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in another life

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He was going to shoot her, and none of them could move to stop him.

Akira’s eyes were wide at Akechi, as his hand, completely still, pointed the gun at her. The cognitive version of himself watched on, leering with dark glee as his own gun pointed at his real self, and the brunet laughed brokenly.

“Look at you,” he snarled, taking a step closer to Akira, and the Phantom Thieves tittered with nervous energy. Yusuke looked most frightened of it all, and—ah.

Of course.

Akechi had learned how to be a detective, faking crimes or not. It came with spending plenty of time with the elder Nijima, and the police. He knew a man in love when he saw one.

(Hell, when he looks into a mirror, he always, always sees one.)

“Always so pretty, even when you’re about to die.” He continued, stepping forward towards the girl, her expression falling from shock to determined coolness, and his stomach twisted with an ugly emotion he shoved into the back of his mind. Akira straightened up from her lowered crouch, from ready to run to staunch defiance, and he wanted to shoot her right in the heart, and pull her by the hair to kiss her, hard, as the last traces of warm, warm life left her. His gun pressed tight to her exposed skin in the window her halter top made, right at her sternum, and he could feel her take a visible deep breath. “Take your mask off.”

She didn’t move, and he could see Yusuke getting ready to throttle him, had Makoto not held him back.

He took the safety off the gun. “Do it.”

Akira sighed shakily, and pulled up her mask.

Her face—ah, her face. It was a nice last thing to see.

Akechi’s smile turned genuine there, unseen by his cognitive self, and Akira’s eyes widened.


He didn’t let her finish talking, grabbing her wrist and pulling her in for a kiss, and he turned his gun to his cognitive self, shooting him in the gut. The Phantom Thieves gasped as he pulled away from Akira, who gaped at him, pink lips parted with the last syllable of his name, and he gave her a sad smile.

“Maybe in another life, Akira-chan.” He said, pushing her back away from him as he shot the controls for the partition wall, ready to embrace death. Below him, the unforgiving metal of the engine room’s wall came rushing up towards him like the blade of a guillotine.


He groaned softly, wincing as his head spun.

Another life? What?


There was shuffling, the sound of curtains being pulled aside, the rustle of cloth, and a breathless giggle.

“Goro! Get up!”

Akechi’s eyes snapped open, a gasp escaping his lungs as he sat up to see a familiar pair of grey eyes looking back into his own, and pink, full lips curling up into a sweet, sweet smile he never thought he would see again.

He knew who she was. Oh, god, he knew who she was.

“Wake up, sleepyhead!” Akira laughed, but she tackled him back down into bed—when had he gotten into a bed?—viciously hugging him like he was a giant teddy bear. Akechi spluttered as Akira’s warmth enveloped him much better than any bed did, and he struggled in her hold as he got a bearing on where they were.

They were in his apartment—or, at least, it looked like his apartment. Maybe it was? It looked generally the same, the walls were still a boring light bluish, but they looked slightly worn with time. There was a single poster of a sentai movie Akechi didn’t recognise by the dresser, and the cabinet and the dresser weren’t too familiar to him. They looked relatively new, but the furniture he remembered in his apartment was small. This one looked like it fit two people’s worth of clothes.

Two… people.Two people.

Akechi froze, as Akira finally gave up cuddling him viciously to simply hug him, smiling up at him as she rested her chin on his chest.

“Hey.” She greeted, and Akechi felt like his eyes were burning. The tears were coming, weren’t they?


Her eyes widened suddenly, and she unwrapped her arms from him to wipe away his tears with the end of her sleeve. Akechi realised she was wearing one of those off-shoulder sweaters she would wear on off-days, but the bra straps he could usually see were missing. Her bedclothes, then, he deduced, but that didn’t explain much.

Rather, it didn’t give him the explanation he wanted to hear.

“Why’re you crying?” She asked softly, and much to his shock, she kissed him gently, just a brush of her lips against his, and his world screeched to a halt. “You okay? I know I asked you to take the day off today, but if you really wanted to—”

“Take the—Akira, what?” He stammered, gently pushing her away to sit up, and she looked at him worriedly, fidgeting with a lock of her hair, now longer than he remembered it, and was tied in a low side pony draped over her bare shoulder. Akechi looked at her carefully—she was wearing just panties under the sweater, and his face felt warm. “What’s going on?”

Akira looked at him worriedly. “Honey, are you okay?”

Akechi’s cheeks were now probably burning. “H-honey?” He gasped, and only then did he see the glint of gold on her finger.

Not just any finger, he realised, and his heart became whole and shattered all at the same time.

What kind of cruel joke was God pulling on him?

Akira pouted. “Okay, now you’re just going overboard with this.” She said, her arms akimbo in adorable frustration, and Akechi’s chest ached. “That’s such an outdated prank, Goro.”

“I…” He looked down at his hand, and saw his own matching golden band on his left ring finger.

Oh, God. They were married. This was what he wanted—

Didn’t deserve.

The tears began rolling down his face uncontrolled, and Akira squeaked in alarm, panicking as she dove forward to hug him again. “Oh, no, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” She hurriedly said, her words rapid-fire as she held him close, kissing away what she couldn’t wipe dry with her sleeve. “No, oh no…” she sighed, “It’s your birthday and everything, and I made you cry.”

“I—I,” normally he would have felt embarrassed, ashamed, even, about crying this hard, and in front of Akira, the girl he hadn’t meant to fall in love with.

His wife, in whatever cruel fantasy God had decided to tease him with before he died.

“Mm, there, there.” She cooed, settling the both of them down into bed gently, letting him hug her as tightly as she did when she woke him up. “I’m sorry. I know it’s hard to get over what your father did to you. I’m sorry for rushing you.”

What his father did to him?

Get over?

“That’s over now, you don’t have to worry anymore,” Akira kept saying, her words soft and kind as her skin against his, and he could feel her body warm and flush against his own. “We saved you, the Phantom Thieves stole Shido’s heart and made him confess. You’re okay. We’re okay. It’s been five years, but I know you’ll recover fully. I believe in you.”

Five years. It had been five years since Shido confessed his crimes, in this fantasy world, where he married Akira Kurusu, and he was… happy.

He didn’t deserve this life.

Still, selfishly, he clung to her and shivered, shuddered, as his sobs poured out uncontrollably. Akira waited for him patiently to calm down, despite it all.

It had taken a while for Akechi to calm down, but when he did, all Akira did was smile at him gently, and kiss his nose.

