Summary: The interrogator hits Akira's head a little bit too hard and knocks some memories loose.
Note: I’ve had this fic for like, AGES. And only now got around to finishing it. Eh.
Also, hello misleading summary, how I love to use thee.
Warnings: Author Back At It Again With One-Shots That Feel Like A Slice Of A Bigger One-Shot, Akechi Has A Palace AU (But You Don’t Get To See It SorryNotSorry), Calling Yaldabaoth A Squatter Because I Can, Who Wants Yet Another Lazy Trash Fic? Because You’re Gonna Get One, Tagging This As ShuAke Because I Can.
Disclaimer: Don’t own P5.
The hard slam of Akira’s head against the floor sent him reeling, pain lancing through his skull and almost making him cry out.
His body shuddered and limbs trembled as he tried to shake off the pain and refocus, while his mind was flooded with memories that were locked away, memories that were knocked loose from the force of the strike to his head.
He screwed his eyes shut as he felt himself waver at the edge between layers in reality, almost slipping from the physical world to the Metaverse, but he preserved.
As he was hauled to a seat and Niijima Sae entered the room, everything around him snapped to focus, his memories slotting into place and the plans of what he had to do next clear in his mind’s eye.
First, he just had to follow the plan he made with the Thieves, and afterwards, it was time for his plan.
Goro arrived at his apartment and mechanically took off his jacket, doing his absolute best to still the trembling in his hands, to no avail; the feeling of the gun in his hand along with Kurusu’s hand as he slipped the gun into it was still burning an unseen imprint into his skin.
He walked a couple of steps before he dropped to his knees and curled himself into a ball, shivers wracking through his body.
He’d just killed Kurusu with his own hands.
Set him up for capture, held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
(He didn’t think he would ever forget the look in Kurusu’s eyes when he did it.)
Goro pushed himself up; he had no time to (mourn, he didn’t deserve to mourn) dwell over what happened with Kurusu. It was all to make Shido pay. And Goro would make Shido pay, no matter what it took, Kurusu’s death was just another item on the list of things to make Shido suffer for.
He trudged over towards his couch, feeling more disoriented and tired than he ever did in so long, and threw himself down on it.
He needed to rest his body, he needed energy to continue his work. It didn’t matter that he felt he could never sleep, could never rest, as long as he felt the phantom sensation of slick blood covering his hands.
His eyes slipped closed and he drifted off.
(It wasn’t sleep. He knew he could never sleep.)
Nearly a moment later, he opened his eyes and pulled himself up to a sitting position.
He was in what looked like a theater decked in blue, with the only spotlight shined on the stage where he sat. He could hear a muffled melody echoing around the hall, but it was stuttering, almost as if someone kept pressing rewind at random moments while covering the speaker.
The sound of footsteps coming from his right made him whip his head in that direction, the sight that greeted him was like a punch in the gut that knocked the air out of his lungs.
“Ak-! Kurusu?! What?” Goro stared, uncomprehending, as the other person reached him and kneeled down on one knee, placing a big book next to him on the floor.
He looked exactly like Kurusu, but with platinum blond hair and golden eyes, dressed in black and blue clothes.
“Welcome, Akechi Goro,” The lookalike said, “You’re supposed to be in the Velvet Room at such a moment, but it’s currently unavailable until we get rid of the squatter occupying it. So, for now, this will have to do.”
“Who are you?”
“My name isn’t important. I’m your attendant and guide on your journey from now on.”
“Journey?” Goro wondered if he’d finally gone mad with the things he did and started to hallucinate before he dismissed the idea- if he had, then Shido would get rid of him as Goro would then be a liability, and he wouldn’t be able to hallucinate if he was dead. Which meant this was either real or a very wild dream. “Attendant? Guide? If you’re talking about the Metaverse, you’re a couple of years too late.”
“While we had a rocky start, due to the aforementioned squatter interfering in your journey-“
“-it’s not too late to start anew.”
Goro scoffed, “Not too late? Didn’t you hear what I said?”
“You can still reach out, do your best to compensate for what you did, can still achieve your goal. But you cannot do it alone.” The attendant stared at him, golden gaze piercing, “Look inside yourself. Do you feel your Persona?”
Goro stared at him, uncomprehending; feel his Persona? What would it even do to him at this point?
He closed his eyes, sighing tiredly as he searched inside of him for Robin Hood. His blood ran cold when he couldn’t feel him anymore. He frantically searched for Loki as well but he still found nothing.
His eyes opened wide, “What- what is the meaning of this?”
“I believe you know what it means.”
Goro raised a shaking hand to his face and slumped forward.
“It means the malevolent god who interfered with your journey would deem you a lost cause if you lost yourself before succeeding in your goal and cast you aside.”
