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New Game-FUCK!

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This is the fifth fucking time Akira has to live 2016. He’s getting awfully tired of it. How old is he now, 20? He’s an adult, he can drink already. 

And yet? 

16 year old him is sitting his ass on a train to his new place of residence. 

Sure, new. Let’s put it like that.

Akira is so fucking angry.

Oh, so the last time wasn’t enough? What, did he not manage to convince Sae to take the phone while he was drugged? He could never recall what he said nor did in the integration room, but frankly he doesn’t want to remember. Because evidently, his body and subconscious does, and he just doesn’t react to certain things the way he used to.

And it keeps fucking happening.

“Ugh.” He sighs into his seat and hunches over, eyes wash over him for mere moments from his rudely loud sigh, but just as quickly those glances head back to their elections or windows. He runs a hand through his hair; which does nothing to soothe him, and burns gaping holes into the floor of the train. 

Fucking great.

After that redo that derailed the most he’s ever managed, he decided his 4th time around would be as close as the first. Except he didn’t plan to die when Yaldabaoth decided to fight them. But all that planning and preparation didn’t do jack shit. That was the shortest go around ever. He’s never failed to get her to take it before. He wonders where he went wrong before his fury returns. He doesn’t have much time before Arsene bust his ass into the world to deliver that dumb app to his phone. Maybe I should break mine? A laughable thought, he wouldn’t be able to afford a replacement. Not for awhile at least. 

He sinks back into the palms of his hands and wishes this world would just disappear, that he’ll disappear. But fate is never so kind. And these Gods are very bored indeed. He hides himself from the world until he hears the name of his station ring through the speakers and reluctantly gets up. He maneuvers through the crowd of people fairly easily and doesn't bother pulling out his phone. He doesn’t need it, he knows exactly where to go from here. Only when the world goes gray and insipid and the busybodies around him stop, does he stand still and shut his eyes close. He doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to look, he’s tired. Still he feels it, the stare from his inter rebel, the persona he desperately wants to put away. 

And then it’s done.

He opens his eyes once noise comes back and moves along with the crowd lest he wants to be stepped over by strangers. He has a fun day ahead of him.

That was sarcasm. 


It’s not until after Sojiro tells him (i.e., threatens) he better not take anything from the store and to go to sleep, that he has time to sit down and think alone.

Sae didn’t take the phone then… What could have happened that he couldn't get her to take it? He was sure not to over step and work the same ways he did when this was all fresh and new. When he was fumbling through experience to experience. Evidently it wasn’t exact, he didn’t have a photographic memory and by then it had been nearly 3 years ago but…

God, there was so much margin for errors. It could've been anything, couldn’t it? Any small damn thing could’ve been the trigger. 

Guess he could say he knows what it looks like when he pulls the trigger on his cognitive. 

He falls onto the bed and pushes his glasses up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He thought...he really thought… He thought that was going to be the end. That it was the last time he’d override the save data under duress for his life and just...get on with it. See what happens in the new year. 

But nah. He’s still a fumbling mortal being fed liquor and honey by the gods who watch on greedily to the entertainment their livestock provides. He wonders if they’re going to get bored of this. (They have to eventually though, probably long after Akira loses grip on his sanity. The thought makes him shiver.) 

Akira certainly is. So much so he decided as he lays there with voracious indignation lapping at his bones that he wasn't going to even dip his toe into the metaverse. By any stretch of the imagination. And if that might mean having to forgo meeting his friends for the 5th time, then he’ll do it. It’s his big ‘fuck you’ to the world. He has nothing else to give it. All he had, he had offered. And each damn time it was slipped into the void and they would spit on his face for all his efforts. 

He falls asleep to the thought of reminding himself he’s okay with this. Because he has never felt such a blind fury in his life. To have all this build up and still he gets pissed on. 

He forgets to set his alarm for the morning.


He barely just finished getting ready when Sojiro enters LeBlanc and climbs up the stairs. “Huh, thought you’d still be sleeping.”

He shrugs. “Sorry to disappoint.”

Sojiro waves him off and then tells him to wait until he makes him breakfast to leave. 

He takes his sweet time cruising down the steps like a man on death’s row. He occupies a stool and watches as Sojiro cooks a quick batch of curry. He eats, he thanks him, he leaves. The walk to the station is uneventful. The rain that descends on him as he nears the school is defeated by the umbrella Akira remembers to bring. It’s an old plain blue thing, but it was in the attic, so it’s his now. If the patterns in his memories serves him right, it’s going to break on him the third time he uses it. Oh well, it’ll do for now. He's going to need it tomorrow anyway. After that not so much. Now, if he doesn’t take shelter upon the random establishment’s awning, he won’t wait beside Ann. Thus Ryuji won’t try and come after her. No palaces. No Phantom Thieves. No Akechi Goro. No more horrible gods.

He’s sick of it all.

He walks right pass everything and gets to his class fine. Early even. Kawakami’s gaze is too sharp. He doesn’t mind.

When Ann fills the seat in front of him, he tries not to think how she is feeling. 

He tries not to think about the consequences of ignoring it like a drunker. It’s all going to go back to ground zero anyway, right? What’s the point? It’s a vacation. He thinks. He needs this. He desperately needs this. He needs this so much that he needs to convince himself of it.

People are hurt and hurting everywhere. The people around him are no different then the thousands of others with no savoir and no end to the hurt. It’s the same in the long run. They all sleep through the cold night.

Akira shifts uncomfortably in his seat. 

So what if he can do something about it right now? It’s not going to carry over. Life will just repeat. There’s no point. Nothing goes on anymore. 

He tries to feel comfort in his logic, but something just doesn’t sit right with him. So the teen opts to find solace to what’s on the board. 

It doesn’t help. He knows this stuff.


The students haven’t gotten any nicer. They never do. Rumors and gossip are rampant and he overhears the same bullshit as always. They were outlandish and senseless. Just liking going to a restaurant and demanding more chicken than reasonable. 

Kamoshida hasn’t given him shit yet besides a backhanded compliment about how he was more well-behaved than he thought he would be. It’s funny now not being late on his first day and showing up with Ryuji changes things. Then again, butterfly effect. He knows probably better than anyone that the butterfly effect is not only real, but an absolute hollow hearted bitch. No amount of dreaming and hoping will change that.

But this is good, he wants to keep a low profile. Even lower than before. His friend group that consisted of the Phantom Thieves stood out like a sore thumb. He looked generic and had the plainest attitude. Everyone else? You had a "foreign" beauty, a "delinquent" with bleached hair, a former pupil of a man who was wrapped up in a scandal, the daughter of a filthy rich CEO, a girl with bright orange hair, and the school's student president. Not to mention at school he was known as the guy with the "criminal assault record". They stood out like blood on carpet and with how Ryuji talked about them he's surprised more people weren't catching on. 

Well, this time he has a person in mind that he'll be friends with. To be honest, he feels that he never made a huge effort to get to know him besides the 2nd time. 

Of course he's talking about Mishima Yuuki. 

The boy is quiet and docile as he sits in front of the class. The bruises and bandages on him fill Akira with rage, and it reminds him just how much he loathes Kamoshida. 

He was going to kill that bastard the 1st time. 

Ryuji was the only thing stopping him. 

Thank God. 

There's a plan in mind and the next day he brings his umbrella again, it's going to rain later, but after that he shouldn't need the umbrella for a while. He doesn’t get the opportunity to speak to Mishima that day, but it’s okay. Tomorrow he should have both time and an excuse to. He notices as he’s leaving, both Suzui and Mishima walk into Kamoshida's office. The sight makes him grimace. 

April 13th comes and the dumb rally happens, Kamoshida spikes Mishima in the face, and he rolls his eyes at how astonish his classmates seem to be when he gets the correct answer again. The good part was finding Mishima after he got out of the nurse’s office. No Ryuji was around, so the coast was clear. 

"Hello there."

The boy blinks at him as if to process someone was talking to him. "Uh, hi." There's a pause and he bites his lip. "You're the transfer student, right? Kurusu-san?"

He nods in lieu of a response. "I just wanted to ask if you were okay. That teacher had muscle. The ball must've hurt."

He lets out a mirthless chuckle. "I'm-I'm fine. The nurse gave me an ice pack."

That's not enough, it looks like he was trying to give you a concussion. His eyes narrow despite himself. "If you say so." Mishima nods politely and seems to be about to leave when— "Sorry, I don't think I got your name during class. What was it again?" 

The boy looks surprised. "It's uh, Mishima. Mishima Yuuki." 

"Yuuki." Akira hums in pretend thought. "That's a cute name." 

He's not sure if he should be surprised or not when Mishima gets fluttered at the comment. He isn't surprised at all though when the boy excuses himself and hastily retreats.

After school he manages to catch Mishima as he’s leaving. “Hey, Mishima-kun.”

The boy jumps a bit, Akira has to hold in a stray bit of laughter. “Oh, uh. Kurusu-san. Do you need something?”

He shakes his head. “Nah, just curious. Aren’t you part of the volleyball team? I thought they had practice after school.”

The shorter boy looks away. “I…don’t feel so good. I’m skipping practice.” 

Akira nods in pretend understanding. He knows Mishima just wants to get away from the Crimson Chin look alike. “Okay, don’t push yourself." He reminds him softly. Whether he was just feeling a little bold or desperate to get him to go away from the school, who knows? "Wanna go grab a bite with me?”

“Eh!?”

“I’ll pay. I think there’s a fast food place nearby…” He manages to get Mishima to go along with him before Kamoshida could ‘round the corner. The boy seems unsure as to why Akira is doing this, but honest? He’s just glad he ain’t questioning it too much. 

Makes his job a whole lot easier. 


Akira isn’t hungry, but for the sake of appearing casual and not creepy, he orders some small fries and a milkshake. Mishima opts for a burger and a coke. The atmosphere is awkward to say the least and Akira wonders when he lost all his charm. Probably somewhere among the redos where he held Goro’s hand tightly in the attic of LeBlanc, to when Akira no doubt met the receiving end of a suppressor.

Fun fact, they’re not called silencers, they’re actually called suppressors. Learned that when Goro had showed off his gun at his apartment. 

God, how things derailed in the 3rd. It still made his heart ache. 

The arrival of their food and beverages was a gentle reminder to get his head out of the graveyard and to dispel some of the awkward air around them. 

He really couldn’t wait until Mishima got comfortable around him, or at the very least used to him. The boy might be annoying at times, sure, but he never minded his company. 

“Ah, thanks for getting me food, but…” He doesn’t make any move to touch his meal and Akira’s tempted to finish his sentence for him. He doesn’t get to though. “Why are you doing this?”

“Thought I’d walk with you so no one would stop ya.” He presses up his frames. “You seem tired, is all.”

Mishima doesn't seem all that satisfied with his answer, but goes to unwrap his sandwich to avoid further conversation. This doesn’t last long either. Other patron’s conversions mix into the backdrop of white noise and Akira can’t resist tapping his finger against the table.

Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap…

It goes on and on. 

“Is something bothering you?” He puts down his food and stares pointingly at Akira’s hand, then to his soon to be cold fries. 

The boy has enough decency to look sheepish and retrieve his hand. “Sorry ‘bout that.”

Mishima tells him it’s fine, but again pries as to why he’s doing this. This time he feels the need to justify the second generation of the question. “Not that I mind or anything, it’s just that you just got here. It’s a bit sudden is all…”

Sudden is a funny way to put it. Akira thinks. To him, it feels like these years have been dragging on and on forever. He wonders if it might just do that to him. Repeating a week again and again, the repetition will get to you. But a year drags on beyond the horizon. It’s repetitive enough to hold you down, but long enough that you have time to think and cry and beg and plead—

“Kurusu-san?”

“Oh, sorry.” He sinks into himself to appear embarrassed. His head was in the clouds again. Shezz. “I just can’t stand bullies is all.”

He freezes, “What?”  

He rubs the back of his neck. “Sorry if I misunderstood the situation, but you’re covered in a lot of bruises,” his eyes fall to Mishima’s bandaged wrist, “bandaids too. I just assumed you’re being bullied by someone.” The other stayed silent so he continued, first straightening up in his seat. “Is that why you left early? So they couldn’t catch you after practice?”

“...”

Akira wondered how the teen would react. He didn’t exactly hit the nail with what he said, but he knew he was gunning too close to home.

“It’s none of your business…” 

If Akira wasn’t an expert on eavesdropping, he probably wouldn't be able to make out what he said. Luckily for him, he was an exceptional eavesdropper. 

“I know…”

“Ah, no offence, but you’re really weird for doing this.”

“No offence taken, just really hate bullies.”

Another lull forms in the conversation and the two parties go back to awkwardly eating. Akira wants to bring up more to solidify further than he thinks some students are picking on the poor boy, but he isn’t sure how to bring it up without it sounding like he’s trying to pry. After all, to Mishima, Akira is a complete stranger who he had leaked his criminal record a week prior. This must be a wild predicament to find himself in. Instead the two start talking again when Mishima asks him if it’s true that he's from a small town. 

Akira smiles, of course he asks about the least nastiest rumor. Though this one is true. “Of course, can’t you hear my accent? It’s pretty obvious I’m ‘tis but a country bumpkin.” He laid his accent particularly thick at the last few words, leaning a chuckle from the boy. Good. He made him laugh. 

“I-I could hear it.” He has a flustered look. “I just uh… I don’t know, I just wanted to ask, I guess.”

Akira clicks his tongue. He remembers how Ryuji poked fun of the way he talked when they went out for ramen in the 2nd. He didn't quite remember why he hid it in the 1st. Maybe he was embarrassed… “Yeah. Ever hear of a place called Inaba?”

“No…?”

“I proved my point.”

A giggle this time. Akira’s almost disappointed at Mishima level of humor, his jokes aren’t even that funny right now. Or maybe he’s laughing because he’s nervous? 

You never know. 

“How is it like there?” His eyes fix themselves with a splash of curiosity, and Akira wonders just how long it had been since Mishima had a proper friend before the Phantom Thieves came along. 

He notices that Mishima leans ever so closer to him, anticipating a response and Akira concludes it must’ve been awhile. 

“Middle of nowhere, for one. Used to be a coal town, now it’s kinda agricultural based. Lots of hills, farm land, and riverbanks.” He leans in for good measure. “Oh yeah, and the youth really like their amphetamine.”

His brows furrow. “Sorry, what?”

“Drugs Mishima-kun. Hallucinogens, coke, ecstasy, ketamine, especially cannabist. You name it. There’s nothing to do around there, so younger people just kinda,” he gesticulates vaguely, “do stuff.”

Mishima sits there, processing it all. He drops his tired sounding voice for just a second for confusion. “Wait, I thought that’s a problem for big towns? Isn’t the countryside supposed to be more clean?”

He chuckles. “That’s what TV would have you believe, but trust me when I said if you lived there and were under the age of 30, you’d probably know the name of 3 drug dealers, even if you’ve never purchased anything from them or met them in your life.”

His mouth falls open and Akira has to resist telling him to screw it back shut or he might lose it. He got his attention and that’s what he wanted. 

“If you don’t believe me that’s fine."

"No, no! I do! There's no reason for me not to…"

At this, Akira's smile feels more cheap. There's lots of reasons for him not to. 


Sojiro and himself exchange mindless pleasantries when he returns to LeBlanc. He's up the stairs in no time and the patrons in the café take no mind to him. He finishes what little homework he has and thinks about how he's gonna stop tomorrow from happening. 

Mishima is going to be the one to call Suzui into Kamoshida’s office. It's going to happen after school. The next day, Suzui is going to take a swan dive off the roof—

How the hell is he going to pull this off? Regrettably he hasn't once been able to avoid this tragedy. 

In a previous loop he had even tried to reason with himself that it was a necessary event to occur. Otherwise Ann wouldn't awaken her persona. 

Utter bullshit. 

Ann's a good person. She would have awakened her persona regardless the moment she saw how shitty Kamoshida was. 

He grimaces when he recalls the memory. Not his proudest moment. 

Still, what the hell could he do… 

Pull the fire alarm?

Nah, he'll get caught by a camera and go straight to jail. That's not how he wants to relive the rest of this year. 

Set a fire?

No!

Let a wild animal loose into the building?

Maybe. He could probably get away with that. But that doesn't guarantee I'll be enough of a distraction to stop Kamoshida. This school regrettably has a large-ass campus.

Shit. What can he do? 

He spent most of the night trying to devise a plan to stop it from happening. He had long since concluded that stopping Mishima from calling her in wouldn't help. If he wasn't there to get her to come in, that bastard would send someone else to do the job. And even if Akira could somehow get the both of them out of school tomorrow, wouldn't that sick fuck just prey on someone else? There are multiple girls in the volleyball team. 

"Damn it!" he growls. "Damn it all to Hell!" 

He needs a fix to this solution, and he needs it now.

Funny how he’s running out of time when he feels that he has too much of it. To the point where it makes him sick.

Ironic.

Such is fate.


Akira is on edge for the entire school day. He can see that Mishima wants to come up and talk to him, which he should be flattered by. Instead he poignantly ignores him. He just wants to get this godforsaken day over with already. 


"My, my. You're awfully pretty for a boy." 

Akira gets that a lot, and usually? He eats that shit up. Right now though? He has never felt more disgusted and disturbed by those words in his life. 

There's a hand gripping his chin to tilt his head up. 

He has to resist the urge to head-butt him. 

"You know, you're really quiet. I wonder what I can get you to do with that mouth of yours." 

The words make Akira want to scream and rip out the other's throat. 


When he finally gets back to LeBlanc he finds it closed with a note and key under the mat. 

He doesn't read the note.

He doesn't even make it up the stairs. He just slides into one of the booths and quietly cries to himself in the solace of the dark empty café. 

It was the only way to make sure no one else got hurt. 


Akira doesn't go to school the next day under the guise that he doesn't feel well. He doesn't think any amount of baths will make him feel well. 

Sojiro tries to get an answer out of him about the lateness, but as soon as he notices the bruises and angry red marks, he is quick to accuse him of getting into a fight. 

That's the last thing he needs or wants to hear. And for the person who he has come to associate like a 2nd dad raising his voice like that has him shaking with tears about to spill. Akira cannot find it in himself to school his face, and his hands always betray him. He can never will them to not shake when he gets emotional or stressed. Hence the hands perpetually stuffed in his pockets. 

Seeing this quiets the old man. He tries a new approach of trying to coax an answer out of him, but Akira vehemently refuses to be any help. Instead just quietly crying once he couldn't hold it in anymore. 

He gets told he can stay here another day before having to go back, but Hell if Akira cares. 

He lets Sojiro leave thinking whatever he's thinking. Probably that he got jumped or whatever. All the better. He doesn't want to tell him. He wants Kamoshida to get hit by a freight train and survive, so he can get hit by another one. 

And promptly die.

He spends the weekend like a rat in the attic, refusing to come out until it was dark. Bathroom breaks and food being the only exceptions. 

True to his words, Akira does not go to school the following Monday either. It's on the 19th that he returns. Not with a big bang or anything. But quiet, like it should have been. 

Kawakami gives him a weird look upon his return, and to the surprise of no one his classmates begin to whisper to one another. He hears them. They act as if they thought he had been arrested during his two day absence. 

Yeah, they wish. 

Mishima doesn't even spare him a look. And Akira is left wondering if he knows or if he just feels that it's awkward since it's been five days since they last spoke.

He doesn't know, and that stresses him the hell out. 

It has to be the latter thought. Mishima didn't know what happened to Suzui until after she jumps—Akira is just being paranoid. 

Another thing that raises his blood pressure is the fact he can clearly see that Ann has a cat stuffed into her desk. 

What stares back at him is a black and white cat with blue eyes. Completed with a little yellow bandanna tied around his neck. 

It makes him shake and he tries his best to hide it. 


This time, as he is hastily leaving school—he doesn't want to bump into him, he doesn't want to bump into him—he is stopped by Mishima.

“Hey…”

“Hey.” he mimics.  

“Sorry, I just wanted to know why you were absent for two days. Are you not feeling well?” He bites his lip. “You look a little pale.”

Does he now? He can’t claim to be surprised if he does. "Uh…" The excuse is taking a little longer than normal to come out. "Yeah, I'm fine. I just felt a little under the weather, is all."  

"Oh!" Mishima voices. "Are you getting sick?" It seems like he was about to reach over to feel Akira's forehead, but the teen seems to catch himself mid-motion. 

Does he really look that bad? 

His jaw clenches when he thinks about what to say. "I hope not." Mishima nods and the two stand for a couple of seconds. Now Akira is the one that desperately wants to vacate the premises immediately. "Wanna walk with me?"

Surprisingly, Mishima's shoulders slump and he dejectedly rejects his offer. "Sorry, but I gotta do something after school. Thank you though."

Akira is still itching to get the hell out of this place, but needs to make sure. "Are you sure? Can't you just skip it?"

The boy shakes his head for no.

He's confused. Why…why would he need to stay behind today? There wasn't anything important happening today, right? Akira racks his brain for information, but this is too insignificant enough for him to remember. 

There was just too much shit to remember. 

Each new year made the endeavor to recall events harder and harder. One day, he'll forget everything. He ain't an eager beaver for that.

With defeat licking at his heels, he sighs. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Uh, yeah. Bye. See ya!” Which is followed by frantic waving and then it is as if the boy had vanished without a trace.

Akira winces to himself as he walks away, can that boy be any more awkward?


He gets back to the café only to hold his head in his hands once he gets back upstairs. He wonders how the Hell this is going to affect this redo, and pointing ignores himself to worry about everything else. There was so much that was going to happen and the excitement and dread of knowing so much of it would be absolutely different in the most boring, but new way possible had him taking deep breathing to avoid vomiting. He didn’t want to cause a ruckus downstairs. 

When his stomach feels at ease his brain goes to work.

“They’re the Phantom Thieves without me.” He proclaims in a whisper to the open air. Had he really been that arrogant to think they needed him? No, he’s not the only source of entertainment for the Gods, if he won’t dance, they’ll just light coals under someone else’s feet.

He had been foolish to think otherwise.

Even then, he hated knowing they existed without him, that they could form without their leader. He felt anger and envy.

He worried over what would happen to them. Was it just Mona leading Ann and Ryuji in his wake? How will they make it through the year without a trickster by their side? He felt crestfallen and anxious.

He didn’t—wouldn’t sleep that night.

Sometimes, just sometimes, Akira really wishes he could replace his brain. 


I just thought it would be fun to write a New Game+ story where Akira has done this too many times that he's sick and tired of this shit. He vehemently avoids the others and no metaverse nonsense which he actually manages to do. Just puts his head down and makes a few normal friends. I like writing references to how things went in past redos, because you (nor I) have the full picture or explanation for how he did things differently and how they affected the outcome. You just get little strips of ribbon at a time. 

Also you have no idea how fun it was to write an Akira that is so bitter and pissed off at things and angry at stuff. I really like this is all I'm trying to say. XD

The pacing for this is probs a bit too fast. Sorry 'bout that. It's like my weakest point when writing. My pacing is either too fast or drags on 5ever. X(



I haven’t revealed much of the other redos/loops yet, but if you want mini spoilers about that, here:

1st-Basically canon but they die in the fight against Yaldabaoth.

2nd-He becomes really friendly (genuinely because he's ecstatic he gets a second chance) and really bonds with everyone, learns to cook by Haru, takes cooking and baking classes w/ Ann. Find out that Hifumi has a persona (lulled into the group by proxy of Makoto, they become gfs).

3rd-Got really close to Goro here and they were romantically involved. They both died, it’s a bloodbath.

4th-To avoid the disaster that was last time (and to quell his aching heart) he sticks to canon, but obviously he doesn’t remember everything and Goro kills him after Sae’s palace.

Chapter Text

I feel like this chapter is too on the nose but, I guess that’s what happens when you write a chapter in 3 days. *sad boy hours*

(I posted the last chapter at 3 something AM, now I'm posting this chapter at 4 something AM. Hmmmm, I’m seeing a pattern here.)


The world starts when the world ends.

That’s a line Kurusu Akira ponders a whole lot.

It was the line Yaldabaoth had last spoken when Akira died the first time. 

Surrounding him were the bodies of his teammates-his friends. He was the last one standing, barely. The faceless being spoke this last line to him, for his ears only; before ultimately crushing him.

Of course, when Akira woke up in the second loop, he was much too overtaken by joy that he got a second chance to right his wrongs and meet his friends again to even think about what was said. It didn’t occur to him until much later that he was told such a weird phrase. At the time, the boy had simply brushed it off as the false god being cheeky with him. Pointing out that this is where the world he knew ended, and the god’s new one began. And the boy was content with this conclusion ever since. It’s not like he heard Yaldabaoth say it again at the end of that loop. It was the second and last time he even got to meet the faux god. (And if you asked him if that was a good or bad thing, he wouldn’t be able to answer you.)

Now though…? As he lies down on his mediocre makeshift bed, he isn’t so sure if he’s alright with the notion. The thought no longer satisfies him and he fiercely feels that he is missing the bigger picture. Whether or not he’s blind to it or it’s hiding from him, he’s unsure. It has to come to him one day though.

He sits up to stretch his back (the popping noises are oh-so-satisfying) and reaches over to grab the bottled water sitting on his floor. He takes a swig and wipes the residue off his chin. 

He needed that.

Pulling out his phone for the purpose of checking it for the 1,000th time was getting repetitive (Wasn’t everything?) and he wasn’t sure what he was hoping would change. The MetaNav stares right back at him on the first slide of apps, swiping to the second mostly reveals time wasters he downloaded.

There is no third slide.

Hmmm.

He holds his finger down on the application and moves it to the left, it flies into the second slide, so he holds it to the left again, and a third, new, empty slide appears. 

He leaves it there. Lonesome and all by itself. 

He chuckles to himself, he just put an app in timeout.

Whatever, if the thing wasn’t going to disappear (he had no intentions of using the damn thing) then he was at least going to move it to where he wouldn’t have to see it every time he wanted to use his phone. It’s the little things, you know?


The 20th rolls around without much enjoyment. Arriving at school early has him loitering a bit away from it. He has about 30 minutes to kill and he’d rather not spend that in an almost empty classroom, thank you very much.

He plays some generic chess app against an AI for the first few minutes when a surprise walks by. Ironically it’s when he decides to look at the MetaNav, he quickly slides away from the offending red thing and pockets his phone. “Good morning Mishima-kun.” It comes out more mumbled than he would’ve liked, but then again the boy didn’t catch a wink of sleep at all last night. 

“Oh, good morning Kurusu-san, you…” the shorter boy blinks as he trails off, “look terrible.”

“Yeah, well I got hit by a bus, so…”

“What!?”

This gets a rise out of him. “I was joking.” 

“Ah.”

He wipes the smirk off his face in flavor of asking him a question. “You always get here this early?”