“I love you.” She said quietly, and he laughed sadly, hugging her close again.

“I-I love you too, Akira.”

She hummed, pleased, and carefully pulled away from him, as if any sudden movement would spook him. “I made breakfast.” she said, “Though, um. They’re probably cold by now. The coffee, too, but that’s easy to take care of.” Akira gave him a wide smile. “I made your favourites.”

“Pancakes and your coffee?” He asked hopefully, and she nodded.

“You bet.” Akira took his hands, and pulled him out of bed. “Come on, let’s get some food in you.”

She led him out into his living room, and it was just as he remembered his apartment, but… livelier. Akira’s presence in the once-barren place brought life to it—there was a cat play-castle in the corner next to the TV, and the curtains were changed. The sofa was different, and there was now a coffee table between it and the TV. A black cat with tuxedo markings—no, it wasn’t Morgana, he thought—lounged lazily in a cat bed by the sofa, asleep, and another orange tabby was sleeping on one of the higher floors of the cat castle. The kitchen was different, too. It had a different fridge, stocked cabinets and tea towels and hand towels, and Akira got to work behind the counter where she led Akechi to sit down at. He watched her heat the pancakes on the pan again, just for a moment to warm them up, before pouring the coffee into a kettle to reheat. Akira gave him a sweet smile as she set down a plate of pancakes in front of him, and then a mug with the Phantom Thieves’ logo on it, filled with that Leblanc coffee that had made a delicate warmth blossom in Akechi’s chest.

This looked so domestic. So warm and happy, and he felt like crying all over again as Akira walked around the counter to sit down next to him with her own plate of pancakes and another mug that had a strange cat-bomb on it. Akechi recognised the design—it was Futaba Sakura’s icon under her moniker Medjed—Alibaba—Oracle.

It’d been five years, Akira had said, what of the other Phantom Thieves?

“Oh, the other guys?” Akira asked past the pancakes in her mouth, and Akechi chuckled, shaking his head as he dared move forward to kiss a crumb from the corner of her lips.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realise I was thinking out loud.” He said. Akira looked pleased, and she swallowed down her mouthful to speak clearly.

“It’s fine.” She said, leaning against Akechi’s side warmly, and he felt like his chest would burst. “Futaba’s still in Toudai, I think she’s in her second year now? Or something. She picks fights with her professors, you know. Sojiro calls me constantly about it to either rant or tell me to set her straight.” She snickered. “She has Morgana with her, but as if she would listen to him, right?”

“Of course she wouldn't,” Akechi sighed, smiling, as he tucked into the pancakes.

“Yeah. That’s my Futaba.” Akira nodded proudly, and in her eyes was the same sparkle Akechi saw in Sae’s eyes in the rare times she talked about Makoto, back before her desires consumed her completely. “Oh, by the way—we haven’t RSVP’d to Ann and Ryuji yet.”

Akechi blinked. “Huh?”

“Ann and Ryuji!” Akira replied, nodding, “You know? They’re getting married this autumn?” Akechi gaped at her, and she burst out laughing. “You forgot? God, the police ops really wear your smart little brain super thin, doesn’t it?”

Akechi let out a heady laugh, shaking his head fondly. Ann and Ryuji. Somehow, he never saw that coming.

“We’re gonna have to pick out presents for them.” Akira said, “I mean, these days giving cash in an envelope with ‘Mr. and Mrs. Akechi’ on it would work just as fine, but they’re my best friends. I want to give them something , you know what I mean?”

Akechi’s mind shut down at the mention of their surnames. That was right—they were married, in this life.

Akira wasn’t Akira Kurusu anymore—she was Akira Akechi.

“R-right,” Akechi’s cheeks were hot again, and his hand tightened on his fork as his wife looked up at him, a mischievous grin on her face. “Akira?”

“I love how it still flusters you when I say that.” She said sweetly, kissing him again, and he hummed happily, kissing her back as he dropped his fork to snake his arms around her, pulling her close to him. That earned him a pleased giggle against his lips as they parted for air, before kissing again, their bodies pressed flush against each other as Akira’s arms wrapped around the back of Akechi’s neck. “Mm, I’d planned on us going out on a date today, but I’m in the mood if you’re in the mood.” She said, her voice low and suggestive as she moved forward to straddle him in his seat. Akira kissed him again, swallowing his moan of approval as she pressed her crotch to his steadily-growing bulge through his pyjamas. Akechi pulled away from her to hiss approvingly, and she leaned forward to whisper in his ear, “I’m so glad you’re back to normal.” She kissed his temple, and pulled back away from him to cup his face in her hands.

“I…” Normal, she said. No—his normal self would be wrapping his hands around her throat and squeezing , delighting in the way the light of her life faded from her eyes as she squirmed underneath him.

This self—this self was different.Happy.

The Robin Hood, to the ruined Loki of his other life.

“Me too.” He said warmly, kissing her again, and she giggled in delight as Akechi managed to summon the courage to slip a hand up her sweater. He ran his hand up her side, feeling her soft, smooth skin, and he was right—she was naked under the sweater. She sighed happily as he slid his hand down to fiddle with the hem of her panties—

When suddenly the phone rang, and the couple jumped in alarm.

“Oh, shit,” Akira swore, getting up and off her husband to head to the phone, annoyed. Akechi could only laugh fondly as he watched her stumble over her slippers before giving up on them altogether, walking barefoot across the living room to pick the wireless phone up. “Hello?”

“Oh!” Her annoyance immediately melted away into delight. “Wow, really? Thank you so much, Yusuke!”

Ah, Yusuke. Akechi froze at the mention of her friend’s name. That was right—in that other life, Akira, she had…

She would have chosen him instead, wouldn’t she?

“Yeah, yeah!” Akira was nodding excitedly. “We'll drop by today, promise. I made him take the day off.” She stopped, grinning at Akechi as he finished off his breakfast, but then she waved at him when he nicked a bit off her share of the pancakes. “Goro, no!” She scolded, and somehow Akechi could imagine Yusuke’s laughter from the other side. “Yeah, he's stealing my breakfast right now—Goro!” She whined, but she was smiling, doing nothing to stop Akechi as he stole more from her plate. “Yep. Thanks again, Yusuke. We’ll be there, promise. Can't wait.” She nodded. “See ya!”

She hung up, and dove for her husband, laughing when Akechi caught her halfhearted attempt to stop him, pulling her into his lap.

