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The Phantom Thieves Disappear

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Today is November 21, when the leader of the Phantom Thieves is pronounced dead: At least to most of the public anyway. Akira is actually alive and well thanks to the master plan created by the entire team. As soon as he enters Leblanc, he is greeted by his teammates, Sae, and Sojiro who are all relieved to see him alive. And as he settles in, they all decided to tell the prosecutor and café owner how their plan came to be.

"We wanted to make out enemy believe that the leader of the Phantom Thieves was dead." Makoto says.

"What?" Sojiro asked confused

"What we did was make that enemy kill his fake in the Metaverse." She replies

As soon as she said that, the café door was open to reveal the newcomer: the "traitor" Goro Akechi

"AKECHI!?" Sae asked in surprise and shock.

"Hmm, I expected you to react that way Sae-san." Akechi replies calmly, then turns to Akira. "How are you feeling, by the way Akira?"

"Well, I'm still breathing. That's a relief." Akira answered. "But I will say this, my heart did stop when you came in the room like that."

Akechi then smiled brightly. "Then it's safe to say that we both were splendid in our performances."

"H-hold on a sec!" Sojiro quickly responses. "Enemy? Fake? Performances? What're you guys talking about…?"

"Oh, I'm the traitor." Akechi bluntly replies.

"Huh?" Sojiro response, still confused.

"Akechi had play the role of a double crosser, so that the true mastermind believes that he was still working for him" Yusuke explains.

"I see. So you guys were going up against someone else." The café owner replies, beginning to understand.

"And now you're a double agent for this team." Sae stated.

Akechi nods.

"You deliberately made me think that you were working against me, didn't you? You could have just told me, you know." The prosecutor then asks him.

"Sorry about that, Sae-san. There was no time to explain our plan to you beforehand, and we needed my betrayal of the Phantom Thieves to look 100% convincing. Besides, you wouldn't have believed me." The detective explained.

"True." She replies

"And he gave us the chance to strike back and think ten steps ahead." Ann says confidently.

Sojiro grumbles and scratches his head in confusion. "God, I can't keep up with any of this stuff. So, how were you guys able to trust him?"

"Simple, I told them the entire truth." Akechi responded.

"The cases of the mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns, the fake Medjed attack, Kunikazu Okumura's death: It was all because of the true mastermind." Ann explained.

"And who is this 'true mastermind' you're all talking about?" Sojiro asks curiously.

"Masayoshi Shido" Akechi replies with a stern look on his face.

Both Sae and Sojiro had shocked and surprised looks on their faces.

"THE NEXT PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN IS BEHIND ALL OF THIS!?" Sae asked horrified.

"Yes, and he's also the reason why I'm on probation in the first place." Akira said angrily

The two adults were even more shocked now.

"Oh, that's just great! Our future prime minister is a corrupted politician and nobody realized this before!?" The café owner says in an angry tone. "How are we going to stop him?"

"Don't worry about it, you guys. We got it covered." Ryuji says in a calm tone.

"Huh?" Both Sae and Sojiro asked.

"Akechi gave us more than enough intel to know all about Shido and his movements." Haru said in a serious tone. "He was the reason how we were able to come up with this plan, and what our next plan will be against Shido."

"I see." Sae replies

"Oh, that reminds me: How were you guys even able to come up with this plan? You know, to save Akira?" Sojiro then asked.

As time passes, the team explained how the plan of Joker's supposed capture came to be and what happened in Sae's palace. As Makoto states, they needed a palace that was identical in reality; any normal person wouldn't notice that they have entered the Metaverse. They have investigated the palace first cautiously since the prosecutor became an official target, and learned that she was going to do the interrogation from the data off her computer. The group then confirms that their clothes are normal when in the interrogation room and that the scenery were identical to the one in the real world. Next, they needed a perfect cognitive replica of Akira in the room. They knew that the police would be coming for them after clearing the palace, and their leader being the bait and getting captured went exactly as planned. Futaba then explained that she located the coordinates of the Metaverse in order to access it and contact Sae. Then, Akechi goes over his disposal of Cognitive Akira and making his superiors believe that he was victorious. And once he encountered Sae with the phone, it was the signal for his part to take place. Yusuke then quotes how people are in little danger when they enter their own palace. Then Haru clarifies how they needed Sae to listen to Alibaba, deceive the guard, and aid in his escape. Ann states that the persuasion part of the plan was the biggest gamble, if the prosecutor had listened or not. Sae then realizes that there plan was mainly to keep the Phantom Thieves off of Shido's radar and Akechi off of his suspicion. She even grasps that the police wouldn't check for a body, and just write it off as a suicide. Makoto also mentions how Akira drugged and beaten was also a gamble: Had he passed out during the interrogation, someone different would have killed him sooner. And they struggled to live normal lives to avoid suspicion knowing that he was being interrogated at the time: Being worried for him. Ryuji then commented that once they heard the news on him 'committing suicide', they comprehended that their plan worked. After explaining the entire plan, Sae thanks and congratulates them for their smart thinking.

