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This is Not the Black Mask You're Looking for

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Summary: The Phantom Thieves come across a black-masked individual on Shido’s Ship. Except, well…

Note: the really nice feeling when you finally get around to writing and finishing a fic idea you’ve been planning to do for months :D

Warnings: Overprotective PT, I’m Sorry Akechi I Swear I Love You, Haru Is Naturally Bloodthirsty.

Disclaimer: Don’t own P5.

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The Thieves had just acquired the fifth recommendation letter and were on their way to leave the engine room to head to the door leading to the Treasure when a figure landed a couple of meters in front of them.

Wearing a tight, striped body-suit in grays and very dark blues, belts looping around their limbs, with clawed gloves and a dark, short, tattered cape fluttering behind them, the figure stood up, back straight.

What they focused on the most however, was the black mask covering their face, stretching upwards into two horn-like points, with its nose sharply stretching down.

It was Black Mask. The one responsible for the mental shutdowns.

Even as exhausted as they were from the Palace exploration and facing off against powerful enemies twice, the Thieves still stood straight, raising their weapons and pointing them in Black Mask’s direction.

You!” Noir snarled, her axe clutched tightly in her hand, looking ready to take someone’s head off.

Black Mask startled, raising their hands, “Wait!” They called out.

Joker frowned, “That voice…” It seemed terribly familiar.

“Why should we?” Skull stretched his neck and slipped into a ready stance.

“It seems you have me mistaken with someone else.” Black Mask attempted to placate them, “If you’re looking for the person responsible for the mental shutdowns, then it’s not me! I know my mask makes me suspicious to you, but believe me, I’m telling you the truth. I’m looking for them as well.”

Joker’s breath caught in his throat, “Akechi… You…”

The Thieves whipped their heads to stare at their leader in shock, their stances slackening from the surprise.

“What?” Queen breathed out, incredulous, “You mean-”

Black Mask (?) sighed and brought his hands to his mask, causing the Thieves to snap back into a ready stance, with Noir stepping forward, her hand on her mask calling forth her Persona, Milady snapping her fan as she came into view behind her, and Heat Riser flared through Joker’s body. He was greatly touched.

“Don’t you dare come any closer!” She snapped, hefting her axe higher.

Black Mask (?) merely took his mask off and returned his hands into their previous position, “Pardon me, I did not, and do not, intend to attack you.” His voice this time was clear, coupled with view of his face, there was no doubt.

“Isn’t that…” Panther trailed off.

“Akechi Goro,” Oracle confirmed, her voice hard.

Akechi nodded, “Yes. I followed you here to propose a deal.”

“A deal,” Fox repeated, his voice neutral, “What kind of deal?”

“I would rather we leave the Palace entirely for this conversation,” Queen said, her voice firm, “And talk about this deal somewhere else.”

Where Akechi could not overpower them with his Persona, whatever his Persona might be, and they could safely dogpile him if need be, went unsaid, but not unheard.

Akechi nodded again, and Mona chose that moment to speak up, “Your mask.” He gazed pointedly at the mask Akechi still held in his hand, “And your weapons.”

Akechi hesitated slightly, and the Thieves were ready to tackle him if he decided that fighting them was the better option, after all.

To their surprise, Akechi relented, throwing his mask to the floor, a good distance away from him, before he crouched to put down a sword and a gun, then standing up to kick them away safely.

Mona leaped forward with Skull to snatch the objects up while Panther, Fox and Queen rushed to surround Akechi. Noir and Oracle remained at Joker’s side.

“One wrong move, and your face will be having an unfortunate meeting with my fists,” Queen warned.

Queen then gestured him to move forward towards the exit of the engine room, flanking him along with Fox, with Panther walking straight behind him. Queen then marched them forward, with Joker, Noir, and Oracle a couple of feet behind Panther, and Skull and Mona bringing up the rear.

The group thankfully made it out of the Palace without having to deal with Shadows attacking them, and then their next hurdle was to head somewhere private and safe with a teen-aged detective who was pretty much a celebrity while keeping a close eye on him but also not arousing suspicion towards them.

Akechi smiled slightly and gestured forward, “You don’t have to worry about finding a place or supervision.”

The Thieves followed his gesture with their eyes, and their jaws almost dropped to the ground in shock when they caught sight of Niijima Sae waiting at a corner.

“We have a common ally,” Akechi said, “And I hope you trust Sae-san enough with this. After all, you trusted her with your own identities, didn’t you?”

Makoto frowned slightly, “We can’t exactly deny that, can we?” She tilted her head towards the rest of the Thieves, “What do you guys think?”

Akira hummed thoughtfully and gazed into the distance at Sae, who sensed his gaze and looked back at him, her eyes catching his and nodding.

“I say we go.”