“You're such a cheater.” She stuck her tongue out at him, and Akechi’s heart ached. Akira was adorable.

“Akira-chan,” he said breathlessly, and Akira laughed.

“It's been ages since you called me that.” She said, cocking her head at him. “Feeling nostalgic?”

“Hm, maybe.” He said, kissing her again, and he never wanted to stop doing it. “I love you.”

Her cheeks were a beautiful pink, and her smile was beautiful. “You're being more affectionate than usual today.”

“Am I?” He asked. That was… disappointing. His other self didn't give her all the love she deserved—the love he envied—while he had it all?

Akira hummed for a moment to think about it. “Actually—nah. You're the same as usual.”

He smiled slowly at that. “I'm glad.”

Akira cupped his cheek in his hand softly. “So, it's your birthday today.”

“My… birthday.”

“Mhm.” She nodded, leaning up to hug him again. “Yusuke’s exhibit opens late to the public today, just for us. He said he'll let us in for the first hour, just the two of us.”

Akechi jumped. “Exhibit? Really?”

“Yeah.” She giggled. “I wanna say I pulled some strings to get us the great artist Yusuke Kitagawa’s sold-out gallery show just for us for an hour, but he was our best man and he insisted.”

Best man. That was… oddly heartwarming.

“Well, we better make sure we show up on time, then.” Akechi nodded, his head spinning. This life was… perfect.

Too perfect.

“Yep.” Akira nodded, popping the ‘p’. “Hold on, lemme finish my pancakes and you finish up your coffee so we can get ready for the day.”


“And…” Akira’s grin was coy, and Akechi didn't know pyjama pants could grow tight like they did. “Maybe you'd like to join me in the bathtub?”

“Y-yes, please.”

Akechi came to know it was June 2, five years after… everything, and Akira had convinced him to take a day off from his job as an inspector at the Tokyo police district. He could almost laugh at how perfect it was—he had a loving wife, a stable, secure job—who the hell was this Goro Akechi to deserve all this?

The bathwater was warm and sweet-smelling, sloshing kindly against his skin, but all he could concentrate on was the beautiful, naked woman smiling down at him, her skin glowing in the light of the morning, her eyes luminous and like a cat’s as she leaned down to kiss him. His hand settled on one side of Akira’s waist, while his other groped her full, soft breast, and he swallowed her moan as he gave it an appreciative squeeze.

This wasn't what he deserved, but by god did he want it.

“Mm, Goro,” Akira panted against his lips, her hand on his shoulder in a tight grip as her other hand reached down to stroke him to hardness. “F-finger me open… please.”

“Anything for you,” he said to her, slowly losing his breath as he let go of her breast to reach down to her leaking entrance, tracing his finger around the rim to smear her slick around it. Akira whimpered, lost in the pleasure as she arched up, presenting her breasts to him. Akechi leaned forward to take one of her nipples into his mouth, relishing the squeak he got as he pleasured his wife with his fingers and mouth, sucking on her pink nipple until it was tender before switching his attention to the other one, taking extra care to nuzzle the warm softness of her breasts with his nose. His finger slipped inside her, and Akira moaned approvingly, rocking on his fingers eagerly as he worked her open with one, two, three fingers.

“A-ah, Goro, I can't take it anymore, I-I want you inside me…” Akira gasped, pulling her breasts away from him to lean down and kiss him. “I wanna ride you.”

“G-go on,” he agreed, carefully pulling his fingers out of her with a whine from her, and she nodded, taking hold of his leaking cock to align at her entrance. For a moment, he thought about wearing a condom, just to be safe, but all that flew out of his mind when she sank down on him, tight, wet warmth that the bathwater couldn't compare to, and he groaned, throwing his head back in pleasure as she let out a moan as his cock split her open.

“Ahh, yes,” she hissed, sheathing him inside her completely in one go. “Nnh, it's been a year but I still— ah —love your cock.” She bounced on him once, twice, wincing as her body twitched helplessly in pleasure. “Goro, you feel so good…”

“Y-you too.” He managed through grit teeth. Good god, this was far better than he had imagined her to feel, after many a lonely night with just her picture and his hand, and he thrust up into her in time with her bounce.

“A-ah! Oh, my god!” Akira’s eyes went wide, startled grey meeting burning red. “R-right there, Goro, please—”

He gripped her waist tightly, nodding as he fucked upwards into her in time with her bounces. Akechi barely noticed the water spilling over the bath tub—that was unimportant, compared to the stunning sight of Akira fucking herself on his cock, moaning loudly with her head thrown back, her hair clinging to her thanks to the water. He watched, entranced, as her breasts bounced along with her, and the sight felt like it was permanently burned into his mind.

Her face looked blissed-out, eyes unfocused with pleasure as the red of her face spread down her neck, and he knew he wouldn't last long.

“Akira,” he panted, leaning up to kiss her. She kissed him back with fervour, squeaking when his thrusts grew harder.

“I-I'm coming, Goro.” She stammered, and he nodded.

“Come for me.” He told her, and she let out a whine, her slick squirting out around his cock  the spasms of her walls milked him hard for his own orgasm, and Akechi let out a groan as he buried himself into his wife, coming hard inside her. She let out a pleased sigh, slumping over him bonelessly as she squirmed slightly, his cock still inside her still hard as ever.

“Mm, love you.” She mumbled, kissing him softly, and he chuckled against her lips.

She had mentioned a year—he and Akira were recently married, then. There was no sign of a child or a baby around the house, so that meant he hadn't gotten her pregnant yet, at least.

He didn't know how to bring that up to her. Hell, he didn't know how to bring up the fact he had only come to recently.

(Maybe this wasn't real after all, he thought.)

Well, he might as well enjoy it.

“I love you too.”

Akira smiled at that, and squeezed around him, making him wince. “And you're still hard.”

“S-so I am.”

“I think we can afford fooling around one more time without being late to Yusuke’s gallery showing.” She purred, getting off him with a wince, and Akechi watched, wide-eyed, as she turned around and bent over on the other end of the tub, reaching behind herself and spreading herself wide to treat him to the sight of his cum leaking out of her quivering entrance. He swallowed nervously, and was silently grateful they were at least fucking in the bath before going to see Yusuke.

“Come on, then, Goro,” she said, looking back at him over her shoulder seductively. “I'm all yours for the taking.”

Well, Akechi didn't think Akira would be the type to be such a minx, but he sure as hell wasn't complaining.

