can do, senpai," Kanji said glumly. "The Amagis said that if they come back to the Inn, they'll invite someone from the newspaper to review the performance."
Ouch. That was harsh.
"Or we could wait for Suzuka Gongen to persuade Amaterasu to exit the shelter," Naoto pointed out. "Might I suggest punishing Susano-O's indiscretion in a more… subtle manner?"
"I can think of a few ways," Souji muttered. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and said, "Well, let's go home, everyone. There's no point in standing around here for too long."
And so, exhausted, six of them staggered back home while Suzuka Gongen tried to open the door to the bomb shelter with a twig.
Dojima tried. He really did. He knew that his nephew was a very respectable, upstanding young man. And he knew that most of his nephew's friends were perfectly reasonable and sane people when they weren't doing things like standing in the middle of hospital hallways with glowing eyes and insisting that they were the god of this and that or some historical figure.
That didn't explain why Shirogane turned up in the office in the beginning of February requesting to be allowed to infiltrate a gang meeting dressed as a woman.
"It will give me a supreme tactical advantage," Shirogane said. "I will sneak into their ranks with a knife hidden away in my bosom. And as they become steadily drunker, I shall lop their heads from their bodies and slay the rest of the deities who dare to disrupt the peace of this noble kingdom."
"Shirogane, listen to yourself," Dojima said sharply. "Do you have any idea what you're saying?"
"My proposal is entirely sensible. It will not be difficult for me to disguise myself as a woman—" How anyone could mistaken a scrawny, sixteen year old boy for a woman was completely beyond Dojima, but he nodded his head like he believed the obviously addled boy. "—and it is hardly as though women are capable of murdering a man. At least, not openly."
"Coffee," Dojima snapped at one of his assistants. "I want a cup of coffee on my desk when I get back." Then he took Shirogane by the shoulders and took him to the bathroom. He turned on the cold water, whipped off the damn hat, and stuck Shirogane's head under the faucet.
"Feeling better?" Dojima asked, patting the boy on the back.
"Q-quite possibly," Shirogane said. He grabbed some paper towels and tried to dry his hair. "I… I didn't say anything strange, did I?"
"The entire police station thinks you want to be a crossdresser," Dojima said. Shirogane looked mortified, in the way that boys did when their pride took a blow. He laughed and said, "Go to school, Shirogane. Weren't you investigating something over there?"
"The séances," Shirogane said. He checked his watch and swore softly. "In the middle of the day?"
" It's for a private investigation, Dojima-san," said Shirogane. He fitted the cap back on his head and said, "Thank you for… waking me up. I appreciate it."
"Make sure you get more sleep," Dojima said. "You're never going to get tall if you stay up all night pouring over the files."
"Your advice is duly noticed," Shirogane said, and stalked out of the bathroom.
The excuse the newscasters used was that there was a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse that would probably last the rest of the week.
Souji refused to touch Yosuke for the entirety of the day, which really, really sucked.
Rokuten Maoh wasn't the nicest of Personae, but he was a sure of a hell a lot easier to keep satisfied than some of the others. Yosuke and Yukiko's Personae spent all their time yelling at each other, Chie's made her toilet paper people's houses and make out with Yukiko at inappropriate times, Teddie's made him sit with the rocks and try to hold meaningful conversations with them, and Rise spent all of her lunch breaks solving other people's problems, and then running over to Souji and having him solve the problems she caused for others.
Rokuten Maoh? Yeah, he was a big, bad King of Hell obsessed with material possessions and worldly accomplishments, but Kanji kept him occupied by buying a bunch of knitting books and challenging Rokuten Maoh to make scale miniature models of each of the animals—out of cloth.
Of course, sometimes there were… problems.
"Now, Tatsumi," said the headmaster. "It's admirable for a young man to be as driven as you are, but do you have to do it during class?"