“No, not really. I’m here to meet someone actually, in fact, I think I’m running late. I’ll see you in class!” He gives him a half-hearted wave and Akira doesn’t have the energy nor brain power to wonder who he’s meeting with. He groans and goes back to occupying himself with his phone. 


Class is boring and the students won’t shut up as usual. His saving grace is seeing Ann and Suzui walk besides one another to have lunch. He’s been eating up on the roof or skipping lunch altogether. (He doesn’t want to eat in class where Ann [and now Morgana] can see him, because he is a coward.)

He’s going to have to eat behind the school now. If the Phantom Thieves formed already, they should be using the roof as a hideout real soon. He'd rather not have them cross paths. He was already aching to meet them, and he's not sure how he'll be able to squish the urge if he faces them head on. 

Great, if people see him eating lunch behind the school, people are going to think he’s selling drugs. Then again, why does he care what they think? It’s irreverent.

Like living in a loop.

His lunch today consists of a small thing of bean paste filled bread, a two-pack of almond cookies, and a marble soda. He needs to get a job in the near future if he’s going to continue to buy from the vending machines. (He's going to run out of the cash he came here with by the end of the month.) And this time without the motivation of having to financially support the Phantom Thieves. It’s all gonna be for himself. He wonders what that’s gonna be like. I can’t bank on getting money from shadows though. He’s been in the depths of Mementos countless times, and he still doesn’t know why or how the shadows carry money. Where the Hell does it even come from? How does it even count as legal currency?! These types of questions are important too, you know!

His spot besides a couple of bushes and back to the wall isn’t very comfy and unfortunately, he can still see a couple of students. Meaning he can be seen as well. This place isn’t idyllic, but it’ll suffice for now. 

After school he can't seem to find Mishima, which he has to admit, made him panic just a bit. He's worried his window of opportunity to befriend him is closing up. The last thing he wants is to be friendless this year. Then again, he might be overreacting. The boy already came up to him twice to talk, albeit short conversations.

Akira gives up and goes home, to which he's told to go upstairs because of the customers by Sojiro. Though the news stops him mid-sentence. The reporter on the TV speaks about another tragic death of some old rich man—and that’s all Akira needs to hear before heading upstairs. He’s heard of this time and time again already and knows exactly who’s behind it.

Goro. 

The name brings with it a bitter taste to his mouth, like copper.

No… 

Akira lies in a puddle of his own blood, his movements are sluggish and lifting any part of his body feels like moving lead beams. The body next to him isn’t moving anymore, it’s own pool of crimson stains the ground. He tries to reach out a hand to him, tries to say his name in his final moments. But he can’t reach over fast enough, and a deep muddled voice taunts him as his world goes dark. 

It tastes like blood.


The next day Mishima looks distraught, mad even. Not a common look on him to say the least. They eat around his seat instead of Akira’s (Ann is absent from her’s once again) and the blue haired boy keeps checking his phone throughout. Akira should be offended, but that boy was always glued to his phone no matter what, so he can’t blame him. “What’s got you worked up in a pickle?”

“Pickle?” The boy mimics before biting into his food. 

“I have more weird sayings hiding up my sleeve if you want.” 

“I think I’m good,” he checks his phone one more time before setting it down, “sorry. I invited you to have lunch with me and I’ve been ignoring you.” 

“It’s okay.” Akira answers smoothly in autopilot. He tries to salvage his answer. “I ignored you a few days ago.”

“Yeah, but you were obviously agitated about something.” It’s like the boy said it with meaning to, because he looks up at him in a breakneck speed accompanied by an ‘oops’ face.

Akira’s glaze shifts the floor. He doesn’t confirm or deny the statement. “You waiting for a bomb or something?” He asks without looking, without wondering. 

“Uh, no… A text actually.” He looks back at his phone, a rectangular void placed a tad bit too close on the edge of his desk. He bites his lip, a look of apprehension graces his features. “You ever felt that feeling you get when you really wanted to do something, but can’t? And it's no fault of your own, the world just doesn’t favor you?” 

Akira crumples his wrapper and manages to aim it right into the waste bin. A few other classmates also having lunch in class make surprised noises. The boy wants to roll his eyes at them. Though he wants to keep them in his sockets, so he won't. “Hasn’t everyone?” He has another question ready to roll off his tongue, but Mishima beats him to it. 

“Right! Yeah, sorry. Don’t know why I’m complaining.” To his credit, Mishima looks absolutely embarrassed. Akira is genuinely surprised at the other’s mini outburst. 

“Everyone has a right to bitch, Mishima-kun. You shouldn't feel bad about it.” What is he feeling bad about? Does it have something to do with Kamoshida? He grimaces when he thinks about that shitstain. He can’t wait until that man has been removed from society. 

The bluenette’s cheeks have a tint of red to them (they just make the bruises on his cheek stand out more) and he rubs the back of his neck. "Right." He agrees, but it sounds hollow to Akira's ears. Wherever his attention might be directed, Akira definitely doesn't hold it.

Hmmm, go figures. He’s too used to being adored by his friends. He needs to get his head out of his ass. 

He pushes back his glasses from where they were slipping off his nose.

Memories of the last loop crop up in his head. He had tried to do ‘everything right’. Follow the empty footsteps of the 1st time. But in doing so he had been, rather say, artificial and emotionally distant. His genuine touch was gone, and his friends weren’t all as warm and welcoming because of it. He had noticed it too. He hated it, but this was the way it gotta be, right? They had to save the world. He had to push aside his personal gripes. 

All for nought. He thinks. All for nought.

He still feels fury when he thinks about his most recent per-mature demise, but maybe…just maybe, a small part of him was thankful for it. Was he really willing to live in a world where he was more their leader than friend? It was all business, no hangs outs for the sake of it. No personal deep conversations, no late nights spent helping someone through a crisis. It was…so dispersonal. It was like akin to a game. 

He knows exactly why he was like that. The blame is on him. 


The rest of the month honestly starts to blur for him. His routine stays relatively the same. Wake up, get ready, go to school, hang or chat with Mishima a bit, go home, and sleep. What he can definitely discern, was that he was friends with Mishima by now. He still went on his phone too offend, and sometimes during lunch or after school he'd disappear and Akira couldn't find him.

But that's fine. The routine was unbearably normal. And for once, Akira was okay with that. That's what he wanted after all, normality. He wanted a break from all that magical bullshit. And boy did he get that fresh breath of air. 

Until the 30th rolled around. The calling card was posted all over the bulletin boards at school. Kamoshida's palace had slipped his mind until he got this totally rude awakening. He also doesn't think he has ever cut this close to Kamoshida's deadline before. Although he has to admit, he's slightly amused that they had to;—

The stomach sinks, wondering if they were struggling that much they had to postpone it until the last reasonable day. 

—it's kind of funny when you think about it. They're not as time efficient as when he was there. Though he guessed it can't be helped, less manpower after all. What else could one expect? 

Students all around him whisper about the papers, some questioning if the rumors surrounding the teacher were true. Others voiced their confusion on who would pull such a juvenile prank. And he swears, he heard some comments hoping that this wasn't a joke. 

Then the man of the hour himself came. In a fit of rage he starts ripping the calling cards off the board, swearing to himself and pointing accusatory fingers at students. "Was this you!? Or you?!" Teens squeak and squeal and run off. Akira flinches when the man raises his voice. And when he starts pointing fingers, he takes his chance to slip away too. 

When he's finally hidden away in a hallway, mostly empty besides two students in the back; he finds his hands shaking again. And he curses to himself. He needs to calm down, he needs water. His throat feels unreasonably dry, like someone took sandpaper to it and went ham. He kneels over and gently places his bag on the floor (having a cat live in your bag for years makes this an automatic action). He begins rummaging through his belongings. His bottle is empty. Shit. This simple inconvenience is enough to have him feel that sharp pain in his eyes.

Was he really going to cry over that?!

No. That wasn't why he was about to spill tears. 

He takes a deep breath and tries to remember where the nearest vending machine is. Maybe he should just hold up in a bathroom instead and splash water over his face. Maybe-

Suddenly there's a hand squeezing his arm and Akira makes a noise he would rather not have anyone hear. "Sorry Kurusu-kun! Didn't mean to scare you." 

Ah, 'kun'. He won't admit how happy he got when the boy started using that instead of 'san' three days ago.

The hand manhandling his arm goes to rub circles on his back, the other thrusts a water bottle into his hands. "Here, you can have it." The voice isn’t as meek as it usually is.

Akira attempts to formulate a response, maybe even say 'thank you'. But all that comes out is, "Hmm hmp." Eh, good enough. He goes to open the water bottle, but his hands are shaking too much and he can't seem to get a strong enough grip on the stupid little cap and-

Hands pry the drink from his fingers effortlessly, and breaks the seal. Mishima hands back the open offering. 

Akira's a little embarrassed that he needed help for something that insignificant, so his gaze travels over his friend's shoulder. At the very end of the opposite hall was a trio watching them. They're haphazardly hiding with the turn of the corner. He could tell who they were instantly, Ann and Ryuji. He's not sure, but the third figure… 

Ah, that's Suzui. 

Ann seemingly notices that he sees them, for the very next thing she does is grab her friends and disappear behind the cover of the corner. 

His sigh comes out more breathy than he would like, and gulps down the water.

Oh, that actually felt really nice, maybe he was a little dehydrated after all. 

"Thanks." He mumbles as he wipes the residue off his chin with a sleeve. 

"Of course." He nodded along as he talked. "I get those sometimes too." He goes to rub circles on his back again. "How are you feeling?" 

Still horrible. He thinks, but the silence is enough of an answer for Mishima. 

"We can sit down here for a bit." It was a statement, but sounded like he was asking for permission. 

"No!" Akira protests. "Class is starting soon-"

"Well then, let's take you to the nurse!" The bluenette insists. "At least," he pauses, "until you've calmed down." 

Akira is about to decline, but he still feels jittery, and he thinks any more talking would tighten the feeling in his chest more and unleash the waterworks. Maybe he did need to lay down, and skipping one class isn't going to kill him. 

He knows that crap already. 


The school nurse (whose name he could never seem to memorize) lets him lie down on one of the cots and shoos Mishima away with a note to avoid getting a tardy. He almost laughs at the sight, but doesn't. 


Akira is awakened not by Morgana, not by his alarm, but a pinch. The school nurse tells him he has already slept through his first class and to go to his second. He shakes off the grogginess (not remembering when the Hell he fell asleep), wipes his clammy palms on the white sheets, and thanks the nurse for waking him. He gets waved off in response and he swears that the nurse was probably itching to smoke a cigarette. Sounded like it too with that cough. 

Hmmm, or maybe he's just reading into this too much. 

When he gets to class, he does arrive a few minutes late. He hands the paper slip to his teacher and Mr. Ushimaru huffs and stuffs it into his desk. "You're excused." He informs him like he already doesn't know that. "Go sit down." And like a good boy, he complies. 

The anxious energy radiating off from Ann seems to grip his bone too. He spins his pencil like some early 2000s viral video to cope. Spoilers! It doesn’t work. He doesn’t think Ann could think any louder. Or maybe he just got a little too good at reading his friends. Even from behind. (Go figures, he’s had to stare at her behind a lot—eh, not like that! Her backside!)

The thought crossing his mind makes him lose focus on the pencil and it slips. He tsks and turns around to see where it flinged onto… Oh. It was on the student’s desk who sits behind him, Akira had always labeled him as “Green Pencil Case Boy” in his head. Because well, his pencil case is green and he never swaps it out. He thinks he’s only ever talked to him like, sparsely in the 2nd loop…

Today was the day Akira realized he’s A) has never spoken to the dude who sits behind him and B) doesn't know the dude’s name. Call him sappy or whatever you like. But he died. Kurusu Akira watched his entire friend group die-after already losing Akechi-and he had died. So sue him if he was happy and joyful of the fact he had gotten a second chance! If he had a prep in his step, could you honestly fault him?! If he wanted to be more friendly and supportive than before, that’s his decision. But he won’t be extending his new mood and quite frankly, his new disposition on life only to his buddies. He could be nice to his classmates too. In fact, he’ll talk to this dude right now!

The boy has sat behind him all year in his original timeline. And not once did the boy snitch. He had clearly been able to see that he had a cat stuffed into his desk, was texting on his phone constantly, was making lockpicks, and even ‘bombs’ per se. And yet!!! Not a single peep! He was the real MVP here and Akira made it his duty to at least learn his name. So today during a lull in the class, he turned around in his seat and looked at him.

The boy’s posture goes noticeably more rigged at this. Akira internally winces, no doubt this kid has heard about the rumors surrounding him. He gives him a soft smile anyway, just to ease things. “Nice pencil case.”

Wait a minute. What did he just say? That was so lame! Words Akira, use your words!!! 

The kid with the dusty black hair blinked. “Uh, thank you?”

The raven locks eyes with the Green Pencil Case Boy, and boy, is it awkward. Akira quickly swipes his writing utensil from the other’s desk. Papers and a textbook for today's busywork are haphazardly scattered on the desk, the boy’s own pencil was still gripped in his hand. Akira finished his work ages ago, hence the pencil spinning. (As classwork was no longer a distraction from Ann.) He entertains the idea that he could try to offer him some help, but the bemused look on the teen’s face and the whispers that the class started up when they noticed Akira, well, existing in the dude’s direction; made him scrap the idea. “Sorry ‘bout that.” He mumbles out and promptly turns in his seat to face the front.

He hears a sigh of relief from behind him. Come on, I'm not that scary. He begrudgingly thinks. As he smacks the eraser part of his pencil to his desk, he vehemently attempts to recall the guy's name. But not much is coming to him. He knows that he learned it in that loop, they were friendly acquaintances at the very least. The only thing he recalls for sure is that green was a part of his family name. He remembers this fact, because he thought it was ironic with his pencil case being green and all. So it was Midori-something.

He can’t recall. 


When the school day is done, the raven can’t leave fast enough. He knows Kamoshida’s going to call in sick tomorrow, but he still refuses to be caught up in whatever rage he might have left before he leaves. He’s nearing the exit when Mishima flags him down. Before the shorter boy can get in a word edgewise, Akira speaks in a low tone. “Walk with me.”

He goes with it. “I just wanted to check up on you. Sorry I disappeared during lunch-”

“Nah, it's okay.” He forgives dismissively. “You got other friends besides me.” 

“Yeah, but-I should’ve at least waited until I talked to you to leave.”

It’s almost cute how worried the other boy is. How long has Mishima known him in this timeline? 2 and a half weeks? Also, who are his friends? He’s always known Mishima to be kind of a loner. He didn’t hang out with much of anybody besides him and Ryuji. 

He recalls earlier when he saw the trio watching them two from afar. 

No way. It can’t be… 

The raven gives him some side eye, because he doesn’t believe where his mind is jumping to. These conclusions are going to break someone’s legs. He can already feel the tale-tell signs of an oncoming migraine forming. He just wants to get back to LeBlanc and take a nap before he sleeps.

“It’s alright.” His tone is lowered again, he stops, they’re about a block away from the school. “I’m okay now. Earlier, that was…” He bites his lips. Hmmm, where's the bullshit excuse when he needs one? “I was just, uh…”

Mishima shakes his head. “You don’t need to tell me. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

Is he though?

Akira nods despite himself, they bid each other farewells, and both go their separate ways. 

He cannot wait for the 2nd of next month to arrive for several reasons. 


It’s funny that this chapter came out really fast, I’m supposed to be updating a story I’ve been annually abandoning after dropping only one update per year since like…2016. I told myself I was going to finish it this year. The other thing was a revamp I started 2 years ago. Only rewrote 2 chapters and didn’t touch it until quarantine. I’m actually almost done, so I’m going to put this story off in favor of finishing that.

Now sure when the next update for this will come out. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

On the other hand, I just wanted to say thank you guys for the interest you’ve shown on this fic! (At least ya’ll on here and FF.Net.) It makes me giddy that people like my ideas, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve had an active comment section. Haha. 

I’ll be honest, I randomly came up with the summary for this while I was bored, thought it was a really cool idea and wrote some notes in my plot bunny book. Wrote the 1st chapter in a week and yeah… 

I have like, a solid 12 pages of notes and 2 loose papers of outlines/chats.

What I’m trying to say is that I went ham with this story and I usually don’t make this much notes for a fic, and if I do it’s over a few months. 

I’m just glad that my over organizing wasn’t for nothing! Thank you! :D

Chapter Text

Like I expected, this chapter was long and took awhile to write,,, 

After I posted the last chapter, I think I got creative burn-out. I couldn't seem to write for the other two stories. I barely finished the revamp and scarcely touched the other story. lol

Anyway, I hear y’all crying over Akira. Stuff starts to look up for him at the end of this chapter and will for a while. Don’t worry. Yet. :)))

Anyway, to answer Guest’s question from FF.Net, 

“Did they get a request to look into the protag, or are they looking out for Yuuki? Both? Are they keeping an eye on him in general?”

The phansite didn't exist at the time, as Mishima hadn't made it yet. As to answer your other questions, those will be answered in the next, next chapter. ;)


Akira is so fucking anxious. 

It’s the middle of the night and instead of being lulled into sleep by his tired brain or heavy eyelids, he’s bound awake by ricocheting thoughts of worry. His mind feels like a bottle of BB pellets some kid shook around violently until the lid ripped off by force alone. 

Guess that’s probably not the best way to put it.

He sits up in bed and crumbles his blanket into a ball, throwing it to the very edge (a tad too close, it’s probably going to fall) and lies back down. There was just so much that could go wrong. Even back when Akira was leading the team, they were ways to fuck up. Lots of them. It would only be logical to assume the risk was even greater now, right?

Failure was the biggest fear plaguing his mind. He had failed time and time again, to the point existence almost felt like a joke to him. (He doesn't even know what he's gonna do with himself once he finally does win this rigged game. Though, that was a midlife crisis for another day.)

What happens if they fail? Tomorrow’s the most important day he’s going to have for awhile. He’s banking on it. The Phantom Thieves will steal Kamoshida Suguru’s treasure, and if they don’t succeed… What happens when you miss a deadline? The concept is absolutely terrifying because he doesn’t have the slightest clue. 

The only time he didn’t finish a palace was because he died in it. 

If that bastard gets left to his own devices and goes unpunished for his crimes (not even taking into account who’s going to be expelled this time around), Akira will just… Well, start the next loop early to be frank.

Obviously this timeline isn’t going to work out like he wanted and it’s not like this is the first time his efforts go unhailed. He doesn’t even know what he was thinking when planning what to do in this redo, as if he could have a break from this stressful Hell.

Or maybe not. Maybe, just maybe. Everything will turn out fine. 

Akira highly doubts it. Nothing is fine and if he has learned anything from this debacle of a situation it would be that not a single goddamn thing in this world was sacred. All were contenders for rust and ruin. Himself included. 

Needless to say, he ended up working himself into a corner for most of the empty night.


Akira kept his head down and ears shut, but not listening in class also meant chalk.

He still dodges it, but since this was the first time it happened the whispers he got were more annoying to him then usual. He bites his lip to hold in his urge to snap at the class. What he did wasn’t all that impressive. It was just spatial awareness. Gezz. They act like he’s some anime ninja…well, actually maybe they aren’t technically too far off, but still. These people really need to shut up. They’re so starved for anything interesting at school that everything he does gets turned into a whisper feast. 

He just can't wait for class to be done.


Mishima isn't around during lunch and he gets a text confirming so. 


Contact: Mishima  

 

Sorry, won't be available during lunch. 

 

We can hang after school though.


Akira stares at his phone screen, formulating the perfect response in his head.


Sure.


Ah, perfection.

He spends his break loitering at the back of the school, not bothering to eat today. He feels that if he tries to stomach something, he'll just throw it back up. He couldn't possibly eat in leisure. His stomach was performing jumps and tying itself into knots. It could be signing up for the Olympics with that kind of shit.

He found himself passing the time by reading some random article around wheat when he hears a fight break out between two female students. The two of them are causing quite the ruckus. Enough so that Akira rips his gaze away from his phone to stare up at them. 

The fight is a couple of yards away. Close enough where he can see them for sure, but hearing them clearly is more out of the question. 

His simple curiosity is piqued and he wanders over to watch with the thin forming crowd of students who were also outside. He discovers as he gets nearby that this is a true catfight indeed. Hair-pulling, slapping, clothes yanking, more space between them than necessary, and fast punches with their elbows out. 

Hmmm, he’s never noticed this type of stuff happen here before. Was he just not paying attention to this type of stuff previously or…?

“Should somebody break them up?” He hears a nervous voice ask. When he looks over to the owner of said voice, a familiar face is paired with it. It's the Green Pencil Case Boy again. It doesn’t seem like he was talking to another in particular. Just an open suggestion for anyone to take. 

Which no one did. 

In fact, some in the small herd began to pull out their cellular devices to film the altercation. 

Akira's nose wrinkled in disgust. 

"Wow… Seriously?" His classmate sounded exasperated and slightly defeated at the actions of their fellow students. 

Akira has to agree. Maybe he should help break it up.

Actually no, he's barely been here. The student body only seems to grow bored of him and move onto better gossip at the 3 month mark. If he intervenes and people show the footage out of context… 

A scowls paints his face as he watches on as the girl with black hair seems to overpower the brunette. He wonders what led up to this fight. Were they friends beforehand? Just classmates? Bully and victim? The latter of which got tired of the other's shit? 

Surely he'll hear talk of this later. But finding out which information is right might not be something he'll be privy to. It truly is a game of telephone around here. 


After school his pace is leisure as he heads out. Hands in his pocket, head down, walking past groups of students excitedly talking about Kamoshia’s ‘supposed reveal’ tomorrow. 

Cool on the outside, not on the inside. Like magma. Comparatively. 

He stops at the lockers and waits for Mishima to haul his ass over. The raven was giving the shorter boy space to talk to his other friends. (Which he would bet his right hand on that he knows exactly who they are now.) And the waiting game is one he’s used this. This is his bread and butter after all. 

When Mishima does finally arrive he is greeted with lukewarm enthusiasm, which Akira reciprocates. Seems like neither of them are particularly energetic today. They don’t exchange any more lines of dialogue as they walk out together, hearing still more students gossip about trivial shit. 

One thing in particular hits Akira in a different way. 

“Hey, isn’t that the transfer student?”

“Yeah, pretty sure it is. Little lackluster though.”

“Who’s the kid he’s with?” 

“Uhhh, some dude from the volleyball team.”

“Oh. What do you think he’s doing with the transfer student?”

“Pfff. Who knows.”

“You think they’re selling drugs? I did see him with a group of people behind the-"

Akira spins on his heel and glares coldly at the gossiping offenders. He’s awfully aware how plain he looked, the only shining feature of him being his eyes. They were an uncommon gray color, not to mention how sharp they looked. That’s why he’s wearing glasses after all, he doesn’t need them. They just soften him up. Regardless his sudden action made the two shut their traps. 

And honestly? He was just about to turn around and walk out the door with his buddy, but one of them has the gall to glare back. 

And for a moment he’s impressed. He finds that he ends up scaring kids by walking by them, much less taping them politely on the shoulder and quietly inquire about something. But his feelings of being impressed quickly devolved into being peeved. Is this guy serious right now? “Could you two possible whisper any louder?” For some reason a pause rings by them, then the two students scramble off. Akira rolls his eyes and grunts at their silly display. That was probably the loudest he’s been in a while. 

Oh wait, no. He shouted yesterday. Or at least, something that he would count as shouting. (But he has a problem with being loud when not in the metaverse, so don’t take that at face value.) When he turns to look at Mishima the boy was raising an eyebrow at him. 

"Somebody has pretty good hearing." He quips like he didn't just hear them himself. 

"I have big ears."

He laughs and goes on to walk. "Do you now?" He's humoring him, but Akira always jumps at the opportunity to have a meaningless conversation about nothing. 

Smirking, Akira shifts some of his bangs to the side. It is a fruitless effort for they fall right back into place at the next step he takes. "Move my hair and find out."

They're at the door when Mishima pretends to mull it over. "I think I’ll pass." Is his final decision.

"Suit yourself."

The conversation slowly dissolves into discussion of where they should hang out. After a bit back and forth they reach their olive branch—hanging at a nearby park. Akira pretends to feign ignorance to its whereabouts and lets Mishima guide him. When they finally arrive is when Mishima seems frustrated with the nothing talk Akira keeps offering. He drags a real conversation out of him all while maintaining an innocent air about him.

It has Akira reeling. He doesn’t know if he wants to laugh or call Mishima out on his bullshit. 

He opts for inaction instead. 

“You know, I’m not trying to pry or anything, but you’ve seemed kinda anxious.” The boy sits down at an unoccupied bench and Akira follows. He slides his bag into the space between him and the end. Stretches his arms behind his back before dropping them. 

Akira places his own bag on his lap, still not used to how light it’s become. He hums in acknowledgment. “Pot meet kettle.” 

“Hey!”

He raises an eyebrow at the shorter boy.

“Okay fine.” 

The raven laughs.

“What’s so funny?”

He shakes his head. “You’re calling me anxious? You’re anxious. You’re always anxious. It might as well be your middle name.”

His brows furrow. “But…middle names are for foreigners.” 

“You act like that matters.”

“That-” Mishima pauses and shakes his head. “You’re steering the conversation.”

“I always steer the conversation, I’m a professional.”

“Uh huh.” He says, totally convinced. “Sure you are.” 

Akira feels like this conversation should’ve been done backwards and shifts uncomfortably in his seat because of it.

The bluenette looks ready to confront him about something, but deflates and turns to look at the ground. His eyes are downcast and a thin line of a frown appears.

This piques Akira’s interest and he leans to his eye level. “Something's up?”

“Of course something’s up. You remember how I told you what Kamoshida was doing?”

Akira frowns. Oh shit. “Yes.”

Mishima locks his jaw and glares at the grass between his feet. “It’s horrible that so many people know and yet they sweep it under the rug. Enable his behavior and protect him. And for what? The reputation of a shitty school?" He turns to look at him. "I hate him. I hate him so much."

Akira can't stop his eyes from widening at the uncomfortably raw honesty his friend was baring. 

"He's done so much crappy shit and I know it's escalated recently." He looks away and clenches his teeth. He faces the sky as if he blames it for all the horrible transgressions made by the topic at hand. "You joked that there were 3 types of reactions to the Phantom Thieves' challenge, right? Well I'm the hopefully idiot–"

"Mishima-kun-"

"–because I hope to God that they're real.”

Akira shuts in an instant. Wondering and confused. He had thought that Mishima was friends with them —the Phantom Thieves or was even one himself. But this declaration...sounds like he might not be.

Or maybe this is just his way of hoping the others are successfully stealing Kamoshida's treasure today. 