“Oh, you.” He chuckled, but he got up to align himself at her entrance, groaning in approval as he slid right inside, easy and wet. Akira mewled in pleasure, her back arching as he drove inside her to the hilt, and he reached around her to grope her breasts as he began to fuck her.

“A-ah, oh, Goro,” she gasped, her hands scrabbling for purchase on the bathtub as his thrusts grew harder, the water sloshing around them wildly. “Mm, yeah, that's—oh!”

Akechi nibbled on the shell of her ear, and she clenched tightly around him, her walls spasming with her orgasm milking his cock, pushing him closer to his climax.

“Akira,” he panted in her ear. “I'm close.”

“C’mon, fill me up,” she said, turning her head to kiss him as hard as she could, and that pushed him off the edge, coming hard into her for a second time. With a heavy sigh, he pulled the both of them back to sit down in the tub, his cock still inside her, but the intense pleasure began to subside. His cock started turning soft inside her, and Akira sighed happily, peppering his face with kisses until he pulled out of her.

“Yikes, I'm leaking.” She giggled, and Akechi huffed fondly. “Help me clean up?”

“Of course.” He said, and turned on the shower head to get started.

It'd been five years, and Yusuke hadn't changed a bit. He was still the same high schooler Akechi met, if a little taller, and slightly broader than before. He greeted them with a serene smile that suited his dark blue kimono, and Akechi thought, with no small amount of bittersweetness, that he really did resemble his old master like that.

“Akira. Akechi-san.” He said, and he accepted the hug Akira gave him, and waved back when Akechi waved at him. “I have made sure the gallery is empty of people for the two of you and your private viewing.” He chuckled. “Forgive me for being unable to offer you something as grand as I did on your wedding day—” here, Akira giggled brightly, and Akechi felt like he missed an inside joke, “But I hope my exhibit will suffice for your celebration.”

He pulled out a small box from his sleeve. “And then some, from me.” Yusuke handed it to Akechi, who accepted it, wide-eyed. “The happiest of birthdays, my friend. And as thanks for caring for Akira as your wife.”

“O-oh, thank you.” Akechi stammered. “I-I, uh…”

He'd never really received a birthday present from a friend before. Not the same way fans or idols from TV stations would send him things, this was… smaller. More intimate.

It sat oddly comfortably in Akechi’s chest.

“Let's look at the box later,” Akira said excitedly. “Yusuke, wanna show us around?”

“I'm afraid I will have to decline.” Yusuke bowed his head gracefully. “I still have things to take care of with the staff and the catering. You have heard my explanations of all of the artworks in there before, in our chats.” He chuckled. “I have faith you are capable of explaining them to your husband.”

Akira shrugged, but she was grinning. “Okay. See you later, Yusuke! Oh, and congratulations!”

“Congratulations.” Akechi nodded with her, and Yusuke’s smile was warm.

“Much thanks.” He said. “I shall be going now.”

“See ya.” Akira nodded, and she pulled Akechi inside the gallery. His eyes widened at the pieces framed inside—many were paintings on canvas, as he knew Yusuke’s preferred medium, but as of late, it seemed he started venturing into sculpture as well. “So, what do you think?” Akira grinned at him as they walked together along the artworks.

“They're seriously impressive.” Akechi nodded. “Yusuke hasn't lost his touch.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, nodding as they came to the centrepiece of the gallery—a large portrait of a winged bring in white, red and gold, with a red mask and a triumphant hand reaching towards a brilliant, bright light.

Akechi gaped at it.

“Is that…”

It couldn't be.

“Oh, yeah.” Akira nodded. “That's you.” She scratched her head. “Well, what he thinks of you nowadays. He's always been abstract like that, but now he's getting a little more concrete and it's doing wonders to Ann’s art analysis skills.”

“I…” Akechi gaped at the painting—The Hero of Justice, the sign read, and his head spun. “Even… even after all…”

Even after all he did to them? To so many people?

Akira’s hand slipped into his, and she leaned on his side comfortingly. “He feels that he owes you a great deal, you know. What you did with the mental shutdowns and the murders was unforgivable, yeah, but… what you did after that to make amends was even better.” She smiled at him when he looked at her, eyes wide. “You helped us fight Shido. Made him confess his crimes alongside us. You helped dismantle his entire organisation, and you helped so many people on top of that. Not just those requests in Mementos, but…” she shook her head. “Remember that time when the Sayuri was stolen from Leblanc?”

Akechi’s head spun. Stolen? The Sayuri? Wasn't that Madarame’s artwork? The woman didn't have a baby with her then.

Akira didn't seem to notice his confusion, sighing softly as she looked at Yusuke’s painting again.

“His other artworks, too. In the week right before his first exhibit. He didn't mind so much his other stuff, but the Sayuri was his life. It was the last thing of his mother he had.”

“His… mother.” Akechi echoed, shocked.

“Yeah.” Akira laughed softly, hugging his arm. “We were thieves . We didn't know what to do. We were the ones usually taking stuff, but you… you knew what to do.”

“I… did?”

“You solved the crime, we took care of the bastard in Mementos.” She sounded wistful, nostalgic. “And the Detective Prince rose again.”

Akechi looked down at his free hand, which had balled into a fist.

Did he really do all that?

“Yusuke was so grateful. He still is.” Akira looked at him again, cupping his face in his hand. “We all are, okay? Stop beating yourself up.”

He held her hand on his cheek, squeezing it tenderly. “I'll try.”

Her smile was warm, and the kiss they shared was even warmer.

They were having lunch at a nice restaurant Akechi chose himself (after some egging from Akira) when two women approached them, smiling brightly.

“Akira-chan! Goro-san!”

Akechi looked up from his food to see Makoto and Haru standing by their table, hand in hand. He jumped at the sight of them—Haru had grown out her fluffy hair, braided like Akira’s and draped over her shoulder, while Makoto had cut hers even shorter.

“Makoto! Haru!” Akira lit up, and got up to hug her two friends. Akechi did the same after Haru offered him a hug as well, settling down awkwardly after that. “I didn't know you guys were already back from your honeymoon!”

Akechi’s head spun. Honeymoon. So they had married too, had they?

“Yeah, Paris was great!” Haru nodded brightly, and Makoto’s smile was shy, but happy. “But I missed our cafe, and I had so many ideas I got from France that I wanted to try out.”

“That's great!” Akira nodded, “You've got to let me and Sojiro try your new blend when you're done.”

“I'll do my best not to disappoint.” Haru said determinedly.

