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Beneath the Mask, Past the Pawns.

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That summed up how he felt right now.


He was holding on to consciousness, but that was fading pretty quick.


He heard some mutterings from the people around him and suddenly felt like he was being splashed with water.


Turns out he was being hit by a bucket full of it.


He shook his head and his mind started to focus.


He quickly looked around the room. On one side there was a camera recording everything.


And on the other was the prick in the suit beating him.


Black hair, black eyes, could this prick be more of a stereotypical tough cop?


“No dozing off .” The prick told him as he struggled with the handcuffs that held him to the chair.


“You still don’t get it don’t get it, do you?”


He looked up at the prick again, just in time for him to receive a kick to the chest.


Both he and the chair fell, with him landing painfully on his side.


As he hit the ground he let out a gasp and a cough, the breath thoroughly knocked out of him.


“Come on, cooperate.” He heard the prick say. “Or what, you want another shot?”


All he did was glare at the prick and turn to the camera.


“Huh?” The man turned to face it. “What about the camera?”


“Are you thinking it can be used as video evidence?” The prick asked as he grabbed him by the hair.


He chose to remain silent. That seemed to anger the prick.


“Didn’t you hear my question?” The prick asked as he threw his head against the floor.


“Answer!” The prick demanded as he stood up and kicked him.


He let out a cough and the wheezed as he tried to regain his breath.


The prick walked over to another prick in a suit., who handed him a clipboard.


“Obstruction of justice, blackmail, defamation, possession of weapons…” The prick listed off as he walked away from him.


“Manslaughter too, yeah?” The prick seemed to ask as he turned to him. “Talk about the works.” He finished condescendingly as he shook the clipboard.


“To think that all those crimes were lead by a punk like you…” The prick looked directly at him. “And you seemed to be enjoying every second of it...Huh?”


The sweat rolled down his face, or maybe it was a tear.


He couldn’t tell anymore.


‘I was enjoying it…?’ He thought as he struggled to regain his bearings.


‘Everything still hazy…’ He thought as he tried to recall.


“... You should know your place.” He heard after a second. He looked up to see the prick gesture with his head.


The other two pricks in the room grabbed him. One held him down as the other undid the cuffs on his wrist. As soon as they were off he was thrown into a sitting position.


When he regained his balance he immediately started to rub his wrist.


“Sign here.” The original prick said as he handed him a clipboard and papers. “It’s a confession under your name.”


He nodded and and the prick pulled out a silver pen, which glinted under the light.


As he went to grab it, the prick grabbed him.


“Don’t expect to walk out of here in one piece.” He threatened as the prick pulled him closer. “We will make you understand that somebody must take full responsibilities for their actions.”


He just nodded slightly and pulled the clipboard back up. After signing his name he handed it back.


Next thing he knew he was at a table, while a woman walked in.


She wore a lot of black, had brown eyes and grey hair brushed to the her left of her face.


He was almost surprised.


She quickly sat down and crossed her legs.


“I didn’t think it’d be you…” She said after a moment, a look of sad recollection on her face.


“You’ll be answering my questions now.” She told him forcefully, before something caught her eye.


She glared at the needle as if it offended her. “Those bastards…’ She muttered.


“Can you hear me?” She asked him. “It seems you’ve been through a lot.”


‘I can’t tell if she’s actually concerned or she’s trying to get me to trust her.’ He thought sluggishly as his head became a little bit clearer.


“Almost anything can happen in here…” She told him. “And I can’t stop them.”


‘Oh she’s threatening me.’ He thought with disdain. ‘Bitch.’


“That’s why I need you to answer honestly. I don’t have much time either.”


‘What are they gonna do cut your pay?’ He thought with increasing venom. ‘Maybe you won’t get a sparkle sticker?’


“Calm down.”


He nearly jumped, but his time fighting helped him repress the urge.


‘Right, sorry.’ He thought as he looked back at the woman.


“What was your objective?” She asked, “Why did you cause such a major incident?”


“I didn’t think it was a case from the get-go, but I couldn’t assemble a case for prosecution.” She told him. “It’s because I couldn’t figure out the method behind it.”


He stayed silent and looked down at the table, his brown hair covering his face, causing her to frown at him.


“Your silence won’t help you.” She told him. That received a response.


