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Gods & Games

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

Akira stared at the ground in front of them, tears rolling down his face, before he looked at the ring Ryuji had given him on Valentine’s Day. The giant hole was no longer there as he could hear footsteps behind him before he felt someone put a hand on his shoulder.

“What happened Akira?” Makoto asked, her voice filled with worry as Akira turned around and hugged her, letting his tears roll freely now that someone was here.

“He took them down with him Makoto…”

“He took them?” she asked, her voice filled with dread as Akira could hear the others who weren’t directly involved in the battle approach. They had been protecting their newest member, while also fighting to keep Tokyo safe.

And while everything in Tokyo had calmed down after the hole opened up, their remaining enemies quickly making their way inside of it, it had also swallowed everyone around it aside from Akira.

“Ryu and the others…they’re gone…”


“They’re dead, Makoto. Ryuji’s dead…” Akira muttered before breaking down, hearing the remaining Phantom Thieves, who had made their way over to Akira and Makoto at this point, tear up as they lost themselves to their despair.

They had lost, for the first time they had truly and utterly lost, and that fact made sure that whatever flicker of hope Akira had felt was extinguished, along with the future he had dreamt off.

“There’s nothing we can do anymore. It’s over…” he whispered, letting his anxiety and despair take over before he felt Makoto embracing him. The battle had taken its toll on him and there was no point staying strong…Ryuji and the others…they were gone and there was no way to bring them back…

-A few months earlier-

Arc 1 - Illusions

Ryuji Sakamoto

“You got everything kid?” Teru asked as Ryuji hopped off the back of Teru’s motorcycle.

“I do, thanks again for driving me here bro! You’re the best!” Ryuji responded, bumping his fist against the one Teru held out to him.

“Have fun Ryuji! I’ll come pick you and Akira up along with the Niijima sisters in a couple of days. Oh and feel free text me, Ann or Haru…or all of us, if you need anything. We worked on that, remember?” the older man told him, Ryuji nodding at him before he drove off.

Ryuji looked around the square where Teru had dropped him off. The lawyer had offered to stay until Akira arrived but Ryuji had told him it wasn’t necessary. Akira didn’t like Teru much, Ryuji knew that, and he did not want his visit to start of negatively. Not that Akira would be straight up mean to Teru but there would be tension, tension that Ryuji wasn’t sure how to deal with and did not want to deal with, for that matter.

He nervously moved his hand through his hair. Where was Akira anyways? He had kind of expected him to be here, waiting for him, but he found himself waiting instead. It didn’t take long before he heard familiar footsteps approach him from behind though, turning around to find Akira looking at him in awe.

“…Your hair?” he muttered, causing Ryuji to laugh. “You stopped bleaching it?”

“Hell yeah! Do you like it?” Ryuji answered, excitedly. He was glad he’d been able to surprise Akira, that was obvious just from the look on his face, but he didn’t stop bleaching his hair just for that. He became blonde because he wanted to stand out, to get people to pay attention to him, but he didn’t need to anymore. Between Akira, Teru, Ann, Haru and the rest of their friends, Ryuji had enough people paying attention to him. He didn’t need to stand out. He needed people who loved him for who he was and he didn’t need to be blonde for that. His hair was back to its original dark brown color. Well, “original”, Ann had helped him dye it. He would’ve had to wait at least a month for his hair to go back to its original color and Ryuji didn’t want to wait for that, he wanted to do this to show Akira, and everyone else, how much he had grown.

“I think it fits you, really shows how much you changed over the past year!” Akira smiled, causing Ryuji to smile back brightly before leaning in to give Akira a quick peck on the cheek.

“I missed you,” he whispered before pulling his face back.

“It’s only been a couple of days, you know?” Akira chuckled. “But I’ve missed you too, Ryu. I’m glad you’re here!”

Hearing those words made Ryuji happy, an emotion he hadn't felt strongly when Akira was gone which was something that he wanted to work on as he thought back to his talk with Ann, Haru and Teru the night before he left. They were going to help him out after all, they had made that very clear.

“Are you guys really sure this is okay?” Ryuji asked for what seemed to be the millionth time. He just wasn’t very comfortable sharing his feelings with his friends yet. He was at Ann’s apartment, she had helped him dye his hair back to its original color before Haru and Teru arrived, because she had invited him. She had invited Haru and Teru too and all 3 of them had insisted that he would join them because apparently it was very important. Ryuji honestly felt like they had set him up for this but he supposed it was because they cared so he would let it slide.

“Yes Ryuji. We asked you to do this, remember?” Ann pointed out. “Just try and work with us, alright?”

Ryuji nodded. He still wasn’t sure what his friends were planning but he knew it was related to the conversation they had before Akira left. There was a serious mood in the room and even Teru, who was generally the opposite of serious, tried his hardest to look rather stern.

“So…what is it you want me to do again exactly?” he asked. He knew they had explained it to him once but he had been too overwhelmed to listen, too focused on the fact that he felt like he was nothing but a burden to his friends.

“Just tell us what’s on your mind Ryuji-kun. We know you’ve been through a lot and well…we want to help you get better!” Haru explained, sounding determined.

“We all just want to see you get better Ryuji. We don’t want to see you frown now that your hair is brown,” Teru smiled, his serious exterior cracking the moment he decided to make a pun.

“Teru-san!” Haru exclaimed with an annoyed look on her face. “Take this more seriously!”

“I am, I am! I just want Ryuji to feel at ease…” the lawyer muttered while he waved a hand in front of his face.

“I guess I’m just worried…” Ryuji muttered, causing all 3 of his friends to turn to him, concerned looks appearing on all their faces.

“Worried about what?” Ann clarified.

“Just…Kira has only been gone for a couple of days and I just stop feeling happy. It’s like, I can’t feel happy on my effin’ own and it sucks. It’s okay when you guys are there, even though it’s not the same, but when I’m alone…Bad things happen when I’m alone…”

Ryuji had to stop his explanation after that, tears threatening to fall from his eyes as his friends looked at him. Teru was the first to move next to him, they had all been sitting across from him up until that point, as he wrapped his arm around him.

“It’s okay Ryuji, let it out. We’re here for you,” he said causing Ryuji to hesitate for a moment before he allowed Teru to hug him as he started crying.

Ryuji kept crying for what felt like forever, Teru’s shirt being soaked, clinging to his chest, by the time Ryuji had managed to regain some form of composure.

“I’m sorry Teru…” Ryuji muttered, but the lawyer laughed it off before telling Ryuji it was fine.

“It’s what older bros do,” Teru reassured him. Ryuji momentarily wondered about Teru’s choice of words before Teru let go off him after giving him a final pat on the back.

“Are you feeling better Ryuji-kun?” Haru asked. She and Ann looked concerned, but they also seemed to trust Teru enough at this point to let him comfort him.

“I think so…Sorry about that…” Ryuji whispered, looking away. He felt ashamed for losing his composure like that.

“Don’t apologize Ryuji! That’s the first thing we’re going to address right now. You don’t have to be sorry for being emotional around any of us!” Ann told him sternly. She was smiling kindly though and Ryuji knew she was only being stern to get through to him.

“I agree Ryuji-kun, you can always tell me anything!” Haru agreed, before she and Ann looked at Teru expectantly.

“I mean, isn’t the fact I’m soaked in his tears kind of enough proof?” he pointed out. “But yes, of course the same applies to me. You can aim your tear cannons at me as much as you want.”

Even Ann and Haru couldn’t help but laugh at that, momentarily breaking the serious vibe in the room, before Ann seemed to get serious again.

“There’s more things though, Ryuji, based on what you said. Do you mind if we discuss those?” she asked him. “I don’t want to talk about things you’re not ready to talk about…”

Ryuji decided to take a moment to think about what Ann, and the other two, were asking of him. Was he ready to let his friends in, to let them really in? Deep down he already knew the answer though, they had proven themselves to him over and over again and they deserved his trust. To Ryuji’s surprise Teru reassuringly put his hand on his shoulder at that point.

“Come on kid, you can do this.”

“Alright Ann, what are those things?” Ryuji asked. He was around his friends, friends that made him feel safe and only wanted to help him. He could do this.

“Well…I think there’s two things we can help you with…” Ann said before Haru, to everyone’s surprise, interrupted her.

“We have to help Ryuji-kun find things that make him happy, right? He has to be able to feel happiness when he’s on his own,” she pointed out before realizing she had interrupted Ann. “Ann-chan, I’m so sorry for interrupting you!”

“It’s fine Haru, that was the first point indeed. I’m not sure how we’re going to do that yet though…” Ann pondered. “It seems to be more than just a lack of things to do. You keep busy, right Ryuji?”

“Yeah…” Ryuji confirmed. It wasn’t like he wasn’t doing anything when Akira wasn’t around. It was just that he couldn’t feel happy when he was alone and he couldn’t understand why.

“I think I have an idea, actually…” Teru chimed in, causing everyone to look at him expectantly before he shook his head. “It’s too long to explain and I want to test it out first.”

“You gave me effin’ hope for a moment man, why can’t you just tell me?!” Ryuji yelled, frustration lacing his voice, before punching Teru’s arm but to Ryuji’s surprise he just laughed.

“I’ll test it out on you kid. If it works, you’ll notice!” he smiled. “You can’t know beforehand though because otherwise it won’t work.”

“If you say so…” Ryuji muttered, unsure how to feel about Teru's "experiment. He knew he had to trust Teru, but it seemed really vague and Teru was generally straightforward.

“Come on Ryuji, just believe in me!” Teru said before giving Ryuji a pat on his back.

“There was a second thing though?” Ryuji asked, turning to Ann who seemed to be observing him and Teru as she smiled softly. She seemed to be on to something, but she probably wasn’t going to share whatever it was considering she cleared her throat before looking at Ryuji again with a serious look.

“Please don’t take offense to this Ryuji but I think you have trouble being alone right now…and that you shouldn’t be alone if we can help it,” Ann pointed out, slightly looking away when she finished her sentence. “I mean…most of your incidents happen when you’re left on our own for too long…”

Ryuji swallowed. He knew Ann was right, whenever he was left alone with his thoughts his mind got darker and darker until he just collapsed and broke down. He just wasn’t sure how she, Haru and Teru could help with that.

“Then we just have to make sure Ryuji-kun isn’t alone anymore!” Haru stated, eyes brimming with determination. “We’ll just have to see how we can fit our schedules around his!”

“W-wait…” Ryuji muttered causing his friends to laugh.

“Before you even say you don’t want to be a bother Ryuji, you’re not. We decided to do this, you just have to accept our help,” Ann told him before he could even protest.

“Besides, it’s not like I have anything better to do,” Teru mentioned, a sad look flashing across his face momentarily before he smiled. “I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy!”

“We all will Ryuji-kun!” Haru added. “We won’t stop until you’re able to be happy on your own!”

Akira and Ryuji had arrived at Akira’s house at this point, having made small talk on their way there. Akira had insisted they get to his place quickly, saying that they could have a look around the town tomorrow for a reason that Ryuji didn’t quite understand but Akira had reassured him that he would understand soon and Ryuji trusted his boyfriend.

“I like your house,” Ryuji pointed out before putting his hand over his mouth. Akira was only allowed to stay here for a couple more days, up until they’d leave together, and he’d never come back afterwards. Akira just smiled at him though, before telling him to make himself at home while he would go and prepare some drinks.

Ryuji looked around, trying to find some sort of sign that Akira had grown up here but he had trouble finding anything.

“If you’re looking for my childhood memories you won’t find them here, my mom took those with her for whatever reason,” Akira told him, having shown up behind him, as he held out a can of soda to Ryuji.

“S-sorry I didn’t mean to be obvious,” Ryuji muttered, blushing in embarrassment. He was acting like a teenage girl who just visited her crush’s house for the first time. He and Akira had been dating for a while now, this was not supposed to be so awkward.

“It’s fine, I did the same when I first visited you and your mom, remember?” Akira chuckled before sitting down next to Ryuji, putting down his own drink before wrapping his arm around his boyfriend. “I missed you a lot.”

“I missed you too, I’m so glad we get to spend some time together, just the two of us, before school starts,” Ryuji smiled, the blush on his face growing fiercer. He meant it too. He loved being around the rest of his friends but he and Akira barely got to spend time with the two of them and he was glad that they could spend the next couple of days doing just that.

“So…why couldn’t we go explore the town?” Ryuji asked after he decided to rest his head on Akira’s shoulder.

“You’ll find out tomorrow Ryu, I promise you it’ll be worth it,” Akira whispered with a smile before leaning in for a quick kiss. “Let’s just enjoy the rest of the evening for now.”

“Alright,” Ryuji relented as he allowed himself to relax in Akira’s embrace before he could feel his eyes get heavy. He hadn’t realized how exhausted he was. “Do you mind if I take a quick nap?”

“Of course not, I’ll be with you the entire time,” Akira smiled, giving Ryuji a kiss on his forehead. “We can have dinner afterwards.”

“Sounds good!” Ryuji agreed before he allowed himself to drift to sleep. He felt peaceful with Akira around and it made him really happy.

Makoto Niijima

Makoto sighed when she got entered her new dorm room, looking around to see if her new squad mates were already there. She cheered quietly when she realized they were still out. She liked them, they honestly could’ve been way worse, but she was glad she finally had some time to herself as she decided to lie down on the bed that had been assigned to her.

She was exhausted, the past week had been insane, but she had passed her entrance exams and was assigned to Squad F this morning. Squad F consisted of her and two others and they were told their stuff had been moved to her their new dorm room before being given directions on how to reach it.

She, along with the other recruits, had spent the last couple of nights sleeping outside and Makoto was glad that at least she would be able to sleep in a bed from now on.

The dorm room was honestly pretty great, much better than she had expected. It consisted of two quarters, a sleeping part where she and her other two squad mates each had a bed assigned to them. There were 3 desks across from the beds as well, presumably for their studies. The living quarters consisted of a dining table and a kitchen area, much to Makoto’s surprise, which surely beat having to go to the cafeteria all the time. She could get used to this, even if it was less luxurious than she was used to.

After laying down for a couple of minutes Makoto decided to get up and start unpacking her bags, momentarily wondering if she should wait for the other members of her squad to arrive before her thought process got interrupted when she heard the door slam open.

“WE’RE HOME!” she could hear a female voice yell. “Did you miss us Mako-chan?”

Makoto sighed before moving to the living quarters, coming face to face with her two squad mates. The first one, a short red-headed girl with a pixie cut named Erika Wilson had been the one who had excitedly yelled her name. Makoto could still hear a slight accent when Erika spoke, but she was surprised by how good her Japanese was. Erika originated from the US, but she had decided to go to school in Japan for a reason that she wouldn’t divulge. Makoto figured that was fair though, they all had their secrets. She wasn’t exactly going to tell people that she used to be a Phantom Thief either.

“Do we have any grub? I’m hungry…”

Makoto smiled when she saw the second member from her squad, a tall, muscular guy named Masaru Honda. Masaru had brown hair that reached his shoulders, at least when he didn’t tie it back in a ponytail, and he looked really intimidating. Makoto had quickly figured out that Masaru was probably the most kind-hearted person she had ever met…the only downside being that he was always hungry and looking for something to eat. She wanted to ask him how he stayed in shape, considering the amount of food he ate, before wondering if that was too rude to ask. She was not used to interacting with people outside of her trusted group of friends yet.

Makoto missed them, she missed them very much even though it had only been a week but she tried not to let it get to her. The Phantom Thieves had been her first real friends, Akira being her first best friend, and it still hurt her that she was going to be separated from them for at least a couple of years. She was afraid their friendship wouldn’t survive that. Makoto had resolved to try and go home during the weekends, of course, but she knew there was a possibility that that was just going to be impossible.

“MA-KO-CHAN” Erika said, moving her face close to Makoto’s to make sure she got the other girl’s attention. “Are you okay? You seem like you’re thinking about a lot of things? Did you even hear anything me and Masaru were saying earlier?”

“I’m sorry, I spaced out. What did you guys say?” Makoto answered, her face flushing with embarrassment. She was terrible at social interaction.

Both Erika and Masaru looked at her for a moment, exchanging a worried look before they both shrugged.

“We were just wondering if you wanted to explore the shops surrounding the academy over the weekend with us. We can get to know each other better too! We’ll spent a good part of our lives together as a squad after all!” Erika explained excitedly, causing Makoto to sigh. That girl had too much energy.

“I’m sorry, I can’t…I’m going home to visit my high school friends…” Makoto muttered. Part of her knew she should go out with Erika and Masaru. The redhead was right, they were going to spend a lot of time together in the future, but Akira was coming back and she wanted to be one of the people that picked him up.

“Oh…” Erika responded sadly before her face brightened up as she grabbed Masura and Makoto’s arms. “Let’s go now then!”

“Eh…?” Makoto muttered. “Don’t we all need to unpack…?”

“We can just do that tonight when we get back! We need to spend some quality squad time and since you’re gone over the weekend we have to do it now!” Erika said, pulling at both Makoto and Masaru’s arms. It was a hilarious sight to see, considering she was tiny compared to Masaru…and even compared to Makoto, really.

“Can we get some food?” Masaru asked, his voice filling with excitement.

“As much as you want!” Erika responded happily, causing Masaru to cheer.

“I’m in then! Let’s go Makoto, it’ll be fun!” he said happily, smiling at Makoto in such a way that somehow made her unable to resist.

“I guess we can go out then, I mean I do want to get to know you guys…” she relented.

“Yaaay! It’s going to be great!” Erika cheered before realizing she was still holding both Makoto and Masaru’s arms and let go of them. “Let’s go!”

Makoto sighed in relief when Erika finally let go off her arm before realizing Erika wanted to go right now. She supposed this was a good thing though, Erika and Masaru may not be like the Phantom Thieves but at least they were making an effort to become friends with her and Makoto figured that she should too. She could really use some new friends, after all.

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

The first thing Akira felt when he woke up was Ryuji’s arm draped over his chest. His boyfriend was still asleep, his chest calmly moving alongside the rhythm of his breathing. It surprised Akira for a moment, before realizing that this was probably the first time in ages Ryuji had had a good night’s sleep. He had mentioned something about how he was having trouble sleeping when Akira was gone. Akira had tried to find out more but Ryuji insisted they’d focus on happy things, also reminding him of their agreement.

While they would support one another, they would each focus on improving their own mental health separately and Ryuji had told him that Ann, Haru and Teru were already helping him out so that Akira wouldn’t have to worry about him.

Akira was happy that Ryuji had found support, he couldn’t really say that he had been as lucky himself. He supposed he could always talk to Kawakami but she was still his teacher and while he used to be able to talk to Makoto, his best friend, she was more or less going to be gone for most of the year and despite the fact that Akira was decently close with both Futaba and Yusuke, he had a hard time talking to either of them. They were just kind of awkward when it came to more serious issues. Their hearts were in the right place but they had trouble dealing with things like that and Akira always ended up comforting them instead of it being the other way around.

There was something bigger going on though. Ever since Akira had come back from prison he had a hard time reconnecting with his friends. It was like they just couldn’t understand how he felt and he felt like they treated him differently because of it. They treated him like he had somehow become more fragile, like some kind of porcelain doll, and Akira hated it. He knew there was probably some truth to it, as much as he wanted to claim that he was still the same Akira as before, prison had changed him. It had changed him in a lot of ways but it mostly just made him think about a lot of things, things he hadn’t thought about before. Those thoughts oftentimes depressed him and seeing how he never really shared them with anyone, he felt like he was slowly drowning in the ramblings that took place inside his mind. He supposed he had to talk to someone about them, but with Ryuji being off-limits, he had no idea who to talk to.

“You were up early,” Ryuji whispered, startling Akira out of his thoughts before he realized Ryuji was hovering right over him, their faces almost touching.

“You were up late,” Akira retorted, a smile showing on his face, as Ryuji dropped down for a quick kiss before he got up from the bed, looking at his phone to check the time before looking back at Akira with a surprised look on his face.

“I guess I really needed that, huh?” he muttered, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. “So what’s next? I’m really excited to go out and do things today!”

Akira couldn’t help but smile. Seeing Ryuji like this, this happy and excited, filled his heart with warmth. It had honestly been a while since he had seen Ryuji like this, but this, this was the Ryuji he had fallen in love with.

“We gotta have breakfast first Ryu! I’ll show you around town afterwards and I got somewhere very special where I want to take you tonight, does that sound good?” Akira laughed, causing Ryuji to nod excitedly before lifting Akira off the bed.

“To the kitchen then!” he said excitedly before he started carrying Akira towards their destination.

Normally he would’ve protested but he’d lie to himself if he said he didn’t enjoy this, being carried in Ryuji’s strong arms like this would be any men’s dream, wouldn’t it be?

Akira and Ryuji found themselves strolling through Akira’s hometown a couple of hours later. They had both taken a shower after eating breakfast. The entire experience had been rather homely and it made Akira hopeful for the future he had with Ryuji. One day they would live together like that and things like this would be normal everyday occurrences. They would always get up together, they would always eat breakfast together and they would come home to each other every day.

“What are you smiling about?” Ryuji teased, having noticed the grin on the Akira’s face.

“Was just thinking,” Akira mused with a coy smile.

“No fair man! You have to tell me!” Ryuji complained as he gently nudged Akira’s shoulder.

“Are you sure you want to know?” Akira responded teasingly.

“Yes!” Ryuji exclaimed loudly, causing some of the people that were passing by the two of them to raise their eyebrows before they carried on with their day.

“I was just thinking about how one day all of this will be normal…” Akira whispered, causing Ryuji’s face to turn beet red.

“W-what do you mean?” he muttered, causing Akira to laugh. He had probably already figured it out, judging by the look on his face, but Akira thought it was cute that Ryuji wanted confirmation.

“Waking up together, eating breakfast together…You know, stuff like that,” Akira explained as he felt a slight blush creeping on his own face.

“The hell man, don’t say stuff like that. Making me blush in public!” Ryuji responded before he slapped Akira on his back, smiling brightly. “I’d love that though.”

Normally this was one of the points where Akira would lean in to kiss Ryuji but he was kind of wary of doing so in public and Ryuji seemed to understand that, seeing as he was making no effort to kiss Akira either. Akira sighed before Ryuji surprised him a moment later by slipping his own hand into Akira’s and squeezing it tightly.

“I love you,” he whispered, still smiling.

“I love you too Ryu, I love you too.”

Akira had spent most of the day showing Ryuji around his hometown. He had shown him the places he used to play as a kid, the school he used to go to and other places that held a similar meaning to him. To Akira’s surprise Ryuji had asked a lot of questions, but that also warmed Akira’s heart. Ryuji really wanted to know everything about him so that he would “love him even more” and that was something Akira very much enjoyed.

“So…why did we get takeaway again?” Ryuji asked. “Takeaway that we’re not eating, I may add. I’m really hungry Kira…”

“We’re almost there Ryuji, just hold on for a little longer okay?” Akira responded. They were almost at the place he wanted to show Ryuji the most. They had gone to the edge of his hometown after getting some food to eat once they arrived at Akira’s special place.

“Why are we climbing this hill…oh…wow…” Ryuji muttered when they finally finished climbing the hill they had been climbing. It was dark at this point and that meant they had an amazing view of the moon and the stars from the top of the hill, much to Akira’s relief. He was afraid it’d have been too cloudy, but they got really lucky.

“What do you think?” Akira mused, chuckling at the astonishment that had shown up on Ryuji’s face. “I thought we could have a dinner under the stars…”

Akira nervously looked at Ryuji, rubbing his hands together awkwardly before Ryuji gave him a thumbs-up. He was smiling, a radiant smile that Akira had never seen on Ryuji before.

“It’s…so romantic…” he whispered dreamily. “What is this place?”

“It’s called Moonlit Hill, it’s the only worthwhile place in this town. There used to be a legend that if you take the person you love here and eat dinner with them under the stars, you’ll um…”

“You will what?

“You’ll stay together forever…” Akira whispered, his face going bright red before Ryuji put down the takeaway he was carrying as he launched himself at Akira.

They almost fell over, Akira managing to steady himself at the last second, before they embraced tightly. “Thank you Akira…” Ryuji whispered.

“Thanks for what?”

“For wanting to stay with me forever…That’s why you took me here, right?” Ryuji whispered softly, sounding insecure.

“If you want to…”

“Of course I want to! Don’t be silly. I love you, I love you so much!” Ryuji cheered excitedly, letting go off Akira to pump his fists in the air.

“I’m really glad,” Akira whispered before he felt a sob escape his throat.

“What’s wrong?” Ryuji asked, his voice sounding worried, having noticed the sob.

“I’m just really happy. You’ll always be there, even if I don’t know about anyone else, I know there’s you at least…” Akira explained, willing himself not to cry.

“That’s true! You’ll never lose me Kira!” Ryuji agreed before his stomach started rumbling causing Ryuji’s face to turn red from embarrassment. “I’m…um…really hungry though…”

Akira smiled before reaching for the bags of food that Ryuji had put on the ground. “Let’s pick a nice spot and eat then!” he offered, causing Ryuji to agree immediately.

Akira was happy, even with all the insecurities in his life right now he would always have Ryuji at least. He would always be there, that was the one thing he was certain of right now, and that meant that things really weren’t as bad as he thought they were…

Sae Niijima

“I wouldn’t have minded if you woke me up, you know?” Teru sulked, walking into the kitchen in just his boxers while Sae was making breakfast for herself. “I could’ve made you breakfast or something, it’s the least I could do…”

“You were looking so peaceful and it’s not like you have to go out today, right? I’m so used to doing things on my own, I guess I just figured you’d want to sleep in,” Sae responded, surprised that Teru was sulking.

“Just wake me up next time, it’s the least I can do as a thank you for letting me stay here so often!” Teru said, his frown turning into a bright smile as he wrapped his arms around Sae. “You know I like being here.”

“Well, I like you being here too,” Sae responded with a smile. “But I really have to hurry up, I got that interview soon, remember?” She meant what she said, she was really happy Teru had more or less unofficially moved in with her. He was pretty much here all of the time, only occasionally going to his own apartment to get more of his things or hang out with Ryuji, and it made her consider asking him to officially move in with her. Would that be moving too fast? They had only been dating for a short while, even if they had known each other for years. It would make things easier for Teru though, Sae knew that much.

He had tried to hide it, but Sae had realized that Teru was very much struggling with his job. He barely got cases after he left his law firm, or got fired, Teru was never really clear about that, and he was going to run out of money sooner or later. She knew his apartment was pretty expensive too, he was living in a pretty expensive part of Tokyo, and he was barely even living there at this point. But then a part of her was wondering if she should even bring that up? What if Teru would take it the wrong way and get mad at her? She did not want that, because if they’d get into a fight it’d likely get pretty ugly seeing how they were both practicing law.

“What’s with that frown?” Teru asked, snapping Sae out of her thoughts. “You seem concerned about something…”

“Just my interview,” Sae lied. She had to think about how to ask Teru to move in with her and whether or not she should voice her concerns. Besides, she did have the interview to worry about too.

“Oh right, didn’t you already get the job though?” Teru questioned, seeming genuinely interested.

“I think so?” Sae answered, she honestly wasn’t sure. She had never gone in for an official interview but her boss had more or less handed her the position already. “But Shiro-san told me to come in for an interview today so I guess I still have to go through the official process.”

“I see, well I’m sure you’ll do great!” Teru cheered before giving Sae a peck on her cheek. “You’ll probably be a better lawyer than I ever was!”

Sae rolled her eyes at that comment, she wasn’t going to dignify that with a response, or perhaps she should. She wasn’t sure, but she really had to get ready and couldn’t spend time thinking about stuff right that, even if she really wanted to.

“Oh Teru, do you mind if I don’t come with you guys when you go pick up Ryuji and Akira? I got another meeting with Shiro-san that day and…” Sae said before Teru interrupted her by giving her a thumbs-up.

“Of course! Do you want me to pick up Mako-chan too? I can just drive by the police academy before I go and pick up those other kids!”

“That’d be…really great actually, I’ll let her know!” Sae smiled. She had felt really bad about this, especially considering she offered to be part of the group to pick Ryuji and Akira up, but she was glad Teru seemed to understand.

“I guess I have to get going now then…” Sae said, checking her briefcase one more time to make sure she had everything. “Will you be here when I come home?”

“Do you want me to be?” Teru asked, an unreadable expression that worried Sae a little bit coloring his features, before he starting smiling kindly.

“I’d love it if you’re here,” Sae answered, smiling back at Teru.

“Then I’ll be here! I’ll even cook for you, how about that?” Teru told her before pumping his fist in the air. “I promise you it’ll be great!”

“Alright, I’m off then,” Sae said before giving Teru a quick kiss. “I’ll see you when I get home then?”

Teru just nodded before muttering something about having to take a shower as he walked off to the bathroom.

Sae swore she could hear Teru sigh sadly before he had left her sight but even if she wanted to worry about him, she couldn’t right now. She was heading to what was potentially the most important interview of her life, even if she had more or less already been handed the job. Besides, she probably imagined it. Teru was like the prime example of a happy person, always trying his hardest to laugh and cheer everyone up, there was no way he would ever feel down…and if he did, he would tell her. She was certain of that fact…wasn’t she?

“Great…” she muttered to herself as she made her way to her car. She was going to worry about Teru all day, wasn’t she?

Teru Tendo

When Teru entered the shower he couldn’t help but let his tears run along with the water which was flowing down his body. It wasn’t like he wasn’t happy for Sae, he honestly was, but the way she was advancing in her career made him feel even more inadequate than he usually did. All he was doing nowadays was sit around her apartment, trying to find ways to feel like he was still worth something and now that Ryuji was gone, meaning he couldn’t even help him out, he felt like he virtually served no purpose. Like no one needed him to be around and he hated that. It made him wonder why he even existed in the first place.

Teru would be the first to admit that yes, he probably did care about Ryuji a little too much but he couldn’t help himself. Ryuji reminded him of himself when he was younger and that…that was not a good thing.

Teru always had a bad habit of bottling things up, he was still doing it now, and he knew how damaging it could be. Hell, it was hurting him right this instant but he could handle that. He had handled that for more than 20 years, but Ryuji, Ryuji shouldn’t and he did not want that kid to suffer in the ways he had and still did. He would be there for him, no matter what. Ryuji would not have to suffer through his feelings of depression and anxiety alone, Teru knew how much that sucked and he did not wish that for anyone else. Especially not someone he cared about.

But how much could he really do? He was just a washed up lawyer at this point. He hadn’t been able to find a single case offer in the past week, not even a boring one, and it made him feel useless. Not that he even liked being a lawyer at this point. The excitement he had felt when he was helping Akira get out of prison was what he wanted to feel. He had felt like he was their hero and that was something he always wanted to feel. To be a hero to people who need him. As long as he could be that, what happened to him didn’t matter because he’d have been able to make others happy.

Right now though he was probably the furthest away from where he wanted to be. He wasn’t anyone’s hero, he was just a screw-up hero wannabe. Maybe his parents were right, maybe he shouldn’t have thrown that fit at his old job, perhaps he really was just a foolish little kid who got fired over throwing a tantrum.

He hit the wall as he let out a frustrated yell. How did he end up like this? He had just followed his heart, had just done what felt right, shouldn’t that be rewarded?

But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that in a way he had been rewarded as Teru couldn’t help but think back to his birthday, just a couple of days after the debacle with Ryuji’s dad...

“Come on! Hurry up Teru!” Ryuji yelled, pulling him along by his arm. Teru had been surprised when Ryuji showed up in front of his apartment this morning, telling him that he had to go with him to Leblanc because it was really urgent. Teru, who hadn’t gotten dressed yet, quickly threw on some clothes before heading out with Ryuji. He wondered what it was about, probably just helping out with the legal aftermath Akira had found himself in, even if Ryuji’s behavior was a bit off.

Teru sighed, he just wanted to spend today how he spend it every year. Alone. It was his birthday today, he was turning 27, but no one around him really knew. Maybe Sae did, now that he thought about it, but she probably remembered that he didn’t like making a big deal out of celebrating it.

He figured that it may seem out of character for him, considering he always presented himself as a fun party-loving guy, but celebrating his birthday brought back bad memories and he’d rather just not think about that.

“I can walk on my own y’know? You don’t have to give me a hands-on experience,” Teru snickered at his own pun, causing Ryuji to roll his eyes as he let go of Teru’s arm.

“Just hurry up okay!?” he urged. They were almost at Leblanc at this point and Teru supposed he was about to find out why Ryuji was so excited.

Ryuji had already headed inside by the time Teru got to the café. He sighed before opening the door, his eyes going wide with shock when he realized what was waiting for him.


Teru blinked a couple of times, unable to comprehend what was going on. He saw that pretty much everyone was there. Ryuji, Akira, the other Phantom Thieves and Sae…Sae was there as well despite the fact that she told him she would be busy all day.

“Do you like it?” Ryuji asked, grabbing his arm to pull him inside the café before leading him to a seat right in the middle of everyone.

“How’d you guys know?” Teru stammered, still trying to understand what exactly was going on.

“We wanted to do something to thank you for everything you’ve done. You’ve reunited us with Akira, there’s no way he could’ve gotten out without your help, and Sae told Makoto it was your birthday today and she told us so we decided to throw you a surprise party!” Ryuji explained excitedly while Teru just stared at him in shock.

“A…surprise party?” Teru repeated slowly.

“Yeah! It’s your birthday isn’t it?” Ryuji asked, seemingly unsure why Teru was acting the way he was. “We all figured it’d be perfect for you! You always love fun things!”

“So…all of you did this, just for me?” Teru questioned, causing everyone in the room to nod at him excitedly.

“Do you not like it?” Ryuji muttered, sounding a bit sad. “We thought you’d really enjoy it…”

“No, no!” Teru quickly interjected. “I’m just…really surprised by your surprise! That’s all!”

He tried to smile at that point, but his smile turned into a grimace when he let out a sob. It caught him, and everyone in the room, by surprise, he had not expected to get emotional over this.

Sae quickly moved to his side, crouching next to him as she put a hand on his shoulder. Everyone else moved closer to him as well, wanting to show Teru they supported him.

“It’s just…no one’s ever thrown me a party before, let alone a surprise one…” he muttered as he wiped the tears from his eyes.

“You’ve never had a party…” Ryuji stammered, sounding astonished before smiling. “Guess we have to make this one your best party then, right everyone?!”

“I agree, let’s make this amazing!” Ann joined in.

“Of course, we’ll make this a day Teru-san will never forget!” Haru told him.

“Guess we know what today’s main quest is! Operation Teru’s Birthday!” Futaba chimed in.

“I’ll aim to help make it as pleasing as possible,” Yusuke agreed.

“We’ll make it a perfect day!” Makoto added with a smile.

“I guess we’ll just have to make sure to make it a day Teru will never forget,” Akira said, his voice filled with conviction, to Teru’s surprise. He figured Akira still didn’t like him very much, only tolerating him because he was friends with Ryuji, but maybe he had been wrong about that.

“Let’s make it an amazing day for you, alright Teru?” Sae then asked him, causing him to tearfully nod at her and the rest of the people in the room before they all took turns giving him a birthday hug.

Ann brought in a cake after their big group heart to heart, decorated with stars and letters that spelled 'Happy Birthday Teru!'

“You guys aren’t going to hit me with that are you?” Teru asked with a cocky smile, causing Ann and Akira to blush momentarily before they quickly shook their heads. “Aww, I’d have gotten to enjoy all of it that way, but I guess I’ll share with everyone.”

“So Teru, there’s one more thing you have to decide,” Akira then told him causing Teru to look up at him in surprise. “Where do you want to go after this?”

“Where do I want to go?” Teru repeated, unsure what Akira wanted from him.

“We’re going to take you to the place you want to go to the most. You can pick any place in Tokyo and we’ll treat you to it. It’s our way to thank you for everything you’ve done,” Akira explained, causing Teru to think for a little bit before deciding where he wanted to go.

“Let’s go to the amusement park then, I am sure it will amuse us all!” Teru said excitedly as he made another pun, causing most of his friends to roll his eyes at him.

“How old do you think you are anyways?” Akira asked, his voice sounding a bit sarcastic even though a small grin had shown up on his face.

“I may have turned 27, but I’m a teen at heart!” Teru responded with a cheeky smile as he puffed out his chest.

“Well you do act like a grade-schooler,” Akira said with a chuckle.

“What the…?!” Teru yelled as everyone around him erupted with laughter causing him to rub the back of his head sheepishly. He couldn’t help but smile brightly though, realizing his birthday didn’t have to be a bad thing after all.

“No more moping Teru, time to show everyone you’re still their First Star,” Teru whispered to himself as he turned off the shower, grabbing a towel to dry both himself and his tears. He had real friends now, something he didn’t have before, and while he may feel shit about himself and the situation he had found himself in he would still do his best for them. He would be their pillar of support, their hero, he just had to find a way to do so because being a lawyer wasn’t going to be enough anymore…

Chapter Text

Haru Okumura

Haru was excited that Ryuji and Akira were coming back today. Leblanc, where she worked now, was closing up early just so they could host a welcome back party for Akira. Not that he had been gone for that long, it had been a little less than 2 weeks, but the former Phantom Thieves had been looking for an excuse to get together one last time before the school year started and Akira coming back had granted them that opportunity. It made Haru feel really weird, thinking of themselves as the former Phantom Thieves, but it was true, wasn’t it?

The Metaverse had been destroyed, they couldn’t contact their Personas anymore and Morgana…Morgana was gone too.

Out of everyone Haru probably had the most trouble with the fact that their feline friend was no longer with them. Morgana had been the reason Haru ended joining the Phantom Thieves in the first place, if it wasn’t for him she’d still be stuck in an arranged marriage…she’d likely still be miserable and she certainly wouldn’t be in the place where she was now. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the glamorous life her father had wanted for her, but this was what she wanted to do, or so she thought.

One thing was for certain though, Morgana had saved Haru’s life in a way and just thinking about the fact she would never see him again made her tear up.

“Are you okay?” a masculine voice asked from behind her. “It’s not like I’m worried or anything, it’s just a bother if you’re too distracted to do your job.”

She turned around to find her colleague standing behind her. Touma Kibo, who supposedly was her senpai despite being hired only a couple of hours before she was.

“Don’t worry about me Touma-san, I’m fine thank you very much,” Haru answered, gritting her teeth. She was not sure if she liked him, and she was generally quick to like anyone. He was just so conceited and full of himself at times and the worst part was that he was going to stick around all day, having volunteered to cook for Akira’s party after Sojiro had told him about it. He probably offered to help out just to suck up to Sojiro, after all, that was exactly what Touma always did wasn’t it? Trying out different ways to become Sojiro’s number one. He really seemed to want that validation for some reason that Haru didn’t quite understand. He always acted so confident…why would someone like him feel such an excess need to always be number one and be recognized?

She sighed as she thought back to the day Sojiro had agreed to hire her, slightly regretting that she hadn’t asked him earlier.

“You want to work here?” Sojiro questioned, looking at Haru with a surprised look on his face before he readjusted himself. “I suppose you did always show a lot of interest in making coffee and the different kinds of coffee beans I use.”

“I would really love to boss. It has been a long time dream of me to start my own café and Futaba-chan told me you were looking for someone to help you out with Leblanc and that would give me the working experience that I am lacking right now,” Haru answered, smiling excitedly at the prospect of working at Leblanc.

Sojiro was always really nice to her and the others so she was sure he would be a great boss too and after Futaba had told her Sojiro was looking to hire someone at Leblanc she knew the time had finally come for her to take her chance.

She had wanted to ask him even before Futaba had told her but the girl had given her an opportunity and if there was one thing her father had taught her, it was that one should always take an opportunity whenever it arises. Haru felt weird thinking about her father nowadays. He had been a flawed man, that was for sure, but he was still her father. Besides he had been manipulated by Shido…and Haru knew that there had still been some good inside of him. Regardless of whether he had been a good person, her father had been one thing though, and that was a good business man so she should at least follow his advice regarding those things…or at least the parts that weren't morally questionable.

She didn’t want a big company, or anything that would require her to have a lot of employees. Haru just wanted to small peaceful café where she could serve people coffee made from her own homegrown coffee beans, alongside several salads made with homegrown vegetables. She wanted to combine two of her greatest loves, gardening and coffee, and she would work really hard to achieve that dream.

“I suppose you can work here,” Sojiro told Haru before sighing. “There’s just one tiny complication…”

“A complication?” Haru asked, her cheerful mood faltering slightly. She did not like the sound of that.

Sojiro looked like he was about to explain before the door opened, revealing a guy that Haru didn’t know standing in the doorway. Haru couldn’t help but notice that he looked around her age and was quite attractive, his messy brown hair reaching the bottom of his neck as he showed off a pair of rather toned arms by carrying what looked like rather heavy bags, smiling at both her and Sojiro.

“I got the ingredients you wanted boss, where do I put them?” he asked before turning to Haru as he put down the bags he was carrying to tip the fedora on top of his head. “I don’t believe we’ve met, the name’s Touma. Touma Kibo, it’s nice to meet you miss…?”

“Haru, Haru Okumura. It’s nice to meet you too Touma-san,” Haru responded, trying to hide the confusion in her voice before turning to Sojiro.

“I hired Touma this morning Haru. He’s training to become a curry chef and when he found out I was looking for help he decided to apply since Leblanc is one of the few cafés around that also serves curry,” he explained before a small smile showed up on his face. “But perhaps you can work with him? You can take care of the coffee while Touma takes care of the curry. That way you can both gain the experience you seek and who knows, you may learn something from one another.”

“I mean…if Touma-san doesn’t mind…” Haru muttered, trying to process everything she just heard. She wished she had asked Sojiro earlier now, but at least Touma seemed nice enough. Still, he hadn't expected she had to work together with someone she didn't know at all...

“Excuse me, I’m going to have to take this. Perhaps you two can get to know each other,” Sojiro said, excusing himself when his phone rang, causing Haru to turn towards Touma. Who, to her surprise, was looking at her with a cocky expression on his face.

“Just so you know, I don’t plan on losing to you. I’ll be boss’ number one employee!” he told her, sounding rather full of himself before turning away from her to carry the bags he was carrying before to the kitchen area.

“Ex-…excuse me? This isn’t a competition!” Haru muttered, taken aback by how much Touma’s personality seemed to have shifted now that Sojiro left the café. He had seemed like such a pleasant and nice guy before.

“Everything is a competition, and I aim to be the best at everything I do!” Touma replied proudly, before a smirk showed up on his face. “Unless that scares you?”

“N-no! I’m not scared of you! I’ll prove to you I’m just as good as you!” Haru responded, suddenly overcome by a fierce sense of competition she had never experienced before. Perhaps this is what fighting for your dream felt like? This sense of passion she felt coursing through her body which made her feel like she could take on the entire world if she had to.

“Sounds like this’ll be a good battle then,” Touma stated, Haru swearing she saw him wink at her, before bursting into laughter right as Sojiro came back in.

“It sure looks like you guys are having a good time. Do you accept the condition then Haru? Will you work together with Touma?”

Haru looked at Touma for a moment, who was tauntingly grinning at her, before turning back to Sojiro. “I will Sojiro-san and I promise I will not let you down!”

“Seriously what is with you today? This is the second time you’re dozing off. Look, I get your friends are coming over soon and that you're excited to see them but we still have customers to serve until then and with boss being out for the day it means I’m in charge,” Touma told her sharply, snapping her out of her thoughts and causing her to realize that there were 3 customers waiting for her to take their order. “I just want you to do your job and if you can’t do that perhaps you should just go home…-“

“I’m very sorry Touma-san, it won’t happen again,” Haru apologized, cutting Touma off before making her way over to her first customer, forcing herself to smile. This may not be her dream job, but it was still a job, and it was something she had chosen to do and so she would do it, she was not going to let someone like Touma get on her nerves and ruin her day. It surprised her how much of an ass he could be sometimes. He seemed so nice at first, even after declaring that this was a competition to him, but he seemed to get fiercer, and more vicious, every single day and it made Haru sad. She had hoped they could've been friends at least...

“Good day sir, what kind of coffee can I get for you today?” she asked the customer in front of her who smiled kindly at her before giving her his order.

See? She could totally do this, and she would keep doing this until she had enough experience to start working on her own dream…Her very own café.

Ryuji Sakamoto

Ryuji was drumming his fingers on the dashboard of Teru’s car. Well, it was really Sae’s car but apparently Teru had borrowed it to pick them up while Sae had taken the train to work. She was originally going to come with Teru and Makoto to pick him and Akira up but apparently she had gotten occupied with her job and was unable to come with them. Teru had passed along her sincere apologies though, and Ryuji believed them. Sae had been really nice to them lately so there was no way she’d mean this maliciously.

Akira and Makoto were sitting in the back, catching up and seemingly completely caught up in each other and while it made Ryuji happy that Akira was able to catch up with his best friend, it also made him feel a little lonely. It was like they had completely forgotten he existed. He supposed part of that was Teru’s fault though, who he supposed had more or less become his best friend at this point, considering he was more or less ignoring him causing Ryuji to feel like he was alone.

“I didn’t know you could drive a car…” Ryuji said, trying to start some kind of conversation with Teru for what felt like the millionth time, hoping that he would respond this time.

The older guy turned towards him with raised eyebrows, muttering something Ryuji couldn’t quite hear, before he turned back to keep his eyes on the road.

“What was that? Sorry you were whispering and I couldn’t hear you,” Ryuji said as he jokingly poked Teru’s side, causing the older man to let out a small yelp before he turned to glare at Ryuji.

“Of course I can drive a car Ryuji, and stop poking me. It’s dangerous,” Teru snarked, sounding a tad annoyed. Ryuji still saw it as a small victory though, at least Teru was talking to him now.

“So…what’s up with you? You’re acting weird,” Ryuji pointed out, knowing he had Teru’s attention now. He seemed to hit the nail on the head too as Teru seemed to sigh before turning towards Ryuji, his eyes looking sad.