"MUST COLLECT THEM ALL," Tatsumi said. His hands were rapidly assembling what looked like a to-scale model of a squat bear. "MUST COMPLETE COLLECTION."
"How… how unusual," said the headmaster. "I, too, have a collection, you know. I collect model tanks! A very boyish hobby, but as I like to say, having hobbies is what keeps you young. Ah, what is that you're making?"
"How fascinating! I've only seen them in dumpsters. How do you collect information about them?"
"TATSUMI COLLECTS PHOTOGRAPHS."
"Do you mean your mother? How cold of you, to be so distant towards your own mother! She's always been nothing but kind to you, young man. Why, if you don't learn how to respect your elders, then you will be in very dire straits someday, and your poor mother won't be there to help you! Tatsumi! Stop attaching that leg this instant!"
"I SHALL COMPLETE THIS COLLECTION," said Tatsumi. "IT IS AN IMPREATIVE. ONLY UPON COMPLETION CAN I TRULY CALL MYSELF A KING OF CREATION."
Children these days! Back in his day, they actually respected their elders. Why, back in his day, he had to walk through the floodplains, eight kilometers both way, chest-deep in freezing water! But if he couldn't beat Tatsumi… why not join him?
"You can make them later," the headmaster said. "And if you must have a collection, then take a look at these." He opened his desk drawer, and put one of his own models on the desk. "A one-to-eighty-six centimeter model of the German Panzerhaubitze," said the headmaster proudly. "What do you think of it?"
Tatsumi leaned in, his eyes hungry and a predatory smile working its way onto his face. "MORE?"
"Go ahead and take it," the headmaster said. "Why, I have four of those, myself. If you like them, then I can show you a few catalogues I have. Very, very nice new models coming out this spring…"
"GIVE ME," Tatsumi said, holding out his hand. The headmaster was a little taken aback—how rude, to just demand to have the catalogue—but he could feel a tickle of his old boyish pride. He had thought that Seta boy might understand the beauty of collecting toy models, but the boy took his reward, walked away, and never looked back. He could make something of this Tatsumi boy, given a bit of time and patience.
"I SHALL BE THE KING OF MODELS!"
… A lot of time. And a lot of patience.
"You can't stay in there forever!" Chie shouted, hitting the bomb shelter door a bit harder. By now the staff of the Amagi Inn seemed to accept that Yukiko was prone to fits of mental breakdowns (also known as 'possession by gods', but even Dojima seemed to think that 'possession by gods' was short-hand for 'gone batshit insane') and liked spending lots and lots of time in the bomb shelter reorganizing the canned foods, so they didn't mind it too much when Chie showed up in the Inn with a crowbar and a speakerphone.
"He violated me," Amaterasu whined on the other side of the door.
"It was just ione/i kiss."
"Susano-O is my brother, horrible as he is." That never seemed to stop the gods before. The Greek gods were so incestuous that their family trees were more like family Moebius strips. Amaterasu sniffed, and said, "I am not coming back out. The whole world can go dark, for all I care."
"But plants need sunlight!"
"So? You humans can probably make sunlight by yourselves now. Nobody needs me anymore. Susano-O continues to insult me, my own children insist that they are not related to me, Father doesn't consider me attractive—" Wait, what just happened to that incest taboo? "—and my consort thinks I'm strange."
"I—no I don't."
"Then why won't you stop making such a racket?"
"That's how I show people I care?"
"Well, you're too loud. I want Father."
Chie hoped Yosuke didn't call Souji "Father" when the two of them were in bed, because that had more shades of wrong than a box of Crayola had crayons.
"I need you," Chie said hopefully.
"No, you want that snow girl. Why doesn't anyone need me?"
"Um," said Chie, "I have a magical… I have, uh, a blessed object! Yeah. And it… it works. All the time. Tells you everything you need to hear. All you have to do is ask it a question, and it'll give you answers."
"Is it one of your strange human contraptions?"