Then why isn't he with them right now? Why is he hanging around me instead? There's too many holes in his logic; in his brain. He doesn't know what to think anymore. Although it makes sense that he doesn't know because he never really was in control. 

Maybe one day he will be. 

"I…think I understand, Mishima-kun." Said boy turns his head back at him. "That shitstan needs to pay for his crimes and while I'm not sold on the existence of these guys... I'll hope they are for your sake." 

It feels so freaking weird to act like he doesn't give a shit about the Phantom Thieves or even thinks they aren't legit. But that's how he portrayed himself to be in his texts to Mishima after school yesterday and it was best to distance himself from it all anyway. 

Probably wasn't the brightest idea to befriend the world's #1 phanboy, but Hell. You do what you gotta do. 

The look he gets flashes with a moment of pity, then with an underlying layer of 'I know more than you do', all topped with a bittersweet smile. "Thank you. Let's…hope together." And just to be so daring, he shoulder bumps him.

Akira vehemently agrees.


If you consider how Akira was feeling yesterday to be anxious, then he never wants to label any anxiety he gets as being anxious ever again. Because nothing will be able to top off what he's feeling right now. 

It's absolute fucking dread.

And you know the worst part? 

He doesn't need to feel like this! He probably even shouldn't. Yet in the early hours of the morn' on May 2nd found him cold and living. Nauseous and dreadful. Prepared yet not in the slightest. 

He found himself to be a living contradiction! Neat.

This shouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s not like he’s banking on this going well or anything. (The hypocrite.) He can always just…”reset” if push comes to shove, but he’d rather not. What he would like is for this year to play out nice with him finally out of the limelight for once. 

This isn’t his biggest or worst problem. Just one that couldn’t help but make him feel ill with worry.

Getting to school was fairly uneventful and by now he doesn't bother eavesdropping on the students as they gossip and walk by him. He just briskly walks to class and hopes for the bare minimum.

It’s harder to be disappointed if your expectations are already rock bottom. 

The first couple of minutes into class he can already tell that Ann is visibly excited, restless, whatever you want to call it. She’s like this everytime Kamoshida is about to confess. However, there’s something different about her body language this time, something more…relaxed...no, solemn? Solemn is the word I would use. 

Down below, he catches glimpses of Morgana staring off longingly into the great big void. He’s not sure what to make of it. Another unknown factor.

Oh boy, this redo is going to be unexpected and new, full of unknown variables and boring. All at once. 

He couldn’t wait.


Minutes morph into an hour and Akira realizes why something feels so wrong and off to him. The assembly. Suzui never jumped this time around, so there was no reason to hold an assembly… Then how is Kamoshida supposed to…? His stomach sank. Ah, crap. He didn’t think this out, did he? He was too hasty in his actions. Then again, he didn’t have time as a luxury back then. That bastard has to come in anyway. Maybe he’s going to confess over the intercom? Perhaps, but then how is Ann supposed to… 

He stuffs his hands into his desk, squeezes his eyes shut, and takes a deep breath.

When he opens them class is running like usual. His hands still shake, albeit a bit less. He doesn’t feel any more prepared then he was before.


Within the next 20 minutes his prayers are answered. The intercom crackles to life and out of it comes the voice of Principal Kobayakawa. “Everyone please head to the gymnasium for an assembly by your coach. Yes, he’s returned. Teachers, tell your class to leave their stuff behind and remember to lock your doors.”

Akira raises an eyebrow, but has been doing this long enough to know not to look a gifted horse in the mouth. Neato.

He gets up and pushes his chair in because he’s not a heathen. The boy prompts to wait for some of the other teens to file off first just so he won’t rub shoulders with them. He’s found that they don’t really like that. And good decision at that because he overhears Ms. Kawakami mumble, “He’s back already…?” The downside was that she noticed this. “What are you looking at, Kurusu-kun? Go join the others in the hallway.” 

He dips his head and partially glides out of the doorway. Once in the hall with other students from this and that class making their way to the gym, he spots him.

Mishima Yuuki has been leading him on a wild goose chase. 

But now he knows.

He can see as clear as day the shorter boy converse with Ann about…something. He’s too far away to hear them, especially with everyone else talking right now. But it’s obvious they are familiar with each other, more so then they should’ve been at this point if this was a more normal redo. Whatever they’re discussing gets interrupted by Ann looking over the boy’s shoulder and catching Akira’s eye. She looks away immediately and says something to Mishima as the boy then turns around and spots him.

Akira pretends to not notice any of this. 

His eyes widen comically and gestures to Ann about some other thing and leaves her side. The girl gives the boy one more look before disappearing into the madness of the crowd.

Said boy weaves his way over to him. “Kurusu-kun! Sorry, I was talking to someone else-”

“You’re friends with Takamaki-san?” Shit, why did that come out of his mouth!? He was supposed to pretend he didn’t notice them. What a loser.

Mishima winces but nods. “Yeah, I am. I can introduce my friends to you.”

He shakes his head. “Nah, It’s fine. I don’t like people.” Which is a big fucking lie. He loves people, he’s just quiet. He'd rather observe. 

Mishima nods his head like he knows exactly what he means and the two of them head to the gymnasium together. 

Once there he can spot Ann in the crowd. It’s not a hard feat considering her blonde hair. As expected Suzui is standing alongside her. His eyes scan around once again and after a couple more seconds of searching, he spots Ryuji all by his lonesome. Aw, poor guy.

Murmurs and whispers from the sea of students fill his ears. 

People are even more confused than usual about the assembly. Usually the things he heard would pertain to the event relating to Suzui’s attempt on her life or of the faculty being nervous about the calling card. 

Now it was just people voicing their annoyance (or lack thereof) at the surprise assembly or general talk about the calling card. 

Really, it’s the little things that does it for Akira. 

Like for example, both Kobayakawa and Kamoshida were on stage. The large heavy-set man clears his throat before speaking into the microphone. “Good morning students. I’m sure you’re all wondering what this is about, well, I’ll hand this over to Mr. Kamoshida. As he was the one who wanted this, he must have something important to announce.” The bald man steps back to let the other man speak at the podium. 

Kamoshida looks dazed out of his mind and goes to lean into the mic. “I… have been reborn. That is why I will confess everything to you all… I have repeatedly done things that were… unbecoming of a teacher. Verbally abusing students… physically abusing my team, and…” The ugly bastard sighs. “Sexually harassing female students. I even… forced myself onto a male student recently.” 

Akira squeezes his eyes shut at this. He can hear the footsteps hit the wood and the man falling to his knees at the front of the stage. They open again when he feels a hand placing itself on the small of his back. Slight shock is printed on his eyes when he looks at Mishima, who flashes him a small reassuring smile.

The crowd of students whisper in shock, horror, and disgust of the teacher’s sudden confession. 

“I thought of this school as my own castle…”

He notices Mishima giving the man a partially nasty glare at these words. Probably didn’t have fun being tossed around in his palace, huh? He dryly thinks to himself. 

“There were even students that I sentenced to expulsion, simply because I didn’t like them…”

Huh, so Ryuji and Mishima still managed to egg him on. Wonder what they did… 

“I will, of course, rescind those… I am truly sorry for putting innocent youths through such horrible acts…”

His nose wrinkles in disgust. Bullshit. He only feels like this because he was partially brainwashed.

“I am an arrogant, shallow… and shameful person. No, I’m worse than that…” At this he bows his head to the ground, the next words that leave his mouth carry heavy intentions with them. “I will take responsibility and kill myself for it…!”

The whispers are crazed at this. People are confused, shocked, and repulsed all at once.

“Mr. Kamoshida! Please get off the stage for now!” The principal pleads, trying to save face for the sake of the school. His plea goes unheard however.

Like a certain someone’s. 

“Everyone, return to your classes!” A teacher in a sharp blue suit shouts. He’s standing nearby Ryuji, who, like everyone else, just ignores him.

“I—”

“Don’t run, you Bastard!” A female voice cuts off Kamoshida’s pity party. “You claim you're truly sorry for all the things you’ve done to hurt people?! Then face the consequences of your actions! You have no right to run from this!”

Akira shivers. Right, Ann yells at him at this part. Of course, it’s different now. But there’s a certain type of pride he had for his old friend who sticks it up to the man even when it’s less personal now. She’s still doing the right thing because Ann is a good person. 

Can the same be said about him?

“You’re right… You’re absolutely right…” he sounds weepy at this, “I should be punished under the law and atone for my crimes…I did horrible things to Takamaki-san, as well, in return for giving Suzui-san a position on the team… I tried to force her into having relations.”

Shock and horror mostly. People expressing how bad they feel for her. Others in disbelief that the rumors weren’t true. Yeah no shit.

“As of today, I will resign from my position as an instructor and turn myself in. Someone, please call the police!”

Now it’s teens freaking out about him wanting to have the police called. 

“This morning’s assembly is over! Return to your classes immediately!” The teacher in a suit still tries his best to get the students in line. He goes largely ignored as the talk gets louder and louder.

Too loud in fact. 

Akira can’t stand it. 

“Kurusu-kun, are you alright?”

No, he’s not. People won’t shut up.

“Return to your classrooms at once!”

Shut. Up.

Akira wanders out of the gym with the first chunk of students who actually bother listening to the teacher’s instructions. His friend is hot on his heels. He’s rubbing his temples to help with…the nausea? He feels nauseous. Huh. That’s weird. Why’s that?

Guess that doesn’t matter because he hangs back from the rest of the thinly stretched crowd at the first garbage bin and holds onto it.

“Kurusu-kun, what’s-?”

He throws up. 

His friend makes a surprised noise and he can hear some girl he doesn’t know ask if he’s okay. But he doesn't feel like talking. His throat is burning and his stomach is doing flips. And not in the cute way.


He wakes up in the nurse's office. What the fuck ?! When the Hell did he pass out?! He doesn’t remember that! Not at all!

Oh, that weird nurse is there again. He tries to speak to get said nurse’s attention, but all that comes out is a weak moan. Truly, this boy is on par with Shakespeare. 

The nurse turns around at the sound of the noise regardless and eyes roll. A quip is made about him finally being awake and how his guardian has been contacted to pick him up soon.

“What-?”

“Ask your father once he comes and gets you, we already informed him.” And just like that the nurse disappeared behind the curtain. The sounds of shoes on linoleum got fainter and fainter until Akira’s world became faint too. What the Hell? Was the last thought he had before his brain said no. 

His next thought in the waking world was, Sojiro isn’t my dad. He turns his head to the side and blinks a whole bunch to get his eyes to adjust. It’s Sojiro at the wheel of the car. He furrows his brows. Wat? His sleepy brain relies. He inspects down on himself to see that he’s in the passenger seat and that he got a seat belt on. Oh. Oh shit. 

Did…did Sojiro carry him out of the school like a baby? Or was he just not lucid enough when he walked him out of there? 

Either way he felt his face heat up in embarrassment.

“Oh, you’re awake.” A gruff voice noted.

Oh God, he did carry him here, didn’t he? “I, I think I am.”

There’s a sigh from the driver. “Look kid, don’t get cheeky with me. What happened? I got a phone call out of the blue. Said you...got sick and passed out.”

Akira isn’t sure what to say. He just felt the noise of the gymnasium get to him and suddenly felt nauseous. The last sort of clearly defined event he recalled was emptying the contents of his stomach into a trash bin. At least I didn’t throw up all over the floor and myself. That would’ve been…not pleasant. “Uhhh, not sure?”

Sojiro turns his head slightly to look at him. “What do you mean not sure?” His eyes narrow and he turns his attention back to the road, as it should be. 

“I don’t remember passing out?”

He could hear Sojiro mumble something about a ‘problem child’ under his breath.

It made Akira want to smirk. Now that was something he was more familiar with. “Sorry.” 

"Don't apologize, you're acting like you did something wrong. If you weren't feeling well this morning, you could've just said so."

But he was feeling fine this morning, physically anyway. "I felt fine earlier-"

Akira got startled when the man honked his horn. 

He mumbled something about shitty drivers and beckoned him to continue. 

"I uh, not sure why I got sick all the sudden."

Sojiro looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He shook his head in dismay. "Either way, I'm taking you to a clinic. Can't risk getting sick from you." As dis-concerned as he tries to sound, Akira knows better. 

He nods, knowing he'll probably be taken to see Tae. It's been awhile since he's last seen her anyway. He wonders how she'll act now that she has to be completely professional with an adult present. It won't last for long though if he keeps visiting her…

Wait no, that doesn't make sense. He has no reason to constantly visit her and make a trade-off. 

Then the Phantom Thieves are without a good portion of their medical support. 

He hopes that one of them stumbles into Tae’s clinic by the grace of some nicer being out there. It's no fun to watch a game if everyone dies early. He makes note to try and lowkey put her on their map. He’s not gonna interfere or anything, he still doesn’t wish to be pulled into that nonsense; but there’s no harm in helping out a little. Probably.


Surprise, surprise! He turns out to be right on the nail. The clinic is empty of any other patients and Tae is absent from the small window. He is instructed by Sojiro to take a seat and the old man rings the bell at the front desk. It takes a few minutes, but eventually she is summoned like Bloody Mary. "Hello there, sorry for the wait. I was organizing stock in the back."


This is the third time she's flash a light in his eyes. He wonders if she's just messing around with him and this is her subtle way of doing it. Granted she would have no motive behind doing it, but he'll take the reasoning of deja vu at this point. (Even if no one ever seems to get it.)

"Hmmm, nothing seems wrong. I think this was all stress included. Overstimulation and high levels of stress mix as well as alcohol and painkillers." She sails away from the examination table like a great ship at sea. The doctor fumbles in her coat pocket for a pen and scribbles something down on her clipboard. She then rummages through one of her drawers before pulling out a small bottle of pills. "Here." She declares, handing the bottle to Sojiro. "Have him take these for nausea. If this behavior continues to persist, come see me."

"Thanks Doc, is there anything else-" 

That's all he hears before the door to the examination room closes as the two adults discuss something out of earshot. 

"Ugh." Akira just wanted to go to sleep.


When they arrive back at LeBlanc, Sojiro asks him if he thinks he can hold down solid food. "You have to have something with these." And he fumbles with the top to dig one out. 

Akira nods his head. "I don't feel nauseous anymore." He feels tired and a little vibratey? That's an odd feeling. 

He gets handed the medication and a couple of granola bars are shoved his way. 

He eats, takes it, drinks water, and heads upstairs to mimic a comatose state. 

That shit knocks him the fuck out. He never even got the chance to change into his pajamas.


The raven wakes up to nothing. There are no glow in the dark stars litting his ceiling, there was no noise that startled him awake, and there was no pressure anywhere on him indicating a cat was dozing off into the void of the dreamscape. 

Nah, there was just…nothing. His body had woken himself up on its own volitation. 

It's fucking dark. He shifts off the bed, realizing he had slept with no blanket on; and slowly wanders to the desk across his bed. He feels his way over the tops of the book stacks (each one he's read a couple times over and isn't really for another round) until he finds the spot he placed his phone. 

With the press of a button the screen reads 10:39. He's checking his phone out of habit. "Great, it's the middle of the night." Text notifications litter his screen as well. They're from Mishima. Afterall, the only two phone numbers he has stored on his phone at the moment were Sojiro's and Mishima's. 

But he has all his friend's numbers memorized by heart already. 

He goes to sit down on his bed and check his texts. 


Contact: Mishima  

 

Are you still in the nurse's office?


The next text is sent a few hours later.


Did you go home?


The next series of texts were sent an hour after that.


I asked the nurse so I know you got picked up early. 

 

I hope your not sick too bad. D:


He used the wrong form of you're. Akira tsks. Forshame. I believed in you.


Kinda ironic you went home early and I stayed after school with my friends. :P They really wanted to talk about what happened. 

 

Especially since I know both Ann and Shiho… 

 

Oh, Shiho is Suzui btw

 

Anyway I hope you're feeling better. :)

 

I'm free for the break just not on the 5th

 

If you wanna hang I mean.

 

Only if you're feeling up to it!!!


Why is he busy on the 5th? He turns off his phone and tries to decide whether or not he wants to reply right now or tomorrow morning.

Screw it. He'll reply right now, it's not awfully late anyway. 

As he writes up his response a thought comes to mind. The 5th is Children's Day, huh? Oh…that's the day we eat out to celebrate completing Kamoshida's palace.  

He chuckled to himself for not realizing it sooner. He does wonder who's going to pawn off the metal though… Ryuji’s probably going to accidentally reveal them by pawning it online. It's a silly thought but knowing that Mishima is a Phantom Thief (or at the very least he's more involved than he was previously), he's probably going to slap some sense into him. 

Hopefully.


The next day Akira wakes up feeling fine and dandy. Well, not really, but at least he doesn't feel nauseous anymore. He probably doesn't need to take any medicine today. It's not that he has it on hand anyway, Sojiro's holding onto it. 

He still doesn't trust him, huh? It's still far too early for that. 

He changes into some fresh clothes considering he slept in his uniform last night like an animal. He stretches and sits back on his bed to go on his phone. 

He just be vibing. 

Mishima texted back only twenty minutes earlier so he decided to shoot him a text his way. The boy gets back to him immediately.  

Sheesh, doesn’t he have something to do? He should be busy with the Phansite by now…unless that doesn’t exist. 

Curiosity getting the better of him, he exits out of the texting app and straight to Google. 

He tries to look up the site and to his relief, the webpage pops up at the top of the search results. 

Is it weird that he felt relief at that? Wasn't he supposed to not give a shit? Guess I can't help but want to root for them even though I don't want to be a part of it anymore. 

At least not for now. 

"Hey, you can hear me, right? Are you feel better now? If so come help me out, instead of sleeping your life away."

He forgets Sojiro makes him do chores for the next two days after the first palace. Not even being sick the other day can save him from doing work it seems.

Oh, the humanity! 

He walks downstairs before backpedaling and texting Mishima a quick 'brb'. Now the start of his exciting adventure of washing the dishes truly begins. 

An apron is tossed at him as he goes down and he doesn't even bother catching it. It just kinda…lays flat on his face. 

This gets a chuckle out of the older man. 

He takes the garment of clothing and properly puts it on this time. "...Thanks."

“Heh, sorry I kinda pressured you into doing this.” 

Akira shrugs and turns on the water and grabs the sponge. He actually likes doing the dishes, it's very lethargic. 

Perhaps Sojiro is about to say something else, but he doesn't find out what since the TV grabs their attention with 'breaking news'.

“And now to our next topic… Fall from Grace; the story of a dishonored Olympic medalist. Just recently, a high school coach admitted to his school that he had been perpetually abusing students. Given his prior Olympic achievements, this has caused quite a stir. What caused this habitual offender to suddenly confess these heinous crimes to his entire school? The police are hoping that the upcoming interrogations will bring light to this question.” The newscaster reported. 

Akira rolls his eyes. 

“Hm? Isn’t this…?” Sojiro mumbles when a photo of a certain school is shown.

“My friends would come back from practice with bruises all the time… It was scary, but I’m relieved that the abuse is finally going to end now." A male student whose head was cut off recounts. 

He wonders if Mishima recognized the guy's voice. He knows he's watching the news right now, maybe even more intently than before.

A female voice filters through the TV's speakers. "He would touch me and stuff all the time… I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that sexual harassment anymore…" She ends her comment with a soft relief. 

"There were always rumors, sure." Says a rougher female voice. "Not many people believed them though. Like… I’m totally shocked they were actually true. At least now I can go to school without worrying.” 

“I knew it. This is your school, isn’t it?”

“Seems like it." Comes Akira’s lackadaisical answer. He doesn't look away from his task at hand. 

There's a sigh coming from the counter. “Things might be getting turbulent at school, but you need to just keep your head down, all right?” 

Akira nods dumbly. This is a rather familiar script. Then he's going to tell me to keep working and that I have more chores to complete. He's anticipating this comment when Sojiro surprises him with something else. 

"Wait a minute… a few weeks ago…"

Akira stiffs up. Oh shit. Right, he was there. He saw the marks. He's gonna piece it together. 

"You came back after I closed shop and the next day I saw you had bruises." His chair creaks as he stops leaning back to sit properly in it. "He fought you, huh?"

His shoulders loosen up. He still thinks I got into a fight. "I had to intervene…" He's not technically lying… 

He could practically hear the man rubbing at his eyes in annoyance. "I'm starting to think that you can't ever not stick your nose where it doesn't belong. Sheesh Kid, one day that is gonna get you killed.” 

Akira stays quiet.

(He's right, he's absolutely fucking right.)

There's a big sigh and it fills his lack of a response. "Well, at least you’re okay now, I’ve got some more stuff I need you to do.”


Today’s another day and Akira’s actually gonna go outside! Mishima wants to hit up the arcade and who is he to say no to that? 

Nobody really.

Is it weird that that was refreshing to say?

Less responsibilities, less over-exerting tasks, less traveling all over Tokyo to talk to confidants, less fighting tooth and nail, and less…well everything that made his life before. 

Now he was just some guy. He always looked the part, but now he is the part. 

Now only if he can get pass Sojiro and Sae’s little discussion, that'd be great. He wants to skip that part like in a video game. 

Unfortunately, he is not a video game. There is no skip (or quit) button. 

He nearly traverses down the stairs with his bag slung over his shoulder. Ha! As if he needs that. Everything he has to bring with him is in his pockets. 

Wallet (which he was essentially only bringing with him for his ID, he ran out of cash already and Mishima had offered to pay), phone (which was powered off in case it interacted with Mishima's), and key (which Sojiro has yet to collect from him, weird). 

When he finally got downstairs he was stopped by Sojiro's wise words of wisdom.

“Make sure to do the dishes.”

The raven rubs the back of his head. "I can't right now…"

"That's fine, just do then when you get back." 

He nods dumbly and fidgets in his stance. The older man raises an eyebrow. 

"I uh, don't have any more cash for the train fare…"

"You ran out already?"

He nods. Last week. His parents didn't really set him up when they shipped him off. 

There's a slight smirk on Sojiro's face and he pulls out his wallet and yanks a 10,000 yen note and Akira freezes. 

"What-?" He was expecting him to pull out a 1,000 yen note, not 10,000!

"Just take it, think of it as allowance."

Akira stares at the note dumbly and pockets it. "Thank you."

"Ah, whatever. Make sure to feed yourself when you're out."

The doorbell jingles, catching the both of theirs’ attention. 

“Welcome.” 

“Am I interrupting something?” Sae walks in and her maroon eyes flicker between the two people. 

“Not at all.” 

Content, she goes to sit down at one of the bar stools. 

“The cause of the runaway-train incident in the subway the other day still has not been found.” The TV announces, making its presence known. “Police are hurrying to solve the matter as it may relate to the rise in psychotic breakdown incidents.” The male newscaster read almost robotically. 

“Oh, is that the thing everyone’s been talking about?” Sae catches their attention once more. “Doesn’t it make you curious?” She starts a conversation like nobody's business. “People who were living normal lives suddenly went mad or deranged out of the blue… Not to mention that it’s happening one after another… Could they really be coincidental?”  

“Hmm…” Sojiro pondered her question for all of a moment before deciding he doesn't care. “Leaving that aside… What’ll you have?” 

She scans the wall behind him, looking at all of the beans before making her decision. “...I’ll have the house blend please.” She then turns to Akira, who was anticipating this. “Are you a part-timer? I’m surprised this place can afford one.” 

And to Akira's delight Sojiro sputters. “Uh, that’s exactly the case…”

She nods at the confirmation before berating him with questions. “Are you a high school student? Where do you attend?”

“Shujin Academy." He answers honestly. He twirls a part of his bangs between his index and thumb. 

“Oh…? Someone I know goes there as well.” She relays, referring to Makoto. “I’ve heard that things are rough right now. A teacher named Kamoshida confessed his crimes like he was a completely different person, supposedly. And it happened “all of a sudden” one day… Can a person’s mental state change so easily?” 

“...Huh.” Sojiro noises.

The public prosecutor sighs. “Is my drink ready yet?”

The man turns around. “...coming right up.”

That's Akira's cue to get the fuck out. He worms his way around the train station and stops by a vending machine for a quick snack and drink once at his destination. He finds the street he was supposed to meet Mishima on and tries to sneak up on him.

“Oh, you’re here!” 

He fails.

“Who are you?”

His friend rolls his eyes at the question and pockets his phone. “Ha ha. You’re sooo funny.” He smiles. “It’s nice to see you’re in a better mood though,” the smile wobbles, “but are you sure last time was just because of stress?”

“That’s what the doc said. Unless I have some underlying disease and won’t survive the winter.” Akira rerolls one of his sleeves back up the way he likes it. 

Mishima gives him a look like he wasn’t expecting the joke and chuckles. “I think you’ll be fine.” 

“That’s what you say now, but just wait. When the first winds of winter blow, I’ll crumple up like a napkin and die.” 

Mishima laughs and nods like he gets what he’s saying. “If you say so. I’m just glad you didn’t get lost finding me. Shibuya’s pretty big…”

Akira looks around at the crowd of scurrying people. All of them minding their own business. Carrying around shopping bags, purses, or briefcases. Talking and laughing and living it up. It made him sonder for a moment, looking at all these people. He had been so wrapped up in trying to save the world for the past few years that he never got the time to truly relax. Every time before was a quick distraction before he had to inevitably slip back on his shoes and run. Now he could dick around without having to worry about financing and leading a group of vigilantes. “And crowded.”

He nods. “Yeah. Anyway, the arcade’s this way.”


He has nothing to do on the 5th and it wasn’t like he needed another reminder that his life has been revolving around the Phantom Thieves and his confidants. Now with no use of either previous groups, he had more free time then he had things to do.

Lie. He had lots of things to do. But what was something he could do that was new and different

Being a friend to Mishima wasn’t new, but he had always been the ‘cool mysterious leader guy of the Phantom Thieves’ Mishima would get giddy over.

Now he felt like Mishima was dragging him around because of…pity?

What a weird feeling.  

It felt less like they were friendly business partners and were now just, well, normal friends with normal lives.

Akira smirked at his thought process. Maybe neither of them could really claim to have normal teenage lives at the moment.

Nevertheless, he slept most of the day away until Sojiro came up to check up on him and dragon shouted him outta bed. 

When school finally crawled back to him the next day, Ms. Kawakami had something to announce. 

“Like you heard last week, gym class is canceled today. Instead, I’m supposed to give you some guidance.” Students look at each other with unimpressed eyes. “The gist is, don’t go around talking about the incident. That’s all. The police are still investigating Mr. Kamoshida, so I can’t say anything myself.”

She sighs deeply and rubs her forehead. “As a teacher though, I’m ashamed for not having noticed that a student was suffering like that…” 

Akira sank into his seat. His eyes couldn't help but notice the way Morgana’s ears folded flat to his skull. He had the urge shoot through him to pet his friend in that soothing way he knows he likes. 