Haru looked between him, Sae, Makoto, and Akechi before pressing her lips into a straight line and sighing, “Alright. I guess this is as good as we could get in such a situation, correct?”

Makoto sighed along with her, “Correct.”

As the rest of the Thieves replied with their assent, the group headed in Sae’s direction, trying to walk as casually as they could until they reached her.

She ushered them to follow her, and she led them towards a van, causing Makoto to raise her eyebrow, “You rented this just for the occasion?”

Sae nodded, “After I talked with Akechi-kun, I had to get something that would fit you all in.”

The Thieves shared glances before climbing in, making sure Akechi was surrounded in the middle seat, pressed between Yusuke and Ryuji. Makoto and Haru sat down in the front next to Sae, and Akira, Futaba and Ann sat in the back, with Morgana in Akira’s bag in his lap like usual.

“Where are we headed?” Haru asked.

“Where do you want to go?”

The Thieves shared meaningful stares again, Akira leaned forward, mindful of the bag in his lap, and dropping a hand on Akechi’s shoulder, squeezing it tightly as he responded, “To Leblanc.”

The Thieves looked at Akira as he seated himself back, and then Akechi, who was stoically staring ahead, and back again, before tension bled out of their frames.

“To Leblanc it is, then.”

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The drive was quiet, but not as nerve-wracking or as tense as it could have been, with Akira genuinely being at ease in Akechi’s presence being the major contributor to the Thieves’ hostility cooling down.

The Thieves had never minded Akechi all that much before, his opinion about the morality of the changes of heart and his stance as a detective opposing them aside, they saw him hang around Leblanc a lot, just enjoying the quiet atmosphere, sometimes conversing quietly with Akira or playing chess with him when there were no customers around. They knew he was a genuine friend of Akira’s, and so, after the initial shock of seeing him with a black mask wore off, their stiffness mellowed out during the ride.

They had known that he was aware of the Metaverse and had, in fact, been there at least once, as they had concrete proof that he reacted to things Morgana had said, but they never crossed paths, and he, despite his opinions on the Thieves, never actually pursued them personally, remaining content in investigating the mental shutdowns case.

Which had caused their initial suspicions towards him to fade to the back of their minds.

The upcoming conversation was bound to be fun as they tried to not die out of embarrassment over their reaction in Shido’s Palace.

Sae parked the van, and the Thieves slipped out, letting Akechi walk by himself without a ‘guard’ keeping a close eye on him. He smiled in amusement, and the Thieves had to suppress a blush.

As they all entered Leblanc, Sojiro took one look at them before getting back to his work behind the counter, preparing coffee for all of them.

Akira was the last one entering the cafe, sharing a look with Sojiro before he went to flip the sign from ‘open’ to ‘closed’, and then re-entered the cafe.

“So?” Sojiro prompted him, clearly noticing Akechi’s presence among them, “The detective kid is with you now?”

Akira shrugged one shoulder, “In a way.”

Sae motioned for Akechi, who nodded and smiled, “I would like to join forces with you to take down your next target.”

“I thought you didn’t approve of changing people’s hearts,” Yusuke pointed out, and Akechi hummed in agreement.

“I don’t, but that’s not what I’m here for. Shido is a different beast from what you faced previously, he has influence and connections, he has people who genuinely back him up, completely believing in him, in his ability to lead them. They would be more than happy to have him be the next Prime Minister, which means even with Shido undergoing a change of heart, they will still try to cover it up with one excuse or another. Like exhaustion and stress from the upcoming election.

“And those people have their own influence and connections. They could just as easily use it to snuff out your influence, especially after Okumura Kunikazu’s death.” He sent an apologetic glance Haru’s way, and she briefly smiled faintly. “Which was quite a clever ploy from Shido and his men. And it succeeded, unfortunately.” He shook his head, “Now, moving on to the main point I want to talk about, you’re going to need help from sources other than the Metaverse to take Shido down.”

“And that’s where you come in, as a detective?” Yusuke asked, and Akechi nodded.

Akira gestured to him to take a seat, “It may take long, so make yourself comfortable.” He walked around the counter to help Sojiro get the coffee cups ready and then distribute them around at the crowd gathered inside.

Akechi smiled gratefully at Akira as he received his cup from him, taking a sip before starting up again.

“I’ve been investigating Shido for two years now, and have complied plenty of evidence, helped along with my ability to access the Metaverse. But I couldn’t approach anyone with it, and my only means was to gain enough sway with the public and enough influence in the police force to push through for an investigation into Shido. Unfortunately, that plan is not progressing as fast as I’d hoped it would…”

Sae took that as her cue to continue, “And that was when he approached me to ask for my help.” She shook her head in fond amusement, “I say he approached me, but he almost interrogated me before he asked if I could help him.”