“Look, I don’t want to talk about it kid. I’ll deal with it,” he responded before he smiled at Ryuji. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.”

Ryuji wouldn’t be fooled by that though, Teru’s smile looked incredibly forced and he’d know…Ryuji, and Akira too for that matter, had often forced a similar smile whenever he wanted to cover up his issues. This felt a tad different though, and perhaps it was. Teru was like…9 years older than he was and maybe that meant Ryuji shouldn’t involve himself in his problems, whatever they were. The older man had always looked out for him though, ever since they had met, and Ryuji wanted to help him too even if he didn’t know how. That was what friends did, wasn’t it?

“Just…you can talk to me too you know? If you ever need help/ I mean…I can always talk to you, so you can tell me freakin’ anything too” Ryuji told Teru, who turned towards him once again to reveal he was genuinely smiling this time.

“Thanks kid, I’ll keep it in mind,” he responded before seemingly reverting to his normal upbeat personality. “So tell me ‘bout your trip, did you do trippy things?”

“Why are your puns always so bad?” Ryuji questioned, deciding to ignore the fact that Teru’s personality had completely shifted even if that did worry him slightly.

“They’re not bad! They’re punny!” Teru explained, laughing at his own joke. “But seriously, tell me about the things you’ve been doing the past few days. I’m sure it was more interesting than what I’ve been up to!”

Ryuji smiled before he started to tell Teru about the past couple of days, which honestly had been great. He had really reconnected with Akira and it felt like they were closer than ever. Ryuji actually felt like he was in a good place for once, like he was finally getting somewhere but there was a small part inside of him that knew that wasn’t true…and that scared him...

Teru smiled at Ryuji when he finished telling him about his trip before Ryuji to realized they had already arrived at their destination.

“Time to get out kids! You don’t want to be late for your party!” Teru told them, causing the three of them to look at him in surprise.

“You’re not coming with us?” Makoto asked, being the first to voice her surprise. “Sis is going to come over after she finishes work…”

“I wouldn’t want to impose on you kids…” Teru muttered, looking away from the three of them.

“Nonsense,” Akira spoke before Ryuji could, catching all of them by surprise. It was pretty well-known that Akira wasn’t exactly fond of his former lawyer. “You’re coming to the party Teru. You’re part of our group now and that means you have to take part in our group activities whether you like it or not.”

“I do…?” the older man questioned, causing Makoto to nod at him as Ryuji recollected himself.

“For real, man?! You still have to ask that? You’re coming!” Ryuji yelled causing the sad expression on Teru’s face to fade as it seemed to make place for a bright smile.

“If you guys really want me to be there, who am I to refuse…” he muttered sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head. “I will just go park Sae’s car then, I’ll see you guys in a bit.”

Teru drove off afterwards, making his way to the parking spots that were behind Leblanc, as Ryuji turned towards Akira, grabbing his arm before he could walk after Makoto to enter the café.

“I’m surprised you told him to come, y’know?” Ryuji pointed out, looking at his boyfriend in confusion. “Everyone knows you aren’t particularly fond of Teru.”

To Ryuji’s surprised Akira chuckled a little before he put his hand on Ryuji’s shoulder.

“He’s your friend, isn’t he? I figured I should at least try to like him…” he pointed out. “Besides, he was there for me when I was in jail. He literally visited me so much that he started to annoy me, always talking about how he’d be the hero who would prevent me from succumbing to my loneliness or something…and boy, does he talk a lot...”

Ryuji couldn’t help but laugh at that. The way Akira explained it made him able to imagine what that conversation, and similar conversations, would’ve looked like and it certainly looked hilarious in his mind. Akira rolling his eyes while Teru desperately tried to cheer him up would be a sight to see.

“There’s also the fact that I may have overheard your conversation before, in the car, and he reminds me of what we used to be like,” Akira added, holding his head in thought.

“So that’s not just me?” Ryuji responded, partially glad that he wasn’t he only one who thought that Teru was being weird.

“It’s not, but that worries me. I think we always thought Teru was some kind of invincible person…but we may be wrong about that,” Akira mused, before signaling Ryuji to be quiet.

“You waited for me?! I’m so touched!”

Ryuji turned around to see an excited Teru run up to them, smiling brightly…and looking as if nothing had happened before. Like the negativity that seemed to surround him earlier had completely disappeared.

“We did, you’re our hero after all,” Akira said, rolling his eyes as Teru clapped his hands together in excitement before the three of them decided to head inside…

Ann Takamaki

Ann was happy that everyone was enjoying the party. She had organized most of it but she didn’t mind that at all. It may be the last time all of them could gather like this and if she could organize a get-together to make that more enjoyable, she would gladly do it. After all, Makoto was only back for the weekend before she was going off to the Police Academy for real. Haru had graduated from Shujin and was going to spend the next year working for Sojiro at Leblanc. Futaba and Yusuke, while still attending high school, were attending Kosei, meaning it was only her, Ryuji and Akira at Shujin. Just like how they started out in the beginning. It had almost been a year since they had become the Phantom Thieves and Ann couldn’t believe how much she and her friends had been through together but part of her was sad that it was all over now. She couldn’t help but wonder if they would still stay close, considering the thing that bound them together was gone now, but she wanted to believe they would.

The former Phantom Thieves weren’t the only ones at the party though, seeing how Sae and Teru had joined them as well. The two of them had been really helpful with the Phantom Thieves' endeavors, Sae being a huge help ever since they had gone through her palace to obtain her treasure and Teru helping them out while Akira was in jail. Honestly, they owed a lot two the both of them.

They had invited Sojiro and Kawakami, considering the two of them had been a huge help as well, to the party as well but the two of them both had “plans”, which made them unable to attend.

Ann chuckled when she thought about the two of them. She had seen them together in town before and she was almost entirely sure they were seeing each other at this point. It made her happy, seeing people fall in love. Even if that was something that seemed to be really hard for her.

Sure, Shiho was back in her life now but stuff was still a bit…weird between them. Besides, she wasn’t even sure if Shiho was into girls…for all Ann knew she might just be into guys and that would mean Shiho would never be able to return her feelings. Not that Ann was even sure what her feelings were at this point because, even if she loved setting other people up and getting them together, love confused her greatly when it involved herself. Shiho had claimed to have a surprise for her though and Ann couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous about that considering Shiho wouldn’t budge at all. Normally Ann could get anything out of her, but Shiho had kept her lips sealed this time around...

“What are you thinking about Ann-chan? Shouldn’t you be having a bit more fun? You organized all of this after all.”

Hearing a voice call her name startled Ann before she realized Haru had walked up to her, looking at her with a bit of concern.

“Right, sorry Haru. I was just thinking…” Ann responded, smiling at the other girl. They had always gotten along but the two of them had gotten real close due to their mutual friendship with Ryuji…and when Ryuji started hanging out with Teru more, the two of them had started to hang out together. They didn’t need Ryuji to have an excuse hang out after all and they both loved similar things. They often went shopping for clothes together and it made Ann happy to have a friend that she could do girl things with. She could never go shopping with Ryuji, that always ended in a disaster.

“Think about what?” Haru asked, sounding curious.

“I’m just a little sad, I guess,” Ann admitted, even if she felt a bit dishonest. “This is probably the last time we’ll be able to spend time together as a group like this…”

It wasn’t necessarily a lie, the fact that this was one of the last time they’d spend with all of them did make Ann sad, but it wasn’t the complete truth either. Her thoughts regarding Shiho were plaguing her mind but she didn’t really want to talk about that with anyone, not until she figured that out on her own…

To her surprise Haru smiled before pulling Ann over to the others.

“We were just talking about that actually, right everyone?” she chimed happily, clapping her hands together and surprising Ann.

“Talking about what?” she asked Haru, not sure about what was going. She had kind of zoned out, so she hadn’t realized everyone had gathered together to discuss something.

“About how we should make a freakin' effort to keep doing things together, of course!” Ryuji said excitedly, answering her question and causing Ann to quickly realize that all of her friends felt the same way she did, everyone wanted to make an effort to keep hanging out as a group and it made her glad that she wasn’t the only one that felt that way.

“Teru had an amazing suggestion too, you should tell everyone man!” Ryuji added, pushing Teru to the middle of the group as the older man rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.

“It’s really not that great, but if you kids really wanna hear it…” he muttered, sounding a bit unsure of himself as the others chuckled. Looks like, despite his bravado, he didn’t exactly like being put on the spot like that.

“I’m sure we’re all very interested Teru-san,” Haru smiled as the others nodded in agreement.

“Well, I figured that since there’s multiple events because of Hanami next week we could all go there…We could rent an additional car, so we have two, and me and Sae could drive you kids to whichever one you wanted to go most...” Teru explained, looking a bit awkward. “I mean, it may not be the best idea but I figured you kids may…-“

“I have never been to a Hanami event before…” Futaba interrupted, stars twinkling inside her eyes. “Can we go? Please?”

“I must add that I would also like to go. The aesthetics of the blooming cherry blossom trees are always a great sight to enjoy and it is a sight I enjoy greatly. Perhaps we can go to a yozakura too, the sakura trees are especially beautiful at night…” Yusuke added before going off on a tangent about the symbolism behind Hanami and how beautiful it was.

It seemed like only Futaba and Sae were listening to him, while the others excitedly started to make plans for next week. They all had to agree which event to go to after all.

Ann smiled looking at the scene in front of her, maybe she wouldn’t have to worry about her friends becoming less close. In fact it looked like the opposite was happening. Maybe they would become even closer this year and that idea made Ann really excited. She couldn't wait to see what the rest of this year, her senior year, would have in store for her and her friends. After all, it looked like it was off to a great start…

Chapter Text

Ryuji Sakamato

Ryuji smiled before sitting down at his assigned desk. They had just finished the opening assembly and they were getting ready for their first homeroom. He could actually think “they” now considering he was placed in the same class that Akira and Ann were placed in. It had momentarily surprised him before realizing that Kawakami was their homeroom teacher, causing him to suspect that she had arranged for this to happen. 

He looked over to Akira, who was seated at the desk next to his, and noticed he was smiling at him, making him feel a small burst of happiness. Maybe this would help motivate him with his school work and make class easier, as long as he didn’t get distracted by how hot Akira was, because he would be surrounded by people who he liked and, more importantly, who liked and supported him.

Honestly, school hadn’t started off too bad either, people were no longer calling him out or trying to insult him now that he had gone back to his normal hair color and while the old Ryuji would’ve minded the lack of attention, he no longer did now. As long as the people he cared about gave him attention, he could care less about what other people thought about him and he never thought he'd end up feeling that way.

He had actually been pretty nervous to go back to school, especially after the things that happened last year, but after spending most of the night before talking to Teru, Ann and Haru about it he was no longer nervous. They had come over to talk to him after finding out Ryuji was dreading to go back to school and reassured him that it was no longer going to be bad. They told him, and he knew, that he had really grown and was no longer the same person he was last year and he was glad that for once those words had been correct. He really had come a long way and it seemed like everyone surrounding him was finally able to see that too.

“What about you Sakamato-kun?” Kawakami asked him, snapping him out of his thoughts and causing him to realize she had been talking for a while now.

“About…what?” Ryuji muttered, quickly apologizing for not paying attention. He really had to work on paying attention to class, he did not want to end up failing his senior year after all.

“About what you’re going to do after you finish high school? I was asking everyone if they already decided on what colleges to apply to and what kind of job they would like in the future,” she explained to him, causing Ryuji’s face to go white from shock.

“Sakamoto-kun? Are you okay?”

Ryuji felt like time froze for a moment. What did he want to do after school? He had never really thought about that, he hadn’t been taking school seriously enough to do so and having spent the past year as a Phantom Thief hadn’t really afforded him the time to think about it either. Well, that wasn’t entirely true, Haru and Makoto had both settled on a goal over the past year…and perhaps Ann and Akira had done so as well. He just didn’t want to think about it since it made him feel bad about himself. He pretty much had no goal in his life now that his Phantom Thief career was over and that realization had hit him like a truck and he really hadn't talked about that with anyone.

“I…uh, I don’t know…” he muttered, feeling embarrassed, but to his surprise no one started laughing like he expected they would.

“That’s fine, but that is something you really have to think about. Perhaps you can come by my office later and we can talk about it?” Kawakami offered, smiling kindly at him before asking another student about his plans for the future.

Ryuji decided to pay attention for now, maybe hearing about the rest of his classmates’ dreams would help him too. He wasn’t sure how to feel when both Ann and Akira were able to answer Miss Kawakami’s question with ease. Ann revealing she wanted to go into fashion design after she graduates high school, which was something she had always been passionate about. She was a part-time model after all. Meanwhile Akira revealed he was thinking about studying psychology once he finished school, which made sense to Ryuji. Akira had often talked about wanting to help people through their problems, and he was certainly perceptive enough to pull it off. Always able to perceive when people were dealing with problems and offering to help them out.

Ryuji envied them, despite everything they had gone through Akira and Ann had some sort of goal in their life…and here he was, unable to think of what he wanted to do once he finished school. Maybe he should talk to his friends about this, he knew he had promised them he would, but he was afraid they would laugh at him and call him silly…

He felt his phone buzz in pants’ pocket at that moment, and he couldn’t resist taking a look at who messaged him:  

Teru > Hey kid, how’s your first day going? I finally figured out how to use this text messaging app after you kids forced me to get a new phone. I still don’t get why my flip phone wasn’t good enough…

Despite the fact he had felt pretty anxious the message made Ryuji smile, thinking back to when he and his friends found out that Teru didn’t have a smartphone. Futaba had looked at him in complete shock for a couple of minutes before insisting he needed to get a new phone as soon as possible, something which the other former Phantom Thieves, and Sae for that matter, agreed to. Teru had tried to protest at first but Futaba had pretty much forced him to go to Akihabara with her, Sae and Yusuke, returning with a brand new phone that he didn’t know how to use after a couple of hours had passed. Futaba had confiscated his old phone too, after getting Sae’s permission to do so, to force him to use his new one.  

Ryuji > it’s ok I guess. just school like usual.

Ryuji put his phone away after responding despite feeling it buzz moments later, he should actually try and pay attention to class and he wasn't Teru supposed to have a job like a responsible adult anyway? Instead he seemed to be available all the time…and that sometimes annoyed Ryuji a little, even if he didn’t quite understand why. Then again, wasn’t that what best friends did, annoying each other for no reason?

Ryuji was snapped out of his thoughts once again when he heard someone knock on their classroom’s door, revealing a familiar face standing in the doorway when it opened. Seeing that particular girl caught him by surprise before he looked over at Ann in worry…And based on the look on her face, she certainly hadn’t been expecting this either…

Ann Takamaki

Ann couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Shiho standing in the doorway. Didn’t she transfer to another school last year? Didn’t she say she couldn’t bear being around Shujin anymore? Why was she here? Why did she come back?

“Ah, Suzui-chan, I’m glad you were able to get here on time,” Miss Kawakami said before turning to the rest of the class. “Everyone, I’m sure you already know her, but Suzui-chan has decided to transfer back to Shujin Academy and she’ll join our class for the rest of the year. Please give her a warm welcome.”

Shiho made her way to the front of the classroom to introduce herself after Kawakami had introduced her to do so, telling them about how she wanted to spend senior year with her friends and how she was glad to be back, before making her way over to the empty desk next to Ann, smiling brightly the moment she made eye contact with her.

Ann smiled back, feeling her heart beat rapidly inside her chest, despite the fact that her mind was filled with a million questions. Why hadn’t Shiho told her about this? Why were her hands suddenly feeling clammy? Why was her heart feeling like it wanted to jump out of her throat? Is this what falling for someone felt like? Or had she already fallen for her? Because if she did Ann certainly wasn’t enjoying everything that came with that. She had so many questions for Shiho, but she quickly realized she would have to wait until her class ended, especially since Shiho hadn’t told her about it and the fact that she had to wait until their lunch break to get answers was killing her.

After what felt like an eternity class finally ended, causing Ann to let out a sigh of relief before noticing Shiho was looking at her like she wanted to ask her something. “Want to get lunch together Ann-chan? We can eat it in the courtyard like we used to do,” Shiho asked, sounding a bit shy, surprising Ann a little because Shiho was generally quite upfront with her. She noticed that Ryuji and Akira were waiting for her too, but she signaled them that it was okay for them to have lunch without her. She really wanted to talk to Shiho right now, and while she was sure her friends wouldn’t mind it if she brought Shiho with her this was something she needed to do on her own.

“Sure,” Ann smiled, causing Shiho to smile back as she excitedly grabbed her back before she pulled Ann’s arm to make their way to the courtyard together. It reminded Ann of how life used to be, before Kamoshida, before Shiho’s…accident, but she also knew that a lot of things had changed since then and even though she was no longer a Phantom Thief, the experience had changed her forever.

No one seemed to really pay attention to the two of them making their way to the courtyard, sitting down in their old spot once they had reached their destination.

“I missed this so much,” Shiho said, smiling at Ann. “Did you do too?”

Shiho’s smile made Ann feel weak, she suddenly felt vulnerable, like Shiho could see through her completely and she did not like it. It reminded her of how she was let down in the past, by her parents…even by her friends, by everyone who she had ever loved. Whenever she allowed herself to be vulnerable, she always got hurt and Ann was not ready to let that happen again, momentarily wondering if she ever was before realizing Shiho was still waiting for her answer.

“I missed you…” Ann muttered, looking away a little.

“But…?” Shiho clarified. Her voice sounded so understanding…as if she already knew what Ann was going to say.

“I just didn’t expect you to come back here. You didn’t say anything…and for you to show up out of the blue really threw me off…I like that you’re back Shiho, I really do, but why didn’t you say anything?” Ann admitted before slamming her hand over her mouth in shock, she had not meant to say that. Well she had, just not like that. She would’ve phrased it more carefully if she had thought about it beforehand.

Ann could swear she could see a look for sadness flash across Shiho’s face, momentarily making her look like the downtrodden girl from the year before, before it changed back to a more happy expression as she grabbed Ann’s hand.

“I’m sorry Ann-chan. I should’ve told you. I just wanted to surprise you.”

Shiho sounded incredibly sincere and Ann knew the apology was genuine but part of her was still bothered by all of this and she didn’t quite understand why.

“Don’t worry about it Shiho, it’s just that…” Ann said, before Shiho held up her hand to cut Ann off.

“But you built up a life here while I was gone. You’ve got new friends to hang out with and you don’t just want to throw all of that away, right?”

“I mean it’s not…” Ann stammered, taken aback by the fact that Shiho was pretty much saying what she felt deep down. She liked that Shiho was back…but she wasn’t sure how to fit her into her school life anymore. She figured they could see each other outside of school, especially since the Phantom Thieves were over, and she hadn’t expect to be confronted like this.

“It’s fine Ann-chan, I get it…I should have told you, I’m sorry,” Shiho said before she stood up and turned around, Ann grabbing her arm before she could run away.

“Shiho wait…” Ann muttered. “Don’t go…I do want you around too! I just don’t know how to combine the two.”

“I realized that…” Shiho whispered. “So I’m making the choice for you. Transferring back was a mistake…”

“Don’t say that! I’m sure we can make it work…” Ann pleaded. “Don’t go Shiho, please…”

Shiho turned around, tears in her eyes, as she nodded at Ann.

“I’d like that Ann-chan…”

Ann pulled Shiho close, repeating her own words in her head over and over again. They would make their friendship work again…even if, deep down, Ann had no idea how...and...there was also the fact that she wanted to be more than just friends too...

“Do you think you’d like to eat lunch with me and my friends?” Ann suggested, figuring she should at least try and suggest something.

“You mean Ryuji and that other guy? What was his name again, Akira?” Shiho asked, causing Ann to nod. “Do you think they’d like me?”

“I’m sure they will, don’t worry about it!” Ann said confidently as she sighed in relief, maybe this didn’t have to be incredibly hard after all…

Yusuke Kitagawa

Yusuke glanced down at Futaba in worry. She was holding his hand tightly, but other than that it seemed like she was alright so far. It was her first day at Kosei and Yusuke had decided to pick her up in the morning so they could to school together. He had forgotten how expensive the train fare was, especially since he lived at Kosei so he didn’t have to take a train very often, but seeing the smile on his girlfriend’s face when he stood in the doorway had made that all worth it.

Sojiro had insisted he’d take his daughter to school, something Futaba had constantly resisted, but he seemed to finally relent once Yusuke had offered to come pick her up instead.

It was still really weird for him to think of Futaba as his girlfriend, he had honestly never really thought about love before he met her, but it felt good. She made him feel good…and she honestly had ever since the day they met. “Inari”, the name she used to call him, went from an insult to a pet name and he had grown really fond of it…and fond of her as well.

They were currently at the opening assembly, their principal rambling on about the history of Kosei, while Futaba seemed to look around. Was she looking for someone?

“Are you okay Futaba? You seem shifty…” Yusuke whispered, a slightly concerned tone lacing his voice.

“I’m just looking for Kana-chan, I thought she’d be here…” Futaba answered, looking up at him momentarily before resuming what she called her “scan of the premises”.

The way Futaba always came up with videogame related terms was another thing Yusuke adored about her. He honestly wasn’t really into playing games himself, he’d rather leave that to the Ryuji among others, but he liked how much joy it gave Futaba and he didn’t mind watching her play while he was sketching.

“Do you want me to help look for her?” Yusuke offered, knowing how important the other girl was to Futaba. Honestly, he had never met her before but based on the stories Futaba had told him he knew that they used to be close friends. It would certainly put his mind at ease too, if they’d manage to find Kana before the opening assembly ended, because that way he could leave Futaba with her and he’d be certain she wouldn’t be alone.

“Futaba-chan?” Yusuke looked around to see a girl with brown hair in braided pigtails walk up to them. “I’m so glad I finally found you!”

Yusuke looked at Futaba, who smiled brightly, before realizing that this girl must be Kana.

“Kana-chan! I’m so glad you’re here. I was afraid I was going to have to embark on this quest alone…” Futaba said happily before Kana gave her a hug, smiling.

“Of course not, we’re going to take this one on together!”

Yusuke couldn’t help but feel a little jealous, he never really had friends before he had met the Phantom Thieves although to be quite fair he hadn’t particularly cared for it either.

“Is this the boyfriend you told me about?” Kana inquired after letting go of Futaba as she seemed to start examining Yusuke.

“Yes, this is Inari!” Futaba answered proudly.

“Inari?” Kana asked, looking confused. “That is a really weird name…”

“I’m Yusuke, Yusuke Kitagawa. It’s nice to meet you Kana,” Yusuke pointed out, interrupting their conversation as he held out his hand to Kana.

She shook his hand, smiling. “I see, so your name isn’t Inari then?”

“My name isn’t Inari,” Yusuke confirmed quickly. As much as he liked the nickname, he did not need someone else calling him Inari too. Especially since Kana would probably stick around for a while.

The opening assembly ended a bit after Futaba had reunited with Kana, causing Yusuke to realize it was time for them to part ways. They agreed to meet up for lunch before Yusuke headed to Minami’s classroom. They were going to discuss the painting he was going to submit for the art scholarship.

“Yusuke-kun, did you bring what I asked?” Minami asked when he entered the classroom. She had changed her look quite a bit since Yusuke last saw her. Her long brown hair was now braided and she wore a pair of reading glasses, making her look a lot older.

“I did Minami-san, you wanted me to bring my best sketches, correct?” Yusuke replied, causing Minami to nod before gesturing him to take a seat at her desk. She had e-mailed him during his break about whether he had managed to decide on a painting to submit yet, especially since the deadline for that was looming, but when he told her he hadn’t she had insisted he'd bring his sketchbook with him the day school started back up because she had an idea.

“Do you know why I wanted you to bring them?” Minami asked after he had made his way over to her desk, seating himself across from her.

“I’m not sure…” Yusuke confessed, and he honestly didn’t. There were only 3 weeks left to submit anything and it would probably be for the best if he just submitted one of the paintings he had worked on last year.

Minami sighed before she took the sketchbook Yusuke had brought with him. “Can you tell me which one you’re the most passionate about?”

“Oh! Right away!” Yusuke exclaimed enthusiastically, catching both him and Minori by surprise as he took his sketchbook back from her to show her the sketch he was most excited about.

It was a drawing he had made right after he and Futaba had started dating, showing her as a strong Egyptian queen looking over a desert filled with pyramids.

“It’s…beautiful, when did you draw this?” Minami wondered, causing Yusuke to tell her that it had been in his sketchbook for a couple of months now.

“Is she an important person in your life?” Minami then asked, making Yusuke blush as he quietly nodded. “You should ask her for permission then.”

“Permission for what?” Yusuke wondered, unsure what Minami was getting at.

“To turn this into your entry piece, because I think we’ve just found the winning painting. It radiates passion and you can see you really love this girl. I feel that if the judges see that, they’ll give you the scholarship for sure,” Minami explained with a soft smile.

Yusuke just nodded, unsure how to respond. Was Minami right? Would this painting be enough…and how would he even ask Futaba about this?

He sighed, he certainly had a lot to think about now as he prayed that nothing else was going to occupy his mind anytime soon…

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

Something had felt off to Akira all day but he hadn’t been able to figure out what it was until Ryuji asked him a certain question while they were eating lunch together: “I wonder what happened to Mishima…Normally he hangs around us, doesn’t he?”

And Ryuji had been correct, Mishima had been missing all day. At first Akira thought that maybe the guy was avoiding him and Ryuji. They probably deserved as much, having more or less neglected him after Akira had gone to jail, and honestly even before that. He had in a way outlived his use to them, with the Metaverse being gone, and neither Akira, Ryuji nor any of their friends had bothered to stay in touch with him. Honestly, the more Akira thought about how he and his friends had treated Mishima, the guiltier he felt about it. They had more or less just used him for information…and that was wrong. He would apologize for that the next time he saw him and perhaps he would try and become genuine friends with him, instead of using the fact that Mishima idolized him and the other Phantom Thieves meaning they could pretty much get away with anything.

Except that that seemed to be harder than he expected. The day was almost over and there had been no sign of Mishima whatsoever. He hadn’t seen him in school, which, despite technically being possible due to students being mixed to create new groups, seemed weird to him. 

“Earth to Akira, hello?” Ryuji asked, waving his hand in front of his face after their final class ended.

“Huh?” Akira responded, being pulled out of his thoughts by Ryuji’s statement.

“Dude, you were like, totally spacing out! I’ve been trying to talk to you for about 5 minutes now,” Ryuji pouted, causing Akira to let out a sigh before he started putting the things on his desk in his bag.

“Sorry, I’ve just been thinking a lot,” Akira explained, causing Ryuji to raise his eyebrows before he looked at him with a confused look.

“About what? Even I understood the things they explained in class today…” Ryuji wondered before a smile showed up on his face. “Does that mean I get to tutor you for once?”

“It’s not about class Ryuji…” Akira sighed causing the smile on Ryuji’s face to fade, only to make place for a worried expression.

“What's it about then?” he asked, sounding concerned. “It’s nothing bad is it?”

“It’s just…Mishima. I know we’ve been poor friends to him but it seems like he’s completely disappeared. Isn’t that odd?” Akira pondered, causing Ryuji to let down a sigh as he let himself drop in the seat in front of Akira.

“I guess it’s kinda weird but honestly maybe he just doesn’t really want to talk to us now that we’re no longer, ya know, Phantom Thieves,” Ryuji stated, whispering the last bit which made Akira a little proud. Seemed like Ryuji had finally learnt how to be discreet. “But why don’t you ask Kawakami if it bothers you so much?”

Akira thought for a moment, maybe Ryuji was right, he could just ask Kawakami about Mishima. That would certainly solve this mystery. Another part of him felt like this was none of his business though, if Mishima was avoiding him and the others, would it be wrong for him to just…go after him like this?

After mulling it over he told Ryuji he would check up on him later before making his way to the counselor’s office, hoping Kawakami would be there. He figured he could always head to the teacher’s lounge if he couldn’t find her, but he’d rather not ask the other teachers about her. Kawakami had told him about their lack of support while he was in prison, and while he understood it, it also made him dislike most of them.

When he finished making his way over to the office he knocked on the door, hearing Kawakami’s voice telling him to come in moments after.

“Akira-kun? What is it? Is everything alright?” Kawakami asked when she saw him standing in the doorway, motioning him to close the door behind him before he made his way over and sat down across from her.

“I’m fine, there's just something that's been bothering me and I was wondering if you could help me out?” Akira said quickly, dismissing his own well-being. Prison had honestly damaged him, a lot, but he wasn’t ready to talk about that with Kawakami…or anyone else for that matter and he wondered if he ever could.

Kawakami sighed, rolling her eyes as she looked like she was about to say something before she seemed to relax and dismiss whatever point she wanted to make.

“What do you need help with?”

“I was wondering about Mishima…He’s no longer part of our class and I didn’t see him around school today either, is he alright?” Akira asked, causing Kawakami to blink a couple of times before she shook her head.

“You know I can’t divulge that information to you, right?” she questioned, raising her eyebrows.

“It’s just…he knows about, well, us…” Akira explained, sending a knowing look that caused Kawakami to immediately understand what was going on as she turned on the computer.

“I see, well I can check his records…I was honestly a bit surprised when I found out he wasn’t in my class anymore…” she mused as she waited for the computer to boot. “So what about you? How is your first day back at Shujin going for you?”

“It’s been alright, really. I’m just glad I managed to still start my senior year after everything that happened,” Akira responded and that was true. After all the time he had spent time in prison, he had wondered if he would have even been allowed to pass to his senior year year but to his surprise, there had been no problems at all.

“Well, you had amazing grades so there was no reason to hold you back. Besides, I may have pulled a few strings,” Kawakami smiled, giving him a small wink, before she turned to her computer.

“It says here…wait, that’s weird…” she muttered, clearly shocked by what she saw on her screen.

“What is it?” Akira asked, feeling a tad worried. Was something wrong with Mishima?

“It says here that he transferred to the Olympian Academy, but I’ve never heard of that school before…” Kawakami explained, furrowing her brow as she seemed to try and look something up on her computer. “I know every school in Tokyo and I swear that this one shouldn’t exist…”

Hearing those words somehow worried Akira even more. He knew he hadn’t been that close with Mishima, well ever, but he expected to at least get a text about something as big as transferring school.

“Hmm, it says they opened last year and it’s a school for particularly gifted students. Apparently they’re sponsored by a company called the Olympian Corporation…” Kawakami mused, pretty much reading along to the words that popped up on her screen. “I guess I must’ve missed it because of all the Phantom Thief business…”

“The Olympian Corporation…?” Akira repeated. He knew he had seen advertisements for it around town over the past few weeks but they hadn't seemed noteworthy.

“Apparently they’re a really big multinational that’s been around for years,” Kawakami explained although she didn’t seem convinced. “It’s really weird though because even though everyone acts like they've always been there, I swear it didn’t show up until a few months ago…Right after you guys stopped being Phantom Thieves actually…”

“So Mishima just changed schools?” Akira clarified causing Kawakami to nod.

“I guess so, I still find it a bit odd that I didn’t know but I guess I was so wrapped up in helping you get out of prison that it must have slipped my mind…” Kawakami answered, seemingly trying to reassure Akira…and herself, for that matter. “I’m sure he’s fine, don’t worry about it Akira-kun.”

Akira nodded, excusing himself after Kawakami told him she had to get back to her work. She had certainly given him a lot to think about. So Mishima had transferred schools and said school was sponsored by a huge company that he, nor Kawakami, had ever heard of? That seemed weirdly convenient but perhaps he was just imagining things.

He decided to shrug it off for now although maybe he should try and contact Mishima to see what was up.

Deep down though, he couldn’t help but feel a terrible feeling down in his gut…like something big was about to happen and he couldn’t quite shake that feeling off as he decided to head home for the day…

Futaba Sakura

“Your boyfriend is so cool Futaba-chan,” Kana chirped excitedly, causing Futaba to blush. She was not used to someone talking to her about Yusuke. They had just finished having lunch with him and while it was enjoyable, Futaba had felt like something was off about him. Like he wanted to ask her something but couldn’t quite work up the nerve to do it. Maybe it was because Kana was there though, so she resolved that she would ask him once they had some time alone.

This questline seemed to be going smoothly though, going back to school was a lot easier than she had expected and now that she had found a party member things were proceeding along smoothly. She certainly had expected it to be way worse, remembering how anxious she was the day before it started. She wasn’t the only one nervous about it either, she knew Sojiro was too…and even Yusuke and Akira had seemed worried about her.

She sighed, thinking back about how Sojiro had explained to her how he was going to hire help with Leblanc so he could support her actively during her journey back to school. He wanted to make sure he was home whenever she got home, so that she would have someone to talk to if she needed it. She suspected he also wanted to work a bit less, he had been working an awful lot over the past few years and it seemed like he was doing decently money-wise. Luckily she liked the help he had hired too, one of them being Haru, who she would always talk to whenever she was at Leblanc, and the other one being Touma. She wasn’t sure how to feel about him, but he seemed nice enough, even if Haru had told her otherwise, and he made really good curry. Almost as good as Sojiro's...

“I didn’t mean to fluster you…” Kana apologized after a bit, causing Futaba to realize she had accidentally ignored her friend.

“Oh no I’m sorry, I was just thinking!” Futaba responded quickly, causing a smile to return Kana’s face. “We should really hurry to our next class though! It’s our first class involving computers and I’m really excited!”

Kana looked at the clock in the hallway before nodding quickly. “Oh no it’s almost time, we gotta run!” she yelled, grabbing Futaba’s arm as they hurried to make their way to their classroom in time causing Futaba to smile. She used to hate school but she loved this and she was hoping it would never get more complicated than this.

The class however, wasn’t as exciting as Futaba had expected. It was really easy, like ridiculously easy. This was like a tutorial quest while she was already at the programming endgame and it made her feel disappointed for the first time today. They had been paired up into groups, after an hour-long introduction that felt like a century, for the rest of the year to work on creating different applications throughout the year. It pretty much came down to one application each semester but they were all ridiculously easy. Futaba could put all of them together in like, 2 days.

Still, Kana and the other girl in their group, a girl with long blonde curly hair named Hitomi Kanade, seemed really excited to start working on it and Futaba didn’t want to ruin their fun. She didn’t like having to pretend to be clueless though…especially since she knew exactly how to make all of these and she didn’t want to look like she was stupid or unintelligent. She was proud of her intelligence and part of her really wanted to show that off. Shouldn’t one show off the parts of themselves that they’re the most proud of?

“I’m so excited to start working together with you two!” Hitomi said excitedly after she had joined Futaba and Kana at their desk.

“I am too, I’m sure we’ll all be great friends, right Futaba-chan?” Kana responded before turning towards Futaba with an expectant look on her face.

Futaba just nodded, she wasn’t sure how to feel about this new girl…She never liked knew people but maybe Hitomi wasn’t too bad, she seemed nice at the very least.

“Are you not using the school-issued computer Sakura-san?” Futaba heard a voice say to her from behind. “That is highly irregular…”

She turned around to see her teacher standing behind her. He was looking at her disapprovingly but Futaba had an answer prepared for this, an answer that would be sure to win his approval.

“I mean no offense sir but I’m sure that my custom-made Futabatop-3000 would be better than a school-issued computer. I put it together myself and it’s filled with the most high-end top of the line technology one could get their hands on. I am very sure that I can use it for any of my upcoming school projects,” Futaba explained proudly, both Hitomi and Kana looking at her in awe. During her speech Futaba did take a moment to look around though, noticing that all of the other students were using a laptop model that she had never seen before. It had a weird symbol on it, an “O’ and a “C” intertwined, which she assumed as the company logo for whatever company the laptops originated from.

“Are you sure Sakura-san? These laptops there were kindly provided by Kosei’s newest sponsor are said to be very powerful computers,” her teacher argued back. “But if you’re sure, then I suppose I can let it slide for now. Can I trust you to get one of your school-issued laptops if our assignments become too much for your personal one?”

Futaba nodded before the teacher moved away to check on a different group.

“I don’t like him, my laptop is probably way better than these school-issued laptops…” Futaba muttered under a breath, causing both Kana and Hitomi to smile at her in supportively.

“I mean, I can show you the specifications. I do think I got them somewhere in my bag,” Hitomi offered before she starting rustling through her bag, trying to find the document which she pulled out moments later before handing it to Futaba.

Futaba grabbed it immediately, her face going white with shock as she was reading through the pages.

“This…this isn’t possible…” she whispered. “This has to be some kind of mistake…”

“What is a mistake Futaba-chan?” Kana asked as both her and Hitomi looked at Futaba in confusion.

Futaba didn’t pay attention to them anymore though, her brain trying to make sense of the specifications she had just read. If there was one thing Futaba knew a lot about, it was computers and how they worked and that’s why she knew that this was not possible. Not even desktops could be this powerful, let alone a laptop, and why would a company even offer laptops like this to a school, of all places? These laptops, ignoring the fact that they should be impossible to manufacture, would cost a fortune but this “Olympian Corporation”, was handing them out like they’re candy. What was this corporation anyways, she had never heard of them before seeing the name on the spec file, and yet…they were able to create something this powerful? She would have known about their existence and it was really weird that she had never heard of them before.

“Can we work on the assignment now, I really wanna pass it,” Hitomi asked, snapping Futaba out of her thought as she nodded. She supposed she could spare about 40% of her brain capacity helping Hitomi and Kana out, she honestly wouldn’t need more. The rest of her brain could keep trying to solve this puzzle since one thing was for sure, there was something fishy going on with this Olympian Corporation. No company should be able to make laptops like this, it was just not possible, and Futaba, Futaba was going to get to the bottom of why they were able to as she realized high school was going to be just a side quest, with easy objectives, after all. This, this was going to be her main quest and she may even need to reunite the Phantom Thieves to get help with her investigation…

Mysterious Man

“This was all the information Aphrodite was able to gather from the boy?” the man asked as he looked over the files that were handed to him. So these were the former Phantom Thieves, Akira Kurusu, Ryuji Sakamato, Ann Takamaki, Yusuke Kitagawa, Makoto Niijima, Futaba Sakura and Haru Okumura.

“That is correct,” his secretary told him. “And the boy is completely controlled by her, there is no way he would ever attempt to break free or contact them.”

“That’s good, you can go now,” the man responded, dismissing his secretary. He hated having to use human pawns. Humans were filthy and clueless, this one didn’t even realize he was being mind-controlled himself, and he despised them. They had banished him and his fellow gods from this world and for that they needed to pay the price.

“Perhaps it’s time to eliminate them before they come a problem…” the man mused quietly. He knew the Phantom Thieves had been neutralized for now, but he couldn’t exactly let the 7 of them roam free, now could he? Especially seeing how them being part of his undoing had been prophesied by Delphi. Furthermore, by neutralizing them he could also ensure the final 3, especially the final one, would never awaken, eliminating them before they would even become a problem.

He smiled maliciously. Everything was going according to plan. Ares was almost done preparing his army and that’s when the games could truly begin, and he for one was going to enjoy every second of it…

Chapter Text

Makoto Niijima

“Are you sure you’re not staying this weekend Mako-chan?” Erika pouted when she saw Makoto packing her suitcase. “This is the second weekend in a row…”

“I’m sorry Erika, I promised my friends I’d go to Hanami with them but I promise to hang out with you and Masaru soon,” Makoto answered after shaking her head in response to Erika's question.

Part of her did feel bad about leaving for the second weekend in a row. Both Erika and Masaru had put a lot of effort into getting to know her, and each other, and here she was, leaving every weekend to spend time with her high school friends. To be fair, they were more than just “high school friends” after everything they had been through together but still, she should probably invest in the people she would spent all her time at the police academy around.

“We better! You’ve been missing out!” she said cheerfully, her face reverting back to a smile. “Do you need any help packing? I got nothing better to do and at least we can chat that way!”

“I mean, I am almost done but thanks for offering,” Makoto replied with a smile before she closed up her suitcase. She had packed everything she needed for a three-day trip back home. She was staying with her sister and she had to admit that it was something she was kind of excited about. She hadn’t been able to spent time alone with her at all last weekend, Teru constantly hovering around the apartment as well, but hopefully they would be able to spend some time with just the two of them this time around.

Makoto was about to say something to Erika when her phone buzzed, revealing that Sae and the others were already waiting for her at the entrance.

“Was that your sister?” Erika inquired, causing Makoto to nod at her before Erika clapped her hands together. “We have to get going then! Shall I help carry your things?”

“It’s just a suitcase and a bag Erika…” Makoto tried, but Erika had already grabbed Makoto’s bag and was walking towards to door. Makoto quickly threw on her coat before grabbing her suitcase as she headed after Erika. “Shouldn’t you put on a coat before you head outside?”

“I’m just walking with you to your sister’s car, I’ll be fine!” Erika said cheerfully before heading outside, barely giving Makoto a chance to say her goodbyes to Masaru before quickly hurrying after redhead. Erika really was full of energy and that was definitely something Makoto would have to get used to…

“Who was your spunky redheaded friend?” Sae asked after explaining to Makoto that they were going to head straight to Dome Town for Hanami instead of going back home first. Futaba, Yusuke and, to Makoto’s surprise, Akira were sitting in the back of the car, all of them eager to hear an answer from Makoto as well. And so she answered, telling them about Erika and how she was placed in a squad with her and Masaru. She hadn’t really told any of them about her experiences at the police academy so it was nice she was able to do so now.

“I am wondering about one thing though, why are you here Akira? Wouldn’t you want to be in the same car as Ryuji?” Makoto asked after she finished telling them about how the last 2 weeks had treated her.

“I don’t really mind. Besides I see Ryuji all week while I rarely get to see you, so it’s all good!” he answered with a smile, reminding Makoto that he was still her best friend. She had been dreading that moving away would damage their friendship but it seemed like she had been overly paranoid. They pretty much texted each other every day, telling one another about their days and while they couldn’t see each other as much anymore Makoto still felt really close to him.

“Speaking of the others, where did they go? Wasn’t their car right behind us?” Futaba asked, causing the others to look backwards as well.

Makoto turned around as well, causing her to realize that Futaba was indeed right. The red car that had been waiting behind Sae’s when she was picking her up had seemingly disappeared right as they got close to Dome Town.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait for them at the entrance,” Sae sighed as he took the final turn before they reached their destination.

“I’m sure they’re fine right, sis? Don’t they have Teru with them and he’s like the oldest out of all of us,” Makoto pointed out, not sure why her sister sounded slightly worried.

“That is exactly what I’m worried about…” her sister responded, causing Makoto to feel worried as well before she locked eyes with Akira.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine! Ryuji is with them too,” Akira pointed out, trying to lift the worried mood that was hanging over them before his face twisted a little before he sighed. “Wait that may actually make things worse…”

“Haru and Ann are there too, I’m sure they’ll be able to control those two…” Yusuke pointed out, something which Futaba quickly confirmed as Sae parked their car in the parking lot before they got out and made their way over to the entrance. Makoto couldn’t help but feel a small feeling of dread to well up inside of her though. The others were fine right? They had to be…

Haru Okumura

“Sir, could you please get out of the car?”

Haru couldn’t believe what was happening as she saw a frustrated Teru get out of their car. They had been pulled over to the side by a police car for a reason she, and the rest of them, didn’t quite understand. Teru had been driving safely so all of this didn’t make sense to her.

“What the hell is happening, do you think we’re all screwed?” Ryuji asked loudly, causing both Ann and Haru to shush him as they tried to hear the conversation that was going on outside.

“I told you, I borrowed to car. I’ve shown you my license. I’ve done nothing illegal so could you please allow me to continue my journey?” Teru asked, holding his driver’s license in his hand.

“We’ve gotten a report that this car was stolen and you know that we can’t just ignore a crime like that, right?” the police man argued back as he signaled for his partner to make his way over to Teru as well. That made no sense to Haru. The car they were in belong to her late father’s company and she had arranged for it to be available today. It should not have been reported stolen, that was really fishy.

“I know my rights, I’m a lawyer. I’ve done nothing illegal and you can’t do anything unless you have concrete proof,” Teru explained, sounding very frustrated, which seemed to piss the police officers off.

“Could you please turn around sir,” the police man asked, grabbing Teru’s arm to forcefully turn him around when he refused to do so.

“Hey! Let go off me!” Teru yelled, causing the police man’s partner to help restrain him.

“We have to get out to help him!” Ryuji yelped as he undid his seat belt, causing Haru to signal Ann to hold Ryuji back as he undid her own seat belt to get out of the car. Knowing Ryuji, he would start to try and fight the cops which would make matters way worse and that would not help any of them right now. No what was needed now was diplomacy and Haru realized that she was probably the only one who had any chance at succeeding.

“Excuse me, sir?” Haru said, facing the two police men who were trying to restrain Teru, as she cleared her throat. “I am afraid there has been a misunderstanding.”

“Please head back into the car little girl while we take this man to the station with us for questioning,” the police man responded, not even bothering to take a look at Haru, but she would not have any of it as she slammed her hand against the side of the car, causing both Teru and the officers to look up at her.

“I said there has been a mistake,” she repeated sharply. “This car belongs to my late father’s company and I have arranged us to be able to borrow it today. If you would like, I could call the CEO right now and have him come over here to explain this all to you in person. I am quite sure that the head of Okumura Foods has better things to do with his time though and I would hate for them to cut their sponsorship to the police force.”

She glared at the officers once she had finished her speech, hoping they wouldn’t see through her bluff. She honestly doubted that Mr. Takakura would come over here, especially after she more or less cut ties with the company, but these officers did not have to know that and her plan seemed to be working as they had let go of Teru and were whispering nervously to one another.

“I…think recognize her from the newspaper?” she could hear one of them say.

“Yeah…Isn’t she like this daughter?”

“Wait does that mean we could screw over the entire force…?”

