Chapter 1: Chariot
“Did you see Akechi-kun’s latest interview?”
“About the mental shutdowns? You bet!”
Two girls were chatting on the other side of the Shujin courtyard, while Akira, Morgana, and Ryuji lounged by the vending machine.
Ryuji sighed and grabbed the drinks from the vending machine with more force than necessary. He tossed one to Akira and plopped down next to him.
“It seems like effin’ Akechi is the only thing people are talking about these days. Where’s all the Phantom Thief love?”
“We all know you’re lacking in that area, Ryuji,” Morgana quipped.
“Shut up, cat!”
“I’m not a-”
“Guys.” Akira raised his hands placatingly. “Just keep it together until Ann gets here. You all can argue all the way to Mementos.”
They glared at each other, but Ryuji sipped his soda, and Moranga settled back into Akira’s bag. The girls’ conversation became audible again.
“He always says he’s too busy to think about what kind of girls he’d like.”
“It’s a damn shame, cuz he looks like the kind of guy who would treat a girl right.”
“I mean, he could make reading the dictionary fascinating.”
“True! He’d be the best date ever.”
Ryuji took an angry swig of soda. “Man, girls have way too high standards.”
Akira shrugged. “I mean, to be fair, Akechi’s an awful kisser.”
Guess he wasn’t perfect after-
The shock of the revelation forced the soda from Ryuji’s mouth in a forceful cascade.
“Gross!” Morgana yelped. “This is why no girls like you.”
Akira, the smug little bastard, couldn’t stop laughing.
“Please, pleeeease tell me you’re joking,” Ryuji groaned. “You haven’t really…”
Akira shrugged. “We were debating philosophy on justice, and I must have made a very good point, because he shut me up with his mouth.”
Ryuji was glad he didn’t take another sip of soda, because he would have probably lost it again.
“And how long have you guys been swapping more than words?”
Morgana answered this time. “Only for about a week. It started when Akira asked him to teach him how to make deductions. Then they explored new food places for Akechi’s food blog. Then…”
Akira couldn’t stop grinning.
“I can’t believe this,” Ryuji groaned.
“Oh, Ann’s coming. Secret between us bros, alright.”
Ryuji was not fine, but Mementos awaited.
Chapter 2: Lovers
Ann didn’t know when her suspicions started, but if she had to guess, it would be the makeup questions.
“Ann,” Akira had pleaded on the phone. “You have to help me.”
Ann had tucked her phone under her ear and nodded. “What’s up? I’m in between shoots right now.”
“Where can I buy some concealer? I tried at the convenience store, but they didn’t have any, and I have to cover up this bruise from the Palace or people will think Sojiro is abusing me or something.”
“Hm… it’s hard to find concealer for skin as pale as yours… where’s the bruise?”
“Does the location matter?”
“It might. Your face is a bit darker than your shoulder.”
Akira sounded… sheepish.
“It’s on my neck.”
Ann sighed. “Really, if you needed a hickey covered, all you have to do is ask. I have a bottle of concealer that was too pale for me, but should be fine for you. I’ll drop it off at Leblanc on my way home.”
“Thank you so much! Oh, but drop it in my room. If Sojiro sees it…”
“He’ll ask questions about your girlfriend. Got it. I’ll be subtle.”
“You’re the best Ann!” He hung up.
“Love you too,” she muttered as she put her phone away.
So Akira had a girlfriend. She wasn’t surprised. He was the prettiest boy in Shujin, by far.
But that wasn’t it.
“Ann, what kind of gift would you give to a guy you like?”
She thought for a moment. “Flowers are a classic.”
“He’s not a flower kind of guy.”
“Wait a second. ‘He?’ ‘Guy?’ Akira, I thought you had a girlfriend,” Ann said.
“You thought I had a girlfriend, and I didn’t correct you.”
Ann sighed. “It sounds like you know him better than I do. Why do you think I would know?”
“Because you’re Lovers.”
“Akira, what does that even mean?”
