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A Home for a Wayward Soul

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It was simple enough to take a few days off from his part-time jobs to get Goro settled in. Hanasaki-san wished him well, Lala told him to take it easy, and Sojiro was mildly suspicious, but didn’t ask questions. He was going to explain to his friends and his surrogate father eventually that he’d adopted not just a child, but a baby Goro Akechi. But he wanted to let Goro have time to get comfortable first, so they spent some time putting together the furniture once it was delivered, arranging Goro’s room, and getting used to living in the same space.

(Even though it was really Akira putting together and moving the furniture, while Goro mostly banged on the floor and everything else with a rubber mallet.)

But when Morgana returned from his week-long stay at Haru’s house, Akira found himself with a lot of explaining to do, very quickly.

“What’s with the toys?” was the first thing out of the cat’s mouth when Akira let him in the window from the fire escape. He padded over to bat curiously at the oversized Jack Frost and the beginnings of a haphazardly-built Lego castle, and Akira slumped onto the couch with a sigh.

“I have to tell you something, and please don’t freak out,” Akira said. “I...kind of adopted a kid while you were gone.”

“You what? ” Morgana yowled. “I mean, I figured you would eventually, but while I was gone? Akira!”

“It just sort of happened!” Akira said defensively. “And that’s not the part I don’t want you to freak out about. The Velvet Room… did something, and he’s, well…”

Morgana jumped onto the coffee table. “He’s what? What would the Velvet Room be doing with a kid?”

“He’s…” But Akira trailed off as Goro peered around the doorframe. He’d been taking a nap, but of course he’d chosen this moment to get up, before Akira could attempt to soften the blow of how strange this was going to seem.

“The kitty can talk,” Goro said, his eyes wide with wonder, and Morgana let out a strangled sound.

“Why does that kid look like Goro Akechi?!”

Akira walked over to pick up Goro, bringing him back to the couch and settling him on his lap. “It’s Goro Kurusu, now, actually, and I was trying to tell you. The Velvet Room did something, I don’t know what, but this is him and I’m taking care of him.” He wasn’t sure why Goro could understand Morgana. Either it was a carry-over from the past, or he’d heard Akira talking with someone, and hearing the voice before seeing Morgana had been enough.

“And you don’t think that’s weird at all?” Morgana asked.

“Weird?” Goro repeated, and Akira patted his head.

“Goro, this is Morgana. He’s a very special kitty,” he explained. “He can talk, but it’s a secret. We call him Mona for short.”

Goro beamed. “Hi, Mona!”

“...hi, Goro.” Morgana looked mildly stricken. “This is so weird. Did you ask the Velvet Room what’s going on?”

Akira shrugged. “Not yet. I’m not really worried. He’s here, what else matters?” As far as he was concerned, this was a gift, and he wasn’t going to waste time questioning it. Goro was getting a second chance, even if the form that chance was taking was kind of strange. Akira knew he wasn’t making a mistake.

“Can I pet Mona?” Goro asked, craning his neck to look up at Akira.

“You should ask him,” Akira encouraged gently.

Goro looked surprised, then excited. “Can I pet you?” he asked, leaning forward, and Morgana slowly withered under his bright, puppy-eyed stare. Akira set Goro on the couch, and with only minor grumbling, Morgana jumped across to lay on his lap.

“Just don’t pet too hard,” he said, resigned, and Akira got up quickly before the cat saw him smiling.

“I’m going to go start dinner,” he said. “You two can bond.”

“This is still weird!” Morgana yelled after him, followed by Goro’s voice chiming, “Weird!” in imitation. Akira couldn’t help but laugh.

***

After another two days, mercifully uninterrupted by anyone else, Akira called a meeting. He asked the Thieves to gather at Leblanc, saying nothing other than that he had something important to tell them. And then, an hour before the meeting time, he walked into the cafe with Goro in his arms and a small backpack on his back, Morgana following at his side.

He’d explained to Goro that they were going to meet his friends, and that his friends were going to be really shocked that he’d found Goro after all that time. But he also explained that they were very nice, and that everyone was going to like him.