Hearing them talk like that caused Haru to realize that now it was time to deliver the final blow as she cleared her throat once more.

“Of course, gentlemen, no one has to know if you release my friend over there and allow us to make our way over to our destination,” she stated, putting as much force behind her voice as she could.

The officers looked at each other for a moment before nodding, muttering a quick apology to Teru before they made their way back to their own car as Teru and Haru made their way back inside their own.

Haru couldn’t help but laugh at the sight she saw when she opened the door.

“Let me go Ann, let me at them!” Ryuji yelled, struggling to remove Ann’s arms that were surrounding him.

“No Ryuji, you can’t beat up the cops…oh, they’re back…” Ann said, quickly letting go off Ryuji as she seemed to straighten herself before leaning back in her seat. “What happened out there?”

“It seems like they thought we stole this car,” Teru said, sounding frustrated, as he started the car back up. “If it wasn’t for Haru, they would’ve probably taken me in for questioning so I really owe her one. Thank you.”

“It…it was nothing,” Haru muttered, blushing from the attention she suddenly got, especially once both Ryuji and Ann thanked her as well.

“I have to admit I was a bit surprised though, you’re such a sweet and soft-spoken girl, to see you stand up to those officers…That takes real guts!” Teru added, sounding genuinely surprised before he focused on the road again as he started talking with Ryuji.

“So what did you do?” Ann asked, causing Haru to tell her about the confrontation between her and the police officers. The other girl’s eyes going wide from shock after Haru had finished telling her story.

“Wow, I knew you had it in you but damn, that’s impressive Haru!”

“I-it’s really nothing Ann-chan. I just had to help Teru-san and those officers were being unfair to him! Accusing him of something he didn’t do. I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing…” Haru responded, still sounding a bit flustered.

“How about you apply that logic to your own issue?” Ann suggested, causing Haru to look at her in surprise before realizing she was talking about her problems with Touma. “I mean, you feel like he’s treating you unfairly right? Why don’t you call him out on it like you called those officers out?”

“Touma-kun’s my senpai, I shouldn’t disrespect him,” Haru answered, but she deep down she knew that Ann had a point. Touma was treating her exactly like how those police officers were treating Teru and if she was being honest, she was quite sick of it.

He didn’t have to be rude to her all the time. She was good at brewing coffee and she had even convinced Sojiro to let her add some of her home-made salads to Leblanc’s menu. Sure her salads weren’t as popular as Touma’s curry, yet, but they were good and she had gotten a lot of compliments from the customers that had tried them.

“I still think you should stand up to him, you clearly have it in you!” Ann stated resolutely before putting her hand on Haru’s shoulder as she smiled at her. “Just do it when you’re ready.”

And Haru, Haru decided that she would. She would stand up to Touma, as soon as she mustered up to courage to do so anyways…

Teru Tendo

Teru breathed out a sigh of relief when he finally managed to get his group to Dome Town, parking the borrowed car before he and the others got out. They had somehow managed to get here unscathed, even if they were way later than he had anticipated.

“Do I even want to know what happened to you guys?” Sae asked the moment Teru’s group rejoined hers, pointing out that her group had been waiting at the entrance for a little less than an hour. They all seemed pretty worried too, causing Teru to feel a bit guilty, especially since he was pretty much responsible for the entire debacle in the first place. Well, he wasn’t exactly responsible but he felt like he was. He definitely hadn’t made things better at any rate and if it hadn’t been for Haru, he’d probably be in jail right now.

“Can we…not talk about that?” Teru suggested causing Sae to raise an eyebrow at him before pointing out that while he would have to tell her later she would let go off it for now.

They had spent a couple of hours in Dome Town and it had been really fun before Teru, along with Ryuji, found himself carrying the food they had bought for everyone to the spot they had decided to set up as their dinner place. Yusuke had found an empty spot in-between a lot of cherry blossoms trees and after discussing it with the others they had decided to use it to eat dinner. Haru, Sae and Makoto had brought along a couple of picnic blankets which the others were setting up while Teru and Ryuji were in charge of getting food. He had really enjoyed himself this afternoon, he honestly felt like he was living the life he had never been able to live.

“I can’t believe you got even sicker than me on the rollercoaster, man!” Ryuji joked, causing Teru to glare at him. Normally he would’ve grabbed the younger boy, but seeing how he was holding boxes of food now, that was pretty impossible. “The great invincible Teru, bested by a rollercoaster!”

“You got sick too!” Teru retorted and it was true. After they, along with Akira, Makoto, Ann and Haru had gotten off the rollercoaster he and Ryuji had to run for the nearest restroom. Both of them feeling incredibly nauseous. Sae and Futaba had laughed at them before pointing out that that was the exact reason why the two of them hadn’t gone on the rollercoaster with them. Yusuke agreed with Sae and Futaba, before saying the he was sad he couldn’t deal with rollercoasters because he would be able to get a great view of the entire park that way.

“Look there’s the food!” Yusuke said excitedly once Ryuji and Teru had made their way back over to the others. Teru was genuinely surprised by how homely his friends had made their spot look. He figured that it was just going to be a couple of picnic blankets spread out on the ground but the girls had brought along enough pillows for everyone and it ended up looking pretty cozy.

“Looks like you did a great job on getting food at least,” Sae teased as she leaned in to give Teru a peck on his cheek.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Teru responded as a small smile covered his face.

“Your driving skills,” Sae answered before sitting down together with him, resting her head on his shoulder. “I’m glad we get to share this moment together.”

“I’m glad too,” Teru agreed before deciding to try some of the food in front of him as he decided to relax a little, he definitely needed to after the whole police debacle.

It seemed like the others were also enjoying themselves. Futaba and Yusuke had cuddled up together, feeding each other food and Teru noticed that Ryuji and Akira were doing something similar. The other girls, Makoto, Haru, Ann were excitedly chatting together. Catching each other up on how their lives were proceeding now that they weren’t able to see each other every day.

Everything was fun and relaxed until Teru and the others were momentarily blinded by a bright flash of light, causing Teru, along with the others, to jump up in shock.

“What the effin’ hell was that?” Ryuji yelled, looking as startled as the rest of them.

“Is everyone okay?” Ann asked, everyone quickly confirming that they were before Makoto raised her voice in worry.

“Guys…look around,”

“What do you mean…Oh,” Futaba retorted before realizing what Teru had also realized. It was as if time had frozen. The people around them were not moving, in fact, they looked kind of faded out…as if they had all been transported to another world.

“Wait, why are Teru and Sae unaffected?” Akira pointed out. “We’re the former Phantom Thieves, which is what I assume to be the reason we can still move, but they’re not.”

“You do have a point, but I think we should worry about that later,” Sae responded, her voice sounding slightly scared. “Take a look at the lake…”

“What…are those?” Haru said, causing Teru to look towards the lake only to see what looked like ethereal blue butterflies hovering over it.

When he looked at them he felt as if some force was pulling him towards them. He really wanted to make his way over to them, he had to…They were so majestic, so beautiful and it was like they were trying to tell him something...

“Is anyone else feeling like we have to…go over to them?” Teru wondered, unsure if the others were feeling the same kind of pull he was feeling.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Yusuke responded, sounding panicky, and before Teru could ask why he noticed that the butterflies had seemingly noticed them as well as they were flying towards the 9 of them.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I think we should run!” Ryuji shouted, the others agreeing as the butterflies seemed to get bigger the closer they go to them.

“But what about the food…” Yusuke complained before Futaba pulled him along, snarking something about how he could worry about food later.

“…I don’t think we can outrun them,” Teru panted heavily as the butterflies were getting closer to them with every passing second before he decided to stand still. There must’ve been a reason why he had felt like he needed to get close to them and he wanted to know why.

“Teru you idiot, you have to ru-“ Ryuji stammered grabbing Teru’s arm before he realized that it was too late, the others stopping in their tracks as well as Teru broke free of Ryuji’s hold.

He spread his arms wide, realizing that one of the butterflies was going to collide with him as the others seemed to target the rest of his friends.

He had expected some kind of thump when the butterfly hit his chest but to his, and the others’, surprise the butterfly dissolved into a blast of sparkles that caused him to feel warm inside the moment it collided with him.

“W-…what just happened?” he stammered, but no one seemed to have an explanation for the events that had just transpired. He swore he saw one of the butterflies fly off too, but he was in too much of a daze to be certain about that though...

“I…have a theory, but I’ll need to think about it,” Futaba pointed out after everyone had been quiet for a while, no one really knowing what to say. “Could we go home though, I would like to begin with my research immediately…”

“Of course we can Futaba, I’ll take you home right away,” Sae agreed. The others quickly agreeing to go home as well, saying their goodbyes before getting into their respective cars.

Teru was actually a bit sad that their night ended like this, especially since he was going back to his own apartment tonight. He was so used to staying with Sae that his own apartment felt like a distant memory at this point, but he nevertheless had to go back to it now.

“Come on Teru, we’re waiting for you!” Ryuji yelled, causing Teru to realize that he had to make his way over to the car he was driving. He did not want Ryuji to get impatient enough to start trying to drive himself. That was bound to go wrong after all.

When Teru opened the door to his apartment he was greeted by an unpleasant smell that reminded him of the fact that he hadn’t been there for a few weeks now. He should probably find where it was coming from and dispose of whatever was causing it but he was so tired after everything that had happened today that he really couldn’t be bothered.

Maybe the state his apartment was in was a sign, Sae had been hinting for him to officially move in with her and her apartment was a lot nicer than his. They seemed to be getting pretty serious too, he had even been thinking about buying her a ring but he was afraid that’d be moving a bit too fast. Moving in with her would also mean he would no longer have to pay rent for his own apartment, and seeing how his income seemed to diminish every month it would probably be nice if he no longer had to worry about that. Could he really burden Sae with his presence though? He would have to find some way to make himself useful to her, he was 27 years old and that meant that he should not, and would not, freeload off of her.

These were all things he would think about later though as he dropped on his bed, not even bothering to change out of the clothes he had been wearing as he was overcome by a wave of exhaustion he had never felt before, before he drifted off into a deep but uneasy sleep. Today had been too much for him, but what the lawyer did not realize was that it would have been the last day he would be considered a “normal” person…

Futaba Sakura

When Futaba got home she noticed Sojiro wasn’t there yet, not that she minded since this meant she could work uninterrupted as she headed straight to her room to boot up her laptop.  She was going to get to the bottom of this and nothing was going to get in the way of that as she sat down on her bed, her laptop balancing on her legs as she opened the application she had been working on.

She had never fully believed the Metaverse had disappeared but the weirdness surrounding the Olympian Corporation and the weird time freeze phenomenon had convinced her that it's disappearance had been nothing but an elaborate ruse. Someone, probably whoever was behind the Olympian Corporation, wanted them to believe the Metaverse was gone…but she needed proof. She needed proof before she was going to present this to her friends…and maybe Sae and Teru? It was really weird how they were unaffected by the time freeze. They should have been, unless something else was going on, something that Futaba didn’t know about yet.

Now was not the time to think about that though, she was on a mission after all, as the application she had created finally finished loading. It was, what she had dubbed, a dimensional scanner. If anything would prove that the Metaverse still existed, it would be that. She was about to start her scanner before she suddenly felt her head getting heavy, as she felt overcome by exhaustion.

To her own distress, Futaba wasn’t able to keep her eyes open any longer.

“…Why am I so sleepy,” she muttered before she felt herself losing consciousness, dropping backwards on her bed as she fell into a deep sleep.

When Futaba opened her eyes again she found herself on a giant spaceship, looking around in awe before realizing that this was all very familiar to her…She had been here before, this was her mindscape…and more importantly, the place where her Necronomicon used to be…

She turned around when she heard a familiar voice:

“The forbidden wisdom will be revealed once more. No illusions shall deceive you any longer.”

End of Arc 1

Chapter Text

Interlude 1 - Inside Your Mind

Ryuji Sakamoto

When Ryuji opened his eyes he expected to wake up in his bed but he found himself on a pirate ship instead, a very familiar pirate ship.

“Guess you finally decided to show your face again lad.”

Ryuji couldn’t believe his eyes when he turned around to find himself face to face with his Persona, Captain Kidd. Knowing that the skeletal pirate was supposed to be gone, along with the Metaverse, and yet here he was.

“K-…Kidd?” Ryuji muttered. “I thought I’d never see you again…”

“Well, I am inside your mind so it really is up to you,” the skeleton pointed out before motioning Ryuji to follow him, which he did seeing how he had a lot of questions even if Kidd's comment irked him a little.

It wasn’t like he hadn’t tried to contact his Persona through his mind, but after the Metaverse had disappeared he had been completely unable to. Honestly, he had never been really good at it, only really meeting his Persona twice. The day he first awakened and the time he almost died, but he was aware that at least Akira was able to communicate with Arsene regularly so he figured it should at least be possible.

Ryuji pondered more until they arrived at what looked like the ship’s Captain’s Quarters where the skeleton sat down and motioned for Ryuji to do the same.

“Do you know where you are mate?” Kidd asked, causing Ryuji to shake his head. He honestly wasn’t sure where he was anymore. “Then I guess I’ll have to explain to you. This place, this ship, is your mindscape.”

“So…I’m inside my own head?” Ryuji asked, thinking he figured it out, but to his surprise the skeleton shook his head.

“A better way to phrase it would be to say that you’re in a separate dimension that got linked to your mind. This is my world but it became a part of you the moment you made your contract with me.”

“But wait, why wasn’t I able to access this place then? We all lost our freakin’ powers and we weren’t able to enter the Metaverse anymore!” Ryuji yelled in frustration, not understanding any of this, causing the skeleton to look at him with slight disapproval before sighing.

“I’ll get to the first part of your question in a bit, but as for your Metaverse…It’s not a part of this world. The Metaverse is a separate dimension that makes it easier for you to manifest your latent abilities through me, your Persona.”

“But then why wasn’t I able to see you anymore?” Ryuji urged. He wanted to know because the more he heard, the less things made sense to him. If the Metaverse and Kidd's dimension were separate beings, shouldn't he have been able to still speak to the pirate after the Metaverse got destroyed?

The skeleton cleared his throat before looking Ryuji straight into his eyes: “Because they blocked us. There was, what you could call, a Persona block placed on you and your friends.”

“A…Persona block?” Ryuji repeated, his mind filling with millions of questions. What the hell was going on?

Akira Kurusu

So far Arsene’s explanation made sense, the place where he was now was Arsene’s dimension that was linked to his own mind. The reason why Akira had been sent to the velvet room before was because of his connection with Igor, but now that that connection was broken he was sent to what Arsene called his gentlemen hideout. It was pretty gaudy, decorated with playing cards and other kinds of casino-related decorations, but Akira supposed that that was neither here nor there at this point.

“So what’s this Persona block?” Akira asked after Arsene had been quiet for a bit, seemingly collecting his thoughts.

“Ah, yes! The Persona block! One could say that it blocks your ability to communicate with us and access this place. It was a most elaborate ruse, indeed.”

“An elaborate ruse?” Akira questioned, unsure what his Persona meant.

“Indeed, it was a most clever smokescreen. Blocking your resonance with that white flash that took your feline friend away.”

Akira hated the fact that his Persona talked in riddles, but he had to bear it for now as he tried to straighten out the questions that formed inside his head. Figuring he should focus on the term that stood out to him the most.

“Resonance? What’s that?” Akira asked, causing Arsene to look at him in surprise, apparently expecting him to know before tapping his finger against his forehead.

“It’s a special power you were born with, it’s inside your brain you see. It’s what allows you, and your friends, to perceive us and use your powers inside the Metaverse.”

“But we get your powers from you, don’t we?” Akira inquired, unsure what his Persona was getting at as Arsene started to chuckle.

“Not exactly…” his Persona mused with a sly grin. “But that’s not for me to tell. You’ll have to find that out on your own.”

“What do you mean, on my own?” Akira urged. Arsene couldn’t just drop a bombshell like this on him and then expect him to ignore it.

“I am unfortunately bound by an oath, so I cannot tell you. Believe me, I wish I could reveal more than just this. I genuinely do, I swear on my honor as a Phantom Thief,” his Persona answered, seemingly genuine, causing Akira to sigh. This was a lot to take in, and Arsene certainly wasn’t making it easier…

Makoto Niijima

Oath-bound?” Makoto repeated to the nun who was sitting across from her. She still wasn’t used to seeing Johanna outside of her motorcycle form, but here she was. The fierce motorcycle having turned into a proper nun…and her mindscape certainly fit that as well, seeing how Makoto had found herself inside the most beautiful church. The murals on the glass gave away this wasn’t a normal church though, seemingly depicting some kind of story about 10 heroes who sealed away and/or defeated evil. It was quite intriguing honestly, but Makoto knew she had to focus on Johanna’s story right now.

“That is indeed correct, my child. It was the price we had to pay to give our blessing to you and your friends but it was a price worth paying. Especially seeing how evil is threatening to consume the land once more.”

“Evil?” Makoto repeated cautiously, not liking how ominous Johanna sounded.

“There is a reason why the Persona block was put in place, child. They wanted to neutralize those with the power to stop them. They mustn’t be allowed to execute their nefarious plans.”

“They…? There’s more of them?” Makoto inquired, not at all liking where this was going. She thought that things would calm down after they dealt with Shido and Yaldabaoth, but it seemed like they were all a part of something bigger.

“Indeed,” Johanna confirmed, before a slight look of fear filled her eyes. “There are twelve Olympians…”

Haru Okamura

“O-…Olympians? 12 Olympians?” Haru stammered, her face turning white as she sat down in one of the chairs inside Milady’s salon. Her mindscape was really pleasant, looking like a burlesque salon that was decorated with flower-accented decorations but Haru couldn't really appreciate that, considering what she just found out.

“That is correct, princess. There are 12 Olympians that are trying to take over this world,” Milady confirmed solemnly. “If only we would have known earlier…”

“You didn’t know?” Haru repeated, taken aback by the fact that her Persona apparently didn’t know about any of this until recently.

“That is correct. Whatever neutralized the Persona block also awakened my, and I assume my companions’, latent memories. But that awakening means something truly dreadful is about to transpire and you, my dear princess, will be right in the middle of it…”

“In the middle of what?” Haru asked, not liking where this was going one bit.

“Why, the battle which determines the fate of this dimension, of course,” Milady said, confirming the feeling of dread Haru was feeling. She would fight if she had to, but that didn’t mean she wanted to. She had originally become a Phantom Thief to save her father, which failed, and then got wrapped up into the whole thing with Shido…but this wasn’t what Haru had signed up for. She wanted to focus on her future, not on another lengthy battle but she supposed that it couldn’t be helped, resolving to find out everything she could from Milady so she could at least help her friends to end this swiftly.

“So…who are we facing? You referred to them as the Olympians?” Haru inquired, causing Milady to put down her tea cup as she cleared her throat.

“Indeed. The Twelve Olympians. They are twelve god-like beings who are now hell-bent on fusing their dimension onto your own using the Metaverse, which was never gone. First there’s Ares, the War Machine, who’ll stop at nothing to create strife and conflict. Next up are the twins, Artemis and Apollo, respectively known as the Holy Huntress and the Decider of Fates. Facing them together would be a mistake for sure. Then there’s Dionysus, the God of Wine, but don’t let that fool you for he creates the most fearsome illusions. The fifth Olympian is Aphrodite, also known as the Angel of Love, and she is the most diabolical of the Twelve. Legend says she lost her mind and only lives to break hearts after she suffered from heartbreak herself. Then there’s Athena, the Avatar of War & Wisdom. Whereas Ares focuses on brute force to get what he wants, Athena is the Olympians’ strategist, always thinking ahead and making sure her forces are prepared. Hermes, the Divine Trickster, is another Olympian you must face and make sure not to let his tricks fool you. He’s as cunning as I am, if not moreso.  Their weapons are forged by Hephaestus, the Blacksmith of the Gods, but don’t think that means he’s unable to fight on his own…”

“But wait,” Haru pointed out when it seemed like Milady had stopped explaining. “Aren’t there 4 more...?”

“There are indeed, my sweet little princess, but they are truly dreadful and I am afraid I don’t have much information on them…” Milady confirmed, a look of fear showing up on her face before she continued. “The Trinity of Darkness, consisting of Hera, Poseidon and Hades. All 3 of them having power the puts the lesser Olympians to shame…and then there’s their leader...”

“Their leader?” Haru repeated, knowing that this was crucial information she needed to know.

“Zeus, also known as the Almighty Rules of the Sky, and he’s rumored to be more powerful than the entire Trinity combined…” Milady whispered, surprising Haru. She had never seen her Persona scared before, she didn’t think they could experience emotions, but if the Olympians frightened even Milady…did she and the others even stand a chance? Would it even be possible for them to win this battle? No, she had to believe they could, because there had to be a way as long as they had hope on their side!

Yusuke Kitagawa

But these Olympians are the ancient Greek Gods from legend, are they not? Weren’t they benevolent beings? Why would they want to destroy the world?” Yusuke asked after thinking about what his Persona had just revealed to him. He found himself sitting on a pillow in what looked like an ancient dojo. It truly looked like a peaceful place, and the aesthetics fit his Persona, Goemon, quite well.

“It is as you say, Yusuke-dono. The Olympians were once benevolent beings that lived alongside the humans in a chapter of humanity’s history that has been erased from the timeline,” Goemon confirmed, confusing Yusuke greatly.

“Erased from the timeline?” he repeated, feeling like those words were the key to understanding more about their new enemies.

Goemon coughed, signaling he was about to tell a long story as Yusuke leaned forward to focus. “Once upon a time the Olympians lived along with humanity, providing them with blessings in return for prayers. They didn’t need food you see, feasting on the prayers of humanity to stay strong. One day, however, the Olympians wanted more prayers than humanity could offer and forced their worshippers into slavery. They forced their subjects to pray day and night causing their power to grow to dangerous levels. Humanity was miserable, and they would still be to this day, if it wasn’t for 10 heroes standing up to fight the Olympians. They tricked and banished them to a separate dimensions. The Olympians swearing that one day, however, they would come back and take this dimension as they declared it was rightfully theirs.  Hundreds, no thousands, of years passed after since this event transpired. The Olympians becoming mere fables that humanity passed down as stories of legend, not realizing that they once lived alongside them. Or rather, they were made to forget. You see, once you banish something to another dimension, it is like it never existed in the first place, becoming nothing more than a story…”

When Goemon finished Yusuke couldn’t help but feel incredibly overwhelmed by what Goemon had revealed to him. The Olympians once lived alongside them before they got banished and all of this happened thousands of years ago? That was a tough pill to swallow for sure.

Ann Takamaki

“But how did they manage to come back?” Ann asked. That was the one part of the story that didn’t make sense to her. If the Olympians had been banished, how could they be back now?

“You see, my dear Ann that is the most interesting part!” Carmen exclaimed as she motioned for Ann to sit down in front of her crystal ball. Ann was surprised by Carmen’s, or she supposed her, mindscape. It was a gypsy cart, decorated with all sorts of memorabilia, with a fortune telling booth inside. She nevertheless follow Carmen’s instructions though, the gypsy waving her hand as a face showed up inside the crystal ball, a face that disgusted Ann.

“I see you recognize this former God?” Carmen suggested with a sly smile.

“Of course I do, he tried to kill all of us!” Ann yelled. “Why would you show him to me?”

“Because that being is your answer. The Olympians used Yaldabaoth, or the Demiurge, to tear down the walls between your dimensions so they could break out of their prison. It’s honestly incredibly clever, it reminds me of how I used those men during my prime…”

“So…they’re out?” Ann confirmed, afraid of the answer.

“They are indeed girl, and while they’re not at full power, they have already taken over your precious Metaverse. Now let us see what my crystal ball will tell us about the future.” Carmen stated before images started to show up inside of the glass orb, images that scared Ann as she saw her world collide with the Metaverse, resulting in a truly dreadful dimension, before the orb shattered.

“What was that?” Ann yelled, but Carmen seemed to be as surprised as she was.

“One of the possible futures, and a future that we must prevent at all costs it seems…” Carmen mused. “This is certainly becoming quite a mess, isn’t it?”

Futaba Sakura

There is one more piece of wisdom left to reveal,” the Necronomicon, having taken the form of her shadow self, revealed. It was still weird for Futaba to talk to herself but she had gotten used to it during the explanation. And what an explanation it had been. Futaba wished she had her laptop with her to take notes, even if she was confident that she would be able to remember all of it, seeing how crucial all of this information was. She had to make sure to relay this to the others as well, although Futaba was pretty sure that her friends were all having similar dreams right now. Futaba had deduced pretty quickly that it had been the blue butterflies that had lifted the Persona block, enabling the Necronomicon to communicate with her right now.

“I am listening,” Futaba confirmed, eager to get the final piece of information.

“Sadly this information is very incomplete, but there exists a prophecy foretelling the outcome of this battle. A prophecy that you and your friends must find if you want to stand a chance against the Olympians. You must awaken to your true powers, and you must do so quickly, or you will stand no chance against them.”

Futaba nodded, her Persona knowing that there was no need for verbal communication. They were on the same wavelength and understood that about one another.

“That was sadly all the wisdom I can reveal…” the Necronomicon said before reverting to its previous form, the UFO Futaba often found herself controlling. She never thought about this before now, but wasn’t it weird that she was the only one who was able to manifest her Persona physically?

“It seems…our time is being cut short,” the Necronomicon stated suddenly, sounding weak, as Futaba noticed her mindscape slowly growing smaller, disappearing piece by piece. “Make sure to find the prophecy. It’s the key…”

Those were the last words Futaba heard before her mindscape disappeared, surrounding her by darkness before her eyes closed themselves as she fell into a deep slumber once more…

Sae Niijima

Sae sighed, she had been wandering these halls for hours now but she was unable to find her way out. She had deduced she was in what used to be Palais des Tuileries, the former palace of the French monarchs, but she had no idea how she ended up hhere or how to get out. At first Sae figured this was just a dream but when she found herself unable to wake up, no matter what she tried, she realized that it must be something more. It was probably related to that blue butterfly that flew inside of her earlier, that was probably what was causing this…dream, or whatever is was, in the first place.

The palace shouldn’t even exist anymore, it had been burned down during the French Revolution, and yet here she was. She kept hearing screams through the walls through, but whenever she thought she found an exit, she just walked into another hallway.

There were a lot of doors lined along the walls too, but all of them were locked and Sae eventually gave up trying to open them. She was about to give up hope when she noticed a woman, her face obscured by a black veil, walking into one of the rooms and decided to give chase.

When she arrived at the room she put her hand on the door knob before, much to her surprise, managing to open it. However the door disappeared the moment Sae had stepped through, trapping her inside the room with the mysterious woman.

Sae tried to get a closer look at her but her entire appearance was cloaked, almost as if Sae wasn’t supposed to see her. The room itself, much to Sae’s surprise, looked like a courtroom, the cloaked woman sitting in the judge’s seat.

“Sae Niijima.”

Sae looked up in shock, as she heard her name echoeing through the room.

“Isn’t it time you took judgment into your own hands?”

Before Sae could reply a pool of darkness showed up below her feet, swallowing her whole as everything around her went dark…

Teru Tendo

Teru found himself in a round room, a round room that he recognized from the books he loved to read as a child. This was the Round Table, inside of Castle Camelot, but before he could even begin to think about why he was here he noticed that he was getting really hot, like incredibly hot.

He looked around and quickly realized that the entire room, no, the entire castle was on fire and that realization caused him to panic. Like what the hell was going on, how did he end up in a burning castle out of all places? Was this a dream? It had to a dream, Teru decided as he pinched his own cheek, starting to tremble when it didn’t work.

“Come on Teru, wake up!” he shouted anxiously, but the scenery didn’t change, much to his distress, in fact, the flames just kept getting bigger and bigger.

“Over here!”

Teru looked around, he was sure he could hear a voice call out to him.

“Over here, Sir Knight!”

“Sir Knight?” Teru repeated as he located where the voice was coming from. There was a small blonde girl in a blue dress, looking completely out of place in this medieval world, signaling for him to make his way over to her.

“Quickly now, you don’t want this room to collapse on you!” she yelled before letting out a yelp as a piece of the ceiling landed inches away from Teru. "Now, Sir Knight!"

Teru quickly made his way over to the girl, trying his hardest to suppress his fears as he ran after her.

“Where are we going?” he asked. “And who are you?”

“We have to get you out of here, Sir Knight,” the girl said, sounding awfully calm for someone who was running through the hallways of a burning castle.

“I am not a knight though…” Teru muttered, unsure why the girl thought that, especially seeing how he was just wearing his pajamas.

“But you are, and your friends need you right now,” the girl told him sternly, causing Teru’s heart to skip a beat.

“My friends? You mean Ryuji and the others?” he inquired, his voice getting panicky again. Were they in the castle as well? Was this a side effect of what happened to them before? Did they somehow get trapped in here and did he have to be the hero who saved them? He kind of liked that, he had always wanted to be a hero…

The girl nodded at him as she suddenly stood still, Teru not realizing he was standing with his back against a window before she rammed into him, apologizing, as he tumbled backwards through the window, hearing the glass shatter around him before he fell towards the ground. Teru screamed as he closed his eyes, bracing himself for the impact that never came…

Teru’s eyes opened wide, his hand clutching his chest as he breathed heavily. He was soaked in his own sweat as he checked the time, quickly finding out it was 6 in the morning. Teru got up immediately, spurred on by his crazy dream. He had to get to Sae and the others to make sure they were alright. He knew he had to figure out what his dream, and the butterfly incident, meant and he hoped, no, he prayed, that his friends would have the answers he was looking for…


The Phantom Thieves weren’t the only dreamers that night as there was one more person tossing and turning in their bed. They weren’t having a dream per se, they just heard the same message being repeated over and over again while they were trapped inside an hourglass, the sand slowly but steadily falling on top of them.

“Hope is the final key, but it can invite great darkness into this world and it mustn’t fall into the wrong hands. You are the protector, keep it safe, no matter the cost…”

Arc 2 - Wide Awake

Chapter Text

Sae Niijima

“What the hell are they doing here?” Ryuji asked the moment she and Teru followed Makoto inside Leblanc. “Wasn’t this meeting supposed to be Phantom Thieves-only?”

“Didn’t you guys call us honorary Phantom Thieves though?” Teru quipped in response. “I brought a weapon to protect everyone too!”

Sae rolled her eyes as Teru proudly showed off the baseball bat he had been carrying around all morning, reminding her of the rude awakening she and Makoto endured earlier today.

“Sae! Makoto! Are you there!? Are you alright!?”

That was the first thing Sae heard when she woke up from her weird dream. The last thing she remembered being swallowed by darkness and now there was someone screaming for her. Someone very familiar, his voice soothing her after that dream, whatever it was.

She quickly got out of bed as she made her way to the living room to see Teru pacing around, clutching a baseball bat as he wore what looked like his protective biker gear. He dropped the bat the moment he saw her, running over to her before embracing her tightly.

“Thank god you’re okay, I was so worried about you…” he whispered softly.

Sae let Teru embrace her for a moment before pushing him back, looking at him with an incredulous look on her face. “Teru, what the hell are you doing here at 6:30 in the morning?”

“I just had a really worrisome dream and I had to make sure you and Makoto were alright. Speaking of Makoto where is she? We need to get to the others too!” Teru rambled, stopping when he heard the door to Makoto’s room open.

“So you had a dream as well then?” Makoto asked, looking surprisingly awake. “What about you Sis? Did you have a weird dream as well?”

Sae nodded, the question catching her by surprise, as Makoto looked at her phone before sighing.

“So everyone who got hit by a butterfly had a dream..." Makoto murmured before looking at the two of them. “Well, Ryuji’s going to hate me for this but you two better come along with me. We’re all meeting up to discuss with happened yesterday and I think you’ve both become a part of…whatever this is…”

“Why’s Ryuji going to hate you for this?” Teru asked before Sae could. Not that that surprised her, seeing how Teru had become very protective of the younger boy. He honestly had been ever since he met him. She knew he still took him boxing once a week and then bought him dinner, it had sort of become a ritual for the two of them, which made her a bit jealous because all she and Teru did nowadays was stay in and watch movies together. Not that that was a bad thing, per se, but she felt like Teru was sometimes taking her for granted…or not as seriously as he should. Maybe she should just go for it and ask him to move in with her, she’d been dropping hints for a few weeks now and he didn’t seem to catch up on those. Or maybe he was just ignoring them?

“What the hell, why does that kid not want me involved?” Teru yelled angrily, snapping Sae out of her train of thought and causing her to realize that she missed her younger sister's answer.

“To be more specific, we all thought it would be better to keep this Phantom Thief-only at first but…”

“But what?” Sae asked before putting her hand on Teru’s shoulder to calm him down.

“I think you’re a part of this now Sis, Teru probably is as well, and if we’re going to face the Olympians, we’re going to need all the help we can get..."

“The…Olympians?” Sae repeated. “You mean like those 12 Greek Gods?”

“I’ll explain later, but yes, that’s the gist of it,” Makoto confirmed before turning to Teru. “Don’t take it personally Teru. I’m sure Ryuji had his reasons for wanting you to stay out of it.”

“I hope so…but it still pisses me off. Does he not trust me?” Teru moped as he looked towards the ground, a hint of sadness showing up inside his eyes.

“I’m sure it’s nothing like that Teru, he really looks up to you. Just go and ask him when the time is right, okay?” Sae comforted him. She hated seeing Teru like this. Whenever he was let down he started to look like this sad little puppy and it just made her want to hold him closely.

“I suppose so, thanks Sae!” Teru beamed before he grabbed his bat. “Let’s go to that meeting then, I’ll protect everyone!”

“I would like to take a shower first, and I’m sure Sis needs one as well,” Makoto pointed out causing Teru to nod before he offered to make the 3 of them breakfast, admitting that he had rushed out of the door before eating anything himself.

Sae couldn’t help but wonder why though, her dream had been weird, sure, but what could have been so bad to make Teru rush over to them without eating, wearing protective gear and wielding a baseball bat on top of that…?”

“Yeah but that’s before weird stuff started happening again!” Ryuji argued before dropping his arms in defeat. “But fine, it’s not like you’re going to leave anyways.”

Sae and Teru looked at each other, surprised by Ryuji’s outburst, before they joined him and the other Phantom Thieves at the booth where they had decided to sit down.

“Did your father close the store for today Futuba-chan?” Sae asked after noticing they had the entire café to themselves but the girl seemed too absorbed in whatever was going on on her laptop to notice her.

“Futaba-chan told Boss that this would be the final day we can spent together as a group and asked if we could spent it at Leblanc because we would often get together here. That’s also why Touma-san isn’t around. He thinks we’re closed for the day,” Haru explained after realizing Futaba wasn’t going to answer. Sae momentarily wondered what the young girl was so focused on before noticing that Akira seemed to want her attention, or rather her sister’s attention.

“Makoto, why did you bring them with you?” Akira asked, his voice sounding rather monotonous. Sae was unable to read him, she had never been able to, and couldn’t figure out if he was angry with her younger sister or if he was just intrigued by her actions.

“Because they’ve had dreams as well, Akira. And besides you know what my sister’s like, and Teru for that matter. Do you think they wouldn’t have just followed me here anyways?”” Makoto explained and while Sae momentarily thought about denying it, she knew Makoto was right. She and Teru would definitely have followed her to Leblanc, Teru was deadset on "protecting" everyone and she just really wanted to know what was going on. Besides, she couldn't do anything for these kids last time and she was going to make sure that this time, she could!

“So they know about the Olympians?” Akira inquired.

“The…Olympians? Mako-chan mentioned them this morning too…” Teru repeated in the most tactless way possible, sounding very confused, before either Sae or Makoto could respond.

“So they don’t know…” Akira surmised. “And yet you still brought them with you?”

“They were still hit by the butterflies and you should’ve seen Teru this morning. He looked incredibly frazzled and worried. I couldn’t not bring him or my sister,” Makoto argued.

“But we don’t know what their dreams were about! You should’ve at least checked that before bringing them along!” Akira responded, raising his voice a little. He definitely seemed to get angry now, or at least frustrated.

“I’m with Akira on this one, you always berated me for being loud but here you are bringing two people in without consulting any of us!” Ryuji added loudly, joining in the argument as Sae took a step back.

“Don’t you dare,” she whispered to Teru, giving him a soft kick against his shins, when she noticed he was about to argue back. “You’re 27-years old. You’re not going to argue with them. And it really won’t help either. Do you think they’ll include us if we start arguing with them?”

“Hey, leave Makoto alone! She just tried to do what’s best! Besides Sae and Teru have done nothing but help us over the past few months, we can trust them!” Ann retorted, clearly fed up by the fact that Ann and Ryuji were starting an argument.

“While I do think Sae and Teru are nice people, I would’ve preferred it if Makoto would’ve consulted us on this matter first. That way we could’ve taken the decision about whether or not to include them together,” Yusuke added, joining Akira and Ryuji's of the argument.

“Please stop fighting…It’s not worth it! Everyone’s just stressed out over their dreams!” Haru tried to mediate, but everyone just ignored her as they started yelling at each other, Sae being unable to hold Teru back as he joined Makoto and Ann’s side.

This was a disaster, Sae joining Haru in an effort to try and mediate between the two groups, but honestly…she had no idea how to fix this…

Futaba Sakura

It wasn’t like Futaba didn’t hear everyone arguing, she just didn’t care seeing how she just wanted to finish the application she was working on before talking to the others. Besides she had already realized that Sae and Teru were a part of the bigger picture, making this argument was pointless to her.

Those butterflies had picked them, along with the former Phantom Thieves, and Futaba figured that they would play a part in the battle against the Olympians. The fact that the two of them had dreams of their own just sealed the deal for her and she already had a theory regarding them not knowing about the Olympians. They didn’t have Personas, so their dreams must’ve been different. She just needed to know what their dreams had been about before being able to finish her hypothesis.

She excitedly clapped her hands together when she finished her application before looking at her friends, arguing in front of her. She needed was a way to grab their attention and stop them from fighting, and she knew just the thing, as she pressed a button on her laptop, causing a loud claxon noise to go off that promptly silenced everyone.

“What the hell was that?!” Ryuji yelled, sounding startled, as Futaba laughed.

“A sign that all of you need to shut up. Fighting with each other won’t get us anywhere, we’re a party, a group, we need to work together and I figured everything out so you better listen to me.” Futaba explained confidently before turning to Sae and Teru. “And they’re definitely a part of this, whether anyone likes it or not.”

She wouldn’t have dared to speak up like this just a few months ago but becoming a Phantom Thief had changed her and someone needed to take charge.

Futaba’s outburst seemed to work as the others calmed down, muttering apologies to one another before sitting back down.

“So, what did you figure out Futaba-chan?” Makoto asked after straightening herself out, seemingly taking unofficial control over the meeting.

“Before I go into that, we should probably discuss our dreams first. I know we’ve touched on it in the group chat but there is something I’d like to confirm. Everyone, except for Sae and Teru, had the same dream right? About the Olympians?” Futaba explained, the others nodding, before Teru raised his hand which caused everyone to look at him.

“Can someone explain to me who the hell these Olympians all? You all keep bringing them up!” he asked, still sounding confused.

“In a minute, but could you perhaps tell us what your dream was about? I would like to hear about Sae’s dream after that as well,” Futaba responded, eager to prove her hypothesis and figuring that this was important quest info, and you never skip dialogue in a questline!

Teru nodded before recounting his dream. Apparently the lawyer had been trapped inside a burning castle that reminded him of Camelot. A blonde girl wearing a blue dress, Akira pointing out that the way she was described sounded an awful lot like Lavenza, telling him that the Phantom Thieves needed him before pushing him out of a window which caused him to wake up.

Sae explained her dream once Teru was done, revealing that she had been stuck in a palace during what she suspected to be the French Revolution before ending up in a courtroom where a woman compelled her to take action before darkness swallowed her.

“Interesting…” Futaba whispered before stopping herself to think. This was definitely close to what she had originally thought but she wasn’t entirely sure of the conclusion she had drawn either.

“What is?” Ryuji urged, sounding slightly worried. “Are Teru and Sae okay?”

“They’re fine, in fact, I think they’re more like us than we originally thought.” Futaba responded, raising her eyebrow at Ryuji’s reaction. “I assume they were inside their own mindscapes. Their mindscapes being in turmoil due to them not having formed a contract yet. And yet, someone, or multiple entities, tried to reach out to them and make them aware of what was going on.”

“I’m confused…” Teru muttered. “You used so many terms I didn’t understand just now,”

“God, he is like Ryuji…” Ann whispered to Haru, who started giggling.

“What are mindscapes exactly Futaba-chan? And who are those Olympians we must face?” Sae asked, sounding intrigued. Futaba was surprised how interested the older woman seemed but it made her smile. Seems like Sae was a lot like her sister in that regard, perhaps even more so seeing how Sae was sitting on the edge of her seat at this point.

“Mindscapes are basically alternate dimensions that are connected to our minds. We can use them to communicate with our Personas. They were fully formed once we formed a contract with them. I assume those butterflies forced an awakening of sorts for you and Teru but you can’t reach your Persona due to the fact that neither of you has formed a contract.” Futaba explained. She wasn’t entirely sure if this was the case, but it was definitely the most logical explanation she could come up with.

“But can’t we just form a contract then?” Teru asked, sounding confused. “We could probably stabilize our mindscapes like that, right?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that easy. We were all in mortal danger when we formed our contracts, you can’t just magically force it to appear…” Akira responded, sounding unnecessarily sarcastic, before Futaba could but she had to admit he was right. None of them had been awakened in the way Teru and Sae had, so she wasn’t sure how to draw their Personas out...or if that was even possible.

“Actually…” Haru interjected, causing everyone to look at her. “I wasn’t in danger when I was first awakened by Morgana, even if I couldn’t manifest my Persona fully…”

“That is true, I suppose Teru and Sae may be in a similar state,” Futaba surmised before realizing that Haru’s point was rather futile after all. “But you didn’t fully awaken until you were in danger either…”

“I suppose that is true…” Haru agreed solemnly.

“Is it really worthwhile to speculate about me and Teru’s awakening though?” Sae asked, snapping Futaba back to what mattered and causing her to realize that she really liked Sae. She could really see herself get along great with the older woman in the future.

“I guess it’s not helpful for now since it won’t help us, and who knows, it may happen naturally…” she responded before remembering that there was a second question. “You also wanted to know about the Olympians right?”

“I would like to. It would help us all be on the same page because we’re in this together now, right?” Sae confirmed, smiling softly.

“I’ll try and explain it shortly,” Futaba started, motioning for everyone to pay close attention. “Basically the Olympians used to be 12 benevolent Gods who lived alongside us before they went power hungry. They eventually got banished to a separate realm and humanity forgot they existed, reducing them to the myths and stories we can read ourselves. They’ve found a way, presumably through the Metaverse, to get back into this world. I assume their plan is to take over the world and it seems like they’ve already started doing that…”

“They what?” Akira interjected, the others looking on in shock as well causing Futaba to realize that she was the only one that had already seen an example of the Olympians' work.

“That fishy Olympian Corporation,” Futaba answered. “I’m almost entirely sure they’re behind it. I saw laptops that were provided by them and those specs weren’t normal. Human technology just isn’t that advanced.”

“Wait…what about Mishima then?” Ryuji said, his face going white with shock. “Didn’t you say he went to like, an effin’ school sponsored by the same corporation Akira?”

“…I did,” Akira confirmed, his voice filling with worry.

“We must save him!” Ann added immediately, before Makoto spoke up to calm them all down.

“While I agree the situation regarding Mishima is worrisome, I doubt the Olympians have any sort of serious magical power inside this world. Remember how we need to Metaverse to manifest our abilities? I’m sure it’s the same for them…”

“I agree with Makoto, we need to find a way into the Metaverse to assess the situation…” Yusuke added, Haru nodding as well.

“How are we going to do that though? The Metaverse is effin’ gone, remember?” Ryuji pointed out, sounding incredibly frustrated causing Futaba to laugh. “What’s so funny?!”

“I may have finished the solution to that…” Futaba pointed out, causing the others to look at her with shock. “I haven’t tested it though…”

“What would that solution be Futaba?” Akira asked, causing Futaba to proudly turn her laptop around to show her what she has been working on.

“This application. It was originally created to scan for separate dimensions back when we were Phantom Thieves. I reverse-engineered the code that the phone application we used to use to enter the Metaverse used in case it would ever disappear. It should theoretically also be able to warp us inside, but I have no idea if it works and it might be dangerous…”

“Let’s try it!” Ryuji said resolutely, standing up and walking over to stand behind Futaba to show he was ready to go. “This might be the only way to save the world, right?”

“I’m with Ryuji on this one, we’re the Phantom Thieves and we can't just let these Gods have their way!” Ann added before she joined Ryuji.

“I suppose we should at the very least find out what we’re up against, correct?” Yusuke chimed in, before he and Makoto got up as well.

“It’s not like we haven’t been in dangerous situations either!”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself Mako-chan. I’d rather not fight again, but I suppose it can’t be helped…” Haru said before joining the others.

“Besides, we all trust you Futaba. I’m sure it’ll be safe,” Akira told her reassuringly before he got up as well. “Let’s do this!”

“…We’re coming as well,” Sae pointed out, surprising the others.

“That we are!” Teru exclaimed. “We’re all in this together!”

Both Makoto and Ryuji looked like they were about to protest, but Sae and Teru made it very clear that they wouldn’t change their minds as they joined the others to stand behind Futaba.

“Everyone…” Futaba muttered, tears threatening to drop from her eyes. To be trusted by everyone like this, that is what she had always wanted. “Alright! Let’s go!”

Futaba typed in a couple of commands after that, before pressing the start button, causing her computer screen to emit a bright flash of light that enveloped the nine of them…

Makoto Niijima

“Well…we’re definitely not in Leblanc anymore,” Yusuke pointed out when the flash of light cleared up, and he was definitely right. The place they were in now didn’t even resemble Leblanc as the group found themselves inside what seemed to be some kind of abandoned stone ruins.