“Inspector Akechi.” Makoto said, and Akechi turned to look at her. He mirrored her smile, and she chuckled softly. “How's my partner in crime?”

Partner in crime? They were partners? That had meant she was an inspector too, at the very least.

“Good,” he shrugged. “Welcome back to Tokyo. And congratulations. With Haru, I mean.”

Makoto flushed prettily. “Thank you. Oh, and here.” She handed Akechi a box, wrapped with light blue and purple crepe paper, and twine rope. “Happy birthday, Goro. From me and Haru.”

“Oh, that's right!” Haru nodded, clapping her hands. “Happy birthday, Goro-san!”

“Th-thank you,” he said, and truly meant it. It was bittersweet, knowing he had somehow managed to make friends with Akira’s Phantom Thieves, and when he turned to look at his wife, his heart nearly stopped, as the world slowed down between them.

The sheer love and pride in Akira’s eyes as she looked at him made his heart swell painfully, sweetly throbbing with the love he had never felt so intensely before. She reached forward to take his hand, and he squeezed hers back.

“Oh, we should get going.” Haru sighed happily at the sight of them. “We're probably intruding on your birthday date.” Makoto nodded in agreement with her wife.

“I’ll see you at the station, Goro.” Makoto said, and he nodded, watching them leave together, hand in hand. He turned back to look at Akira, who was smiling gently at him.

“Where else do you wanna go?” She asked, leaning forward closer to him, and he admired the subtle way she pressed her breasts together. “Not really pressuring you into anything, here, but just offering a little… suggestion.”

“Yeah, I like your… suggestion.” Akechi swallowed nervously. “Um, Akira?”

“Yeah?” She asked breathlessly, and he realised she was squirming in her seat.

“I have, um, a request.”

“Anything for you, Goro.”

“Mm, you’re so cute, yes you are.” Akira whispered in his ear as he shivered. They were back in their apartment, straight after their lunch date, and the two of them were in bed, naked again.

Well, Akechi was. Akira had a mesmerising criss-crossing leather bikini on, covering very little and showing her love bite-peppered skin, accentuating her curves beautifully. What a picture she made, Akechi had thought when he first saw her in it, smirking suggestively as she leant on their bedroom doorway, her hand on her waist and her other holding a medium-sized dildo.

The wet sounds of her fingers going inside him filled the room, punctuated by his heavy panting as Akira carefully prepared him. She kissed him tenderly, slipping her tongue into his mouth and teasing his, lax with amazed pleasure as brand new sensations rattled him straight to the core.

Feeling her finger him was different, definitely. Was this what she felt when he fingered her? It was… odd, but Akechi knew there was just one small thing Akira could find that would get him to—

Her fingers—now two, scissoring gently from time to time—hooked, and Akechi let out a startled shout against her lips. She pulled away to smirk at him slowly, assaulting his sweet spot over and over again, until he was leaking profusely all over her hand, wrapped deliciously firmly around his cock.

“Mm, that's a good boy,” she purred, pleased as she fucked him with two fingers, entranced by the way her fingers slid inside him easily. “I'm adding a third finger, okay, baby?”

He nodded dazedly, and Akechi was sure he was probably drooling, eyes glazed over as Akira spread him wider with three fingers. He let out a moan, throwing his head back against the pillows and balling his hands into fists in the sheets as pleasure washed over him, his hips riding her fingers and thrusting his cock into her hand in a stuttering, uncontrolled fuck.

“Oh, you're so pretty.” Akira continued to say, nuzzling his cheek as she spread him wider with her fingers, smearing his precum all over her fingers as she stroked his cock. “You're so cute, now I really wanna fuck you.”

“Oh, my god, Akira.” He panted. “Y-yes, yes please.”

She hummed, pleased. “Okay, since you insisted.”

Akira pulled away from him, pulling out her fingers with a hiss from him to reach for the dildo, slipping it into her strap-on holster. Her sultry expression melted into one of soft concern, and she wiped her hands off on a nearby towel by the bed before cupping his face in her hand. “I'm gonna do it,” she said carefully. “You ready?”

“Yeah,” he groaned, licking his lips. “Just… take it slow.”

“Of course.” She nodded nervously, and he spread his legs for her. Akira coated her dildo with lubricant carefully, before positioning herself at his twitching hole. “Here goes, Goro.”

She carefully pushed in, and Akechi let out a pleased moan. Being split open was slightly painful, Akira’s preparation dulling the pain and quickly bringing in the pleasure, and the dildo pushing into him to the hilt felt just as good as pushing his cock into her. He squirmed slightly underneath her as she leaned over him, biting her lip nervously as she watched Akechi’s face contort into a grimace.

“A-are you okay?” She asked, and he could only nod, adjusting relatively quickly to the length inside him. He reached forward to kiss her, and he felt her relax against him in relief. He took that as approval to reach up and grope her breasts, and he swallowed her moan as he pushed down her bra to pinch and play with her nipples. “A-ah, Goro…” she moaned, her hips stuttering forward to fuck into him, and he gasped in pleasure as the dildo pressed against his prostate.

“Akira,” he gasped, “P-please, move. Y-you can fuck me now.”

“Oh, my god.” She breathed, her entire body shuddering at the sound of his voice, but she got up to pull out of him until the tip of her dildo was left, before thrusting back inside him, earning him a shout from Akechi. “Y-you okay?” Akira gasped, alarmed, and Akechi nodded, pulling down her bra straps to access her breasts easily. “A-ah, oh—”

He took a nipple into his mouth and sucked pointedly. “Keep going, Akira.”

“O-okay,” she nodded, shaking with pleasure as she began thrusting in and out of him, his grunts slowly turning into loud moans of pleasure with every hit his prostate took. His hands shot down to grab her ass, and Akira gasped as he guided her hips to fuck him, and she squealed when as he nibbled on her nipple, the tip of his finger slipped inside her ass. Her thrusts grew erratic in response, and Akechi threw his head back from her breasts to moan her name.

“Akira! Oh, my god, Akira—”

She leaned down to kiss him, hard, as her hand shot down to jerk his bouncing cock off, swallowing his moans as she felt his orgasm build.

“I'm close, so close—” he painted against her lips, and she hummed.

