I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to know
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you
The Reason - Hoobastank
~ November 20th, 2016 ~
He watches the swirl of smoke leave the barrel of the gun. It is the perfect size for his hand and a familiar weight that constantly reminds him of his purpose in this life. He is a hitman, a murderer, and while the thought sickens him, he feels power course through his veins every time one of his bullets pierce the skull of his target. He shifts his gaze and watches the crimson liquid flow freely down the pale face of his victim. Watching it coat that ever-messy black hair was an exhilarating thrill. Pretty grey eyes forever widened in shock and disbelief, almost as if he didn’t already know his betrayal was inevitable. It doesn’t have to be this way. They all knew he shouldn’t be trusted but perhaps the extent of it was truly unexpected.
Akechi Goro smiles as he hides his silencer, a smile reserved only for his private moments when no one was around to judge the cruelty on his face and places the gun in a cooling hand. Kurusu Akira’s dead body slumps forward, head slamming on the table and making the blood splatter forward. It never reaches Akechi’s clothes, but he watches with fascination as it seeps into Kurusu’s white turtle-neck and turns the fabric a faint pink.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Akechi’s smile grows to a smirk, one that doesn’t reach his eyes. He wasn’t unfamiliar with murder, one could say he knew it intimately, but Kurusu is his first real world victim. The implication that this could be traced back to him a far-off thought. He doesn’t have the time or luxury to deal with such unneeded emotions. The thrill of danger and satisfaction of a job well done was more than he needed to focus on. However, the tiniest sliver of regret pools in his gut and he hates it. He can feel Robin’s disappointment trying to wrap around his mind but Loki’s maniacal laughter and thirst for blood echoes louder than even his own racing heart beat in the unmoving interrogation room. He pushes back all the emotions vying for attention as well as the echoes of his personas until he trusts himself to be nothing more than the cold-hearted machine he knows himself to be.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
He stares at the slumped body a moment longer. It was unfortunate, “We could have been great rivals…” or perhaps even friends, “…had we just met a few years sooner.” His spoken words no louder than a whisper, but still acting like a scream in the deafening silence. The thrill of the kill starts to disappear with each moment spent watching the body of the boy, the only person to ever try making him feel welcome in a world he doesn’t belong.
Let me save you.
His expression falls into one of cold indifference as he turns to leave. The silencer in his pocket becoming a heavy weight, one he doesn’t want to deal with. Not here and not now. Not when he was so close to his goals. He will have time to sort out these feelings and problems after his father has fallen from grace and is dying in a pool of his own blood. His eyes flicker back to the dead boy as he exits the room, closing the door with a soft click. He can help but feel like a part of him had died that day, it was a feeling he hadn’t experienced since his first shadow kill two years prior. His eyes reflect nothing despite the death and turmoil of his empty soul as he left the station that day.
~ November 22nd, 2016 ~
“So, the leader of the Phantom Thieves is dead.” It isn’t a question so much as a statement that promises punishment if he is incorrect. Akechi nods regardless of the stern gaze directed at him, he learned early on to pick and choose his words and mannerisms. He watches as a grin sweeps violently across the bald man’s face. “What should we do about his little group? I want them taken care of before my rise to power.”
“They shouldn’t be a threat Shido-San. Without his leadership, they are nothing more than lost sheep. I would suggest waiting to eliminate them until the perfect opportunity to deem it an accident arises. It would be suspicious to dispose of them all this close together, and you don’t need that when you become Prime Minister.”
“Perhaps, you are right. Congratulations, you’ve done well.”
A smile crosses Akechi’s face at the words, satisfaction and pride swelling in his chest. Hearing such praise is a rewarding bonus to working with this vile man, he hates how much he craves it. He clasps his hands tightly together in front of him, squeezing hard to ground himself. Pure giddiness twists in his gut at the thought of taking this man down at the height of his power; it will be an amazing thrill. “Thank you, Shido-San. Everything from this point should be smooth sailing.”