Everyone looked up to find Teru excitedly jumping around as he pumped his fists into the air. “You’re all dressed as super heroes! We just got transported into a strange land filled with adventure!”

Makoto, along with the others, looked at him in shock before she noticed her sister making his way over to him before giving him a firm slap against the back of his head.

“Teru! Behave yourself!” she yelled, causing the others to laugh before Futaba let out a yell, cutting the comedic moment short and causing everyone to quickly make their way over to her.

“My laptop!” she cried out. “It’s not here! That means we have no way to get back!”

“W-…we don’t?” Haru muttered, stating what the others were thinking.

“N-…No way…” Ann added before dropping to the ground along with Haru. Makoto could feel her own throat close off as well. They had just entered the Metaverse and they were already stuck? This was already becoming worse than all their other trips combined…They had never been stuck inside before...

“Hey! Don’t drop your heads in defeat already!” Ryuji yelled, causing the others to look at them. “Sure, this effin’ sucks but we’ve been in bad situations before and we always came out on top!”

“Ryuji’s right! I’m sure Futaba-chan can find us a way back too!” Makoto joined in, deciding that she should definitely try and help keep the morale up. They really couldn’t afford to lose hope right now.

“I guess I can try to use the Necronomicon’s abilities to create a link to my laptop. We’ve broken the barriers that separate our dimensions…and as long as no one touches my laptop that breach should still be there…” Futaba surmised after calming down.

“And we should explore this place in the meantime,” Akira suggested. “Can you work as we explore Futaba?”

“I think so, let me just manifest my Persona,” the girl responded before concentrating. Her Persona blinking into existence moments later as she boarded the UFO.

Ok, I’m all set!” Futaba told them telepathically.

“Wow, she’s in my head!” Teru yelled excitedly before looking around. “I think my bat’s still in Leblanc though…but don't worry, I'm not useless in a fight! I got years of boxing experience!”

“Intruders! Intruders!”

Makoto scanned the area, trying to locate where the voices came from to find a group of what looked like 5 Spartan soldiers march towards them.

“I guess it’s time to fight,” Akira pointed out. “Sae, Teru, get behind us! You shouldn’t engage them.”

“Let’s fry them up then,” Ann smiled before waving her hand, softly whispering: “Agidyne”. However to Ann, and everyone else’s, surprise nothing happened.

“Freidyne,” Makoto whispered, hearing the others whisper similar incantations to try and use their own abilities, but none of them seemed to work.

“Everyone, grab your weapons!” Akira yelled as he pulled out his dagger. Ryuji and Yusuke soon joined in, holding a blunt pipe and a katana respectively.

“M-…My whip disappeared guys,” Ann panicked, before Haru pointed out that her axe had disappeared as well.

Makoto looked at her hands, her own weapons, a pair of brass knuckles, were luckily still there.

“Ok change of plans!” she yelled. “Everyone with a weapon should cover someone else. Akira protect Ann, Ryuji go for Teru, Yusuke take care of Haru and I’ll cover Sis! Futaba-chan can fly up and direct the battle from above!”

Roger that, but remember that there’s 5 of them!”  Futaba pointed out as everyone got ready to fight. “Make sure you don’t cluster together and spread out!”

“Take that!” Makoto yelled as she punched the soldier she was facing in the face. Her sister cheering her on from behind before it dissipated, granting her a view of the other battles.

Yusuke seemed to have no problem fending of the soldier that had charged towards him and Haru, taking it down with a flurry of blows before it disappeared.

Akira, similarly seemed to have no trouble taking down his enemy, sliding past the soldier he was facing before stabbing it in the back.

Ryuji on the other hand, seemed to have slightly more trouble as he faced two of them at once, and Teru seemed itching to join in on that fight despite having no weapon whatsoever.

“Everyone get to Ryuji’s position as soon as possible!” Futaba commanded, causing Makoto to quickly head towards the place where Ryuji and Teru were facing their enemies.

Ryuji seemed to momentarily get the upper hand as he managed to knock out one of his enemies, not noticing that the other one was sneaking up on him from behind.

“Ryuji, watch out!” Makoto could hear Akira, who was further away from the fight then she was, yell but the soldier was pushed aside before anything bad could happen.

Teru ramming his entire body into the soldier, knocking it down, which allowed Ryuji to finish the soldier off.

“Told you I was still useful,” Teru said cockily as everyone gathered together, congratulating each other on a successful battle before Futaba silently returned to them.

“…We have a problem guys,” Futaba pointed out after exiting the Necronomicon.

“And what would that be?” Akira inquired, but Futaba merely told them to follow her, leaving the ruins to climb what looked like a hill. Makoto quickly realized what Futaba meant when they reached the top, the view in front of her filling her with dread.

The area resembled Tokyo…or at least its lay-out did, but all the buildings had been reduced to the same stone ruins they had found themselves in when they arrived inside this version of the Metaverse. The city had been reduced to nothing but a wasteland, ruins sporadically littered throughout, with a huge castle on the other side. That wouldn’t have been a problem by itself, the way forward was clear honestly, but the paths between the ruins were filled with hundreds of soldiers…and Makoto knew there was no way they could face all of them, not without their powers…Not like this…

Chapter Text

Sae Niijima

Sae sighed as she found herself sitting on a fallen log, looking over to the make-shift camp the others had built. It seemed like there was no way out of this dimension, for now, so they had decided that they would have to create some kind of safe place. Apparently the palaces in the old Metaverse had something called “Safe Rooms”, but those didn’t seem to exist in this dimension so that point quickly became moot.

Sae honestly started wondering why she had come with them. Everyone else had made themselves useful and yet here she was, sitting on a log as she felt her hands trembling. She was scared, even if she did not want to admit it. Makoto and the others had told her stories about the Metaverse but she had never expected to enter it herself. She supposed she momentarily had but that was completely different. Sae wished she was more like Teru, who had seemingly already embraced all the strangeness surrounding this day. He was bravely fighting alongside the others, despite the fact that he had no powers, and was now out with Ryuji looking for something edible and, more importantly, a source of water. They needed sustenance if they were going to be stuck here and there was actually a forest surrounding the hill they had built their camp on.

Makoto, Akira and Yusuke were standing guard around their camp, the three of them all being able to fight, to make sure the creatures that inhabited this dimension didn’t find out about its location. Futaba had explained to them that these monsters were different from the Shadows they had faced before, these creatures seemingly being figments of the past instead. They seemed to be actual Spartan soldiers and the girl had deduced that whoever, or whatever, had been able to manifest them must be both the ruler of this dimension…and immensely powerful. Speaking of Futaba, she was still hard at work trying to create a portal back to their own dimension but she had no luck so far. As for Ann and Haru, Sae wasn’t entirely sure where they had gone but they were determined on “getting their own powers back” so they headed off to a quiet spot just outside the camp to train together.

Sae sighed. She really wished she had powers of her own, at least that way she wouldn’t feel like a dead weight. She wanted to protect her sister, she wanted to protect all of them, but right now she just felt useless and she hated it.

“Are you alright?”

Sae tensed when she felt a hand on her shoulder, turning around to find Akira, of all people, looming over her. She nodded before he sat down next to her, a frown on his face. “Everyone’s worried about you, you know?”

Sae sighed, the last thing she wanted was for everyone to be worried about her but she supposed that it made sense.

“I’m fine, really…” she whispered softly, but she knew that sounded like a lie…and it was, she felt far from being "fine".

“It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?” Akira asked as he put his hands together. “I still remember the first time I entered to Metaverse. I was incredibly overwhelmed. I probably wouldn’t have survived it if it wasn’t for Morgana…”

“It really is…” Sae admitted, remembering what Akira had told her back in November. His first time must’ve been even worse than hers, seeing how the former Phantom Thieves were with her.

“In case you’re wondering, Makoto asked me to go talk to you. Apparently I’m good with people or something,” Akira told her, causing Sae to laugh. Makoto was never good at this type of conversation so it made sense that she got Akira to do it and she was right too. Akira did have a knack for talking to people, even if he did not realize that himself.

“I just wish I was more like Teru, you know?” Sae said causing Akira to raise an eyebrow which made correct herself quickly, remembering that Akira wasn’t particularly fond of her boyfriend. “He’s just really easy-going about all of this while I’m just really worried all the time.”

“I guess he’s like Ryuji in that sense, that’s probably why they get along so well. You’re probably more aware of the danger we’re in, and we honestly are. We’re unable to get out, something which has never happened before, and we’re going to need food sooner rather than later…” Akira answered, a soft smile showing on his features when he mentioned Ryuji. “You’ll get used to this though, I promise.”

“I sure hope so…” Sae whispered before noticing that Ryuji and Teru were back, approaching her and Akira at a rapid pace while carrying what looked like a giant wooden box.

“Look, we found berries and water!” Ryuji exclaimed excitedly before showing her and Akira the box he and Teru had seemingly, clumsily, put together. It was filled with a lot of berries, along with what looked like a wooden “bucket” filled with water. There were also a couple of smaller cup-like objects inside the box.

“How’d you manage to find all that?” Akira asked worriedly, a sentiment that Sae echoed.

“I, uh, made them…” Teru admitted, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head. “Ryuji let me borrow his weapon and we found some wood that was in the right shape and well, this is the result…”

“Wow…” Akira muttered, as surprised by Teru's skills as Sae was, before standing up. “Are you two sure these berries are edible though?”

“We are! We had Futaba scan them before coming over here. Where should we put them? I’m sure everyone would like a couple!” Ryuji rambled, causing Akira to stand up as he motioned for Ryuji to follow him.

“Let me help as well!” Teru said, but Akira shook his head.

“You need to take care of your wife,” he said jokingly, causing Teru’s face to turn bright red.

“She…she’s not my wife…” he muttered, causing Sae to sternly look at him as she held back her laughter. “I mean, maybe in the future!”

Teru’s awkward struggling caused both Akira and Ryuji to laugh before they walked away, Ryuji carrying the box with supplies as Akira held on to his arm. The view caused Sae to smile. Those two guys were so in love. She wished she was as certain about her and Teru as she was about them. They seemed destined to be together…

“So, uh…” Teru stammered awkwardly. “What’s up?”

“You can sit down, you know?” Sae said, unable to hold back a grin. Seeing Teru being awkward like this, even after the amount of time they’d been together, was still very much endearing to her.

“R-…right,” Teru answered before sitting down and wrapping his arm around her.

“I was just talking to Akira about how I wish I was more like you sometimes,” Sae explained, causing Teru to look at her with an incredulous look on his face.

“Like me?” he asked, seemingly unable to believe the words Sae had just told him.

“Yeah,” she confirmed. “You’re so brave. This whole world doesn’t even seem to faze you. You’re still the same headstrong man I fell in love with.”

“I…uhm…” Teru stammered, his face having gone even redder before Sae motioned that she wasn’t done explaining.

“I’m really scared, Teru. I’m scared we’re not going to make it out. We’re powerless, we can’t do anything…and I want to protect them…I want to protect you…but I can’t…”

Sae started sobbing at that point, causing Teru to instinctively wrap his arms around her before pulling her to his chest.

“I’m scared too, you know?” he whispered. “But we can’t let that control us. I’ve always wanted to be a hero for these kids, and you’ve always said that you wanted to help them out…and now we finally got the chance to do just that. We can’t let fear paralyze us. We’ve gotten this chance for a reason, I’m sure of it…”

Sae looked up at Teru and could see the determination flaring inside his eyes. It had been ages since she had seen him like this. She knew that Teru had been struggling a lot and to see him like this made her heart skip a beat, compelling her to do something that she would have never done otherwise.

“Move in with me,” she said, her voice, while still sounding shaky from her sobs, filled with confidence. She wanted this, she wanted this badly, and she knew this was the right move for the two of them.

“W-…what?” Teru muttered, clearly not expecting that response.

“You practically live at my place Teru…and I know you’re struggling with rent and your job and…and I love you. So would you please move in with me?” she worded a bit more cautiously this time.

Teru seemed to ponder about it momentarily before a wide smile started coloring his features as he nodded.

“Okay,” was the only thing he muttered before leaning forward to give Sae a tender kiss.

“Okay?” she repeated after he broke away from her.

“I love you too. I will move in with you,” he confirmed, causing Sae to smile brightly. “We have to make it out of this dimension first though…”

“We do…” Sae agreed, solemnly nodding.

“But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll find a way out! The Phantom Thieves always win! And we’re Phantom Thieves now!” Teru exclaimed, attempting to cheer her up.

Sae had to admit that she liked the sound of that though, her and Teru being part of the Phantom Thieves, as she got up, finally ready to help out.

“What are you doing?” Teru asked, sounding surprised.

“Getting in some practice,” Sae said before raising her leg to kick Teru, a kick that he narrowly blocked before he started grinning.

“Whoa, I didn’t know you had moves!” he yelled proudly before he got ready. “Alright, show me what you got then!”

And Sae decided to do so, feeling inspired to fight along with the others. She may not have powers, but she could at least give it everything she got.

It was in that moment that Sae swore she felt something inside of her, like something awakening, and she momentarily wondered what it was before Teru snapped her out of it, urging her to try and hit him again…

Ann Takamaki

“Any idea why our weapons didn’t appear Ann-chan?” Haru urged, following after the blonde girl after she suggested they find a way to restore their lost powers.

“No clue,” Ann admitted. “But we’re going to have to try and figure that out.”

“And how are we going to do that?” Haru questioned as Ann came to a stop. They were just outside of their camp in a field surrounded with fragrant flowers were Ann decided to sit down.

“By talking to our Personas,” Ann said resolutely. “That’s why we’re here.”

“What do you mean?” Haru asked as she looked at Ann in confusion. “I don’t think any of us, aside from Akira-kun and Futaba-chan, has been able to do that regularly…”

“But you’ve felt it, haven’t you? Our powers aren’t gone. I’ve felt Carmen ever since we’ve entered this Metaverse. I just need to get through to her,” Ann stated resolutely as she sat down. “And Futaba is still able to manifest her Persona. That means we should at least be able to talk to ours.”

“Now that you mention it, I have been feeling some kind of energy ever since we entered. Do you think that’s Milady?” Haru responded causing Ann to nod. She was glad that Haru had been feeling the same thing she felt and that it hadn't been her imagination. The others probably had experienced similar feelings, now that she thought about it, but they probably hadn’t paid attention to it, which made sense seeing how they were still able to manifest their weapons.

“So what are we going to do?” Haru asked as she sat down across from Ann.

“Meditation. These flowers should help and it’ll be quiet considering it’s just the two of us,” Ann surmised, hoping she was right. She had to admit that this was a bit of a long shot but maybe she could establish some kind of link with Carmen through meditation. She had read that it could help focus her spiritual energy, and she figured that that’s what she needed right now.

Ann took a deep breath, smelling the flowers that surrounded her as she tried to lose herself inside her mind. She wanted to find a way back into her mindscape, knowing that Carmen would be there…or at least, so she hoped she would be.

What is bothering you girl?”

Ann opened her eyes in shock, muttering Carmen’s name under her breath before hearing her Persona giggling.

“I see you have finally done it,” Carmen told her proudly.

“Done what?” Ann thought, hoping that Carmen would hear it.

“Established our mental link, of course. I had high hopes that you, of all people, would have been able to do it last time. You possess a special gift my dear.”

“A gift?”

“You have a very high aptitude for magic, unlike most of your peers. Your flames always burned brighter than any of their magic, did they not?” Carmen mused, and Ann had to admit that her Persona was right. She had always favored using her abilities over using her whip and her abilities had definitely been stronger than her friends' counterparts.

“Is that why my whip no longer appeared?”

“Indeed it is, I was no longer able to grant you that weapon seeing how you’ve outgrown your need for it,” Carmen confirmed, troubling Ann. “I sense that that troubles you. Why is that, dear Ann?”

“Because I can’t use my abilities in this Metaverse. It’s different than before!” Ann could hear Carmen snickering once again, surprising her. She may be gifted with magic, but what good was that if she couldn’t use it?

“You just lack the proper tools to wield magic in this realm,” Carmen seemingly explained, even if it only served to confuse Ann further. “Do you remember what I use to channel my own abilities?”

Ann thought for a moment before realizing that she did know, Carmen had used a crystal ball back inside her mindscape. Something she was about to mention to her Persona before hearing a soft thump behind her, turning around to see a small crystal orb laying on the ground.

Ann felt drawn to the orb, hesitating for only a brief moment before deciding to reach for it. The moment her finger touched the, surprisingly hot, crystal it felt like she was awakening all over again. She felt a familiar energy course through her veins as she felt empowered. She was confident she’d be able to cast magic now and she was going to try it out, getting up as a sense of determination took a hold of her.

“You don’t have to call out incantations anymore my dear. Just focus and let the magic do the rest,” Carmen instructed her.

Ann held the orb out in front of her, realizing this was definitely going to be a change from how she was used to battle. Or so she thought, before she realized that she could make it float around her which would enable her to still nimbly maneuver around the battlefield.

“Whoa, Ann-chan!” Haru called out, having realized that Ann was able to use her abilities again, or a new version of them at least. “You did it!”

Ann smiled as she managed to shoot small fireballs, from the orb, into the sky. She may not be as strong as she used to be yet, but she surely wouldn’t be useless in the upcoming battles anymore.

“How about you Haru?” Ann asked, curious about the progress the other girl had made. “Did you manage to unlock your abilities?”

Haru Okumura

“Because you lack the will to fight, little princess. That’s why I can no longer assist you by manifesting your weapon.”

“I wasn’t even able to talk to Milady…” Haru lied, not wanting Ann to know the truth. She felt ashamed, but she knew she couldn’t deny the truth either. She did not want to fight anymore. Haru had truly hoped to put everything behind her but now that feeling was endangering her friends and it made her feel guilty.

Ann nodded solemnly before putting a hand on the other girl’s shoulder, trying to smile an encouraging smile. “You’ll find a way, I’m sure you will.”

“I hope so,” Haru responded, even if she wasn’t sure if she actually meant it.

When Haru and Ann made their way back to the camp they found everyone gathered in the middle, chatting and seemingly eating and drinking. They were about to ask what was going on before Ryuji excitedly made his way over to them, telling them about how he and Teru had managed to procure water and berries for all of them before handing them both a wooden cup.

Haru felt refreshed the moment she took a sip, she had actually been getting really thirsty and drinking some cold water really helped. She was about to ask Ryuji where he had found it before she heard Futaba scream, the girl having noticed a platoon of soldiers approaching them. A group that they quickly identified as one centurion along with 12 legionnaires. Futaba had explained to them earlier that, despite the army resembling a Spartan one, they seemed to use a Roman system. Each platoon consisted of 1 centurion and its underlings. The underlings consisting mainly of legionnaires, wielding swords, and rarely some phalanxes, who wielded spears. The girl had also mentioned seeing some Equites, soldiers riding horses, but the Phantom Thieves hadn’t encountered them yet. It also seemed like the centurions were controlling the others, so by disabling the leader, they would be able to take out an entire platoon, but Futaba admitted that that was just conjuncture on her part.

“Protect Ann, Haru, Teru and Sis again!” Makoto yelled as she protectively got in front of her sister.

“I don’t think so,” Ann exclaimed, flaunting her floating orb.

“What the…?” Ryuji muttered before Ann started shooting balls of fire at the approaching enemies. She managed to catch the first one by surprise, causing it to quickly burn up. The others sadly caught on quickly, blocking the rest of the fireballs with their shields as they continued approaching the group.

“Dammit,” Ann cursed under her breath, still shooting fireballs to try and slow the platoon down. There were too many of them too, the Phantom Thieves being heavily outnumbered. There were at least a dozen of soldiers approaching, and they just had 5 members who were able to fight, 6 if you counted Futaba’s supportive abilities.

“Haru, take Sae and Teru and get out of here.”

Haru heard Futaba’s instructions and even though she wanted to protest, she went over to the two adults, urging them to go with her.

“I’m not going,” Teru protested. “I’ll fight with them. I’ve got a lot of training.”

Before either Sae or Haru could protest Teru rushed off to the others' side, pointing out that while he couldn’t destroy them, he could still hold them off. The others, especially Ryuji, seemed hesitant but accepted Teru's help. Any help would be welcome at this point, further Haru's guilt as the turning towards Sae.

“We should at least hide then…” Haru whispered, pulling a hesitant Sae with her as they hid behind a group of bushes while watching the battle in front of them unfold…

After getting to safety with Sae, who seemed to be quivering in fear, Haru tried to at least get a grasp of the situation. Maybe she’d be able to provide some form of tactical support. Not that that seemed necessarily seeing how she heard Futaba’s telepathic commands, the girl trying her hardest to regulate the battle that was taking place.

Haru had counted 12 enemies, 11 if you subtracted the centurion who seemed to keep his distance. Akira, Makoto and Yusuke were locked in a fight with 6 of them and while they were still holding their ground, it seemed like they were slowly being overwhelmed by the numbers they were facing.

Ann, Ryuji and Teru were facing 4 others, with Teru trying to grab one of them so Ryuji and Ann could take them out…Which was a good plan in theory but it didn’t work out as well as they had hoped.

That was when it dawned upon Haru, if you added 6 and 4 together you only got 10…which meant one of the enemies was missing…as she heard a clanging metal sound behind her.

Haru turned around to come face to face with one of the enemies, jumping back as she let out a loud scream from seeing it up close. She, and the others, had assumed that they were human, but they weren’t. There was just a black, shadowy creature underneath the armor and it really creeped her out.

She looked over her shoulder to take a look at how Sae was holding up, expecting the woman to be as scared as she was, and was surprised to see her holding a branch in front of her.

“Run Haru, I’ll hold him off,” Sae told her sternly but Haru knew she couldn’t do that. She was the only one who could fight, and she had to…even if she didn’t want to.


Haru heard something fall, making a clicking noise, as she felt an object brush against her leg, looking down to find a small pistol next to her. She quickly bent over to pick it up, holding it out in front of her as she stared down the soldier that was approaching her and Sae.

She was afraid it wouldn’t work, none of their old guns had appeared after all, but she pulled the trigger anyways. Haru let out a yelp, and could hear Sae do the same, when she heard a loud bang as what looked like an energy bullet shot from the gun, impaling the soldier before it disappeared.

“Looks like our princess has finally made up her mind,” Haru could hear Milady say in her head, and in a way she had. She didn’t want to fight, that was still true, but she had to, she had to help her friends and fighting was the only way how…

“No more axes?” Haru questioned, hearing Milady laugh loudly in response.

“An axe is not befitting of a princess, now is it?”  her Persona answered and Haru supposed that she had to agree. She had always liked fighting with her gun better anyways…

Sae Niijima

“I’m going to go help them out,” Haru stated before turning around, making her way over to the others who had more or less clustered together at this point. She managed to take down one of the soldiers before they realized that the bullets could be blocked in a similar fashion to Ann’s fireballs, making them useless if there wasn’t an opening.

Sae moved slightly closer to the fight herself, hoping that there would be some way she could contribute. She watched Haru and Ann seemingly explaining something to the others, overhearing bits and pieces that helped her realize that the two girls had somehow managed to talk to their Personas.

“So you’re saying that by establishing a mental link with our Personas, we can use our abilities again?” Sae could hear Futaba say, before she noticed that Akira, Ryuji, Yusuke and Makoto were focusing intensely before their weapons seemed to explode in a myriad of colors, momentarily stunning their attackers.

“Let’s go everyone!” Ryuji yelled before charging at the soldiers in front of him, his weapon now coated in what looked like an aura of electricity. Sae saw him take a swing at the legionnaire in front of him but it blocked Ryuji’s blow with his shield before pushing him back.

“Not even our abilities are enough…?” Yusuke muttered in shock, his katana now being sheathed in an aura that radiated cold.

“It seems like they’re not…” Makoto confirmed, her brass knuckles shining with bright blue light.

“Brace yourselves, they’re coming for us!” Akira yelled as he protectively held his dagger, an ink-like darkness dripping off its edges, in front of him.

Sae wanted to look away from the sight she witnessed next, the remaining 10 legionnaires forming a wall with their shields before they rammed into the Phantom Thieves, hurling them backwards towards the ground. To her horror she saw that the Phantom Thieves weren’t the only ones that got hit…Teru had gotten hit as well, being flung back further than the others, as Sae felt a sudden rage well up inside of her. This had to stop, she had to do something.

“ENOUGH!” Sae yelled as she ran towards the fight, momentarily startling the legionnaires and allowing the Phantom Thieves to get back onto their feet. She would not sit back and hide anymore. Teru had joined the fight too, despite having no powers, and she would do the same. She wouldn’t let her sister and her friends suffer on their own. She looked over to Teru, Futaba having made her way over to him before she seemingly started healing him, as he slowly got back up. Sae was relieved to see that her boyfriend was still alright before she felt the sensation inside of her well up again, but this time it was stronger than ever.

“I see you have finally taken matters into your own hands.”

There it was again, the voice Sae had heard inside her dream. Except that this time, it was inside her head along with a throbbing pain that made her feel incredibly dizzy.

“Aren’t you tired? Tired of not being able to do anything?”

“I…am…” Sae gritted through her teeth, supporting her head in her hand to make sure she wasn’t going to fall over.

“Sis?!” Makoto yelled, startled by Sae’s sudden pain, as she tried to make her way over to her before one of the soldiers charged towards her, slamming Makoto to the ground once more.

“Makoto!” Sae screamed before dropping to her knees, her world momentarily going dark, as the voice was the only thing she still heard.

“Don’t you want to enact your own judgment on those who sully this world? To save those you care about, save your sister, your lover, and your friends?”

“Please,” Sae responded before the darkness disappeared, a woman with long flowing blonde curls in a white satin dress floating in front of her.

“Then form a contract with me and let us destroy your enemies together,” the woman told her resolutely as Sae realized that this was her Persona. The woman’s name dawning on her like she was a long lost friend, Marie-Antoinette, or Marie for short.

Seconds later an ethereal looking scroll showed her in front of her, along with a pen which she used to sign it instantaneously.

“The contract has been signed and our oath has been sealed, awaken!”

Sae felt herself overwhelmed by a bright flash of light, before she was back where she was, on her knees in front of the battle.

“Whoa, you were glowing all blue and it seems like you transformed!” Teru, who seemed completely healed up, exclaimed, having made his way over to her while she was being awakened by her Persona before quietly adding. “I wish I could get a cool outfit like that too…”

It wasn’t until Teru pointed it out that Sae realized she was wearing new clothes. The pantsuit she had been wearing being replaced by a blue and white corset along with a pair of white pants. Her outfit being completed by a pair of blue ankle boots. The whole ensemble caused her to blush. She hadn’t expected something like…this, to happen as well.

“This is so embarrassing…” she muttered but Teru grinned widely at her.

“You’re like a magical girl!” he exclaimed happily. “You’ve become a hero Sae!”

Sae’s face turned a bright red before she realized that she had in fact awakened her Persona and that meant one thing, she could join in the battle now.

She instinctively threw her hand back as water gathered around it, taking a few seconds before it stabilized itself into a bow.

“Use this weapon to exact judgment on our enemies,” Marie told her, and to Sae’s surprise an arrow appeared the moment she pulled back the string.

At first she wanted to shoot a random enemy, figuring that as long as she helped the others cull the number of enemies in front of them they would eventually win, before remembering Futaba’s words about the centurion.

She decided to trust the girl and aimed for the centurion’s head, taking a deep breath before loosening her grip as the arrow flew towards her target.

She could hear a loud groan as the arrow hit its target, causing the centurion to disappear and throwing the remaining legionnaires into disarray. Something which Akira quickly noticed.

“Now’s our chance! Strike them down everyone!” he yelled as the rest of the Phantom Thieves followed his lead, quickly disposing of the remaining enemies before they dropped to the ground, overcome by their exhaustion.

But it wasn’t over as Sae noticed there was another squadron coming their way, readying her bow to take care of them before hearing Marie’s voice inside her head again: “Want to show them a little magic? Just shoot an arrow in the sky and chant the following incantation…”

Sae did as Marie instructed, shooting an arrow into the air before whispering the ‘Arrow Rain’ incantation her Persona had told her about. She honestly felt a little embarrassed for muttering those words, but it seemed to work as the arrow multiplied itself, matching the amount of enemies that were approaching her and her friends.

The arrows hung inside the air for a moment before they shot down towards squadron, each of them leaving a trail of water behind them as they impaled the approaching soldiers, finishing them off.

Sae put her bow away with a sigh of relief after that. This time, she would be the one protecting the Phantom Thieves and it wouldn’t be the other way around…

Chapter Text

Teru Tendo

Teru sighed, it wasn’t like he wasn’t happy for Sae. On the contrary, he was ecstatic she had gained her own set of powers but it also meant that he was the only person without and well…To say he disliked that would be an understatement.

Things had calmed down after the scuffle between the Phantom Thieves and the soldiers and the others, including Sae who was considered an official member now, were discussing their next move.

Teru had decided to sit away from the group, which was very much unlike him, but no one seemed to notice. He felt like he didn’t really have a right to weigh in, he was the only one without powers after all, which made him pretty much useless and unworthy. So much for being everyone’s hero…

It wasn’t like he hadn’t tried, he had valiantly fought alongside the others, even if he knew he couldn’t really do anything. Fighting alongside Ryuji and Ann had proven that to him. He had come up with a strategy where he’d try and grab one of the soldiers so that Ryuji and especially Ann would have an opening to take them down. They seemed to go along with it but Teru felt like they just ended up protecting him most of the time. Being Phantom Thieves seemed to grant them some kind of supernatural endurance and he didn’t share that blessing. Every single strike from their enemies hurt him way more than it hurt the others, and while he decided to grin and bear it, the others had started noticing how he took a lot more damage. Futaba had healed him a couple of times, but even that didn’t save him from the fatigue that was creeping inside his muscles.

Maybe Ryuji had been right after all, maybe he didn’t belong with them. No, he couldn’t start thinking like that. Ryuji must’ve had a reason to say those things to him, it was very much unlike the boy to be vicious to him, but Teru still couldn’t help but think back to when they were gathering supplies and how much Ryuji had hurt him. Even if he wouldn’t admit that out loud.

“Look!” Teru said, proudly holding the final wooden cup he had crafted in front of him. It had honestly been really difficult to do, and if the wood they had found hadn’t been in the right shape it would’ve been outright impossible, but Teru had managed to craft a box to carry supplies in, along with a wooden “bucket” and a couple of wooden cups. He had convinced Ryuji to let him borrow his weapon to help shape the wood and it had somehow, miraculously, worked. “Aren’t you glad you guys let me come along after all?”

“I guess so…” Ryuji responded with a fake smile but Teru knew the younger boy was lying. “Can I have my weapon back now?”

Teru shrugged before handing Ryuji his weapon back. The boy had been very cold towards him ever since they entered the Metaverse, even before that actually, and Teru didn’t really understand why. He had always been nice to Ryuji…and as far as he knew, they got along great. This behavior didn’t make sense to him at all and he wanted to get to the bottom of it, hence why he volunteered himself to go along when Ryuji offered to look for supplies.

“Do you not want to go on a supply hunt with me Ryuji?” Teru asked, hoping to get the younger boy to talk. “Am I that annoying to you?”

“It’s not that,” Ryuji responded matter-of-factly, not bothering to look at Teru.

“Then what is it?” Teru urged, seemingly annoying Ryuji more as Teru saw him ball his fists.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Ryuji stated, and even though Teru didn’t want to give up he decided to let it slide for now. He and Ryuji had found a bush filled with berries along with a small stream and it was time to gather some supplies.

When they finished stocking up they decided to make their way back towards the camp. Ryuji was walking in front of Teru, who decided to start questioning the younger boy once more.

“Makoto told me you didn’t want me to join you guys…Do you not want me to be here Ryuji?” Teru asked causing Ryuji to turn around and face him, a shocked look momentarily coloring his features before his face hardened.

“That’s true. I don’t want you here. You don’t belong here Teru. You’re not one of us and you shouldn’t want to be,” Ryuji spat harshly, even if he seemed to be unable to look Teru in the eye.

Teru felt tears stinging in the back of his eyes when he heard Ryuji, of all people, say those words. It had to be some kind of mistake, Ryuji was probably his best friend. How could he say something like that to him?

“Y-…you don’t mean that…” Teru stammered, his voice quivering from what Ryuji just told him.

“I effin’ mean it Teru. You should get out of here. Don’t stick your nose into things that don’t involve you,” Ryuji shouted, having turned around so that Teru could no longer see his face.

“But aren’t we friends…?”

“Yes, and that’s why I’m telling you to get the hell out,” Ryuji stated before Teru realized they arrived back at their camp. “We never had this conversation Teru, but please, for everyone’s sake, get out while you still can.”

Teru stood still for a moment before moving after Ryuji, seeing Akira and Sae talk in the distance as he swallowed his tears. He didn’t want anyone to see him cry, and Ryuji probably wouldn’t continue acting like this while the others were around, but that didn’t change the fact that he felt like crap. Ryuji had been his main motivation for even coming along, he really wanted to protect the younger boy, and it seemed like Ryuji didn’t even want him here…

Remembering his confrontation with Ryuji caused tears to well up in Teru’s eyes. The only thing he had wanted for his entire life was feeling like he belonged somewhere, and after meeting the Phantom Thieves he thought he finally did. Had that been a lie? Did he not belong with them? It certainly felt like it, everyone else seemed too focused to even notice he was sitting by himself. He really was useless to them, wasn’t he? Even Sae seemed too busy to notice him. Teru knew it wasn’t particularly fair to lump in Sae with the others, seeing how they just agreed to move in together, but she was arguably one of the biggest factors that made him feel useless.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to move in with her, he really did, but he also felt like she was bailing him out. Bailing him out because he wasn’t able to pay his rent anymore, or hold a stable job, or do anything right…

“Teru-san, are you listening?”

Teru looked up to find Haru standing next to him, the girl looking at him with a frown, a frown that soon turned into a worried expression when she saw the tears that had apparently been running down his cheeks.

“Are you alright?” she asked, causing Teru to nod.

“Yeah,” he lied, not wanting the others to know about his struggles. “I’m just a bit overwhelmed.”

Haru looked at him, raising an eyebrow, before she nodded in understanding.

“I get it, the Metaverse was really overwhelming for me too, especially the first time!” she agreed before smiling at him. “We’re about to decide what we’re going to do next, so I came to get you! You’re one of us so we wanted to hear what you thought too!”

“Alright, I’ll be right there, just give me a moment to wipe away these tears,” Teru smiled. “Don’t want the others to know I’m a teruble softie.”

Haru’s words had cheered him up a little, being exactly what he wanted to hear, but he still couldn’t get past what Ryuji said to him. Did Ryuji truly think he didn’t belong with them, or was there something different going on?

He held his head in thought for a moment before realizing it had to be the latter. Ryuji couldn’t face him when he said those things, which alone was enough proof there was something else going on, and Teru decided to keep a close eye on the younger boy. Even if Ryuji didn’t want him to stick his nose into Phantom Thief business, Teru would still try his hardest to take care of him. He had promised the younger boy as much back when they first met and Teru kept his promises, no matter what...

Ryuji Sakamoto

“We can’t just keep sitting around like this!” Ryuji stated bluntly. “We’re getting freaking ambushed over and over again and there’s no point staying here if Futaba can’t open a portal back home.”

“I’m trying!” Futaba said, clearly frustrated with the fact that there was no progress. “But Ryuji is right, I can still work on it while we explore and we're sitting ducks out here. We need to explore this map, everyone knows that!”

“Wouldn’t it be dangerous though? I assume we’d be making our way to the castle but that road is literally filled with soldiers. If we stay here we can at least stay relatively safe,” Makoto argued.

“But won’t we run out of food? Maybe we can some inside the castle, perhaps we can even find a way home,” Akira pointed out, joining in the argument.

“Why don’t we put it to a vote?” Ann suggested before things could escalate. “We do need to decide what to do.”

The group talked it over for a bit but everyone, including Haru and Teru who had rejoined them, seemed to agree that a vote was the way to go. At least they would end up doing something that way, instead of bickering. That was a new thing. Apparently their group would bicker about everything now, causing Ryuji to wonder what had changed. They never bickered back when they were exploring palaces…

“Ok, so raise your hand if you want to raid the castle,” Ann said, raising her own hand immediately. She was joined by Ryuji, Futaba, Akira and Yusuke, meaning that their group reached the majority.

“For the record, I still don’t think this is a good idea,” Makoto pointed out but a decision had been made. They were going to storm the castle, for better or worse.

“What about Teru?” Ryuji asked. “He doesn’t have any powers, maybe the people who don’t want to go to the castle should stay behind at the camp with him.”

Everyone looked at Ryuji in surprise, Teru looking at him with a hurt look in his eyes. No one had expected something like that out of him.

“I don’t think that’s smart, we should all stay together, there’s strength in numbers,” Akira reasoned. “Besides, I’m sure Teru knows how to stay safe on his own. He has more real world fighting experience than any of us.”

“I do but I’ll just stay in the back and not bother anyone. I promise,” Teru confirmed with a defeated tone to his voice. It seemed that Ryuji had succeeded. All the bravado that Teru displayed before was gone. Part of Ryuji hated how far he was going to reach his goal, but he needed to keep Teru from awakening. He could keep Teru safe that way, figuring that if the lawyer hadn’t awakened by the time they got out of the Metaverse, he’d stay out of it for good. He didn’t want Teru to be in danger and if he had to act like a jerk to achieve that, he would…

“Looks like we’ll all go then!” Ann exclaimed. “Let’s go check out that castle!”

Ryuji knew that Ann was trying to keep everyone’s spirits up, something he would normally do too, but he was frustrated that Akira just undermined him. If Teru had stayed back with Sae, Haru and Makoto there was no way he would’ve awakened but if he came with them, there was a chance that he would and Ryuji didn’t want that. He really didn’t…and he was hurt that his boyfriend didn’t seem to be able to read him.

After making their way down the hill the Phantom Thieves got caught up in one fight after another, exhausting the group. They were about halfway to the castle now but it seemed like more and more soldiers showed up as they got closer.

“I told you guys this was a terrible idea,” Makoto pointed out as she sat down, her back leaning against the wall of the ruin the group was hiding in as she breathed heavily. “We can’t go up against all of these soldiers.”

“They’re adapting to our attacks too, it’s like they learn from each other’s experiences,” Yusuke added, sighing before he sat down as well.

The two of them, along with Ryuji, had formed the frontline during their advance on the castle and it had left the three of them in an exhausted state. Not that the others weren’t tired. Akira had been constantly sneaking around, trying to stab the soldiers in the back before they noticed him, while Ann, Haru and Sae had fired ranged attacks from behind while guarding Teru. Futaba had been hovering above them, supporting them and trying to give them directions for the battle while still trying to find a way to open a portal back home.

“That’s probably because they are Inari,” Futaba pointed out, causing the rest of the group to turn towards her.

“Did you learn anything useful Futaba?” Akira asked, sounding hopeful. A sentiment which the rest of the group seemingly shared. Ryuji was sure the others had felt it too but they had to get to that castle, there was something waiting for them there, and if they could get rid of the soldiers that would be a lot easier.

“I did actually,” the girl responded proudly. “My explanation from before was slightly off. The centurions aren’t the true leaders, there’s another one. There is one soldier wearing gold armor, guarded by two Phalanxes, who shows up every time another platoon comes our way. That is the leader. I was able to do a quick scan of him and figured out that he’s called the Primus Pilus. His mind is connected to the others so all their experiences become a part of his.”

“…And that’s how they adapt to our attacks, because the Primus gives them new instructions?” Akira asked, causing Futaba to nod.

“Indeed! But that also means that if we can take down the Primus, we can potentially take out the entire army in one fell swoop!”

“Sweet!” Ryuji yelled happily. This was great news but when he saw the solemn look on Futaba’s face he realized he probably spoke too soon.

“It would be, if he didn’t disappear right after sending his soldiers after us…”

“Leave that to me then!” Ryuji decided as he bumped his fist against his chest. “I’m the fastest runner here, if anyone is able to reach him, it would be me!”

“Absolutely not!” Akira protested immediately, the others joining in soon after.

“It’s way too dangerous Ryuji-kun! You can’t fight an enemy like that on your own!” Haru added, her voice sounding distressed.

“It’s the only way and you guys know it! We need to get to the castle!” Ryuji stated. “And besides we don’t have a choice cause there he is!”

Ryuji noticed a golden glimmer and saw another platoon approaching them. Realizing that the glimmer must’ve originated from the Primus, he ran after it, ignoring the protests from the others, to check it out. He managed to dodge the incoming soldiers but they blocked the others from running after him. Ryuji figured it would be fine as he sprinted around the corner of the ruin before getting a good look at the Primus. The golden knight was seemingly alone, meaning he was vulnerable and that meant Ryuji could probably take him one on one. He was sure of it.

Maybe taking on a big boss on his own was not the smartest idea after all, Ryuji realized as the Primus noticed him. The golden knight quickly summoned his two guardian Phalanxes causing Ryuji to find himself outnumbered as he cursed loudly.

“You got yourself in quite some trouble, lad,” he could hear his Persona tell him as he let out a heavy sigh.

He knew that Kidd was right, he may have overestimated himself, but someone had to take care of the Primus so that the others could reach the castle and after Futaba’s explanation he knew he was the only one fast enough to reach him, meaning that he really didn’t have a choice.

Ryuji braced himself, wanting to put up a valiant fight despite the odds that he was facing. He raised his metal pipe over his shoulder, taunting the enemies in front of him. The Primus seemingly lost his composure at said move, charging at Ryuji with his two guardians in tow.

Ryuji dodged the Primus’ sword, along with the spears from his underlings, jumping back as he let Kidd channel electricity through his weapon. When his Persona finished he quickly charged at the Phalanx closest to him, catching the soldier off-guard.

A rapid blow to the head was all it took for Ryuji to decapitate the first of the two Phalanxes, causing the soldier to disappear in a flash of light before Ryuji got pushed to the ground by the other Phalanx.

He cursed loudly at himself. He had momentarily lost himself in the ecstasy of defeating one enemy, causing him to forget to pay attention to the other two. A move that he was now paying the price for.

“Crap!” he muttered as the Primus put his boot on Ryuji’s wrist, causing him to loosen his grip on his weapon before the golden knight kicked it away, leaving Ryuji defenseless.

It was only a moment later that Ryuji realized how screwed he really was as the Phalanx put his spear against his throat, pressing it harder every second.

“I’m sorry everyone…I guess you were right after all…” he whispered as he closed his eyes, tears rolling down as cheeks, bracing himself as he tried to stifle the fear that was building inside of him. It would only take a few more seconds before this was all over at least but Ryuji couldn’t help but feel an intense amount of guilt well up inside his chest…He had been a jerk to Teru, and now he would never be to apologize for his behavior…

Suddenly Ryuji heard a loud crash before he realized he could no longer feel the spear being pressed against his throat. He opened his eyes in surprise, not believing the sight in front of him. The Phalanx had been tackled to the ground, an angry looking Teru protectively standing in front of Ryuji as he balled his fists at the two remaining soldiers.

Teru Tendo

“Don’t you dare hurt this kid, he’s like a little brother to me and if you want to hurt him you have to go through me first!” Teru yelled angrily. He had followed Ryuji after seeing him separate himself from the others, figuring there was no way the kid could take down 3 enemies on his own.

As he arrived on the scene, Teru quickly realized that the others had definitely been right and Teru was glad that he could keep up with Ryuji, having trained alongside him for a good couple of months now.

“Get out of here Teru, you don’t have a Persona. They’ll kill you!” Ryuji yelled as he struggled to get up. There was no way Teru was going to listen to him though, he had to protect Ryuji. He had grown close to him over the past months and when he saw Ryuji run off to save the day, he was spurred on by his own resolve. He would do whatever it took to protect Ryuji and the other Phantom Thieves, they were his precious friends who needed a hero to help them out and Teru had finally made up his mind as he decided he was going to be that hero. He didn’t care if he didn’t have powers. He was Teru Tendo, and he was going to be a champion of justice.

I can’t believe it took you this long to take a stand,” he suddenly heard a voice inside his head say as he clutched his head in pain. It was as if a burning, agonizing pain had taken a hold of him as he grunted loudly.

“No way…” Ryuji muttered, but Teru couldn’t respond to him as the voice in his head continued booming, drowning out the rest of his senses.

Honestly, I was starting to think that your desire to be a champion of justice wasn’t strong enough, slaving away at that desk job day after day until you couldn’t take it anymore.”

Teru was gripping his head with both hands at this point, dropping to his knees as he let out a pained yell. It hurt, his head hurt so much. The voice was right though, he had almost given up on his dream. If he hadn’t been influenced by the Phantom Thieves like he had, he would’ve probably still worked for that corrupt law firm growing increasingly resentful day after day.

Become the hero you dream of being, the other you inside of you desires it so. I am thou, thou art I. Let us forge a contract of crimson blood to create your own brand of justice!”

The pain suddenly stopped as Teru felt a mask appear over his face. He realized it was shaped like a visor, reminding of a sentai mask which he thought was super cool, before he pulled it off to accept the contract. He screamed out in pain as he saw his own blood splatter in front of him, feeling like he ripped off his own skin, before his appearance changed completely and the pain disappeared once more.

When he examined himself he saw he was wearing a tight red suit with a white breastplate reminiscent of the ones the sentai heroes that he loved since he was young wore.

“I look so cool,” he muttered, unable to hide his excitement as he momentarily noticed a knight in crimson red armor hovering behind him, blinking out of existence after nodding to Teru in acknowledgment. Teru felt as if he was reunited with a childhood friend as he recalled his Persona’s name, Lancelot.

