“On your left, Joker!”
“Got it! Status, Oracle?”
“Getting there! One more critical hit ought to do it, but watch out, it’s charging up an attack I don’t recognize—”
There’s a flash of white-hot, blinding light, like a new sun igniting in the middle of the battlefield. Skull finds himself on his back ten feet away, squirming in pain like a half-squished ant. There’s something falling over his face, tangling up his legs, and when he yanks at his mask and screams for Seiten Taisei, nothing happens. A figure in black whips past and flips over him, slamming into the shadow like a wrecking ball and finishing it off with two echoing gun blasts. Goddamn, Joker is good.
Is that Joker?
Skull tries to jump his feet, trips over whatever’s tangled up his legs, and falls flat on his face. Somewhere behind him, there’s a shuffling thump and a very undignified yelp from Fox. Skull pulls himself up onto his knees and scrubs his hands across his face—
Oh god oh no he’s bleeding that’s so much blood how can—wait. Wait. Ok, not blood. His gloves are just… red. And his jacket cuffs are too wide. And his outfit fits weird. How the hell… no. No no no no…
A ways away from him, he hears Joker—but it’s notJoker. It’s his timbre, but not his voice. “Is everyone okay?
“Well… I don’t think we’re hurt?” Fox’s voice is weirdly high and quavery. Noir is muttering to herself as she runs her hands up and down her body like she’s never seen it before.
Over the comms, Oracle’s cackling like an anime villain. “It’s the body-switching episode, guys! Oh my god!”
“Oracle…” Joker says through gritted teeth.
“I’m mad it didn’t hit me too, I wanna see what it’s like to be as tall as Inari without wearing stilts…”
“Oracle!Just give us the status!”
“All right, all right, keep your pants on. Or Skull’s pants, I guess, mweh-heh-heh.” Skull groans into his hands. “Okay… geez, this is rough. It’s a persistent effect, and a strong one. There’s a 72% probability that it’ll persist even outside the Metaverse, holy crap!”
“How can that be possible?” he hears Fox murmur in Noir’s voice.
“It’s the cognitive power of the body-switching episode!” Futaba’s still cackling. She sounds way too happy about this. Way, way too happy.
“Just tell us how to fix it, dammit!”
“Okay, jeez. The readings are telling me that amrita won’t touch it, but the effect is fading. Looks like you guys are gonna have to just wait it out. It probably won’t last more than a few hours, a day tops.”
“I don’t like that there’s a ‘probably’ there,” Joker says, tugging at his yellow gloves, “but I guess we don’t have a choice. Let’s head back.”
He just knew the rest of the group was going to lose their minds over this once they got back to the top of Mementos, but damn if the explosion of shrieking and giggles and chatter and questions isn’t still annoying. Ann is still hiccuping with laughter even as the greasy light of Mementos dissolves into the ordinary florescent buzz of Shibuya station, even as Makoto drags her off toward their train. Morgana loudly demands to go home with Yusuke, to make sure he “doesn’t get up to anything funny in Haru’s body.”
And then it’s just the two of them, standing in awkward silence while Futaba lingers behind.
“Shall we go, too?”
“Uh. Yeah! Yeah, man, let’s get goin’.”
He stumbles over himself going up the stairs, the wrong shoes on his feet, the wrong feet in his shoes. An arm hooks around his waist to hold him steady, and when he looks over and sees his own eyes, his own face wearing Akira’s steady look of concern, he could jump out of his skin (not his skin, Akira’s skin, and god he is never going to get used to this).
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Akira says with his voice.
“So weird, dude…”
“At least it won’t last long.”
“Yeah…” They make it to the spot where they always end up separating, to head to the lines they each take home, and Ryuji stops, frowns. “How’re we gonna do this, man? Just like… switch houses for the night?” Akira starts to push up his glasses and ends up just poking himself in the nose, scratches at the back of his head awkwardly instead.
“Uh, I guess so… Unless we want to spend the night at Leblanc…” The thought makes Ryuji shudder.
“No way man, it’s too weird seein’ my own freakin’ body from the outside.”
“Heh… Yeah, I get it. So Ginza line, right?”
“Yeah, that’s it. Wait, here, lemme text you the address again in case you get los—oh.” That’s not his phone in his pocket. Akira laughs and takes it from him, hands him his own phone pulled out of his own pocket. “Yeah, switching those’s a good idea…”
“We’ve switched everything else, why not?” Ryuji just snorts and fires off the text. God, but it makes him uneasy to see Akira’s smirk on his own face.
