Goro Akechi was annoying.
“It's getting colder out again. To be honest, I'm sort of relieved. It's much easier to get around on bike without the sun blazing down on you. And, it's a good excuse to bother you for more coffee,” Goro smiled and the room lit up like fluorescent lights, artificial and blinding. Akira was rubbing porcelain cups down with a cloth absentmindedly, his gaze focused downward. That smile vexed him, everything about Goro was fake and bright and squeaky clean and made for HD TV.
I'm glad you realize it's a bother.
If the weather is so great for biking then why don't you—
“Yeah. Good thing you have your little sweater vest thing.”
Goro laughed into his cup and then set it down. Akira felt his eyes right on him now, fond and soft as they always were. He didn't get it. There was no reason for Goro to spend all this time having one sided conversations with him, especially when it was clear he didn't even want to squeeze information on the Phantom Thieves out of him.
“Yeah, good thing! You should invest in one. Well...it might clash with your uniform.” Akira glanced up at that, for what reason he wasn't sure, and Goro latched onto him like a snake biting down on a mouse that didn't know where else to run. “It's really nice of you to make me coffee all the time, Akira.”
“Uh, you pay like every other customer.”
“Of course. But...when you make coffee there's something a little different about it. I don't know. It tastes just a little sweeter,” another small smile and Akira almost dropped the cup he was holding. “You have a real talent for it.”
“What's the secret ingredient? There must be one.”
Who knows, he might like that.
“Just patience, I suppose,” Akira answered flatly and turned to put away the cups. He could hear another sip from behind him and then the gentle tink of porcelain on porcelain, and he wanted nothing more than for the front door to open and a wave of elderly patrons to come in and insult his curry. But it was dark and quiet outside, he knew that Goro would be his last customer of the day and he was making the minutes stretch on and on.
“That makes a lot of sense. Perhaps I'm too impatient to make good coffee,” Goro mused, mostly to himself. Akira quickly finished up the last of his nightly chores and turned to him, leaning over the counter so that Goro wouldn't catch him off guard again.
“We're closing for the night, sorry.”
“Don't be, I'd hate to keep you any longer.” Goro slid off his stool and grabbed his jacket off of the one next to him. He pulled it over his arms and glanced outside, then back at Akira. “There's a food festival happening tomorrow in Yurakucho. If you like yakitori, we could go together.”
“I'll think about it,” Akira replied with a halfhearted smile. “Can I have your contact info so I can let you know?”
Mission accomplished, that succeeded at catching Goro off guard. He almost stumbled even though he was standing still, but righted himself as Akira gave him his phone to enter his information. He complied hastily, then handed it back, now finally in a hurry to leave. Akira smiled. The mouse had barely escaped.
“I hope to hear from you,” Goro managed, with one last wary smile before turning and leaving Leblanc. Akira watched him go, then closed up shop and headed upstairs in a hurry. Morgana, roused from a nap in the moonlight, cast one look at him and then rolled over and dozed off.
Joker: Akechi wants to go to Yurakucho tomorrow.
Oracle: Is it a date? >:3c
Joker: Don't know yet.
Queen: I can't tell if you're being serious about that or not.
Queen: Regardless, are you planning on going?
Joker: Also don't know yet.
Skull: Is he paying? Dude, free yakitori.
Fox: If that's the case, may I join you?
Panther: I think what Makoto was getting at is that it might be a good opportunity to talk to Akechi and see what information he has on the case while his guard is down.
Queen: That's exactly what I was getting at, thank you.
Noir: You really think he'd talk about the case so freely?
Skull: Akechi did invite him, maybe he thinks he's gonna get information out of Akira.
Queen: That's also likely.
Panther: In which case it's a good idea to go then, right?
Panther: So we can get the upperhand.
Joker: Well, guess I'm going then.
Noir: It's up to you!
Oracle: Bring back yakitori!!
Joker: Alright, wish me luck.
Akira closed the chat and collapsed onto bed, startling Morgana who jumped off and curled up on the sofa instead. He stared at Goro's contact information, finger hovering over the IM icon, moving millimeters forward then backing off again. He still had time to say no, just like he was planning on doing in the first place. Still, it was for the good of the group.
Akira: I'm down to go tomorrow. I'll meet you there.
He rolled over and pulled the blankets over himself.
Good of the group…
Sure. That was exactly why he was going.
Akira stared. It was surprisingly warmer today than expected, and both of them were overheating in their sweaters as they were baked by the rising heat from the grills lining the streets. Goro reached up gently moved a lock of hair that was sticking to his forehead. Ah, a crack in the visage. He does get sticky and gross like the rest of us humans.
It was two hours into their outing and Goro hadn't mentioned the Phantom Thieves or catching dastardly villains even once. On the contrary, the talk had been almost entirely on food, how good the food was, and a comment on the weather every 10 minutes or so.
“It's so nice to...get away from work once in a while,” he said softly, happily, twiddling a cleaned skewer between his fingers. “I feel like a normal teenager here. And it's mostly older people so I don't think anyone has really recognized me yet.”
“Must be nice to be famous.”
“Hm,” he thought for a moment. “Well obviously I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it. But it is hard to have everything you say constantly picked apart, scrutinized, and to have some amount of responsibility to the public. Isn't that an awful lot to lay on a 17 year old's shoulders?”
Responsibility to the public...scrutinized... “Yeah I have no clue what that's like.”
Goro studied him for only a fraction of a second, and then shrugged a little and grinned. “Then you're the lucky one, not me.”
Akira continued to stare. There was a very apparent sadness in the way he had said that. Goro wasn't even trying to hide his bitterness at the situation, and Akira got the sense that for some reason...Goro was comfortable with showing that side of himself to him. The side that wasn't all syrupy sweet smiles and Dashing Detective Prince tonight at 7. The cracks were widening and spidering out and Goro either didn't seem to notice or care.
“Do you...” Akira paused for the exact right words. The mouse was staring down the snake, he didn't want to make the wrong move and jump right into its mouth. “Have anyone you can talk to about it?”
“You know, like a friend. Who you can talk to.”
Goro stared back, mouth slightly agape, eyes minutely flicking left and right across Akira's. “I...suppose...not. Problems should be solved on your own, don't you think?”
“I...oh,” Goro laughed and glanced away, plainly desperate for a way to resolve this conversation and still come out on top. To smooth out his cracks. “Of course. Well, I tend to feel like I'm able to work through things best on my own. Best not to burden others.”
Akira increased the pressure. “It's not a burden. That's what friends are for.”
“You're probably right,” Goro replied in a tone just short of an outright snap, a forced smile on his face that stretched a little too wide. It was clear he wanted the conversation to be done with, and he was going to use the last ounce of his control to finish it. “Shall we go look at some of the other stalls? After so much meat, I could do with some vegetables.”
Akira complied. There was no further need to press him. He got the information that he wanted.
Goro Akechi was human.
Oracle: Where's my yakitori?!
Joker: Left it on the counter in Leblanc.
Oracle: You're making me go all the way there by myself to get it? It's dark outside...there are moths…
Skull: Did you get any good info outta Akechi?
Joker: Not really. He never mentioned us and I didn't want to seem suspicious.
Panther: So...he invited you for food and didn't talk about the case at all…?
Fox: I'm curious, what did you talk about then?
Joker: The sun. The chicken.
Queen: Maybe he really did just want yakitori.
Skull: Yeah but why go with Akira then? Why not one of his fangirls?
I think he's lonely.
Joker: Beats me.