He let out a chuckle as he looked back up at her, his yellow eyes holding a bit of mirth next to the anger and pain.


“Of course you couldn’t…” He tried to not make that sound mocking, he really did, but he failed.   


“Pardon?” She shook her head. “Look it doesn’t matter if it can be used in court. This is my case I need to know.”


He gave her a pain filled grin.


“At least your coherent.” She said after a bit.


“They may have given me top treatment at this spa, but I’m still not ready to call it day yet.” He told her with the same grin, although his head was still a mess.


“When and where did you find out about that world?” She asked him. “How is it even possible to steal someone's heart?”


“Tell me everything, when all this started.”


He looked up at her and closed his eyes, bringing a hand to his head in concentration.


As he sat there a light entered through his eyelids. He opened them up to see a blue butterfly, slowly flying upwards.


“You are held prisoner…” It told him in a female voice. He remembered he had heard it, but he couldn’t recall where.


“You are trapped in a future that has been sealed in advance.”


“This game is truly unjust…” She told him. “Your chances of winning are almost null.”


“But if you can hear my voice, there may still be a chance to prevail.”


“Please… rise above the challenge and win the game... You must save this world.”


It floated past him again.


“The path to victory lies within the bonds you have made, the truths that your friends helped you find.”


“Everything started half a year ago… on that day when the game started…”


“For the sake of the world… and for your own… you have to remember.”


The butterfly flew outside his vision.


He tried to remember, but his head started to throb.


“If you need help.” The pain started to subside. “Then I will ease your burden.”


‘Thank you.’ He thought with a smile as he looked towards the woman.


“My name is Hyoudou Issei” Issei stated. “And I am a Phantom Thief.”


Beneath the Mask, Past the Pawns


Issei woke up with a start.


He was on a normal city train, off to live the first day of his new life.


The intercom came on informing him he was arriving in Shibuya.


He looked towards the floor as his memories flashed before his eyes.


It was dark that night in Kuoh.


He was coming back from Motohama’s place


He saw a woman getting attacked by some bald guy.


She begged for his help.


So he grabbed the guy.


Not hard, just enough to give the man pause.


The guy spun to throw Issei’s hand off him, which also caused the man to stumble.


He tripped and his head slammed into a piece of railing.


With a hand on his face and blood running through his fingers. He said the words that changed Issei’s life.


“Damn brat... I’ll sue!”


Then he was being carted away by the police.


He let out a sigh as he thought back longer than that.


It was just after he accepted Rias’ feelings and got over Raynare’s trauma.


Everything just stopped.


He woke up and they were gone.


When he talked to his parents, they didn’t seem to know what he was talking about.


He feared the worst, he quickly made his way to school.


They didn’t know him.


Well, they knew him, but as the oppai baka.


He didn’t know what was going on, but he found what he felt was the cause.


A fat bastard named Hideyoshi.


He was literally, what you’d expect a filthy pervert that just wanted girls bodies to be.


Issei could proudly admit he was a pervert, but he also cared about the people attached to the breasts.


It took a bit of doing but he managed to overhear what he had needed to hear.


Hideyoshi had actually taken his spot in almost everyone's eyes.


He even had Ddraig in his arm.


After he learned that he just sort of shut down.


Just the same old routine of wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, fall asleep.


He turned down peeking with Motohama and Matsuda.


He got rid of all his ero stuff, it reminded him of them.


Even Murayama and Katase tried to talk to him, surprisingly enough. He had no idea why, maybe they really did like him?


Or maybe he was beyond delusional and it was because someone else begged them too, cause that was the only way he felt it would happen.


So when they came up to him, offering to hang out with him, he didn’t do anything.

All he did was look at them from where he was laying down and turned away from to go back to sleep.

Him sleeping all the time was because he just didn’t have the energy to do anything else.


His study habits improved, mostly by virtue of he didn’t want to just sleep all day. So he worked up the will to do so.


But there was another reason for his studying and lack of sleep.


His parent’s were fighting.


He wasn’t sure when it started, just that at one point he woke up to them arguing and since then couldn’t sleep.


The sound didn’t bother him, it was the fact that it was his fault.


So he figured that if he got his shit together and got his grades up. They would stop fighting and be proud of him.


He didn’t think it was working.


Then this happened.


The look of disappointment on his their faces when they had heard smashed what little life he had left in him.  