Teru held his hand out to Ryuji to help him back up, having blown back the two remaining soldiers with his awakening, before both men stood tall. Their backs pressed against one another after Ryuji had gotten his weapon back.

“You look effin’ cool, bro!” Ryuji pointed out.

“Save the talk for later, right now we got some ass to kick. Before I kick yours, mind you,” Teru responded, drawing the weapon that he found sheathed at his side.

It was a silver medieval sword that was decorated with rubies, which somehow felt fitting to him…It was like his own willpower had been turned into a weapon.

“Kick my ass?” Ryuji asked Teru before both of them realized that the two remaining enemies had recovered and were now charging at the two of them.

“Let’s finish these off first kid,” Teru said, smiling cockily as he engaged the Primus in front of him. He was able to match his enemy’s sword blow by blow as Ryuji engaged the Phalanx. Sword fighting felt like boxing to Teru as he found himself able to wield the sword with finesse. But even though he could match the Primus’ moves, neither of them getting the best of the other, he knew he couldn’t win like this as he nervously bit his lip. Maybe being a champion of justice wasn’t as easy as he thought.

Need some assistance?” Teru could hear Lancelot ask before feeling an unfamiliar power course through his veins.

“Whoa…” Teru stammered as his sword started glowing with a blinding light.

“Take this you fiend! Starlight Slash!” he yelled instinctively before slashing his sword at the Primus, sending a bright ray of light that impaled him while Ryuji finished off the Phalanx he was fighting with a similar looking move. Both enemies vanished as Ryuji walked over to Teru, giving him a high five to celebrate their victory.

“Do you really have to call out an attack name?” he asked, looking slightly embarrassed.

“Don’t you guys do that?” Teru responded in surprise. He figured all heroes did that, they did so on TV anyway and Teru thought it was super cool.

“Not really…It’s super embarrassing man!” Ryuji laughed before he caught Teru off-guard with a hug, especially seeing how their other interactions inside the Metaverse went, but it was nevertheless something the older man didn’t mind returning as he wrapped his arms around Ryuji.

“Thanks Teru, I would’ve been dead if it wasn’t for you,” Ryuji muttered, a small hint of guilt lacing his voice.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it Ryuji, I told you I’d be there for you and right now that means I’m here to fight alongside you and your friends and I promise that I will try my hardest to protect all of you, even if it costs me my life…” Teru responded, smiling at the younger boy who seemed to hesitantly smile back.

“Did you mean what you said?” Ryuji asked after he broke away from their hug.

“About what?”

“Me being like your younger bro?” Ryuji muttered, sounding uncharacteristically bashful.

“I guess…I mean, I said it in the moment and all...” Teru reasoned, not wanting Ryuji to make fun of him for blurting that out. He stopped when he saw Ryuji’s face brighten up with one of the brightest smiles he had ever seen him smile.

“Cool man, ‘cause I kinda see you like a big bro! You always take me boxing, train with me at the gym and treat me to ramen and stuff and it is super easy to talk to ya!” Ryuji said happily as he rubbed the back of his head.

Teru chuckled, happy to be reunited with the Ryuji he befriended, before he wrapped his arm around the other boy’s neck, putting him in a headlock as he ruffled his hair.

“Ow! Ow! What’s that for man?!” Ryuji yelped, sounding startled.

“That’s me kicking your ass for trying to keep me from going to the Metaverse with you guys! Don’t think I’m letting you get away with that kid. I have that right now as your unofficial older brother,” Teru remarked, making sure to ruffle Ryuji’s hair a lot before he let go of Ryuji, as he smiled a cocky smile at the younger boy.

“Wipe that grin of your face Teru,” Ryuji said, sticking his tongue out to feign annoyance but Teru wasn’t fooled. He saw that Ryuji was smiling at him and figured that Ryuji need a big brother figure in his life. Most of the Phantom Thieves did.

Teru honestly didn’t mind filling that role for him, and for the others, he had gotten attached to Ryuji anyway, probably because they were so similar.

Interacting with him like this caused Teru’s curiously towards Ryuji’s previous viciousness to increase though, and he really wanted to talk to the younger boy about it. Well, he wanted to talk to him about a lot of things really, but for now they needed to focus on the problem at hand. Getting out of this dimension and they needed to get back to the others to do that.

“Let’s get back to the others. I can’t wait to see the look on Sae’s face when she sees me like this,” Teru said before running off in the direction of the castle as Ryuji followed closely behind him. Teru braced himself for what they’d find when they reunited with the others. Unlike what the others thought, he was actually quite aware of how dangerous the situation they found themselves in was.

However, the imminent danger didn’t change the fact that he felt more alive, and useful, than he had in ages. This is what he always wanted, becoming a champion of justice who fights to save the world and said wish seemed to have finally been granted…

Chapter Text


Morgana didn’t know how long it had been since he, Igor and Lavenza had been taken by the Olympians but nowadays he found himself alone. The last time he had seen the other two was when Lavenza scattered herself into a set of 10 blue butterflies, sacrificing her own being in the progress. Igor explained to him that she had scattered her own essence into 10 pieces, 10 pieces to awaken those that were destined to be chosen. When Morgana argued that Lavenza lost herself in the process, the god had explained that that had been her duty all along. The duty to awaken those who would save the world when it would face its darkest hour. Just like Morgana had a duty of his own. There was another reason, besides the one he knew about, he had been created but Igor would not tell him why, telling the feline that he would it figure out “in due time” before they got separated by the Olympians.

Morgana had been taken away to Ares’ warped version of the Metaverse, where he had been locked up inside the God’s castle, and a lot of time had passed since. He didn’t even know if Igor was still alive at this point but he sincerely hoped the god still was. He had so many questions, and he felt like he deserved answers…even if he had only been created to fulfill his purpose. Morgana found that he no longer needed sustenance after finding out he had been created to fulfill a specific purpose. He didn’t need food or water to survive, even if he did enjoy it, and Ares knew that, locking the cat in a dark room for what felt like an eternity.

Morgana hissed when he was greeted by a flash of light, blinking a couple of times before realizing Ares was removing his restraints. There was no way to god was just going to let him go, was there?

“What are you doing?” Morgana demanded, causing the god to laugh at him menacingly before grabbing him tightly.

“Destroying your friends’ morale by displaying my war trophy, what else?” Ares told him as he tightened his grip around Morgana’s body. Despite the fact that he had no way out Morgana could feel his heart skip a beat. Akira and the others were here, they were inside the Metaverse again, and they were coming to take Ares down. Morgana knew the Olympians couldn’t keep the Phantom Thieves down, he just hoped that Ares wouldn’t be able to execute his plan and destroy their morale by showing him in such a pitiful state as he lost consciousness…

Akira Kurusu

“Wait where’d Teru go?” Sae asked, her voice a little panicky, after the group managed to dispose of the platoon of soldiers that had been coming their way. There had been a lot of them this time, way more than before, but just when they were about to overwhelm the Phantom Thieves they seemed to lose their strength, turning what was a battle for survival into an easy fight.

“He must’ve gone after Ryuji while we weren’t looking…” Akira deduced, trying to mask his own worry so that the others wouldn’t lose hope. He was their leader before and he should probably try and take on that role once again, even if he no longer felt suited for the job after his experiences in prison. “I really hope the two of them are okay…”

“They seem to have taken out the Primus,” Futaba interrupted, calming Akira’s nerves a little. “The mental connection between the soldiers disappeared right before they lost most of their power. Ryuji did it!”

“I guess Ryuji really did become dependable, huh?” Ann said with a smile. “Don’t look so glum Akira, I’m sure he’s fine.”

“Teru-san is probably with him as well, and those two will definitely look out for one another! They’re such close friends!” Haru added, trying to ease both Sae and Akira’s worries, not realizing that she caused the jealousy inside Akira’s heart to stir.

“Afraid your man has eyes for another?”

Akira was shocked when he heard his Persona’s voice inside his head, especially like this. Weren’t they only able to communicate during battle?

“A true Phantom Thief just takes what he desires, you do realize that right?” Arsene continued, unsettling Akira.

“Ryuji’s not like that. We’re in a good place. He and Teru are just friends,” Akira protested, albeit weakly. He was surprised at how weak his response sounded, did he not believe in Ryuji as much as he thought he did?

“But Ryuji isn’t the problem, now is it? You’ve hated Teru from the day you met him. You just tolerate him because Ryuji likes him but deep down, you hope he doesn’t come back. You hope a platoon of soldiers got to him and killed him.”

“That’s not true…I mean I do kind of dislike him but I don’t want him to die!” Akira shouted against the voice inside his head. He didn’t even know why he disliked Teru so much and he hated that his Persona was confronting him with that. Nevertheless, Arsene wasn't wrong seeing how he had felt an unnatural dislike for Teru from the day the man first walked into the interrogation room. Everything he had done for him and the others hadn't lessened that, it had even kind of made it worse...

“Keep telling yourself that but that won’t make him go away. And who knows what will happen if he won’t go away? I can give you the power to make him go away. Don’t you want to tap into your own darkness by embracing your blackened soul?”

“Akira? Are you listening to anything we’re saying?”

Hearing Makoto’s worried voice snapped Akira back to reality, blinking a couple of times before finding his friends standing around him in worry. He had somehow managed to, subconsciously, sit down and had been staring blankly in front of him.

“I’m sorry, I must’ve spaced out, what were you guys talking about?” Akira responded, hoping that the others didn’t realize that he had been talking to his Persona.

“You know I hate explain things twice but, like I said before, all the energy signatures that were converging around the castle have disappeared. It looks like we can easily reach it now,” Futaba explained before Makoto took over her explanation, adding: “We were planning on going there, seeing how Ryuji and Teru will probably do the same. Hopefully we can regroup with them there and confront whoever controls this place.”

Akira nodded in agreement before he and the others set off towards the castle, staying at the back of the group to think about the talk with his Persona. Did he really want Teru gone that badly? Did he not trust Ryuji? Ryuji would never cheat on him with Teru, there was a big age gap between them and Teru was in a relationship with Sae too. They were just friends, best friends, but still just friends and Teru was his friend too. All of the Phantom Thieves, both old and new, were his friends, but despite telling himself that, there was a part of them that didn't trust that belief, or perhaps this was something else. Perhaps he didn't really trust his friends anymore, feeling disconnected from them ever since he came back from prison...

“Are you really okay Akira?” Makoto asked, having slowed down so she ended up walking next to him. “You seem lost in thought…”

“I’m fine Makoto, don’t worry about me…” Akira responded, but judging from the way she rolled her eyes she knew he was lying. She looked like she was about to give Akira an earful about how he should trust her before Futaba let out a scared yelp, distracting to two of them and causing them to change their focus to Futaba.

“What’s wrong Futaba-chan?” Haru asked as the group came to a halt in front of the castle, Akira not realizing they had already arrived at their destination. Futaba didn’t get a chance to explain her outburst before the group saw castle's gates open up to reveal what looked like a humanoid figure walking towards them.

“H-…his power levels are off the charts…” Futaba muttered in fear. “He’s even stronger than Yaldabaoth…”

“An Olympian?” Makoto surmised, an assessment the others seemed to agree with as they drew their weapons.

“Greetings Phantom Thieves and welcome to my realm! I am impressed you made it this far!” the man in front of him proclaimed. “Sadly, the same cannot be said for your feline friend.”

“M…Mona-chan!” Haru exclaimed, her voice sounding shocked, as she pointed at the creature the Olympian was holding.

“It is indeed your precious Morgana, sadly he wasn’t able to put up a decent fight. I certainly hope that you’ll make for better playthings.”

“That’s Ares, the God of War. I don’t think we’re ready to face him,” Futaba muttered.

“I don’t really think we have a choice,” Ann pointed out before shooting a flurry of fireballs at the god who was still approaching them. Ares didn’t seem fazed in the slightest as he drew his sword, effortlessly cutting through the fireballs.

“Is that all you’ve got?” he taunted before an enraged Haru opened fire at him.

“Give. Back. Mona-chan!” she shouted, tears falling from her eyes. Akira remembered that she had taken Morgana’s sacrifice the hardest, even making a grave for their feline friend, and realizing he had been alive and captured must’ve caused something inside of her to snap.

Honestly, Akira felt pretty angry too but he knew he shouldn’t tap into that anger. Ares still had an iron grip on Morgana and the poor cat seemed to be unconscious and he didn't want to accidentally hurt his friend.

“Are you done?” Ares yawned, deflecting Haru’s bullets before seemingly drawing a glyph into the sky. The glyph quickly formed as it seemingly gathered energy.

“We have to get out of here!” Yusuke yelled but it was too late. They were still grouped up and made an easy target for whatever the god was about to do to them.

“War Cannon!” The Olympian shouted before a beam of blue energy, originating from the glyph, fired at the group who braced themselves for impact despite knowing that it was probably futile as Akira wondered if this was the end for them…

“Starlight Shield!”

 Akira opened his eyes to see a barrier of glimmering yellow energy soak the beam before it dissipated, turning around to find Teru and Ryuji running towards them.

“What’s up?” Teru greeted them cheerfully, immediately, and proudly, showing off his own costume to the others.

“Who the hell are you? There’s only supposed to be 7!” A frustrated Ares yelled, allowing the group to recollect themselves.

“I guess you could say we wanted in on the action,” Ryuji taunted the god, who seemed to grow increasingly frustrated.

“So we’ve come to their rescue!” Teru added gleefully before turning to Akira, his expression turning serious. “What’s the deal with this guy, can you give us a rundown?”

Akira decided to ignore his dislike for Teru, even if he just wanted to prove Arsene wrong, as he gave him and Ryuji an explanation of what had happened. He also realized they needed everyone united to even stand a chance against Ares. His attack would’ve likely obliterated them if Teru hadn’t shielded them in time and Akira did not want to find out what being hit by any of Ares’ attacks would feel like.

“I’m glad you’re alright Kira,” Ryuji whispered before they regrouped with the others. Ares had lost his temper, meaning he wasn’t paying attention to the Phantom Thieves, even if for just a minute, allowing them to come up with a counter strategy…

Yusuke Kitagawa

Makoto had quickly come up with a plan while Ares was distracted by his own anger, a plan which heavily leaned on Futaba to work which worried Yusuke. His girlfriend didn’t do well under pressure, even if she put up a brave face, but he also knew that she was the only one who would be able to get them out of here. They would use the fact that Ares only expected 7 of them to their advantage, since that likely meant he didn’t know about Sae and Teru’s abilities. They would use their numbers to create a diversion so they could free Morgana before fleeing while Futaba would try to open a portal to flee through.

“Everyone ready?” Akira asked, causing the others to nod in confirmation. Yusuke, along with Ryuji, Teru and Makoto charged at the Olympian with their weapons drawn before attacking him. It sadly didn’t really do much as Ares parried their attacks with ease, regaining his focus as he laughed.

“You’re pathetic, all of you. You can’t even beat me 4-on-1!” the Olympian laughed but Yusuke knew that this was part of their plan, they were only the distraction after all.

“Now Sae-san!” Haru yelled, causing Yusuke and the others to jump out of the way as a shower of bullets and fireballs flew Ares’ way. The god effortless fended off the attacks, not noticing an arrow coming straight for the hand that was holding Morgana. Ares yelled out in pain the moment the arrow hit him, dropping Morgana to the ground and causing Akira to quickly swoop in and catch him.

“And now we run!” Ryuji yelled before running off along with the others, an enraged Ares running after the group…

If there was one thing Yusuke hated, it was running, but he honestly didn’t have a choice considering that they were being chased by a god who only wanted one thing, kill them. They had been running for about 10 minutes now and Yusuke could feel the fatigue getting to him, he had never been as good as the others when it came to stamina.

“Telepathic Link complete,” Yusuke heard Futaba’s voice inside his head, before hearing the rest of the group as well.

“I have finally done it, now we can at least talk to each other!” Futaba exclaimed happily. “I managed to broaden my telepathy to include all of us!”

“How’s the portal coming along Futaba-chan?” Makoto asked immediately, causing Yusuke and the others to hear what sounded like a sigh coming from Futaba.

“I’m trying really hard but I can’t seem to get this final part to work…” the girl responded, sounding disappointed. “I’m sorry…”

“What do we do next then? We have to do something…” Ann stated. “We can’t keep running away forever.”

“We can’t fight him either, we’re not strong enough…” Akira protested, still holding on to Morgana. “Besides we need to get Morgana to safety first. Maybe he knows how we can deal with Ares.”

“How’s Mona-chan doing? Is he still alive?” Haru urged, sounding worried.

“I think so…He seems to be breathing at any rate…” Akira responded, resulting in several worried sighs from the group.

“Wait…” Sae suddenly remarked, surprising the others. “You use fire magic, right Ann?”

“I do,” the girl confirmed, sounding slightly confused. “Why do you ask?”

“Because I use water. If we combine that, we can create a smokescreen that might be able to distract Ares so we can get away.”

Yusuke had to admit that Sae’s plan had some merit, wishing he could join in. His ice powers should’ve been able to help but he hadn’t really been able to access them anymore. He had only been able to channel what he dubbed “Ice Energy” through his sword but he no longer seemed able to manifest actual ice.

“Are you going to use cool attack names?” Teru asked excitedly, only to be responded to by audible sighs. “Fine…”

Sae’s plan seemed to work as a trail of steam started to form behind the Phantom Thieves, the fog getting thicker until they were no longer able to see Ares causing Yusuke to hear the others cheer inside his head. Maybe they were really going to get away unscathed.

They had been able to stop running for now, at the very least, allowing them to catch their breath before Futaba announced that she was going to cancel the telepathic link. Yusuke didn’t realize it before, but keeping the telepathic link up must’ve taken a lot out of Futaba because she sounded exhausted. He felt proud of her but he couldn’t help but feel a little insecure himself. He honestly had been the only member of their group who hadn’t really done anything noteworthy and that made him feel a sad…

“You really think your cheap tricks can keep me from finding you?!” the god yelled before the fog slowly started to disappear, not allowing Yusuke to wallow.

“This isn’t good…” Yusuke muttered as he looked at the others. They were exhausted and everyone knew that there was no way they could handle another chase.

“There has to be something we can do…” Haru stammered. “It can’t end like this…”

“Eureka!” Futaba yelled suddenly, causing the others to look at her in surprise. “I did it! I think! I found the missing link!”

“You think?” Makoto asked, causing Futaba to nod before she manifested what looked like a portal in front of them. The portal honestly looked beautiful and Yusuke had to struggle to not lose himself in its beauty. It was like a swirling depth of purples that stretched out in front of them.

“I’m not sure where this portal will lead…I wasn’t able to test it…” Futaba responded, looking away. “It might not take us home…”

“Well, we should probably take a chance anyways! I don’t want to be destroyed by Ares,” Ryuji exclaimed as he got ready to walk through the portal.

“Yeah, we trust you Futaba. You always do a great job! I’m sure you’ll get us home safe!” Yusuke added as a way to reassure his girlfriend who smiled at him when she heard his voice.

“Thanks Inari, you always know what to say…” she whispered softly, causing Ryuji to look at him in annoyance.

“What about me? I was nice too!”

Futaba looked like she was about to start bickering with Ryuji before Ann broke them up, pointing out that Ares was approaching them..and he was doing so quickly.

“Are we all ready for this?” Akira confirmed, even if they really didn’t have a choice, before stepping through the portal.

Everyone else followed after him, leaving only Yusuke and Futaba behind.

“You have to go first Inari, I have to keep the portal open,” Futaba told him, but Yusuke shook his head before grabbing her hand.

“We’ll go through together,” he told her, Futaba smiling at him as they stepped through the portal together.

“Run while you still can Phantom Thieves! Next time you come back here you won’t even recognize this place and believe me, you will come back and this will be your grave!” was the last thing Yusuke heard Ares shout before the purple swirls consumed him and Futaba, causing nothing but darkness to surround the two of them as the portal closed behind them…

Chapter Text

Haru Okumura

After realizing everyone made it through the portal safely Haru looked around the room, quickly realizing that they weren’t back in their own dimension. She knew where they were though, they had been here before after all, but all of that wasn’t important to her right now as she made her way over to Akira to see how Morgana was doing.

The cat was resting on the ground, still unconscious, but Haru could see his little chest rise, showing her and the other Phantom Thieves that he was still breathing.

“Mona-chan…” Haru whispered softly, feeling tears prick inside her eyes. This was exactly why she didn’t want to fight anymore. She didn’t want any of her friends to get hurt, to end up in the state Morgana was in, and she didn’t want to hurt, or worse kill, anyone either. She just wanted her life to go back to normal and focus on her future, was that too much to ask?


Haru looked down at Morgana to find that the cat had opened his eyes and was now looking at her.

“Yes Mona-chan, it’s me,” she confirmed, unable to hold her tears back, before gently lifting the cat up to give him a hug. “I’m so glad you’re alright. I was so worried about you…and you can just call me Haru silly. We don't need code names anymore...”

“Where’s Ares?” Morgana asked, sounding scared, causing Haru to shake her head.

“He’s gone. You’re safe now,” Haru whispered reassuringly. She hated seeing Morgana this scared, he had never shown fear like this before and it made her wonder what Ares had done to him.

“You guys killed him?” Morgana perked up, a question Haru was unsure how to respond to.

“We didn’t,” Akira pointed out. “We barely escaped with our lives, that’s how we ended up in here.”

“I see…” Morgana muttered, the glum expression returning to his face. “Even you guys couldn’t do anything about him, huh…?”

“That is not true Morgana, and I have to thank you. If it wasn’t for you, I would’ve never been able to guide them to the Velvet Room.”

Haru looked around the room, trying to find the source of the voice, before she realized that her body, along with bodies of the others had started glowing. It only took a second before the blue butterflies that had entered their bodies a couple of days before came out, causing the glowing to stop, before they gathered in the middle of the room to form what looked like a familiar person.

“Wait I know you!” Teru gasped before the others could say anything. “You’re that girl from my dream, aren’t you?”

“That’s true indeed, Sir Knight, or should I just call you Teru now?” Lavenza giggled before looking around the room they were all in, a room that looked very different than before. “They really did a number on this place when they took me and Igor, huh?”

“Wait, they took that guy with the long nose too?!” Ryuji gasped, causing Lavenza to look at him disapprovingly before nodding with a sigh.

“I see he’s still here too,” she whispered under her breath, causing Ryuji to look offended before she snapped her fingers causing a set of 10 velvet chairs to appear out of thin air. “It’s so nice to be back in my own body, even if it’s incomplete! Let’s all sit down and discuss what has happened, shall we? We’re safe as long as we’re inside this dimension.”

“Didn’t you just say that the Olympians broke in before?” Futaba pointed out, sounding skeptical.

“But that means they also assume that no one’s here anymore, don’t they?” Lavenza answered brightly, causing the group too look at her in disbelief.

“So basically we’re not save at all, are we?” Makoto pressed, causing Lavenza to look away from them.

“I mean…I don’t think they’ll come back here, but I can’t restore the Velvet Room’s protections…” she admitted. “I have much to tell you though which is why why I hijacked your portal to bring you here…”

“You hijacked our portal?” Futaba stammered, sounding offended. “So I did do it completely right?”

“Not exactly, your portal, while it could’ve possibly brought you back home, was very unstable and led to a multitude of dimensions. There was a high chance all of you would’ve ended up in separate dimensions with no way back home. Rhat’s why I used the power inside the butterflies to guide you all here…” Lavenza explained, causing Futaba to look disappointed.

“If it wasn’t for you Futaba-chan, we would’ve surely been killed by Ares. You saved us by creating a portal even if it didn’t work completely!” Haru interrupted, not liking how Lavenza put Futaba down. It was like the blonde girl wasn’t really able to gauge human emotions properly and it annoyed her a little.

“Anyways,” Lavenza continued, pausing for a moment before she started to intensely stare at Teru causing him to look towards the ground nervously. “Take off your shirt for me.”

“W-…what?” Teru muttered, looking completely flabbergasted. Not that Haru could blame him. That was an incredibly weird request and it would honestly make anyone feel uncomfortable. “I’m not sure if I should take off my clothes in front of teenagers…”

“It’s fine Teru,” Ann reassured him before turning to Lavenza. “I would like to know why though.”

“Just let him take it off, you’ll understand,” Lavenza urged causing Teru to let out an audible sigh before taking off the shirt he was wearing, revealing his chest which made the others gasp in surprise.

“Whoa! You didn’t tell me you got a tattoo bro!” Ryuji exclaimed, sounding surprised. “The design is really weird though, what does it stand for?”

“Yeah, when did you get that Teru?” Sae added, sounding annoyed, before looking at her boyfriend with a frown.

“What tattoo?” Teru stammered. “I would never get a tattoo…”

And yet, there definitely was a tattoo on Teru’s chest, everyone could see that. Haru momentarily felt bad for him until she noticed Lavenza giggling, realizing that the girl probably already knew about the tattoo that appeared on Teru’s chest.

“I forgot how silly humans are,” she giggled. “That isn’t a tattoo. That’s a mark. It means you’re destined to save the world. All of you have them.”

“So you marked us, without our consent?” Haru demanded to know after everyone located the mark on their body. It angered her greatly that Lavenza apparently marked all of them, even if hers looked kind of cute. She felt some kind of weird kinship with the symbol that had appeared on her left hand. She figured she got lucky though, she could just wear gloves to hide her mark but some of the others weren’t that fortunate. Ryuji’s mark had appeared on his collarbone, something he didn’t seem very pleased about. Akira and Ann had gotten luckier, their marks appearing on the lower side of his abdomen and her right thigh respectively, meaning they could wear their clothes over it. Futaba had gotten similar luck, her mark having appeared on her left shoulder. Yusuke was in the same situation she was in, his mark appearing on his right hand, while Makoto’s mark had appeared on her wrist. She supposed Teru had gotten lucky too, his mark appearing on his right pec. Haru did genuinely feel bad for Sae though, her mark having appeared very visibly on the side of her neck, although she didn’t seem very fazed by it.

“I didn’t do anything,” Lavenza replied defensively. “Your marks have been with you since you were born, I just gave them a little push.”

“And why did you wake us up then, because right now I feel like we’re being plummeted into danger and we don’t even know why!” Haru yelled, her frustration finally getting the better of her. “Why should we even fight? We got our own lives!”

Lavenza, and the others, looked at her in surprise before the blonde girl were filled with a compassionate look that surprised Haru. “I’m genuinely sorry it has to be this way but we have no time, you have guys have to find the 10th member of your group, before the world is destroyed…”

Makoto Niijima

“Wait, a 10th member?” Makoto asked, sounding surprised. “It can’t be Morgana, right?”

“It’s not me,” the cat pointed out before anyone else could answer. “I’m not marked.”

“The 10th member you’re looking for isn’t Morgana,” Lavenza confirmed. “I do not know who they are either, but when I turned my body into those butterflies, I turned into 10 of them."

“Can’t you find them then?” Akira urged. “There’s a part of you inside this person, correct?”

“I’m afraid I cannot,” Lavenza answered, shaking her head. “This person is way too special for that and they likely assimilated the part of me that went inside of them at this point.”

“Wait, why are they special?” Yusuke asked. “I thought you said they were a part of our group and our powers are pretty much equal.”

Lavenza nodded, seemingly thinking about something for a moment before she looked like she decided on something. “Do you know what those marks mean?” she asked, causing the entire group to shake their heads. “I guess you could say they symbolize the trait you, as a person, embody the most.”

“The trait we embody the most?” Makoto repeated, sounding confused and judging by the looks on the other’s faces they were just as confused as she was.

“What does that mean?” her sister added. “You should stop being so vague and explain what you mean.”

“I suppose I didn’t expect anything less from the bearer of Honesty,” Lavenza mused as she turned to Sae. “That’s what your mark means, honesty.”

“What about mine?” Ryuji asked excitedly, causing Lavenza to sigh before telling him that his mark stood for Kindness, causing Ryuji to look a little bit lost as he took a step back, seemingly consumed by his own thoughts before he nodded at Lavenza. Makoto, and from the looks of things the others, wasn’t surprised at what Ryuji's mark stood for though. Ryuji always tried to be kind to everyone around him, even if he didn’t realize that himself.

Akira’s mark was revealed as Trust next and Makoto could see her best friend’s face twitch before he awkwardly started laughing. She should probably keep an eye on that before she noticed Lavenza had turned to Futaba.

“Your mark stands for Knowledge,” Lavenza stated, causing the girl’s face to brighten.

“Naturally, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone,” she pointed out, positively glowing before Lavenza revealed Yusuke’s mark to stand for Reliability.

“What about my mark?” Teru asked next, seemingly antsy to figure out was his stood for as Lavenza stayed silent for a couple of moments.

“Your mark stands for Desire, and I have to say it’s a bit of a tricky one,” Lavenza told him, causing Makoto to wonder why before realizing that Desire did sound less positive than the other traits.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Teru beamed. “I guess you can say I’m pretty desirable!”

Everyone looked at him in silence for a moment, not sure how to respond to his pun, before Lavenza turned to Makoto.

“Your mark stands for determination, which probably doesn’t surprise you?”

Makoto nodded and honestly, it didn’t. If there was one thing she was, it was determined. She always had clear goals in mind and wouldn’t give up on them until she managed to achieve them.

“Um…” Ann interrupted, her voice softer than usual. “What about my mark? You’ve explained everyone else’s…”

“I saved yours for last because it’s special dear,” Lavenza smiled. “Your mark stands for Love, the beautiful force that drives so much good in the world.”

Everyone else seemed to smile when Ann’s mark was revealed. Love was perfect for her. She always tried to matchmaker and was really invested in making sure people who she deemed perfect for each other stayed together. She was also a loving person who really cared about everyone’s well-being, but to Makoto’s surprise Ann’s face went white from shock.

“A-…Are you sure you’re right?” she muttered silently before looking away from the group, causing them to look at her in concern. Lavenza didn’t seem to notice though, rambling on about how she was sure about what all the marks stood for. Makoto wanted to talk to Ann, figure out what was wrong, but she also realized that Lavenza was about to reveal crucial information about the 10th chosen. Information they needed.

“The final mark is Hope, and it’s very special. The person wielding the power of hope has the power to change the fabric of the dimensions because without hope, there’s no light, and without light, there’s no future…”

“So we just find whoever has a mark like ours and protect them?” Akira asked, causing Lavenza to nod before looking away.

“There is one problem though…” she muttered softly. “The Olympians know about the bearer of Hope too, and they’re looking for them as we speak. The Power of Hope must not fall into their hands, they’ll destroy the world if they do!”

“But we don’t stand a chance against the Olympians,” Ryuji blurted out. “As much as I hate to admit it, Ares totally kicked our asses back there…”

To Makoto’s surprised, there was a glimmer of hope in Lavenza’s eyes before they heard a loud crash, causing everyone to look around in shock before they heard a female voice echoing through the Velvet Room.

“La-ven-za! You have been a very naughty girl but don’t worry, Mommy is here to take you right back to our little playpen!”

“What’s going on?!” Makoto asked, but Lavenza waved her hand to open a portal.

“You guys have to get out of here before she finds us,” she urged. “I have sent all the information you need need to Futaba’s laptop and please, you have to take this too.”

Lavenza flicked her hand again, causing what looked like a paper scroll to appear in front of Futaba. “It’ll reveal how you guys can get stronger, strong enough to a defeat the Olympians.”

“But what about you?” Ryuji asked. “Can’t you come with us?”

“Someone needs to close the portal, and you must go through it now!” Lavenza urged once more. “I’ll hold her off as long as I can, please just get to safety while you still can.”

“No way! We’ll protect you!” Teru protested, the others joining in before Lavenza flicked her fingers, causing the portal to start sucking the Phantom Thieves in.

“You’re this world’s only hope, you guys have to get to safety before Aphrodite gets here. You stand no chance against her as you are now but I believe. I believe that one day you’ll be strong enough to free me and Igor from our fate,” Lavenza said, tears showing up in her eyes. “Now go, Chosen Ones, go and save us all!”

Makoto, along with the others, tried to resist the pull from the portal, all of them wanting to stay behind to help Lavenza face Aphrodite but the pull was too strong causing her and the other Phantom Thieves to be sucked in as darkness surrounded them once more…

Futaba Sakura

When Futaba opened her eyes she found herself on top of her friends. They had all ended up on the floor in front of her laptop inside Leblanc, almost as if they had come through it.

“Get off of me,” Ryuji complained, finding himself at the bottom of the pile. “You’re flattening me!”

“Rude!” Ann remarked, but everyone quickly got up as they readjusted themselves.

“Looks like we’re back in the real world,” Sae pointed out before checking her watch, looking confused.

“What’s wrong Sis?” Makoto asked, noticing the worried look on her sister’s face.

“I think my watch broke while we were inside the Metaverse…” she explained before showing her watch to the others. Futaba quickly made her way to the front of the group, noticing that Sae’s watch had only advanced two hours causing her to check her laptop.

“I don’t think it’s broken,” Futaba said. “It’s only been two hours since we’re gone inside the Metaverse, meaning that time runs around 3 times slower in there…”

That realization was interesting to Futaba, especially since the Metaverse hadn’t been like that before. Back when they explored Palaces, they always had to be careful about the time they spent inside since there wasn’t any difference between the flow of time in the real world and the Metaverse…but apparently that had changed now.

“We need to go back in there!” Teru remarked, quickly joined by Ryuji who added that they have to go back to save Lavenza.

“God, looks like Ryuji has a buddy who’s as stupid as he is now,” Morgana snarked, causing both of them to look at him before Akira silenced the 3 of them.

“We shouldn’t…” he stated resolutely. “Lavenza wanted us to get out, right? We should honor her sacrifice and focus on finding a way to save the world like she wants us to.”

“Besides,” Futaba added after checking the application she had used to create a portal before noticing it had been deleted. “The portal is sealed, there’s no way we can get inside even if we wanted to.”

 “I think it’s important we all get some rest first,” Ann suggested. “How about we gather tomorrow and discuss what we do next?”

Everyone seemed to be okay with that idea, Makoto pointing out that she would be able to stick around for one more day before having to go back to the Police Academy.

It only took a few moments before everyone started leaving after that, leaving only Futaba, Ryuji, Akira and Yusuke behind.

“I guess I should get going as well,” Ryuji said, looking intently at Akira who seemed lost in thought. “Do you want to come with me for a bit?”

“…Sure,” Akira answered after a while before turning to Futaba. “Can you look into that scroll Lavenza handed you? We can really only count on you to figure out what it means.”

“Leave it to me!” Futaba answered as she pulled out the scroll, looking at it to find that it was a set of weird runes. The runes seemed familiar to her though, even if she didn't know why. She was eager to start deciphering it, feeling herself get excited, and she really wanted to check out the data that Lavenza had forwarded to her laptop. There was a bunch of new information there and she couldn't wait to find out all about it.

“Futaba? Can I ask you something?” Yusuke asked her, causing Futaba to realize that she had been lost in her own thoughts as she didn't even notice Akira and Ryuji leaving.

“Sure Inari!” she replied happily. “I do want to work on this research though…I hope you don’t mind that.”

“I know, I know,” Yusuke responded, before looking away. “It’s about a sketch I made of you…”

“A sketch?” Futaba repeated before remembering what sketch he was talking about. “You mean the Egyptian-themed one?”

“I do,” Yusuke confirmed. “Do you mind if I turn it into a proper painting and use it to enter a contest? I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while now…”

“Oh!” Futaba chimed happily. “You want to use it for the scholarship thing?”

“How’d you…?” Yusuke responded in shock.

“Everyone at school knows you were selected. You’re the only one from Kosei, it’s a huge honor. You didn’t realize everyone's talking about it?”

“I didn’t…” Yusuke confirmed, causing Futaba to laugh. She may be oblivious sometimes but Yusuke was a lot worse than she was although that was one of the things she loved about him.

“You can use it!” Futaba reassured Yusuke. She was honestly really happy that she could help him get his scholarship, she knew how important it was to him.

“You mean it?” Yusuke responded.

“Yes I mean it, silly Inari!” Futaba confirmed once again before leaning forward to give him a peck on his cheek. “But I should really get started on this research. Everyone’s counting on me! And don’t you have a painting to start on?”

“I suppose that is true,” Yusuke answered. “Thank you Futaba, I love you.”

“I…I…uh…love you too,” Futaba muttered, causing Yusuke to smile at her before both their faces turned bright red. They had never said those words to each other before causing Futaba to promptly grab her bag, saying a quick goodbye to Yusuke and giving him one more kiss before running out of Leblanc. She was happy she had finally heard those words from him but she knew that she couldn’t get lost in those feelings right now, she needed to figure out this puzzle, and she needed to do it now.

When Futaba got back to her room she set up her laptop, immediately noticing some kind of application that hadn’t been there before. She clicked it, causing it to open a window that had seemingly been engineered by Lavenza and Igor that took over her entire laptop. She was annoyed at first before realizing that her laptop now contained everything she needed to decipher the scroll, along with a seemingly finished portal application that she would have to look into later. Futaba cracked her knuckles as she opened the scroll next to her, she would figure out this puzzle, even if it would take her all night to do so.

After spending ages decoding the scroll, Futaba had finally figured out its meaning. It seemed to be a prophecy of some sort, as she read the text out loud:

When Olympians threaten to darken the sky,

Blue butterflies will be released to fly,

10 chosen will arise,

To ensure another sunrise,

Darkness and trials they will face,

Their true selves they must embrace,

Doubt and fears they must overcome,

Or to eternal despair they will succumb.

After she finished reading it, Futaba noticed a weird message had appeared on her laptop screen, surprising her. She had used the mysterious application to figure out the runes on the scroll but she was under the impression that doing so prevented her laptop from doing anything else. But here it was, a pop-up window just hovering in front of her face, begging her to read it…and so she did, the prophecy becoming clear as day to her as she read the message:

Embrace Who You Are To Unlock Your True Power

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

Akira sighed. He should probably be getting ready for his meeting with the rest of the group, but he found himself laying on the bed in his new room instead. Living with Futaba and Sojiro was nice, and it surely beat sleeping in Leblanc’s attic, but he still had to get used to his new room...and well, living in an actual house for that matter. Normally Morgana would’ve yelled at him for staying in bed too, but Haru had insisted that she would take care of their feline friend before taking him home with her and it made Akira feel…weird and, replaced in a way. Then again, a lot of things made him feel weird nowadays and he had been unable to get Arsene’s words out of his head on top of that. Which sucked since they really made him doubt himself.

“Bearer of Trust, huh?” he whispered to himself, still unable to believe that out of every trait, he had gotten that one. Sure, perhaps he had been trusting before but going to prison had really changed that. He barely even trusted Ryuji, let alone his friends, and yet he somehow embodied it? The mark on his body seemingly confirmed that though, even if Akira still wasn’t willing to believe it himself.

He thought back to his conversation with Ryuji after they left Leblanc the day before, momentarily looking at his phone, before deciding he should probably leave his boyfriend alone after the confrontation they had. He knew Ryuji had noticed that he was acting differently, but all of them were and it was kind of unreasonable that Ryuji singled him out. This wasn’t like last time, they were forced into a conflict this time around and it seemed like most of them had reservations about it. Akira didn’t really want to be dragged into another conflict, he was still struggling with the traumas that the past year caused, but he knew he had no choice…and yet he had still made a decision that he knew he had to make as he braced himself for how the others would react. He couldn’t lead them anymore, not while he was filled with doubts and distractions like this, but he was unsure about how to even bring this up with the others. Especially since they more or less assumed he would take up the mantle of leadership once more. He sighed again, figuring he should just go with the flow, before getting ready to get out of bed.

He was about to do so when Futaba triumphantly barged into his room, holding out the scroll in front of her.

“I translated it!” she said proudly as Akira motioned for her to quiet down. He didn’t want Sojiro to find out that they had been dragged into another conflic, causing Futaba to point out that Sojiro had already left to open up his café. Before they split up the day before they, as a group, had decided that it would be for the best to keep their new adventures inside the Metaverse a secret for now. They really didn’t want to get other people involved anymore, ti would only make things more complicated.

“We’re meeting at Sae’s apartment in an hour, right?” Futaba asked after Akira didn’t really respond. “I can’t wait to tell everyone what I’ve learnt!”

“I think so, just give me a few moments to get ready and we can make our way over to them,” Akira answered, causing Futaba to nod before walking out of the room to give him some privacy. The group had decided to meet at Sae’s apartment because they realized they couldn’t keep meeting up at Leblanc without Sojiro getting suspicious, which was the opposite of what they wanted to achieve. Besides, if he constantly had to close shop because of them it’d be bad for business…and Akira felt like that concerned him as well, especially now that he lived with him and Futaba. 

As they were making their way to Sae’s apartment Futaba was rambling about some new game she had been playing. She originally wanted to tell Akira about all the exciting things she had discovered but he had pointed out that she should probably wait until they were with the others, something she agreed to after giving it some thought. Normally Akira would’ve allowed Futaba to ramble about her discoveries, he liked seeing her excited and talkative, but he still had to think about how to word the decision he had made.

“Are you even listening to me?” Futaba asked as they approached Sae’s apartment.

“Of course,” Akira lied, causing Futaba to raise her eyebrow at him.

“Then what was I talking about just now?” she asked as she crossed her arms, pointing her finger at him when he didn’t respond. “I knew you weren’t listening to me!”

“I’m sorry Futaba, I just have a lot on my mind right now,” Akira apologized, fully expecting the younger girl to get angry with him. To his surprise, she just shrugged, muttering something about it being his loss, before she continued walking towards Sae’s apartment, having spotted Yusuke, Ryuji and Ann arriving.

Akira quickly made his way over to them as well, greeting his friends, before they made their way inside Sae’s apartment together. Ryuji nodded at him when he approached but Akira quickly looked away. He couldn’t face Ryuji yet, not until after the meeting with the others at any rate…

When Akira and the others entered Sae’s apartment they were greeted by Haru, who arrived before they did, along with Teru, Sae and Makoto. Makoto immediately moved over to Akira’s side, whispering that she had to tell him something later, before Sae offered him and the others something to drink as they sat down in her living room.

“Where’s the cat?” Teru asked after everyone sat down. “Isn’t he part of the team too?”

“His name is Morgana, Teru-san, and he’s still not doing well so he stayed at my place,” Haru answered, looking a little annoyed. “I did ask him if he knew anything, and he said he doesn’t really remember anything that happened. They either wiped his memories or he truly has been imprisoned the entire time...”

“That makes sense,” Akira agreed, thinking back to the time where he was imprisoned himself. His memories from said time were still hazy, he just knew Teru visited him a lot after the others weren’t allowed to…much to his annoyance because the lawyer already irritated him back then.

“So what do we do now?” Sae asked. “I think there’s a lot of things to discuss.”

“There is…?” Akira muttered before Futaba interrupted him while taking her laptop out of her bag.

“I guess this is where I take over?” she asked, the others nodding in silence before she started her explanation about the scroll Lavenza handed to her, revealing a prophecy that took both Akira and the others by surprise…

“I guess that does confirm a 10th member,” Makoto mused, being the first person to say something after Futaba had finished her explanation. “And the fact we’re all chosen ones…”

‘Chosen ones.’ Akira repeated those words over and over in his mind. Did that mean that everything that happened the year before had been orchestrated by fate, or whatever, too? Had the 9 of them meeting not been as coincidental as they originally thought? Had they been drawn to one another from the start?

“There’s more,” Futaba said after confirming that Makoto’s assessment was correct. “I did some digging after deciphering the prophecy and I think I figured out a way for us to get stronger.”

“You did?” Ryuji and Teru eagerly exclaimed at the same time, causing Futaba to nod.

“These marks should already have strengthened our abilities a little, but by exhibiting our traits we should be able to grow even more powerful,” she theorized. “I have no idea how we should go about that though…”

“The prophecy mentioned something about overcoming darkness, right?” Yusuke asked, causing Futaba to nod at him. “Maybe we’ll be confronted with some kind of choice and we’ll power up if we make the right one?”

“Ooooh!” Teru yelled. “Like on TV!”

“Teru,” Sae told him sternly, causing the others to laugh before Makoto coughed, causing everyone to focus once again.

“So I guess that leaves us with 3 things to solve. We need to take care of Ares, we need to find this 10th chosen and we need to figure out how to activate our marks. Did I miss anything?”

“No I think that’s it…” Futaba confirmed before she sighed. “The question where to start…”

That’s when everyone turned to Akira, expecting him to say something and he knew that this was the moment where he had to come clean, he probably never would otherwise.

“I…” he muttered, causing the others to look at him expectantly. “I don’t wanna be the leader anymore…”

The others looked at him in surprise, before looking at him with compassion.

“It’s okay Akira,” Makoto said, the others nodding in agreement. “We kind of knew. Most of us did, at any rate.”

“…You did?” he responded in surprise, causing everyone to nod once more, this time in confirmation.

“You’ve been through a lot,” Sae added compassionately. “You’ve been to prison, you’ve been tortured, all because you were a Phantom Thief. It’s not surprising that you don’t want to lead our group anymore.”

“You’re still our leader though!” Ann said with a smile. “Just not our actual leader, if you know what I mean?”

Akira honestly felt like a weight had been lifted of his shoulders, at least until Futaba pointed out that they did have a problem now. Who was going to be the new leader?

“What about Makoto?” Ann suggested after they had been squabbling among themselves for a while. “She has always been our strategist hasn’t she?”

“There is one problem with that…” Makoto said before looking away. “I can’t come with you guys.”

“What? Why?” Ryuji asked, but the others didn’t seem so surprised and Makoto’s explanation confirmed what Akira already suspected.

“I have to go back to my school tomorrow. I’m at a Police Academy now, remember? I can’t just stay away…and it’s not like we have a portable way into the Metaverse like we used to.”

“That’s…true…” Ryuji muttered, sounding a bit defeated.

“I won’t be able to go either,” Sae said. “I got an important client meeting tomorrow…”

“Great,” Ryuji huffed sarcastically. “Who else won’t be able to come?”