"From here forward, I will do my utmost to assist you. You saved me, after all." Sae says, smiling genuinely.

"That's reassuring to hear." Ann says happily.

"I'll do whatever I can to help, too. Just let me know." Sojiro said, also smiling. "Let's take a break for now though. This old brain is pooped. Oh, and feel free to use the first floor when you guys want to get together to talk. You'll need a hideout where you can be safe. Just say the word and I'll close shop early."

"Are you sure?" Ann questioned.

"This guy can't leave. Plus, you won't make much progress if people can hear you from downstairs. It's not like this place is the liveliest joint in town. It won't be a hug loss for me." he replied and then walks into the kitchen.

"Let us accept his offer. What a great man." Yusuke kindly commented.

As Yusuke said that, the gang starts to leave for the night. As everyone was leaving, Akira and Futaba gave each other a long warming hug and said that they missed each other greatly. From this action alone made Akechi smirk. After she leaves, Akechi asks if he and Akira could chat for a while. The boy with fake glasses accepted and made some coffee for both of them in the meantime. They both then sat down in a booth across from each other and begin to talk.

"Does Sojiro know?" The young detective suddenly asked.

"Know what exactly?" Akira questioned with an eyebrow raised.

Akechi replies with a smirk "You and Futaba-Chan, of course." He then sees him stiffen up with a faint blush on his face. "That action when you two hug each other confirmed everything for me: And judging from your reaction to my question, Sojiro doesn't have a clue. But don't worry, your secret is safe with me." He said.

Akira then sighs in relief and the two boys take a sip of their coffees.

"Splendid coffee, by the way."

"Thanks, Sojiro has been teaching me." Akira replied, and then his expression and tone became serious. "Why do I get the feeling that wasn't the question you were gonna ask me?"

Akechi stiffens a bit and then simply replies back "You know me well." His expression turns nervous and slightly sad. "Umm…how exactly did you guys feel about me? Being on the team that is?"

Akira was caught off guard when he asked that question.

"I going to do the best I can to support you guys, and bring people to justice as much as you guys do: But I can't help but feel that there is an uncomfortable atmosphere with me here." He continued

"Akechi, you have been trying to convince the public that we were a threat from the very beginning, and you blackmailed us into letting you join us: Yeah, it's a little uncomfortable." Akira answered honestly.

"Fair point. I did kill one of your targets to succeed the former." The detective said regrettably. "And for the latter, I wasn't really sure how to properly approach your group. Blackmailing was definitely a bit too far."

"You're right, everything you did to us in the past was unforgivable. Badmouthing us on public TV, killing Kunikazu Okumura and Principal Kobayakawa, pinning their deaths on us: That's more than enough reasons to feel disdain for you." The boy with fake glasses replied, then his expression turns soft. "But you now put in a lot of effort to make up for those mistakes and help us free the city of its corruption, so that's enough for us to forgive you." He grows a small smile on his face. "It's gonna take time for us to get used to you being here: but overall, we're glad that you joined us, Akechi."

Akechi was shocked to hear him say these words, and then smiled thankfully at him. "Thank you, I won't let you down anymore." He then stood. "Now that that off my chest, I should head back home now. We need to get ready to infiltrate Shido's palace."

"Right." Akira replied as he throws out the two empty coffee cups. "And you know the best route to the treasure, right?"

"Yup, I have it completely memorized. Just leave it to me." Akechi replied confidently and leaves.

"Good night." Akira told him and then heads to his room for bed.

Unknown to the two Phantom Thieves, a mysterious figure had been hiding in the dark and took pictures of them while they were chatting. He puts the pictures in his pocket and disappears unseen.
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Who was that man that took pictures of them? Will those pictures have a big impact in the future? Find out in the next chapter! ;-)