Shido’s eyes flash dangerously, an extra dose of cruelty consuming them. “Well, not quite everything...” He felt the confusion cross his face and settle in his chest as Shido waves nonchalantly in a summoning gesture. The smile from the earlier praise falls from his face and his eyes widen when two pairs of unrelenting hands grab his arms and hold him tightly in place. The bald man watches with a sickening smirk, his voice just as power hungry as his eyes. “Everything is going according to plan. At this point nothing is standing in my way to obtain power. Nothing can stop me.” He pauses and glares at Akechi. “Except you. You were the perfect little murder puppet and I thank you for eliminating all my enemies, but you’ve become a liability now. I can’t afford to have that running around.”
Akechi struggles against the arms that hold him. He may be smaller in structure, but he wasn’t weak, however the hands just hold tighter. He glances up, hatred burning in his mind as he feels Loki growl and Robin glare. “But Shido-San. You don’t have the names of the other Thieves. How do you expect to finish them without my help?” It is a weak argument, but it is what he had available to him.
Shido laughs and watches him like he is nothing more than dirt beneath his shoe. “You honestly thought I wouldn’t have taken precautions and learned the names of those you associated with?” He shakes his head, “for a detective, you are pitifully ignorant.” He pauses as a grin sweeps over his face, “oh that’s right. You’re not even a real detective. That explains why it was so easy to make you drop your guard when I needed you to.”
Akechi glares at Shido, dropping all pretenses and allowing his anger to shine through his pristine mask. “I see. So, you planned to kill me all along after I did your dirty work.” A smirk stretches Shido’s lips, a slow clap resounds from his hands. A dark look passes through Akechi’s eyes; murderous rage boils under his skin. “I should have expected that this would happen. You have a habit of eliminating anything that’s no longer useful to you.” He allows himself to growl his words, “I won’t let you win, you bast-”
A sharp gasp escapes his mouth as pain floods his body. He whips his head to the side despite the constricting ache forming in his muscles. One of Shido’s scientists is by his side, needle in hand and pushing a thick liquid mixture into his veins. It is less than a couple seconds then the needle is gone and in it’s place is a burning pain that gradually consumes his body. He falls to the ground like a limp doll, the hands no longer holding him. The sound of shoes coming closer echoes harshly in his ears. He shakily pushes himself up, legs to weak to hold his weight, he sits with his hands clenched in the carpet. A rough hand grasps his chin and forces him to stare at Shido’s grinning face.
“It’s a pity. An obedient little puppet like you would have been useful.” His hand squeezes Akechi’s face a bit harder as covered eyes attempt to drill holes into pale flesh. “You look just like your mother.” Shido mutters.
Akechi freezes, eyes wide and disbelieving. His mother? Does Shido know who he is?
Shido releases his face and laughs as he falls face first to the carpet. “She was a liability and an annoying bitch too. They all are.”
Akechi’s blood starts to boil again, hatred flaring as brightly as his obviously distorted desires. He would never be able forgive her for leaving him to fend for himself in a world where people like him are unwanted, but he refuses to allow anyone to talk down about his mother, especially an asshole like him. He pushes himself back to all fours, gritting his teeth against the burning tingle in his skin as pain mixes with rage. Loki growls in his mind as the flames enshroud him like hell spawn, his mental image had never looked so fitting.
Shido scoffs at his persistence to sit as normally as possible on the floor and turns back to his desk. “Get rid of him. You can finish him now or let the drug destroy him. Either way, get him out of my sight.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. Let me save you.
“You won’t win.” It is said barely above a whisper. His head is down, hair cascading in front of his eyes like a shield. He feels something spark to life inside him, it takes a moment to realize it is Robin and Loki giving him strength. “You know the Phantom Thieves would never let you get away with this Shido-San.” Akechi glances up at the older man, smile wide and blinding; his voice as calm and cheerful as if he had been speaking to Kurusu about coffee and pancakes. No one notices his hand snake into his pocket until he is gone like an errant thought in the wind.
Akechi huffs out breath after ragged breath as he nearly slumps into himself. His body and lungs burn but he can’t stop here, it was too dangerous. There are too many people that could recognize him in Shibuya and after Shido’s declaration that he was a liability; well, his day took a very unpleasant turn. He is lucky to have swiped this red hoodie without anyone noticing. It was surprising how much difference an unusual article of clothing could make in terms of a disguise.