He pushed up his glasses as they tried to fall off his nose.


They were the only thing his dad had given him after his sentence.


He told Issei they would make him look innocent and less likely to be seen as a criminal.


And that was pretty much became his plan for the next year.


Stay quiet, don’t do anything to draw attention to himself, and don’t do anything perverted.


He figured he wouldn’t make any friends, because of the record and that his previous behaviour was most likely well documented.


He was simply gonna let the days go by and hopefully get out of this without too much of a mess.


Besides even if he made friends, they’d probably leave him at some point.


So why bother?


“What? A girl's voice interrupted his thoughts. “Are you for real? A mental shut down?”


Metal shutdown.


From what he had heard from the news. It was literally someone just going nuts.


No cause had been found for these cases, but the police were betting that there was a culprit.


Issei kinda wished it was Hideyoshi, but even he knew that was a stretch.


The train stopped so he got off.


Issei walked the way his phone told him to go, adjusting his glasses every few steps.


He got a smartphone from his parents before his arrest.


They said it was because his contract was up, but he knew it was to try to motivate him into doing something.


Well, he was using it for something, at least.


He came to a stop when he found himself in the middle of a crowd.


The buildings were way higher than he had expected and the screens were just as surprising.


He looked around as people just milled about, not caring about what was going on in the world around them.


Issei wished he could be one of them.


He looked down at his phone again as a ring caught his attention.


A symbol appeared on the map, a black eye with a star as the pupil on a red background.


Within a few seconds of him noticing it it grew to overtake the map itself.


He tapped it once, twice, three times and yet nothing seemed to happen.


That’s when he noticed the people around him slowing down.


Everyone came to a complete stop, as if someone had hit a pause button.


He started to turn where he stood, trying to see if anyone, anything, was moving other than him.


When he did a complete three sixty he saw it.


Large blue flames were at the end of the crossing


At first they just flickered, but soon enough they started to take the shape of a person.


It seemed like it couldn’t get the shape right, dispersing and reshaping into the same form.  


When It finally took a decisive shape wings of fire expanded out behind it, causing a wind he could feel .


Issei stared at it, his gaze suddenly becoming neutral.


It was like he knew what the thing was, a sense of familiarity came over him.


A pair of eyes and mouth appeared where the thing’s face would be, red flames turning into a pair of eyes and a vicious smile.


It then flashed into something else and time proceeded to start up again.


Issei stood there as people kept walking around him, causing him to look around in shock.


He pushed his glasses up again and looked down at the app.


He immediately dragged it into the bin.


The golden eyed teen did not want to repeat of that ever again.


As the map to his destination came up, he tried to shake away the feeling he had.


He could have sworn that, for the few seconds before it disappeared.


That thing had become him.


Beneath the Mask, Past the Pawns


It took him some time but he finally found where he was staying.


Well to be precise he found where the person who was taking him in was supposed to be.


It took some talking to the locals, but apparently this is where Sakura, Sojiro would be.


He walked into Cafe Leblanc, figuring even if the people he talked to were wrong he could still enjoy something here.


The door’s bell rang as he walked in, the smell of both curry and coffee overpowering him for a few moments. The place had three brown booths with dark grey tables and a lighter coloured bar with five chairs. Behind the bar was shelves full of spices and coffee beans. Past that there was a small kitchen. In the back next to the kitchen was a small tv on a shelve with a bathroom right around the corner from it.


He could also see some stairs that went upwards, but he figured that it lead to an attic or something.


He looked towards the others in the room. While there was a fairly aged couple in a booth, it was the man that caught his attention.


He was wearing an apron over a pink striped shirt, with tan pants and white shoes on. His hair was black with a small beard that wrapped around his face, and a pair of thin glasses. Sitting on one of the bar chair as he read the newspaper with the tv news playing in the back.


“A public transit bus was driving down an opposing lane with the passengers still in it.” The announcer described. “If this keeps up, people won’t be able to live in peace.”


“How frightening.” The male of the couple said as he shook his head.


“What could be happening?”  The female asked. “Something like this happened the other day, didn’t it?”


“The vertical is…” The man at the bar muttered to himself. “The name of a shellfish used for farming pearls...”


“Oyster.” The man looked at Issei, who was adjusting his glasses. “The answer is oyster.”


