Goro raised his head from his homework, surprised at Akira’s defeated tone. It wasn’t like him to sound so down. He frowned in concern.
“What is it?”
“You’re the one who’s good at bureaucratic bullshit. Do you have a way to word “one man army in a shitty restaurant” that sounds a little better and more appropriate?”
Oh. Oh. Goro understood better the exhaustion in Akira’s voice now.
“...You’re working on your resume again, aren’t you?”
Akira sighed deeply and let his head fall on the mousepad.
“Adulthood sucks. When I was in high school, I just had to get into a shop and I’d be hired. They didn’t even ask for my resume. I just had to smile and be charming. Or help out. Or whatever. People were basically begging me to work for them, and now I’m just struggling so much to land even one stupid internship it’s driving me crazy.”
“With all the people you know, I don’t get that you didn’t manage to find anyone with an opening for you.”
Akira let out a self-deprecating laugh.
“Oh, believe me, they all had something for me. Haru almost begged me to work for her, Toranosuke asked me if I wanted to assist him at the National Diet, Ohya wants me to come and work for her journal so bad it’s indecent, even if my writing is awful. But I just… want to land something by myself, this time? I’m really happy that I manage to make friends I can rely on, but it would be great if a complete stranger saw my resume and said “right, this guy has potential, let’s give him a chance” instead of “he’s jail material”…”
Goro sighed. They had had this conversation many times. He could understand Akira’s position, but...
“You don’t need recognition by everyone , Akira. I know where you come from, and I still think you made your own path by yourself. You deserve each of these opportunities and you should seize them. Honestly, everyone uses their networks to find a position now, that’s how the job market works. Even I got my internship through Sae, despite everyone else forgetting about me.”
“Yes, but you are brilliant ! And I’m just…”
Goro snapped his book shut and got up, promptly closing the distance between them, his face only inches away from the former thief.
“Don’t you dare sell yourself short, Akira. You spent on year saving the world without ever giving up, and the next two years helping me get some kind of confidence back, while never forgetting about your friends... and now you’re trying to make me believe you’re not brilliant? Don’t you dare.”
“Honey, I would love this dangerous look on your face in some other kind of situation, but it’s really not helping right now.”
Goro sighed and sat beside him.
“What do you have so far?”
Akira promptly hid the screen and smiled a bright, forced smile.
“Ah! It’s---Wait. Let me print it.”
Goro merely raised an eyebrow at the other’s antics. Sometimes he really wondered if Akira’s ironlike self confidence had started disappearing at the same time as Joker, fading during his second year at Shujin Academy after his parents refused to let him stay home, claiming “Tokyo was better for him, and Sakura-san was willing to have him back.”
Akira hadn’t complained. He had, indeed, felt better in Tokyo after all. But having people decide in his stead what was better for him once more had taken its toll--Goro knew the weight of expectations when he saw it.
It was easy to forget Akira was only seventeen when they fought in the Metaverse. Careless, free, with an easy smirk, he led them all with a voice as steely as his eyes. But with the Metaverse gone, Akira found himself without this rush of self-confidence. As much of a relief as it had been to find out everything was over for Goro, it hadn’t been so easy on Akira.
Especially when people kept choosing things in his place.
Faced with both their experiences, Goro had to agree that adulthood indeed sucked, but at least it sucked way less than childhood or teenagehood.
Akira was still carefully hiding the screen with his body while he launched the printer, so Goro said to his lover’s back:
“Again, Akira, you’ve got so many people believing in you, I don’t get why recognition has to come from perfect strangers. You are brill--”
Akira still wore his nervous smile--did he even have this smile back when he was 17?--when he cut Goro off and gave him a piece of paper that looked… very, very red.
Goro skimmed through it, his jaw slowly falling until he raised his head back, his mouth agape. Akira grinned.
“Not so bad, right?”
“I… I don’t even know where to start. It’s… red?”
“Well, duh. Of course it is. It is my resume we’re talking about.”
Goro took a deep breath, trying to hide his slight state of distress. His lover needed self confidence. He could do it.
His eyes fell back on the paper.
Someone help him. He couldn’t do it .
“Akira, dear… I think Yusuke would have an aneurysm if he saw your resume.”
“Gee, thanks. Graphic design is my passion.”
“I... think you… really may want to tone it down a bit.”
“But a resume has to show who I really am, right? I’m baring my soul here.”
“Your soul doesn’t have flashy red stars.”
“Goro, you have seen the manifestation of my soul. How is it not flashy ?”
