So maybe it’s very self-indulgent, the way he reads every comment on his Instagram page, every tweet that contains his name, the way he follows the hashtags on Tumblr, the way he looks his own name up on Google twice a day.
Maybe he can never get enough.
He feasts over the public recognition, he reaches for it, devours it to the point where letters blur in front of his eyes, to the point of headaches from the screen light. He can never get enough, and so he keeps filling his feed, more, more, and it’s more nutritious, it keeps him alive more than any crepe he could get--but he still gets the crepe so he can take a selfie with it, so the comments keep coming.
They’re all looking at him. They’re all talking about him. It’s so much content he probably misses some, but he needs it so bad--and if he gets sick after visiting three different bakeries in the afternoon just so he could try which one was the best for the next post, and if he runs himself ragged by visiting three palaces just so he could solve more cases and get more recognition, always more, that’s nothing he can’t hide under a thick layer of make-up.
Goro will take all the spotlight, in an ever growing gluttony for attention. It’s never enough.
But then--there’s him .
It’s like he doesn’t care about attention at all.
Worse. It’s like he avoids getting it. It’s like he never cares about what others think about him. It’s like he does things because he has to do them, not hoping to get anything in return.
He gives his own attention scarcely, only to his friends, but it’s so deep it lives Goro starving for more.
When Goro reaches out to him, he’s fascinated by the humanity Akira displays. He’s amazed at how balanced he seems to be in the link he establishes with others. Akira’s temperance leaves him all the more hungry for more, and when he finally gets this boy’s attention, Goro slowly learns more about this seemingly equanimous boy.
So maybe it’s not that simple to blind himself once he’s learnt more about Akira. Whenever there’s a meeting or if he just comes across him and his friends, he just passes by, he barely makes conversation, he keeps the facade and then just rushes away as soon as he can because--because he knows.
The feeling is right here, aching, roaring deep in his guts (like a deceptive takoyaki that ended up being way too spicy), he knows what Akira is capable of.
He knows Akira is more loved than he will ever be, and from what he witnesses, he also knows that Akira is more powerful than he will ever be. Who can wield so many personas? He thought he was exceptional because he had two, he had been given this gift, but suddenly here comes this kid in a stroll, wearing tens of different masks, one for each occasion. As if it weren’t enough that he was special among his friends (that he had friends, even), he is even special in the metaverse. Everything he does, everything he says, is special. He saves lives, he is listened to. Meanwhile, Goro is just doomed to live off the waves of attention he gets from the unreliable public opinion.
It’s not a pleasant feeling, this peak of envy whenever Goro sees Akira. This insatiable desire to tear everything he has apart, to devour them because why, why is he more worthy of this than Goro?
But Akira doesn’t care, he doesn’t seem to care. Is he even aware that he has everything ? Every time they meet, he’s so soft-spoken. He gives Goro pieces of advice. He plays chess with him. He treats him like he would treat any of his friend, without a care in the world that Goro is dying to have what he has. Maybe he doesn’t even notice it. He’s just all ears and compassion, and well-placed words when they are needed, and soft smiles, and concerned looks when Goro seems a little too lost in thought, a little too tired, a little too sick for the make-up to hide.
Akira’s kindness is suffocating.
So maybe it was doomed to happen. Maybe every step in their exchanges were meant to lead to that moment. Goro doesn’t know, really, because if he has to be honest, he doesn’t know anything at all anymore. The belts on his costume are restraints only for show, as he finally gets to unwield his rage and hatred and spill them on those cursed kids who think they’re just.
He knows his own justice is the only one good for him. It is beyond just. Maybe it’s only revenge at his point, revenge for the sweet smiles when he was dying inside, revenge for everything they had he would never get.
As he calls Loki and slowly loses his mind, delivering blow after blow, Goro barely sees anything. It’s just all dark blue--and black--and most of all a red fury, and it’s tearing him apart, but he feels more free than he has ever been.
He releases his wrath upon the Phantom Thieves, those who tried to steal one heart too many.
...and yet he loses. Shards of his mask lie on the floor, burst like the bubble of ballistic anger he had called upon himself to try and finally destroy them.