“I got it! I’ll give him some of Boss’s coffee beans for when he can’t come to LeBlanc. Thanks Ann!”
He hung up.
Well, he found his solution. Good for him. And if she was muttering about Akira’s weirdness under her breath all day, no one would know but her.
Ann turned from the clothes rack she was examining to see Akira.
“Hi! Are you here to do some mental training?”
Akira smiled. “Sure. Let’s go grab some tea.”
Ann adjusted her bag and began walking to the station. “Not hanging out with your boyfriend today?”
“To be honest, I was hoping to, but he likes me to keep my distance. He’s very busy.”
So that ruled out Yusuke, Ryuji, Mishima, and about every other guy that Ann knew.
“Do I even know this guy?”
Akira put his hand on his chin thoughtfully. The gesture looked out of place for Akira, but somehow familiar…
“You’ve only met him twice. But you know him.”
“Augh! Just tell me already.”
Akira grinned sheepishly. “It’s more fun this way.”
Ann pouted, and the rest of the train ride was spent in silence.
Sushi: securely in bag. Lip gloss: freshly applied. Hair: curled and conditioned to perfection.
Ann sauntered into LeBlanc with the grace and confidence of a panther stalking her prey.
Akira looked up from behind the counter. “Welcome to LeBl- oh, hi Ann. What’s up?”
Ann looked around with wide eyes. “Where’s Morgana? I was hoping to talk to him. I brought sushi for him.”
Akira stiffened slightly.
“My my Akira. Your cat is quite popular,” Goro Akechi said from the counter.
How did she not notice him? Ann cursed under her breath, but she plastered on a smile and said, “He’s a talkative little guy, and he’s very fun to pet. I don’t have any pets, so I just borrow Morgana from time to time.”
Akira leaned over the counter. “You have to be careful with him, Goro-san. He only lets Ann pet him. He’d probably bite your pretty face off, and we wouldn’t want that.”
And he winked.
Which would have been weird if Akira didn't also flirt with Yusuke, the girls on the team, Shadows...
He turned back to Ann. “He’s upstairs right now. He’d love it if you would take him out somewhere.”
She jogged up the stairs, masking her relief.
“Lady Ann!” Morgana practically flung himself at her. “It’s really you! You’ve come to rescue me!”
Ann held down her bag, and Morgana lept into it.
“Let’s go to the park. I brought sushi!”
Ann didn’t know a cat’s eyes could be so full of adoration.
She waited until Morgana was on his second piece of fatty tuna before springing her trap.
“So, what do you think of Akira’s boyfriend?”
Morgana stopped mid-chew. He groaned.
“I have to be out of the way whenever he comes over, which is more frequent now. And Akira doesn’t let me talk whenever he’s nearby. He thinks he can understand me.”
I could have sworn I heard someone say something about delicious pancakes…
You’ve only met him twice.
He’s very busy.
And Akira called him Goro and winked at him…
“He’s dating Goro Akechi?” she shouted.
“Shhh! Not so loud! They’re trying to keep it a secret. Only Ryuji knows.”
“I can’t believe this,” Ann groaned. “Dating the enemy? The one person sworn to defeat the Phantom Thieves? I can see Ryuji doing something so irresponsible, but Akira? Our leader?”
Morgana finished his sushi and curled up on Ann’s lap. “It started innocently enough. The second time we met, he offered to teach Akira how to make deductions. He took him up on the offer, and it became a regular thing, like learning tactics from Hifumi or running errands for Iwai. Except deduction lessons turned into lunches because ‘Akechi wants to try this new place,’ and ‘we’re going to debate the existence of a higher power at the planetarium.’ Then one day, I looked up and they were kissing.” Morgana shivered. “It was so gross! Akira’s lucky I didn’t start cursing Akechi out right then and there.”
“Doesn’t he realize how risky this is?”
Morgana sighed. “If I’m going to be honest, I think that’s part of the appeal.”
Ann sighed and stroked his fur. “What are we going to do with him?”
“I don’t know, Lady Ann. I don’t know.”