But that would be foolish of him.

Ms. Kawakami shakes her head before continuing her train of thought. “I’m not defending him, but as a colleague, he just seemed like… well, a normal person. Honestly, it still doesn’t feel real. I guess people can have multiple sides to them…”

He hears the soft sounds of a certain cat. Must be him expressing how sorry he is for her. 

Ms. Kawakami goes on to talk about the ‘inner’ personality and what she's heard about it and blah blah blah. She’s basically talking about personas without even knowing it. The class starts to shape the fuck up and be attentive for once. Ann clearly becomes intrigued by the way her posture straightens up, her elbow is removed from the desk, and how she leans ever closer. When his glaze cuts ‘cross the classroom, Mishima is a dead giveaway as well, mincing the same shit Ann was. 

Akira though? He stops listening to be honest. 

He only snaps out of his stupor by Morgana’s kid voice. Ann whispers something back to him and Akira has to take a moment to roll his eyes in a playful manner. Oh course, if Morgana couldn’t be with him, he’d choose to be with Ann in a heartbeat.

Mona couldn’t help the feeling of camaraderie he felt towards him, after all, he was made by
Igor in a last ditch effort to help out his master’s trickster. Now that Akira isn’t in the picture he’s no doubt getting fed better (since Ann has money) and is sleeping in a bigger bed and, you know, lives with the person he has a puppy crush on.

The raven wonders if his little furry friend was happier like this… 


Akira leaves as soon as the school days come to a close, knowing that today Mishima should be telling him he’s the one that made the Phansite that popped up a few days ago and how much he wants to help. So, he deduces reasonably, that instead some Phantom Thieves business will get discussed in its place and yeah…

He just wants to take a fat nap. 


Upon getting to LeBlanc, he does not in fact get to take a fat nap.

Instead he is met with policemen talking with Sojiro about...something? He should’ve really anticipated that they would’ve been here, he's not blind. He saw the police cars. Though, here was also the slim possibility they could’ve been somewhere else nearby.

Unfortunately neither God nor anime was on his side today.

“Akira!”

Akira jumps out of his skin and yelps at the harsh voice. His eyes are wide in surprise and his heart’s thumping against his ribs. He’s fought a ‘god’ before sure, but he’s never had to deal with Sojiro directly shouting at him like that.

He sounded genuinely angry… 

“Get over here.”

And like a dog he complies and walks adjacent to where Sojiro was standing behind the counter. The three police officers stayed quiet throughout. 

He gestures toward the boys in blue and with a disappointed face says, “They said they wanted to talk to you regarding something they’re investigating. I don’t know what the Hell you did Kid, but you better tell the whole truth to these guys, got it?” 

Akira wants to cry.

One of the officers steps forward and with a tone that attempts to be easy, (but falls below the bar) interrupts with a, “We can assure you he’s not in trouble, Sir.”

Sojiro relaxes a tad bit, but nowhere near enough for Akira to do the same.

The same officer continues. “We have reason to believe that your ward here may have been in direct contact with someone we're…" He trails off and glances at his colleagues for something. "Currently having an investigation about, as he was referenced by name from the person of interest." He waves a hand towards Akira.

His stomach starts to sink further as he grapples onto the realization of why they're here. Were…were they this fast about the investigation in the other loops? 

How the Hell would he know!? It’s not like the police had to track down Shiho, Kamoshida had openly admitted what he’d done to her, but…Akira’s name must’ve been told post-arrest. 

He’s glad the police are taking this seriously (they’re forced into doing this since it’s become so public) and they’re trying to get statements from victims (they wouldn't even bother with this sort of stuff half the time), but Akira knows one thing for sure.

He hates cops. 

Nothing that has happened in the past few years have painted a partially good picture for him nor rooted a fondness for them. If anything he has a disdain for them.

He also knew he wasn’t up for being in a small room with several cops, alone. It doesn’t matter that they wouldn’t be integrating him like...that, but he knew how the police force tends to handle sexual assault cases. They make it so… 

Horrible.

He doesn’t want to go with them. He wants to crawl under a rock and pretend nothing ever happened. 

Another officer pipes up, breaking whatever inner turmoil Akira was stirring up in his skull. 

"We'll like to take him in for questioning if that's okay with you." The officer asks out of obligation. 

Sojiro strokes his chin, visibly calming down as he started to grab at the pieces he was given. "A statement, huh?"

He makes eye contact with the teen, only to pause as he notices how pale the other has become. 

Akira's sure he's not pulling a pleasant face. He felt tense enough to be stone. 

The man hesitates at his next question. "So you just want a statement from him then?" 

"Yes." The third officer, who hasn't spoken until now; answers with annoyance and hast. 

"I see…" He replies, less polite than before. "Kurusu." Akira snaps his attention back to him, the name change indicating that the man wasn't so angry with him anymore. "You want to give a statement, don’t you?”

He was glued to his spot. Technically, yes, he did. He wanted any horrible action that man had taken against children to be put into the list of offenses that man would be slammed with in court.

But he also didn’t. He didn’t because in the end this won’t matter. Because he’ll have to deal with this bastard one way or another next year.

Well, maybe ‘next year’ wouldn’t be the proper terminology. 

He knew the humiliating way the police would treat him or just the fact he’ll have to be in an enclosed room with them wouldn’t justify it for him. This redo was nothing more than a time for him to lay low and rest. He’s not actively trying to save the world or anything.

This holds no weight to it, so at the very least; it didn’t have ramifications to meet the end. 

So for all intents and purposes, no. He did not want to make a statement. 

Officer 2 sighs rather impatiently. “Come on kid, this would aid us in our investigation. Besides, he’s already admitted to what he’s done. We just need you to come in and confirm it with us.” 


Sojiro follows the officer’s parlor car with Akira seated quietly in the passenger seat. He had refused to get in with them and had partially whisper begged Sojiro to go with him once the men waited outside. 

Akira can’t express how much better it made him feel when Sojiro told him to give him a minute to close up shop. 

There was no talk on the ride there and for that, he was grateful.


He stood in a room with a few other officers, all of them different from the ones who gave the café a visit an hour prior. All but one. 

His jaw was clenched and he hated how he had to be alone with them. Knowing that Sojiro was just outside the door (as he wasn’t allowed to go in) didn’t help calm him as much as he would’ve liked. 

They had a life sized doll in the corner of the room.

He knew what it was for unfortunately.


When he saw Sojiro again, he was shaking. Silent tears plotted his face and he took off his glasses as to wipe them away. The old man looked alarmed, stressed, and concerned all at once. 

He’s been in this loop for barely a month and he’s already giving Sojiro gray hairs, no doubt.

Sojiro got up from his chair and headed over to him. They met in the middle. 

"Kid, are you…?" He doesn't finish his inquiry, already painfully aware of the answer. “Here…” He offers him an unopened water bottle which Akira accepts with shaky hands. 

This is oddly familiar. A sense of déjà vu washes over him and he scrunches his nose. 

He sits down to take a breath, but he knows he can’t truly calm down until he gets the Hell out of here. When he opens it he only dares to take a small sip to let his body take it in. He wouldn't want to end up choking. Can’t cry and drink at the same time. On second thought, he takes a gulp of his drink. 

Vaguely, somewhere; he can hear Sojiro’s voice. Though he is struggling to focus on much of anything at the moment. His brain refuses to hear clearly as it was intended, so all he can make out is simple nothings. He can only deduce that Sojiro seems to be discussing something with the other officers. 

He sounds…mad? Upset? He’s definitely raising his voice. 

Akira rests his eye on his palm, hunches over and waits to leave. 

He really wishes he could replace his brain.


Sojiro returning to his side feels like a miracle. 

Oh man, how he could really use one of those right now.

But to be honest, he had gotten one 3 years ago. It lingers…as this. 

He had started doubting it to be a miracle when Goro’s blood painted his metaverse outfit. They had been so sure… 

And yet in the end they had been weak, and paid the ultimate price. Too bad Akira lives on, and remembers.

He hates it. More than he hates this place.

“We’re leaving.”

The tired boy wanted to cry tears of relief at those words.

There’s a moment where Sojiro goes to place a hand on his shoulder, but hesitates. “Please don’t.” Was it a whisper or a whimper? Doesn’t matter because Sojiro gets the message and retreats his hand. Akira does appreciate the gesture though, he truly does. He just doesn't want it though.

It feels like he’s on autopilot as he follows his guardian out of the police station. Into the car. A silent drive back. 

Akira’s eyes and face are dry by the time they exit the vehicle. 

He knows he’s probably just going to fly up the stairs like a cat and knock himself into a coma, but what he really yearned for is to shower until his skin was raw.

Unfortunately you can’t do that in the bath house. 

He’s surprised when Sojiro sits him down on one of the stools and stands next to him. He looks up at him with uncertainty, but he’s pretty sure he’s managed to school his expression by now. He doesn’t like the way the old man was looming over him.

He might have conveyed this a bit too clearly, for Sojiro puffs and takes the seat next to him. Akira stares at him, waiting for a question to spill out. It does, and Akira talks and answers, but not enough. He holds the certains words and feelings and memories in himself, not ready to bare his exposed ribs. 

It was enough for Sojiro though. He looks appalled at the situation, but his eyes show pity. “I’m sorry.”

Akira stops burning holes into the wooden floorboards long enough to give him a perplexed look. “What for? You didn’t do any-”

“I accused you of getting into a fight back then.”

Akira squeezes his eyes shut and pitches the bridge of his nose. “That, that doesn't matter.”

“It did at the moment.” 

His hand drops. He has no rebuttal. He has nothing to say. 


Akira wakes up to Sojiro moving a stack of books off the desk and onto the floor. He picks up a saucer placed on the floor with a cup of tea steaming on it. When it fills the free space he just made, he turns. “Morning.”

“Good morning.” He slurs. Akira is not a morning person. Unlike his friends who are somehow demons. Oh, other than Ryuji. He’s normal in that regard.

Oh wait, they’re not his friends. He doesn’t have any. Except for Mishima.

Not really something he ever thought would happen to him. Look at him now past selves. 

"Now that you're awake, we can discuss school. Like I said yesterday I already contacted the school saying you needed a couple of days off." 

He nods, remembering that discussion last night. He slides off his makeshift bed and trots over to the cup.

“Careful, it’s hot.”

“‘kay, thanks.” The scent that wafers off the hot beverage tickled his nose. It was peppermint tea. He doesn’t mind the flavor, but as a plain person himself, his favorite was green tea. Just straight up throw the leaves in some boiling water and brew that shit, it’ll win him over for sure. “How long will I be out?” He innocently asks, blowing on his tea so it won’t attempt to burn him from the inside out. He was anticipating maybe 2, 4 days? Something like that. He probably shouldn’t be missing too much school just for attendance alone. 

“2 weeks.”

Good thing the tea was hot, otherwise he would've spilled the tea. Pun not intended. 

"2 weeks?!" He suddenly felt a lot more awake and aware of his surroundings. 

Sojiro frowns, obviously expecting the opposite reaction. "It can be shorter if you want."

The boy shakes his head, putting down the cup in fear he might drop it. "No, that's okay. I'm just surprised you're pulling me out that long." He's going to have to text Mishima later about this lest his friend thinks he died or something. 

"Yeah, about that…" The man trails off, stroking his beard. Akira perks up at this. "I was thinking about moving you out of here." Akira's heart misses a beat. "That's why I thought 2 weeks was a good-"

"You're kicking me out?" His question might have been quiet, but the response he got was not. 

Surprise runs across Sojiro's face. "What?" Disbelief stumbles his words. "No, Kid!" 

Akira's brows furrowed, not really getting it at the moment. "Then where am I-?"

"I'm moving you into my place. That's why I chose two weeks. Enough time to move whatever you have into there and get you situated and used to the place." 

Akira was still reeling from the whiplash as the man continued. 

"If you don't feel comfortable with the sudden change, I understand." 

“No no.” The words spill out as he was thunderstruck. “I’d like that.” In all his time being here, in Tokyo; he has never managed to be invited into the Sakuras’ household. Well, not like this. He was welcomed as a guest and even got to sleep over a few times on the 2nd, but he never lived there.

Until now. Wild.

“But why?”

Sojiro passes a questioning glance to him at his inquiry. 

Akira scrambles for the right words to elaborate with. “Are you sure you want me living at your house?” He is startled by the bark of laughter that the other person lets out. 

“Are you kidding me? You’re not a threat, you look like the sort of kid I’d bully when I was your age.” 

Akira finds an assumed smile worm its way onto his face. That’s what you think, Old Man.

“Besides,” he continues, “I want you to be in an environment where you can feel more safe. I know this is my café, but this place is no good.” He gestures at the wooden walls around him. “Too drafty.” 

Would he feel more safe there? He’s definitely familiar with the place. And Futaba is there. Which would be a plus, she only gets involved with their group because she spied on him. And since he’s not involved...she would just be vibing there, for a better lack of terms.

Yeah, he could deal with that. Not having to deal with the metaverse and still being able to get to know Futaba? He can’t see the immediate downside to that.

The Phantom Thieves will be without their navi. 

They’ll be fine, they have Morgana after all. And if they can clear out a whole palace without him, they could cope without her. 

“Unfortunately you’ll still have to attend Shujin. Since they were the only ones who’d take you…” He scratches the back of his head, but Akira doesn’t mind the fact. He'd be more alarmed if he managed to transfer out.

“It’s fine. I want to stay despite it all.” He picks up his drink and takes a sip. Almost lukewarm. 

“And why’s that?”

He tilts his head up. “I made a friend.” 

He gives the raven a small smile. “That’s good.”


((I did some research into how Japan’s police force handles sexual assault cases or rape cases and basically every source I read said this-

They are shit at it.

Like, I got upset reading into this. And the way the gov defined it as??? Like, the fuck? Like, sure, they changed the def recently but still… >:( They’re useless???

That’s why I choose to have Akira be so not okay with having to go with the police, besides the obvious thing that he’s traumatized by them??? Like, when you have to sign the contract lots of places in Japan make you do in order to use their services, Akira’s hands shake in game and Mona even comments on it??

I wasn't comfortable writing those scenes, and I didn’t want to make y'all feel that, so I went with the very vague few liners-sudden flashes of text approach. I hope it wasn’t too jarring with the shift in writing style. ^^”))

 

See? I told ya’ll things would start to look up for Akira. :) He’s going to start seeing a therapist in chapter 6, I promise. And no, it won't be Maruki. No P5R stuff. It wouldn’t make sense for the narrative. (Sorry bro, but I ain’t putting your new best girl into here. lmao)

Damn, this was a long boi. This is the longest chapter I’ve ever written, ever. XD Anyway, I have both chapter 4 & 5 already plotted out (I only have the first half of chapter 6) and chapter 4 should be on the shorter side (unlike this monster of a chapter lol), so I’m probs gonna work on that right now and post it in a week or 2? 

I was supposed to update that ‘other’ story I keep talking about back in June,,,so yeah, I’m a ‘little’ late on that… ^^” I’ll be working on that before I start tackling chapter 5.

Alright, enough about that, I have 2 shoutouts to do and I’ll shut the fuck up. 

 

1st things 1st, I know some of ya’ll are Mishima fans (same fam) and I stumbled across a fic I thought you guys would like. I love it and it’s criminally unappreciated. Like, what do you mean it only got 600~ hits? That’s BS! It’s called Waning by EclecticSpaghetti and it’s a pegoshima/shuyuu story. Plz,,,,show it some love ya’ll it’s snazzy af,,, Mishima got a palace and oh boi, am I all for it.

 

2nd thing, shoutout to TheBestRobin1 on Wattpad, you were super sweet,,,and tysm for shouting out this story,,,you and your buddies were so nice! Your guy’s comments were making me blush,,, Ya’ll killing me here. XD And like, such coincidental timing too??? Literally the day before you came out of nowhere, I was actually contemplating deleting my Wattpad account (and maybe Quotev) cuz it’s not very active besides like, two stories and I basically never go there to read, and especially after how they handled that security breach,,,,but ya’ll just swooped in and I didn't have the heart to go through with the idea anymore,,,so…thanks? Guess I’ll stay on that hellsite.  

 

Okay, bye! See ya’ll in 2-ish weeks!

Chapter Text

This is a bonus chapter! What that means is that it's a chapter that is through another character’s P.O.V. bc I said so.

This chapter is following around Sojiro when the police came in for Akira and said aftermath.

Chapter 5 will be a bonus chapter as well, albeit longer than this one. But I feel like you guys will enjoy that one more than this one. :) Oh by the way, to answer Guest’s question from FF.Net (imma assume ur the same person considering), 

“Does Mishima let the others know how Akira is doing? Did the others know he was a victim too?”

Legit, your questions will be answered next chapter. And hey, if you make an account instead of reviewing as a guest, I can PM you the answers instead. You’ll get them mini spoilers. >:3c Heh heh.


With Children's Day over business will be back like usual. Which is to say that the regulars will pop in and some random tourist(s) who’ll never be back after a visit or two.

People might wonder how Sojiro manages to keep this place afloat with the seemingly little patronage he gets. Well, it doesn't concern you. Mind your own damn business. 

But really, he has a way. Don’t worry about it. 

As such he embarks on his daily schedule of, well… It's kind of boring, maybe you don't want to hear about it. 

Today was slow as the sun would predict it with only three of his regulars coming in and a young couple from America visiting the place. Surprisingly the girlfriend had very good Japanese, putting aside her accent. The same could not have been said about her boyfriend… After tasting some of the coffees he had to offer, she had asked about any recommendations of where they should visit next. Sojiro had a few places on the top of his head to recommend. 

Unfortunately that was the only highlight of his day. 

The cafè was quiet and he decided now was the time to finish up this morning's newspaper. His ward should be coming back from school around this time to an hour later. 

Usually. 

The newspaper reports on the suspiciously coincidental mental shutdowns cases he’s been hearing so much about. He isn’t quite sure what to make of the whole situation, feels a little unreal if he’s being honest. (Besides the train incidents.) Deep down he doesn’t believe it to all be a coincidence, something is pointedly at play here.

He just wasn’t sure what and he had a feeling he wouldn't want to find out. Besides, he took himself out of that sort of game years ago.

Nearing the crosswords’ sections of his reading material, the bell on the door jingles. He readies himself to greet whoever it may be when he finally looks up.

He places his papers not so gently on the counter and considerably straightens up. It was a trio of cops. 

Shit.

He has an awfully big feeling they weren’t stopping for coffee and curry.

When the first one walks up to his counter he gives him an indifferent stare. 

The officer tilts his hat to him and Sojiro nods back out of niceties. 

“Hello Sir, are you the owner of this establishment?”

“I am. What is this about?” He wouldn’t call his tone snappy, but others might. Who cares what they think though? He just wants them out of his café if they have no business here. The last thing he wants right now is more trouble. 

“We wanted to confirm with you if you had a ward.”

Futaba. Is his first thought as his panicky brain jumps to conclusions. He simmers down when rationale reintroduces itself. He had already legally adopted Futaba, they wouldn’t be referring to her as his ‘ward’. Which leaves… 

Must be the Kid. And now he’s interested, but for a different reason. What did he do? “I do. Are you looking for him?” 

The officer nods.

He’s disappointed. 

“We’re looking for a Kurusu Akira.” One of the officers who hung in the back noted. 

The first one speaks up again. “Is that the one-?”

“Yes. He houses here.”

The boy in blue doesn’t seem at all fazed by the interruption and gets down to business. “We would like to take him for questioning, Sir.” 

This is seriously happening right now. It’s barely been a month and who knows what this kid got himself into. It has to be involved with that day he came back with bruises. “What did he do?” His eyes narrow in anger? Indignation? Something like that. 

To his surprise, the trio of officers seems to hesitate at that question. It makes his brain stir with thoughts. Did he do something that bad that they won’t tell me? No way, the Kid looks like a gust of wind will blow him over. Did he get involved in a gang? Seems plausible… 

Fortunately for him, he didn’t have to speculate any longer as the man of the hour walks in. The bell chimes and with it the appearance of Kurusu. The cops this time straighten up at the new addition to the place.

Deep down, Sojiro is honestly impressed by how quickly the teen's eyes go from ‘sleepy time’ to ‘fuck’ . He knows why they’re here then. Kurusu looks at the unfamiliar faces with apprehension and that’s enough of a story for him. “Akira!” He shouts to get the boy’s attention, and it hits the dice alright. 

What’s left of the boy’s tired expression is wiped clean off his face, his eyes fluttering up in surprise. He distinctly heard him squeak as well, which would’ve been humorous to him any other day. 

“Get over here.” He can’t say it with any more conviction than he already has. The boy doesn’t put up a fight at this at all, instead complying with his no-so-much-a-request-than-command. 

When the teen stands across from his placement, avidly avoiding looking at their company; he tries scanning him for any clues or body language. All he manages to make out is the boy is scared out of his wits and most certainly wants to be anywhere but here right now. 

Should’ve thought about this before you did something stupid. That’s all he’s probably going to get for that. With it out of the way, he addresses the elephant in the room. “They said they wanted to talk to you regarding something they’re investigating. I don’t know what the Hell you did Kid, but you better tell the whole truth to these guys, got it?”

Kurusu’s bottom lip quivers and he blinks up his eyes. Tell-tale signs he’s well aware of. He’s near tears.

It makes the man pause. 

That chatty officer steps up to add his two cents. “We can assure you he’s not in trouble, Sir.” He sounds irritated behind the polite notice. 

Obviously there was something he wasn’t getting and they weren't too keen on explaining. It relaxes him, even if only a little bit. 

“We have reason to believe that your ward here may have been in direct contact with someone we're…" The man pauses to the utter annoyance of Sojiro. Thankfully after a passing glance at his colleague he continued. "Currently having an investigation about, as he was referenced by name from the person of interest." He waves his hand at Kurusu, who hasn’t said anything yet. 

"We'll like to take him in for questioning if that's okay with you." Another office adds on. Did they just expect him to hand the kid over without more context? Sure, if it’s an ongoing investigation of course they’re not allowed to share too many details. But as his current guardian they should be informing him a little more. 

"A statement, huh?" He strokes his chin out of habit. He looks at Kurusu again, only to stop in his tracks when he sees him. The boy had managed to school his expression by now, but was also a few shades paler. After a moment he redirects his question at the cops standing around. "So you just want a statement from him then?"  

“Yes.” The officer who didn’t bother contributing to the conversation until now snaps.

“I see…” Asshole. “Kurusu.” The boy quits staring off to the slide to look up at him. "You want to give a statement, don’t you?” The teen doesn’t answer for a couple of seconds, and Sojiro is sure he’s going to decline. He may not be sure what precisely is going on, but his brain is painting a picture of the kid seeing something he wasn’t supposed to, and in return was beaten up to encourage his silence. Even if one person was detained, that doesn’t mean anyone else who was involved has been as well. 

Of course, he could have completely missed the nail on that one.

Apparently he was taking too long to make a decision as the less chatty officer coerces him for an answer. “Come on kid, this would aid us in our investigation. Besides, he’s already admitted to what he’s done. We just need you to come in and confirm it with us.”

And Kurusu seems to reluctantly nod without even looking at the man.


“I’m busy with something at the moment, I won’t be able to do my usual run for you.”

“Are you going to be back home later?” 

“Probably.”

“Oh, okay. Well, are you sure there’s nothing I can do? Maybe-”

“No Futaba, keep your tech skills to yourself. I’m not certain what’s going on myself. Like I said, I’ll explain to you when I get back.”

“You’re being awfully vague about this. I'm curious now."

He shakes his head in partial fondness, partial dismay. "Don't you know that curiosity killed the cat? Like I said, I'll tell you what I can later." He looks up impatiently at the clock. It's been a while since they took the kid into a private room. He was instructed to wait outside, and honestly these shitty plastic chairs were hurting his back. "If I arrive back after dinner time there’s chicken in the fridge. Just warm it up.”

“Alright. See you later then.”

“Goodbye.” Sojiro hangs up the phone and sighs. This is not how he anticipated his day to go. Not at all. 

He had welcomed the call from Futaba with more vigor than he tends to as there wasn’t much he could do waiting at the station. Not to mention just being here puts him on high alert. 

Can you blame him? The man used to live a very different life from the calm coffee shop owner he is today. 

He sat there, waiting for an undisguisable amount of time before footsteps seemed to head his way. It was Kurusu being trailed by a few police officers. 

The kid looked like shit. 

Scratch that, the kid was visibly shaking and obviously trying to quill his crying fit. Aw, crap. He leapt to his feet and grabbed the extra water bottle he had purchased from the nearby vending machine. When he reached him he hesitantly asked if he was okay before dismissing his own question. The answer was obvious. He hands him the drink and the boy doesn’t protest when he steers him to take a seat. 

Now the man has a mission. 

He makes his way over to the offers he saw walk out of the room to confront them.


He was still pissed even as he drove back to his café. He’s silent because he doesn’t know what to say, he’s quiet because he still feels his rage from the station.

He chooses not to talk because Kurusu seems like he needs the ambiance.

Well, maybe that wouldn’t be the right word.

Upon getting back he notices that Kurusu looks like a cat ready to bolt. He’s not having any of it. He refused to have the kid he’s supposed to be taking care of shove something like this under the rug. He knows what happens when you allow someone to do that for too long. So he sits him down and ponders just for a second how to address this. From the argument he had with those cops he’s gathered that they obviously didn’t give a shit about how they treated him, and one even mentioned how the kid got what he deserved.

It boils his blood. 

But that was as much as he gathered, so he occupies the stool next to him and dares to ask. 

Kurusu stares at him for a few seconds, unmoving before words tumble. His voice is low and soft, like it always is; and as he explains what happened at school Sojiro feels the hairs at the back of his neck stand up. He’s appalled by what he's hearing, and enraged when he hears how the cops handled it.

They’re always shit at this kind of stuff, much less when the victim is male. 

Kurusu had sounded weary, surprising not bitter. He just simply sounded tired in a way no one his age should. 

His eyes were worse for wear though.


The next day he closed up shop to let Kurusu have some peace and quiet. The messy haired teen sits downstairs on one of the stools and mindlessly surf the channels on the television. 

“Sheez Kid, is there nothing on you wanna watch?”

He shakes his head for no and leaves the TV on a random channel about baking of all things. He slouches over to rest his head on his arms and it dislodges his glasses. 

He kinda looks boneless from where the man was standing.

Sojiro rolls his eyes and returns his attention to finish up making breakfast. He had made sure to leave food in the fridge for Futaba last night, so she should be good. He had some other stuff to deal with for the next few days it would seem. Kurusu didn’t arrive with much to Tokyo, nor did he seem to add anything to his stuff or so it would seem. Packing and unpacking would be a breeze. Getting him used to the place would be the hard part.

