lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
Word Count: 1333
Universe: Persona 4 (fanfic)
Summary: The Tarot is sometimes interpreted as being a psychological journey towards wholeness, but is that the same as oneness? The Persona 4 team try to find out. (Rise and Teddie-centric)
Notes: Leftover from Selfathon, this fic was both prompted and sponsored by [personal profile] weareangels  who wanted multi Persona4 stuff! I'm mix and matching from both the anime and the game. Makoto is a Japanese word meaning 'truth,' 'honesty,' or 'reality.'

It was one of those things that everyone should've noticed but nobody did. It was easy with Kanji; his Shadow had far more memorable things about it than the fact that there were three-in-one. And sure, Seta was racking up a stack of Personas even then, but still, Seta was the leader, so everyone tacitly assumed that gave him something extra.

So it wasn't till Rise joined that anyone noticed anything.

Until then, the group had always acted as though a Shadow was a singular entity, regardless of whether it manifested with henchmen—like Kanji's—or in hordes, like Rise's. Even when Rise's Shadows chorused, “I am the real Rise!” and “There is no real you!” they seemed to think it was all a metaphor, a symbol of too much time spent as a teen idol.

Even Rise didn't get it for the longest time, even when her Shadow (in singular form, now) kept changing, predicting their attacks to avoid. She didn't realize until Teddie finally stopped the battle through his sacrifice.

“I know what it's like, not to know who you are,” he said.

Rise looked down at her Shadow, flickering, and in its eyes, she saw multitudes. Every person she'd ever been, for work or school or private. Every character, every facade, every… persona. There were so many, and Rise felt small and insignificant. Then she understood that it didn't have to be that way.

So she said, “there is no real Rise. You, Risette and everyone, you're all part of me,” and then she felt a warmth, an enveloping, a wholeness, and she got her first Persona… even though she knew it was actually many.

It felt important, so important, but before she could bring it up, Chie turned and she saw Teddie, wavering, with a look of existential terror.

“There's… no real me?” He asked.

A cloud was rising behind him.

“There's no real me.”

And then there was another Shadow, “the other Teddie,” Chie called him, pontificating on the inherent pointlessness of existence and all its endeavors, and it was crumbling and hollow. Looking at it made Rise feel cold dread, but she didn't have time to analyze it; she was too busy trying to work with her new-found Personas, take Teddie's place in the battle. It was stressful, and difficult, and she had started the battle exhausted already, and when it was over and Teddie accepted his Persona, she wanted to ask him if it felt like it had for her. But she was tired, so tired, and her head was so loud.

There never seemed a good time after that. There were murders, and kidnappings, and Adachi, and she was so busy learning to work with her Personas...

So it didn't come up again until ages later, after the battle with Ameno-Sagiri, after the fog was gone, after the adventure was over and they were eating at Aiya's to celebrate. And Kanji said:

“You know, there's one thing that's still bothering me. Teddie, I thought you were a Shadow. How come you had your own?”

There was a strained silence. Teddie stared at his food and fidgeted. Then Rise sighed.

“Okay, let's just get it out. My Shadows didn't disappear. They were transformed into Personas, and here, they manifest with their own bodies, but even outside the TV, they still live in me.” She tapped her temple. “And I don't mean that in the poetic way. Now, who else has that?”

Everyone glanced nervously at each other, until Kanji, blushing, raised his hand. Seta's was up almost at the same time, followed by Chie and Yukiko, until the only person with their hand down was Yosuke.

“Come on, guys,” he chuckled nervously. “I know we've been through a lot of weird stuff, but that's just crazy.”

“Shut up, sempai,” Rise snapped, “and either raise your hand or go.”

He raised his hand, and everyone started talking at once.

It turned out that while just about everybody had someone, Rise by far had the most. She didn't have an inner group so much as an anthill, with groups of Personas operating in tandem to achieve their ends. The number of bodies they manifested were tangential, and she'd never bothered counting them. Everyone remarked on how odd that was, but didn't bother her.

Naoto had two, a child and a robot. Naoto didn't mention their genders, and Chie elbowed Yosuke before he could ask.

Kanji was too embarrassed to say much about his, but Yosuke guessed anyway, and it took a while for Seta and Rise to get everyone under control again.