‘Goro-Sama, we can’t keep going like this. The flames are getting worse and Loki…’ Robin trails off. Loki is silent like he has been for the past hour, in fact it was almost like he wasn’t there at all. Akechi didn’t think he would be able to summon him even if he tried.
“I’m sorry, Robin.” He didn’t know what to do, he had no options, no allies to turn too. He severed those ties when he killed Kurusu. It doesn’t have to be this way. “Kurusu.” He’s starting to wish he hadn’t shot him; Kurusu was the first person to try to know him instead of his TV personality. Kurusu was special, and he had killed him without a thought. The flames inside his head and veins flicker. He was so focused on revenge that he didn’t think about the long-term consequences. What had given him the right to decided who could live and who had to die? It wasn’t fair. Kurusu should be the one that was still alive… not him.
Akechi smacks into a metal gate in one of Shibuya’s many alleyways. He rests his burning forehead against cool metal bars, eyes closed as he gathers his breath in shallow gasps. Sweat drips down his face as his hands hold the bars tightly in his clenched fists. His brow furrows slightly at the faint blue glow leaking into his closed eyes. He pushes himself away from the gate and opens his eyes to stare at the door to seemingly nowhere before him.
“This is…” Akechi curiously drags his feet around the door. It wasn’t attached to anything so what was its purpose? He slides his hand along the bars and feels Robin sigh as the flames back away gradually. He has seen this door before, Kurusu would go inside it constantly in the Metaverse. He frowns as his hand stops near what should have been the key hole. Could whatever’s inside help him fix what he’s done? It doesn’t have to be this way. He grabs the metal bar and pulls the door open, flinging himself inside before he could question what he was doing. Darkness swirls in his vision until even the light from the open doorway was snuffed out.
When he reopens his eyes, blue velvet walls and large chains greet him. Akechi sat up with a sluggish slowness, muscles suddenly very stiff with a remnant of the prior burning sensation. He glances at his strange surroundings before dragging his sight to the tight pressure around his wrists. A loud, almost strangled sound leaves his throat as his eyes lock on the large metal cuffs that wrap around his thin wrists in a vice-like grip. He sucks in a breath and his hands shake as his gaze travels down to his clothes. He was back in his beloved school uniform, his impeccable tan pea coat and sleek black trousers; however, murky crimson was splattered in various indistinguishable patterns. He wasn’t foolish enough to doubt what that substance was, it stains his once perfect image with a clear reminder of what he’s done.
“Who the hell are you?! You’re not the inmate!”
The sudden loud shout makes him squeak and try to curl into himself. His breaths become stuttered as he forces himself to glace out the cell bars and towards the source of the girlish screech. A petite, young girl glares at him with a shocking, vibrant yellow eye reminiscent of a shadow. A patch covered her other eye and her unusual light hair was curled into tight buns on either side of her head. Akechi bites his lip as he watches her; was she a shadow? Had he entered someone’s palace without realizing? It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to him. A puff of air leaves his lungs as his gaze slides to the side where another girl watches him. Her eyes are blank, but she grips her clipboard tighter to her chest until her knuckles are white. Who are these children and where did he end up?
“We have not seen you here before, inma-” the girl with braids cuts herself off before the last word could leave her lips. She frowns at him like she almost did something she shouldn’t have. She hums for a moment as she locks her gaze with her opposite then shifts her unsettling yellow gaze back on him. “How did you find your way here?”
Akechi stares at her as she stares back, mouth moving to form words, but no sound leaves his throat. No explanation enters his mind to help him confront these twin shadows. The shards of fire in his veins have dulled to a numbness despite still being present in his mind. He can feel Robin twitch in the back of his mind, a nervous tick that conveys the persona’s discomfort. He knows something or is aware of something that Akechi is not, and that makes him just a bit more nervous about facing these girls. He sucks in a deep breath as he searches his mind for Loki. Loki is his guidance and he is no where to be found… like he had never been there in the first place.