Then there’s Futaba… 

“I’m back!” He shouts as he locks the front door behind him. A plastic bag holding take-out was held across his wrist—that was his dinner seeing as the man was not in the mood to cook. Footsteps from upstairs trail down until a short figure greets him at the landing. “I thought you’d still be awake.”

Futaba shrugs, sliding her headphone down. “I wanted to wait for you. Besides, there was a new special guild event in Unison League.”

“Oh?” He’s used to hearing about this even though she loses him sometimes. “What is it this time?” The container is set down and he goes to dig out some utensils for himself. 

“More Vocaloid, you know, Hatsune Miku. All my gems are gone…”

“Gachas are basically gambling, you know.” He jokes, putting the food on a plate for easier access.

“Legal gambling!” She pipes up. When she leans against the kitchen counter and quietly stares at him, he sighs.

“Want me to tell you?” He brings the first spoonful of rice up to eat. 

She nods. “You promised.” 

He puts the plate down. That could wait. It was already starting to get cold anyhow. “Hmmm… I know what I said before, but I can’t actually tell you.”

“Why not?” She whines.

“Because—it’s serious. I can’t tell you. However I will say this…” She perks up at this. It remembers him of a raccoon and he’s not sure why. “You remember that teen I decided to house?”

A nod.

“Well, due to some events coming to light I’ve decided to move him out of there.”  

Her brows furrowed. “Out of the attic?” 

“Yes…”

“He’s going to live here!?”

“Futaba-”

“Does he know?!”

“Not yet. I’m telling him tomorrow. I wanted him to rest.” 

She looks uncertain, rather than uneasy like he had expected. 

“It’ll be fine, I’ll make sure to tell him not to bother you.” And he rustles her hair, much to the girl’s protest.

He would have to mention her soon.


After they had eaten the two of them sat around to watch television as neither could properly strike up conversion beyond small talk. But Sojiro doesn’t mind. He’s used to this sort of silence with Futaba.

Speaking of her, he couldn’t help but cast passing glances in Kurusu’s direction. Just thinking about what happened made his blood boil. No kid should have to go through that. The kid didn’t deserve it, the only reason why he was here is because he decided to be a good Samaritan. Only to be targeted by a scumbag after he had his reputation ruined at school. 

Life dealt him some shitty cards indeed.

A thought that would creep in was knowing that Futaba would have most likely attended Shujin Academy if she was well enough to go back to school. 

Something like this could happen to her. She could've gotten into that deplorable teacher’s crossfire. 

He makes a promise at this moment that he would help and support this kid as much as he could. It doesn’t matter that they don’t know each other too well or the fact Kurusu is only due to be here for a year, he’s his responsibility at the moment and he won’t be taking it lightly anymore.


The writing for this chapter is pretty weaksause, but I got busy when I was writing this so I rushed. Sorry ‘bout that,,, 

Well now it’s time for me to work on that other story,,,which is a Voltron fic btw I don’t think I ever mentioned that. 

Btw I personally hc that Futaba only bugs the downstairs area of LeBlanc, not the attic. (I imagine she heard the conversation about what happened,,,)

And wow, look, it’s 3AM again. I’m so tired,,,

Chapter Text

It’s been 2 months and I am so sorry,,, I legit had to hold myself at gunpoint to finish writing this… As such, sorry if this chapter is hot garbage,,, At least it’s 21k????

As made obvious by the chapter’s title, this bonus chapter is about the Phantom Thieves and is through Yuuki’s P.O.V.!

I originally intended this chapter to bounce around who’s P.O.V. (among the PT) it was depending on the day or event, but decided that was just too much P.O.V. switching. )X

This chapter is to show you how the PT formed without Akira, who the leader role went to, and where Yuuki and Shiho fit into all this. 

I know some of ya’ll really liked the mystery and suspense of knowing jack-shit about how the PT were doing/operating and that this chapter breaks that illusion… 

But!!! 

This will be the only PT bonus chapter where it’ll be action/plot heavy. I just want to establish the basics with you guys. And remember, Akira doesn’t know any of these fine details. ;) Any other bonus chapter with these guys will only be for the big funny. :0)

Oh, one last thing! I don’t think I mentioned this, but my update schedule is going to be bouncing back-and-forth between updating this story and my Voltron story. I’ll try to give myself two weeks to write a chapter, but it’s pretty evident that I suck at time management. 

Sorry. I’m trying not to procrastinate. I literally bought a book on how to stop,,,


4/11/2016 Monday

Today the transfer student comes in. 

At his first discretion he barely even notices him. Too busy with other thoughts conveying in his mind and pulling him thin every which way. 

He's sick of feeling worried and weary. But those seem to be the only things he can feel lately.

Maybe beside feeling scared as per usual. 

Ms. Kawakami seems to whisper to the teen where to sit, seeing as he had arrived early. Yuuki honestly barely could tell this was a new student. He looked as generic as everyone else in this school. 

Oh well. He glances at him one last time out of the corner of his eye. With his curiosity satiated, he goes back to blankly staring at his desk. 


Takamaki walks in just as the bell rings, which Yuuki found weird. While everyone had switched classes recently, he was also in the same class as her previously as well. She always seemed to get there early. He only noticed such a pattern because she stood out so much. Unlike everyone else. 

One might argue that in this new class he stands out the second most, with his blue hair and refusal to wear his blazer and spenders up. But he's so meek and mousy, he'll no doubt fall out of the eye of others. 

Ms. Kawakami nods at Takamaki when she walks in, not marking her as tardy as she has a 5 minutes after the bell rule as counting towards such. 

Class begins and his teacher gestures for the transfer student to get up and move to the front of the class. The student complies and his posture was surprisingly straight and good. Unlike his own. 

He's not sure why that detail caught on with him. Maybe because you can tell a lot from a person from the way they carry themselves? In that case Yuuki isn't up for messing with him then. Not that he was planning on it in the first place. Yuuki was painfully aware about his criminal record. (Everyone was.) He had been the one to leak the other boy's information a week prior onto the school’s help forums. 

Kamoshida ordered him to carry out the task. He was the only tech savvy enough person on the volleyball team that could do it. Yuuki regretted ever mentioning his nak for computers and coding when Kamoshida took over after the last P.E. coach.

He wasn't certain why he was ordered to do so, but he assumed maybe he knew him and wanted to make his life Hell too. Or perhaps the adult saw an opportunity to have leverage on another teen to integrate him into his pool of punching bags.

Deplorable piece of human garbage. 

"Settle down." Ms. Kawakami attempts to settle the class. They had already started whispering as soon as the new kid stood up. That’s a little shameless of them, isn’t it? He’s right there, he’s bound to be able to hear them. “...Well, I’d like to introduce a transfer student: Kurusu Akira.” She gestures to the taller teen. “All right, please say something to the class.” She nods her head to signify he could speak. 

Out comes a simple, “Nice to meet you.” And he pushes up his glasses. 

“He seems quiet…but I bet when he loses it…” A prim short haired girl in front of him whispers. Yuuki isn’t sure who she’s talking to until the brown haired boy to his left whispers something back.

“I mean, he was arrested for assault, right…?”  

They must be friends then.

Ms. Kawakami must have heard the exchange, seeing as they were in the front of the classroom. “...Uhh, so…” She pauses, looking around the classroom like she lost something. “Your seat is over there, as I already told you earlier…” She mutters the latter half under her breath, but he still can make it out. (Yuuki had his suspicions that’s where one of the boys in his team was supposed to be, but Kamoshida had made sure the boy left this school for another one a few weeks prior.) “Sorry, but can the people nearby please share your textbooks with him today?” 

“This sucks…” The guy to his left complaints. He’s whining like he has to sit near him. 

Yuuki thinks he’s being a tad dramatic.  

Two girls in the row next to where the new guy sits start to whisper about something he can’t hear. But when he checks over his shoulder to see who the offenders were, he only gathers that they’re both brunettes. He doesn't recall the short haired girl’s name, but the longed haired one was Yamamoto.

Rude.

He doesn’t need to hear them to know they were gossiping. Hardly anybody was nice in this stupid school. 

“Oh, right!” The teacher snaps her fingers. “The volleyball rally’s in two days… Everyone’s just changed classes, so make sure you use that time to get to know each other.” She shifts to stand behind her desk. “Well then, let’s get class started. Who’s on duty today?” 

It’s him. “Everyone, please rise…” 

 

4/13/2016 Wednesday

"Hello there."

Yuuki whips around at the sound of an unfamiliar voice so close to him. To his surprise, it’s the transfer student, Kurusu. His first thought is- He found out I leaked his record and now he’s here to beat me. Oh God. I guess this is what I get… 

"Uh, hi." He swallows hard and subconsciously bites his lip. "You're the transfer student, right? Kurusu-san?" Play it cool, this might be a coincidence. Maybe he just wants notes from before to catch up?

The boy nods, expressionlessly. It makes Yuuki nervous. "I just wanted to ask if you were okay. That teacher had muscle. The ball must've hurt." 

Yuuki deflates. He’s talking about the rally… A humorless chuckle escapes his lips as he thinks of the irony in having the volleyball team perform in a school rally. Sure, they’re supposed to lift school spirit. "I'm-I'm fine. The nurse gave me an ice pack."

He notices the taller kid narrow his eyes at him. "If you say so." 

He isn’t sure what this guy’s angle was, so he chooses a gray area of nodding. His eyes can’t help but glance around to look for an escape route when-"Sorry, I don't think I got your name during class. What was it again?"

Huh? Wait. Is he seriously asking for his name? 

Despite being caught off guard by the question, he stumbles out the answer. What came out next from the boy, really, really caught him off guard. 

"Yuuki." A hmpth. "That's a cute name."

He’s mortified by the complement and his brain is screaming. His face feels significantly hotter than before and the boy saves face by quickly excusing himself from the conversion and making a break for it. 

When he feels he’s a safe distance away he checks his pulse to make sure he’s still alive. 

Yup, he still processes a heartbeat. 

He also has the beginning of a forming headache. In hindsight he shouldn't have ran tail between his legs after just having a ball chucked right at him, but hindsight is 20/20 and it was his fault for not dodging after all.

The last coach had actually tried to help him improve with his lack of skill; he joined the team because he wanted to learn. Maybe then, if he was into some type of sport he would get more friends.

A short lived fantasy, really. 

Kamoshida just wanted to shift people’s already existing skills, which Yuuki lacked. Is it any wonder why Kamoshida likes picking on him?


Yuuki is scrambling to leave the school campus before Kamoshida can catch him slacking off on practice. It’s not like we even practice most of the time anyway. He reasons.

A voice from behind startles him. For a moment he’s frightened somebody from the team was going to rat him out. Then he realizes it’s not a familiar voice. Well, not really anyway. 

“Hey, Mishima-kun.”

When he turns around he’s attempting to will his heart to go back to a more steady rate of beats. Of course, his heart is an organ and won’t listen to him. “Oh, uh. Kurusu-san. Do you need something?” His smile feels weak and awkward and he hopes this conversion will go by fast. Who knows how much time he has left before his window of opportunity closes up on him.

It’s been happening so often as of late that he wouldn't be surprised if it’s ripped away from him again. 

The other boy shakes for no, starting his sentence with a, “Nah, just curious.”

You could’ve asked someone else for school questions! His mind angrily spits out; jumping to conclusions about the nature of this interaction and the indignation of having his precious time ripped from him. (It doesn’t occur to him that he could’ve just ignored him and walked away.) 

“Aren’t you part of the volleyball team? I thought they had practice after school.”

Oh. Yuuki’s blood doesn’t feel as warm as it did a few seconds earlier. Now the bluenette is more unsure of what to do or how to feel. His gaze falls out of habit and he lets out a weak excuse. “I…don’t feel so good. I’m skipping practice.” 

There’s a few moments of silence which kills Yuuki inside. 

“Okay, don’t push yourself." The suggestion is soft and quiet. (This boy always seems to speak like this, but this line particularly.) It has Yuuki daring to look back up. "Wanna go grab a bite with me?”

“Eh!?” Wait what.

“I’ll pay. I think there’s a fast food place nearby…” 


The outing? Is that what it was? Lasted over an hour somehow, and Yuuki left it feeling very, very, confused. 

Kurusu is a weird guy and Yuuki doesn't understand.

Doesn’t understand why he asked if he was okay. Why he invited him to eat and paid for it. Why he was being so nice.

Was he trying to befriend him? 

How odd and so left field. 

Yuuki goes home not sure how to feel. Because regardless of what that boy’s intentions were, (either he was just being sweet and looking for some loser or was actually trying to gain a friend at school) Yuuki has already hurt him before they even met.

And Kurusu may never know. 

Yuuki falls asleep tired, and aching in more ways than one.

 

4/14/2016 Thursday

Yuuki has been and probably always will be an awkward sort of kid. He knows it. His parents know it. Everyone knows it. 

Needless to say he doesn’t know how to approach Kurusu the next day. He can’t help but throw glances his way and honestly he hopes the teen didn’t notice. 

Luckily the other boy seems lost in his own head and doesn’t seem interested in bothering Yuuki today. 

The boy is glad for it. Feels like he dodged a bullet there. 

 

4/15/2016 Friday

He can’t help but notice that the transfer student is suddenly and abruptly absent. His stomach curls in and he doesn’t know why. He barely just met the guy. He barely knows him. 

Heck, he knows more of him. 


There’s no practice after school today and Yuuki is eager to take advantage of such. At the last class of the day he packs his things to go. He wants to get home and relax. Maybe watch some Kamen Rider Den-O on his laptop. He’s already watched the whole thing, but he hasn’t watched the movie yet. Now was his chance. 

But of course things never seem to go this boy’s way. And of course there’s another obstacle that presents itself. This obstacle comes in the form of Sakamoto Ryuji. Previous field track star turned local delinquent.

A fall from grace most say. Yuuki knows better.

The boy is trapping him from leaving the empty classroom. (Stupid cleaning duties.) This only serves to make him feel nervous. What does he want from him? They don’t really know each other well. Too well anyway… 

“Hey, got a second?” The taller teen asks.

“Sakamoto-san?” He replies dumbly, unsure as to why he was being stopped again. The boy just wants to go home. 

“I just wanted to know how you got injured.” 

Yuuki’s eyes instinctively trail down to stare at the tiled floor.  

“So,” he continues without any tact, “I heard Kamoshida’s been “coaching” you, huh?” He can see at the edge of his peripheral that the ‘blond’ crosses his arms at this. “You sure it’s not just physical abuse?”

Yuuki backs up a step, feeling the sturdiness of a desk poke him from behind. He’s shocked that Sakamoto was being so crass and straight forward with probing questions. “Certainly not!” It just came out. He can’t say anything. Everyone knows and nobody cares; but if it gets out he tries to rat out Kamoshida… 

The boy doesn’t want to think about it as his bruises seem to throb and his wrist is set ablaze. 

Sakamoto just raises an eyebrow and shakes his head. “What’re you talkin’ all polite for? Anyways…I saw him spike you right in the face at the rally.”

He lets out a nervous laugh. A hand curls up to his chest; a gesture he did without thinking. “That was just because I’m not good at the sport…” he reasons. 

“Look,” His hands travel into his pockets. “I ain’t gonna tell anyone you squealed. And that doesn’t explain all the other bruises you’ve got.” 

“That’s…” Yuuki rakes his brain for a believable lie. He hasn't really needed to tell people one before now. His parents know and they don’t care. The money they received for being complicit was apparently more valuable than him.

His own fault though for being so pathetic. They must be so embarrassed of him.

“They’re from practice…!” he blubbers out. Internally he cringes at how poorly his delivery sounded. Sakamoto isn’t going to believe something as weak as that, right?

There’s a couple moments of silence where the air is stirred. “Is he forcin’ you to keep quiet?” The typically boisterous teen inquiries in a low tone.

He doesn’t believe me. “It’s not like that at all…”  

That must not have been the right thing to say, for the ‘blond’ clearly turns from sympathetic to frustrated at the drop of a hat. “For real?! You’re going with something as lame as that?! Are you really just gonna let that bastard Kamoshida treat Shujin like his castle?!”

The shorter boy jumps at the sudden outburst. Though he doesn’t get to dwell on it long enough for any proper reaction as a weird pulse hits him. Maybe he’s going crazy, but he swears the world had a tint of purple over it for a fraction of a second before a sharp pain strucks his head.

“Uuugh, my head hurts…”

Apparently he wasn’t the only one.

When the feeling of lightheadedness subsides, Yuuki finally cracks open his eyes. They widened at what was before him. What the actual…? This…this isn’t his school. 

“What the shit!?” Seems like his trapper noticed it too.  

Yuuki swallows hard. “Where are we?” 


There was no time given to really process what was happening, where they were, or how they got there. It was just one event after the other. 

First they left the room they were in to only find themselves in an elaborate hallway of sorts. They barely got to check out their surroundings for a minute or two before these tall armored men surrounded them. One shoved Sakamoto to the ground after the boy had demanded answers. The next thing he knew the both of them were hauled away into a cell. 

Everything seemed to be made of brick, stone, wood, or metal. Chains and shackles decorated the place in an untasteful way. A metal gate was locked in front of them, showing more cells like the one they were confined in. 

“Are, are you okay?” He can’t help but ask, even though he was pretty shaken up himself. 

Sakamoto sits on the wooden bed, rubbing the back of his head. “I’m fine. My ass just hurts from fallin’.” 

Yuuki nods.

“Ugh, what’s goin’ on!?” The boy kicks at the floor in frustration. “None of this makes a lick of sense!” 

His hands curl up to his chest as he tries to think of some way to explain this. “Shared hallucination?” he suggests.

“Is that even a thing? Look, this shit’s happening whether we like it or not.” The boy springs up and marches to the gate. He bangs on it all the while shouting out commands. “Hey, let us outta here! I know there’s someone out there!” 

Of course, there’s no reply. 

“Dammit, where are we!? Is this some kinda TV set…?” Sakamoto complains while pacing back to where Yuuki was standing. 

There’s yelling coming from further down the hall that stops the both of them in their tracks. They run to the gate. Yuuki can feel his heart pounding in his ears by this point. 

“Th-the Hell was that just now…?” Trying to peer out didn’t help gather anymore infor. More yelling was heard and Sakamoto is muttering under his breath at this. “Whoa… Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa…” It sounds like a chat coming from him. “You’re shittin’ me, right…?” 

Yuuki just feels his stomach curl and he hopes he doesn’t throw up.  

He looks around to see if there’s anything useful at all to help get out, but it turns up empty handed. Sakamoto shushes him as the boy hears someone’s footsteps near their cell. 

It’s the armored guards from earlier.

The one at the head speaks. His voice sounds…wrong. “Be glad that your punishment has been decided upon. Your charge is “unlawful entry”. Thus, you will be sentenced to death.”

“Say what!?” Sakamoto exclaims. 

Yuuki doesn't say anything, he's just trying not to cry.

“No one’s allowed to do as they please in my castle.” 

What the fuck… Is that...Kamoshida?!

The boy next to him jumps to the same conclusion as well, just as surprised as he is it would seem. 

But his voice…it too sounded wrong.  

Distorted...it sounds distorted. 


“It’ll have you killed right now.” Kamoshida mocks after giving Sakamoto a beating. 

The boy felt terrified and froze to his spot against the wall. He was shaking and tears were stinging his eyes. “You can’t actually be thinking of killing him!” Something like that can’t easily be gotten away with! Surely he must understand that?! 

When Kamoshida turns his attention to him, he feels his heart stop. 

“Hm…? What…? You think I’d listen to a waste of space like you? You’re not even worth my time to execute, at least Sakamoto had put up a fight before. You act like a dog.” And without missing a beat the man kicks him to the wall. 

“Ack!” Yuuki slides down the wall like water. 

“Hold him there… After the peasant, do whatever you want with him.” 

Yuuki’s mind is racing, he doesn’t know what to do, what to say, what to feel. Two guards hold him against the wall and he’s forced to watch more of the scene unfold in front of him.

Kamoshida steps close as Sakamoto whimpers. “No, I don’t wanna die!” The man just laughs like some cheesy live action villain. 

Something snaps in the bluenette. “What are you doing? Are you just going to let him kill you?! Fight back, Sakamoto!”

“Wha…?” Sakamoto dumbly replies, looking at him like he was crazy.

Kamoshida however, doesn’t take kindly to Yuuki’s words. “What did you say, Brat?” He snaps when he turns his attention back to him. He slaps him across the face. “After I decided to not kill you, you still won’t shut up?!” A punch to the gut this time. It winds him. “Ungrateful piece of shit!” A punch to the face. 

Yuuki can feel another bruise forming.

The man appears to be going for another blow, but the noises behind him make him turn around. Both of them stare in confusion as Sakamoto seems to writhe in pain even though the guard was only holding him up against the wall. He screams and groans, sweat pours down his face and he just…stops. 

Kamoshida scoffs at the display. “What was that? Are you having a seizure?” He trots over, probably to taunt him more when a gust of wind blows out into the room. Kamoshida stumbles, almost losing his balance. 

Sakamoto slowly looks up with a mask that glints of metal. 


“Eh!?” Yuuki fell to his knees when the guards exploded into little pumpkin men. There he remained as some ghost-skeleton-thing on a ship destroyed them. A lead pipe gripped tightly in the masked boy’s hand was also swung around.

Yuuki was speechless among other things. Probably brain dead. Too much had happened at once and his brain was ‘bout ready to skip strike and just abandon ship. 

Kamoshida spat out some insult, but Sakamoto just shoulder rams him to the floor, weird coat and all. “Aagh!”

“Ha! You like that, you son of a bitch?” 

“The key!” Yuuki scrambles to get back on his feet and drives for the lock of keys, but Sakamoto picks it up before him. 

“You mean this?” The both of them run out and the ‘blond’ locks the man up in the cell. 

The blue haired boy laughs nervously at the situation. “What even was that!? And why are you wearing bullets?”

“Donno man. But we gotta get out-” He is rudely cut off by his clothes proofing back to his normal attire.

“Ekkk!” He may not understand what the fresh Hell was going on, but he wasn’t expecting that to happen. 

Crash!

“You bastards!” Kamoshida growls at them, thrashing at the bars of the cell. 

“God,” he sounds breathless, “this’s effin’ nuts!” He turns towards him. “Anyway, let’s scram!” And with that he throws the costume sized keys into the out-of-place rushing river in the center of the hall. 

“Goddamn thieves…! After them! Don’t let them escape!”


The two of them manage to maneuver their way around the guards to avoid being recaptured. After some running around, hiding, and hole in the wall crawling, they came to an area with more river! And suspended cages with people in them? Oh shit.

“We really did hear people screamin’... So we ain’t the only ones who got captured!”

“Do you think they’re alright?”

Sakamoto looked apprehensive. “Donno. They don’t look okay…” 

Yuuki couldn’t keep his eyes off of them for long. Not that it mattered. Soon a dead end greeted them, much to Sakamoto’s frustration. 

He was about to suggest something when a child’s voice rang through, frightening him. 

“Blondie! Short stack! Look over here!”

His neck hurt from how quickly he turned to look. Upon seeing the owner of the voice, he backs off a few steps.

Sakamoto on the other hand, decides to get closer. “What is this thing!?”

“You’re not soldiers of this castle, right!? Get me out of here! Look, the key’s right there!” The cat-monster-thing pleads. Yuuki looks around for said key, but the other boy isn’t convinced by the thing. 

“We’re trying to get the Hell out of here…! I mean, you obviously look like an enemy too!”

“I’m locked up here so how can I be your enemy!? Help me out!”

“What are you?” Yuuki pipes up. He can’t hold in that question any longer. 

“I’ll tell you if you get me out first!” There’s no time for a rebuttal as the sound of footsteps gets too close to home. 

“They’re catching’ up already…!” He takes out his phone. “Shit, there’s still no service. Ain’t there anyway to contact someone outside!?” Yuuki does the same and finds his phone yields the same results. “How the Hell do we get out…!?” The boy contemplates.  

“Hey, you two!” The cat thing waves around it’s little paw. “Want to know where the exit is? Let me out and I’ll take you there. You don’t want to get caught and executed, right?”

The shorter boy looks the other in the eyes. “It couldn’t hurt, right?”

He deflates. “Yes.”

“I’m not gonna hurt you! I barely go up to your shin!”

“He has a point.”

“Ugh.” Sakamoto groans. Though the footsteps get nearer and both can feel the urgency of the situation. He leans in towards the bars. “Are you seriously not messin’ with us!?”

It seems to get mad at this. “If you don’t hurry, they’ll catch you.”

The panic was settling in once more, so he smacks Sakamoto in the shoulder and gives him a look that demands he hurry up.

“F-fine.”


Yuuki felt like a sitting duck, with him standing behind both Sakamoto and the cat monster-um, not a cat, eh-Morgana. The fact Sakamoto's weird costume kept fading in and out of existence only served to create a weird air about the place and the situation as a whole. It does take longer than he would’ve liked to get out, but eventually they make it to the sunlight of day. That was after the fact of crawling through a ventilation shaft. He had always wondered how that worked and actually doing it was…something else, that was for sure.  

Being out also meant parting ways with Morgana, which he was totally fine with. 

“Did we make it…?” The boy’s phone answers his question for him.  

“You have returned to the real world. Welcome back.” A soft female voice fillers through it. 

Sakamoto scrambles to fish his cellular device out of his pocket. “Huh? Returned?” Yuuki can’t help his curiosity and leans over to see the screen, whatever it was on closes itself the moment he gets a good enough look. “What the Hell…?” The taller boy mutters.  

“No idea.” Looking around told him he was outside of the school, near the front gate actually. “How are we…”

“Oh shit!” Yuuki jumps. “It’s been 4 hours! I need to go catch the train!”

“Wait, what?!” He checks his own phone, so see that they have in fact been gone for 4 hours. It had felt like two hours at most, but certainly not anyway near 4. Oh crap my parents… Won’t care. Not unless he gets back after they go to bed, before then, they won’t give a shit. 

The two of them decide to swap chat IDs before booking it to the train station. 

When he gets home he’s texting furiously on his phone about what the Hell happened to Sakamoto instead of watching stuff on his laptop like he had anticipated.

Since when did he get isekaied into an anime!? He pretty damn sure he hasn’t been hit by ‘Truck-kun’. 

He falls asleep exhausted. 

 

4/16/2016 Saturday

Yuuki spends his weekday standing in front of his high school instead of doing, well you know, normal stuff. Like sleeping in, moping around, chores maybe. Mostly spending his time on his butt going on his laptop. 

Instead he was in front of the school with Sakamoto, obviously to further investigate what the Hell went on yesterday. Honest though? He doesn’t really want to be there, but the guy was adamant in his text yesterday, so here he was. 

He wants to go home and sleep. Everything still hurts and he knows going back inside guarantees more hurt. 

It’s like that even when it’s not a castle. 

