Souji was already in the TV when he was kidnapped.
They were back in the Void Quest dungeon looking for an item Souji'd promised to give to someone in town when something caught his eye. It was a chest down at the end of a hallway that they'd managed to overlook. Despite knowing it was probably nothing but junk, he couldn't resist going to check.
"What's up?" Yosuke asked when he noticed Souji change direction.
"A chest." He waved Yosuke away when he started to follow. "It'll take me two seconds; I'll meet you at the stairs."
He'd been right. There was nothing but an accessory of no use to them, but he'd be able to pawn it off to Daidara for a few yen. When he turned back to the intersection, Yosuke was standing there and watching him.
"I told you not to wait," Souji said, but he was pleased anyway.
"Sorry," Yosuke said, and there was something off about his voice, about the way he smiled, slow and hungry, that made Souji tense. "I couldn't resist."
Souji didn't have time to shout or raise his sword before the Shadow lunged at him, crashed into him. They fell backwards and kept falling, deeper and deeper until the only light came from yellow eyes that never blinked.
And then they were gone too.
"Do we have to keep him here?"
"Of course. Is there anywhere more fitting than a castle for our Souji-kun?"
"We need somewhere more mood setting."
"I hope you're not suggesting that dirty little strip joint. It will never do."
Souji's head throbbed and the bickering made it worse. When he opened his eyes, the world spun a little before righting itself, but the angle was still wrong – he was lying on his side, glasses crooked so that half of his vision was clear and the other clouded with fog.
The Shadows of his friends stood in front of him, glaring at each other.
His arms were behind his back. He tried to right them but they were bound with something soft and unyielding.
Yosuke's Shadow noticed his movements. "Hey, you're up, partner." He knelt down and sat Souji up, fixing his glasses for him. He had Yosuke's face but it was wrong, sharper and meaner as if he was too used to being cruel. And there were the yellow eyes, of course, focused hard on Souji's face.
The others cut off their conversation and gathered around him, pressing close in an excited flurry of activity. Rise's Shadow draped herself over one shoulder and Kanji's Shadow took the other, a pair of half-naked accessories.
"Where are the others?" His friends were nowhere in sight but if their Shadows were here then they had to be somewhere close.
"They're on the way, of course." Yosuke's Shadow cast annoyed looks at the others. His hands twisted in the fabric of Souji's jacket. "Trying to save you."
"We'll set them straight," Chie's Shadow said, a wide smile on her face. "They'll agree with us once this is over."
"About what?" He was almost afraid to ask; he didn't the way they looked at him, more crazed than usual.
"That you belong here," Rise's Shadow said, toying with his collar. "With us."
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" Kanji's Shadow purred in his ear. "You're ours."
Yosuke's Shadow threw them all out a few minutes later, telling them to go and take care of his friends. The instant the door closed behind the last of them, he turned to Souji and scoffed. "'Ours'? What's up with that bullshit? We'll have to straighten that out, won't we?"
Souji didn't reply. He twisted his head and tried to see what was holding his arms in place. A red scarf, it looked like, done up with enough knots that he'd never be able to break out of it.
"That's mine." The Shadow crossed the room and straddled Souji's lap. He worked his fingers into Souij's hair and smiled. "My scarf for my partner. You're all wrapped up in me."
"This shouldn't be happening," Souji said. "Everyone's already accepted themselves."
One person relapsing he might have been able to see, although he'd seen no signs of that happening to any of them. For it to happen to all of them…
"Did they?" He forced Souji's head back, eyed the length of his throat with such obvious interest that Souji felt himself grow hot. "There's nothing that says a new part can't crop up or that an older one might change, something to make a person doubt themselves all over again."
"And what part are you?"
"The you part." He licked Souji's mouth.
Souji woke up to arguing, though he couldn't recall falling asleep. Carefully, so he wouldn't be seen, he opened his eyes to slits. He could just barely make out the Shadow forms of Chie and Yukiko in the doorway. Yosuke's Shadow blocked them from coming into the room.
"You're being selfish," Chie's Shadow said.