“...Oh,” The man said after a second, exasperation in his tone. “right.”


With that he tossed the newspaper behind him as he stood up.


“They did say that was today.” He said as he stared at issei. The couple, whether they noticed the change in atmosphere or were just finishing up, stood as well.


“We should head off.” The older man said. “The moneys on the table.”


“Thanks for coming.” He told them, with a wave of his hand.


The elder male customer waved his hand in return. “This place is in a back alley, no need to worry about a car crash into here.”


“A what now?” The man asked, slightly alarmed.


‘Even I knew about that.’ Issei thought with a sweatdropped as he pushed his glasses back up.


“The string of accidents that have been happening.” The customer clarified. “I was hoping nothing like that happens here.”


“It’s none of my concern.” The man quickly replied.


The customer let out a laugh and with a quick “We’ll be back later.” He and the older woman walked past Issei and out the door. As they walked out the man let out a groan.


“Four hours for just a single cup of joe.” The man muttered to himself. He shook his head and turned to Issei.


“So, you’re Issei?” the man asked him.


“Yeah.” Issei replied. “I’m looking for Sakura-san.” The man seemed to let out another sigh.


“...Yeah.” The man said after a second. “I’m Sakura, Sojiro. For the next year you’ll be in my custody.”


Issei nodded, he knew that already.


“I figured you’d be some unruly punk, but I guess not, huh?” Sojiro asked with a slight smile.


Issei looked towards the floor, a bit hurt.


‘It’s not like he’s wrong.’ Issei reminded himself as he brought his eyes up to his new caretakers.


“Were you told?” Sojiro asked him. “Your parents and a customer of mine know each other so-”


“Actually, that doesn’t really matter…” He turned to the stairs. “C’mon.”


Issei stared at him for a second, but decided to follow.


They both walked up the stairs to the attic to what Issei thought was a storage area.


It was mess, dusty as all hell, with random shit piled everywhere and he was pretty sure nothing could live in this room.


“This is where you’ll be staying.”


Except for him, of course.


“I’ll give you some sheets at least.” Sojiro turned his head him. “You look like you wanna say something.”


“It’s…” Issei struggled for a bit. “Spacious.”


“Well, it’s on you to clean up the rest.” Sojiro told him. “After I lock up I’ll head home. You’ll be alone for the night, so don’t do anything stupid. If you cause any trouble I’ll have you thrown out.”


“Yes, sir.” Issei said quietly as he nodded.


“Alright then.” Sojiro turned fully towards Issei. “I got the gist of your situation.”


“You protected a woman from a man assaulting her and he got injured. He the sued you, right?” Sojiro shook his head. “That’s what happens when you get into adult matters. You injured him, after all.”


At least he thought Issei didn’t punch a guy for shits and giggles.


“And now that you’ve got a record, you got expelled from your high school.”


It wasn’t like he really had anything at Kuoh Academy anyway.


“The courts ordered you to transfer, and your parents approved to.”


Because they couldn’t stand having a truly worthless son.


“To make it simple, they got rid of you for being a pain in the ass.” Sojiro finished.


Issei hung his head low, just enough that the glasses wouldn’t slip off his face.


A pain in the ass. That’s all he was.


To his parents, to the occult club, to everyone. A pain in the ass.


How could he have ever thought otherwise?


“The best thing to do is not talk about anything unnecessarily.” Sojiro continued. “I have a business to run.”


“Just behave yourself and your probation will be lifted in a year.”


“A whole year…” Issei muttered to himself. He couldn’t see Matsuda and Motohama, he couldn’t peep on the kendo club, he couldn’t see the girls.


Why did he bother getting up in the morning?


“Your sentence will last until spring, so you’ll be staying for the year.” Sojiro told him. “Cause problems and you’ll be sent to juvie.”


He wasn't sure if it was better he hadn't been sent there.


At least he’d be able to fit in there.


“We’ll be heading to Shujin tomorrow.” Shojiro told him.


“Shujin…” Issei thought for a moment. “That’s my new school, right?”


“Yes, it’s where you’ll attend during your probation.” Sojiro explained. “We’ll introduce ourselves to the staff properly.”


“Not many places accept people like you.” Sojiro sighed again. “...What a waste of a sunday.”