Yusuke hesitantly raised his hand, explaining that he had an important art piece to finish and that he shouldn’t be distracted right now.

“So it’s just going to be me, Kira, Teru, Ann, Haru and Futaba then?” Ryuji confirmed, sounding increasingly frustrated, before they heard a soft voice coming from Haru’s direction.

“I don’t wanna go…”

“Why don’t you want to go?” Ryuji said, the frustration in his voice rising further, before he changed his demeanor when he saw the look on Haru’s face.

“I…don’t wanna fight anymore. I’m really sorry…” Haru whispered, looking like she was about to cry. “Look what happened to Mona-chan…I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. I can’t see that happen to anyone else…I’m willing to help look for our 10th member. I just don’t want to fight anymore…”

“Haru…” Akira muttered. “It’s okay, you don’t have to come with us if you don’t want to.”

“Is it?” Haru asked, brushing away her tears. “You guys won’t be mad at me if I don’t come with you this time?”

“Nah!” Ryuji answered before Akira could, as the others nodded. “We need people on the outside as well, and you’ll take care of Morgana, right?”

Haru nodded, seemingly happy that the others were so supportive, but Akira couldn’t help but feel…uneasy. If Makoto wasn’t going to be the leader, who would be…?”

Ann Takamaki

Haru’s reluctance to fight resonated with Ann and she hated seeing one of her best friends struggle like that. She had known, based on what the other girl had said and how she had acted, that she didn’t really want to fight anymore but Ann hadn’t realized it bothered Haru this much and it made her feel like a bad friend.
She knew she couldn’t make the same choice though, as she stood up and firmly pressed her hand against her chest.

“I’ll still go! Who’s with me?!”

Ryuji and Teru immediately raised their hands, followed by Futaba and, eventually, a reluctant-looking Akira.

“I guess we’ll have to pick a leader from the five of us then,” Ryuji said, correcting himself to four when he saw the look on Akira’s face. That left Ann herself, Teru, Ryuji and Futaba. Futaba quickly pointed out that she would be too busy coordinating the fights and that she worked better in a supporting role. Ann herself wasn’t particularly keen on leading either, but that meant…

“We’ll do it!” Teru said excitedly as he pointed to Ryuji before pressing his fist against his own chest. “Right Ryuji?”

“I dunno…” Ryuji responded, seemingly reluctant, but it didn’t look like Teru was going to take no for an answer.

“Come on Ryuji, I don’t know enough about the Metaverse to lead on my own but if you help me I’m sure we’ll make a great leadership team! It’ll be fun!”

“You do realize this isn’t a game?” Akira muttered under his breath, but Teru didn’t seem to hear him as he tried to convince Ryuji that the two of them leading together was a great idea and eventually he seemed to succeed as Ryuji agreed to lead with him, much to Akira’s chagrin.

“I mean, it’s nice and all that we decided who’s going to go in,” Makoto pointed out after the group had settled on a leader. “But how are you guys going to do that? Lavenza destroyed our portal, remember?”

“About that…” Futaba mentioned. “That Prophecy wasn’t the only thing Lavenza gave me…”

“What do you mean Futaba-chan?” Haru asked, voicing a question that was undoubtedly on everyone's mind.

“Remember when she mentioned that she transferred files to my computer?” Futaba asked, some of the group, like Sae and Makoto, nodding in confirmation while others, like Ryuji and Teru, just looked at her with a confused look on their faces. Ann did vaguely remember it and she was curious what other things Futaba had received.

“She provided me with a new portal application, one that responds to our marks. We just scan them using my laptop’s webcam and it seems we can go inside the Metaverse without any problems.”

“What are the limits though? I assume there are limits…” Akira pointed out, sounding skeptical.

“Well for starters, I haven’t been able to reverse engineer the code so right now we can only access the Metaverse through my laptop, meaning that Makoto can’t come with us unless she’s here in Tokyo. It also means we need to find a place where we can put my laptop while we’re inside the Metaverse. If my laptop closes, so does the portal, and we don’t want to be on the other side when that happens seeing how that will likely mean we'll be stuck inside forever. I’m sure I can get around these limitations if you guys give me enough time but this is all we got for now…”

“I can help with some of that,” Sae told them. “I may not be able to come with you guys tomorrow, but you can set up the portal inside my apartment. Teru has the key so you’ll be able to enter and you can just lock the door once you go inside the Metaverse so no one can close your laptop.”

Futaba smiled, immediately thanking Sae before turning to the others. “We should be able to handle Ares with the 5 of us. I did some scans and these marks are already making us more powerful…We just need to find a way to unlock our true potential.”

“Our true potential?” Ann repeated, not really liking were this was going. She felt antsy whenever their marks were brought up…

“Remember the message I got after translating the prophecy?” Futaba asked, causing Ann to nod. It was something about embracing who you are to gain more power but that was exactly what frustrated Ann.

“I think that we’ll get more power by acting like our true selves, whatever that means…”

“And you think our true selves have something to do with our marks?” Akira asked, causing Futaba to nod as Ann felt a pit form inside her stomach.

“Well at least that won’t be a problem for Ann!” Ryuji said cheerfully. “If someone embodies love, it’s her!”

Hearing everyone agree with Ryuji’s statement caused so many emotions to swirl up inside of Ann that she stood up before turning around. Ryuji and the others had no idea how wrong they were, if there was one person who didn’t fit their mark, it would be her. She had no idea how to love anyone, she never had.

She ran out the door, ignoring her friends calling for her, and she just ran. She had no idea where to go but she needed to get out of there. She couldn’t explain this to them, she just couldn’t…

Ann stopped running after a while, finding herself inside a park as she sat down on the nearest bench before looking towards the ground. She really wanted to cry, she had made a fool of herself and probably really worried her friends. She wasn't usually this dramatic, so that probably worried them even more. This was something Ryuji would do...Not something she would do...

“I thought you’d never stop running Ann-chan, but I’m really glad you did! Do you mind if I sit down with you?”

Ann looked up, startled by the voice, to find Haru standing in front of her. She looked exhausted but Ann was impressed that Haru had been able to keep up with her.


Haru smiled upon hearing Ann’s response before sitting down next to her.

“So…what’s wrong Ann-chan?” she asked, her face turning serious. “You’re not the type of person to run out like that.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Ann muttered. She really wouldn’t even know where to start and Haru probably wouldn't understand...

“That’s alright,” Haru said, her voice sounding comforting. “I wanted to get out of there anyways.”

“You did?”

“Yeah,” Haru confirmed. “Remember when we were trying to awaken our powers back in the Metaverse? I lied to you back then. I was able to communicate with Milady…”

“Why did you lie?” Ann asked, her voice sounding surprised. It was very much unlike Haru to lie and Ann wanted to know why she had done so. Not because she was mad at her, she wasn’t mad at Haru at all, but because it must’ve been something big if it caused Haru to lie about it.

“Because I can’t fight anymore, not really. My trait is Sincerity, which I assume means being true to yourself, right?” Haru theorized, causing Ann to nod. Honestly she had missed Lavenza mentioning Haru’s trait, but that was probably because she had been really nervous about hearing her own. “Milady told me that if I wasn’t willing to fight, my powers wouldn’t manifest…and that all makes sense now that I know where my powers come from. I don’t want to fight, not anymore, so if I come with you guys I would only be a burden…”

“You wouldn’t be a burden!” Ann protested, but Haru shook her head.

“We need our powers to survive inside the Metaverse…and I can’t use them properly, not while I’m like this. I couldn’t bear hearing you guys talk about going inside again, not when I know that I can’t help anymore…”

Haru looked away after her explanation, looking upset, and Ann couldn’t blame her. She would hate losing her powers and being unable to help the others…and that was exactly what Haru seemed to be going through right now.

“You’re not useless Haru,” Ann pointed out after they sat in silence for a bit. “You’re taking care of Morgana, and you’re going to help us look for the 10th, aren’t you? Who cares if you can’t fight with us, you’re still able to help!”

“Thanks Ann-chan,” Haru responded, smiling.

“But I do get what you mean, struggling with your trait…” Ann then continued, having decided that if Haru would confide in her, she could do the same. It was probably better to tell someone and if anyone would understand it would probably be Haru, seeing how she seemed to be going through something similar. “Lavenza said my trait is Love, didn’t she?”

“She did,” Haru confirmed. “And it’s so fitting for you. You’re such a loving person Ann-chan.”

“Am I?” Ann sighed. “I don’t know how to love anyone. My parents never really showed me how to, they were always busy with work…and I’m unable to tell Shiho how I feel…I honestly feel like I’m not worthy of being associated with love, seeing how I have no idea what it is or what it feels like…”

“Ann…” Haru muttered before wrapping her arm around her. “You are one of the most loving people I know and while I know that you may not feel like that, love is incredibly fitting for you. I hope that one day you can see that too…”

“Thanks…” Ann whispered, even though she had trouble believing Haru’s words. She meant what she said, she had no idea how to love, she never had and she doubted that she would ever know how…”

Ryuji Sakamoto

The atmosphere in the room had been rather awkward after Ann had run out of Sae’s apartment with tears in her eyes. Partially because no one really understood why. They had ust been talking about their traits, or attempting to, when she just stood up and left. Haru had immediately gone after her and Ryuji was about to before realizing he had to stay behind. Akira looked pretty upset after what he had admitted and Ryuji knew he needed to support him, even if he was still upset with him after what happened the day before. He wasn't going to let this linger though, like he used to, because he knew that whenever he and Akira had problems...Not talking about it would only make it worse.

The group ended their meeting shortly afterwards, seeing how they had discussed the most important things before agreeing that Ryuji, Akira, Ann, although Ryuji was unsure about whether she’d come, Futaba and Teru would head into the Metaverse to confront Ares and try out their new powers. Teru had offered to cook them dinner, something Futaba and Yusuke happily agreed to, but Akira had politely declined before making his way out of the apartment, Ryuji following after him.

“Hey Kira, you can’t keep avoiding me!” Ryuji yelled at his boyfriend from behind, causing him to turn around before he let out a defeated sigh.

“I…know,” he admitted before looking down. “I’m sorry…”

“Can we talk?” Ryuji asked. “I hate…being like this.”

“Like this?”

“Y’know, not really speaking…” Ryuji explained. “You know you can trust me, right?”

“I know…” Akira admitted.

“Are you sure? You didn’t seem so sure of it yesterday,” Ryuji pointed out, regretting it the moment he saw Akira wince.

“I’m sorry about yesterday,” Akira muttered. “I shouldn’t have pretended like everything was fine…”

“Yeah…” Ryuji sighed. “You know it would’ve been fine if you didn’t blow me off afterwards…”

“I just needed time to think,” Akira explained. “But I should’ve been upfront with you about that and I’m sorry I wasn’t.”

“So…are you ready to talk now?” Ryuji asked. “About what’s really going on?”

“If you really want to know…”

“I do!” Ryuji answered immediately. He wanted to help his boyfriend and he was glad he seemed to be willing to talk now. They really had come a long way. Stuff like this would normally linger for weeks before one of them would finally crack and he was happy that they were able to function like normal adults now.

“Come with me then, we should find someplace private…” Akira pointed out, causing Ryuji to nod at him before grabbing his hand.

“Lead the way then Kira,” he smiled as he intertwined his fingers with Akira’s, the other boy smiling at him as he did. “I’ll always have you back.”

After traveling for what felt like hours, Ryuji realized they had arrived at Leblanc. He momentarily wondered how they were going to get in, before realizing that Akira took a key from his pocket.

“How’d you get that?”

“Boss gave me the key back when I used to work here, in case I had to close up shop, I just never returned it,” Akira answered with a mischievous glint that Ryuji hadn’t seen for a while in his eyes.

Akira set down the food they had gotten on the way to Leblanc on one of the tables before making his way to the kitchen to get a pair of plates.

Ryuji took this time to prepare himself for whatever it was Akira was going to tell him. He figured it was going to be intense, seeing how he had adamantly denied there was something going on the day, but he resolved that, no matter what it was, he would be there for him. Ryuji also had to deal with his own Teru problem though…He wanted to save his friend from the Metaverse. Teru had gotten wrapped up in everything by accident, because of them, and it wasn’t fair that he was chosen like them. He deserved a normal life and Ryuji was going to make sure that he would get one, no matter what he had to do, even if it cost him their friendship.

“You look lost in thought?” Akira stated softly, snapping Ryuji out of his thoughts.

“Yeah…” Ryuji confirmed. “I was just thinking about what you’re going to tell me.”

“I see,” Akira answered, seemingly hesitant before he sighed. “Do you talk to your Persona a lot?”

“The Captain?” Ryuji responded, confused by where Akira was going with this. “Not really, can you even do that voluntarily? I figured it was more a matter of them speaking to us…”

“I see,” Akira mused. “Does he ever…tempt you when he does talk to you?”

“Tempt me?” Ryuji repeated, not liking the sound of what Akira was saying. “What do you mean?”

“Like, motivate you to give in to your darker thoughts…”

Ryuji noticed that Akira was looking away at this point, but he shook his head nevertheless saying: “The Captain only ever gives me advice in battle.”

“Arsene doesn’t…” Akira whispered, as if to hide the words from his Persona. "He tells me way more than that..."

“What…does he tell you?” Ryuji asked as he felt an unsettling feeling form inside his stomach. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t good.

“I…don’t like Teru,” Akira said. “I never have. I don’t know why but I have disliked him from the day I met him and Arsene…Arsene told me to get rid of him, permanently.”

Ryuji looked at Akira in shock, he knew that his boyfriend didn’t like Teru…but this, this was taking dislike, even hatred, to a whole new level.

“You mean…kill him?” Ryuji stammered. “You can’t effin’ do that!”

“I know,” Akira responded immediately. “I told Arsene the same…it’s just that he keeps pestering me about it…and it worries me…”

“Worries you how?” Ryuji asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer.

“What…what if Arsene somehow takes control of me? Our Personas may not be as benevolent as we thought and I…I'm scared what he'll make me do...Do to you, to Teru, to all of our friends...”

When Ryuji took a look at Akira he saw that his boyfriend’s face was filled with fear, quickly decided to make way over to sit down next to him before wrapping his arm around Akira.

“I’ll never let that happen Akira, trust me,” Ryuji stated resolutely and he truly believed in his own words. He wasn’t going to let his boyfriend kill his best friend, there was no way he would allow it and he felt like this was the final confirmation he needed. If Akira’s problems were related to Teru, then getting Teru out of the Metaverse made even more sense. He would save both his boyfriend and his best friend.

“What are you thinking about?” Akira asked, seemingly noticing the shift in Ryuji’s demeanor.

“A way to solve everything,” Ryuji stated, causing Akira to look at him with a puzzled look on his face. “I will fix everything once we go inside the Metaverse tomorrow.”

“How?” Akira muttered, sounding confused. “What are you going to do?”

Ryuji shook his head, making it clear to Akira that he wasn't going to let him know, because he knew that even though Akira disliked Teru he would never approve of his plan. But in a way, this was kindness. By sacrificing his own happiness, Ryuji would make sure two of the most important people in his life would be alright…and wasn’t that was his trait was all about…?

Chapter Text

Sae Niijima

“Are you sure you’re okay with going back to school Makoto?” Sae asked after she joined her sister and Teru for breakfast. Teru had insisted on making breakfast for her and Makoto, seeing how he, according to himself, didn’t have anything better to do until the others arrived, and he was going to move in soon anyways so he should get used to how her kitchen worked. Normally Sae would’ve minded, preferring to make her own breakfast, but Teru honestly was a great cook and his breakfasts were delicious…and she could certainly use one of his special breakfasts with the day she had ahead of her.

“I don’t really have a choice,” Makoto answered before looking away, as if she wanted to hide her emotions. “But I don’t like knowing the others have to fight without my help…”

“I get what you mean…” Sae agreed solemnly. Awakening to her own abilities had made her happy in some way, she could finally be useful to the Phantom Thieves, but now she was unable to come with them due to her real life responsibilities.

“You two shouldn’t worry!” Teru exclaimed reassuringly. “I’ll go with them and make sure nothing happens to them. I’ll protect them with my life!”

“Thanks Teru,” Makoto responded, trying to smile before finishing quickly her breakfast. “I’m going to have to go now. Thanks for letting me stay here Sis…”

“You’re welcome anytime Makoto,” Sae responded before she stood up to give her younger sister a hug. She was really glad that they had gotten closer again, she had never realized how much she had missed Makoto back when she was solely focusing on her career and she would forever be grateful to the Phantom Thieves for changing that.

“I know…but I really have to get going now! I don’t want to miss my train!” Makoto answered before she frantically started looking around for her suitcase, finding it seconds later.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you?” Teru offered, but Makoto shook her head.

“You know Sis needs her car today and I can’t bring my suitcase if you take me with your motorcycle, remember?”

“I guess so,” Teru grinned before giving Makoto a hug of his own.

Sae could hear him whisper the same words he had said before, reassuring Makoto that he would do whatever it took to keep her friends safe…but that was exactly what worried Sae. She knew Teru, and his tendency to forget about his own well-being, and she very worried that he would get very hurt himself…

“Must be hard for you, seeing her go off on her own like this.”

Sae was surprised to hear Teru say that after she and Makoto had finished saying their goodbyes but she couldn’t exactly deny it. Her sister moving out had affected her, especially since their relationship had been strained until recently and she was afraid she hadn’t been able to fix it enough.

“It must be hard on her too, I’m sure she misses you a lot,” Teru stated as he wrapped his arms around Sae. “At least you got your giant terry bear here though.”

“Did you just…turn yourself into a pun?” Sae muttered in shock, looking at Teru only to find him smiling a childlike innocent smile as he nodded proudly. “Why am I dating you again?”

“You love my puns…” he sulked, before giving Sae a kiss on her cheek. “Just like I love you.”

Sae let Teru embrace her for a moment, allowing herself to relax inside his arms before she sighed, pushing Teru away and looking at him with a serious look on her face.

“Teru…can you promise me something?”

“What’s wrong? Did I do something?” he asked, looking confused and she couldn’t blame him. She knew they were having a moment, but she also knew she had to leave for work soon and she had to make sure Teru wasn’t going to do anything drastic…and to ensure that she needed to have a talk with him that she was dreading to have.

“No,” she responded, taking a deep breath before she continued. “But I am worried about you…”

“Worried?” Teru repeated slowly, an unexplainable look showing up on his face momentarily before he tried hiding it with a smile. “About me?”

“I know you haven’t been doing well Teru…” Sae whispered softly, hating the way she saw the sparkle in Teru’s eyes dim with every word that came out of her mouth. “Can you stop pretending you’re okay? Just when you’re around me?”

“I’ll…try,” he whispered. “But can you give me some time…?”

“I can,” Sae confirmed, nodding in confirmation. “But I need you to promise me something in return.”


“Stay safe Teru, don’t endanger yourself when you go inside the Metaverse and come back to me. We’re going to move in together, remember?” Sae told him, seeing Teru’s face brighten once she mentioned them moving in together.

“You meant that?” he asked, his voice filled with a happiness that sounded so pure it made Sae smile herself.

“Of course. How about you move in once we finish dealing with Ares?” Sae smiled, causing Teru to let go of Sae as he excitedly pumped his fists into the air.

“Alright!” he yelled happily before a shocked look appeared on his face. “But doesn’t that mean I’ll probably move in like…next week?”

“I mean, you practically live here anyways…” Sae laughed, causing Teru to rub the back of his head before admitting it was very much true. “And besides, you’ll save a lot of money that way too, no longer having to pay rent for your apartment!”

“That’s true…” Teru said, looking slightly relieved. “Can I actually move some of my things over already?”

“Like?” Sae asked, surprised. “You have a couple of changes of clothes, a toothbrush, and pretty much every other essential here already.”

“My work-out equipment…” Teru answered, looking a little embarrassed. “I really want to train before going in with the others, and since we’re setting up a portal here I figured I could work out while I wait…I mean, I’m in decent shape but I really want to be the best I can. For you, for the others. I want to protect all of you with this body of mine.”

Hearing Teru’s determination caused Sae to nod, before pulling Teru really close to her.

“Just don’t hurt yourself, okay?” she whispered, sounding vulnerable, before she could feel Teru rest on head on top of hers.

“I promise, that’s what you wanted me to do, right?”

She look up at him to find him smiling at her, and she couldn’t help to do the same. She really loved him and she momentarily wondered how it took her this long to realize that.

She enjoyed her moment with Teru for a bit before noticing the clock in her living room, realizing she was late for her client meeting as she quickly broke free.

“I have to go! I have a client to meet!” she said as she quickly made her way through the room to collect her laptop and the other items she’d need for work, making her way to the door where Teru handed her her briefcase.

“I packed a lunch for you, I got up early to make it,” he smiled. “I made it just how you like it since I know you usually don’t have time to prepare your own lunch.”

“Thank you,” Sae said, giving Teru a quick kiss before she practically ran out of her apartment. She hoped her client wouldn’t think too badly of her…she was never late after all…

Yusuke Kitagawa

Yusuke sighed as he looked at the painting in front of him. He had been working on it non-stop, only taking breaks for his other classes, but he felt like he just couldn’t get it right. This was supposed to be it, his masterpiece, and yet he just couldn’t focus. Maybe it was because the others were heading into the Metaverse later while he was at Kosei working on his painting. Should he have gone with them after all? But if he had, he would’ve never been able to finish his painting on time…seeing how there were only 2 weeks left to submit it at this point.


Yusuke looked around to see Minami standing behind him as he sighed again, confirming that he was indeed struggling.

“What’s bothering you? It looks pretty good to me,” Minami questioned, pushing her reading glasses up. “It’s definitely one of your better paintings.”

“But it’s not perfect,” Yusuke lamented. “I can’t capture the image that is on my mind. There’s just something missing and I can't figure out what that is.”

“I see,” Minami said as she looked at him in thought. “Perhaps it is because you cannot fully devote yourself to your painting?”

“What do you mean Minami-san?” Yusuke asked, even if he felt like he knew the answer deep down.

“Are you really focused on your painting right now? Or is there something different plaguing your mind?”

“There…is something, yes.” Yusuke confirmed. “My friends are dealing with some kind of trouble and I am here, working on my painting, instead of helping them out.”

“Do they know why you’re not helping them?” Minami asked, surprising Yusuke because he didn’t expect her to actually talk to him about the issue he was facing. Madarame had never really done that.

“They do, and they’re all very supportive. They really want me to succeed and get this scholarship.”

“Then why can’t you trust they’ll handle whatever it is they’re dealing with, while you give it your all to make this painting your best work?” Minami stated, causing Yusuke to ponder her words momentarily before realizing that she was right. He should trust his friends, they believed in him and wanted him to succeed and he should believe in them in return.

“Thank you Minami-san,” Yusuke responded as he picked up his brush with renewed vigor. “I think I know what my painting was missing.”

“I’m glad I was able to help you,” Minami told him. “I’ll be in the room if you need anything else, so just call me for if you do!”

She smiled at him afterwards before making her way to her desk on the other side of the room, leaving Yusuke to work on his painting…

“So that’s Madarame’s legacy, huh?”

Yusuke turned his face towards the doorway to find a pair of students standing there. They weren’t Kosei students, they weren’t wearing their uniform, but they looked intrigued by what Yusuke was working on. The two of them, a boy and a girl, noticed he was staring at them as they politely bowed their heads. They looked peculiar, both having blonde curly hair and what looked like perfect symmetrical facial features. It was like they were works of art themselves, in a way and they certainly weren't Japanese. Transfer students perhaps? But from where?

“Can we come in?” the boy asked, his voice sounding melodious, almost enchanting, as if he were singing the words he was speaking.

Yusuke looked at Minami, who nodded, before confirming they could enter.

“What can I help you with?” he asked after the pair walked over to him, bowing their heads as a sign of respect once more when they reached him.

“We just wanted to see you, and your work,” the boy stated, puzzling Yusuke before she saw the girl giving the guy a push against his shoulder.

“Don’t be so shy Alex!” she said, her voice sound as mysterious and enchanting as Alex’s. “You wanted to see what Kitagawa was creating so you knew what you were up against, you can tell him that.”

“You can call me Yusuke,” Yusuke said, still confused at the pair in front of him. “What do you mean though?”

“Diana…” Alex whined before recomposing himself. “But what she said is correct, I’ll be competing against you for the scholarship. It’s an honor to meet someone like you though…”

“I’m sure I'm not that big of a deal…” Yusuke muttered, uncomfortable at the fact that Alex seemed to idolize him. “What kind of art do you create?”

“Oh! I make crystal statues!” Alex answered excitedly, his face lighting up as he started talking about his craft. Apparently he and Diana, who was his twin sister, weren’t from Japan and making crystal statues was a huge deal in the country from where they originated. Yusuke didn’t quite catch what country that was though.

“He’s really good at it too!” Diana said with a proud smile after Alex finished talking about the statues he made. “They’re hyper realistic, as if they really capture the essence of life.”

“I see,” Yusuke said. “Well I look forward to seeing what you’ll create for the presentation. I really need to get back to my painting now though, I’m sure you understand that as a fellow artist.”

“Of course I do, it was really nice to meet you in the flesh though,” Alex said before holding his hand out to Yusuke, who proceeded to shake it. The moment he did, he felt a strange sensation take a hold of him. Alex’s hand was cold, as cold as the crystal he claimed to work with. It was almost like he wasn’t human, causing Yusuke to instinctively let go of Alex’s hand, the guy looking at him in surprise.

“Is something the matter?” Diana asked, a slight hint of amusement coloring her voice. “Did my brother do something weird?”

“I’m just not big on shaking hands,” Yusuke said, unable to shake the suspicious feeling that had taken a hold of him. “I didn’t quite catch what school you’re attending. I don’t recognize your uniforms.”

“Oh!” Alex answered immediately. “We’re both honor students at the Olympian Academy. You know, that new school that opened up? I’m surprised they didn’t invite you to attend, you’re so talented.”

“I’m fine at Kosei, I really feel like I belong here,” Yusuke answered resolutely, surprised at the harshness of his own voice.

“I wonder for how long…” Diana muttered under her breath before grabbing Alex’s arm to lead her brother out of the room. “We won’t keep you any longer at any rate. I hope to see you at the presentation, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at Alex’s work.”

“They were a…peculiar pair,” Minami stated once the twins had left the room, causing Yusuke to nod in agreement. There was something really…odd about Alex and Diana, and the fact that they were attending the Olympian Academy made Yusuke even more suspicious…But for now, he knew he shouldn’t focus on that. He should finish his painting and worry about the twins later, although he hoped he wasn’t making a mistake by ignoring what just happened…

Haru Okamura

Haru looked at her watch, letting out a sigh when she realized that the others must be getting ready to enter the Metaverse at this point…or maybe they had already gone in. She was really worried about her friends but she also knew she made the right decision staying behind. She couldn’t really fight anymore, she knew that, and yet she couldn’t quell the worry inside of her. There was also the fact that she had a job now, and if she’d constantly come up with excuses not to come in Sojiro would get suspicious…or worse, fire her. She had been really distracted today though, messing up orders and even completely forgetting about one customer entirely and while she fixed all of it in time, she hoped that Sojiro and Touma didn’t catch on.

“Can I leave you two to close up in a few hours? I got some errands to take care off,” Sojiro asked, snapping Haru out of her thoughts.

“Of course, Sir,” Touma responded before Haru could. “Is there anything else you need us to do?”

“Just closing up is fine kid, thank you,” Sojiro said before turning to Haru with a concerned expression on his face. “Are you sure you’re alright? You seem distracted. You kids aren’t in trouble again, are you? Futaba and Akira have been acting weird as well.”

“We’re fine boss,” Haru replied quickly, seemingly a bit too quickly as Sojiro raised his eyebrows causing Haru to bite her lip. She really shouldn’t make Sojiro even more suspicious...and it was clear he already was.

“If you say so. I trust that you would tell me if something is going on again,” Sojiro stated before leaving the café, saying a quick goodbye to his employees beforehand and causing Haru to feel even worse. She was pretty much lying to her boss, and to her friends’ father, and it made her feel terrible. She really wondered how long she was able to keep this up, she really didn't like to lie, but she had also promised the others not to tell Sojiro the truth. She felt trapped, trapped in a web of lies and she hated it.


Haru look around, trying to localize where the voice was coming from before realizing it was coming from the door.

“Over here,” she heard the voice calling again before noticing Morgana sitting close to the door as she quickly made her way over to him.

“What are you doing here Mona-chan? I told you to stay home. Boss can’t know you’re still alive…” she whispered, hoping Touma didn't notice her. He was the only one left in Leblanc beside her, luckily, but that still didn't make Morgana's appearance okay. They had agreed he would stay at her house for the time being and he completely disregarded that.

“You also didn’t tell me the others were going inside the Metaverse. I should be going with them. I can guide them,” the cat protested adamantly. “Besides you can’t tell me…”

“Haru? What are you doing?”

Haru froze, turning around to find Touma standing behind her with a frown on his face.

“Are you talking to a cat?” he asked, causing her to nod before looking away. This was just the worst, or so she thought before she saw Touma’s expression soften as he got down on his knees next to her. “I totally get it, cats are the cutest aren’t they? Let me get some milk for this little guy!”

Touma got back up after he finished saying that, leaving a baffled Haru behind. She had never seen Touma like this. He was always serious with a hard expression on his face but he smiled a genuine smile when he saw Morgana which honestly puzzled her.

“Here you go little one,” Touma said to Morgana when he came back, putting a small bowl filled with milk on the ground. Morgana looked at Haru until she nodded it was okay, before he started licking the milk, purring softly.

“Is that your cat Haru?” Touma asked, sounding genuinely interested and throwing Haru off, his previous behavior still clear on her mind. He was always competitive and trying to look like a good employee no matter the cost, why was he so nice to her? There had to be something behind it, right? He was just trying to throw her off so he could pull something on her.

“Sort of,” Haru answered, deciding to explain further when Touma looked at her with a confused look on his face. “I’m taking care of him, but he’s technically not mine.”

“That’s nice,” Touma said, looking like he was about to say something before he stood up and turned around. “You can take the rest of the day off if you want, take your cat somewhere nice. I can close up shop once I’m done cleaning.”

“You would like that wouldn’t you?” Haru responded harshly, causing Touma to turn around with a surprised look on his face. Honestly, Haru was surprised at how harsh her words sounded but she couldn’t help but feel like Touma was condescending to her…again, and she’s had it. “You just want me to go so you look even better in Sojiro-san’s eyes!”

“That’s not…” Touma protested but Haru wasn’t done, she was going to let him have it for everything he had put her through.

“Oh please! You’ve been horrible to me ever since we started working together! I bet you’re just waiting for me to screw up so that boss fires me! You just want me to go home now so you can tell boss I left early, don’t you?”

“I…” Touma muttered before looking down, his voice sounding a lot softer than usual. “I’m sorry…”

Hearing how genuine Touma’s voice sounded shocked Haru back to reality, causing her to realize that she had taken out all of her frustration, including everything related to the Metaverse, on the guy who was standing in front of her and while Touma had been a jerk to her, he didn't deserve that. She was really glad there weren’t any customers in Leblanc right now since that would’ve been really embarrassing.”

“Touma-san, I…” Haru stammered, feeling embarrassed by her outburst but Touma held up his hand, looking like he wanted to say something. Haru was surprised by how…different he looked. The generally hard features on his face had softened and Haru could see a hint of sadness inside his eyes, causing the guilt she felt to grow stronger.

“I probably deserved that,” he admitted, catching Haru by surprise. “I shouldn’t have been as competitive as I was, it’s a really bad habit and it causes me to disrespect the people that I see as competition and I’m truly sorry.”

Haru nodded, still unsure what to say, but it didn’t look like Touma was done explaining himself.

“You’re very talented Haru and I genuinely like working with you. I think you'll be able to brew amazing coffee someday and I hope I'll be there to see it. I’m sorry I’ve been such an ass about it though, can you forgive me?”

“I can Touma-kun, I hope you can forgive me for my outburst as well.”

“Don’t apologize, I deserved it.” Touma stated while smiling a soft smile that Haru couldn’t help but find very attractive, remembering the day she first met him and how she had immediately felt attracted to him. “How about I buy you dinner after we finish closing up as an apology for how I acted? I’m sure Mister Sakura won’t mind if we leave a bit early.”

“D…dinner?” Haru muttered, feeling a blush creep onto her face and she swore she could see Touma blushing as well.

“Yes…” Touma responded. “Unless you need to take your cat back home? Or just don’t want to…”

“You liiiike him.” Haru could hear Morgana purr, swearing she could see Touma raise his eyebrows at Morgana's statement, causing her to make up her mind.

“I accept your invitation, Mona-chan will be able to find his way home on his own I’m sure,” Haru said, causing an actual huge smile to show up on Touma’s face.

“Awesome! Let me just finish up cleaning the kitchen then!” he said excitedly before walking to the kitchen, causing Haru to turn to Morgana with an annoyed look on her face.

“Don’t say stuff like that!” she hissed, mostly because of how true it was. She hadn’t noticed it before but…she did like Touma, she had liked him all along and that’s probably why he had gotten on her nerves more than other people ever did…

“I’m only stating the truth,” Morgana purred before walking towards the door, beckoning for Haru to open it. “I’ll be waiting at home, you better not be late because bed times are very important! You need those 8 hours of sleep!”

“Shut up,” Haru whispered, feeling another blush creep onto her face. She was going on a potential date with a guy she actually liked and while she did feel guilty about it, seeing how the others were fighting for their lives…and well, Tokyo’s future, this would be a nice distraction for her and she couldn't help but feel very excited about the rest of her evening…

Chapter Text

Futaba Sakura

Futaba was glad when school was finally over. She had been filled with anticipation all day because today was the day they’d enter the Metaverse again. Now, Futaba wasn’t excited to fight Ares, especially since her own fighting abilities were pretty much limited to supporting the others, but she was excited to try out all the new things Lavenza had transferred to her laptop. She had originally thought it was just an application to create a portal but as Futaba investigated the file she found out it was much more than that. There was something that she dubbed a Dimension Analyzer, which would help her analyze the finer details of the Metaverse. It could also show her more detailed information on the enemies they’d face, or at least Futaba theorized that it would, enhancing her own abilities in a way.

There were also instructions to further enhance the Portal App, allowing Futaba to potentially transfer it to other devices which would allow her friends to create a portal without her help. It would be a lot of work to actually get that to function correctly, but Futaba believed she’d be able to do it in due time. That would have to wait until after they defeated Ares though, but Futaba couldn't help but feel excited at the prospect of being able to tinker with these exciting projects. They surely were a lot more challenging than her school projects which bored her out of her mind, even if Hitomi and Kana seemed pretty challenged by them. She didn’t blame the other girls though, they didn’t have her experience as a renowned hacker, but it made it hard for Futaba to take them seriously sometimes, especially since they seemed to screw up basic things. She figured she’d just fix it for them in the end though, she could easily do those projects within an hour anyways and Hitomi and Kana would surely be grateful if she did.

Futaba wondered if the others would be there already as she climbed the stairs to Sae’s apartment. Akira had offered to come pick her up at Kosei but she had decided that she could go to Sae’s apartment on her own. She was no longer the scared, timid girl she was before, but she still hoped that they would be there so that she didn’t have to hold a conversation with Teru. It wasn’t like she disliked him, she didn’t think anyone would because he was so happy all the time, but she still felt a bit uncomfortable around him since she didn’t really know him that well and new people still made her...skittish.

She sighed before she rang the bell, hearing a muffled “I’m coming” before the door opened moments later.

When the door opened she got overwhelmed by a smell that made her feel a queasy because it reminded her of one of the places she despised, the gym, before noticing a very wet-looking Teru standing in front of her.

“What’s that smell?” she asked bluntly, causing Teru to grin.

“That’s the smell of my manliness!” he answered proudly. “I’ve been training all day while I was waiting for you guys to get here!”

“So that’s why you’re soaked…” Futaba muttered before realizing she was the first one to arrive as she made her way inside, the smell getting stronger when she entered the room. Futaba wondered if Sae would approve of Teru turning her living room into a make-shift gym before she heard familiar voices behind her as she saw Ryuji and Akira walk through the door.

“We’re here!” Ryuji said cheerfully as he made his way into the apartment before he looked around in awe. “Wow all this equipment is so cool. I knew Makoto liked sports but I didn’t know her sister was into these things as well.”

“I don’t think she is Ryu…” Akira muttered before Teru walked back into the room with Futaba’s drink.

“She’s not, that’s my personal equipment!” he pointed out with a smile as Ryuji walked over to him to give him a high-five, telling him that he was the “coolest bro” causing Teru’s smile to widen to a proud grin. It made him look a little stupid, but Futaba supposed that’s why everyone, especially Ryuji liked him. He was literally an older version of Ryuji, both of them being massive goofballs although Futaba, and she assumed the others, had recently noticed a change in their dynamic. Now she wasn't great at picking up social ques but she could swear there was some kind of weird tension between the two of them, a tension that had never been there before...

Speaking of things that weren't there, Futaba suddenly noticed that one person was missing as she turned to Akira who had moved to stand next to her.

“Is Ann not with you guys?” Futaba asked while noticing that Akira was keeping his distance from Ryuji and Teru as if he noticed the same thing she had noticed. He seemed worried though, like it was weird how worried he looked.

“I don’t think she’s coming after yester-…” Akira responded before Futaba heard footsteps behind the two of them that could only belong to the person that they were discussing right now.

“Who isn’t coming Akira?”

Futaba and Akira turned around to see Ann walking through the door, closing it before she made her way over to the group.

“You guys should really close the door after you enter,” she pointed out. “And why does it smell like a gym in here? Haven’t you guys heard of opening windows? I'm sure Sae would not approve of this. This place smells like a mancave.”

“The smell is his fault,” Ryuji pointed out immediately as he pointed to Teru who looked affronted before confirming that it was, in fact, true, looking a little ashamed at the fact he forgot to open a single window. “I’m glad you’re feeling better though, Ann. I was afraid you wouldn’t come with us…”

“Of course I’m coming with you guys, you’re a hopeless bunch without me,” she smiled before turning to Futaba. “So how do we get back inside? I assume we’re all ready to go?”

Futaba, and the others, nodded before she took her laptop out of her bag and placed it on the table, explaining that it’d function as their gateway inside. As long as her laptop as on, they’d be able to move in-and-out of the Metaverse freely. If her laptop was turned off, they’d be in massive trouble because their gateway would be cut off too but everyone agreed that that was a risk they’d have to take…This was their only way in for now, after all.

“But wait,” Akira pointed out, sounding worried. “If we leave the gate open, doesn’t that mean anyone or anything can go through?”

“It doesn’t,” Futaba reassured him, and the others who looked just as worried after Akira’s question. “There’s a safeguard built into the portal.

“A safeguard?” Ryuji asked. “What’s that?”

“Basically a lock,” Futaba explained, as she internally sighed. “Our marks are the key, so we’re the only ones that can go through.”

“So how do we get in then?” Teru then asked, causing Futaba to internally sigh once more. How could the two of them be so dense, it was pretty obvious at this point wasn’t it? At least Akira and Ann seemed to understand.

“I’ll show you,” Futaba stated as she started opened the gateway. “My webcam will scan your mark and it’ll allow us to pass through.”

She pulled away the collar of her t-shirt at that point, revealing the mark on her shoulder and instructing the others to do the same.

“It’s a good thing I’m wearing a skirt,” Ann remarked as she pulled up the right side, revealing the mark on her thigh. Akira and Teru pulled their shirts up and down respectively, revealing their own marks as Ryuji took off the scarf he had been wearing to cover up his own mark.

“Are we all ready?” Futaba asked one final time, everyone nodding, before pressing the enter key to allow the gateway to scan their marks causing them to become enveloped by a bright white light…

Makoto Niijima

When Makoto entered her dorm she was bombarded by a loud scream that knocked her straight out of her thoughts.

“She’s back home, Masaru! She’s alive!”

Makoto sighed, of course Erika would be waiting for her…although it looked like Masaru had been waiting for her as well and that puzzled her. The guy didn’t really seem interested in anything besides food but he had a relieved expression on his face when she walked through the door.

“I’m back?” Makoto responded tentatively at the red-haired ball of energy that was jumping up and down in front of her.

“Why’d you stay gone for so long? You said you’d be back within 3 days but it’s been 4 and we were really worried about you. You didn’t even sent us a message even though we sent you a lot of them!” Erika rambled, sounding really concerned. “We thought something had happened to you!”

“Well, I’m fine…” Makoto replied slowly but it seemed to make things worse as Erika refused to step aside, blocking Makoto’s way to their shared bedroom. Makoto felt a little guilty too, considering she had seen Erika’s messages on her phone…She had just forgotten to actually respond to them.

“Why’d you ignore my messages? Did something happen?” Erika continued as Makoto realized that there was no way to avoid talking to Erika and Masaru.

“You could say that, I was just really busy,” Makoto answered, hoping it would satisfy the other two…which it didn’t.

“Busy with what?” Erika asked immediately, her voice starting to sound more skeptical. “So busy you couldn’t even reply to a single message?”

“I forgot, I’m sorry Erika but can I please just take my bags to my room, I’m really tired,” Makoto responded. She obviously couldn’t tell Erika and Masaru that she spent the past few days fighting an Olympian, they would think she’s crazy. Besides, they had agreed not to tell anyone and she would not break that promise to her friends. It was worse enough that she couldn’t be there to fight with them.

“Not before you tell us what happened,” Erika stated bluntly, still blocking the door to the bedroom. “We’re your friends too, you know?”

“Friends?” Makoto repeated, sounding surprised. She hadn’t really spent a lot of time with Erika and Masaru, so she was a bit…perplexed at the words Erika had said.

“Of course! We’re going to be a super awesome kickass police squad together and even if you were gone for most weekends, we still got to know each other during the week!” Erika said. “So why can’t you tell us about your problems? We want to help you!”

“It’s complicated,” Makoto answered, her voice growing more frustrated. “I can’t tell you, okay? I want to tell you but I can’t tell you!”

“I don’t get that, can’t you tell anything to your friends? Or don’t you see us as your friends?”

“It’s not like that Erika!” Makoto shouted. “I just can’t tell you everything. Just like you won’t tell us why you moved here!”

“Because that’s in my past! This is in your present! Our present!”


Makoto was surprised to hear Masaru raise his voice as he made his way over to them, pulling the two of them apart. Makoto felt her face flush when Masaru did so, feeling embarrassed. It wasn’t like her to lose her cool like this.

“You should both apologize to each other,” he stated causing both girls to mutter an apology. “As for the issue you two were bickering about. Erika, clearly Makoto can’t tell us about whatever is going on in her life and we should respect that.”

“I know, I’m sorry…I’m just worried…” Erika muttered softly before Masaru turned to Makoto.

“As for you Makoto, you know that you can trust us, right? We’re supposed to become a squad together and that means we have to be able to count on each other. I respect your decision to keep a secret, just like Erika has her secrets and I have my own as well, but we’re a team and we should start acting like one.”

“I do…I’m sorry I’ve been so absent lately, I’ll try and make up for it.” Makoto admitted, looking down before, to her surprise, Erika put her hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay, I’m really sorry Mako-chan,” she said, tears in her eyes. “I just get really worried about my friends, you know?”

“I’m sorry for not responding to your messages either...I really should have,” Makoto responded, Erika cutting her off with a hug before she could finish her sentence.

“See, we’re all one big family again,” Masaru decided as he wrapped his arms around the two of them, giving them a big hug, before picking up Makoto’s bags.

“Shall I take these to your room for you?” he asked, causing Makoto to nod as she decided that she should really hang out with Masaru and Erika more…even if she wasn’t sure how she was going was going to fit them in with everything going on…

Teru Tendo

When the light disappeared Teru and the others found themselves back in the Metaverse, their clothes having changed according.

“We transformed again!” he yelled excitedly, the experience still new to him, causing the others to roll their eyes at him before they took a good look at their surroundings. A lot had changed since the last time they were here. The hill where they had based their camp was completely gone, as was the wasteland between said hill and the castle. Speaking of the castle, it was no longer standing, leaving only ruins in its place. It was honestly like thousands of years had passed since the last time they were in here.

“Looks like Ares went on a rampage after we left,” Akira pointed out as he looked around the front of the ruins together with Ann and Ryuji. Futaba was busy scanning things inside her Persona, leaving Teru as the only one who wasn’t really doing anything. It was only his second time in the Metaverse and he was still a bit overwhelmed by everything that came with being a Phantom Thief.

“Are you alright leader?”

“L-leader?” Teru muttered, shocked when he heard Ryuji’s voice. He had completely forgotten he had volunteered to be their leader this time around.

“You said you’d be the leader this time around, didn’t you?” Ryuji teased, Teru swearing he saw a look he couldn’t quite place in Ryuji’s eyes before deciding he must’ve imagined it. There was no way Ryuji would set him up...

“Yes! That’s right!” he quipped excitedly as the others gathered around him, each of them having finished up looking around.

“Looks like Ares advanced the time of this realm while we were gone. It’s still the same place, but we’re at least hundreds of years into the future,” Futaba explained, confirming Teru’s earlier suspicions.

“They can do that?” Ann gasped. “That’s really dangerous!”

“I think he can only do that when there’s no other occupants inside. He can control the Metaverse but only if we’re not inside it…I think…” Futaba responded.

“You think?” Ryuji repeated.

“We have never faced an enemy who could actually actively change the Metaverse before so all I have are my theories…He didn’t use this power while we faced him the last time though and that makes me believe that he can’t freely use it, seeing how he easily could’ve trapped us if he could.”

“That’s true…” Teru agreed. “Did you find out anything else? Like Ares’ current location?”

“I’ve scanned the vicinity and there’s a huge energy signature coming from the inside of the ruins…Which doesn’t really make any sense…” Futaba answered, her voice sounding a bit worried.