Teddie said he'd had two, but now he just had one, and he said with some anxiety that it felt very old, very sad, and dead. Which succeeded in silencing Kanji and Yosuke.

Finally, Yukiko said, “I'm sorry, Teddie.”

Teddie nodded. His face was uncharacteristically solemn. “I don't think it's my Shadow,” he said. “I think I'm its. And I think something happened, and now I'm all that's left. I don't know for sure.”

“Can you ask it?” Seta asked.

“I really don't think I should, sensei. Not now.”


Finally, Naoto cleared their throat.

“I'm going to do research,” they said, and everyone sighed with relief. Naoto doing research, at least, was totally normal. And they were the Detective Prince (plus two). Surely they could find out what was going on.

The thought, at least, was enough to let them end the meeting and go home.

Naoto took their research seriously. Everyone had to undergo yet another health examination. Unsurprisingly, nothing came up. (Literally nothing, for Teddie. Whatever his body was made of, it didn't like X-rays.) If Naoto was put out by this, they didn't let on; they plowed through piles of books and webpages, in English even, and finally gave a verdict.

“Nothing?” Yosuke complained. “You've got nothing?”

“I didn't say that. The Tarot is supposedly a symbolic representation of the psychological journey towards wholeness. Combined with the… phenomenae we've all been experiencing...”

“But we accepted our Shadows,” Chie said anxiously. “Made them Personas. Did we do it wrong?”

For that, Naoto had no answer. But Seta did, after a moment of thought.

“I don't think so. Haven't our lives improved, accepting our Shadows?” Nods all around. “Maybe wholeness isn't the same as oneness.”

“Could be,” Naoto mused, rubbing the brim of their cap. “It's a little unorthodox. I'll look into it.”

Oddly, even though they were no more certain about anything than before, just talking and theorizing about it made them feel better. After all, they'd coped with the Midnight Channel all along by treating it as a challenge to be studied and overcome. Now the Personas were just another facet of it. Maybe it had to be a secret to everyone else, but not to each other.

Once again, Rise took the lead. She, after all, was already adept at shuffling her personas like a deck of cards, for her pop career. It was natural to her to do it with her Personas, capitalized, as well. A smile here, a certain wink and tilt of the head there—nothing outlandish, for her anyway, but the team knew instantly what she was doing.

“Rise!” Yosuke hissed at her over lunch. “What are you doing?”

“Seeking wholeness,” Rise said innocently.

“Bull! You can't just let them puppet you like that! They'll--”

“They'll what? Teddie's a Persona. Do you think he shouldn't be here? Make that miserable dead thing do everything instead, when it clearly doesn't want to?”


“How do you know you're not as much a Persona as Teddie, sempai?”

Aghast silence. Teddie looked deeply uncomfortable.

“Oh, I'm sorry, Teddie,” Rise said, hugging him. “It's just… there is no real Rise. I'm not sure there ever was. It feels… easier to do things in groups, rather than alone. Share the load, you know? I'm just trying to do it… safely? Healthily? Better.”

Kanji cleared his throat. “I've been, uh. Working on sewing projects at home with one of mine. It's working good so far.”

“Have you gone after any of your guy customers yet?”

Yosuke's tone was acid, but Kanji just said, “Screw you, sempai.”

“Robot actually did some of my earlier research,” Naoto admitted.

Automatically, everyone looked to Seta for direction. He was the leader. He just smiled and said, “Never alone.”

“You've been outvoted,” Chie informed Yosuke.

He just groaned and hid his face in his hands. But in the way that showed he was secretly glad everyone else was okay with it.

EXTRA NOTES: this fic was really hard.  I'm not used to writing stories where everyone is multiple, and fanfiction is never my bag.  This was a challenge, but a rewarding one.

Date: 2015-07-05 05:27 am (UTC)
weareangels: A white wolf mid-stride on a white background. (LC)
From: [personal profile] weareangels
AH WOW HOW GOOD. Thank you so much, I really enjoyed it!!

Date: 2015-07-07 05:00 am (UTC)
weareangels: A white wolf mid-stride on a white background. (LC)
From: [personal profile] weareangels
Man, thanks for putting in all that energy! I hope my dollars can help you out in the coming days. :)
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