"Oh, yeah," Chie said. "It's powered by technology, so it can be a little fuzzy, but it works. Most of the time."
"Very well, then. I shall open the door, and you will hand me your 'device.'"
The bomb shelter parted a crack. Just a crack. Amaterasu's hand, glowing so brightly that Chie was nearly blinded when she looked directly at it, appeared from below, palm open. Chie handed over the magical eight ball mutely.
"How curious," Amaterasu said. "How do I activate its powers?"
"First you ask a question. Then you shake the ball, and it gives you an answer."
"Let's see. 'Who needs me?' … 'Out of service?'" Crap. Chie should've mentioned the part where it needed to be a yes-or-no question. Amaterasu let out a wordless scream of rage, and threw the magical eight ball at the shelter door.
Chie came back to class during lunch break looking a little pained.
"Any luck with Amaterasu?" Souji asked.
"She welded the doors shut after I gave her Yosuke's magical eight ball."
Souji looked back at Susano-O, who was busy harassing a poor girl by making his eyes glow at will, and sighed.
"Oh, Souji-kun," the girl quivered after Souji shooed Susano-O away from her. "I'm so afraid. My séances are summoning all the wrong people!"
"I…" Souji blinked, and said, "Well, who were you trying to summon?"
"M-my dead grandmother… I wanted her opinion on whether I should buy this statue of Buddha, or get another cross." The girl looked up at Souji, and then, lowering her voice, said, "Um, you wouldn't happen to know where I could get these, would you…?"
"I think I can get a hold of them," Souji said. "Where are these séances being held?"
"Dude, get in line," said the boy.
Naoto wouldn't have minded a line if there was no one else there, but at the moment there was a train of people trying to push their way into Rise's class. "I beg your pardon," Naoto said. "But I really must talk with Rise-san regarding—"
"Don't we all?" a girl asked, and then sighed. "Isn't Risette a total dream? She's so understanding. It's like she feels my pain."
Kanzeon was the god of compassion and mercy. Naoto sighed, and flashed her badge.
"This is for official police investigation," she said. "If you do not move, then I will have you arrested." Even though she didn't think there were enough handcuffs in Inaba to get everyone. The line parted, and she went straight to Kanzeon, who was sitting on a desk, one hand holding a willow branch and the other hand dipped in a saucer of water.
"Oh, Risette!" cried the student before her. "What should I do? I do not know what shirt I should wear on my date!"
"You are blessed to be visited by love," said Kanzeon, her eyes lowered and a beatific smile on her face. "The man you love is a truly kind one. The source of your distress is a natural anxious impulse from being so desired. Calm the raging storm in your heart, and know that a relationship is not made or broken by what you are wearing, or what station you are born in. Rather, through living a life of mercy, compassion, and love will lead you to breaking the cycle of reincarnation—"
"Oh, Risette!" cried the girl. "You have helped me so much! The springtime of my youth is here!" And with that, the girl sped off into the dreary Inaba winter of the outside. Naoto stood before Kanzeon, and cleared her throat.
"Yamato Takeru," Kanzeon said.
"Guan Yin," Naoto said, deadpanning. "You are making a spectacle of yourself."
"I am only trying to relieve the suffering of others. However, if you have a need to speak with Rise, then I will be all too glad to surrender her back to you." Kanzeon's eyes fluttered shut. When they opened again, Rise was staring out at Naoto, blinking rapidly. "Naoto-kun?" she said, and then swooned backwards. Naoto belatedly tried to grab Rise before she fell, but Rise's hand slipped out of hers, and Rise fell off the desk with a yelp.
"Nobody needs me," Amaterasu said. The canned plums gleamed sympathetically at her. The shelves mourned her loneliness. The dust quivered in sadness. Yes. She would truly die of loneliness.
"Oh, Ammy-baby," Teddie said. "Of course I need you! Why, you are the moon that lights up my skies, the stars that light the moon, the thick, blanket of nighttime that wraps around my body—"
"See?" Amaterasu said to a can of pickles. "Even he wants brother more than me."