They destroy him instead, first through the fight, and then, when the fight ends, with their words.
Their hands are held out towards him, and it’s more than his mind can understand, can accept.
He killed a mother, he killed a father, and yet they see him.
They see who they could have been in him.
They extend their hands as well as their forgiveness. Their faith in him.
Their patience is beyond his comprehension.
So when he gets a chance, he flies. Again. Forever, this time.
He shoots, and the wall goes up.
So maybe Akira is a hypocrite. He’s not sure. Surely the others can see through him. If they do, they don’t show it, though.
Maybe Akira minds more than he lets out. It’s harder to get up in the morning, harder to fake a smile at his friends’ antics. He’s just so tired. His nights are uneasy, filled with bruises, and guns to his head, but most of all with the sound of two gunshots fired from behind a wall.
Maybe Ryuji tries to invite him more as they wait for the day of the election, and Ann wishes she could come and eat a crepe, and Haru and Yusuke both hope he could help them with their respective forms of art, and yet he turns them all down. He sleeps a lot more, even Morgana is concerned, even Kawakami-sensei notices he’s been using his free time only to sleep. He’s not interested anymore, he’s failing and disappointing them. He does the things he has to do, and tries to forget he exists.
Maybe Akira is slowly being engulfed in sloth , and he isn’t even sure why. He just knows that his burden is a little too heavy to bear.
Or maybe it’s just denial, and only thinking of it makes him uneasy.
It’s hard to forget how persistent Akechi used to be. It’s hard to let go of the memories of a boy who, despite everything he endured, kept standing, broken but still proud, following his own justice, his own ethics, through and though. And maybe these ethics were completely distorted, but it’s hard to deny the efforts he still had to do to reach the point he had reached, and the courage he had displayed until the end. Akira wishes things could have been different.
Akira wishes he could trust himself the way Akechi trusted him in the end.
Akira wishes he could let go of Akechi’s diligence and move on like his friends hope he will.
After the failure of all their plans on election day, they’re preparing for their biggest heist, and Akira finds himself wanting more and more. He wants to be ready for every possibility. He works himself ragged, earning more and more money to get all the best items. He must have over hundreds of these meds Takemi-sensei sells him, hundreds of Goho-M just in case. So what if it costs a fortune? He can afford it. And if he can’t he makes sure to do everything so that he can have more.
Never wanting to face an unbreakable wall again, he g athers powerful items like a magpie gathers shiny things, he puts them in the nest he made out of his attic during his acedia, and he gets ready to use them. For him, for his friends.
He needs to be sure of himself so bad it makes him dive into greed . Preparing for every circumstances, even those that are the least plausible, especially those that are the least plausible. It's a burning need fueled by paranoia, maybe--he still needs all these items to ensure Futaba will never see a signal disappear from her screen ever again.
And if he stops lying to himself, he knows it’s too much. He knows t’s more than he will ever need. Akechi wouldn’t have--but Akechi is gone.
Akechi sacrificed himself to save them, and Akira never wants to feel the pang, the emptiness ever again.
How ironic that it’s the final act of charity of the boy who tried to kill him that makes him feel this way.
Disappearing from the world should be more painful. It was scary, but it feels like it should have been more. There’s no way such a short amount of pain can bring tears of relief. Fusing two little girls in a young teenage girl probably scarred his mind forever, but what even is another trauma in the collection he’s holding now. For when he finally manages to channel his will of rebellion back, when he manages to say “no” to a perverted contract, when he helps his friends break the chains of uncertainty that constrained them and stole their will to fight, Akira finds him again.
In a faraway cell, he can still hear his ragged breathing, as if Goro was crying. He isn’t, though--he is just in pain, in so much pain, because the chains the impostor imposed on him are so tight on his chest that he can barely utter a word when Akira tries to ask, to understand.
Akira had vowed to take the country. Then he had vowed to change the general public’s heart, no matter what it implied.
As it turns out, it implies freeing the one person he has failed most from the chains of guilt, hatred, and all the sins that had been imposed on him by a malevolent God.