“So I like I told ya, this weird app, the one that told us we were back in the real world yesterday; it appeared on my phone and I can’t delete it. I’m pretty sure it’s connected with this weird bullshit.” The boy gestures towards the school. “Watch.” he instructs. 

At the tap of his finger the world turns to a tint purple again. There’s no way to put it other than everything just…morphed. Sakamoto’s phone seems to glitch out with a weird eyeball symbol that he was rather unfamiliar with. In front of him is the nearly psychedelic colored castle. “This is all so weird…” 

“Yeah but—oh what?” Sakamoto looks down at his attire, realizing he was daunting the garbs from yesterday.

Now that Yuuki has a better look at what he’s wearing, he notices that weird metal structure on his back. He really wants to point it out, maybe ask Sakamoto how he’s moving with that thing on him. Alas that does not come to fruition as that child-like voice from yesterday calls out to them. 

It’s Morgana. 


His head spins with all the infor dumping Morgana was doing to the both of them. It’s a hoot (not) going through the motions of the castle. And it’s not like he was doing much but following and occasionally putting in some shots in the background. 

Sakamoto had brought a gun replica for him to use, but apparently he can actually use it as a gun-gun in this world? This is literally an anime, there’s a talking cat and everything. Well, cursed human turned cat? 

It was a tkachev look alike and good on that because these babies have little to no recoil to them. The fact that this was a small hand-held only lent more credence to it being easier to use for him. 

They scurry around like rats. Avoiding guards, fighting guards, so many bridges… At least when they finally get to the root of Sakamoto’s motives to come back here, Morgana just kinda…laughs in his face. “How stupid can you be…?”

“What!?”

“These are only humans in Kamoshida’s cognition. They aren’t real humans that have entered from reality. They’re different from you two.”

“Cognition…?” 

Oh, great to know this was all for nothing. Yuuki can’t help but be annoyed by this point. He could be just planting his head in the sand, but instead he’s being dragged by the neck to drink water. 

He doesn’t like it, but he’s also not going to do anything about it.  

“It means there’s no point in saving them! They’re different from the real ones in the real world. You could say that these are extremely similar-looking dolls.”

They ended up having another run in with Kamoshida, which at that point had their asses handed to them. Even with the help of Morgana’s persona. Zorro or whatever. 

The following conversion not only validated what Yuuki knew about what Kamoshida did to the track team, but added even more context to it. He broke Sakamoto’s leg because the other coach had a disagreement? It was for no good reason… He knew the man was a shit person, but how psychopathic must you be to do that to an innocent third party?! 

Sakamoto is edged on by this, as he somehow finds the strength to get back up and demolish the shadows with Captain Kidd. It’s a spectacle to be honest.  

Then they run. And run.

Stopping to catch their breath feels like a godsent. He does take a moment to find humor in Morgana face planting as Sakamoto swears up a storm.

Seeing that fake of Takamaki was really creepy. He’s heard the rumors about her, but shit. He’s not sure what to think after that.  

When Morgana gets back up he tries to rope the two of them to help him with getting his real form back and something about Mementos. 

Whatever that is.

“We didn’t agree to anything like that!”

The other boy ain’t having it, but Yuuki thinks it’s a fair trade. After all he’s done to help them…

“For real? Mishima, you can’t be serious?!”

“Why not?! He’s been helping us for the last two days! It only feels fair!”

“Yeah! You should listen to him, Blondie!” 

“Nah, we’re good. Thanks for all the help, Cat!”

“I am not a-”

Unfortunately the little guy doesn't get to finish his complaint as Sakamoto uses that navi app to get them out. 

“That wasn’t very nice of you…” 

“Man, trust me. He would’ve led us down a rabbit hole if we agreed to help him.”

He raises a brow. “How can you be so sure?”

The teen shrugs. “I just am.”

 

4/19/2016 Tuesday

It had been agreed upon to skip a day from the castle stuff on Sunday. Take a break and all. Don’t want to waste the weekend on something they hardly understand yet. 

Monday however, something found them. It came in the form of a black kitty cat. A kitty that could talk at that. All this stuff just kept getting weirder and weirder. Seriously, when did he fall into an anime? 

After some words had been exchanged, Sakamoto agreed to help Morgana with his problem. 

There was also the issue of Kurusu. The teen was still absent despite the weekend having passed them by already. The whispers and rumors about what had befallen the transfer student was spreading like wildfire. Again, the students at his school aren’t very nice. 

Though as mean as it might come off, Yuuki wasn’t really thinking too deep of it. He had more pressing matters to ponder about.

Besides, today the boy is back in class and Yuuki manages to catch him by the ends of his coattails when he’s trying to leave school. “Hey…” Awkward as ever.

“Hey.” Is repeated right back at him. 

“Sorry,” He starts, not sure what else to begin with. “I just wanted to know why you were absent for two days. Are you not feeling well?” Is it him or does Kurusu look a little sickly? “You look a little pale.”

The boy stares at him. “Uh…” Tumbles through his lips. “Yeah,” he rolls his shoulders, “I’m fine. I just felt a little under the weather, is all." 

"Oh! Are you getting sick?" And he reaches out to feel the other’s forehead before recoiling. Whoa, why did I do that!? That’s too familiar of a gesture! The boy feels his face burn in slight embarrassment for the thoughtless act. 

Kurusu appears blissfully ignorant of the shorter boy’s internal dilemma. “I hope not.” His eyes shift side to side and Yuuki wonders what the boy was looking for. “Wanna walk with me?”

The invitation is nice, and if last time was anything to go off on, it was safe too. 

Unfortunately his schedule was already booked today for something else. Pity. He hopes the other will bug him sometime soon, last time was...nice. If not hella awkward. Kinda. "Sorry, but I gotta do something after school. Thank you though." 

Without missing a beat-"Are you sure? Can't you just skip it?"

And dejectedly he has to shake his head for no.

There’s a sigh. “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then.” A little wave.

He waves back. “Uh, yeah. Bye. See ya!” And Yuuki rip the grass leaving. Maybe that was a bit too fast, but there was some palace jazz to deal with. Hopefully he can awaken his persona soon, and hopefully his outfit won’t be as bad as Sakamoto. Like, full offense, but his whole get up was ugly down to the yellow biker glove. Ew. 


“You ready?”

“No… Not really.”

“Well too bad. You’re here already.” With that the navi app morphs their surroundings and Yuuki sighs. He was just about to check up on his fake tkachev when he heard a very loud gasp.

The boy's heads whipped in the diction of the sound, only to see two people standing there. Morgana and Takamaki. Oh no.

“What is this!?” Comically, she turns her gaze to Morgana and squeals in surprise or shock. “Eek!” 

Fair enough. He is a bit jarring to the eyes at first. 

“T-takamaki!?” Sakamoto blubbers. 

Yuuki decides to stand back and watch the whole exchange. 

“That voice…Sakamoto!? And...Mishima-kun!?” 

“Wh-why-why are you here!?” 

His brow furrows at the amount that Sakamoto was stuttering. Why was this considered surprising? None of this complicated nonsense made sense in the first place. Why was this situation any different?

She seemed mad. “How should I know!? What’s even going on here…!? What happened to the cat?” She points to Morgana who smiles sheepishly at her. “Isn’t this the school?”

Morgana shakes the goofy look off his face and gets down to business. “I see. Perhaps she was dragged in because of that app thing. If multiple people can enter with the person who uses it, it stands to reason it’ll pull anyone nearby.”

“For real…?”

“Sorry but, were you following us?” Eyes turn to look at him. “I mean, if you got pulled in with us, that means you had to be close. Not one else is here.” It sounds like good solid reasoning to him, but who knows. 

“I…” Her sentence trails off. “I found a cat this morning. Some kids were trying to tie bags to its feet so I took him with me. I hid him in my desk today and was actually about to release him out of my bag when I noticed Sakamoto, so I followed you guys here.” She was still giving Morgana a perplexed look. Still probably mortified that, that was in her bag earlier. 

Yuuki was amazed that she had A) managed to shove a whole ass cat into her desk and B) got away with said cat shoving. Seriously this school was something else…

Literally.

“Why were you following me?!”

“Because!” She stresses out like it was the most goddamn obvious thing in the world. (Maybe it was.) “Shiho-kun told me you shook her down for information a few days ago, and quite frankly I don’t appreciate it. First you stick your nose where it doesn’t belong, now you’re harassing my friend?!”

“I wasn’t harassing her! I just asked questions!” The ‘blond’ defended himself. 

Now this was kinda turning into a shouting match.

Morgana notices this too as he attempts to calm the two of them down. “Hey, hey, now, the shadows are going to find us if you make a scene.” 

Takamaki continues to demand answers to what the heck was going on, unfortunately for her, the other two decided it was best to remove her and get on with their mission. 

Yuuki felt a bit icky doing it, but Sakamoto does have a point. They can’t deal with Kamoshida if she’s here. 

“The shadows have noticed us. You better brace yourselves, got it?”

They both nod.

Morgana smiles rather adorably. “Remember to be on the lookout. We’re counting on you, Moon!” 

Yuuki blinks.

“Moon? That a nickname?” Sakamoto frowns. 

“Don’t refer to it in such a lame way. It’s a code name.” He shakes his head. “What kinda of stupid phantom thief would use their real name!? I’m not down for that! And there’s no telling what kind of effect yelling our real names will have on the palace… It’s just a precaution.”

The teen rubs the back of his head. “So, uh, why’s he Moon?”

“Because he hangs in the back and offers support. The Moon gets outshined by the Sun, but we still need it.” 

“Oh, uh, thanks?” Was that a compliment? He’s not quite sure to be honest.  

“Don’t mention it! As for you, Ryuji… You’ll be… Let’s see…” His little paw smacks his chin as the gears in his brain turn. “Thug.” 

Yuuki chokes back some laughter and Sakamoto leans in for the kill. 

“Are you pickin’ a fight with me!? Agh! I’ll choose it myself!” He visibly simmers down and straightens up. “Hm… When it comes to me, it’s gotta be this mask. Honestly, I actually kinda like it. What if we named me after this?”

Little kitty boy sighs in defeat. “Fine… Why not ‘Skull’ then?”

A fist pump to the open air, Yuuki takes a step back in surprise. “Ooh! That sounds awesome! I’m Skull!” 

They decide to call Morgana, Mona. Their tiny companion has no objections so they head back into the castle for another fun-filled day.

Yay… 


So shadow can drop money apparently. That’s a thing. Nevermind, I’m not in an anime, I’m in a RPG. He really needs to stop wondering if this stuff can get any weirder… It seems to be listening to him. He’s not trying to offer it a challenge. Honest.

Moon leans against an elaborately etched door while Morga-eh, Mona and Skull have some back and forth with each other. 

“Still, why was the princess in such an odd place…?” 

“Eek!” Moon jumps back at the deep voice from the other side. It too draws the attention of the others.  

“Princess…?” The ‘blond’ mutters.

Mona cups his ear against the door.  

“I could have sworn we were pursuing the readings of an intruder…” 

“It doesn’t matter now.” Another voice snaps. “We must take her back to King Kamoshida!”

“Who’s this princess they’re talkin’ about…?”

Moon shrugs in lieu of an answer. 

Mona opens the door and tippy taps his way through it. “I should probably look into this.” 


Moon lifts his arms up to shield his face from the winds that gush out from where Takamaki was being held. She screams as she no doubt is awaking her persona. The being that materializes out of the gorgeous blue flames at first looks like a furry. Then he realizes it’s a neko. 

Or maybe it is a furry, she does have a weird nose...and seemingly no nipples. 

Get your head out of the gutter!

Man, she’s barely been here and she already awoken hers, where’s his? 

Obviously there needs to be a drive to have yours be awakened, Skull didn’t want to lay down and died, Takamaki refused to be a sexual object for Kamoshida to dispose of. 

Who knows about Mona. His is probably lost to time with him not remembering his past self. 

But Moon felt like he had a drive, he wanted revenge against Kamoshida. He wanted the man to fall from grace in the eyes of the public. He wanted him exposed for all the shit he’s done.

So honest, where’s his persona?


Moon was today years old when he learned that Takamaki was a badass. The girl kicks a sword out of one of the guard’s hands and kills her cognitive double. Only to turn around and give a determined speech about kicking Kamoshida’s ass. 

Moon finds himself blushing by the end of it because how can you not be?! 

He doesn’t even need to lift a finger as the trio in front of him decimated the toilet demon that formed when all the shadow guards fused. 

In the end Kamoshida hightails it out of there after his shadow shield was defeated. 

All talk and no bite in this world, huh? Unfortunately the same cannot be said about his real life counterpart. 

The camaraderie of defeating the thing was short lived however, like most good things in life. 

“Why’d you come here, Man!? And more importantly, how!?” 

Moon smacked Skull on the arms. “Where are your manners!?” He quipped at the same time Mona snapped something back as well. 

“Hey is that how you speak to a woman!?”


Sakamoto offers Takamaki a drink, giving Yuuki the one she didn’t pick.

This is too much for a Tuesday… He thinks bitterly as he downs the free soda. It’s the lemon type, so he doesn’t mind the flavor at all. People who don’t like lemon are crazy. 

Discussion of what happened and what was going on bounced from person to person. When Takamaki feels she has the ropes of what was going on, she poses a question. “This change of heart thing. Can it really work? If what you said was true…”

“Of course it will, Lady Ann! Ryuji has a point, the students won't come forward and the adults are turning the other cheek. The best way to get back at him is to get to his treasure.”

“Huh…” she ponders. “Well, I can't say he hasn’t done something to me… Maybe even something to Shiho. I want to join your guy’s little troupe.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Yuuki finally decides to stick his arm into the conversation. 

She gives him a small smile. “Thank you.” 

“I second that!”

She looks at Sakamoto. “Well? What about you?”

“I don’t know…”

“Excuse me? Didn't you see what I did?! I can help. I have the same powers as you!”  

Yuuki frowns. She chose to say ‘you’ opposed to saying ‘you guys’. It’s because he’s running around without a mask, huh? Just you wait… 

“Well, it’s just that…”

“You realize she has the app now and can go anytime she wants?” Which is weird, because he doesn’t have it on his phone yet.

Maybe after he awakens his persona. 

Sakamoto stares at him for all of 5 seconds and sighs. “Yeah, okay. Only because it’s dangerous if she goes there by herself.”

Takamaki cheers. “Great! We can take down this slimeball together. Well, I hope we can get along.” Her face turns grim and her next few lines leaves him feeling intimidated of her. “I’m going to make Kamoshida atone for what he did. Not just for my own sake, but for everything he’s done. I won’t let anymore people suffer because of him.” 

She means business alright. 

“Just let me know when you’re heading back in…” Her demeanor takes another 180 as she pulls out her phone. “Oh wait! We don’t have each other’s infor. Hey, give me your number and chat ID. And um…” She pulls out her pink phone.

They follow suit and exchange infor.  

“I’ll be counting on you, then.” 

Yuuki isn’t sure who she’s talking to. 

“Same goes for you, Morgana.”

Ah, she was referring to the boys, then.

“The pleasure is all mine, Lady Ann.” Taking this opportunity to go off topic, Morgana brings up an issue that needs to be sorted out right away. “Though I must mention…”

“Hmm?” The tallest noises. 

“I can’t contact you all from inside a palace, so I’ll have to stay in this world. That being said, I’ll need someone to take care of me.” The little guy looks around hopefully at the teens. 

He’s the first to speak up considering the not-cat was on his shoulders right now. “Oh, I’m sorry Morgana. I can’t take you. My uncle’s allergic and likes to visit for weeks at a time. Not to mention the guest’s bedroom is right next to mine… My parents will flip if they see I brought a cat home.” But they don’t care how I come home looking… Though that truth wasn’t privy to the conversation. 

His ears folds downwards for a second but nods in understanding. “That's fine.” He turns towards the blond(e)s. “How about you two?” 

Sakamoto sheepishly rubs the back of his head. “Uh, I gotta pass too. Me and my mom live in a small apartment. There’s no room for you. Besides, no pet policy, besides like, fish n’ turles and shit.” 

“Lady Ann?” He sounds defeated. 

She looks around nervously. “Well…my house is kinda big...and nobody is allergic…” Her eyes pass over the boys before landing on Morgana. She sighs good naturedly. “Okay, you can come live with me.” There’s a cheer. “But,” she holds a finger out, “both my parents are fashion designers, so there’s some fabric rooms you can’t go into. Besides that you should be fine.” She opens her bag in preparation to stuff him back inside. 

“Understood, Lady Ann. You’re so compassionate!” He particularly meows.

“Sheesh.”

Yuuki ignores him and raises his arm out to let Morgana use it as a running start. Thankfully his little companion got the memo and does a graceful jump right into Takamaki’s bag. She gasps. 

Sakamoto slowly claps in mock admiration. 

The blonde quickly recovers and laughs at the little display. “You gave me a heart attack.”

“Apologizes.” he meows back. 

“Can you curl up for a second?” He does and she stuffs one hand inside to fish out…something. When she retracts, it’s a lint roller she pulls out. “Here.” She simply states before tossing it at Yuuki.  

The boy catches it, no problem; but gives both it and her perplexed looks. “What..?”

“It’s a lint roller,” she spoon feeds him like he didn’t already know that, “your uniform’s already starting to look black from the fur. You probably should clean it off.”

He blinks. “Oh, thanks, but I was going to buy one before heading home.”

“Nah.” She interjects, dismissively waving her hand and killing his refusal. “I have like, a ton of those. I wear legging, not stockings, so I gotta get the lint off all the time.” 

“Ah, thank you then.”

“No problem!”

“Hey guys.” They shift focus over to Sakamoto. “You know, it’d be better if this group could get together quick from now on…” 

Morgana quickly shifts back into soup mode being serious. “True. Our best option would be to make a secret hideout where we could discuss these things.” 

“A hideout, huh…? I like the sound of that.” Sakamoto grins.

“The school rooftop would work… It seems like nobody goes up there. For the time being, that will make the perfect hideout.” 

The teen wonders how the not-cat would know that and wonder just how much of Monday did he spend at the school in the real world. 

Takamaki nods. “Well, if everyone agrees, that’s a wrap-up!” She claps.

“The train will be arriving soon. Please wait behind the yellow line.” The overhead voice announced. It was time to split ways.

 

4/20/2016 Wednesday

He gets to school early today. Typically he doesn’t like to spend unnecessary amounts of time at school if he can avoid it. So getting there earlier is a no-go unless he needed to be. Today though, (as you may have guessed it) is one of those days.

Takamaki had texted to the little group chat they made that she wanted to discuss something important before school started. She was very adamant they all get their butts nice and early to school.

Thus here he was. Nice and early. 

What atrocities did he commit in a past life to deserve this? 

Interestingly, he does cross paths with Kurusu on the way to school. He stops to chat with the boy since yesterday was so sparse with talk. (Though he probably doesn't have time for small talk, he’ll make an effort to at least say hi. There’s just this cool, calming quality to Kurusu that he likes.) The boy is staring at something on his phone, typically teenage stuff. A small thing he noticed the other doing was twirling some of his bangs with his free hand. 

A quirk of his it would seem.

It’s not something he’ll admit to, but he finds the minuscule action kinda cute. 

As he nears him the boy notices him first, pocketing his phone and slurring out a greeting. Sounds like somebody didn’t sleep last night. Especially judging by the bags he sees when he stands next to him for some small talk. 

“Oh, good morning Kurusu-san, you…” he takes a moment to find the right words, “look terrible.” Ah, fuck.

Kurusu runs a hair through his hair. “Yeah, well I got hit by a bus, so…”

“What!?” 

There’s a slight smirk on his face and Yuuki wants to roll his eyes. “I was joking.” 

“Ah.”

The boy resumes his usually blank expression to riddle him a question. “You always get here this early?” 

“No, not really.” I'm here for a stupid-early meeting. “I’m here to meet someone actually, in fact, I think I’m running late. I’ll see you in class!” He ended up getting nervous that the boy would press further and being a sweaty spaghetti sort of guy, he fumbled his way out of the conversion. Though he did not possess the grace of a video game protagonist while doing so. 

He winces when he walks away as he can clearly hear the other boy audibly groan. Whether it was because the dude was tired or because he found Yuuki’s retreat to be distasteful, he doesn’t know. He does know that Sakamoto is an impatient man and will no doubt start to complain if Yuuki doesn’t skedaddle to their meetup spot. 


“So, what is it that you wanted to talk about?” Sakamoto yawns and stretches his arms. “You kept saying it was important.”

“Right, about that…” Morgana pops his head out of her bag, staring at them from just over her shoulder. 

Yuuki suddenly has the very reasonable urge to pet his little furry head. Though he’s smart enough to know he’ll probably get clawed at if he does so. If the little guy didn’t take so kindly to being called a cat, he probably wouldn’t react positively to being treated like one either.

“I talked about this to Mona-chan last night. We both think it’s only fair if I bring Shiho-kun with us to the palace today.”

“What!?”

“Huh?”

Sakamoto looked like someone just slapped him with a sandal, Yuuki on the other hand was just surprised. Their group was growing pretty quick, huh? 

“You can’t be for real!”

“Why not?!”

“Shhhh, guys your voices. Quiet down.” He gestures for them to lower the volume. 

“Sorry…” Takamaki apologies. 

Sakamoto puffs and shakes his head, mumbling something to himself. “Look Man, we can’t be draggin’ too many people into this. It’ll be harder to keep it a secret!”

“Are you implying she’s going to tell someone about this!?” He opens his mouth for a rebuttal. “Why are you being such a stick in the mud?! She’s not. If anything she deserves to go with us. May I remind you she’s also on the volleyball team?!” Takamaki goes quiet, losing her steam. “I never believed her when she told me she got all those injuries from practice… Now it’s obvious where she got them. I won’t forgive him for it.” Her eyes meet Yuuki’s and they glint with pity.

He looks away.

“She deserves to get some revenge for it, isn’t that what we’re doing?” 

The other blond stays silent. “What do you guys think?” He putts for their option after a beat.

“I’m with Takamaki-san on this one, it wouldn’t hurt if we had one more…”

“Of course I agree,” Morgana drops his two cents, “we could use the extra manpower after all. And I’m sure Lady Ann would like another girl in this group instead of being surrounded by three guys.” The joke gets a chuckle out of her. 

The cat beams at his success. 

The rest of their time is spent by Morgana spearheading a discussion about better equipment and getting their hands on medicine. He warns them about the dangers of the palace and how they would need these two factors in order to progress further.

While Sakamoto claims he knows the perfect place to get weapons (probably the same place he got that tkachev replica), the group is a little stumped about where to get medicine. Both at a reasonable price and amounts without anybody getting suspicious. 

They put off the former for a later day, it’s only just the beginning after all.


Yuuki pops a lemon candy into his mouth and then pops his back as he waits with Sakamoto for Takamaki to fetch Suzui. The other boy takes a sip of his drink and stares blankly at one of the boxes straight ahead. He pulls back his sleeve to look at a watch that wasn’t there (much like Patrick Star would’ve). “Man, what’s taking her so long?”

Yuuki blinks, moving the cube candy around with his tongue. “It…hasn’t even been 10 minutes yet? Just wait.”

Sakamoto groans rather loudly, so Yuuki pays his due diligence and elbows him.

“Ow!” It’s mock hurt. “Tryin’ ta kill me?”

“Yes, now please die.”

The boy laughs. “Alright, alright. I’ll wait.” And goes back to crossing his arms.

When Takamaki does arrive, she in fact is hauling Suzui in her wake.

The face Sakamoto makes when he notices their presence would make one think their arrival had purged all the darkness plaguing his existence. 

Which is to say the boy needed a chill pill and some goddamn patience. 

It makes the boy roll his eyes at him and chew the fizzy candy down to nothing. He pops another into his mouth when Takamaki waves at the two of them. “Sorry for the wait, Shiho-kun was talking to someone.” she explains unprompted. 

“That’s fine.” Yuuki waves back unenthusiastically.

Suzui remains behind her friend, her gaze shifts between the two boys. She no doubt was wondering why her bestie led her to the rooftop which is technically off-limits. (Funny, because the school doesn’t even bother locking the doors.) Even if a person has good intentions, this is still a weird way to go about it. You could’ve gone anywhere else. 

“Great, you’re finally here.” Takamaki gives Sakamoto a look. “Did she tell you what we are doin’?” 

“No, not really. I was hoping you’d explain.” 

Yuuki could tell an idea formed in his head from the way his eyes glistened. “I think it’d be easier if I just showed ya.” A phone was pulled out and the world morphed around them. 

“Whoa! What the-!?” Suzui fumbles with her balance as she’s put face to face with the almost psychedelic castle. (Moon wonders for all of one second why they were in front of the castle when they were on the rooftop in the real world. But then he gave up because none of this shit made sense, so should he even try to find reason where there clearly was none?) Takamaki catches and stabilizes her, giving her an apologetic look. Suzui is still wide eyed and open jawed. “Ah! Cat monster!” She hugs her friend when she lays eyes on Mona. She gets a perturbed look on her face when she looks back at Takamaki, only to realize that her friend was daunting a catsuit. It’s humorous watching her head swivel to look around at everyone. She seems even more confused by the fact that Moon seems to lack a costume, if anything. 

“Hey! I am not a cat!”

“It...talks…” The words came out shaky.

“She calls you a monster and the first thing you correct her on is calling you a cat?” Skull quips.

“Shut up! I’m not wrong! 

Moon has to bite back some laughter. It’s just a little funny. Just a smidge.

“Whatever Dude, wanna give her a rundown?”

“Well, if you insist.”

He can’t tell if Mona was being smug or sarcastic.


Suzui was being an awfully good sport about this; all things considered. But before they can go in to storm the castle, one more thing needs to be attended to. 

“Hold up.” Skull holds a hand out. “Code names, we almost forgot about that.”

“Oh, right.” Mona chimes in. He goes right back into sensei mode. “We use code names in place of our actual ones when inside of a palace. I’m not certain what effect can take place if we say our real names in someone’s cognition. So we go by little codenames instead! I’m Mona, he’s Moon, and he’s Skull.”

“Don’t you have one Ann-chan?”

“Huh? Oh, no…. I just joined yesterday.” She sheepishly rubs the back of her head. 

Suzui’s brow widened in disbelief.


As a placeholder name, they chose Sun, because apparently Mona wants to keep a theme and is actually bad at naming things. 

He wonders if his code name had any real meaning behind it at all, or if Mona just though it sounds aesthetically pleasing. 

Onto Takamaki’s code name though.  

“Judging by your costume…” Mona taps a paw to his chin, looking at the tall girl up and down. 

“I mean, she’s got that tail and stuff, so…” Skull puts it out in the air. “Whadda you think, Moon?” When he turns to look at him for a suggestion, Moon is surprised. 