“I’m sorry, sir.” Issei said in a voice just above a whisper. Sojiro didn’t seem to hear him, or just didn’t care.  


“Your luggage came earlier;” Sojiro looked behind him, toward a cardboard box in the middle of the room. “It’s over there.”  


With that Sojiro left Issei alone.


The brown haired boy started to look around at the dirty room.


With another sigh he got to work.


He started his cleaning with dusting, followed by putting stuff on the shelves, and finished by putting his things on a rack with a bunch of bags of coffee and getting his sheets on his “bed.”


Now that there wasn’t a bunch of stuff everywhere, he took the time to see his new room.


On the wall near the stairs was a shelving unit with the bags of coffee beans and his stuff. Next to that was a small table and couch, good for if he ever had guests over. With a work desk that was still cluttered. On the other side was an assorted pile of junk he had yet to sort and another shelving unit full of books.


All in all a bit homey.


He turned to the window and saw that it was dark out.


“What in the world?” Issei heard behind him. He turned to see Sojiro, making sure his glasses didn’t fall off in the process. “I heard a racket, but I never expected to see you cleaned up.”


Sojiro started to look around, nodding in approval as he did so.


“It actually looks pretty good.” Sojiro said as he looked towards Issei. “Then again, your parents did say you always kept your room neat.”


“You should probably get some sleep.” The older man told him. “It’s not like you have a night life.”


The golden eyed teen knew it was true, but it still stung a bit.


“I’m going to close up the cafe and head home.” Sojiro continued. “I won’t be looking after you if you’re too tired from staying up late, you understand?”


Issei nodded with a simple “Yes, sir.”


With that Sojiro had turned and walked to the stairs. Before heading down he turned to Issei again.


“Also your other “behavior” will not be tolerated at all.” Sojiro told him, eyes glaring at him with no room for argument.  


Issei stood there for a second, just staring at the stairs the older man went down. With another sigh he walked over to the box of belongings. Within a few minutes he had changed into his sleep wear, a pair of dark blue sweatpants and a white t-shirt.


He figured if his guardian came back during the night, he wouldn’t want to see him in his underwear.


He laid down on his bed, hands behind his head as he stared at the ceiling.


‘For the next year, this is my room.’ the brown haired teen thought as what happened flashed past his eyes. ‘My arrest, my trial, the incident. It wasn’t like I could ignore her.’

If there was something he couldn’t stand, it was someone treating a woman like an object.


It was something he hated before he became a devil, after he became a devil and it still hasn’t changed now.


He let out another sigh and closed his eyes.


Only to open them again when his phone went off.


He quickly grabbed his phone from his pocket and checked to see what was up.


He saw that he didn’t have any messages, but he did see something that caught his attention.


It was the app from earlier.


As he stared at it as it seemed to distort and flash every few seconds.


He reached up and deleted the app again.


His hand fell back onto the bed as his eyelids started to close.


Beneath the Mask, Past the Pawns.


Issei awoke with a start.


He was still lying on his back, but he was in a completely different room.


The sounds of chains rattling filled his ears, punctuated every few seconds by a drop of water falling.


He sat up, hearing the clinking of chains as he did so. Looking down he saw that his hands were shackled together.


Issei quickly turned so his feet were on the floor, noticing his new black and white striped prisoner outfit as he did so.


The brown haired teen brought a hand to his forehead as he tried to make sense of what was happening.


‘This isn’t happening.’ Issei told himself. ‘I’m not in prison, I’m not a prisoner.’


A laugh took him from his thoughts.


He turned to the cell door and watched as a little girl came into view from the other side.


He stood up and turned to face her.


As he tried to get a good look at her she took a step to the side, at the exact same time another girl stepped into his view.  


While stunned for a second, he tried to make his way to the cell door.


Hearing and feeling the sound of chains around his feet, the golden eyed teen looked down to see a chain wrapped around his left leg. His eyes followed the chain to a large metal ball.


He slowly made his way to the door, minding the chain on his leg. When it was within reach he grabbed the bars and pulled himself as close as he could.


After a second both the girls turned inwards and looked behind them.


Issei immediately focused on the desk in the middle of the room.


The teen stared at the man behind it, his large, hooked nose nowhere near as creepy as his smile.


“Trickster…” The man started as he raised a hand towards Issei. “Welcome to my Velvet Room.”