“Huh?” Makoto blinked in shock, “But why didn’t he do that earlier?”

Akechi awkwardly cleared his throat, “By the time it was clear I couldn’t do anything about it by myself, the situation with Sae-san’s Shadow had. Well.”

“Oh!” Ann’s eyes widened, “So you only felt safe enough to go to Sae-san after we confronted her Shadow!”

“Well,” Morgana said dryly, “It wasn’t as simple as confronting her Shadow, but also…” He trailed off, staring at Akira, who merely smirked at him.

“You had someone with an amazing skill at negotiation and spinning tales.” Sae sighed.

Akira was content in merely smirking from his seat.

Akechi’s eyes glinted mischievously, “Well, he’s special like that.”

“So.” Futaba frowned, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose, gaze fixed firmly on Akechi, “You confirmed that Makoto’s sister could help you, and then you decided to talk to us about the topic. Why? Why did you think we would be going after Shido?”

Akechi blinked at them, “Well, I assumed you got the name from Okumura’s Shadow? I had followed you for a bit while you went through his Palace, and you seemed intent on finding information on the mental shutdown victims. From my research, Okumura seemed to have benefitted from the mental shutdowns, so it stood to reason that he was involved with Shido, which meant he would have been your source of information.”

The Thieves grew silent, turning their heads away from Akechi.

Akechi frowned, “What is it?” He asked, tone deadly calm, as if he was ready to ram someone’s head into the table if they gave him a particularly stupid answer.

The first to crack was Sojiro, as he snorted, “Oh, you won’t believe it.”

Sojiro!” Futaba hissed, “Don’t you dare!

“What?” Sojiro shrugged, “It’s funny.”

“What’s funny?” Akechi smiled beatifically at them, his expression screaming bloody murder.

Sojiro snorted again, “They were stuck and trying out random names to see if any of them would get a hit from the phone app. The TV was on, and it was an interview with Shido, and…”

Akechi raised his hand, closing his eyes, “It’s fine. I think I understand.” He rose from his seat and went to the restroom.

The rest heard the sound of the water tap turning on, and then the sound of splashing before the tap was turned off and Akechi walked out of the restroom a few moments after.

“Moving on.” Akechi returned to his seat, fixing the Thieves with a stern gaze, “So you found that Shido had a Palace and investigated him? And then you found out he was behind the mental shutdowns?”

The Thieves nodded.

“So.” Makoto cleared her throat, “Why did you decide to follow us to Shido’s Palace?”

Akechi reached for his cup of coffee to take another sip, “I know his Palace like the back of my hand, so I was planning to offer you my knowledge to make your navigation inside easier.”

Ryuji rubbed the back of his head, “Oh, that’s. Nice of you. Huh.”

Futaba’s eyes glinted, “Wait! You said you know the Palace like the back of your hand! Does that mean you know about the mice places?”

Akechi glared darkly at the floor.

Haru cleared her throat awkwardly, “I think that means yes.”

“Returning to our topic,” Yusuke said, “Did you start following us today?”

Akechi took a deep breath and smoothed his expression before he nodded, “I only caught up to you when you snuck into the room the Cleaner was in. I didn’t want to risk being exposed and possibly ending up backed into a corner, so I waited you outside. I’ll admit I expected you to be hostile towards me given my mask, but I wasn’t expecting you to be ready to brutally behead me and possibly desecrate my corpse.”

Sae and Sojiro startled at Akechi’s words, their eyes going wide from shock.

“Excuse me, what?” Sojiro gave the Thieves a stern stare, “You were planning to do what?

“We weren’t planning to do anything of the sort!” Ann hurried to try to placate the two adults.

“Well,” Ryuji said, smiling nervously, “Maybe behead, or bash his head in, but I don’t think we were going to, uh, desecrate his corpse?”

Haru took a long sip of her coffee and carefully avoided meeting anyone’s gaze.

“Haru doesn’t count!” Ann explained nervously, “She’s always bloodthirsty! Yes! That! Akechi wasn’t just a special case, nope!”

“Given that as far as she was concerned, I was the most likely suspect for her father’s death, I’m not surprised,” Akechi said.

The cafe grew silent as its occupant gathered their thoughts.

Yusuke then broke the silence with his own addition, “I’m not surprised that Haru’s reaction was more intense than her usual bloodthirst considering what we managed to get out of the Cleaner about the plan to murder our leader and fak-”

Akechi slammed the cup in his hands at the counter and stared at Yusuke blankly, “What was that about planning to murder Akira?” He spoke softly, tone threatening.

The Thieves sans Akira shared Looks before smirking viciously; it looked like they could agree to work with Akechi.

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End

And that’s when the PT decide that Akechi is a Person of Culture as well and recruit him into the Kurusu Akira Protection Squad.

And yes, the events are set in the middle of November :D