Goro winced. They had already had so many arguments about Akira accepting that Joker was gone, and having to move on with being his full self despite not being able to manifest it in a parallel universe anymore, that it was hard to blame him for trying to channel his inner self in a document that was, indeed, meant to show who he was and what he was capable of.
Except Akira seemed to have a hard time understanding that companies would never hire Joker, no matter how outstanding he was-- is .
Goro gave up on the argument, filed the red stars for later reference, and tried to focus on something else instead.
“Did you really have to use your Tinder profile pic as your resume photo?”
“Goro. I don’t even have Tinder installed.”
“That’s because you’d have to suffer the consequences if you installed it, AND you understood what I meant perfectly.”
“I just had this selfie. It’s simple and good-looking enough, don’t you think?”
“Akira, you have bedroom eyes.”
“And you love them.”
“Of course I do! But an employer might not--Akira, I’m trying to help you, really, but you are not helping.”
Akira was doing the same eyes as on the picture while maintaining the pure image of innocence on the rest of his face, as if he had no idea what he was doing.
“Ok, but this photo, and this... blurb of introduction? Ready to go to any length ?”
Akira gave up on his angelic face and let a smirk grow on his thin lips.
“Yeah, I will rise to the occasion and stand erect in the face of conflict .”
Goro felt his cheeks grow hot. He should be used to Akira’s antics, but that flirty side of him would never not make him react.
“Akira, what kind of job are you even trying to land, here?”
Akira shrugged, abandoning the act.
“It’s said in the title, right? I need a job as a business manager for my course.”
“You didn’t even mention it was for an internship.”
“Yeah, because I don’t want an internship. I have enough experience to land a real job and not get underpaid for it. And having a real position instead of a mere internship won’t prevent me from getting my degree, I ensured that.”
Experience Akira had indeed, but--
“Akira, you can’t list Phantom Thieves Of Heart in your work experiences.”
Akira pouted again.
“But I already removed Satan Counterpart in my job title! You’re not doing much to help with my confidence, here, babe.”
“I’m not sure someone who unironically creates such a resume needs more confidence, Akira. Seriously, how do you think you will even land a job with this?”
“Ah, don’t worry about that! What my resume lacks, my cover letter makes up for.”
With a way too bright and suspicious smile, Akira held out an envelope for Goro to pick and open.
Goro frowned when he noticed the very specific size of said letter.
Akira gave him yet another angelic smile.
Goro deflated and got the “cover letter” out.
Akira’s face fell. He shook his head and waved his hand dejectedly to the computer.
“I know. The real one is not printed yet. Don’t worry, it’s well formatted, one page long, beautiful, with recs from my previous employers and all. I was just so annoyed at the whole process I had to do something else. But I would really like my resume to have a spark of… something, you know? This whole job searching is killing me, I don’t want to give my real self up just to sell my soul to individuality-crushing companies.”
That was something Goro could understand way too easily.
“I don’t mean you have to. I mean you just have to… maybe tone it down a little. Switch to black and white? Less...obvious stars? Let’s start with this photo.”
“I have others, but you’re not going to like them.”
“Okay. Here’s the first one. It’s bland and boring.”
Akira clicked on a file and slid on the side to show his lover.
“It’s not really professional indeed. And you’re not even looking at the camera.”
“Yeah, well. I’m not that often on that side of the camera, you know? I have this other one but I’m sure you won’t like it either.”
“You don’t even look like yourself, your hair is even messier than usual.”
“I knew you wouldn’t like it. But I’m looking at the camera, see! And it was a nice day. I mean, it was, until we had to turn back because my parents decided I was not worth their time.”
Goro sighed. He was not getting into this argument again.
“Surely there is one where you’re looking at the camera and you don’t look like you’ve just been blown away by a tornado.”
Akira clicked on another file and Goro had to prevent himself from shaking his lover by the shoulders.
“Akira, you can’t use your mugshot in a resume.”
“Well, I am looking at the camera, I don’t look I’ve been caught in a tempest…”
“...and you look like you’re about to murder someone.”
“Believe me, I’ve seen people about to murder me and it’s not that look at all. I look resentful, at most.”
Goro winced. That was a jab if he ever knew one. He would not let himself get riled up.
“...okay, you win this round. Keep the bedroom eye selfie for now, I guess. I’ll drag you to a photobooth later so you can update the resume. Now, about the… content.”
“Goro, the content is good. At worst, the employer will think I’m a terrible prankster and won’t hire me and--well, their loss. At best, they’ll like that I have a bit of personality and will hire me.”
Goro’s eyes skimmed through the resume and he let out a deep sigh.
“Honestly at this rate, you could have just put Joker as a job title and “I already took this country once and won’t mind doing it again if needed.” as your blurb.”