"And you're being a bitch," Yosuke's Shadow replied, idly tossing a kunai up and down. The motion, if not the words, made Souji long for his best friend and not just the dark reflection of him.
"He's not just yours," Yukiko's Shadow said. "You have to learn to share."
"He's my partner."
"Since you brought that up…" Souji wouldn't make out her face, but the malicious tone in her voice made the air heavy. "This whole 'partners' business… When was the last time he called you that? I can't recall. In fact, I'm starting to think it's a bit one-sided, haha—"
Yosuke's Shadow moved, too fast for Souji to follow, and her laugh became an enraged shriek. Chie's Shadow yelled and when it was over, she stood protectively in front of Yukiko's. Yosuke's Shadow was bent low to the ground, the picture of restrained violence.
Yukiko's Shadow laughed again, high and thin and ugly. "Look at that, I think I hit a weak spot."
"Try that again," Chie's Shadow taunted, and there was an eager tone in her voice as if she wanted nothing more than an excuse to attack.
"Get out," Yosuke's Shadow said. His voice had gone flat, the disinterested tone from earlier gone as if it'd never existed.
"You think after that—"
"One more word and I'll ram these kunai into both of your throats."
They left, though Souji wasn't quite sure why. Maybe it was because they thought they wouldn't be able to take him or maybe they just didn’t want to kill him with Souji in the room.
Yosuke's Shadow unfolded, stared at the closed door with a blank face. Souji closed his eyes and tried to pretend he was asleep. Footsteps crossed the room and stopped in front of him.
"I know you're awake, partner."
The Shadow knelt, arms resting on his knees. He was still holding his kunai, and one of them dripped blood.
"Chie, of course. Have to get through her to get to Yukiko, but that's half the fun." He grabbed Souji's arm and pulled him up. "They thought you were asleep the whole time, you know. They couldn’t tell, but I could. You know why?"
He expected Souji to say something. "Because you're my partner."
"That's right. We're partners." His smile curled slow and dangerous, under eyes so yellow they seemed to glow. He tangled his hands in Souji's hair and pressed their faces together. "You and me, partner. Just you and me."
He didn't let any of the others in after that. Sometimes Souji could hear them through the walls, raging at the Shadow, at Souji, at his friends, though the words were indistinct and unclear. He was glad for that. He didn’t like hearing his friends' voices say hateful things, even distorted as they were.
Yosuke's Shadow didn't care. He opened the door only once, for Teddie's Shadow, who stood out of sight and spoke too low for Souji to hear anything other than snatches of words. It fit with his memory of the being, though; there was mention of 'the futility of such possession' and how he would find all his effort wasted.
The Shadow let him finish before slamming the door and striding over to where Souji sat, back against the wall.
"Futile, huh?" he said, dragging Souji forward. "Fuck that shit."
He spent the next length of time marking Souji's body, leaving bites and hickies until it seemed that every six inches of Souji had something on it. Souji didn't struggle, though the Shadow bit too hard. He felt like Yosuke, moved like him, kissed like him, smelled like him, though it was as if Yosuke had developed a harsh edge that threw everything off a bit. Souji missed Yosuke enough that he didn't mind.
"You're thinking of me, right?" the Shadow asked as he worked a spot on Souji's throat.
Souji said yes because the Shadow was part of Yosuke and Yosuke was the only thing on his mind.
With little else to do, he slept a lot. He didn't dream much, which he was glad about. The TV world fog made the few dreams he did have odd and uncomfortable and he was happy to forget them when he woke up. Once, though, he had a dream about Yosuke, Yosuke who was blurred around the edges and kept calling him partner, who tangled him up in the cords of his headphones and told him he wanted him more than anything in the world. A Yosuke who tugged down his pants and sucked his dick and told him to wake up.
When he opened his eyes, his hips were moving and the Shadow's mouth was around him.
"I'll stop if you want," he said, one hand on Souji's hip and the other up his shirt. He looked especially insolent then, eyes lazy and content, long body stretched out on the stone floor.