“Let’s go inside then!” Teru decided, the rest of the group looking at him in surprise.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Akira asked. “It’s pretty obvious it’s a trap…”

“Trap or no, we can’t just sit around here, right?” Teru remarked as he made his way to the ruins, ignoring the worries Akira stated despite the fact that the others were voicing their own concerns as well. He was going to prove he was a great leader, even if he had to take a little risk to do so.

The moment Teru entered the ruins he knew he had made a mistake as he heard Ares’ maniacal laughter surrounding him and the others. The rocks that made up the ruins started to move, as if they were puzzle pieces that slowly fit together, until they had formed 2 golems, the first one charging his fist towards Teru who jumped back quickly before pulling out his sword.

“Guess I was wrong about that…” he muttered to himself as he readied himself to fight the golems, not noticing that the other one was making their way for Futaba who hadn't had the time to distance herself from the battlefield.

“Futaba!” Ann yelled as she summoned a pair of fireballs that quickly flew towards and hit the golem, catching both its’ and Futaba’s attention as it changed course to charge towards her instead, advancing towards her at a high speed.

The golem quickly made it's way towards Ann, being too fast for her to dodge, before it took a swing at her, causing her to fly backwards against the wall.

“Ann!” Ryuji yelled as he charged at the golem, his weapon surging with electricity, before dispatching it in one blow. “Are you alright?”

“Y-…yeah…” she stammered. “It’s just a scratch don’t worry…”

Akira had dispatched of the other golem while Teru had been too busy watching what had happened to Ann, Akira and Futaba. He had been unable to do anything when the golem attacked Ann…and it was his fault it attacked them in the first place. He hadn’t been able to do anything about the other one either, momentarily forgetting about it despite the fact it was coming for him, leaving Akira to take care of it.

“I managed to get a hit on Ares’ location…” Futaba quipped, as if she tried to distract the others from what just happened, before Ryuji made his way over to Teru, balling his fist.

“What. The. Hell. Teru!” he yelled before hitting Teru straight in the face. “We told you not to run ahead, but you went and did it anyways!”

“I’m sorry…” Teru muttered, feeling the guilt rise inside his chest. Ryuji was right, they did tell him to wait but he had rushed ahead to try and prove he’s a good leader.

“Ryuji!” Ann yelled when she noticed what was happening but Teru raised his hand.

“It’s fine Ann…I deserved that…” he said softly but it looked like Ryuji wasn’t done as he angrily started balling his first once more.

“Do you want to hit me again Ryuji?” Teru asked. “Because you can go ahead…You all can, I deserve it for being the most disappointing leader and letting you guys down immediately…”

Teru closed his eyes as he braced himself for a one, or a series, of punches, but they never came…instead, something much worse came instead…

“I want you to get out,” Ryuji spat venomously, as he looked away so Teru could no longer see his eyes.

“G-get out?” Teru repeated, unable to believe the words he had just heard.

“Get out Teru. You don’t belong here. You endangered Futaba and Ann and for what? Just to prove you’re a good leader? We don’t need you Teru. Go back to being a lawyer, you’re not a Phantom Thief. You never will be. We only tolerated you because you’re Sae’s boyfriend, we never wanted you to come inside with us. None of us did. Especially not me.”

Teru could feel tears fill his eyes as he looked at the others, each of them looking at Ryuji in shock…but they didn’t protest either and that meant that deep down, they must agree with him. It had always worked that way...

“I…I’m so, so sorry…” he muttered, not knowing what else to say as he slowly felt dread and despair creeping into every fiber of his body. There was no way it was going to happen again, was there?

“Let’s go everyone. We got a god to kill,” Ryuji then stated before turning around. “Where did you say he was Futaba?”

“Please…don’t leave me…I just wanted to help…” Teru whispered but no one could hear him as they turned around one by one until, in the end, all of their backs were turned towards him.

“Go back though the portal Teru. You’ll never be our hero…but you’ll be safe, at least,” Ryuji stated firmly, although the final part sounded very quiet and Teru wasn’t quite sure if he heard it correctly before he fell to his knees.

Teru couldn’t bring himself to do anything as he saw the others slowly walk away from him, everyone following after Ryuji who had completely chewed him out. It had to be some kind of mistake, right? There was no way Ryuji meant all those hateful things…? There had to be something else going on, there had to be some kind of reason why Ryuji treated him like this…But even if that was the case, it didn’t make Ryuji’s words less hurtful…or less true, because as much as Teru wanted to deny it…The boy had been right, at least about some things…He should’ve never opted to be their leader, he was still new to all of this…but that didn’t change the fact that he had really wanted to help. No one had wanted to be their leader, so Teru thought that if he’d step up…maybe he could make himself useful to them. He had only wanted to be useful for them. He just wanted to be a Phantom the rest of them.

Teru sniffled as he felt his own tears roll down his face. He really had been wrong all along.

The Phantom Thieves had been fine without him around and, as it turned out, they really didn’t need him…Perhaps they would even be better off without him. Perhaps, everyone would be…

He let out an anguished scream when the others were slowly becoming nothing but dots on the horizon, unable to contain his fears as he faced what he felt like was his own reality. No one would ever need him…and he would never find a place to belong…Teru Tendo would always be alone.

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

No one had said a word since they left Teru in the ruins, the group walking in silence towards their perceived destination where Ares would be waiting for them. Akira figured they should probably talk about some kind of strategy before facing the Olympian but he couldn’t blame the others for not knowing what to say.

“Isn’t this exactly what you wanted?”

Akira could hear Arsene’s voice breaking the silence, his Persona sounding incredibly gleeful at the events that had transpired. “You have to hand it to your boy, he sure knows how to hurt people when you push him to. I’m sure that pesky lawyer won’t bother you anymore.”

But was that really what Akira wanted? And was Arsene right? Did he push Ryuji to do this?

Teru had sounded broken by the time Ryuji was done with him, his voice devoid of the slightly obnoxious happy tone that characterized it and Akira couldn’t help but feel bad for him.

“Gaah, I can’t take this anymore!” Ann shouted, causing the group to come to a standstill, well, aside from Ryuji who continued walking.

“Ryuji! You better explain what just happened! Teru did not deserve this. He’s always been there for you when you were down and you can’t treat him like that!” Ann said but Ryuji ignored her, causing her to walk towards him before forcing him to turn around, letting go off him in shock when she saw his face.

Ryuji's eyes were red and puffy, breaking Akira’s heart and showing that he had been crying the entire time they had been walking. Normally Akira would be the first to comfort Ryuji when he saw him crying but he couldn’t bring himself to do so this time, feeling the guilt inside of him intensify.

“I know…” Ryuji muttered, tears falling from his eyes. “I know Ann…” 

“Ryuji…” Ann stammered, clearly surprised by the state Ryuji was in. “Then why did you…do all that?”

Akira could feel his heart beat inside his throat the moment Ann stated her question. Ryuji wouldn’t…reveal his secret, would he?

“Because I don’t want Teru to die Ann,” Ryuji shouted, his voice sounding incredibly strained. “I don’t want him to die, okay!?”

“But Ryuji…we’re all at risk here. Teru, as well as anyone else,” Ann said, trying to calm Ryuji down even if it didn’t seem to make him feel any anything better.

“It’s different for him Ann, haven’t you heard the things he said?” Ryuji asked, causing Ann to look at him with a slight confused look. Akira realized what Ryuji was talking about though because he had noticed it as well. “He will sacrifice himself for any of us. He’s made it his mission to keep us safe, even if he has to risk himself to do so…and I don’t want to lose him.”

“Ryuji…” Ann muttered, but Ryuji wasn’t done explaining his reasons as he immediately interrupted her.

“Besides, it’s our fault he’s in this entire mess. If he hadn’t represented Akira back when he was in prison. If he didn’t get involved with us, he’d still be living his life and he wouldn’t be in danger. That’s why I was mean to him. I just want him to be safe…even…even…”

Ryuji couldn’t continue his explanation because he started sobbing uncontrollably at that point.

“You know, Teru would’ve probably gotten involved because we’re all chosen…” Futaba started to point out before Ann quickly pointed out that she shouldn’t continue that sentence, prompting the redheaded girl to apologize profusely when she realized that what she was pointing out wasn't going to make anything better for Ryuji right now.

“I don’t think he heard it, don’t worry,” Akira whispered to her, having moved over to Futaba to stand with her as Ann wrapped her arms around Ryuji.

“Shouldn’t you be the one comforting Ryuji?” Futaba asked but Akira shook his head.

“Not when it comes to this…”

“Feeling a little guilty are we? Don’t feel guilty though. You got what you wanted, doesn’t matter how you get it. That’s how I always lived my life.”

Akira shook his head, wanting to get Arsene’s voice out of head. He did not need his Persona’s snide remarks right now.

You can’t get rid of me, I’m a part of you. Whether you like that or not.”

“Shut up. You clearly don’t know me if you think I wanted to hurt Ryuji like this…or Teru for that matter. I may not like him but I don’t want to break him. He was there for me when I was in prison, no one can deny that.” Akira responded sharply to his Persona…who stayed silent, much to Akira’s surprise. Maybe he had won this round.

Akira sighed a breath of relief before he focused on the conversation between Ryuji and Ann, Ryuji having seemingly calmed down enough to explain.

“He probably hates me…for what I said to him…” Ryuji whispered sadly. “I would hate me…”

“Don’t be silly Ryuji. I don’t think Teru has it in him to hate anyone…Just talk to him, explain to him why you did what you did and he’ll understand. You don’t know this, but back when you locked yourself in your room while Akira was in prison he came immediately after we called him and you know what he said? He said you were like a little brother to him and that he really wanted to help you out. He wanted you to be happy and not go through the things he went through himself so I’m sure that if you talk to him, he’ll still be your friend. We just have to kick Ares’ ass and then we can...“ Ann stated softly, comforting Ryuji, until she was cut off by a spear that landed only an inch away from her, causing her, and the others, to look up in bewilderment, revealing that Ares was approaching the group.

“You shouldn’t finish that sentence dear. Especially since none of you are going to make it out alive,” the Olympian pointed out as he conjured another spear out of thin air.

“Ares…” Akira grumbled as he, along with the others, readied himself for battle. He couldn’t help but worry about Ryuji’s state of mind though…his boyfriend was still very emotional…and he hoped that that wouldn’t affect his abilities too much, because if it did…Ares would certainly exploit that and that would have disastrous results…

Haru Okumura

Haru couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Here she was, walking around Shibuya to find a restaurant where she and Touma could eat together, while her friends were fighting for her lives inside the Metaverse. Maybe she should’ve tried to support them in a different way even if she was unable to fight properly…

“Are you okay, you’re not having second thoughts are you?” Touma asked, sounding a bit worried. She was surprised by how dorky Touma turned out to be, awkwardly fiddling his hands together as he waited for her to answer. Another thing that caught her off guard was his choice of clothes too, having only seen him in his work clothes, seeing how he was actually wearing a pair of glasses along with a black sweater that had a white stripe on it along with a pair of normal blue jeans. She had expected it to be less…plain but she didn’t mind. She liked this side much better than the side he tended to show at work.

“I’m sorry for seeming absent-minded Touma-kun,” Haru apologized. “I just have a lot on my mind.”

“I hope it’s nothing bad…” Touma replied before he proudly pointed towards himself. “You can tell me if you need my help! I’m actually a really good listener!”

“I’m sure you are,” Haru laughed. “I’m honestly quite surprised.”

“By what?” Touma asked as he stopped to look at Haru, his eyes burning with a curiosity that Haru hadn’t noticed before.

“By how kind you are. You always act so tough at work but you’re actually really sweet,” Haru explained, causing Touma to blush a little before laughing a bit awkwardly.

“I told you I’m sorry for how I acted before…” he muttered softly, sounding apologetic, and he had completely convinced Haru of how sorry he was at this point. She kinda liked that he kept bringing it up though, it made her feel important to him…and that was something she really wanted.

After wandering around Shibuya for a while, Touma asked her where she would like to eat, causing the two of them to settle on eating at the diner Haru often frequented with Ann. She really liked the place and she was hoping Touma would too.

“Shouldn’t you take off your gloves?” Touma asked after he and Haru sat down, expectantly looking at the gloves she was wearing. "It's really hot in here."

“I’d rather not…” Haru responded, looking away, before a waitress came over to their table to ask them what they would like to drink.

“Why not? I figured they were just for outside…” Touma continued after they ordered their drinks, sounding curious. “It’s not like you’re hiding something underneath them, right?”

Touma laughed at his own statement, not realizing how right he was. Haru had started wearing gloves to hide the mark that had appeared on her hand. She didn’t want people to see it, knowing that they’d get suspicious but that didn't seem to work with Touma so she supposed she had to come up with a plan B.

“Yeah,” Haru smiled awkwardly. “That’d be weird, wouldn’t it?”

“Yup!” Touma agreed, seemingly intrigued by her gloves. “So why don’t you take them off?”

“Fine,” Haru stated, not wanting to make Touma more suspicious, as she moved her hands below the table so they were out of sight before removing her gloves. She decided to keep her left hand underneath the table to mask it as she clumsily leaned on her right hand. “So what were we talking about?”

“What’s wrong with your left hand?” Touma asked, sounding worried. “You’re acting weird…”

“There’s nothing wrong…” Haru insisted weakly but Touma reached for her left arm, pulling it upwards to reveal the hand she had been hiding.

The moment he saw the mark on her hand he flinched, a look filled with distress filling his eyes, before he recovered himself.

“You…got a tattoo on your hand?” he stammered, sounding surprised but also a little intrigued.

“Yeah…” Haru confirmed, deciding to go along with Touma’s theory. “It’s a long story…”

“I mean,” Touma responded as he straightened himself out. “I think it’s cool. I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo myself…I just didn’t think you were the type for it.”

“Neither did I,” Haru whispered softly, causing Touma to look at her with a…surprisingly understanding look in his eyes.

“It’s fine, you don’t have to tell me why you got it,” he told her with a reassuring smile. “I still really like you.”

“Y…you do?” Haru muttered as she felt her cheeks flush.

“Yeah, why would I ask you out on a date otherwise?” Touma responded as his smile grew wider. “You did know this was intended to be a date, right?”

“I…I was hoping it was,” Haru stammered, feeling like a thousand butterflies were flying inside of her.

“Good,” Touma said, sounding genuinely happy. “So have you decided what you’re going to eat yet?”

“I…I think I know, yes,” Haru muttered, barely able to believe what just happened. Touma didn’t mind the fact that her hand was marked. He really liked her, this was a date and it honestly made her really happy before she got hit by a sudden wave of guilt that she couldn’t explain.

“What’s wrong?” Touma asked, having noticed the sudden change in Haru’s demeanor.

“I…I think I made a mistake going out with you tonight…” Haru muttered, the butterflies in her stomach suddenly being replaced with a feeling of dread that she couldn’t explain. She just had this terrible feeling that her friends were in grave danger.

“You…you did?” Touma stammered sadly. “Did…I do something?”

“No Touma-kun…I’m happy to be here with you…I just, I need to be there for my friends right now…” Haru explained, half expecting Touma to get angry at her but to her surprise he just looked at her with the nicest and most understanding look on her face.

“I understand,” he responded. “And I’ll come with you.”

“You’ll what?” Haru gasped, surprised by Touma’s response.

“I’ll come with you. You sound like you need a friend right now and I can help you with that. Let me just pay for our drinks and we can be on our way.”

Haru nodded, slipping her gloves back on as Touma made his way to the bar.

“I’m sorry Touma-kun,” Haru whispered, getting up when Touma wasn’t looking at her before quickly making her way out of the diner to head towards Sae’s apartment. “I can’t get you involved in this.”

Ryuji Sakamato

“I knew you wouldn’t be a challenge with just the 4 of you. How boring,” Ares yawned, effortlessly deflecting the attacks the Phantom Thieves threw his way.

“Well, we’re not done either!” Futaba yelled, floating above the battlefield before she, or rather the Persona she was inside started glowing brightly.

“Let’s go everyone. I’m going to enhance your offensive and defensive capabilities.”

Futaba told Ryuji, and presumably the others, the last part telepathically before Ryuji could hear the words “Matarukaja” and “Marakukaja” being whispered by Futaba.

When she finished Ryuji noticed that he, Ann and Akira started glowing with a faint red and blue aura. He had experienced this before, knowing that both his offensive and defensive capabilities were doubled right now.

“Alright, let’s do this!” Ryuji yelled, having regained some of his vigor. They would get rid of Ares and then he’d be able to apologize to Teru, hoping Ann was right. Maybe Teru would forgive him and they could continue being friends…Ryuji would really like that.

“Do what exactly?” the god questioned with a taunting smirk. “Your attacks didn’t do anything to me before and I doubt they’ll do anything now.”

“We’ll see about that!” Ryuji retorted as he charged towards Ares, swinging his weapon at the Olympian the moment he got close enough.

Much to Ryuji’s distress, however, the Olympian blocked his attack by materializing a shield in front of him before pushing Ryuji by emanating some kind of shockwave.

“Impressive, you managed to put a dent into it,” Ares stated, sounding almost proud, before throwing the shield towards the ground and causing it to dissipate. “It’s been a while since someone has damaged one of my shields but it won’t be enough, not by a long shot.

“Are you sure about that?” Ryuji grinned as he noticed both Ann and Akira launching attacks of their own. Akira had snuck up behind Ares and was about to strike, while Ann’s fireballs were to hit him from the side.

It only took a second for Akira to put his dagger in Ares’ back before he jumped back, allowing Ann’s fireballs to hit him causing a fiery explosion as both Akira and Ann made their way over to Ryuji’s side.

“Did we get him?” Ann asked, but there was no need for Akira or Ryuji to answer because they heard Ares’ laughing loudly.

“That is the stuff,” they heard him say before the smoke cleared, revealing that he hadn’t taken any damage. “This is the kind of thing a war machine like myself lives for.”

“A war machine?” Ryuji repeated, unsure what Ares meant.

“I may as well tell you since there’s no way any of you is making it out of here alive but all of us, every Olympian, have their own purpose. Mine is war. I live for war, for battle, and right now the 4 of you are making me feel more alive than I’ve felt in a long time.”

Ryuji looked at the others, surprised by Ares’ sudden change in demeanor.

“What about your goal? Don’t you guys work towards some kind of goal?” Akira questioned, causing Ares to laugh loudly in response.

“Their goal? I don’t care about Zeus, or anyone’s goal. I just want to fight in the most exciting wars. Wars that make my blood boil with excitement.”

“What’s that mean?” Futaba pressed, but Ares didn’t pay any attention to her as he seemingly got ready to do something.

“At any rate,” the god stated before he removed his helmet along with his chest plate. “I’ll respect your full power by responding with my own.”

“Spread out!” Futaba yelled as Ares put his hands together, forming what looked like a blue orb of energy in front of them before he shot what looked like a destructive beam of blue energy.


The attack raged in front of Ares, obliterating everything in front of him and leaving nothing but dust in its wake. Ryuji quickly realized that he and the others should not be hit by that, something Futaba confirmed moments later through her telepathy.

“You dodged it, huh? Impressive!” the Olympian relished. “Let’s dance some more then, Phantom Thieves!”

“He…He’s crazy…” Ann, who had ended up right next to Ryuji, muttered.

“I am disappointed though,” Ares continued, before summoning what looked like an ornate sword inside his right hand. “I would’ve loved to try this sword out on your sword user but you got rid of him before I could.”

“Excuse me?” Ryuji stated as he stood up. “Our sword user?”

“You know, the guy in red. I would’ve loved to face off against him in a sword fight before skewering him on this sword,” Ares stated, his voice clearing up when he seemingly realized something. “I suppose I can still go after him after I finish you guys off.”

“NEVER!” Ryuji shouted as he charged towards the Olympian in rage, Ann shouting at him to calm down. Ares wouldn’t hurt the people he cared about. He took a deep breath before he swung down the rod he was wielding with all his might, Ares blocking it with the sword he had summoned.

“Good!” the god yelled at him. “Give me more. Let that anger consume you!”

Ryuji tries his hardest to launch a flurry of blows at Ares but the Olympian managed to block all of them, much to his distress, before eventually knocking Ryuji’s weapon out of his hands. Ryuji found himself unable to react when Ares wrapped his hand around his throat before lifting him into the air.

“You were a worthy opponent, but that wasn’t enough in the end,” Ares stated as he threw Ryuji on the ground in front of him before he started the charge the same blue energy he had been charging before...



Ryuji could hear Ann, Futaba and Akira calling out to him but it was too late. There was no way he could dodge Ares’ attack, the fact that he was still on the ground after the god had thrown him down made sure of that. He braced himself, closing his eyes, as he prepared himself for the beam to hit him. He hoped that he would somehow survive it, especially after seeing what it had done to his surroundings but deep down he knew that the chances of him surviving the attack were pretty low.

He hoped that his friends would be able to defeat Ares’ without his help…hopefully he had weakened him somehow, because he wouldn’t be able to help them anymore…or so Ryuji thought before he felt something, or rather, someone push him aside right before the attack could make contact with him, taking his place as the beam’s new target.

Ryuji could sparsely believe what had happened before he heard a loud, bloodcurdling scream coming from behind him…A scream that shook him to his core because it came from a person he knew all too well, a person he never wanted to feel this kind of pain, turning around in horror to come face to face with one of his worst nightmares…

Chapter Text

Teru Tendo

-A few moments earlier-

A couple of minutes had passed since Ryuji and the others had left and while Teru could still see them as dots in the distance, they would soon disappear from his sight completely. They actually left him, just like everyone had always left him behind. He wasn’t good enough for them, just like he hadn’t been good enough for his former colleagues. It seemed like people just got bored of him and Teru couldn’t blame them for that. Who would like someone like him? The only things he had going for him were his idealism, his sense of humor and his puns…and the latter two oftentimes ended up annoying people. Maybe they really would be better off without him.

“I’d let you wallow in self-pity, but honestly you’re being incredibly unrealistic. Are you still the same man you were back then? The man with no resolve who allowed a law firm to take advantage of him?”

Teru was shocked to hear his Persona’s voice in his head. He hadn’t heard it since the day he awakened and figured Lancelot would only talk to him during battle to help him out.

“I couldn’t bear your thoughts. They affect me too, you know? I am a part of you, whether you like it or not,” his Persona explained, causing Teru to wonder what the knight meant before Lancelot interrupted his thoughts once more. “Don’t you have more pressing matters to attend instead of wondering about how our contract works?”

“What is there?” Teru lamented out loud. “They hate me, Ryuji hates me. He wants nothing to do with me, he made that clear.”

“I can’t believe I have to tell you this but find your resolve. Remember that kid. The bond you have with him.”

For some reason Lancelot’s words spurred something inside of Teru causing him to think back to all the times he shared with Ryuji. How troubled he was when they first met and how Teru had taken him boxing to calm him down. How he always treated Ryuji to ramen. How Ryuji opened up to him for the first time after sharing his own childhood with the boy…And lastly, how Ryuji had told him that he had always wanted a big brother like him.

Recalling those words caused Teru to remember the promise he had made to Ryuji as he stood up. He would always be there for the boy…regardless of what happened and besides, the moments they had shared were genuine and Teru realized something else must be going on with Ryuji. Something that caused him to act in the way he had.

“See, he doesn’t hate you. I knew you’d come to your senses.”

Teru nodded at his Persona’s words before he got up and ran in the direction the others had headed. He would fight alongside them like he promised, he would keep them safe, he would keep Ryuji, the kid who had become like a little brother to him, safe.

When Teru heard an explosion he knew he was getting closer to the battlefield as he quickened his pace, hoping he wouldn’t be too late.

“Good!” Teru heard a voice shout, immediately realizing that it belonged to Ares which caused him to run even faster. “Give me more. Let that anger consume you!”

He was getting close, he knew he was as he ran past a set of ruins to come face to face with a view that horrified him.

“You were a worthy opponent, but that wasn’t enough in the end.”

Those were the words Ares said to Ryuji as he wrapped his hand around the boy’s throat, before throwing him towards the ground in front of him.

It was in that moment that Teru knew what he had to do, his feet moving on their own as he sprinted towards Ryuji to save him from whatever attack Ares was preparing.

He knew Ryuji couldn’t see him, his back was turned towards him, but that didn’t matter. Teru would save the boy…and he did as he reached and crashed his body into him, pushing Ryuji aside as he fell over himself, becoming the Ares’ new target.

The moment the beam hit him Teru screamed. It was like his entire body was being torn to pieces, being cut by a million knives at the same time, and even though he had shielded himself at the last second he knew it wouldn’t be enough…It hurt so much and it just kept hurting but in a way, Teru didn’t mind. At the very least he had protected Ryuji and that made him happy, no matter what price he would have to pay…he had kept his little brother from harm, like a good big brother should.

Ryuji Sakamoto

 “T…Teru…?” Ryuji stammered, unable to process what just happened. He had expected to die, he had made peace with that but here he was…completely safe. Saved by the person who he wanted to protect. Teru, on the other hand, looked like he was in terrible shape. He had lost most of his armor, having transformed back into his regular clothes…or rather what was left of them, revealing most of his body. He was bleeding heavily, the blood pouring through whatever remained of his clothing, and Ryuji could hear what sounded like ragged breaths coming from his friend.

“TERU!” Ryuji yelled when the realization hit him, quickly getting back up on his feet before running towards his friend. Teru had pushed him out of the way and protected him. He had taken the attack that was meant to kill him.

Ryuji kneeled down next to Teru, grabbing his hand as he felt tears forming inside his eyes.

“Teru…” Ryuji begged. “Please…say something…”

To his surprise the older man started smiling when he saw Ryuji’s face before he started coughing heavily, his breathing sounding even more ragged as his wounds kept spilling blood.

“I…told you…” Teru muttered, clearly struggling to speak.

“Told me what?” Ryuji asked through his tears.

“Told…you…I’d keep you…safe…”

“But…but I was horrible to you,” Ryuji protested, feeling terrible. This was his fault. This was all his fault and he hated himself for it.

“Brothers…fight…all the time…” Teru stated before having another coughing fit. He was coughing up blood now, causing Ryuji to fear the worst.

“Please…don’t die…I can’t lose you…” Ryuji begged, causing Teru to use whatever strength he had left to squeeze Ryuji’s hand.

“I’ll try…”

Ryuji saw Teru try and smile an encouraging smile but the fact he was soaked in his own blood caused it to have the opposite effect, causing Ryuji to break down.

“I’m sorry…I’m sorry…” he rambled as tears started falling from his eyes. “It’s all my fault…”

“It’s…okay…” Teru whispered. “It’s not your fault…”

Ryuji sobbed heavily, causing Teru to squeeze his hand once more.

“I just…wanted you guys to hurry up and accept me as a Phantom Thief…I’m sorry I failed all of you in the end…” Teru admitted sadly. “I’m really sorry…”

“You’re wrong!” Ryuji protested tearfully. “You’re…you’re a great Phantom Thief Teru…You’re a hero, you saved me…you keep saving me…”

“That makes me…so…happy…” Teru smiled before coughing heavily once again. “But…why’d you…tell me…those…things?”

“I wanted to keep you safe,” Ryuji admitted. “I didn’t want you to go to the Metaverse with us because I knew…I knew you’d do something like this. You always…you always sacrifice your own happiness for others and now you’re paying for my mistake, for my cockiness…and…and…”

Ryuji couldn’t bring himself to finish that sentence, unwilling to admit the possibility that Teru might die. He didn’t want Teru to die. He couldn’t deal with the thought of Teru dying. He was his best friend and he needed to make it up to him but to do that…he had to stay alive.

“I…I see…” Teru responded before a small smile showed up on his face. “I guess…that’s a bad habit…”

“I never wanted to hurt you,” Ryuji stammered as he saw more blood flow from Teru’s wounds. “I’m so sorry…”

“It’s…okay Ryuji…” Teru said, his breath slowly getting heavier. “I…forgive you…”

“You do…?” Ryuji whispered, unable to believe Teru’s words. He had almost gotten him killed and he still forgave him.

“I do…You were…only trying to be kind to me…”

“I was…” Ryuji admitted. “I guess my kindness was just misguided…I should have talked to you Teru. I should have talked to you instead of deciding on my own what was best for you.”

“Probably…” Teru admitted, before letting out a loud groan.

“Teru!” Ryuji yelped. “Are you okay?!”

“I guess…the talking…is really taking its toll on me…” the older man admitted, his face slowly losing its color. “Maybe…I won’t be able to…keep my promise…”

“Your promise?” Ryuji asked, not liking what Teru was saying.

“To…keep you safe…” Teru explained, a grimace showing up on his face. “I…may...have to...leave you…”

“NO!” Ryuji shouted. “You can’t leave me! I need you Teru. I need you to stay with me, I need you to keep my safe…I need my big brother…”

“I…” Teru stammered before starting to cough so heavily that he seemed unable to utter another word causing Ryuji to feel tears of desperation run down his face. He had to do something, he had to save Teru somehow...

“I’ve got it from here Ryuji.”

Ryuji looked in the direction the voice came from before realizing Futaba’s Persona was hovering next to him, the girl herself being inside of it.

“What…do you mean?” Ryuji asked before he saw what looked like a pair of cables coming from the Necronomicon. The cables wrapping themselves around Teru’s arms before they started glowing with a light green energy.

“I’ll heal him…I’ll try my hardest to make sure he’ll live,” the girl explained, causing Ryuji to give her a thumbs-up before he readied himself to face off against Ares once more. He would beat the Olympian for what he did to Teru. He really would.


Ryuji looked back at Teru, who had stopped coughing and seemed to be in a bit less pain.

“You’re…the kindest kid I’ve ever known…”

“I’m…not…” Ryuji protested. “I…really hurt you Teru,”

“You…did…” the older man confirmed, causing Ryuji to feel a small hint of guilt form inside of him. “But…you never meant harm…right?”

“I didn’t. I never wanted to hurt you!” Ryuji answered immediately, causing him to realize something.

“See…?” Teru asked, causing Ryuji to nod.

“I…was just misguided,” Ryuji explained. “I thought…I thought that it was kindness to go out of my way to keep you safe…but it wasn’t. I was being selfish…making decisions for you instead of with you…and I promise, I promise I’ll never do it again! Not to you, not to anyone!”

The moment he finished saying those words Ryuji felt some kind of…power well up inside of him as Teru’s eyes grew wide.

“Ryuji…your mark…”

Ryuji couldn’t really see his own mark so he didn’t know what Teru was talking about until he noticed that his neck started glowing, the glow quickly spreading over his entire body until he pretty much turned into a beacon of light.

“W-what’s happening?” he muttered before hearing his Persona’s voice in his head.

“You’ve done it lad. We’re now becoming one. My power will be yours to wield.”

“Becoming one…? What does that mean?” Ryuji questioned, causing his Persona to chuckle.

“It’ll become clear to you very soon, I’m sure.”

When the glowing stopped Ryuji noticed that his clothes had changed. His new outfit, resembling that of a pirate, consisting of a white undershirt with a black vest and a pair of tight leather jeans. There was something…about them though, something that made Ryuji feel like he could move very quickly in these new clothes. It was almost as if they were imbued with some kind of special ability. When Ryuji looked at his weapon he noticed it had changed as well. It had turned into a steel mace with a spiky orb on top of it but despite how heavy it looked, Ryuji could barely feel its weight when he lifted it.

“I’ll take care of Ares,” he said, his transformation filling him with a renewed sense of confidence. “Just hold on, I’ll be back before you know it.”

Ann Takamaki

Ann and Akira had regrouped after Ryuji was saved by Teru, the two of them feeling incredibly moved by the sacrifice the lawyer had made just to save Ryuji. Ann was very aware of the fact that Teru might die and while that thought gnawed at her she knew she should ignore it for now as she carefully watched Ares. To her surprise the Olympian hadn’t made a move though, seeming to be respectfully watching Ryuji and Teru’s conversation like she and Akira were, although his smile grew wide when Ryuji started glowing, worrying Ann slightly.

“Ready for round two?” Ares asked Ryuji who was approaching him with renewed vigor. Ryuji’s entire posture radiated confidence and determination, giving her hope. She wasn’t sure what happened to Ryuji but she had a hunch that maybe they stood a chance against Ares now.

Ryuji looked at her and Akira for a moment, nodding at them, before he seemingly disappeared. Reappearing behind Ares before hitting him with his new weapon, sending the Olympian crashing towards the ground.

“What the…” Akira muttered, echoing her own surprise before they heard Ares growl in excitement.

“YES!” the god roared before getting back on his feet. “This is what I’ve been waiting for.”

What happened next amazed both Ann and Akira. It looked like Ryuji was blinking in and out of existence but they quickly deduced that he seemingly used electricity to make himself move incredibly fast. He assaulted Ares from all sides, the god shielding against his attacks by materializing shields out of thin air. Ryuji didn’t allow Ares to retaliate with attacks of his own though, forcing the god to be on the defensive. It was a battle of endurance and whoever made a mistake first would lose.

“Let’s help Ryuji,” Ann said, turning to Akira. “They’re fighting on equal footing, aren’t they? We can make the difference Ryuji needs!”

“Are you sure…?” Akira questioned, looking away. “Ares effortlessly deflected our attacks before. We’ll probably just get in Ryuji’s way…”

Akira’s response angered Ann. She wasn’t sure what had gotten into their former leader but he needed to get a hold of himself. He had never been like this.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you but it has to stop!” she shouted, shocking Akira. “Ryuji needs our help. We may not be as strong as he is right now but we can get creative! All we have to do is create an opening for him, can’t we do that?”

Akira looked at her for a moment before he nodded, causing the two of them to run towards the battle, Ares gleefully looking at the two of them approach.

“Ooh, fresh meat!” he yelled, causing Ann to stick her tongue out at the Olympian.

“Not this time!”

Ann knew that Ares couldn’t really pay attention to her and Akira, still wrapped up in his fight with Ryuji who briefly smiled at the two of them rejoining the battle causing Ann’s resolve to grow. They would support him, no matter what. Ann had come up with a plan too. She had noticed that Ares could only materialize two shields at once…and if she and Akira could take care of those shields, Ryuji would be able to deliver a fatal blow to the Olympian…or so she hoped, not entirely sure how much Ryuji had powered up from whatever triggered his transformation.

She relayed her plan to Akira, who agreed with her, before they both got ready. There was only one problem though…They needed to give Ryuji some kind of signal that he should strike. She looked around the battlefield, looking for some kind of way to signal Ryuji before noticing Futaba and Teru. She looked at them for a moment before a stroke of genius hit her. This would work, she was sure of it!

“Give me strength Carmen,” Ann prayed before pulling out her orb.

“You’ve got all the power you need inside of you girl. You just have to believe,”  her Persona told her, causing Ann think momentarily before realizing something. She had only really fought by sending flurries of fireballs at her opponents but this time…she required a more precise strike, so what if she tried fusing her fireballs together before firing one big fireball at one of the shields? It was worth a shot, wasn’t it? Even if she wasn’t sure if she was able to.

Deciding to put her idea into action, Ann focused all of her remaining energy on her orb causing her to summon a flurry of small fireballs that floated in front of her.

“Now merge!” she commanded out loud, and to her surprise the fireballs started fusing together until there was only one big fireball left. The only thing she needed to do now was fire it at the shield when it appeared…and give Ryuji his signal, no matter how embarrassing that would be…

“Okay!” she shouted theatrically, trying to grab Ares’ attention.

“What are you doing?” Akira asked, looking confused.

“Just follow my lead,” Ann responded as she readied herself to fire the fireball. She just needed to time it right and hit one of the shields once it materialized.

“Mystic Fireball!” Ann shouted when she realized her timing was right, causing Akira to look at her in surprise before muttering something about how he couldn’t believe he was doing this.

“Darkness Claw,” Akira stated, looking embarrassed as he managed to materialize what looked like a dark claw from his shadow.

Not that their embarrassment mattered because their plan worked. Ann’s fireball managed to knock one of Ares’ shields away, while Akira’s claw took care of the other, leaving the Olympian wide open to Ryuji’s attack.

“It’s time to finish this!” Ryuji shouted, before disappearing once again. “Supersonic Lightning Strike!”

When Ryuji reappeared milliseconds later he was in front of Ares, hitting his chest with his new weapon and causing the Olympian to fly backwards before he crashed into a wall.

Ann and Akira quickly made their way over to Ryuji’s side, who was standing in front of the Olympian.

“Well done Phantom Thieves,” Ares said, any hint of hostility gone from his voice. “You have won fair and square.”

“Wait…what?” Ryuji muttered, echoing both Ann and Akira’s surprise.

“I’m…disintegrating, aren’t I?” Ares pointed out, causing Ann and the others to realize that he was indeed slowly disappearing. “You have defeated me.”

“Why didn’t you finish us off when you had the chance? You could’ve killed us when I was with Teru,” Ryuji asked, causing Ann to realize that he had a valid point. Ares could’ve killed all of them back then…but for some reason he hadn’t.

“Honor,” the Olympian responded. “You were honoring your friend. A fallen soldier. It’s only right that I gave you time to do so. I may live for war but I honor those who fall in battle. It’s part of my code.”

Ryuji looked like he was about to say something before Ares’ face turned grim.

“Be careful,” the Olympian warned. “The others do not understand the concept of honor and they’re stronger than I am. They do not battle their opponents like I do, they use tricks instead.”

“What do you mean?” Akira demanded but Ares had almost fully disappeared at this point.

“It was an honor, Phantom Thieves. I hope to be able to fight you once again.”

And with those words Ares disappeared…and their grueling battle was finally over, or so Ann thought…

Ryuji Sakamoto

Ryuji quickly made his way back to Teru, followed by Ann and Akira, when Ares completely disintegrated. He was surprised by the Olympian’s honesty and sense of honor but the only thing he could focus on right now was whether or not Teru was alright, even if Ares had just given them a grave warning.

The realization that Teru could die any moment hit Ryuji the moment the god had disappeared and he just wanted to see whether his friend was alright, because he had to be alright…He just had to be...

The first thing Ryuji noticed when he saw Teru was that the cables from Futaba’s Persona were no longer just wrapped around his arms. There were cables around wrapped around both his stomach and his legs while Futaba was actually kneeling next to him, being outside her Persona for some reason.

“We need to get him out of here,” Futaba yelled when she realized the others were arriving. “I’m trying everything I can but I can’t stop the bleeding, not completely!”

“I…I’m fine…” Teru protested before he started coughing heavily again, lifting his left hand to give Ryuji, Ann and Akira thumbs-up once the coughing stopped. “Nice…fight…”

Ryuji could sense see the looks of shock on both Akira and Ann their faces, neither of them having seen Teru up-close after he got hit by Ares’ attack.

“I told you I’d make it back,” Ryuji said, trying to smile at Teru before kneeling next to him and grabbing his hand once more. “Now we’ll get you home…”

“I…heard…” Teru muttered, looking proud. “You…called out your attack…”

“I did,” Ryuji nodded, feeling tears creep into his eyes again. He hated seeing Teru like this, especially since it was his fault. It was his fault that Teru was in this state in the first place.

“We all did,” Ann pointed out, sitting down next to Ryuji. “Even Akira.”

Akira just nodded before moving over to Futaba, asking her if she could create a portal to get them back home. There was no way they could move Teru back to their old portal after all.

“I thought…you…thought it was silly…” Teru questioned, causing Ryuji to smile.

“I guess we were inspired by a real hero.”

Teru's entire face brightened up when he heard those words and he looked like he was about to respond before he started coughing up a lot of blood.

“Teru?!” Ann shouted, a sense of panic lacing her voice as Teru started shivering.

“No…” Ryuji stammered. This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t happening.


Teru’s head rolled to the side after he muttered those words, causing Ryuji to yell his name with an anguished cry. Teru didn’t respond though, having lost consciousness as he and Ann started to panic.

“We need to get that portal working now Futaba!” Akira yelled as he headed over to Ryuji and Ann. “Help me carry him, we’re going to get Teru home.”

“I…thought you hated him…” Ryuji muttered through his tears.

“So did I until he tried sacrificing his life for you,” Akira answered, his voice filling with determination. “We will get out of here alive. All of us. Including Teru.”

Sae Niijima

Sae wasn’t sure how she ended up in a bar with her new client but that’s where she found herself after a rather enjoyable afternoon. Her client, Ayuna Himekawa, turned out to be an idol who was being sued by a big production company for some kind of copyright infringement. Ayuna insisted that she was innocent, claiming she wrote the song herself before showing Sae proof that she had. It was a pretty straightforward case and Sae knew, based on the evidence, that she could easily win it if she played her cards right. She got all the evidence she needed that Ayuna wrote the song herself and that was all she needed to convince a judge to rule in her favor. She was certain of that, especially since she used to be on the other side as a prosecutor.

After reassuring the woman that she would be alright, Sae expected to finish up her meeting but Ayuna had been so excited that she invited Sae out for a drink, stating that she looked like she really needed one and that’s how they ended up at the bar. Sae honestly knew that it was highly unprofessional to have any kind of personal relationship with a client but there was something about Ayuna that made it hard to refuse her. She was honestly a beautiful, captivating woman with flowing long strawberry blonde hair and it seemed like Ayuna was very much aware of that, using her looks to get them the best spots in the bar.

“And so I told them, they can’t just take pictures of me and put them in a magazine. I want the full deal, song and all. I don’t want to be a model, I want to be an idol and if they can’t give me that, there’s no deal.”

Ayuna smiled when she finished what seemed like a story about how she became an idol. A story that Sae, if she was honest, hadn’t really listened to because she had been thinking about the Phantom Thieves, especially Teru, and their inevitable fight against Ares, hoping that they’d be alright.

“Hey,” Ayuna stated, as she nudged her elbow against Sae’s. “Sorry I talk a lot about myself. Tell me more about yourself. Any man in your life?”

Sae looked down at her drink, feeling slightly embarrassed, causing Ayuna to laugh.

“It’s just between us girls. Don’t worry, I won’t tell a soul!” she stated cheerfully, seeming painfully aware of the fact that Sae had never really experienced a female friendship before.

“There is someone…” Sae whispered through her embarrassment.

“Oooh!” Ayuna cheered. “Is it serious?”

“I think so…we just moved on together,” Sae answered before she heard her phone vibrate on the wooden table in front of her. She wanted to ignore it at first but it kept buzzing, causing her to eventually give in before looking at her phone screen.

When Sae saw that it was Futaba who was calling her she was overcome by surprise and a slight sense of dread, deciding to answer it after excusing herself from the conversation she was having with Ayuna.

“It’s not really a good time to call me right now…” she said before Futaba cut her off.

“I’m really sorry to call you but…but Teru…he’s…” Futaba muttered. The girl sounded distraught, trying her hardest not to burst into tears when she told Sae what had happened in the Metaverse.

Sae couldn’t really properly register the words Futaba was saying, dropping her phone in shock.

“Whoa, are you okay? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost. We were just talking about your man…” Ayuna asked the moment she saw Sae drop her phone, sounding worried.

“My…my boyfriend…” Sae muttered, still unable to believe the words she just heard, making her unable to think clearly. “He…he almost got killed…”

“What?!” Ayuna responded, her face filling with worry. “Is he okay? I’m going to call my driver to get us there immediately!”

“I…I don’t know…” Sae responded as tears filled her eyes. “But I think…he might die…”

End of Arc 2

Chapter Text

Sae Niijima

-A week later-

It had been one week. One week since that phone call… A phone call caused by events that made Sae and the others realize just how high the stakes had become. Teru had, by some miracle, survived, but his brush with death caused the Phantom Thieves to realize that they were no longer playing around. The Olympians were dangerous, and while the events they had faced before hadn’t been a cakewalk, this was different. They weren’t facing one god this time around, they were facing eleven of them… Which meant it was at least 11 times as dangerous. Or at least, that’s what Sae felt it was like.

She hadn’t been there for the original battle, only watching from the side, and while she had been glad to be able to help the Phantom Thieves more actively this time around she was slowly starting to get second thoughts.

She knew that thinking like that wouldn’t help anyone though. She had been marked, just like the others, which meant that she would’ve eventually gotten involved in one way or another. The same applying to both Teru and the mysterious 10th chosen one.

Sae still remembered everything clearly. How Ayuna had managed to get them to her apartment, entering through the door to see a blood-soaked Teru laid unconscious on her floor. Ryuji had held onto his hand, constantly whispering how sorry he was, while tears ran past his cheeks. Ann was trying her hardest to comfort him but the girl was slowly being consumed by her own grief. Akira was busy consoling Futaba, who had slipped right into a panic attack and was hyperventilating like crazy.

Seeing the group like this had caused Sae to give up hope, she had been certain Teru had died before she heard Ayuna’s voice snapping her out of her trance. The woman had noticed Teru’s body was still moving and immediately called an ambulance before asking Ryuji and Ann what had happened. Much to Sae’s surprise Ann had been smart enough to state that Teru had been in a terrible motorcycle accident and that they found him before carrying him to Sae’s apartment. Ayuna had looked pretty skeptical but she had seemingly accepted the story. Deciding that Teru’s life came before any skepticism she may feel.

And while Sae remembered that part of the day vividly, the rest was quite blurry. She remembered going to the hospital along with Ryuji and Ann, Akira taking Futaba home, and staying with them until Teru was out of mortal danger. It turned out that he had lost consciousness because of the blood loss caused by his injuries. It had been a close call too. If Teru had lost just a little bit more blood, he would’ve likely died. The doctors were surprised at the lack of broken bones, Teru’s injuries mainly consisting of flesh wounds but the doctor, to Sae’s relief, didn’t question the cause of his injuries. The message had been clear though, Teru needed rest if he wanted his wounds to heal. He was more or less prohibited from leaving his bed for at least a week and Sae knew that she couldn’t let him go to his own apartment, so she decided to move ahead with the two of them moving in, giving Teru a permanent room at her place… A room he would hopefully move in to when he recovered.