Chapter 3: Hierophant
This chapter is a bit different
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Goro was so pretty.
Akira loved to run his hands through his pretty hair, stare at his pretty face. But he was especially pretty at the moment, with his cheeks flushed and eyes closed as Akira gently bit at that one spot on his neck. Goro ran his shaking hands through Akira’s hair and bit his lip.
“You’re so quiet,” Akira whispered. “What’s up with that?”
Instead of answering, Goro captured Akira’s lips.
Akira’s thoughts stopped as his senses narrowed to the lips on his.
“What the hell are you two doing?”
Akira sat up so fast he got dizzy and looked up. Sojiro was glaring down at them coldly.
Beneath him, Goro’s flushed face had blanched and his eyes were wide. He slowly sat up, eyes cast on the ground. Akira reached out, but Goro knocked his hand away. His entire body was shaking like a leaf.
“Sojiro.” Akira tried to keep his voice level. “What are you doing in my room?”
“I was wondering if you would like to try this batch of curry.”
An awkward silence filled the room. Goro still didn’t look up, and Akira still didn’t look away from Sojiro. He wrapped an arm around Goro, who didn’t knock it away this time.
“So, are you going to kick me out? Because if you are-”
“Jesus, kid!” Sojiro’s eyes were wide. “Hell no. It’s-I was just shocked, that’s all. Look, I just- I figured I would catch you with a girl, that all, not…”
“...Goro Akechi.” Akira’s voice remained calm. “Though if things ended up differently, you might have caught me with a girl.”
Another awkward silence settled over them. Sometime during the conversation, Morgana had climbed up the stairs and sat down between Akira and Sojiro, watching carefully. Akira made a note to buy him the best sushi available the next time they were out.
“Let’s try this again. Sojiro, this is my boyfriend, Goro Akechi. He’s a regular customer of yours.”
Sojiro finally looked down. “There’s curry downstairs if you boys want some. Make sure you’re decent.”
After Sojiro’s head disappeared from the attic, Akira released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
“Goro? Are you okay? I’m so sorry.”
Goro stood up with a shaky smile as plastic as the ramen bowl on Akira’s shelf.
“I’m afraid I have to go.”
Stupid question. Of course he wasn’t okay.
“It’s okay if you need some time alone. When you’re ready to talk, I’ll be here. Text me. Or call me.” Cautiously, Akira pulled Goro into an embrace. “I’m your boyfriend, which means I’m still your friend. I’m here for you.”
Goro collapsed into the embrace. “How are you so perfect?” he whispered.
He pulled away and went downstairs without a backwards glance. Moments later, he heard the outside door open and close.
Akira collapsed back onto his bed. “I’m not,” he whispered back. A perfect boyfriend wouldn’t hide things. A perfect boyfriend would have-
“I’m so sorry!” Morgana yowled. “I was asleep downstairs… I had no idea he was going to come up. I should have warned you.”
“Goro would have heard you. It’s okay, Morgana. I couldn’t have asked for better defense. Next time we’re out, I’ll buy you some sushi.”
Morgana jumped on the bed and butted his head on Akira’s. “Are you okay?”
Akira sighed. “I’m worried about Goro. He was so scared, and I couldn’t…” He trailed off.
Morgana purred and rubbed his head against Akira’s. “It’ll be okay. It always is with you.”
What's this angst doing in my crack?
But seriously, not a lot of people really mention the fact that Japan's relationship with the queer community is different than, say, the United States's. Which is okay, it would get old fast if people used the same cultural aspects as plot points, and usually characters have waaay more pressing issues. People just don't talk about the queer community in Japan. It's a bit better in Tokyo, but there's still a huge problem with bullying and there are comedians who make a living exploiting stereotypes about MSM in particular.
So, Sojiro walking in with Akira and a girl? Embarrassing and potentially awkward.
Sojiro walking in with Akira and a boy? Especially when the boy is 1) famous and 2) has no familial support or allies? Terrifying and potentially dangerous for everyone involved.