The girl was holding the séance on the first floor of the practice building. Luckily (or maybe not), only Souji and Chie were there—luckily because this way they could cheat the Ouija board whichever they wanted. There were candles lit about in a circle around the trio, and the blinds were partially drawn, and the only thing Souji could think of was that he felt like an idiot.
"Oh, great spirits!" the girl cried out. "If you are there, give me a sign!"
The skies darkened, and a gust of wind tore small branches right off the trees. Lightning forked from the heavens, and a nearby tree caught fire.
"It's working," the girl said, and began to tremble. "O—oooh, no, what do I do if I've summoned someone other than grandmother?"
"I'm sure that won't be the case," Souji reassured her. He cleared his throat, and said, "Spirit, who are you?"
Their hands were on the Ouija board. He and Chie exchanged a glance, and nodded.
"It's moving," the girl hissed. "G-R-A-N-D-M-O-T-H-E-R-W-I-L-L-O-W. –Who?"
"Yes," said a disembodied voice, and the girl screamed.
"Don't lift your hands from the board!" Chie said, grabbing a hold of the girl's hands. "Listen to what she has to say!"
"But I don't even know who Grandmother Willow is!"
"I'm sure it will all come together in the end," Souji said.
"You are distressed and afraid," said the voice. "But fear not. I, Kan… I, your grandmother, am here to guide you. Child, what concerns you is the worship of icons. Free your mind from such attachments of the world, for they bring you nothing but suffering. True happiness can be found by seeking enlightenment and breaking free of the cycle of reincarnation. But if you are truly disturbed, then allow me to relieve you of your burdens. What will pacify your fears most is Buddha, praying for your happiness and good will. You are a wonderful child. I wish you all the best."
More lightning, wind, and growing darkness. The girl was shaking in her chair. Souji blew out a candle.
"Well," he said. "I think that went quite well."
"'The worship of icons'?" Yosuke asked Rise.
"Isn't she a Christian? She's the one who asks senpai for veils and crosses and angel statues, right?" Rise said.
"That is what my research indicates, yes," said Naoto.
"Icons?" Kanji asked. "Those collectables or somethin'?"
"What, you're still holed up in there?" Susano-O mocked. He was drumming against the bomb shelter door to the beat of whatever song Yosuke had downloaded onto his MP3 player. "Come on, sister."
"You are horrible," Amaterasu hissed. "Stuuuuupid impudent booooooy."
"Uuuuglyyyy, uuuuppiiiiity biiiiiiiiitch!"
"Hey!" Chie said. "Yukiko isn't ugly, or uppity, or a bitch! A-and Amaterasu isn't, either, but—"
"Consort," Amaterasu said, "what is your opinion of Susano-O?"
"Isn't that question a little unfair?"
"If you say that he is a mean, boorish, foolhardy child undeserving of Father's attentions—"
"You're just jealous because Father loves me better."
Why was it that everyone wanted to bang Souji? Chie tugged at her hair, and looked to Souji. "Can't you do something to fix this?"
"I'm waiting for Susano-O to apologize, actually."
… Yeah. Fat chance of that ever happening.
"Maybe we should get Kanzeon to talk his ears off," Chie suggested.
"A parent's love and affection is not a zero-sum game," said Kanzeon. "Every parent loves each and every one of its children, but to each child is also a different way of showing the parent's love—"
"We make out all the time," Susano-O said. "I told you he loves me best."
The doors of the bomb shelter were beginning to glow red.
"Sexuality is not the only way of showing one's affection for another. To truly ascend, you must be able to feel and show compassion for each and every living creature in this world: from the lowest of plankton to the greatest of gods, you must extend your hand to each and all."
"She's saying that your sex with Father is corrupt," Amaterasu said.
"Why don't you love me a little more, sister? Why don't you show me more of your affection and compassion?"