“He is another Wild Card. Much like the Trickster, but on the opposite side of the coin.” A deep voice chuckles with mirth. Akechi clenches his fists around the iron bars as he forces himself closer to glance around. His gaze settles on a long-nosed man, the owner of the voice that sends chills down his spine. “How may we be of service, dear Hero?”
He clenches his jaw shut against the growl that threatened to escape. At this point, such a title was degrading and more like an insult than praise. Robin’s nervous twitch increases with each minute and a hesitant whimper of ‘be careful’ echoes in his ears. It takes a moment for Akechi to gather his thoughts enough to form the words he wants within the correct mask. “This Trickster you refer too,” He starts curiously with forced pleasantness. “Do you mean Kurusu-Kun?” The long-nosed man leans forward, hiding his grin behind folded hands but otherwise makes no indication of an answer. It doesn’t have to be this way. Akechi’s own hands clench tighter around the metal as he grounds himself and forces confidence into his voice. “I want to speak with him… No, I need to speak with him.”
The man’s grin never falters but his bulging, bloodshot eyes seem to glare at him. Akechi gulps back down the urge to run as he feels the shifting and crackling of power within this room. This man, whoever he is, has power and significantly more of it than his own meager abilities. Perhaps his demand to see Kurusu is digging himself a grave, the man doesn’t seem to take kindly to it anyway; but he doesn’t care, he needs to see Kurusu again and if this just leads to his death then so be it. He is already a dead man surviving on borrowed time. So, if he can take everything back, if he can change fate, then he would willingly seek out the Thieves to help him confront Shido. Then he can rid the world of that pest, and if the Phantom Thieves decide to abandon him, so be it, be was on borrowed time anyway.
“I’m afraid such a request is impossible. You of all people should know, the dead can not come back to life, Hero.”
Hearing that chilling voice dismiss Kurusu as being dead makes images of splattered blood vividly fresh in his mind. It doesn’t have to be this way. The twin shadow girls gape at the strange man in shock. Faint whispers of denial and disbelief echo around the circular prison; Akechi’s unsure how many of those belong to the twins and how many are his own. Let me save you. “No! There must be a way to bring him back! Can’t you change it?! Aren’t you some kind of god or something?!”
The man’s glare visibly intensifies with each shouted, panicked word that leaves Akechi’s mouth. “I’m afraid, Hero, that you must learn the hard way…” He flicks his wrist, waving his hand dismissively. A sharp wave of liquid lava flares through Akechi’s veins, tearing a scream from his throat. Robin’s own scream burns into his mind as he feels his persona being engulfed in the fire flowing in his body. The man’s grin is eerily pleased as he watches the boy trapped before him. “You must learn to take full responsibility for your actions.”
It was like awakening from a dream, a nightmare only to discover it wasn’t just a plaguing trick of the mind but reality. Akechi stumbles backwards into a crimson puddle, blood rains down from the sky and large bone-like structures cradle the surroundings like a second skin. This is Shibuya? How long was he gone? Why isn’t anyone noticing the sudden change?
Akechi gulps in lungful after lungful of air and calls for his personas but is met with silence. Instead the liquid lava in his veins burns more harshly as if to retaliate against his rebellion. It burns at his energy, making him gasp for breath and struggle to keep his blurring eyes open. He slouches against one of the bone-like structures behind him, the effort to pick himself back up leaving just as quickly as each breath. Is he dying? He wouldn’t be surprised. It doesn’t have to be this way. If he does die, he wonders if he’d be able to see his mother and Kurusu again. Let me save you. No, probably not; Unlike himself, they were good people that didn’t deserve to die. This was his punishment for everything he’s done. A sparkle of blue flashes before his eyes and he has to wonder if that’s real or a trick of a dying mind.
Akechi, is that…
... wasn’t supposed to be this way… It was…
… A new chance…
… Hear me? Listen…
… Make it right. Save him.
The voices were so familiar but not familiar at all. “Save him” she had said. Let me save you. He would give up everything right now to do that, to take his offer, to treasure his friendship… to save that annoying boy that could always see right through him. Tears cascade silently down his cheeks as he whispers to himself.
“… I’m sorry, Kurusu-kun…”
The world fades to black as his eyes close and then everything is gone.