Akira holds out his hand, and for the first time Goro agrees to take it.
The others are baffled when they show up in the center of the Velvet Room. Then they cheer.
Then they go to war.
Together, they go from the darkest depths to the highest altar, under a dark sky and a rain of blood.
Together, enabled by the shouts of the audience supporting them, they channel their biggest pride . They transcend their human faculties and face holiness, angel after angel--until they shoot God in the face.
When the word falls back to silence, the dark clouds gone, the rain of blood stopped and the audience’s memory wiped clean from anything, they congratulate each other.
When Sae comes to rain on their mood, both Akira and Goro nod.
Goro turns himself in.
Sae defends him. With the Metaverse gone, the accusations against Goro are merely circumstantial.
When the judge bangs his gavel, deeming Shido Guilty of all charges and Goro not guilty regarding the circumstances , all his friends are here to welcome him.
Goro is a mess. Goro is guilty. Goro doesn’t deserve to be proud of anything he did. Goro doesn’t deserve their forgiveness.
They give it anyway, this and so much more.
“You know I’m not a good person,” Goro says. Futaba snorts.
“I know a change of heart when I see one, loser.”
“We’re proud of you, Goro, for making it this far.”
They go and celebrate. Goro sulks. Until Akira, who’s sitting beside him, leans towards him and discreetly puts a hand on his thigh.
“To hell with your humility ,” the boy mutters, low, in Goro’s ear. “ My inner self is Satan anyway .”
So maybe, sometimes during the afternoons Goro spends at Leblanc, Akira wants to shoo Morgana out of the cafe and grab the former detective by his stupid striped tie, before pulling him up the stairs, throwing him on his sad-excuse-of-a-bed, sitting on his lap and having his ways with him.
Maybe he starts fantasizing about it more and more, now that things have quieted down.
Maybe the emotional rollercoaster from the last weeks and the pent-up energy he can no longer spend in Mementos fights now the Metaverse is gone are not helping the burning need that pools in his stomach every time he lays his eyes on the other boy’s figure.
He’s not sure where it comes from, this sudden, intense longing.
Did losing Goro once somehow trigger this, now that he is here again, does Akira just want to make sure that he’s never going to disappear anymore?
Is it something deeper? Hasn’t he always been sort of fascinated by the burgundy eyes and the way the gloved hands delicately hold the cup of coffee? Hasn’t he always been conflicted when it came to Goro, to his motivations, to his dreadful plans, to his amazing mind, to his beautiful willpower?
Is it way much simpler, the pent-up energy and the fact that he’s just a normal teenager for the first time in a long time, and Goro is pretty, and Akira’s hormones are just yearning for him to lose himself in the throes of passion ?
Akira ponders, and ponders, and ponders.
And then, one afternoon, he shoos Morgana away from the cafe, and grabs Goro by his tie. The former detective is startled, spills coffee everywhere. Akira apologizes, then stutters, then blushes. Goro looks at him with an amazingly confused face, and Akira stutters some more, and then just blurts out “can I kiss you?”, and Goro’s eyes widen, and he’s suddenly so stiff, but he ends up giving a curt nod.
When Akira raises his hand to cup Goro’s face, he notices the other boy is bracing himself as if he was about to get hit and hurt. So he stands there, in front of his forever favorite customer, merely caressing his cheek with his thumb, and then his temples, and his soft, soft mouth... until Goro loosens up, gives a small sigh, parts his lips, and leans to meet him halfway.
And--ah. It’s here again. The pool of warmth.
Maybe lust is a sin Akira can let himself consume with--
--so long as Goro’s uncertain chastity goes along with it.
When Goro moves in Leblanc, the first night, they decide to flip a coin to see who would get the bed.
No matter how many time they flip, the result is always the same: it always lands on the edge.
After a few more desperate attempts, Akira laughs and nudges Goro.
“Look. This is us. I’m heads, you’re tails, and we’re always on the edge.”
Goro nudges him back.
“Considering the situation, I’d say I’m heads and you’re tails. I’m the mastermind and you have the forked tail of the demon.”
They end up sharing the bed for the first time--not the last.