The door was beginning to melt a little, and the sad thing was, Souji didn't know if Susano-O was deliberately provoking Amaterasu or not.
"Of course, true enlightenment cannot be achieved in a day, but gods such as yourselves have an infinite amount of time to perfect yourselves to that goal—"
"If thou willst, then make way," Suzuka Gongen said, carrying a crowbar over her shoulder. "Thou hast done well, Kanzeon, in giving the siblings two more to squabble over. I shall take matters from here."
"I appreciate your gratitude, Suzuka Gongen. Your devotion to your master is—"
"Please," Souji said, holding up his hand. "You've done enough."
"Until we meet again," said Kanzeon, and much to the relief of everyone within earshot, gave way to Rise again. Suzuka Gongen pried the doors of the bomb shelter open, and dragged Amaterasu out.
"I liked Ame-no-Uzume's way of getting me out better," Amaterasu pouted. Susano-O opened his mouth. For good measure, Suzuka Gongen grabbed him, too, and threw both gods into the river.
"I beg thy pardon for acting so impertinently, but thy behavior invites embarrassment upon thee," said Suzuka Gongen. "Thou art little more than children squabbling over a piece of meat."
Susano-O puffed out his chest. "Hah. Do you think I'm afraid of a bit of water? I am the great Susano-O, blower of storms—"
"And blower of Father, too," Amaterasu added.
"Not for long, if the two of you don't hurry and make up," Souji warned.
"Upon my count, thou shalt apologize to thy sibling for making nuisances of thyselves. Thou shalt obey my commands, for I have only the best of intentions for thee and this world. Thus, I beg. Upon mine count: three, two, one—"
"I bet your consort thinks I'm hot," said Susano-O.
Amaterasu blasted him in the face with a jet of fire.
When Yukiko came to, there was a substantial amount of steam rising from the river, and a storm was passing into the horizon.
"Oh, thank god," Chie said, hugging her. "You're finally back."
"Yes," she said. "What happened?"
"Some girl held a séance and Susano-O went wild and dragged a dead horse all the way to the Inn, and then Amaterasu locked herself in a bomb shelter and we had to spend such a long time trying to get her to come out again—"
"Oh," Yukiko said, because that really explained everything she needed to know.
"You know what I don't get? Why everyone wants to have sex with Izanagi," Chie said. "I mean, he's kind of cute and all, but he wears his cup on the outside. That's violating a million rules or something."
"I've never wanted to do anything like that with him."
"Well, good," Chie said. "Because neither have I! In fact, you're the only one I want to do that kind of stuff with."
An awkward silence descended. Chie coughed. Souji twiddled his thumbs. Yosuke tried to wring some more water out of his shirt. Rise giggled. Yukiko gave up on any sort of subtlety, and kissed Chie's cheek.
"I'm going to go talk with my parents," she said. "I'll see you in my room later?"
"Yeah, of course," Chie said. "I'll see the rest of you guys later, okay? Bye."
And with that, the two of them vanished into the Inn. Yosuke stared.
"Did that—were they always…?"
"Senpai, you didn't think that they were really possessed all those times we caught them making out in the food court, did you?" Rise asked.
"And we just spent all that time trying to talk Amaterasu out of the metaphor," Souji said.
"Good one, senpai," Rise said, giggling. "I'm going to go find Naoto-kun and Kanji-kun now. Bye, senpai! Bye, Yosuke-senpai!"
She went down the path towards the shopping district, talking animatedly to the air. Yosuke fitted the shirt over his head, and winked at Souji.
"There," Yosuke said. "All's well that ends well, right?"
"You're still not getting any," Souji said.
Notes: Written for the kink meme prompt, Anon is asking for an AU world where instead of fighting the Shadows in the normal P4 way, Souji and the party are in actuality truly physically possessed by their respective Personas/Gods, occasionally at the worst possible times.