Goro curled in on himself and bit back a hysterical laugh. He wanted to scream and shout, to laugh and cry, to rage and then lay down in defeat.
“That’s a good thing.”
“Hear me out.” A hand landed on Goro’s shoulder, lightly squeezing it, “With him no longer expressing interest in you, it means you’re free from his shackles, free to find yourself again, to build yourself up again, and to gather your strength to strike back.”
At this, Goro raised his head, and was met head on by the attendant’s burning gaze, it caused him to ache something fierce as it looked so much like Kurusu’s, a look of smoldering rage, burning hot enough to render his obstacles and chains to nothing.
Goro didn’t know what look he had on his face, but whatever it was, it made the attendant grin wickedly at him, and satisfaction glinted in his eyes.
Goro had the crazy idea that Kurusu died just to be immediately reborn and continue to make Goro’s life difficult.
“Much better. And now for a rebirth.”
The theater and the attendant slipped away from his awareness, leaving him stumbling in the dark for a moment before he shot up from where he was lying on his couch.
He barely took a moment to gather his thoughts before he scrambled for his phone. It took his trembling fingers a couple of tries to unlock it and then reach for the MetaNav.
With his heart in his throat, he choked out, “Akechi Goro.”
The Nav chimed, “Candidate found.”
The phone slipped from his fingers and fell with a thud to the floor. It was closely followed by Goro, who dropped to his knees, numbness overtaking him.
Goro did his absolute best to ignore the fact that he apparently now had a Palace (“Personas can revert back into Shadows,” The attendant had explained to him one night in his dreams, “It’s all depending on your psyche. People change, after all.”), and avoided anything and everything related to the Phantom Thieves, even going as far as to avoid Sae.
The attendant remained silent on the matter, only talking to explain things to him, to tell him about the Velvet Room and the book he always carried with him, and to bitch about the squatter in the Velvet Room, all without pushing him to look into his own Palace.
All that changed when, one day at the start of December, the Phantom Thieves broadcast their calling card to Shido for all the public to see.
Goro was shocked, of course he was, even though a very small part of him suspected that Kurusu somehow survived, seeing him and hearing him through the calling card was a different matter altogether.
Goro had spent more time than he would have liked staring at one of the screens that had long since stopped showing the calling card, still in a daze, before he snapped out of it and realized the potential ramifications of what the Thieves did.
He almost rushed to the Diet Building before he stopped himself; he didn’t have a Persona anymore, he wouldn’t stand a chance against anything in the Metaverse. He should probably go to Leblanc; if Shido mobilized his men to look for the Thieves, Leblanc would be the first place hit.
The bell hung above Leblanc’s door rang loudly as Goro practically slammed the door open.
Boss gave him a look and shook his head, “I wouldn’t have figured they’d send you in to continue their dirty work, but maybe I should have expected that.”
Goro stiffly stood in front of the counter, “That… is not what I’m here for.” Goro took a deep breath, “What they did by challenging Shido outright puts you in danger, his men could be on their way to Leblanc at this very moment.”
“You can’t just stay here by yourself!” Goro scowled, “If, or rather when, they arrive, I’ll do my best to waylay them. Convince them not to bother you.”
“Look, kid.” Boss sighed, looking tired, “Why are you doing this?”
“Why am I doing this?!” Goro nearly shouted, “I’ve wronged your family more than enough, it’s time I helped instead of ruined.” Goro locked his jaw tight as he stared at the man, and Boss looked back at him with a glint in his eyes.
Goro was taken aback, “What?”
“You heard me, get out, before those men you speak off arrive and you get into more trouble.”
“I’m not! I’m not leaving! I’m not going anywhere without making sure you’re going to be safe!”
“Sheesh, stubborn kids these days,” Boss muttered under his breath, “Alright, listen up. You think it would be good for you to be seen protecting me after you clearly failed your task to kill Akira?”
Goro pressed his lips into a thin line, “No, and I don’t care.”
“Well, I do. So you better leave now before-“ He was interrupted by the sound of the door opening and a group of suit-clad men entering.
“We’re closed,” He said, tone bland, “Didn’t you see the sign?”
Goro turned to face the men himself, a fake smile tugging at the corners of his lips, “Excuse me, gentlemen, but just like Sakura-san said, the shop is closed for the day.” His smile stretched wider on his face, his eyes growing cold as he stared them down, “If you would please turn around and leave, that would be great.”
The men held their ground, but Goro, alongside Boss, refused to budge, and the two managed to keep them from doing anything until the received a call and retreated from the café.
After Goro was sure the men were gone, he let his shoulders slump as he exhaled.