Sae looked at the clock before realizing it was 4pm. She had been working on Ayuna’s case all day. She felt terrible about not being able to meet with her often but Ayuna had insisted on her working from home. Ayuna had honestly been incredibly supportive, constantly telling Sae that she needed to focus on taking care of “her man” and while Sae couldn’t help but raise her eyebrows at how Ayuna phrased those things… She was so grateful for the woman’s support.

She let her thoughts linger for a moment longer before she heard the door to her apartment open, Ryuji standing in the doorway; exactly like she expected. Ryuji had been there every single day, just past 4pm, since their fight against Ares. Sae realized the boy felt guilty, he had mentioned as much, and that he blamed himself for the state Teru was in. She wanted to reassure him; but she knew she couldn’t. Ryuji was the only one who could forgive himself, even if he wasn’t guilty of anything, but she hoped that seeing Teru every day would be able to help him somehow.

Sae understood Ryuji too, seeing how she also felt guilty. She hadn’t gone with them when they faced Ares… And maybe she could’ve made a difference. Teru had brushed that off when she mentioned it to him, telling her she was being silly…

And maybe he was right… Maybe she shouldn’t feel guilty…But she would always be reminded of what happened whenever she saw his face, it now bearing a deep scar that ran down his right cheek.

Teru had laughed it off, saying that it was proof that he was a hero, but Sae had heard him cry in the middle of the night while he thought she was asleep. He had whispered to himself that he would always be reminded of how much of a failure he was and it broke her heart to hear the person she loved say things like that. Teru was her hero and it made her beyond sad that he was unable to see that.

“How’s he doing?” Ryuji asked when he entered the room, causing Sae to smile at his presence.

“He’s doing better, just… annoyed I guess,” she answered, her smile to grow wider when she saw the relieved look on Ryuji’s face. A relieved look that soon made place for a confused one as he tilted his head to the side.

“Why’s Teru annoyed?” he asked before a realization seemingly hit him. “Oh! It’s because he’s not allowed to get out of bed, isn’t it?”

“Who can’t get out of bed?”

Sae and Ryuji turned to the bedroom door to see Teru walk through it. He was only wearing a pair of pajama bottoms…Which was quite painful for both Sae and Ryuji, the two of them averting their gazes.

Teru’s chest was heavily bandaged, but you could see that some of the wounds were going to turn into scars, just like the scar on his face. Teru had turned into a living reminder of the risks they were facing… A fact he himself also seemed painfully aware of as he cleared his throat to grab their attention.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I should’ve probably put on a shirt before walking in here...”

“It’s fine,” Sae responded immediately. “It just takes some time to get used to…”

She immediately realized she made a mistake when she momentarily saw the grin on Teru’s face turn into a pained expression before he turned to Ryuji, hiding his pain with a happy smile.

“How was school today kid? You paying attention?”

“I’m trying to…” Ryuji admitted as Teru sat down on the couch in the living room, motioning Ryuji to sit next to him.

“Trying to?” he asked, seemingly wanting Ryuji to clarify what he just said.

“I’m just really worried about you. You’re on my mind a lot and it’s distracting me…” Ryuji muttered, causing Teru to put him in a headlock, before ruffling his hair.

Sae couldn’t help but laugh at the two of them, Ryuji trying to break free of Teru’s grip as he begged for mercy. She had realized that Teru was putting up a front… The events that caused his scarring had affected him more deeply than he’d admit, and while he might be able to fool the others, he couldn’t fool her. Teru needed help, Sae just hoped he would reach out in time…

Yusuke Kitagawa

When Yusuke finally put down his brush, he was satisfied. His painting was finally finished. He had finally managed to capture the image in his mind and he was proud of that. It was the spitting image of Futaba, or rather how he saw her. A fierce and strong girl, who he loved dearly.

Futaba had seemed… upset with him though and deep down, Yusuke knew why. He hadn’t really checked up on her after she, Akira, and the others had come back from fighting Ares. He knew that Teru had gotten badly injured and he hadn’t visited him either… Nor sent a message to ask how he was doing. Yusuke did realize that he was being rude but he had been so focused on finishing his painting that he hadn’t really paid it any mind.

He needed this scholarship, and he was sure the others would understand. Yusuke would be lying if the scholarship had been the only thing on his mind though, seeing how there had been something else. Something he hadn’t really told anyone.

Yusuke had never asked to be pulled into another adventure. They were supposed to be done after facing Shido, but instead they got dragged into a battle that was way bigger than the one from before. He wanted to be a painter, he wanted a successful painting career to honor his dead mother, and being a Phantom Thief would only get in the way of that. When that realization hit him, he had made his decision. He would focus on his scholarship, his future, regardless of the consequences it would bring.


Yusuke turned around to see Alex, one of his competitors for the scholarship, fawning over him. The boy blushed when he noticed Yusuke looking at him, quickly looking away as he muttered an apology.

“Alex?” Yusuke asked, hoping he remembered the boy’s name correctly. “What are you doing here? You’re not spying on me, are you?”

“I would never spy on you senpai,” he said, before pressing placing the palm of his hand where his heart would be. “I swear.”

“I was just kidding…” Yusuke smiled awkwardly. Alex seemed even more eccentric without his sister… and apparently he called Yusuke his senpai now, making him slightly uncomfortable. Yusuke wasn’t used to being idolized like this… and he wasn’t sure if he liked it. He was pretty sure he disliked it, actually.

“I… I knew that!” Alex muttered, trying to hide the fact that he obviously wasn’t.

“So…” Yusuke said, hoping Alex would explain what he was doing here.

“So…?” Alex repeated, oblivious to what Yusuke was trying to get at, causing Yusuke to sigh. He may be oblivious himself but Alex was definitely something else.

“Why are you here?” Yusuke asked, giving up on being subtle. He just wanted to show Minami his painting and see if she had any pointers, not spend ages talking to Alex.

“Oh right!” Alex said as he lowered his voice. “So… my sister doesn’t want me to tell you this since you’re my competition… But they moved the submission deadline…”

“They what?” Yusuke gasped. “To when?”

“Tomorrow,” Alex revealed. “I wanted to tell you so that you could still take part. It’s a tactic my school employed to make sure only our students could enter, but it looks like your piece is ready too!”

“It… is, I guess…” Yusuke muttered while a lot of thoughts swirled through his head. “Why did you tell me?”

“Because I want it to be fair. Us artists got to stick together, don’t we? We’re the only ones who understand after all.”


Yusuke and Alex turned to the door to find a furious Diana standing in the doorway, the girl quickly making her way towards the two of them. “What did I tell you?”

Yusuke noticed how… quiet everything had gotten when Diana entered the room. Not even the birds outside dared to make a sound, it was almost as if she had enthralled them.

“I’m… sorry sis,” Alex muttered, bowing his head when she neared the two of them. The boy seemed terrified of his sister, causing Yusuke to feel a little bad for him.

“We’re going to go,” Diana stated, grabbing Alex’s arm.

“As for you,” she said as she turned towards Yusuke. “You should be happy my brother is such a cultured individual. Not that it matters, he’ll win the contest whether you take part or not. You’ll see next week.”

“Next week?” Yusuke muttered, causing Diana to smile triumphantly.

“Yes, the final presentations were moved to next week. Good luck, you’re going to need it!”

She laughed after finishing those words before dragging Alex with her as they left the room, passing a baffled Minami who entered the classroom after the twins left.

“What was that about?” his teacher asked before noticing Yusuke’s finished painting. “Wow… To say it’s beautiful would be an understatement. Is this everything you wanted?”

“It is,” Yusuke confirmed. “But never mind that. Did you know they moved the submission date? And that the final presentations are next week?”

Judging by the stunned look on Minami’s face Yusuke knew the answer, she didn't.

“How do you know…?” She asked, causing Yusuke to tell her about the conversation that had transpired between him and the twins just a few moments ago.

“Those bastards…” Minami growled, quickly apologizing for her words afterwards. “Just because they think they’re an elite school means they can do anything, don’t they?”

“So… What do we do?” Yusuke asked. He wasn’t sure if his painting was good enough yet… Nor did he know how to go from here. How would he even submit his painting in the first place?

Things were suddenly progressing so fast he felt quite overwhelmed…or he did, until he saw a fire burn in Minami’s eyes.

“I’ll take care of your submission for you,” she stated resolutely. “I’m not going to let another one of my students get screwed over by some elite who thinks they can waltz all over them.”

“Minami… san?”  Yusuke asked, surprised by his teacher’s sudden change in demeanor.

“I will tell you once you win,” Minami stated before smiling. “And I’m sure you will. Your painting is beautiful, you just have to believe.”

Haru Okumura

Haru sighed when she saw Touma walk through Leblanc’s door after he finished carrying some supplies inside. She made eye contact with him momentarily, quickly looking away when he returned her gaze with his own.

She knew he wanted to talk to her, wanting some kind of explanation for how she acted a week ago, but she didn’t know what to say. Things had been rather awkward between the two of them because of it. She couldn’t tell him about the Metaverse, about the secret part of her life. He would think she’s crazy and Haru couldn’t blame him. Who would believe a story like that? She had honestly avoided talking to him altogether because of it, ignoring his messages, but they were alone for the first time in a week and that probably meant she couldn’t avoid this anymore…

“Hey…” Touma said, having walked up to her. “Are you ready to close up? Boss told us we could close up once the customers left didn’t he?”

“He did. I’ll finish cleaning up,” Haru confirmed, quickly turning around to avoid further conversation. Maybe she could still avoid it.

“Haru…?” Touma asked tentatively, despite the fact that she turned around. “I meant what I said a week ago…”

“I know Touma-kun,” Haru answered, feeling tears prick in her eyes as she remembered what happened after she tried to leave the diner on her own.

Haru had only taken a few steps outside when she heard her phone ring, answering it immediately when she noticed Ann was calling her. Ann quickly explained to her what had happened inside the Metaverse. How Teru had almost died and that they were taking him to the hospital. Haru wanted to ask so many questions but Ann’s phone battery died right after she told her the news… Leaving Haru with a lot of thoughts swirling inside her head.

She stumbled away from the diner, no longer able to walk straight as she felt herself overcome by emotion. This was her fault. She should’ve gone with them; but instead she went on a date. She went on a date while the others risked their lives, Teru almost losing his…

“Did you really think you could get away from me that easily?”

Haru froze completely when she heard Touma’s voice behind her, having completely forgotten that she was trying to get away from him to protect him. And for good reason too, as it turned out.

“Hey, I’m talking to you!” Touma shouted, his voice sounding agitated as he grabbed her shoulder, forcing her to turn around.

The angry look on his face melted away immediately when he saw the tears streaming from Haru’s eyes, making place for a compassionate smile that Haru could easily lose herself in.

“Haru? What’s wrong?” Touma asked, wrapping his right arm around her when she didn’t respond.

“Can I?” he asked, causing Haru to nod before she felt Touma embrace her tightly. He was pulling her against his chest and Haru could feel him breathe, his chest slowly rising up and down. It honestly had a calming effect on her as she felt her tears slow down.

“I… I… don’t know if I should tell you…” Haru stammered, having calmed down enough to whisper those words to him. But honestly, deep down inside, she knew she couldn’t tell him. Or rather, she shouldn't tell him.

“That’s okay,” Touma whispered. “Let me take you home alright?”

Haru looked up at Touma, his face filled with kindness as she nodded at him.

“I want you to remember something though,” he said, causing her to look at him in surprise. “You can tell me anything. I want to be there for you, no matter what’s wrong.”

“Can you please just look at me?” Touma asked, his voice cracking as he spoke. “Did I do something wrong? I just don’t understand why you’re avoiding me... Is it because I was a jerk to you before? I’m truly sorry for that Haru… I really am.”

The cracks in Touma’s voice caused something inside Haru to snap as she turned around, facing him as tears fell from her eyes.

“I can’t… be with you,” she whispered. “I can’t be with anyone. None of us can.”

When Touma saw her tears he made his way over to her, wrapping his arms around her as he pulled her against his chest, just like he had done a week ago.

Haru could feel his strong arms offering her comfort and while she wanted to resist, she couldn’t. She needed this, just like she needed it when she heard the news about Teru. She wanted to be with Touma but she didn’t want him to get hurt and she had a terrible feeling that he would if he stayed with her.

“Why?” Touma whispered. “Why can’t we give it a try?”

“I can’t tell you. I’m so, so sorry…” Haru cried, sounding desperate as she buried her head in his chest, letting her tears flow freely.

“It’s okay…” Touma stated as he pulled Haru even closer. “I won’t give up on you. You can tell me when you’re ready…”

“Touma-kun…” Haru muttered through her tears. “I… I’m so sorry…”

“I know Haru, I know…”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt…”

“Hurt?” Touma repeated slowly, pushing Haru back a little bit so she could see the worried expression that had appeared his face. “Why would I be hurt?”

“I…” Haru stammered, realizing what she had just said.

“Haru, what’s going on?” Touma said, gripping her shoulders tightly. “Is someone hurting you? Did something happen that night? Who were you talking to on the phone?”

“It’s… complicated,” Haru tried but she knew the damage was done. She had accidentally set Touma off on a quest to figure out what was going on, causing even more tears to appear in her eyes. Tears that fell down her cheeks moments later.

“Don’t cry Haru… Please,” Touma whispered. “I’ll keep you safe, even if you don’t tell me what’s going on. I’ll make sure you’ll never cry over it again.”


Haru didn’t know what to say as she buried her head in Touma’s chest once more. She knew she couldn’t take him up on his offer. She may be unable to fight, but Touma would just get hurt, having no powers of his own. And even though Haru knew this, she couldn’t help but feel safe when she felt Touma’s muscular arms embracing her, pulling her close to his warm body. It was like there was some kind of… security in her life again, and while she knew it couldn’t last… Maybe she could take comfort from it, just for today…

Chapter Text

Ann Takamaki

Class had just ended when Ann found herself sitting alone with Ryuji in their classroom. She was waiting for Shiho, who had something to take care of, before they would go shopping together. When Ryuji noticed she was sitting by herself he decided to keep her company, telling her about how he ended up visiting Teru every day after school and that he could wait with her for a few minutes. Akira was noticeably absent, surprising Ann. He used to always be together with Ryuji but after what happened in the Metaverse there seemed to be some kind of distance between them. A distance which worried Ann a little. She realized, however, that there wasn’t really anything she could do about it. They had a healthy relationship, meaning that they had to solve their own problems…even if she wanted to butt in and help them fix it...

“So you really go there every day?” Ann asked, not bothering to hide the surprise in her voice. She had known from a young age that Ryuji could be very determined once he set his mind to something, but she hadn’t expected him to visit Teru every single day. Often, sure, but not every day.

“You bet I am!” Ryuji confirmed proudly before the look on his face made place for a more sullen expression. “It’s my fault he’s like this. I have to do it, and he’s my best friend too…”

“I see,” Ann responded, her voice sounding more distant than she wanted to. She still had a little trouble with the fact that Teru had replaced her as Ryuji’s best friend. Sure, she and Haru had gotten a lot closer… But she missed something about her friendship with Ryuji, something that no one could replace.

“How’s he doing? Teru, I mean?” Ann asked after realizing that she may have sounded dismissive before.

“He’s doing better every day,” Ryuji said. “He seems sad though, like… You know how he’s normally very happy and cheerful, right?”

“I do. Yeah.”

“He’s just always moping around now; and I think he’s hiding something from me too. Like, he doesn’t want me to know he’s sad, and I don’t get why…”

“I guess he just doesn’t want to bother you with his problems,” Ann stated, smiling softly because she understood exactly what Teru was doing.

“But I don’t get that!” Ryuji protested. “Everyone always tells me to tell them when something bothers me! They should do the same with me! They should tell me, so I can freakin’ help them!”

Ann couldn’t help but snicker at Ryuji’s frustration. This was so much like him and it just reaffirmed how much she missed him.

“You know what we should do once all of this is over, Ryuji?” Ann asked, causing the boy to look up at her. “Go out with just the two of us. Like we used to.”

“Yes! That sounds freakin’ awesome!” He agreed as he excitedly pumped his fists into the air. “It’s been way too long Ann!”

“Well, you’ve been very busy with your new friend,” Ann stated a little sarcastically, causing Ryuji to apologize as he muttered something about how he didn’t mean to replace her and Haru.

“I know you didn’t mean to Ryuji,” Ann reassured him, causing Ryuji to calm down as he nodded. “But you should really pay more attention to us too! Especially to Akira, are you sure he’s alright?”

“Akira, huh?” Ryuji repeated absent-mindedly. “That’s a bit… complicated Ann.”

“Complicated? How come?” Ann asked but Ryuji shook his head, signaling Ann that he didn’t want to talk about it, which caused her to sigh. Seems like her gut feeling had been right after all, there was some kind of problem between the two of them…

“Why don’t you come with me?” Ryuji asked as he attempted to change the subject. “You’ve only seen Teru once, and I’m sure he’ll like to see you!”

“Maybe next time,” Ann smiled. “I actually got plans today!”

“You do? With who?”

Ann was about to answer when Shiho walked through the door, causing Ryuji to greet her cheerfully before excusing himself as he said his goodbyes to the two girls.

“So… Who’s this Teru guy Ryuji’s visiting?” Shiho asked, seemingly having overheard some of the conversation Ann was having with Ryuji.

“He’s a friend we met back when Akira was wrongfully jailed, do you remember that?”

“I read something about it, but I don’t really know that details.”

“Teru got Akira acquitted and helped Ryuji through some tough times… He is a really good guy, honestly.”

“So what’s wrong with him?”

“He got into a motorcycling accident,” Ann lied as she looked away. She hated lying, especially to Shiho, but she couldn’t tell her the truth.

“A motorcycling accident?” Shiho repeated, sounding skeptical. “But I haven’t heard anything about a big accident lately…”

“It was just a small accident, really. Teru was late and crashed his bike. There weren’t other people involved.”

“You say that, but he was injured badly enough for Ryuji to visit him every day? For Ryuji to feel guilty?”

Ann had to stop herself from gasping when she realized that Shiho had pretty much overheard much more of her conversation with Ryuji than she expected, trying to quickly think of a way to get herself out of this situation.

“He was going to visit Ryuji that day, they were going to do something together…”

“I see,” Shiho said, seemingly accepting Ann’s answer. “But it still doesn’t make much sense for Ryuji… Wasn’t he always quite brash?”

“He changed a lot while you were gone, we all did.” Ann snapped, realizing what she had said when she saw the hurt look on Shiho’s face.

“Shiho… I’m sorry,” she muttered but Shiho shook her head.

“No, you’re right. I shouldn’t have pressed so much. I just have this weird feeling, you know? Like you’re hiding something really big from me…”

“Me? Hide something?” Ann laughed, trying her hardest to get rid of Shiho’s suspicions. “You know I’m terrible at keeping secrets, I love gossiping too much!”

“I guess…”

Ann took one look at Shiho and while the girl had just agreed with her, she didn’t look convinced. She was probably pretty suspicious at this point, but Ann knew she couldn’t tell Shiho the truth. She would have to keep up this charade, for her friend’s own good...

Makoto Niijima

Makoto had felt skittish all week. Ever since she had heard the news about Teru she really wanted to go back home to check on him, but she knew she shouldn’t. She hadn’t stayed a single weekend ever since joining the Police Academy, and she had promised Erika and Masaru that she would stay with them. There was also the fact that she had spoken with Teru on the phone and he had told her that he understood that she couldn’t visit, telling her to focus on her school and career.

She wanted to go though. Not because she felt responsible for what happened, she hadn’t been able to go with them, but because she wanted to be there for her friends, for her sister, and the fact that she couldn’t made her restless. She also couldn’t help but shake the fact that this was just the beginning, and that worse things were going to happen sooner, rather than later.

“Mako-chan? Are you okay?” Erika asked when she walked into their shared room. “You’re pacing around a lot. Like all week, y’know?”

“I’m fine,” Makoto argued but Erika looked at her with a look that screamed 'I don’t believe you', before revealing that Masaru had tagged along with her, surprising Makoto. While Erika was hyperactive and constantly talking, Masaru generally left the two girls alone causing Makoto to realize that maybe she wasn’t as subtle as she had hoped.

“We’ve talked about this, haven’t we Makoto?” Masaru stated, his calm voice drowning out everything else in the room. “We’re a team. Your burdens are our burdens.”

“And you always say I shouldn’t push her!” Erika pouted, slapping Masaru on his back before turning towards Makoto. “But seriously, you can tell us what’s going on!”

Makoto looked at them for a moment before she sighed, deciding that they were right. She should start trusting the two of them more.

“It’s my sister’s boyfriend… He got into a bad accident…” she stammered, struggling to actually say the words out loud. Saying it made it real. Teru almost died, and she hadn’t been there for him, her sister, for any of her friends.

“Is he okay?!” Erika shouted as she slapped her hand over her mouth, looking shocked by what Makoto had just told her.

“He… almost died…” Makoto continued, quickly clarifying that he would be fine eventually when she saw the shocked look on her squad mates’ faces.

“That’s terrible, Makoto…” Masaru stated, before putting his hand on her shoulder to offer her comfort. Makoto flinched a little, not expecting Masaru to comfort her, before she relaxed.

“You should go home!” Erika decided as she jumped back on her feet, seemingly recovered from her own shock. “Come on I’ll help you pack!”

“W- What?” Makoto gasped, surprised the girls’ response. “Weren’t you complaining about how I’m never here just last week?”

“I wasn’t complaining!” Erika retorted as she stuck her tongue out. “I was just sad that you weren’t around because that means it’ll take longer for us to become super-duper best friends!”

“Super-duper best friends,” Makoto repeated slowly as Masaru just shook his head, prompting Erika to go back to a slightly more serious demeanor.

“I’m serious though Mako-chan. This is different! You should be there for your sister, for your brother-in law. They need you, even if it’s just for one day!”

“They’re not married yet, you know…”

“You know what I mean! Why don’t you go back tomorrow though? Just for the Sunday. If you’re back slightly late on Monday morning we’ll cover for you, right Masaru?”

Makoto had to admit that she was tempted, especially after Masaru confirmed that they would indeed cover for her. She did want to see if Teru was alright, and she was sure her sister would like seeing her too.

“Are you sure it’s okay? It’ll mean we won’t be able to spent time for another weekend…”

“Absolutely! We’ll just do something fun next weekend! Besides, I can help you pack, while Masaru will cook some dinner, and we can all have a meal together at least!”

Makoto decided she would take the two of them up on their offer after Masaru nodded at her, signaling her that it was the right move to make and that Erika would be fine.

“Alright, I guess I’ll go home tomorrow then. Thank you, both of you!”

Erika smiled before yelling something about how both of them were going to receive her “Hug of Love” now as she wrapped her arms around the two of them. Normally, Makoto would try and break free since she wasn’t much of a hugger, but she decided to allow it this time. Erika and Masaru were great, dependable people, and she was glad she had met them… Maybe she could even one day tell them her real secret, the fact that she was a Phantom Thief…

Teru Tendo

Teru had to hold back his tears when he looked at himself in the mirror. It had been more than a week since he had gotten injured facing Ares and he finally allowed to take off his bandages, provided he’d wear loose clothing over his wounds.

Looking in the mirror once he finished taking off the bandages had been a mistake though because he hadn’t expected it to be this bad. He knew his cheek had been scarred but it turned out that it hadn’t been the only scar he gained. His chest had been badly mutilated, covered in numerous cuts, cuts like the one his father inflicted on him, and he knew that cuts like that wouldn’t heal. Just looking at them caused him to remember that day. The day his father disowned him. A memory which caused him to hear his father’s voice in his head, just chanting the same thing over and over again.

“I told you you’d be a failure. You never grew up and now you’re finally paying the price you stupid, delusional little boy.”

Teru knew those hadn’t been the actual words his father had used but they felt real, they felt so, so real. The entire experienced caused Teru to drop to his knees as the tears he had been holding back threatened to fall from his eyes. He was a failure. The scar his father gave him had already proven that, even if he hadn’t believed it at the time, and now he had at least a dozen similar scars to prove it. He wasn’t a hero, he wasn’t even a sidekick. He was just someone who got in the way. The Phantom Thieves didn’t need him to dispatch Ares. They did fine without him, and he was sure they would be fine in the future too. He was just a burden to them… and not just to them, but a burden to Sae, his girlfriend, too. She had taken him in because of his injuries. Sure, they were going to move in together, even if Teru was pretty sure that that was at least partially out of pity, since he had pretty much lost his job, but now his injuries had pretty much forced it, since he couldn’t be on his own. He was living off of her money, in her apartment, and it made him feel terrible. He truly felt like he was a waste of space… Someone who everyone would rather be rid of…

Teru put his hand on his scarred cheek, only to find that it was wet, causing him to realize that he had started crying. He hated this. He hated himself. Why did he end up like this? Were all of his thoughts true? Maybe everyone would’ve been better off if he had died, maybe… Just maybe, he should’ve died after Ares’ assault…


Teru turned around to see Ryuji standing in the doorway, his face filled with shock as he dropped the bag of candy he was holding. They were star-shaped sugar candies and Teru realized Ryuji must’ve brought them as a gift for him to cheer him up since Ryuji knew that he really liked stars.

“It’s… not what it looks like…” Teru muttered but he knew Ryuji didn’t believe him as the boy rushed over to him, wrapping his arms tightly around his chest.

“Stop lying bro…” he whispered. “You’re… You’re not okay are you? You haven’t been okay for a long time now…”

“How’d you get inside Ryuji?” Teru asked, desperately trying to change the subject. He was surprised by how perceptive Ryuji seemed to be… But he also didn’t want to talk about his problems. He didn’t want to be even more of a burden, he already felt useless enough.

“Sae left the door open ‘cause she knew I always visit you at 4pm. She’s out meeting that Ayuna person or whatever…” Ryuji explained, seemingly trailing off before looking at Teru with the most serious look Teru had ever seen on his face. “But that’s not important, you’re important…”

“I’m… really not…” Teru whispered quietly as he felt his tears drop. “Please… just go Ryuji…”

“I’m not leaving you!” Ryuji protested causing Teru to grab the boys’ arms, which were still tightly gripped around his chest, before pushing him back a little so he was able to look straight at him.

“Please, Ryuji. Just leave me be! I deserve to be alone…” Teru said slowly, sternly looking in Ryuji’s eyes, hoping the boy would understand him. Hoping he would say that staying would only hurt him. Hoping Ryuji would see how much of a failure he was.

“Why?” Ryuji asked, looking devastated by what Teru had just said. “Why are you trying to push me away? Didn’t you say that we were like brothers? That we would always be together?”

“I...” Teru muttered as Ryuji broke free of his grip, wrapping his arms around Teru once more.

“We may not share parents Teru… but you’re my big brother,” Ryuji decided, his voice sounding filled with determination. “I’m going to help you. I’ll come here every day until you feel better, I promise…”

“I’m sorry…” Teru stammered, looking away from Ryuji. “I- No one ever wanted me…”

“Do you mean your former colleagues? They sounded like effin’ jerks from what you told me,” Ryuji asked, seemingly wanting clarification, causing Teru shook his head.

“There’s… one part of my story I left out…” he whispered through his sobs. “The part… I never told anyone…”

Ryuji looked at Teru, his eyes shining with some kind of determination that Teru hadn’t seen before. It seemed like the boy really wanted to help him, like he actually cared about Teru, and that made him happy.

“Do you… wanna tell me now?” Ryuji asked after a brief silence, seemingly unsure about whether or not he should actually ask that question.

“Remember… when I told you about my career-defining case? The case that caused me to lose my job with that firm?” Teru asked, causing Ryuji to nod as Teru hesitated for a moment. Could he really tell Ryuji this? He was just a kid after all…

“Go on…” Ryuji said after Teru didn’t continue, trying to encourage him.

“When my parents found out… My father assaulted me…” Teru whispered, his voice barely audible, before pointing towards the scar his dad caused. “This scar isn’t because of Ares… Nor is it from my motorcycle, like I claim it is…”

“He- He didn’t…” Ryuji muttered, causing Teru to shake his head, confirming Ryuji’s suspicions as Teru could see anger fill the boy’s face.

“He did… My father cut me with the shards of a wine bottle because I was disobedient… He disowned me after that. Said I was no longer his son…”

“Teru…” Ryuji whispered angrily. “Damn it, that bastard really got you…”

“I guess you could say that…” Teru confirmed. “I was… really, really alone after that…Always on my own...”

“What about your mom?” Ryuji asked, having started sobbing himself, hugging Teru even tighter. “I know my dad’s a jerkass… So do you, actually…But my mom, my mom always loved me…”

“She would never go against my father…” Teru answered before he started sobbing again. This was the first time he had ever told anyone about his parents and it was… harder than he had expected. “I’m sure they never loved me… No one could ever love me…”

“That’s not true!” Ryuji yelled through his tears. “All of us love you. We were all so scared you were going to die Teru… I was scared you were going to die…”

“Ryuji…” Teru stammered, not expecting Ryuji’s reaction as tears continued falling from the boy’s eyes.

“I… was afraid I’d lose my bro…” he muttered. “So don’t. Don’t say that no one wants you…”


“He’s right, you know?”

Teru and Ryuji both turned towards the door to see Sae standing in the doorway, brushing her own tears away as she made her way towards to two of them.

“I was really scared to lose you too, Teru…”

“Sae…” Teru whispered. “How long… What did you hear?”

“Enough…” she answered. “And we have a lot to talk about… But right now; right now I just want you to know that I love you. I didn’t ask you to move in because I felt bad for you, because I know you think I did. I asked you to move in because I love you. I love you so much Teru, why can’t you accept that people love you?”

“I…” Teru stammered before he broke down into tears. “I’m sorry… I’m so sorry…”

He started rambling apologies through his tears as both Ryuji and Sae hugged him, offering him the comfort he had wanted to feel his entire life. Maybe there were finally people that wanted him. People that loved him, and that was all Teru had ever wanted. For anyone to tell him that he was wanted… That he wasn’t a burden.

“I love you… All of you…” Teru murmured through his tears, causing both Ryuji and Sae to smile at him as they reaffirmed their love for him, telling him that they loved him too…

Chapter Text

Akira Kurusu

The darkness surrounded Akira as he blinked a couple of times, trying his hardest to make sense of his surroundings. He had no idea where he was but he had a feeling he was going to find out. He could smell something though, a metallic smell that filled him with a sense of dread. A sense that urged him to get the hell out of wherever he was.

The moment he started walking the candles that seemed to fill the room flared up, casting the room in ghastly light. He gasped as he felt his stomach lurch, the view in front of him being the most horrifying one he had ever seen.

His friends were there… or rather, their corpses were. He looked at them, feeling himself get sicker every second, to make sure he identified them correctly, falling to his knees when he realized they were all there.

Ann, Makoto, Haru, Yusuke, Sae, Futaba and Morgana. Their faces all had the same expression on them. An expression filled with fear, an intense fear, which caused Akira to deduce that whoever did this, they did this in cold blood.

Akira almost threw up before he realized two people were missing, frantically looking around until he heard a familiar voice, a voice that was filled with the same fear he had seen on his friends’ faces.


Akira turned around to come face to face with a terrified Ryuji, Ryuji who was holding on to a dead Teru. A Teru who had been mutilated even worse than he had by Ares. His left arm was missing completely while his clothes were completely torn from his body. Who would do that to him? Who would do that to anyone?

“Ryu… Ryu, you’re still alive…” Akira muttered, feeling a sense of relief that he hated himself for.

Everyone else was dead, he should not feel any sort of relief right now… even if Ryuji was still alive. But at least he still was. The love of his life was still there.

“How… How could you do this?” Ryuji shouted desperately, his eyes filling with hate as he cradled Teru’s body. “They only tried to protect Teru from you, how could you kill them!?”

“I could never kill our friends Ryu…” Akira muttered. “You know that… don’t you?”

“Look at your hands!” Ryuji demanded, his voice with hostility, causing Akira to look down before he screamed. His hands were soaked in blood, his friends’ blood.

“You’re a monster!”

Akira wanted to protest but his body had different plans as it started moving on its own while his dagger materialized next to him, walking towards Ryuji before he thrust the weapon through his boyfriends’ heart. He was sure he would throw up as he fell to his knees once the deed was done, Arsene appearing in front of him with the most prideful look on his face.

“I told you. This is your true nature. Become one with the darkness Akira. They’ve picked the light and they had to die for it.”

“You,” Akira spat, his voice filled with a desperate rage. “You did this!”

“I didn’t do anything,” Arsene gloated gleefully. “But I have to say, I groomed you perfectly…”

Akira woke up screaming when he noticed the light in his room was on, both Futaba and Sojiro hovering over his bed with worried looks on their faces.

“We heard you screaming son, are you alright?” Sojiro asked, sounding worried as Akira blinked a few times. “It was very much unlike you.”

“I… see,” Akira reasoned slowly. “I guess I was having a nightmare. I don’t remember it though…”

Akira bit his tongue, hoping Sojiro and Futaba didn’t realize he was lying.

“Well, I guess I’ll head back to bed if you’re feeling alright. Come on Futaba,” Sojiro said, urging Futaba to follow him as he left the room. Futaba refused though, causing the man to shrug before muttering something about youngsters as he headed back to bed.

“So… what’d you dream about?” The girl asked, her eyes filled with curiosity. “It must’ve been bad with a capital B for you to scream like that.”

“I told you, I don’t remember,” Akira argued but Futaba just raised her eyebrows at him, showing she didn’t believe him.

“We both know you were just saying that because of Sojiro. Does it have to do with Ryuji?”

“Excuse me?”

“Anyone can see you two have been distant, you know?” the girl pointed out. “You used to be disgustingly lovey-dovey but now you’re barely even with each other.

“Ryuji wants to take care of Teru and I let him, he blames himself. It’s what’s best for him,” Akira argued despite knowing that it wasn’t the whole truth. He had distanced himself from Ryuji because of his dreams, because of Arsene. What if he did end up hurting someone, what if he ended up hurting Ryuji? He couldn’t bear that thought, it would destroy him.

“You’re lying to me,” Futaba deduced with a proud smirk on her face.

“I’m not lying to you Futaba.”

“I’m not a little kid, you know? I know that you’re not telling the truth!”

“You don’t have to believe me but I am. Did you know it’s also 2 in the morning? I’d like to sleep.”

When Futaba tried to protest again, Akira got up and grabbed her arm before dragging her out of the room. Closing the door as he told her goodnight. He was not going to deal with a suspicious Futaba right now. He had enough on his mind after the nightmare he just had. What did it mean? Was it just Arsene playing more mind-games with him or was there something else going on? Something he could not prevent?

“No,” he whispered to himself. He should not start thinking like that. He wasn’t a murderer and he would never hurt his friends, would he? He sighed as he reaffirmed the conclusion he had come too earlier this week. It would be better to distance himself from his friends, from Ryuji, at least until he figured himself out… Until he figured Arsene out.

He sighed as he thought about Ryuji, feeling guilty for not being around him. It was better this way though, Ryuji needed to focus on Teru. Someone had to and at least Teru served as a way to distract Ryuji from finding out what was going on with him.

“See… You are glad he’s injured… Told you the end justifies the means.”

Akira heard Arsene’s voice echoing in his head as he tried lying down once more. He was too tired to argue against his Persona… and honestly, he did have a point. The end did always justify the means, didn’t it…?

Futaba Sakura

“Good night Futaba,” Akira told her before closing the door to his room, much to Futaba’s frustration. If Akira wasn’t going to tell her what was going on, she was going to find out on her own. She had found out about their identities as the Phantom Thieves before she joined them herself, and while she didn’t like using her hacking abilities against her friends, she figured that Akira’s case could be considered an exception.

He had been weird. No, he had been more than weird, and she hadn’t been the only one who noticed it. She had been chatting with Makoto about Akira, seeing how she was his closest friend, and she told him the same thing she had noticed. Akira had been distancing himself from them. It had started once he had gotten out of prison, but he seemingly got over that until they finished off Ares. No one had really seen him since and while Ryuji had been too focused on Teru to notice, she had and she was going to do something about it.

She sighed as she closed the door to her own room, booting up her laptop as she cracked her fingers. There was no way she was going to go back to sleep now, she was going to figure out this puzzle first. Akira had started acting weird after they finished fighting Ares, meaning that the first puzzle piece would likely be found where they fought him. Inside the Metaverse. She hesitated for a moment before she opened the Metaverse Scanner Lavenza had given her.

It was quite a nifty application, scanning the Metaverse for any suspicious activity while also being able to provide her with information on the entities that found themselves inside. She was able to scan the Phantom Thieves too, or at least as long as they were inside the Metaverse, but she hadn’t really looked into that. The only thing she noticed was a huge energy spike surrounding Ryuji back when he awakened. She wished she had paid closer attention to that but she had been too focused on keeping Teru alive to do so. It could’ve provided them with clues on how their traits, marks, and the power-up that seemed to come with it worked though...

Futaba had at this point integrated the Portal inside the Metaverse Scanner too, bundling both functionalities in one convenient app. Her next step was making the portal mobile. It would enable Makoto to join them inside the Metaverse again, and it would honestly make it easier on all of them, seeing how they would no longer have to gather at Sae’s apartment, or any other place they decided on, just to enter the Metaverse as a group.

“That’s weird…” Futaba whispered to herself after she opened her Metaverse Scanner. It hadn’t picked up any Metaverse activity whatsoever. It was like it had completely disappeared. But she supposed that just meant it wouldn’t be dangerous as she prepared herself to open a portal to take a quick peek inside.

“Portal Status: Closed.”

Futaba’s eyes went wide with shock when she saw the pop-up on her screen. She certainly hadn’t programmed that in. She didn’t even know the portal to the Metaverse could close itself like that.

“Damn it!” she cursed silently. There went that plan.

She sighed before deciding she should just do something else then, resolving to work on making her portable portal application work. She just hoped it was worth it because things could go sour quickly if the portal remained closed…

Ryuji Sakamoto

Ryuji was looking at the ceiling. He had been awake rather early despite having gone through what could only be described as an intense evening the day before.

After finding Teru, the older man had told him and Sae all about his past before begging them not to tell the others. He wanted to tell them himself, eventually, but he needed time to do so and Ryuji understood that. Knowing that it honestly wasn’t his call to make.

Ryuji also finally understood why Teru had been drawn to him in the first place. Thinking back, Teru had actually brought it up it a couple of times, how he understood what it was like to be alone and that he didn’t want Ryuji to experience what he had suffered through, but Ryuji had never realized the depth of Teru’s own pain. Instead, he had been leaning on the older man, seeing him as his older brother and a pillar of comfort, without noticing that Teru was hurting too.

Sae had noticed how much Ryuji was hurting because of his realization and told him to stay the night, telling him to sleep at ‘his brother’s side’ while she would sleep in Makoto’s room for the night, surprising both Teru and Ryuji.

It seemed to excite Teru though, excitedly rambling about how they’d be like real brothers, and both Sae and Ryuji were relieved that Teru seemed to have finally cheered up a little. He had offered to cook them dinner as well, mentioning that he really missed cooking, and they let him. It was almost like they had the old Teru back, even for just a moment.

That didn’t change what they had seen though and Ryuji was certain that it was weighing as heavy on Sae’s mind as it was on his, sighing as he got out of the bed before looking at Teru. The redhead was actually nibbling on his pillow in his sleep, looking like a little kid as he snored softly. Ryuji was glad his friend finally seemed to be able to sleep again, seeing how he had mentioned having trouble sleeping ever since the fight with Ares, but he couldn’t help but think that this was just the beginning.

He quietly made his way to the living room, only to find Sae waving to him once he stepped through the door. The fact she was already awake surprised Ryuji, it was only around 6am, but he couldn’t exactly blame her for it either.

“Sleep well?” she whispered quietly, causing Ryuji to shake his head. He had barely slept, being too focused on Teru to get any rest.

“Me neither,” she confirmed before pointing towards the fridge. “Help yourself if you want some breakfast.”

“Thanks,” Ryuji nodded, quickly preparing himself a bowl of cereal before sitting across the table from Sae.

There was a rather awkward silence for a moment before Ryuji decided he couldn’t take it anymore as he opened his mouth to say what had been on his mind since the night before.

“I’m really worried about Teru…”

Sae looked at him, sighing before she put down the cracker she was eating.

“I am too, Ryuji.”

“Do you think he’ll be alright? It’s almost like... He’s not Teru anymore…”

“I hope so…” Sae answered before leaning forward, lowering her voice. “But I believe his past has finally caught up to him…”

“What do you mean?” Ryuji asked, unsure what Sae meant. Was she implying Teru had been lying to him?

“Right, I need to be more straightforward with you…” Sae muttered. “You’re very much like him in that regard, you know?”

“I… think so?” Ryuji muttered as he scratched his head, unsure if Sae was giving him a compliment or not.

“It’s quite endearing. I’m sure that’s why you get along so well,” Sae smiled momentarily before she looked more serious again. “Can you keep a secret Ryuji? You must never tell Teru I told you about this. In fact, you can never talk to him about this unless he tells you himself.”

“I can.”

Sae nodded before asking if Teru ever told him about how the two of them met, causing Ryuji to shake his head. He really didn’t know much about Teru’s life before he met him, including how he met Sae.

“What do you think he was like?” Sae asked him with a look on her face that Ryuji couldn’t quite place. Was she testing how much he knew about Teru?

“He must’ve been a jock, right? I’m sure everyone liked him and that he had a lots of friends! He’s so nice, I’m sure that made him really popular!”

“I figured you’d think that…”

“What does that mean?”

Ryuji wasn’t sure what Sae was getting at. The Teru he just described was how Teru had always been. How Teru had always presented himself to him. It was why the things he talked about the day before hadn’t made sense to Ryuji. Talking about how he had always been alone just didn’t seem like Teru… Unless… Unless Teru had lied about who he was?

“When Teru and I met in law school, Teru was already alone. He was still the easily excitable guy he is now, but he never really had any friends. It was quite the opposite, in fact. He was easily the best student in our year and people resented him for it. Eventually, some of our classmates took it upon themselves to teach him a lesson…”

“What’d they do to him…?” Ryuji muttered, completely shocked by what Sae told him. It didn’t make sense to him, seeing how it contradicted the image he had created of Teru in his head.

“The day I approached him for the first time was after a few of our classmates decided to prank him by dumping juice over his head. Teru’s white shirt was covered in stains, just like the rest of his clothes and skin really, but he laughed it off, saying that they ‘got him good’ before he scurried off. I hated seeing him like that, so I followed him to find him sulking in an alley behind the school building. He looked up at me as he brushed away his tears, trying his hardest to smile as he asked me if I wanted to have a go at him too, handing me his own juice box to empty it over him.”

“What’d you do?”

“I handed him back his juice before I asked him why. Why he’d let people make fun of him and do you know what he told me?”


“That he just wanted to make people smile. That he wanted to be a hero who makes people smile… Do you get what I’m trying to say, Ryuji?”

“I’m… not sure…” Ryuji muttered, causing Sae to sigh as she wiped the tears from her eyes. Telling Ryuji about her first meeting with Teru seemed to have made her emotional.

“The big brother act he puts on for you… That’s not Teru. That’s the Teru he wants you to see… The person he thinks you need…”

“So… So he’s faking it…?” Ryuji stammered as he felt tears form in his own eyes, feeling the pillar of support he had been leaning crumble away slowly. He had really come to think of Teru as his brother, but had it all been fake? Had Teru just faked it to make him happy?”

“I don’t think so,” Sae responded quickly, having noticed Ryuji’s distress. “But I think he’s not showing his true self to you either. Nor is he to me…”

“You’re saying that he doesn’t care about himself… That he only wants to make the people around him happy?”

“I am, yes,” Sae confirmed. “And I think that something in his past causes him to be like that because he’s been like this for as long as I can remember…”

Ryuji was about to say something when he heard stumbling in the other room, signaling that Teru had finally woken up. He had been correct too as it only took a few seconds for the door to open, showing a sleepy Teru standing in the doorway.

“You guys had breakfast without me?” he pouted. “But I wanted to make breakfast for my two favorite people…”

“We’re your two favorite people now?” Sae responded with a smile.

“Of course you are!” He answered before turning to Ryuji with a bright smile on his face. “I hope I didn’t keep you awake with my snoring?”

“You didn’t, I always wake up early,” Ryuji replied, trying to keep his face straight. There was so much he wanted to talk about with Teru… But he had promised... He had promised Sae to never talk with Teru about what she revealed, even if it was eating him up inside.

“Good morning!”

Ryuji and the others looked towards the front door in surprise when they heard a familiar voice, revealing Makoto standing in the doorway.

“Makoto?” Sae asked, not bothering to hide the surprise in her voice. “I didn’t think you’d come back for the weekend!”

“I had to come back to see how he was doing,” she clarified, before turning to Teru. “So how are you doing?”

For a moment, both Sae and Ryuji expected Teru to tell her the truth, to tell her what he told them, but Teru just smiled at her and told Makoto he was doing much better before he hugged her. Causing both Ryuji and Sae to sigh as they exchanged looks, this was going to be a lot harder than they expected wasn’t it?

Futaba Sakura

When Futaba woke up she cursed herself for falling asleep. How could she fall asleep in the middle of her important project? That application wasn’t going to make itself…

She sighed before she looked at her laptop, realizing that she had left the Metaverse Scanner on. She clicked it, intending to exit the application, before she noticed that the portal status was green now. Apparently the portal had opened while she was sleeping and that wasn’t the only thing that had happened…

There had been a surge of Metaverse activity after the opening, activity that looked suspicious enough for Futaba to start her scanner instead of turning it off like she had intended to do.

“No way…” Futaba muttered she finished scanning the energy readings. The results were similar to Ares’ readings, an incredibly high power level, but there was something that troubled her a lot more. There wasn’t just one reading this time around, there were two…