“You can cum whenever you wanna,” she said, and with a weak moan, Akechi spilled his load over her hand, painting their stomachs with his cum. Panting heavily, Akira pulled out of him carefully, before wiping him down gently with the towel they had. “How are you?” She asked softly to a blissed-out Akechi, and he smiled at her, pulling her into a kiss as he hugged her. She smiled into their kiss, hugging him back as he undressed her carefully, and when Akechi had tossed the last of her clothes out of the bed—dildo and all—she cuddled close to him.

“Thank you.” He said softly. “I… you haven't cum yet.”

“Later.” Akira yawned, kissing his cheek. “You can do whatever you want with me later, too. It's your birthday, after all.”

Akechi laughed softly. This dream was too good to wake up from, it really was.

There had been a fantasy he had been entertaining before, in the lonely nights when his teenaged hormones carried his hand down his pants as he stared at embarrassing, candid photos of Akira on his phone.

One had been her, smiling at him, her stomach swollen with his child, and the other…

“Well, is it too much to ask of you to make me dinner naked?”

It was stupid, juvenile at best, and Akira giggled at his mention of it.

“Like you had to ask me to do that.” She said, and his chest filled with warmth when she pecked him on the lips again. “Ah, I love it when you take whole days off. I get really good dick in the process.”

He laughed at that, and she giggled too. “Hey, Goro? I wanna ask you about something.”

“What is it?”

“So… I've been on birth control ever since our first anniversary as boyfriend and girlfriend,” she began, and realisation dawned on Akechi.

So that's why they didn't have a child.

“And… um… we’re nearing our first anniversary as a married couple. Mom and dad and even Sojiro have been calling, and it's kinda annoying, but at the same time…” she flushed prettily, and peered at him through thick eyelashes. “I kinda like the idea of… um… a baby.”

Akechi’s heart swelled. His dream…

Akira immediately back-pedalled when she saw Akechi’s pained expression. “I-I mean! Um! Just a suggestion!”

He silenced her with a gentle kiss, soft and tender and full of love, and when they parted, Akira’s eyes were glazed over and she dazedly blinked back at him.


“I’d love for us to have a baby together.” He said warmly, cupping her face in his hand, and she leant into his touch, smiling softly. “The moment you can, Akira. We'll have one.”

“Oh, that’s…” she shook her head fondly, eyes welling with tears. “Yeah. We will.”

“We’ll give it the best life we can.” He continued, thumbing away her tears tenderly, and Akira snuggled closer to him. “The both of us have gone through so much. This won't be the same.”

“Yeah.” She nodded. “We’ll make sure it's happy.”

“I'll make sure the both of you are happy.” Akechi said, and he hoped that God had heard him, granting him this lifetime he had waited so long to have. Akira kissed him gently again, and she cupped his face in her hand as well.

“We’ll all be happy.” She said. “I love you. I really, really love you, Goro.”

“I love you too.” He replied, hugging her close. “I love you, so, so much.”

Akechi woke up to find his wife missing from his arms, and the scent of Leblanc curry wafting through the air. He blinked blearily—they'd fallen asleep together without him realising it, it seemed—and he got out of bed to realise Akira had cleaned up their mess too. Her bra and strap-on were missing now, and there was a fresh change of clothes on the study table next to the dresser for him. Akechi only picked up a new pair of boxer briefs, pulling them on before heading outside to see Akira cooking dinner—

He choked in alarm.

She had done as he asked her to—she was naked underneath her apron, a standard light blue one with minimal white frills around the edge of it. She jumped at the sound of him choking behind her, and she whirled around to see him, only barely clothed himself, and she smiled.

“Sleep well?” She asked, stirring the curry in the pot casually as she turned back to look at it. Akechi approached her to hug her from behind, kissing her cheek as he watched her work.

“Yeah.” He replied. He hadn't slept that well in ages.

“That's great.” Akira nodded, lifting the ladle with the curry on it to pour into a tiny dish, before blowing on it and turning slightly in his arms to hold it up to Akechi. “Give it a taste?” She asked, and he leaned forward to kiss her. She giggled at that, pulling away to press the dish to Akechi’s mouth. “I meant the curry, silly.” She said, and he obeyed her, taking a taste.

“It's delicious.”

It brought back memories, and Akechi’s chest ached again. He never wanted to wake up from this dream, if it was ever one.

“That's good.” She nodded. “If you finish off your dinner, you can have some dessert.”

“Dessert?” He echoed, and she winked at him.


He laughed at that, kissing her again, and she laughed too, nibbling at his lip playfully before pulling away. “You better take a bath first, though.” She said, shooing him off towards the bathroom. “Go. I already took one.”

He nodded and did as he was told, heading into the bathroom with the intention to shower quickly, without the casual lazy comfort he and Akira had that morning before they went to see Yusuke and his exhibit. As water drizzled over him, Akechi sighed deeply, and leant against the tiled wall of his familiar bathroom.

Why was he living this life, he wondered. It was wonderful, yes, it was amazing, to live with and love someone like Akira—hell, the sex was great, and her company was even better. It was the dream he had always had of living, through all the grief he went through, night after night under Shido’s thumb, the public’s scrutiny, the Phantom Thieves’ distrust and—

His chest ached.

Akira Kurusu’s disinterest.

In that other life, they dated a few times—probably Akechi was the only one calling them dates—spending ephemeral sweet days hand in hand in beautiful, romantic places across Tokyo, but he knew why she did it.

The Phantom Thieves suspected him from the get-go, and they had a plan they meant to execute. Their dates were nothing but orchestrated distractions, their heist on Sae’s Palace a coordinated death trap for him, and Akira—Joker—became a dead girl walking.

He shut his eyes. Back then, holding a smoking gun to and looking into Akira's cold, dead eyes, Akechi felt, for the first time in forever, actual bittersweet remorse for murdering someone.

The last time that happened he was her age when they met, and he stood over his mother’s corpse after he watched her kill herself in broad daylight, right in sight of Masayoshi Shido’s car.

Except, with Akira—he didn't really kill her, and she didn't really love him. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, as they always said, and Akechi knew he deserved that.

On that cruise ship, after the wall falls and he dies, Akira would break down crying, wishing he hadn't done that. Of course she would, she was a kind soul like that—and so would her friends.

Ann, Haru and Futaba would shed tears. Makoto was hardier and would hold their youngest and her crush close. Ryuji would punch something—the ground, perhaps—and he would let Ann cling to him as she wept.

Akira, on her knees and her mask off her face, would be hugging a silent Morgana, feeling the remorse Akechi did when he thought he killed her, and Yusuke would pull her into his arms and let her dry her tears on his shoulder.