Akira beamed at the words.
“ That ’s such a good idea, honey! I’m glad you finally see things the same way I do.”
“Akira, I was…”
“...joking? That’s usually my job, but I’ll be glad to let you have this piece of me for once, darling.”
Goro gave up. It felt like he was navigating a minefield when Akira acted like this, trying to avoid both the bursts of lack of social self-confidence and the sudden whiplash of way too confident flirting and joking.
Both of these were Akira, for sure, and as hard it was to play tightrope-walker between his humours, Goro still wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world.
No matter how exhausting Akira could be sometimes, he would keep on asserting how brilliant he was. Maybe it would take years until Akira finally believed him and finally stopped deflecting it with a silly prankster social persona, but Goro didn’t mind. He loved him, all of him, even though Akira seemed to have a hard time loving himself lately.
And it wasn’t like they were alone, either. All of Akira’s friends were behind him.
If using a silly resume allowed him to find some kind of balance in his perception of himself in society, well. Goro could let him have it.
He put the offensive red piece of paper on the desk and wrapped his arms around Akira’s shoulders.
“I believe in you. Remember that no matter what others may think of you, we know your value.”
How ironic that he was the one uttering these words when they basically had to drag him out of his cell in the Velvet Room two years before, because he was so sure he didn’t have any value for the world anymore.
The feeling seemed to be mutual, for Akira dropped his facade once more and let himself go in his lover’s arms, tightly hugging him back.
“Thank you, Goro. It means a lot to me.”
“I know. Now, go do your worst.”
Akira let go and smirked.
“Oh, I sure will.”
He headed back to the computer and printed a few cover letters and resumes. Then, grabbing his coat, he pecked Goro’s cheek and went to the door.
“I’m going to try a few shops to apply right now. Who knows, maybe showing up and just handing these will work. I’ve heard some employers like this kind of bold moves.”
“I’m rooting for you. Good luck, dear.”
Once the door closed behind his lover, Goro picked back the red monstrosity Akira had handed him earlier.
Fortune favours the bold, right?
Ugh. Goro wasn’t sure he wanted to know what kind of favours Akira would get out of it.
When Akira came back, it was with a grin on his face. He had managed to land two job interviews for the next week.
One week later...
The door slammed and Goro suddenly found himself with an armful of Akira
“I landed the job! I start as soon as the contract is signed.”
Goro tightened the hug and spinned Akira around, laughing.
“Great! I’m so proud of you. You barely talked about it before the interview, you were way too nervous, I didn’t dare ask. What kind of job is it?”
“Business manager, as planned. See for yourself!”
Akira and held out a small stack of papers. The contract he had to sign, it seemed. Goro picked it up and skimmed through the pages.
Kamurocho? That wasn’t a district he expected Akira to wander in at all.
“What the hell were you doing in Kamurocho?”
“Oh, Iwai and Lala-chan gave me pointers on places that might be interested…”
“So you did end up asking for advice.”
“Advice was good! I asked for your advice too! I just didn’t want anyone to feed me a job in a silver spoon. I had to deserve it.”
“Tenkaichi Street… Stardust?”
The name of the street was familiar to Goro, and not for the best reasons. He had had to deal with some interventions in Kamurocho, due to the rather lively aspect of the district, but he couldn’t place the business in question.
“Is it… A cafe of sorts? You are doing this business management course to take over Leblanc, right?”
“Hm, it’s, uh. Sorta?”
Akira’s smile was way too bright and innocent.
“Akira. What’s the catch?”
Now Akira’s smile was just so tight Goro could see the corners of his lips straining.
“Well... It maaay involve some… sort of… host club service?”
Goro’s eyes narrowed. Akira promptly waved his hands in front of his face to try and deflect the incoming conflict.
“But I’ve been hired to be a business manager there! I’m a behind-the-scenes kind of guy! I’m going to deal with numbers and management this time, don’t worry!”
“So maybe they really really liked my blurb but no customer service will have to be done without my consentment!”
Goro’s frown only deepened.
“Akira, I love you, I’m proud of you and I’ve never doubted your aptitudes in landing any job you want. But you really have to learn that not doing everything by yourself is not bad. You have a right to ask instead of finding yourself in such... silly situations.”
It was amazing the impact of two years could leave on a man--it was Akira and his friends who had taught him this, after all. Now if only Akira could accept his own advice thrown back at him.
Akira sighed and hung his head low.
“But I went as myself and they really liked my resume...”
Goro’s voice lowered to a dangerous tone.
“I’m calling Haru.”