Why is he asking me?! He shrugs. “I don’t know...how about, uh…” He gazes over to her, careful to avoid looking at a certain area. “How about,” he repeats. “Catgirl?” Lame name, but his brain is empty for suggestions. 

Catgirl blinks. “Wait! Is that what you’re going to call me from now on!? I am SO not down with this!” She stomps her foot in indignation. The action is so strikingly similar to a tantrum, it surprises him.

“What do you wanna be called, then?” Skull is quick to snap back but not with his hands.

She goes to bring a hand to her chin, elbow propped on her other arm that crosses her waist. “Um, something better than just a little cat…” She looks back up. “Maybe… “Panther”? That sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?”

“Huh? Why?” 

Her arms wilt. “‘Cause it sounds more…ferocious?” That last part sounded like a question. 

“She’s a cougar…!” Mona sighs dreamily, making Skull gag. Moon just finds his closed eye smile cute. 

Even if he’s a monster not-cat thing, he shares the charm of a little mascot. Maybe he can be their mascot. 

“Don’t call me that!” The blonde whips out. There is a chuckle from her friend. “More importantly, Kamoshida…!” 

And that’s all that needed to be said before the air went back to action time. 


Is this what it feels like to be a secret agent? Hiding behind corners and pillars alike to avoid detection and bullets? Well, he may not be hiding from gunfire, but certainly the guards and shadows. 

Even the toy gun that Panther had given Sun worked. Sure, it seemed to shoot balls of energy rather than bullets, but that’s probably because it looks ridiculous. It’s held to different rules in their minds.  

It just felt weird having to trail alongside Sun in the back. Now the both of them were support and lookout. 

Though he had to admit, it’s kinda obvious who’s really doing the heavy lifting. 

Here’s a hint, it ain’t them. 

Moon was getting real tired of seeing the outright ugly decor of this place. If he was a different man, he’s probably set the place on fire just to spare his eyes. He swears this place favors colors meant to scorch people's eyeballs.

They stop and rest in a place called a ‘safe room’; something Moon would’ve preferred Mona to have mentioned two days ago. But of course it’s only brought up right now. 

Panther practically collapses into a chair, rather dramatically in fact. Sun takes a quiet seat next to her. Her eyes are dazed, unlike the widened and surprised ones Moon thought they would be. 

He wonders what that means.

Skull chooses to slide down the wall like a bug and Mona jumps on the table of all things. Moon steals a chair and pushes it further back. The table had become too crowded for his taste. 

It’s a nice moment of respite. Water and snacks are shared among them. Then Skull decides it was a time for a pep talk. Moon feels like rolling his eyes, instead he sits and listens. He does feel slightly bad that it all goes in one ear and out the other. He doesn’t notice nor look for any extra spring in their step because he’s too focused on trying to find the perfect moment to awaken his persona. He just needs to find his inner rebel, right? That shouldn’t be too hard. He’s got this in the bag.


His eyes light up when they face Kamoshida again for the, what? Fifth time? He lost track since he wasn’t even counting. Nor was anyone else for that fact. Both Skull and Panther awaken their personas’ because of Kamoshida and he had no doubt he'd be the same. After all, why wouldn’t he want to rebel against him? Sure, he lacked any real spine, but he was also tired of being a footstool. Wasn’t that enough? 

It doesn’t really seem to matter because the group of disgruntled teens can’t cut through the shield of guards. Kamoshida sat behind them, nearly out of sight. The shadow was barely paying them any mind. 

“We should fall back!” Panther shouts over his thoughts. There are too many guards near him, and retreating to another area (as to have them split up to search for them) would thin their numbers when they inevitably collide once again. Sounds like a good enough plan for him. As long as they meet up with the underdress man, he’s fine with it.

Retreating led them to get lost like a kid in a shopping center. On the other hand they pass many a cells of cognitive students. 

Moon is completely uncomfortable with how many faces he recognized, of faces that had names attracted to them, of faces of students he had just talked to a few days ago. 

He makes eye contact with Sun. 

“It’s unnerving, it’s it?” She whispers and Moon is glad that Mona had remembered to tell her that anybody in this place wasn’t really real. 

He tears his gaze away from hers, his stomach feeling hot. “Very.” 

“Is…” The word seems to die in her throat before it can really find it’s way out. “Are we among these fake ones?”

“Huh?” He looks up, but not at her. He can’t bring himself to for some reason and his brain is itching to tell him why. 

It still draws up blank when he presses though. 

“Have you seen fake versions of yourselves?”

“Unfortunately.” Panther answers rather revolted. Or was it bitter?

Skull responds with an answer that opposites her. 

Moon shakes his head for no. 

“I see…” The words roll around on her tongue as if she were testing them out for herself. “Let’s hope we don't see ourselves. That would be weird.”

The group chuckles and crosses another bridge. Moon tries to laugh along but cannot find the humor in it.


Speak of the Devil and he shall come. 

Thought that’s not what was happening right now. Instead he sees an open cell with a familiar (yet not) face huddled up in a corner. When he saw it from the corner of his peripheral, he couldn’t help but stop.

The others took notice. 

“Whats up?” Skull strolls over and doesn’t seem bothered in the slightest. If anything he just tilts his head, like he doesn’t understand the value of Moon just standing there before it. 

But the boy’s feet feels rooted.

The others are close behind and Panther freezes. “Isn’t that the transfer student from our class?” She whispers the question, like she was scared of something. 

“Kurusu-san.” He feels the need to match her tone because he too is fearing as well. 

He may not know the boy very well, he’s only met him 10 days ago. Not to mention the two have spoken to each other a grand total of four times, but the boy is shocked at the sheer fact there is a doppelgänger.  

Why? 

Kamoshida doesn’t have an interest in him beyond ruining his reputation. Sure, he wasn’t happy some punk with a criminal record was transferring into the school, but the horrible man didn’t seem to have any interest beside putting the mysterious student in his place. The other cognitions were of students from the volleyball team. Either the boys being holded up in cells or being hurt in creatively bizarre ways and the girls laying around provocatively as eye candy. And while there had been multiple cognitions who stood in their cages and stared unfocused off into nothingness, he had seen none do this. 

“Who’s Kurusu?” Skull stares at the 2 expectantly for an answer.

Panther snaps out of her stupor first and shakes her head at him. “Did you not just hear me? He’s the transfer student.”

His eyes widen underneath the mask. “Like, the one with the insane rumors behind them?”

“Yes.” 

“I think I’ve seen him around.” Sun whispers, more to herself than them. 

“What do you think he’s doing here?” Moon questions, but there’s no time for anyone to suggest anything as Mona decides this isn’t worthy of his time. 

“Guys, it’s just a cognition. It doesn’t matter. I know the cage is open, but is that truly important?”

Funny how he mentions the cage door being open when no one had verbally brought it up.

“Mona, didn’t you hear me?” Panther crosses her arms. “He just transferred here like, a week ago. He’s not on the volleyball team, why would he be here?” She lazily gestures a hand to him. “Kamoshida wouldn’t know him.” 

The cat stops at this. His ears fold, as if thinking about it. “Uh, guess I don’t know, but like I said. It doesn’t really matter. Besides, we have a mission to undertake.”

Sun sighs. “I’m sorry if this comes off as rude, but it feels like we’ve just been running around with no rhyme or reason.” 

Mona’s tall puffs up at this. It takes a second for Moon to realize this meant he was upset. That’s kinda cute. “There’s a reason to our paths! I can sense the layout of this palace! Kinda…” The last word is mumbled.  

Skull straightens up and swears when the sound of footsteps nears the section of dungeon hall they were in. “Ah shit, they’re near.” 

Their little gang tenses up at the announcement. Turning towards the noise revealed another formation of guards on the lookout for them. As soon as one spots them they advance on them as a unit.  

“Crap, we’re going to have to fight here. There’s a dead end behind us.” Skull tightens his grip on his lead pipe and Panther cracks her whip. 

Moon spares one last glance at the double who hasn't done anything but curl up in a corner and hug its knees. His focus goes back to the shadows charging at them. This whole thing was a little weird, but Mona’s right. It wasn’t that important. This was more important.


I’m never going to get tired of seeing that. The awe he felt anytime Skull or Panther would summon their persona was particularly palpable. Internally he felt like a kid being given a glimpse of his favorite mascot at a parade.

But this was so much more real.

He didn’t have to be knowledgeable to feel the power these things would effuse. They were a manifestation of a rebellious soul and Moon didn’t doubt it for one second. 

He can only imagine how it would feel if he wields its power once he has one of his own. Just basing in its presence is one thing; how is the other like?  

Before he knew it the last shadow dissolved into an inky black nothingness. He had to snap himself out of his stupor lest he get himself hurt. (He has enough bruises as it stands.) 

“Ugh, damn! These things are relentless!” A girly voice whines.

“Come on Lady Ann, we’re not through the half of it yet.”

He swears he sees her pout for a second, but she wipes it off just as quickly and nods.

“I know… I just…”

“Hey! Don’t be complainin’!” A yellow glove points a finger at her. “You wanted this.”

His eyes roll and tune them out to stroll over to Sun for a chat. He’ll leave those 3 to brawl it out or whatever. “Hey…” He starts, awkwardly. As he always does. 

“Hmmm?” Her unblinking stare at the floor is broken by her acknowledging head tilt. “Hello.” Judging by her breath alone the boy could tell she was tired. He couldn't blame her though, she had been pulled along on this awfully weird magic girl stuff. Of course she’d been out of her element. 

There’s a moment of pleasure that he derives from this, but it’s quickly gutted by his guilty conscience. He hadn’t been much better at the start of all of this. Hell, you could even say it started off worse with him. He had to face the immediate consequence of nearly being killed and seeing someone else nearly be killed. 

If anything he should be jealous that she gets it the easiest. No near death experiences or anything of the sort. When having death be dangled as a faraway concept, it doesn't really hit you until it barely grazes your throat. A close call, to say the least. 

Maybe he doesn't care about any of that anymore...and maybe he does. Either way… “How are you feeling?” 

Her lips are pulled taut in a response. “A lot of things.” He sees her eyes walk themselves back to that open cell. “I would think that… It would be obvious how I felt.” Her brow furrows and Moon is shooting down the thought of smoothing the creases out with his thumb. “How long have you known about all this?” 

“Five days.” He blurts out with all the gracefulness of a swan with no legs. 

Sun’s eyes are wide and she mouths ‘5’ to herself, as if to taste the word and extract all the implications behind it. 

She screws her eyes shut and giggles. 

It’s not a cute, airy, bubbly type of giggle that girls do. But a sarcastic, mirthless acceptance of a situation. She lets out a breath before meeting his gaze. “None of us know what we’re doing, do we?”

Moon could answer, but there was no point. It was horribly obvious. (As much as he would like to say Mona knew what he was doing, the guy had amnesia. Could that point be any more counterintuitive?) He chooses to answer with his body language instead and takes a few steps back, breaking the eye contact she initiated. 

Sun gets it. She closes her eyes and turns away. 

And just like that the conversation dies between them.

He lets it.


Kamoshida, Kamoshida, Kamoshida… They can't ever not encounter the bastard? It’s just the teensiest bit annoying, if anybody asked him. As of yet, nobody has. (He scratches out the thought that brings the notion that he wanted to see him earlier. He’s far too annoyed with having to fight again so soon to care.)

The guy seems even more enraged with the reappearance of Panther. Seething at the notion that Sun was there, and throwing some derogating lines at her.

The blonde is quick to attack on the other girl’s behalf. Snapping at him about one thing or another. She even spits on him. 

Moon can respect that. 

Of course the double is livid at this and guards come pouring in, but it seems like their tactic of sending the shadows on a wild goose chase paid off. For when he sees how little guards arrive to his aid, he swears. 


“Not so big without your men to hide behind, huh?” Skull taunts, having gained higher ground. 

The double of Kamoshida seemed to be a creature of habit and as such attempted to flee the moment his guards were neutralized. This time around the gang had decided to corner him, which was done with very minimal effort if anyone was asking. 

It was like herding cattle, except there was only 1 cattle and it had 2 legs instead of 4. 

On second thought, that was a horrible comparison. 

“Shut up, You! I’m not scared by a bunch of children who don’t know their place!”

“Oh, really?”

Mona takes the reins of the conversation from Skull. “If you didn’t feel threatened by us, you wouldn’t have guards go after us!”

“Yeah, what he said!”

“Can it, Skull.”

A grumble. 

Kamoshida reared his ugly head and spat in Mona’s direction.

The not-cat yowled and dodged. Hissing softy as an afterthought. 

“You’d think that I would go out of my way to dirty my hands to punish scum like you? You’re not even worth my time.”

“Bullshit! You beat me and Mis-” he bites his tongue at the slip up, “Moon a couple of days ago!”

The bastard only smirks and shrugs his shoulders. “I was bored.” 

Moon expresses his disbelief as a scoff, which does not go unnoticed by the poorly dressed man. 

“What? Don’t believe me?”

The only thing I don’t believe is the taunting tone you’re using even though we have you cornered. The words don’t make it past his head though. 

“I thought you’d only hurt us when you were frustrated about something!” Sun blurts out. The teen looks to recall that this isn’t the real Kamoshida, and reddens up in embarrassment over it. 

“Oh, I use you guys when I’m frustrated, alright.” There’s a flirty undertone to his words, and it makes Moon grimace. 

“You really are human garbage.” Panther steps into the forefront. 

The shadow's posture changes immediately. “What did you say to me, Bitch?!” The man hauls himself up and attempts to swing a fist at her. There’s a gasp from Sun and Skull tightened his grip around his pipe, looking like he was ready to use it. 

Panther on the other hand has it covered. She dodges the swing and rolls out of his way. Her whip cracks at his feet, forcing some distance between them. "How dare you talk to a king like that!" He drives in to grab her, but Panther jumps out of the way and latches her whip around his ankle.

She pulls. 

Almost comedically, the man falls flat on his face.

After a second of nobody breathing, she retracts her weapon back to her side. 

Kamoshida slowly pushes himself back up. He rests on his knees as he turns his line of sight to glare daggers at them. "When my guards get back I'll…" He mumbles the rest and Moon tries not to make it out when he knows he won't like what he'll hear. 

"Sweet moves, Panther!" 

She straightens up at Skull's compliment. But when she goes to say something, he interrupts her. 

"Alright, let's gang up on him now." 

"Wait, don't do that! You could make him trigger his final form!" "Hold a second, Skull! I want to ask him a question!" 

The cat themed members of his little phantom troupe turn to look at each other. 

“Final form?” Panther poses. “Question!?” Mona screeches. 

Ah, it's scary how in sync yet not they are. 

"Whaddya mean final form?" Skull reenters the conversation, but Morgan shakes his head. 

"No, no. I'll tell you guys later. Panther said she wants to ask him something. Do it now, we probably should leave after. The other guards might find us by then." 

"Right, the wild goose chase we sent them on will only hold them off for so long." She crosses her arms. "Hey, You!"

"What?!" He spits. 

"What's your business with the transfer student?"

Moon suddenly hears everything just that bit more clearer now. "Wha-what?" he stutters. "You're asking that?" 

She looks back at him. "Well, yeah. Aren't you curious?" 

He nods, but before he could add a line of dialogue for his thoughts, Kamoshida laughs.

"The transfer student?" He smirks. "That's what you're asking me?"

"Yes!" She snaps, clearly not in a mood to play games with his man.

"Don't know him."

Panther opens her mouth. 

"Then why is he here!?" Moon feels his face heat up at all the eyes that stare at him. I wasn't even that loud! Why are they all looking at me?! 

“Thought garbage like you would associate with trash like him.” The shadow stands up and brushes off dust from his floofy cape. “If you really want to know…” A lopsided grin paints his face as he redirects his attention to the blonde. “What happened was your fault, you know.”

A pensive look from her. 

“You were so reluctant to throw yourself onto me that I had to take a replacement.”

“Wait…” she whispers.

“A quiet docile boy wasn’t what I was expecting, but I guess he was okay.” He shrugs as the teens realize in horror what the shadow was implying. “He was definitely a virgin, which was all that mattered.” 

“You bastard!” Moon heard Panther scream at the man. He feels that he can’t breath. This sick son of a bitch… He…! To a student! A kid who just arrived to this city no less! 

It could have been anyone. 

Moon feels a murderous intent rise within him. Doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know this person well, no one deserves that. 

Nobody. 

He knows all the shit Kamoshida did, or at least he thought he did. He thought he was aware of the misdeeds he would inflict onto others. After all, he was the errand boy. He's heard too much, was told too much, but apparently he’s been stung in the dark as well. 

He wasn’t aware of why Kamoshida had hurt Sakamoto. Until as of late. 

And he had no idea—Is that why Kurusu was absent? 

He feels bile come up his throat, his thoughts paused momentarily, allowing him to catch the tail ends of Sun yelling something at Kamoshida.

The man starts to get annoyed at all the talking that was happening. “So what?” He answers incredulously. “If it makes you feel any better, you were my first pick. But the kid; I forgot his name, practically threw himself at me. Who am I to say no to that? He got a cute face anyway.” 

“I—I was what ?!” 

A shit eating grin splits his face in half. “I know, everyone wants to be loved by me. Don’t worry, you’ll have your—”

“Enough out of you!” Panther shouts at him while Sun stands there, recoiling from his implications. 

Skull is eerily quiet throughout the entirety of it. 

“That’s fine.” The man continues, like he was waving aside a fly. “My guards are here.”

Moon looks down the corridor in alarm as he was trying to keep in his lunch. An influx of guards poured in. They had been loitering around for far too long. 

“Shit! There’s too many!” Skull turned to Mona, both looking like they were agreeing in making a hasty retreat. 

“NO!” Sun shouts, surprising everyone by her sheer volume. “How could you?! I can’t stay silent about this any longer!” 

And to his surprise, he heard Sun screaming.

As this was the third time he’s seen someone awaken their persona, it wasn’t as shocking. Though the pained screaming and blood that dropped once the mask was ripped off did make him feel uneasy. 

Surprisingly; or perhaps not, was how she proceeded to wipe the floor with her persona and kama that was apparently her default weapon. 

The others joined in, and Moon? 

He hid.

Everyone else has a persona to fight with, why should he even intervene? They clearly have this in the bag. 

His eyes trail to follow Sun. Her persona’s bright red skin was easy to follow before she dispersed into blue flames. 

Hua Po, Sun had called her. She looked oddly simple and plain compared to Captain Kidd and the mini ship he stands on or Carmen and her voluminous dress and mini servants she has on leashes. Honestly, Hua Po was easy on the eyes. 


He didn’t notice how suffocating it was in the palace until they reentered the real world. 

It really was a fresh breath of air. Especially after, well, everything. 

Suzui was left tired after the whole ordeal. As expected. Takamaki was the same way as well when she first got back. It had given Sakamoto, Morgana, and him time to explain stuff to her.

Now he found himself in a similar disposition. Although there was no need to tell Suzui anything, as they had done a rundown before entering the palace today. However there was an elephant in the room to address.

In fact, there were several. Though Yuuki did not know it.

“You okay Shiho-kun?” Takamaki sat besides the worn-out girl, passing her a drink and snack combo. 

“I’m fine. Just a little overwhelmed.” She cracks the seal of the soft drink and takes a generous gulp. 

Sakamoto pops his necks and plops himself next to the blonde. 

Yuuki decides he should join the others on the curb. It feels uncomfortable and he’d rather they sit somewhere else. It’ll do for now though, at least until Suzui regained her strength. 

It was an awkward silence after, not a trace of ataraxic was present. When Suzui felt her lightheadedness leave her, they all walked over to the train station with little exchange.

Getting inside the train station however, was a different tale. Takamaki was quick to herd everyone to some unoccupied seats in a corner. There weren’t many listening ears around here, so with a lower tone, she prompted a discussion of what the fuck just happened.

“It’s a rabbit hole.” she whisper shouted. “This whole palace and metaverse thing was weird enough, but this bastard-

“We gotta tell the cops.” Sakamoto interrupted her unapologetically. “I’m not good with authority, so one of ya have to report it instead.” He took no one adding onto his comment to continue. “This isn’t something we can just walk away with knowing!”

“With what evidence!?” 

He blinks. “Well-”

Takamaki holds her hand out. “Sakamoto, I have to stop you there. I fully agree with you, but we can’t just tell the police what he did without any evidence. They’ll brush us aside or worse, we’ll get in trouble for trying to accuse him.”

“But we ain’t lying.” She opens her mouth. “No, no.” He shakes his head. “I get what you mean. It just pisses me the hell off.” 

There’s a silence where nobody knew what to say.

“Then that settles it.” Morgana steps out of Takamaki’s bag to sit on her lap. His ears aren’t as perky as usual. “The only way to bring Kamoshida down is to go through with stealing his heart.” The others nodded.

“Are you sure?” Suzui spoke up, looking uncertain. “That it’ll actually work?” 

“Yup.” He nods. “If we steal his treasure, his distortions at heart will fade away. He’ll feel guilty about what he’s done and confess on his own volition.” 

“Huh.” She looks away. “This all feels so surreal… To think we’ve been given these sorts of powers.”

“Oh yeah, how do you think we felt at first?” Sakamoto knocks his elbow into Yuuki who grunts, but doesn’t disagree. “I mean, we were given these powers in the first place for some reason, yeah? It has to be for this.” 

Yuuki notices Sakamoto’s fist clench and the boy mutter something bitter to himself. 

“Of course! I just know it, it wasn't a coincidence that I met you guys.” Morgana meows. 

People nearest to them turn their heads to stare, certain of themselves they just heard a cat. 

The teens shush him.

“Sorry.” He apologizes. His little head bowed and his ears droopy. 

“Just keep your voice down. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to bring you in here.” Takamaki repositions her bag to block him from sight. 

“Pretty sure pets have to be in a cage.” Suzui informs her. 

“Please don’t put me in a cage.”

“I’m not, don’t worry.” The blonde pets his fur for reassurance. 

“Well, that aside, I still have something important to tell you guys.”

“And what’s that?” The black haired girl asks.

With a purpose, he turns to stare at Yuuki, surprisingly. “I have something to confess.” 

Yuuki didn’t like the sound of that. 

“I think you’ve probably noticed it by now.”

Yuuki swallows hard. “Noticed what?” 

Morgana gives him a look, something he wasn’t aware a cat could do. “Your persona.” He announced rather matter-of-factly. “Or rather your lack thereof.”

No one spoke.

“What do you mean?” Although he had an idea of what the not-cat meant. 

Morgana sighs, in this weird way only an animal can. “You’re the only person here that hasn’t summoned a persona. Haven’t you wondered why that’s the case despite you being here since day one?” 

He looks away because yes, he has. He’s wondered about it a lot. Taking up more time than it should for something he loosely understands. 

“There’s a reason behind it.”

Well, yes. He could guess that much. Most things that happen or are the way things are have a reason behind it. 

“Yuuki,” The boy feels weird about how the little guy just uses everyone’s given name with such casualness. Not to mention he’s never asked permission before. “–you can’t summon a persona.” 

He blinks. “What?!” His hands tighten into fists in his lap. He lets the pressure go when he feels his nails bite into his palm. 

“I’m sorry I haven’t told you earlier. I’ve known since we met. I just had a feeling, ya know?”

Now, he knows he can handle this like a well mannered person. He can accept this explanation without any fuss. He can forgive his teammate for hiding this. 

But…

He doesn’t. This feels like a slap. Like he’s been shown food he can’t eat or even afford. He feels…defensive. “Feel or know?! Those two are very different things!”

“Mishima-kun, quite down!” hisses Takamaki. 

He complies, but he’s not done. “A feeling isn’t proof, Morgana. Maybe I’ll get one later.”

Morgana casts a look of pity at him which Yuuki didn’t appreciate. He doesn’t usually have to deal with these sorts of stares, because no one bothers to look at him. He’s just another face in the crowd. Maybe that’s why this only further serves to upset him.

In his head, he knows he shouldn't be upset with that. After all, what is pity but sad kindness?

“Yuuki…” 

“Mishima, chill. Just let him speak.” Sakamoto prompts the boy, but he isn’t so sure if he’ll listen. 

“I know this sounds weird, but this whole situation is weird, right? I just know these sorts of things. I can just sense stuff related to the metaverse. I’m sorry; I am, but I don’t think you can summon a persona.” He takes a breath to explain further. “A persona is born from the rebel will within one’s heart. While anyone can be a rebel, not everyone can host a persona in their heart. If that were the case, then anyone could use the metaverse. Does that make sense?” 

The tense hold of his shoulders fall. “Yeah… I understand, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to blow up.” The blond pats his arm. “But…how come I’m the only one?” He looks up to the others, quietly watching. “Such a coincidence that everyone here can…”

“It has to do with your soul.”

He blinks at the revelation. Soul?! This is… 

“Your soul just isn’t big enough.” 

 

4/21/2016 Thursday

It hurts, to put it plain and simple. 

Yuuki has let himself be pushed and walked all over since he was young, he’s never been confrontational nor strong-willed. He’s a pushover. Wallflower at best. So yeah, it stings. Like a blade nicking his skin. 

He had a chance to not be a doormat or to be confined to the sidelines. He had a chance to take something by the hand for once and work against someone on the downlow.

Except that was a blatant lie. He never even had an opportunity in the first place. Doomed to stay in his role forever.

How downright infuriating. 

How dare he be shown such a wonderful thing to only be told he can’t have a slice of the pie. Especially when all around him have their own piece.

It pissed him the fuck off.

A more cynical part of his brain hisses between its teeth. ‘Of course not, what did you expect? As if you could do anything worthwhile. The only sort of luck that favors you is the unkind sort.’  

This however, does not kill his ambitions to help. As long as he can hold out in the palace, he’ll be there. Even if he’s just lookout by that point, he wants to help in any way he can. To be involved. He wants to be a part of something. Just once. He just wants the world to let him have this. 

That said, all this stuff still leaves him feeling like a main character in an anime. He knows he has a role to play, even if it isn’t obvious. 

Even if… 

Damn, when are they going to text me? 

At the moment he was eating lunch with Kurusu. He has invited the boy to eat with him for several reasons. He looked rather lonely and awkward at his desk. And well…of course no one else was really going to talk to him. (And that was Yuuki's fault.)

Evidently the other half of his reasoning was just plain simple sympathy…pity if you don’t wish to sugarcoat it. 

The guy seemed nice enough, and Yuuki tried to remember if he has always been this soft spoken from the start. 

“What’s got you worked up in a pickle?” 

Yuuki does not jump at his words nor does he get startled by them. Totally. “Pickle?” What a weird saying.

“I have more weird sayings hiding up my sleeve if you want.” 

He declines the apparent joke and his eyes stare back at his device one last time. Maybe he should just wait for the text later. He apologizes for ignoring him, but surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) Kurusu just brushes it off like it was nothing. 