“Oh yeah, you, uh, don’t gotta worry about my mom; she won’t be home till way late. Guess I’ll see you tomorrow?” Akira’s glasses slip down and his vision blurs. How does he stand to wear these things all the time?
“Of course.” Akira pulls him into a quick hug, like always, like nothing’s happened; then he strolls off down the tunnel, wearing Ryuji’s body like a comfortable pair of jeans.
“You’re gawking!” Futaba snaps him out of his daze, pulls him away from watching himself walk away, and he turns to glare at her.
“It’s weird! You’d be gawkin’ too!” She just laughs in his face.
“C’mon, let’s go!”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m comin’…” She might be a brat right now, but he’s not going to leave her to suffer the train ride alone. At least it’s not crowded. Now he has the “pleasure” of sitting with his thoughts while Futaba plays with her phone. Sitting with his thoughts, in Akira’s body.
He stares at his hands—long-fingered, almost dainty; the nails neat and clean and not even a little bit bitten like his own usually are. The glasses slip down his nose again and he pulls them off and tosses them in his bag in frustration. He doesn’t even need the things to see, why the hell does he bother?
Well. Because he’s Akira.
Ryuji tugs at his bangs like Akira always does, and feels a little jolt run through him. God, his hair is so thick and soft… He starts to run his hand through it, feel it curl around his fingers.
“Hey! C’mon, this is our stop!” Futaba’s tugging at his sleeve and yanking him out of his daydream and his seat at the same time.
He walks her to Leblanc, and she insists she can take it from there. As she disappears down the alleyway, he hears her sing-song voice floating by.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t dooooo!”
By about the fifth or sixth wet dream Ryuji had about his new best friend, he got it through his head. While his conscious mind was busy with the stealing-hearts-and-looking-badass glamour of phantom thieving, his feelings train whizzed straight past “admiration”, changed tracks at “full blown crush,” and slammed on the brakes at “helpless lust” station.
It goddamn sucks.
It sucked before he realized it, and it really sucked after his brain finally connected the dots and started supplying helpful imagery to go with the weird feeling in his chest every time Akira leans over the Leblanc counter or flips a coin across his fingers or stretches out before they go running.
Now he’s trying to soap himself up in the bathhouse shower, but he keeps getting distracted by the body he’s in, by the stretch and ripple of unfamiliar musculature under smooth ivory skin, by the voice blaring in his brain that this is Akira’s body, Akira’s skin, that he’s finally running his hands over the skin he’s been dying to touch for months. That this is what his best-friend-slash-crush looks like naked. That this is what his dick is like, smooth and uncut and bigger than his own—and that’s a fact that sets him into a conflicted spiral of jealousy and arousal, until he has to close his eyes and dump cold water over his head until he’s fit to go out to the bath area without getting run out of the place.
Good thing, too; one of the old men in the bath waves at him and he almost slips and falls. He rights himself, manages a stiff nod back before slinking into the furthest corner of the tub. It’s fine that he doesn’t say anything, right? Akira doesn’t talk much. Yeah, it’s fine.
Even though making it to this point was an awkward nightmare, sinking into the blistering water and breathing in the herb-scented steam is a relief. Ryuji leans his head back and closes his eyes as he feels his muscles loosen, feels the exhausted ache of returning from the Metaverse start to melt away. Tries not to let his mind wander back to the body he’s inhabiting. This’ll be fine. He’ll finish his bath and go straight to bed. He won’t do anything weird. Straight to bed.
By the time he gets to the cafe door, he’s stopped even trying to lie to himself. He can’t get away from the feeling of dark hair brushing against his face, of unfamiliar clothes against his skin, of how he (Akira!) must look, all flushed and damp. He can’t stop thinking about how he could swear he saw a full-length mirror tucked away in the junk pile in the far corner of the attic. Oh crap, he’s going to do this, he’s going to do this.
Akira… please , please forgive me…
He takes the stairs two at a time, yanking off his shirt and unfastening his pants as he goes. He chucks the clothes into a corner, on top of his shoes. It’s fine, it’s fine. There, tucked away behind a stack of spare tables, covered with a sheet. It’s a stretch, but he pulls it out, leans it against the weird souvenir shelf Akira has and sinks down to his knees in front of it.