Sojiro came out of the kitchen and stopped in his tracks at the sight of the child. “...Akira, what on earth have you done?”

“This is Goro,” Akira said, and Goro waved a small hand. “I adopted him.”

Sojiro walked around the counter and sat down heavily on one of the chairs. “That’s what you’re having a meeting about? You adopted a child that looks just like your dead friend?”

Akira frowned. “Shhhh. The Velvet Room was involved. And he doesn’t remember anything.” He walked over as Goro looked around the cafe curiously. “Goro, this is Sakura-san. He’s like my dad, so he’s your g—”

“Finish that sentence at your own risk, kiddo. I’m not old enough for that.”

“Well, you’re too old to be an uncle.”

“Figure something out, then.”

Akira sighed heavily. “Goro, he’s ‘Boss’.”

Goro blinked. “Oh. Hi, Boss.”

“That works. Hello, Goro-kun.” Sojiro’s expression softened to a friendly smile, and he gestured to the kitchen. “Do you like hot chocolate?”

Goro nodded eagerly, and Sojiro waved the two of them off. “Akira, go show him your old room. I’ll bring his drink up when it’s done. On the house, for a new member of the family.”

“Thank you!” Goro said. Sojiro ruffled his hair, heading for the kitchen while Morgana took his usual perch on the TV shelf and Akira took Goro upstairs, grateful that Sojiro was so willing to go along with everything at this point.

The attic was still clean, one side with organized shelves of cafe supplies, the other with Akira’s old bed and desk. There was even still a plant. It wasn’t the same one, but it had been replaced with one that was obviously still being taken care of. Sojiro claimed that he kept everything neatened up in case of emergencies, which Akira knew was code for ‘if any of those kids I adopted need somewhere to stay’. So there was plenty of floorspace, and Akira set Goro down and swung off his backpack. “This is where I lived when I first came to Tokyo.”

“It’s small,” Goro said. He pointed at one of the shelves. “And there’s dust bunnies!”

Akira laughed. Same opinion as the old Goro, just nicer about it. “Yeah, it’s hard to keep back the dust bunny invasion. Here, I brought your Lego set. We can play until everybody else gets here. Okay?”

“Okay!”

***

When the rest of his friends arrived, Akira left Goro upstairs so that he could at least attempt to break the news gently. It wouldn’t do any good if they all freaked out and scared him, and he had a feeling they were going to freak out. He’d already gotten a text from Futaba asking who the kid was, to which he’d replied that he’d explain when she got there. Thank goodness her cameras weren’t picking up Goro’s face well enough to cause a panic.

“Geeze, feels like it’s been ages since we’ve all been here like this,” Ryuji sighed, swiping his soda off the counter and going to flop in a booth. “Why the meeting, Leader? Something important happening?”

“You really didn’t give any hints in your message,” Makoto added.

Akira took a deep breath. “Well…” Might as well just go ahead and rip the bandaid off. “I wanted to tell all of you that I adopted a kid.”

Predictably, after a beat of silence while everyone processed, there was pandemonium. All of his friends started talking at once, and Morgana watched from the shelf with a smug look as Akira attempted to wrangle them long enough to explain the rest.

“Akira, that’s great,” Ann gushed. “Are they cute? I bet they are.”

“You simply must let me paint you a family portrait to commemorate the occasion,” Yusuke said.

“Did you call us so we can meet them?” Haru asked.

“Hang on, hang on,” Akira said, holding up his hands to stop the flood of excited chatter. “I have to warn you first, because I don’t want you to freak out and scare him.” He paused for a moment, listening for tiny footsteps on the stairs so that he could intercept before he had a repeat of trying to tell Morgana. But all was quiet, and he continued, “I’m not sure how, or why, but the Velvet Room did something, and… the kid I adopted is Goro.”

“... do you mean Goro Akechi? ” Makoto said incredulously.

“We don’t know any other Goros,” Futaba pointed out. “God, that’s why he looked so familiar on the camera. It was the hair. Holy shit.”