“I ignored you a few days ago.” He adds on. 

“Yeah, but you were obviously agitated about something.” He says without thinking. Immediately he mentally slaps himself in the face for not having a damn filler. Yuuki looks back, hoping the other boy wasn’t offended by the statement. 

All Kurusu does is look away. A joke leaves him. 

Yuuki is relieved by it. “Uh, no… A text actually.” An honest answer. A simple one. The next thing that comes out of his month does so without his permission. Before he knows it a vague line of questions is directed at the boy seated across from him. It’s a mess of words and by the end of it he wishes to hide in a hole and die. 

Kurusu throws his trash right into a waste bin before giving him some wise words of wisdom. “Hasn’t everyone?” 

He’s relieved by how chill the boy is. Seriously, that shit he just said was really edgy. And for Kurusu to be so nonchalant about it… “Right! Yeah, sorry.” He blubbers. “Don’t know why I’m complaining.” 

The taller boy blinks, as if he's surprised. “Everyone has a right to bitch, Mishima-kun. You shouldn't feel bad about it.”

Admittedly hearing the other boy cuss was funny if not odd. For someone who talks that quietly, swearing just sounds weird. He chuckles, but it’s a quiet one. His face feels a little hot, he’s evidently stupid. How can he not be embarrassed? “Right.” And that’s the end of that. 


When he got back home he really tried not to think about it. But unsavory thoughts crawled their way to the forefront of his brain. 

What had happened? Was Kurusu just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did Kamoshida threaten him? Was this really a random act? Or did he plan this? 

He doesn’t believe for a moment that the boy threw himself at the ugly bastard. Kamoshida’s shadow is obviously delusional. Saying shit that fits his egotistical view of the world. That man couldn’t get his head out of his ass for more than two seconds if his life depended on it. 

It makes him angry that the shadow had even claimed such. That he didn’t even recall his name. To do something so horrible to someone and think of them as an object rather than a person—

Yuuki wanted him dead. 

But the boy wasn’t capable of murder. Though if Kamoshida were to die, he wouldn’t even blink. 

The next best thing was just to have all his misdeeds be made public. Ruin his public image and career forever, and get his ass thrown in jail for life. 

He wholeheartedly hopes he rots. 

 

As the days blur…

The next few weeks are a conglomerate of school and the palace. Which are kinda one in the same if you think about it. 

While at school he’s mostly hanging with Kurusu, who as he thought, was actually a very nice person. He just has bitch resting face, which is unfortunate to say the least. (His glasses do kinda hide it though...) 

Other times he’s plotting with his gang about one thing or another. He still helps during their palace runs, but mostly he’s on the lookout while the others tear their way through the palace or figure out puzzles. 

He does get a shot in every once and awhile, but his tkachev is more for precaution. 

At random one day, Sakamoto points out that Suzui should be given a new code name as her new get up and persona don’t vibe with ‘Sun’. The others had agreed. 

“Butterfly is a good one.” Morgana notes. 

Yuuki thinks about her costume, and the way her persona looked. 

Her!!!

Takamaki counteracts the suggestion. Pointing out it was too long. “How about "Fairy"? They always have butterfly wings. It matches your mask and your persona kinda looks like one.” 

Suzui lights up. “Oh, yeah. I like that. Fairy it is.” 

And just as quick she went from Sun to Fairy. 

On another day, he and Sakamoto are threatened with expulsion by Kamoshida. The blond couldn’t keep his mouth shut and while Yuuki understood, he’d wish the boy would have a better filter. 

So, the looming threat of expulsion was also hanging over his head. Fun. 

The girls were mortified by the notion, but it also gave them a deadline they had to abide by. 

The days dwindle on, and seemingly at random, Sakamoto once again points something out. “Hey guys, I just realized we never officially made someone leader.” 

Everyone stops talking. “Huh, good point.” The taller girl agrees. She clanks her acrylic nails against the bench. 

Suzui pipes up that she sorta saw Sakamoto as leader at first, but since then Takamaki has kinda stolen the mantle from him. 

The blonde blushes lightly. “Oh my God, I didn’t even notice. Sorry.” She gives Sakamoto a playful shove to the shoulder. 

“Man, it’s whatever. I’m not smart enough to be leader anyway.”

She frowns. “Hey, don’t put yourself down like that. You figured this stuff out first. Give yourself more credit.”

He shrugs. “Yeah, I guess so. Besides, you fit the role better.” He grins. “You’re really good at barking orders.”

She smacks him.

Yuuki laughs at the display. Suzui shakes her head. 

Morgana jumps back into the bench to give his praise. “I think Lady Ann’s purfect for being leader.”

Yuuki rolls his eyes at the pun. 

The next day Takamaki makes a statement. “My first decree as leader is that I think we should start referring to each other by our giving names.”

“Eh?” Sakamoto pops the seal of his soda can. 

“We’re a team, right? If we’re fighting alongside each other we’re going to have to become good friends.” She folds her arms. “Otherwise this won’t work. Sooooo, I just think it'll be good if we weren’t so formal with each other.” 

Suzui kicks her legs from where she was sitting. “Yeah, we already all kinda knew each other before…”

The next few minutes were awkward to say the very least but… She was right. Something like that was the next step to working together better. You have to get comfortable with your teammates. 

 

4/30/2016 Calling Card

Today they posted the calling card. He and Ryuji got in hella early and plastered them everywhere. They had to ensure that not only did the entire school see it, but Kamoshida got the memo as well. 

It worked, the man definitely saw it. He could hear the man yelling at students from the hallway they were in. 

“Yheesh, that guy sounding like he’s having an aneurysm.” Ryuji comments. They all peak around the corner. Only two students stood around. They were chatting to each other, ignoring the situation. 

“He sounds really upset. I hope no one saw you guys.” Shiho sounds worried and as sweet as that is; there were barely even teachers in the facility when they arrived. He’s certain that they won’t be caught. 

“Good job guys.” Ann gives them a thumbs up. “Tomorrow is the big day so make sure to eat well and get rest tonight.” 

“Right.”

“Yup.”

“Okay.”

They all look at each other and chuckle. Maybe it was out of nerves. If they mess up tomorrow… The repercussions would affect them in more than one way.

The sound of hurrying footsteps draw their attention away from each other and back into the hall. 

Plain as day Yuuki can see Kurusu hurry into the hall.

“Is he okay?”

“What is he lookin’ for?”

“Maybe you should go to him.” Ann suggested. Yuuki was the only one that actually knew him after all. 

He didn’t have to be told that twice.

 

5/1/2016 …

Up on the roof, a group of teens and their weird not-cat discussed a topic that was pending on them. 

“Okay, so today’s the big day. We can’t mess up on this. We have to steal his treasure without a hitch.” Ann waggled her finger at them like she was their babysitter or something. 

“Yeah, can’t wait ‘til I get to pummel the guy.” Ryuji stretched his arms before resettling. 

“Nobody’s pummeling anything.” Morgana scolds. “I told you already. When we come for his treasure, his shadow will be on very high alert. Not only will stronger shadows be guarding him, but his final form will take place.”

“So?”

A groan. “He’s going to look like a monster.”

“A monster? Why?”

“Because Shiho, the final form he’ll take will reflect him from a moral standpoint. Given that palaces only manifest from distortion, a shadow’s final form usually looks monstrous.” 

Ann mumbles something belittling under her breath. “Wow, who would’ve guessed he’s a monster…”

“Oh, there’s also one more thing we need to talk about.” The cat turns to look at Ann, who seems to pick up what he means right away.

“Right… So, guys.” They give her their attention. “Since we can’t afford to mess up on this, Mona and I decided we should have Yuuki-kun sit this one out.” She looks apologetically at him. “This isn’t punishment or anything, you just…you can’t catch up to us.” She slaps herself in the forehead. “Wait, that sounds mean.” 

Yuuki laughs in what feels to be a default reaction. Oh. He understands, he really does. But something like this still stings. Just like before. 

“What I meant is-”

He shakes his head for her to stop. “No, I understand. You two are right. I’m too vulnerable without a persona. Not to mention I was support to begin with. You guys don’t need me anymore.” 

“Don’t say that!” Shiho sounds mortified. 

Ryuji adds on. “Yeah! You’re a big help. We just don’t want you to get hurt.” 

He chuckles, feeling awkward. “No, guys. It’s okay. You don’t have to sugarcoat it. I’m not helpful at this point. The palace is getting harder and I’m not given the boosts you guys get.” 

“He’s right…” Morgana mumbles. 

Ann smacks him.

“Yowl!”

She gets up and sits next to him. “Hey, that might be true, but you’re still our teammate and friend. Thanks for all the help you’ve given us so far. This group wouldn’t be the same without you.” 

The suddenness of the tiny heartfelt speech left him without words and a tad shocked. She seizes the moment by giving him a side hug.

Not gonna lie, it felt nice.

“Thank you Ann-san.” She brought a smile to his face and she mirrored one right back at him. 


When they're packing up as lunch will end soon, Ryuji poses a question. “Hey, Yuuki. Whatd'ya gonna do when we’re stealin’ you-know-who’s treasure?” 

“Hmmm.” Yuuki thinks about it for all of 3 second as he shuts the lid of his lunchbox closed. “I’m going to hang out with Kurusu-kun.”

“That’s good.” Shiho’s already ready to go. She stands there. Waiting. Watching. Whating. “I may not know him personally, but he probably needs a friend right now. I bet he feels incredibly anxious about tomorrow.” 

“And we’re not?” The blond jokes. Ann wordlessly elbows him. “Ow!”

 

5/2/2016 Aftermath

As Yuuki walked back into the gymnasium, he passed by a tall brunette and a black haired girl. Trailing behind them was that teacher from earlier who had tried to herd the students. As he’s never had that teacher before, he doesn’t really remember his name. But he does know that he’s boisterous and he’s glad he’s never had him. 

The teacher in the suit gives him a look and tells him to head back to class. Yuuki manages to stutter out an excuse of forgetting something. 

He slips by. 

Inside he sees the trio right away. Without any of them needing to talk, he could feel the dreary awkward atmosphere. “What happened when I was gone?”

Ann tells him that some girls had apologized about spreading rumors and the way they treated her. 

“You were so forgiving.” Shiho added on. “In fact, I’m sorry that you had to go though.”

“Shiho!”

“You were doing it for my sake! And yet look where it got you.” She looks away. “At least the air has been cleared.” 

“Oh Shiho-kun…” The girls embrace each other in a sweet hug. 

Yuuki almost wants to say ‘aw’, but that would be weird. Hearing all this though makes him think of the things he’s done. He still owns Kurusu an apology (although the other boy doesn’t know it), but there’s one person in front of him he can apologize to right now. “I think it’s only fair if I apologize too.”

“Huh?” The blonde questions dumbly. 

“Ann-san, I’m sorry!” He bows slightly. “Everyone in the volleyball team knew… but we pretended we didn’t. Please forgive me for not saying anything.” 

“Whoa, this is a lot guys…” She sounds a little nervous. “But like I said to the others, it’s okay. It’s all in the past now.”

He nods.

“Sheesh, you’re getting so many apologies I feel like I need to apologize now.” Ryuji jokes. 

Ann rolls her eyes at him. “For what? You didn’t do anything. 

He laughs and turns towards Yuuki. “Where were you anyway?”

“Oh, uh. I was helping Kurusu-kun.”

Shiho was the first to worry. “Why? Did something happen?”

“Uh…” How should he phrase this? “He…threw up? I guess he was sick. I took him to the nurse’s office.”

Ryuji raises an eyebrow. “That fast?”

“Well, no. I passed him off to a teacher.”

“At least he has break to feel better.” Ann states. “How are you feeling about Kamoshida?”

He thinks about it, turning the question over in his head. “I’m surprised.” Was his honest confession. “His change of heart was so intense he wanted to kill himself for it.”

“That’s what I was thinkin’!” Shouts the blond boy.

“Quite!” Ann reprimands him. “The whole school’s going to hear you. Anyway, we probably should head back to class. We don’t wanna get in trouble.”


“I totally freaked out… He really did have a change of heart… And we were lucky his mind didn’t get messed up either! This was an A+ job!” Ryuji fist pumped the air in his excitement. 

Yuuki chuckled from his adjacency seat. The two boys were sitting on the desks left out on the roof. It was way past the school day, but they were still here. Shiho took the desk Morgana was sitting on and Ann opted to stand to the side (for some reason). 

“Does this mean that they won’t have a mental shutdown even if their palace disappears…?” Morgana mused. “I see… So we need to persuade the shadow without killing it, and send it back to its real self. Our targets won’t undergo a cognitive collapse if we do that.” 

“So, we can get ‘em to confess with no bad stuff?” Ryuji smirks. “Hey! That works for me!” 

Ann shakes her head. “Do you have to be so loud?” Their leader sounds a little defeated. 

“Don’t worry about it.” He brushes her off. “That aside, I was surprised you could hold yourself back against Kamoshida’s shadow.”

Yuuki’s ears perk up at this. He obviously wasn’t there when they stole Kamoshida’s treasure. Hearing this was giving him some insight he otherwise wouldn’t have. It’s too awkward to directly ask them for details. 

“It wasn’t like that…” She crosses her arms. “I just wanted Kamoshida to apologize himself.” 

“You’re so kind, Lady Ann.” Morgana meows. 

“No matter how much of a shit bag he was, finishing him off woulda left a bad aftertaste, huh?” 

“Huh? That’s not it. I think revenge is better served if I make him repent. Realizing what he’s done, he’ll grovel for forgiveness the rest of his life, you know? I just believe there are fates worse than death.” Ann finishes with a sweet smile.

“Ann-chan…” Shiho gets out nervously.

Yuuki felt that. 

“Holy shit…” Ryuji mumbles. “Anyway, that’s all settled…” He sounds nervous too. “But you know, there was one more thing I was wonderin’ about that castle. Why was Kamoshida the only one who had that Metaverse thing?”

Morgana stretches before answering “It isn’t necessarily limited to him.” he explains. “It’s something anyone could have if their heart became warped from their desires.” 

“Anyway…” Ann attempts to steer the conversation to no avail. 

“Wanna check it out?” Morgana prompts.

“N-Not right now. We better lay low for a while. People are still gonna be talkin’ about Kamoshida.” It was evident that Ryuji was using his only brain cell for this. “Then again, it’s totally impossible for someone to find out what we did at this palace.” 

Ann stops him in his tracks. “Yeah, about that… Weird rumors about you and ‘associates’ are already going around. Stuff like, you all got together and threatened Kamoshida with something close to physical violence…” 

“The hell!?” 

“People aren’t going to believe that phantom thieves really exist.” She pouts. “The calling card’s being treated like it was a prank by someone who knew what Kamoshida was doing.” 

“Makes sense… We’re the ones who did it, and I still don’t completely believe it myself.” 

“Let’s wait for things to settle down for the time being.”

“Anyways, let’s check how much this medal can be sold for. It’d be better if we pawned it off ASAP.”

“Won’t he medal be traceable? We might get in trouble…” Shiho brings up. 

“Yeah, doesn’t that have his name engraved into it?” Yuuki seconds. 

Ryuji shakes his head. “Nah, we’re fine. It’s generic.” He looks back down on his phone. “Ooh, got a hit!” He frowns. “...Wait, thirty thousand yen!? That’s all a gold medal’s worth!?”

At the mention of ¥30,000, Ann puts up a sticky sweet tone of voice. “Remember that time in middle school? I lent you some money.” 

The blond stands up, startling the quiet kids. “There’s no way I borrowed thirty thousand yen from you!” 

“Wouldn’t it be around that much with compounded interest?” 

“Interest my ass!”  

“I’m not saying that I’m taking all of it.” She rolls her eyes. “I mean, it’s your fault for not paying me back all these years! It’s just common sense!” 

“Dammit…” 

Morgana takes back the reins of the conversation from the two blond(e)s. “I agree on laying low and keeping an eye on the situation. However, you dragged me into this. It would be nonsense not to celebrate a successful mission.” Nevermind, even Morgana had a second agenda. 

“I guess we could blow this dirty money on something fun.” Ryuji shrugs.

“Discussions among phantom thieves are to take place over luxurious food. How about it?” The cat seems particularly excited. 

“Hey, wait—” Ann pauses. “...Nah, I guess it’s fine. There’s somewhere I want to go then.” 

“Where’s that?” 

The girls make eye contact and have a mental conversation that Yuuki does not have the key for. “It’s a place Shiho-kun and I have been wanting to go for a while.” 

“I owe money, so I can’t complain… You good with that?” Ryuji looks to Yuuki for a second opinion. 

“Honest? Food sounds good.”

“I’ll leave it to your discretion as well, Lady Ann.” Morgana pipes up. 

“I’ll call and check the prices later then.” She smiles. 

“Oh, I can do that. I have more free time on my hands now that all the volleyball will probably be canceled.” Shiho interjects. 

“When should we go? Wanna do it soon, like tomorrow?” Ryuji questions, looking at his phone for the time. 

“Why don’t we go on the last day of the holidays?” Ann suggests. “It’ll help energize us when school life starts up again the day after.” 

“Then… the 5th, on Children’s Day.”

“Wait, who’s going to sell this?” Yuuki gestures towards the metal. 

“Leave that to us. We know a store that’ll buy anything. Don’t we, Lady Ann?” Morgana stares back at her for confirmation. 

“Oh yeah! Ryuji, that place you bought that replica gun is also a pawn shop.”

“For real!?”

 

5/5/2016 Thursday

“So good...!” Ryuji spoke with his mouth full. 

“No wonder Lady Ann chose this place…!” Morgana peeks his head out of said girl’s bag. 

“Of course it’s good. This is a famous hotel, after all.” She pets his head. “Oh yeah, I heard that the police are coming to interview some people at school.”

“That’s troublesome.” Morgana...cat frowns? 

“My name's gonna come up for sure. People’re spreadin’ all sorts of rumors about me and Kamoshida…” Ryuji cuts a piece of his steak and eats it. “But we got ‘em pumped up! I keep hearin’ stuff like, “The Phantom Thieves really stole his heart!” I think most people don’t believe it, but some of them actually seem grateful.” He pulls out his phone. “Look at this.” 

To his surprise, Yuuki finds himself looking at the unpolished homepage to his new website. He feels embarrassment rise within his cheeks. 

“The Phantom Aficionado Website…?” Ann starts to read the comments posted.  ““Well done, Phantom Thieves”...” “Now I can keep going too”...  “Thank you for giving us hope”...” 

“Pretty cool, huh?” Ryuji smirks. 

Yuuki is going to die. 

“I was just desperate to deal with my own problems, but seeing people saying all this feels… strange.” Ann puts a hand up to her chin. 

Shiho adds her 2 cents. “It feels nice though, to know people appreciate it.” 

“Yeah…” The blond agrees.

“Uh, guys?” 

“Hmmm? What is it Yuuki-kun?” Ann asks. 

“That website… I made it like, two days ago.” He hides his face in his hands. “I’m kinda embarrassed you found it so quickly.” 

He hears Shiho laugh and Ryuji stutter. 

“Wait, for real?! Dude, that’s awesome! You made it so quick.” 

“I forgot you had a thing for computers. Just be careful with it okay? You don’t want to give anything away.”

He lets out a dry laugh. “Don’t worry Shiho-San. I made sure that it looks like a fan site.” 

“Just be cautious is all.” She claps her hands. “Anyway, I think it's time to eat!” 

Ann abruptly stands up and gasps, startling her friends. “This place has a time limit!” 

Ryuji checks the time on his phone and jumps up as well. “Oh crap, we only got an hour to eat!” 

The blonde’s head whips to stare at the clock. “Just fifty minutes left!” 

“Ah, I’m not gonna finish all the beef dishes at this pace!” Ryuji whines while scratching the back of his head. 

“I need to eat my way through the entire dessert menu…!” And just like that Ann was gone with the wind. 

“Oh.” Shiho commentates. Then Ryuji teleported to the buffet area in an instant. The two left behind looked towards each other, then to their friends piling food onto their plates. Then back to each other. 

Morgana sighed. “Alright, one of you stay here with me to hold down the fort. The other one can go get their food.”

“I’ll stay here.” They spoke in unison.

He blinked. She blinked. 

”No, you can go first…” The words died in their mouths as they realized they were doing it again. 

“Wow, you guys are really in sync…”


After everyone had stuffed themselves and the boys went to the restroom, they returned to a frowning Shiho and an annoyed looking Ann. “What took you so long!?” she snaps.

“Why’re you all pissy…?” 

Ann shakes her head in dismay. “Sorry… I had a run-in with some woman a second ago. She bumped into me, but then said it was all my fault when she dropped her plate…” 

He scoffs. “Sounds like a real bitch…” 

“I’m sure she was just having a bad day.” Shiho chimes in, ever the considerate one.  

“Yeah… Thanks though. But… the restaurant workers all looked at me with this disapproving expression…” The boys sat down as she continued. “I wonder if we’re out of place here…”

“There are a lot of rich fancy adults around here. We kinda stick out by being a bunch of normal teenagers.” Yuuki comments. Looking around just showed him guests among guests in high end wear. 

Ryuji grunts. “Hey, Morgana.” 

“What is it?”

“...Anyone could have a palace, yeah?” 

“Anyone with a strong distorted desire.” 

He uncrosses his legs and leans into the table. “Same for them havin’ a change of heart if their treasure gets stolen?” 

A nod. “That would be the case.” 

The blonde tilts her head. “Why are you bringing this up all of a sudden?” 

“We had trouble earlier too. These selfish shitheads who just looked down on everyone else...I was just wonderin’ if we’d be able to change those kindsa people too.” 

Their little group looked at each other, all wondering the same thing. “You mean… you want to continue as the Phantom Thieves?”

“...I’ve been thinkin’. We put a lot of work into changin’ Kamoshida’s heart, but nobody believes in the Phantom Thieves. Plus… those guys who had no other choice but to deal with it are thankin’ us. Us, of all people.” 

“Well, many of us were affected by Kamoshida…” Shiho trails off.

“I… I agree.” Ann leans in. “If we ignore people who are in trouble, I’d go back to being the same as I was before…!” Her friend lays a comforting hand on her shoulder. 

“Well, that’s true.” Morgana ponders. When nobody speaks, he starts back up. “You’re under my tutelage. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish as phantom thieves!” He cheers.

“Shouldn’t we be able to help ‘em out?” Ryuji asks no one.

“But…that means we’ll have to fight Shadows again, doesn’t it…?” The tall girl looks apprehensive.

“Indeed. That can’t be avoided.” The cat confirms.

“Eh, I’m sure we’ll manage.” Ryuji chuckles. “Right?” 

“Sounds like a lot of work.” Yuuki jokes, not what else to say since he’s probably not going back into anymore palaces.

“Heh… Even if you guys are still just fledglings, this means we’re an actual organization now.” 

“Fledglings…?” Ann repeats from Morgana's comment. She laughs. “That’s actually pretty fitting for us.” 

“We’re birds of a feather.” Shiho adds on.

“All right, it’s settled! We’re gonna catch all these shitty adults by surprise, and make ourselves known to the world!” 

Ann rolls her eyes at Ryuji's excitement and poses a question, “Are you guys still okay with me being the leader?”

“Of course, Ann-chan.” 

“Yeah, I’m not one for leadership roles…”

“No objections here! I can’t handle all that responsibility stuff.” Ryuji jokes.

“I already said you’re perfect for this, Lady Ann.”

Rolling over onto another topic, Ryuji brings up their group name. “Well, should we decide on a name for our group? I just went with Phantom Thieves of Hearts last time, but don’t you think a real name would be cooler?” 

“Ooh, I’ve got it! I want it to be something both cute and luxurious sounding…” Ann goes first. “Let me see… How about “The Diamonds”?” Not even taking herself seriously, she laughs.  

“...I’m gettin’ a real little league baseball feel from it.” 

Morgana went next. “Well then, here’s my suggestion. How about “Tilefish Poele”?” 

“Tile… what?”

“That’s what I ate earlier. It’s commemorative, no?” 

The boy crosses his legs and leans back into his seat. “Hell no, you idiot! Ugh, what about you two?” 

“Um, Robin Hoods? I’m not very creative…”

“Hmm, it’s okay. Shiho?”

“Honest, I just like Phantom Thieves. It reminds me of that anime troupe.”  


((I totally fucking forgot that they have school on Saturday in P5. Asdfghjkl!

But shit man, if I try to redo my timeline to include this fact,,,I would have to change too much and delete a good part of ch3. Look, I’m done w/ that shit, I already had to redo the timeline once when writing this ch. I ain’t doing it again. 

We’ll just ignore the fact that 4/30/2016 falls on a Saturday, and the other Saturdays they didn’t have school on, and that the 1st should not have been a school day in ch3. Like, you didn’t even notice. Don’t lie to me.

After this chapter tho, I will acknowledge that they have school on Saturday and just,,,let the inconsistencies of this and earlier chapters vibe,,,I,,,I’m not redoing it yo. This story is making my hair thin.))

 

It seemed that a few of you be thinkin’ that Yuuki was the leader of the PT or is taking Joker’s place and I just-

I did not think anyone would conclude that. ._.

I know you guys kinda had high hopes for Yuuki being pretty involved with the group, but I’ve always headcanoned that he doesn't have the ability to summon a persona. He retains the same role as he does in canon, except this time he knows everything and doesn’t have Akira acting as the middle man.

I hope you guys like the direction I went with the group. Ann being leader was inspired from this fic: When the Cat Dragged In the Trickster by Raaj which you need to read right now bc it blew my weave off when I first found it. And some daydreams I had about some P5 AU I will never write nor draw. 

The art in this chapter was done by moi which is why it’s shit. ;))))) 

Here’s a spolier-ish doddle of Akira and his NPC friends he’ll have in this fic. I spent 5 seconds on each person, so it’s kinda hard to tell who they are, but just in case,,,if you don’t want spoilers,,,no clicky then,,, I just wanted to have a height chart ref and was going to throw it away afterwards,,,but I liked how I drew one person so… It lives in my sketchbook now. 

I hope you guys are excited for chapter 6 'cuz Futaba will finally be sliding in and I can finally just write Akira chilling,,, Boi needs a break. I've been hurting him too much,,,

You'll finally see some goddamn fluff. ;p

 

*cracks knuckle* Okay, ya’ll know what time it is, it’s shameless plug time. 

So me irl friend -AAA- has started up a little cute webcomic I think some of ya’ll might like??? You guys do like cute shit, yeah? It’s called Annie & Alex and it’s just a little fun Slice of Life webcomic. 

You can read it here on his Tumblr, aaa-comics  He just started it not too long ago, so there aren't many strip atm. 

You can find his Youtube channel here. He makes little music thingies and memes on occasion. Got a minimalist art style about them. 

Sent some love his way plz!!!