Maybe that's where they would begin. Or maybe they had already started, and Akechi’s blind love and denial refused to let him see the truth.

Not that it mattered, in the end.

How ironic, Akechi thought to himself. The end of him brought the beginning for them.

He didn't realise tears were rolling down his face until he felt their heat permeate the cool water washing over him. He laughed brokenly, shaking his head to clear it as he turned off the showerhead.

No, he thought. There was no other way to circumvent that. If he had survived, the god who gave him the strength to fight would revoke his blessings on him, and Akechi would have ended up dragging the Phantom Thieves down. That was how it meant to be—with Akechi dying to let Akira win their dangerous little game.

This world, this… this was a hallucination, made with the machinations of a cruel, malevolent god.

“Goro, honey! Dinner’s ready!” Akira's voice called from outside, and Akechi shook his head.

“Coming!” He called back, and turned off the water.

Hallucination or not, he thought, he would let himself have this. It was the last thing he would let himself have before he faded from the world completely.

“Say, ‘ahh’.”

“Isn’t this a bit much?”

“Lemme indulge.”

Akechi chuckled softly, and obediently opened his mouth to let his wife spoon-feed him, humming as he chewed on the curry she made for him. Akira busied herself with getting ready another spoonful when he took her hand, and she stopped, blinking at him from where she was perched on his lap. “Goro?”

He didn’t reply, gently turning her hand around instead to press the spoon to her lips, and confusedly, she ate.

“You haven’t eaten yet, either.” He said, kissing her temple before gently pushing her off his lap to have her sit next to him. “Let’s just… eat dinner properly first, okay?”

“Okay.” She nodded, chuckling as she settled down to eat.

A long moment of comfortable silence followed that, and when Akira put down her utensils, she spoke again. “You know, even with me almost literally naked on your lap and offering myself to you, when you put yourself to it, you’re really a gentleman.”

Akechi snorted softly. “Not all men are pigs.”

“Mm, I know.” She kissed his cheek, giggling softly. “Why do you think I married you?”

“Ah, my manners and money, I knew it,” He gasped dramatically, and Akira burst out laughing as he pretended to collapse on the table next to his plate of curry. “Akira Akechi, you’ve wounded me. I don’t know if I can recover. You win, again, Joker, Leader of the Phantom Thieves!”

“You’re such a goof!” She cackled, tackling him on his chair again, and the two of them got into a tickle fight. The odds were unevenly matched—Akira was just in her naked apron, while Akechi was in a comfortable shirt and shorts, and soon he had her squirming on his lap, giggling brightly as he tickled her viciously. “Uncle! Uncle! I give!” She yelled, and Akechi gave up to pull her into a tender kiss, swallowing her giggles as the two of them calmed down. She sighed happily, and pressed their foreheads together. “I think it’s you who caught me, Mister Detective Prince.” She chuckled, “My Crow.”

He kissed her again, and easily picked her up, earning him a gasp of surprise as he carried her into their bedroom. “Wait, the dishes—”

“I’ll do them later,” He told her, kissing her tenderly as he laid her down gently on their bed, like she was a delicate treasure that would shatter if he wasn’t careful enough. He climbed on top of her to see her cheeks turn a delicate pink as he reached down to pull one strap of her apron down her smooth, smooth shoulder. The cloth didn’t cover much—barely the essentials, really—and as it slid down Akira whimpered audibly, her breast coming free from underneath the soft blue that covered it. He leaned down to kiss her pink nipple, pebbling it under his lips as he rubbed them over it, and Akira moaned in pleasure, her hands coming up to bury her fingers in his hair.

“A-ah, Goro,” she gasped, as his other hand reached down to thumb at her clit, and she squeaked when he slowly teased her slick out of her. He turned his attention to her other nipple, still covered by the apron, and he sucked on it through the cloth. She squirmed underneath him as he slipped two fingers inside her, and Akira’s grip on his hair tightened as his thumb rubbed slow, sensual circles over her clit. “Y-yeah, that’s good,” Akira panted, nodding encouragingly as Akechi pulled away from her nipple to smile down at her.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said softly, kissing her softly as he fucked her with his fingers, and she whimpered against his lips. “Akira. C-can I be… may I be rough with you?”

“Oh, my god, yes.” She hissed. “You always keep asking, jeez…” She flinched when he thrust his fingers inside her viciously, and Akechi felt himself grow uncomfortably hard, straining against his boxer briefs when he felt her clamp down on his fingers. “I…” her lips curled up in a cheeky grin. “I've kicked your ass in the Metaverse before.” She said, “I'll make sure you know if I don't want it.”

He laughed weakly at that. Yes, she had defeated him in the Metaverse, and he had loved and despised her for it. Part of his mind had screamed for him to capture her, tie her up and fuck her silly even as she begged for him to stop, and the other part whispered gently to weep, to hug her and thank her softly for stopping him when he couldn’t.

“I suppose you're right.” He nodded, pulling away from her to pull his clothes off. He didn't miss the way her eyes hungrily followed his movement, grey widening at the sight of his hard, leaking cock. Akira sat up attentively, her apron hiding nothing at this point, and Akechi undid the ribbon behind her to completely pull it off his wife’s body. He threw it behind him alongside his clothes, and he ran his hands over her body.

“I don't know what I did to deserve you,” he confessed quietly, the calm before the storm of the bubbling lust in his chest, and she smiled at him.

“You redeemed yourself.” She said, and it felt like a dagger into his chest.

(Oh, what he could have had, if he had only believed in himself a little more.)

No, he told himself. Whatever belief he had in himself was a fool’s gamble, and Akechi was no fool.

A pitiful, broken boy, perhaps.

But not a fool.

He kissed her, instead of finding a response to that. Akira sighed happily as he pushed her back down onto the bed, pinning her into the mattress by her wrists. She spread herself wide submissively as Akechi pulled away from her, gulping slightly when she parted her legs willingly for him, staying her hands by the headboard when he let her wrists go.

She looked so good like this.

“Stay,” he said, the order coming out harsher than he had intended, and she shivered delightedly.

“Yes, sir.” She replied meekly, and he recognised that voice of hers—the one she used when she talked to people she needed things from, suspicious police officers she needed to turn a blind eye from her, that Iwai man in the airsoft shop, teachers who suspected too much from a sweet-faced girl like her—

To him, in the times they were on dates together, when she played the meek girl with a celebrity crush on him.