He was telling the truth, Souji was sure. He could have told him to stop, at least tried it to see if it would work. But he told him to keep going and stared at the top of his head as he licked and made obscene noises, sucked and pulled away to say dirty things. Easy to pretend it was Yosuke like this, when those eyes looked away from him, but did he have to pretend? Wasn't this Yosuke, part of him, the Souji part of him…?
When he came, brought there by a clever tongue and a filthy mouth, he closed his eyes and tried to picture Yosuke clear and sharp before him. When he said his name, he felt the Shadow smile against his thigh and tighten his grip.
"I'm right here, partner."
The Shadow's use of time was erratic; often, he'd sit and simply stare at Souji, although stare may have been too weak a word for the intent look in his eyes. Sometime he wasn't content with just looking and would pull Souji onto his lap or crawl onto his and Souji would forget everything but lips and tongue and hands and the ache that inevitably built up inside of him.
Each time, the Shadow was only too happy to help him with that.
Other times he would leave without saying anything and the voices of the other Shadows would get louder. Souji would stare at the door with an uneasy feeling in his chest, worried that it would open and the Shadow of one of his other companions would come through. His friends wouldn't hurt him, he knew, but their Shadows might if they felt slighted.
Each time, he was glad when the door opened and it was Yosuke's Shadow who came back.
Sometimes a gong would echo through the castle, low enough that Souji could feel it in his bones. Each time, the Shadow would say, "That's another one gone." With each gong, he grew more impatient, handling Souji a little rougher and disappearing for longer periods of time.
He seemed to be waiting for something.
Souji realized he was too.
"That's six," Souji said when the gong died away. It'd roused him from sleep and he tried to gather his senses.
He wondered how long he'd been in the TV. Not too long, he thought, though he had no way of telling. Not long enough for it to start raining, he was sure.
"Finally," the Shadow said, and he pushed himself off the wall to come and sit behind Souji. "Tired? You'll wake up soon enough, partner."
He pulled Souji against his chest and rubbed him through his pants. Souji squirmed. He felt like they'd just fooled around, but that couldn't have been right because the Shadow had been gone most of the time before Souji went to sleep.
Lips pressed against his temple. "You'll be alright, don't worry. I'm right there."
Souji wanted to ask what he was talking about but the door was opening and Yosuke was stepping through, looking tired and worried, a look that faded when he saw Souji. But, although the door swung shut behind him, he didn't step forward.
Souji didn’t like that. He almost couldn't breathe, not when Yosuke was so close and refusing to close the distance between them.
"Yosuke." Souji gasped the name, twisting back as the Shadow rubbed his thigh.
"Come over here," the Shadow said, and there was an edge to his voice that Souji hadn't heard before, a keyed up anticipation that made Souji's breath pick up. "Can't you see he's waiting for you? You took forever."
Still, Yosuke hesitated. "Yosuke, please," Souji said and he'd never wanted anything more. "Come here."
It seemed only an instant before he was kneeling in front of Souji, taking his face in his hands and kissing him, so softly that Souji almost didn't believe it happened. His hands shook.
"I missed you," he said, because it was the truth, because he'd had a Yosuke-shaped hole in his soul until this moment.
"I missed you too," Yosuke said and he looked at Souji without blinking. "But…haven’t I been here the whole time?" His hands weren't shaking anymore.
"Yes," Souji said. "But I need all of you."
The Shadow tugged on the scarf and it fell away with a whisper, knots unraveling like smoke.
Souji's arms hurt but he reached up and dragged Yosuke forward until they were kissing so that he couldn't breathe, pressed together so tightly he couldn't tell which heartbeat was his. Maybe they both were. Yosuke tried to climb on top of him and Souji tried to melt into him and they ended up in a tangled mess with the Shadow laughing softly in his ear and biting his neck.
"Partner, I want you more than anything," Yosuke said, and Souji knew that.
His need for Yosuke went deeper than wanting and what he said was, "I have to have you."
"I'll stop if you want me to," the Shadow said, and Souji knew that too.
What he begged, with his hands in Yosuke's hair, Yosuke's tongue in his mouth, and the Shadow's fingers on his belt, was, "Don't, don't, don’t."
And they didn't.