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Imprisonment of the heart

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Being home was… strange, to say the least. Apparently some of the townsfolk hadn’t gotten the memo that he was innocent god damn it. After all of the disgusted glances he got from those who lived under a fucking rock, he wanted to just curl up in bed and sleep for a year. On the other hand, all he wanted to do was stand in the middle of the shopping are and yell out, “I defeated a god for you fuckers!”

When he did arrive home, his Dad’s were more than happy to see him, ecstatic even. They immediately engulfed him in a hug and led him to eat his favourite meal. Akira had missed this, chilling at home with his parents and watching shitty drama re runs until he had to go to bed ready for school, it felt even better now he had Morgana with him.

Speaking of Morgana, Akira was surprised at how easy it was for his dads to accept the fact that their son reappeared at home with a cat they’d never seen before. Maybe they were apologising for sending him to Tokyo, where he knew absolutely no body, but Akira wasn’t angry at them. They’d explained their reasoning for sending him there, they thought it’d be better for him to continue school there whilst the news in his hometown spread and inevitably died down. As if they’d forget.

His parents went to bed around nine-thirty, something about having to start work early. Akira took it upon himself to chill in his bedroom until he fell asleep, casually talking to Morgana about trivial matters and wondering what his friends could be up to back in Tokyo.

Morgana fell asleep around ten o’clock, leaving Akira to wallow in his thoughts. Sure, he was happy to live a normal life now, but he missed… having a purpose. While he was on Phantom thief journey, he actually had a goal in mind that was both fulfilling and important. When he was Joker, he actually had a purpose.

Now he was just Akira Kurusu, a highschool student living with two dads, a talking cat and friends in Tokyo that he can’t see until break.

Damn, he really is boring without his friends.

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School was shit to say the least. His old friends were still angry at him for ‘ruining their reputation’ when he’d originally gotten into trouble, but Akira suspected that was just an excuse to stop hanging out with him altogether.

I didn’t kill a God, get beaten to an inch of my life and watch one of my friends sacrifice themselves for you to be a piece of shit.

As time went on, Morgana was sent back to Tokyo, Haru had come to collect him and had given Akira a rather expensive present before she left. He wished he could have gone back with them, but he needed to finish school.

Akira felt himself hollow out, slowly but surely returning to how he used to be before he went to Tokyo and met his friends, before he awakened his persona, the only thing to make him interesting.

As he sat in homeroom, he couldn’t help but let his mind drift to what fun things his friend would be doing… without him. He grit his teeth as his thoughts bubbled and mutated into something horrid, just like a shadow would.

Did any of his friends like him? After all, most of the time he spent building relationships was just him making deals with people, and carefully catering his responses to them in a way that would make them like him. He was practically lying to them the whole time. A wild mix of personalities crammed into one human, ready and willing to please anyone who he wanted to make a deal with.

Wait. Who am I?

He knew very well who he was, he was Akira Kurusu, but he didn’t know who he was among all of the personalities he had carefully crafted to please those around him, it was then that he realised.

I’m a puppet for those around me to shape me however they wish, I do what will please them in order to further my own goals and find some sort of worth in my pathetic life.

He snapped out of his trance when his homeroom teacher asked him a question, and shrunk into himself when the class snickered and mumbled to each other once he got it wrong. His throat tightened, and it suddenly became a little too hard to breathe.

What the fuck? He never used to be this weak, whenever someone in his class would gossip about him he wouldn’t care, so why was he so pathetic now he was back at home? While homeroom resumed, he was once again engulfed in his own thoughts, drowning in them as they swooped in out of nowhere, a tsunami of despair caressing his brain from the inside out.

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It was a miracle that he even survived the school day, rushing home to the comfort of his room so he wouldn’t have to see the faces of his peers judging him despite him not doing anything wrong.

Quickly dismissing his parents concern, he grabbed a snack before diving into his bed and whipping out his phone to text his friends. Before he even clicked on the groupchat, however, he decided against it. He was supposed to be strong, and they’d all gone through so much in the past, he’d hate to disrupt their now happy lives with his simple, meaningless problems.

A sad smile graced across his features as he placed his phone down on his bedside table, allowing the troublesome thoughts to engulf him once more until he drifted away into a merciless slumber.

------

About half a year after Akira had gone home, Makoto had called and emergency meeting with the rest of the gang. They’d met in leBlanc, chilling and drinking coffee until Makoto walked in, a troubled expression on her face.

“Mako-chan, What’s wrong?” Haru had asked in that soft voice of hers, grabbing her girlfriends hand.

“I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but the meta-nav is back.” Makoto had expected the looks of confusion that followed, accompanied by a, “Whatever do you mean?” From Yusuke and Ryuji pulling out his phone.

“Oh damn, you’re right. I guess I was so used to seeing it that I didn’t think anything of it when I saw it..” The gang took a moment to check their phones, “So… What does this mean?”

“It must mean someone truly awful developed a palace, who else could have the mental capacity and will to reform the metaverse after we destroyed it at its very roots?”

“This shouldn’t be happening, has anyone talked to Joker?” Morgana interjected.

“Nah, I’ve tried but he’s been ignoring my texts.” Ryuj flashed his screen of messages to the gang as proof.

“He hasn’t spoken to me or Sojiro either, do you think something happened to him?” Futaba curled herself into a ball, brow creased and lip quivering ever so slightly.

“That Shinya kid hasn’t heard from him either, he came up to me asking if I’d seen his big brother.” Ryuji paused for a moment before he spoke with a high pitched voice, “Y’know, Akira Kurusu? Geez man, I thought you were his best friend~ Gah that damn brat made me feel like a right idiot.”

No one had time to respond to Ryuji, silence stretching across the room.

Candidate found.