And here she was again, rearing her ugly head, and Akechi didn't know what to think.

He hated this mask Akira wore, the mask Joker wore.

But God, he could come by just hearing her speak like that.

He decided not to say anything of it, leaning down her body, brushing his lips over the skin between her breasts, the curves of her stomach, and down her hips, pressing butterfly kisses to where her torso met her thigh. Akechi could feel her twitching under his touch, her legs straining to stay wide open for him as he moved lower, and lower, until he pressed his lips to her clit. She let out a breathy gasp, and her hands balled into tight fists into the pillow, her legs clenching around Akechi’s head on reflex.

Stay,” he barked against her clit, and Akira squeaked, but he held her legs from behind her knees to keep them splayed open.

Akira whimpered helplessly, nodding.

Akechi spread her just a little wider, on the side of painful, and she gasped.

“Y-yes, sir!”

“Good girl.” He murmured, and turned his attention back to her fluttering entrance. Akechi laughed softly, snorting ever so slightly. “Thanks for the meal.” He muttered, and even Akira couldn't help her laughter, but it quickly dissolved into moans, when he slipped his tongue inside her.

“A-ah, oh, sir—” she gasped, trembling as he fucked her with his tongue and played with her clit. He let go of her leg to slip his fingers back inside her, and Akira squeaked when he fucked her roughly with three fingers that slid easily into her. “O-oh, I'm gonna—I'm gonna—”

“Be a good girl and squirt over my fingers, Akira-chan.” He said, and that pushed her over the edge, her orgasm spasming around Akechi’s fingers as he fucked her through it. Her slick squirted out onto her hand, as he told her to, and he hummed, pleased as he pulled his fingers out of her. Akira was panting, looking at him with unfocused eyes, and he leaned up to kiss her. “Akira-chan.”

“Oh, my god, it's been so long since you called me that,” she panted, “I dunno why, but it's turning me on so much right now.”

“I'm glad.” Akechi chuckled, and she laughed dazedly.

“Just like the old days, when we fooled around together in college, huh?” She said, and Akechi shook his head fondly.

Of course they would have. Akira… Akira was really something else.

“Yeah.” He replied. With all these things Akira and her friends have been talking about—all these missed events in the five years he skipped forward to get here, where he was, made his chest ache.

Things that had been—

Things that could have been.

This couldn’t last long. He knew this life was too good to be true, he couldn’t have this—

He didn’t deserve this.

He shoved those thoughts to the back of his mind, hugging her close to himself, and Akira jolted, blinking up at him.

“Goro?” She asked softly. “Are you really okay?”

“I… I’m sorry.” He sighed. “I… I can’t, after all. I’m sorry.”

She deflated, but he felt her wrap her arms around him warmly, and she kissed his temple tenderly. “It’s okay. I know you have those times when things are down, and I’m okay with that. I’ll reassure you for however long it takes.”

He shook in her arms, and he really couldn’t help the sobs that escaped him.

What did I do to deserve you, really?” He asked, his voice broken as he fought to memorise the feel of her warmth against his skin, the softness of every curve of her body, the sheer love and kindness that radiated from her actions, her speech. “I-I,” he hiccuped, and she turned them over so they lay on their sides, cuddled close together as he poured out his tears onto her bare shoulder, barely hearing her voice hushing him softly as he buried his face into her fluffy hair, squeezing her possibly to the point of bruising, but he couldn’t seem to loosen his grip.

His desperation clawed at him like a man drowning, seawater, tears—blood, clogging his eyes, his throat, and he could hear the screams of betrayal in his head, the sobs of the ones left behind thanks to the blood on his hands, the red on his ledger, his mask.

Akira held him through it all, not saying a word, simply rubbing his back.

“It feels like a dream, like some fucking cruel joke God is playing on me, and I think you’ll disappear from my sight again,” the words poured out of him faster than he could sew his mouth shut, and Akira’s hand on his back simply let them out of his chest easier. “I don’t know what is real.”

“This is,” she whispered into his ear, kissing his cheek softly, “It’s okay. Take deep breaths.”

This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real.

He shot the controls for the partition wall, and it came flying up to trap him. He had kissed her that one last time before he gave her away to her friends—to whomever it was she truly chose.

Whatever happened, it wasn’t this, him successful and happy, and Akira was in love with him

She kissed him again, and he kissed her back, intense and desperate, and his vision swam as he clung onto her like a liferaft, the last remnant of false reality that kept him tied to a hallucination he couldn’t have. His world faded, fizzing in and out of consciousness, and he could only laugh.

Ah, so there it was—

His double recovered quickly enough, and had shot him right where he shot it. Akechi stumbled back against the still-moving wall as his vision swam.

That hallucination, that was…

“You goddamn cowardly bastard,” his double snarled, but Akechi had long learned to stop listening to it.

The partition wall moved quickly, but sound moved faster than any physical object.

He heard Akira’s voice cut through the blaring alarms, and the hiss of the Shadows and his double charging at him. He could hear her tears, her pain in her voice, and his world screeched to a painful, shocking halt.

“Why couldn’t it be this one?”

Ah, a voice in his head said, as his world suddenly, quickly, turned black. Goro Akechi, you massive, massive fool.

He came to again, and Akira leaned over him, her grey eyes wide with nervous fear, her hand shaking on his cheek as she leaned over him.

“Goro, are you okay?” She asked worriedly, and he reached up uneasily to hold her hand, and he sobbed in relief when he felt the gold ring on her finger. “You blacked out for a moment there, that hasn’t happened before, did you forget your medicine?”

“I…” He choked slightly, and his voice broke as his laughter echoed hollowly in his head, and in the silence of their bedroom. “I love you, Akira.”

She blinked at him, confused, but she nodded. “I-I love you too.” She said, and he pulled her in to kiss her.

“I deserve this,” he whispered against her lips, and she kissed him back, before pulling away to chuckle softly.

“I dunno what just happened,” she said, “But I’m glad you’re back.”

Somewhere, in the realm of lost futures, his dead body slumped against a metal partition wall, his eyes dull and lifeless, his body peppered with bullet holes and bites and slashes. His blood mixed with saltwater as the rest of the room filled quickly with it, the roar of rushing water drowning out the screams of dying Shadows and the choked, furious screeching of a doomed cognitive double.

But here, in this realm of a regained future, his warm, living body lay underneath the woman he loved, and Akechi was happy.

“Me too,” he said, sniffling as Akira kissed his tears away. “Me too.”