“You’re taking care of a miniature Goro Akechi?!” Ryuji nearly shouted, and Akira shushed him.

“Like I told Morgana, it’s Goro Kurusu now. And he’s fine. He’s three years old and he doesn’t remember anything.” Akira chewed his lip. “I...couldn’t just leave him there. They said he’d been there for years, waiting for me, even though he didn’t know it was me specifically. I… I met him sooner, this time.”

For once, all of his friends were quiet. To his surprise, it was Haru who spoke up first.

“Well? I’d like to meet him, Akira-kun,” she said, with a gentle smile.

“R-Right,” Akira agreed. He excused himself to go fetch Goro, who insisted on walking down the stairs on his own, hand firmly grasping Akira’s.

Ann gasped audibly when she saw him, and Haru clapped her hands delightedly. Makoto and Ryuji exchanged baffled glances, while Futaba crowed triumphantly and punched Yusuke’s shoulder. “Holy shit he really is a tiny Goro!”

“Don’t curse in front of the baby!” Ann cried.

“I’m not a baby!” Goro objected, pouting.

Akira introduced them all, and the Thieves, after the initial shock of a miniature version of Goro running around, accepted Goro with open arms. He ended up in Haru’s lap, listening with a rapt expression as she described the cakes that were going to be sold at the cafe she was planning to open soon.

Akira watched from behind the counter, making another round of hot chocolate with Makoto’s help. Goro looked slightly overwhelmed at all of the affection, but happy, and Makoto checked on the steamed milk and said, “So, it’s all right if I tell my sister about this, right? She cared about Akechi-kun too, and seeing Goro-kun… She would be happy.”

“...oh,” Akira said. He’d almost forgotten that Sae would want to know, too. “Yeah, you can tell her. I’ll brace myself for a visit.”

Makoto smiled. “You’re the best of us for this, you know. I think the Velvet Room knew that, too.”

Akira reached for his bangs out of habit, ducking his head. “I hope so.”

***

It took Sae a few days to find a break in her schedule to make a house call. Her career as a defense attorney was going well, and after dealing with the Phantom Thieves case, there was very little that could shake her.

However, when Akira opened the door, she stood dumbfounded for a second, caught off-guard by the fact that he was wearing a onesie printed to look like the costume of Feather Black Condor.

“...should I come back when you’re decent?”

Akira grinned. “I’m decent now.”

“That’s subjective.”

“In that case, I’m never decent, so you might as well come in.” Akira threw the door open the rest of the way, allowing her to see into the living room, where Goro was sitting on the couch, dressed in a matching Feather Red Hawk onesie. “We’re in the middle of a marathon,” Akira explained as he ushered her inside.

“I see,” Sae said. From immediate observation, Goro looked nervous, and as soon as she and Akira took a seat, he latched onto Akira’s arm and never took his eyes off her.

“Are you here to make me leave?” he asked.

Akira and Sae looked at each other for a second, and then Akira laughed and ruffled his hair. “No, kiddo, she’s just here to visit.” He could only figure it was because of the suit; Sae was still dressed like she’d come from work, and still had her generally professional disposition.

“I’m Sae Niijima,” Sae explained. “Akira told me that he had adopted you, and I just had to see the little boy that had stolen his heart.”

“Sae-san!” Akira whined, but she ignored him.

“I help the police,” she said. “I try to make sure they don’t accidentally punish good guys when they’re trying to get the bad guys.”

“You’re like Feather Swallow!” Goro said, his eyes big and round. “She finds the bad guys with her ama… amas… amal…”

“Analyzer,” Akira prompted gently, and Goro nodded.

“Yeah, that!”

Sae laughed. “I guess you could say that I have to analyze all the information, so I can protect people.” She’d never been compared to a superhero before. It was flattering.

Akira wrapped his arms around Goro, cuddling him and earning a laugh. “See? He’s so smart, Sae-san, I love him.”

A soft smile quirked Sae’s lips. “I can see that you do. He’s lucky to have you.”

“...I’m lucky to have him, too.”