This is so surreal.
The movements are his own, but the body isn’t. Oh god. What’s in front of him is a vision from his dreams. Akira, stripped down to his (black, of course) underwear, hair wet and mussed, his skin flushed from the hot bath and eyes wide with shock and arousal. The throb of his half-hard cock between his legs is something that draws his eye helplessly.
He runs his hands—slowly, slowly—down the length of his borrowed body. Skates his fingertips down the lines of his neck and across the sensitive planes of his collarbones and flanks. Fuck, it’s good. Too good. He fights to keep his eyes open so he can watch in the mirror, watch Akira touching himself like a lover. Tugging at his nipples and running his thumbs down the ladder of his ribs sends shivers down his spine, sets him shaking in anticipation before he even gets close to his cock. He lets one hand drift up to tangle in dark curls while the other strokes his abs, the hollows of his hips, his thighs.
A full-body shudder travels from between his shoulders down to his ass, and he finds himself reflexively thrusting against nothing. Oh. Oh. He’s hard, so so hard. Akira’s (his?) cock arcs up against his belly, throbbing slightly in time with his heartbeat, smearing precum against his skin even as his foreskin keeps things tucked away almost shyly. Ryuji wants to touch so bad, wants to touch his cock—touch Akira’s cock. But he hesitates, nerves failing him. Instead, he stops and stares for a moment, really takes in what’s before him. He knows it’s a mirror, and that the vision he’s taking in is just the body he’s inhabiting for the next few hours. But his emotional mind won’t accept that. It’s Akira kneeling in front of him, Akira’s pale skin flushed pink, Akira’s eyes hazy and dark with need, Akira’s hand tangled in his dark hair, Akira’s cock throbbing against his pale, perfectly defined abs. It’s Akira. Akira.
It takes him a second to recognize that the pleasure shuddering up his body is his own fault, that his hands have shoved down those soft black boxer briefs to cup and squeeze his balls and tug, slow and steady, at his shaft. It feels as good as when he does this in his own body. Feels better. He grips himself nice and firm and moves up and down, stopping just short of the head for now, teasing himself and watching in the mirror as he does.
It’s not hard to imagine that it’s really Akira, horny as hell and shamelessly eager to put on a show for him. A groan escapes him, and the familiar-unfamiliar sound of it ringing in his ears makes his cock throb in his hand. Fuck. He strips his underwear the rest of the way off and sits back on his heels, watches in the mirror as Akira spreads his legs and takes himself in hand again, finally sliding his fist all the way up over the head and back down. No more teasing.
He struggles to keep his eyes open as he pumps himself, habit and pleasure warring with the need to see every second of this; feeling the shudders running up and down his back with every thrust and seeing Akira echo the motion in the mirror; seeing Akira’s parted lips and dark, hazy eyes as he pants and gasps. If he closes his eyes, he’d miss seeing a bead of sweat running down his flushed chest, miss being able to catch it and lick it off his fingertip. Sight and sensation and fantasy blur into a singular fog of need and lust and pleasure, the slick sounds of his hand working his cock and his heartbeat in his ears beating a rhythm in his head of Akira-Akira-Akira.
He’s close now, so close, trapped between wanting to make this last and needing this orgasm like air, like water. He speeds up and it’s perfect, so good he has to plant his his other hand on the floor behind him to keep from toppling over backwards when his legs start to quiver. And then he’s coming, coming so hard his thigh muscles burn from the force of it, and his eyes fly open to burn the sight into his mind as he does—Akira arching backwards, eyes wild and jaw dropped as cum spurts onto his chest, his stomach, all the way up to his neck.
It takes a minute for him to put his head back together. Seeing Akira in front of him in the mirror, panting hard, legs still spread, definitely doesn’t help. Dazed but curious, he gives his dirty hand a tiny lick and wrinkles his nose at the taste. More bitter than his own, stronger. Must be all the coffee Akira drinks. It’s not till he’s scrubbing it off his hands and chest with the discarded boxers that the shame hits him like a punch to the face.
He is never going to be able to look Akira in the eye again.
He doesn’t bother trying to dig through Akira’s clothes to find clean underwear, just finishes cleaning up and throws the dirty ones into a corner, grabs his phone and hits the lights, crawls into bed and curls in on himself in disgust.