Boss was carefully observing him, “Sit.” Goro didn’t have the energy to try to talk his way out of staying (it would have been a lost cause, given the look in Boss’ eyes) and so he complied.
He wouldn’t be staying for long, shouldn’t be staying for long, he didn’t want to risk the Thieves, or at least Akira, finding him here.
Goro checked the time; it had been a long time since the card was broadcast.
“Did they go immediately after they sent the card?”
Goro frowned, if they had been gone that long, then did they face problems in their fight against Shido’s Shadow? Goro bit his lip, what if they faced trouble they couldn’t overcome in their confrontation against the Shadow? What if they were hurt badly? What if-
“Here.” The sound of a cup being put in front of him broke him out of his thoughts; it was a cup of tea. He raised his head to stare at Boss, who looked back at him with a raised eyebrow, “You looked like you needed it. And don’t worry about those brats, I’m sure they’ll be back any time now.” Boss gave him a crooked grin and Goro tentatively tugged his lips in a weak smile.
The Thieves had better be fine, if they could scheme their way out of his schemes in the circumstances they were in, then they better succeed.
Goro had almost nodded off when the doorbell rang and an enthusiastic voice called out, “Sojiro! We-! Oh…” Goro’s head had snapped up and towards the direction of the door as the voice trailed off.
Sakura was staring at him with a look he couldn’t decipher. And next to her… next to her…
“Akechi,” Kurusu casually greeted him, as if their last meeting didn’t end up in Goro betraying him and setting him up for murder.
Goro clenched his fists tightly, his heart thudding in his chest, “K- Kurusu…”
“I’ll leave you two to your reunion,” Boss said as he headed towards the door, Morgana and Sakura following him, but not before they sent Kurusu a meaningful look.
Goro figured that Sakura would be listening in on Leblanc, and that she would tell the rest of the Thieves about his presence in the café. Honestly, Goro was surprised they left him alone with Kurusu after what happened between them.
Kurusu approached him and Goro could only sit and wait for whatever retribution Kurusu wanted to deliver.
“You look tired, we should head up to bed.”
Goro sat frozen for a moment, as if he couldn’t believe what he just heard, but no, he’d heard Kurusu loud and clear.
Kurusu wanted him to go sleep?!
What. The ever loving fuck?
Anger sparked in his chest and clawed its way up his throat, almost suffocating him.
“Sleep?” He repeated incredulously, a fierce scowl marring his face, “Sleep? Are you an idiot? I tried to kill you! I set you up to be captured and murdered and you want me to head upstairs to sleep with you? Don’t you have any preservation instincts? What are you even planning? To use me again for some sort of plan you had cooked up for the sake of your team? You want me to take the fall for the mental shutdowns? For Okumura’s death as well as many others?
“Well, news flash, attic trash, you don’t even need to lift a fucking finger to do even tha-“ Goro almost bit his tongue to stop himself from spewing even more of his innermost thoughts out loud.
Kurusu merely raised his hands to placate Goro, but it only served to make Goro scowl harder. Kurusu then reached into his jacket’s pocket and retrieved a very familiar red card, the Thieves’ calling card, before he extended it towards Goro.
Goro’s trembling hands clasped over the card, “You knew. What am I saying, of fucking course you knew.”
He pressed his lips together into a displeased line and turned the card in his hands; it was one of the Thieves calling cards, but it was blank, it didn’t have a notice attached to it.
“How are you even supposed to make this work?” Goro threw the card to Leblanc’s counter before he stood to face Kurusu, his fists propped on his hips while upping the amount of Displeased in his expression as his eyes bore into Kurusu’s face.
“Join us,” Kurusu said, and Goro let his arms drop to the side while he sighed.
“You are truly an idiot.”
“It’s your Palace, your Treasure, your own inner mind, Akechi. Letting you deal with it yourself is the least we could do to you.”
Goro sighed as he let himself drop into one of the booths, elbows braced on his knees and holding his face in his hands.
“You can start again, turn over a new page.”
“Are you just saying that out of some sort of misguided attempt to fix some sort of perceived mistake?”
“No. I’m not doing this just because I’m selfish, even though I am, but not giving you a chance would be like spitting in your face just like the rest of the world did. You deserve better than that, much more better than that. And I didn’t come up with this idea all by myself. The rest agree with me.”
“A new start, a new life.”
“And now for a rebirth,” The attendant had said.
God, Goro was so selfish.
‘News flash, attic trash’ say hi to the newest phrase I’m getting attached to.
Also they were supposed to go to sleep, and Akira was supposed to give Akechi an ACTUAL calling card the next day, and then he was supposed to go with the PT to his Palace, and battle his way towards his Treasure. But then the fic said ‘fuck that’ and insisted that Akira and Akechi had to have n awkward conversation instead.