Ryuji (9:48 PM): hey man
Ryuji (9:48 PM): need to talk to u tomorrow
Ryuji (9:48 PM): i’ll come by in the mornin
He’s got to confess. Akira’s going to hate him. He’s going to hate him and probably tell him to go to hell and never speak to him again, but he has to do it. He holds on to his phone, waiting for a response, but exhaustion is catching up with him. Before his thoughts can spiral any further down their miserable rabbit hole, Ryuji’s asleep.
He wakes to a familiar blast of sunlight across his face, and an unfamiliar phone alarm chirping in his ear. He sits bolt upright, dragging his hands over his face, his hair, his chest. He’s himself again. Oh thank god. Thank every god that ever was, and some that don’t even exist yet. His phone—Akira’s phone—is on the bedside table, plugged into the charger neat as can be. He grabs it, but the passcode screen stymies him. There’s one notification he can read without unlocking it, though.
Ryuji (6:24 AM): sure, come on by. i’ll make breakfast
Ryuji yanks on his clothes and barrels out the door in record time.
“Goinoutforarunseeyoulatermom!” It’s not exactly a lie. He’ll probably be running like hell after Akira throws him out of Leblanc.
It’s a chilly morning, but he’s sweating bullets. The 30-minute train ride lasts a hundred years and less than a second. His feet take him right to the cafe door even as his brain screams to stop, go back, this is stupid, don’t do it don’t do it don’t do it. But he does.
Akira’s behind the counter, brewing coffee and humming to himself like it’s any other day. The sight of him has Ryuji’s ears heating up. He fixes his eyes on the shiny wood of the bar.
“Hey—hey man!” Ryuji chokes out, voice cracking. The burning spreads from his ears to the rest of his face. “Can we like, uh, can we maybe talk, y’know, upstairs?” He spares a glance up at Akira, finds him looking back at him with that damned poker face of his firmly in place. But he’s nodding, slow and measured.
“I’ll grab my coffee and be right behind you.”
He doesn’t have to tell Ryuji twice. He’s out of the cafe and up the stairs as fast as he can go. Not that it’s any less stressful being up here, really. He sits on the couch and slouches over, heel tapping on the ground and hands twisting and picking at his shirt, the threadbare couch cushions, anything he can reach. He doesn’t notice Akira’s made it up the stairs until he feels his weight settling on the couch beside him.
“I gotta tell you something, and I know you’re gonna be mad, and so before y’even say anything, I’m sorry.”
“Okay…” Akira’s face is still blank, a still pool. The memory slams to the forefront of Ryuji’s mind—the sight of Akira arching in the throes of orgasm, face red and hair a mess as he splatters himself with—
“I jacked off in your body! I mean—agh! When we were switched, I mean.” Ryuji blurts out. He holds his breath, chances a look over at Akira, but he’s still sitting there sipping his coffee, looking completely unfazed. “I know I shouldn’t have, and I’m—I’m real sorry man… I—yeah. Sorry.” Ryuji trails off. What else should he say? What else can he say, without making things worse? Oh yeah, also I watched it in the mirror because I’ve got the biggest, stupidest crush on you and I wanted to be a creep! Are we still friends, bro?
“Is that all?” Akira asks after a second, looking honestly confused. “Don’t worry about it. I figured you had, anyway.” Ryuji stares at him, waiting for his brain to find a foothold in the emotional cliff he’s fallen down.
“I—you—how did… y-you ain’t mad?” Akira laughs softly and takes another long, slow sip of his coffee.
“Nah. I did the same thing.” Wait, what? “And uh, I kind of woke up naked with my boxers wadded up in the corner and that old mirror in the middle of the room. Wasn’t hard to connect the dots.”
Ryuji’s train of thought screeches to a halt, jumps the tracks, and explodes in a fireball. The only thing he can see through the flames is Akira, sitting there cool as can be, smirking that goddamn sexy Joker smirk as he takes another sip of coffee.
“But you know…” And now he’s leaning in close, so close that Ryuji can smell the coffee on his lips and the scent of his stupid flowery shampoo, can see the moment the smirk turns into a devious grin… “If you wanted to see me naked that badly, all you had to do was ask.”
And even as Akira slides closer and winds his arms around Ryuji’s neck, as he presses his lips to Ryuji’s softly, questioningly, the only thought his addled brain can muster is—
I am never gonna live this down, am I?