Akechi stared at the daunting building in front of him. Next to him stood his boyfriend with a steady hand on his shoulder. He leaned into the other boy's comforting touch and gave a weak smile.
"Do I have to do this?" He asked in a tone that came dangerously close to whining.
"I'm not forcing you to do anything but things are only going to get worse if you don't start working to fix them now." Akechi sighed, knowing Akira was right. He was always right, not that he would ever admit that to the other boy. He didn't need his ego to swell too much.
Akechi walked into the building with his boyfriend. It hadn't been his idea to see a therapist, no, that had been Akira's suggestion. When Akechi had made the mistake of telling Akira he'd been having nightmares that kept him up, he had immediately suggested someone to see.
"Shujin's old councilor." Akira had said. "He works at a research hospital now but he still takes on patients. He really helped Kasumi back in highschool."
Akechi had been a bit confused at the time. "Shujin never had a councilor." He pointed out.
Akira gave a small smile. "You don't remember? It was your third year when they hired him on for a little while. The school had noticed that a lot of students were having trouble with stress and stuff."
Akechi tried to think back. He couldn't remember a councilor in his three years at Shujin but if Akira remembered it, well Akira was always right so he played along. "Right, I remember now."
Akechi sat in the waiting room with Akira by his side. For some reason he couldn't stop his nerves from acting up. He could feel his insides tie themselves in knots as his heart began to beat too fast. It was ridiculous. There was nothing to be worried about, he was just going to talk to someone.
"Hey." Akira gently grabbed his hand but it did nothing to soothe the building tension. "Everything's gonna be fine. You don't need to be nervous."
"I know." Akechi nodded. He stared at the door with a building sense of dread.
"He really helped Kasumi back in highschool." Something about that hadn't sat right with him. Kasumi was one of his closest friends, one of the few mutual friends he had with Akira that actually preferred him, yet she'd never mentioned anything about therapy nor had she ever confided in him anything that she would have needed therapy for.
"Akechi-san," The receptionist called with a bright smile. Akechi looked at Akira one last time before he stood up.
Akechi was led down a corridor that gave him a horrible sense of deja-vu. He felt as if he'd been there a long time ago even though he knew that the hospital was relatively new. Akira had told him so.
Maybe it was the familiarity to his dreams that put him on edge. A long unwelcoming hallway did tend to feature prominently in one of the main ones so seeing that in the real world could have been triggering memories. The receptionist stopped at a door and motioned for him to open it. She flashed him another kind smile before she disappeared back from where they had come from.
Akechi closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He entered the office and came face to face with a man who he swore he'd met before. Maybe he really had worked at Shujin before. An intense rage swelled in his chest but he didn't know why.
"Hello Akechi-kun. Why don't you take a seat." He smiled pleasantly and adjusted his glasses. Suddenly, all the anger he felt towards the man left just as quickly as it came leaving only an uneasy feeling in its place. Akechi closed the door behind him and sat on a comfortable looking couch. "My name is Dr. Maruki, it's nice to meet you."
"Maruki." Akechi repeated. Something about the situation activated his fight or flight response and he really wanted to fight. Something was off about Maruki but he couldn't place it. He tried to push past it but he just couldn't. "Akira recommended you."
"Ah, Kurusu-kun! He actually helped me out quite a bit a couple years ago. It's thanks to him that I'm even able to help people here." He looked about ready to go on a long tangent but stopped himself and smiled at Akechi. "But enough about him, today we're here to talk about you."
"Right..." Akechi felt uncomfortable. He curled in on himself on the couch, feeling like he needed some sort of protection.
"I understand that talking to a stranger about your problems can be nerve-wracking." He leaned forward. "But just remember, we're going at your pace. You don't have to share anything if you aren't comfortable. We have an hour scheduled but you can take as long as you need."
Akechi nodded, a comforting feeling suddenly washed over him. Everything grew fuzzy around the edges. He suddenly felt silly for being worried. Akira had recommended him, he would never do anything to hurt him. He always had his best interest in mind.
"Are you comfortable Akechi-kun?" Akechi nodded, barely feeling like he was there. It was strange how suddenly relaxed he'd felt. "That's good. Why don't we begin then? What brings you here today?"
"I... I've been having nightmares." Akechi glared at nothing as the words spilled from his mouth. "Every night they just- they weren't as frequent before."
"And what are these nightmares about?"
Akechi paused. He looked at Maruki for a moment before another wave of relaxation fought against the rising anxiety he was feeling. He felt sick just thinking about it. "I'd rather not talk about it." He admitted.
Maruki frowned for a split second before he brightened up again. "That's okay, we're going at your pace." Akechi nodded unsure why his chest felt so tight all of the sudden. "Why don't we talk about something else? Hmm..." He paused for a moment to think of a topic. "How about your work? Do you have a job Akechi-kun?"
"Yes, I'm currently working freelance after my classes and on the weekends."
"That must be a lot, is it difficult?"
Akechi thought for a moment before he slowly nodded. "Yes, I suppose it can get to be a bit much sometimes."
Maruki leaned forward. "Do you enjoy it?"
The world seemed to stop for a moment. Akechi felt the air leave his lungs with the small question. Did he enjoy it? He couldn't shake the unease that came with the question. "...I suppose I do..." He felt a headache coming on as the world was suddenly launched into motion. The entire time, Maruki just stared at him as if looking straight through to his soul. An unreadable expression on his face.
Suddenly, he smiled. "As long as Kurusu-kun's by your side, you could be happy with anything, right?" The words echoed in his mind. They burned themselves into his consciousness.
"Akira?" He mumbled. Just the thought of the boy brought a wave of calm. He felt safe thinking about him. "I suppose so." He smiled slightly. Everything seemed to enter a dreamlike state. He suddenly felt overjoyed but he couldn't explain why. Perhaps it was just the thought of his boyfriend. It felt like he could spend an eternity just thinking about all the amazing things about him.
"That's good to hear. Having someone reliable around is always nice, wouldn't you agree?" Akechi nodded in agreement. Akira was reliable. He could count on him for anything. He could trust him to make the right decisions. In that moment, Akechi's nightmares were far from his mind. In their place was how happy Akira made him.
"Our hour's up, how do you feel about ending this here?" Maruki's voice seemed far from wherever Akechi had found himself. It hadn't felt like any time had passed but when he looked at the clock, Akechi realized he was right.
"So how was it?" Akira asked once they were home.
"Better than I thought it would be." Akechi felt as if he was just waking up. He felt energized and refreshed, especially when he looked at Akira. Maruki had been right, Akira did seem to be the real source of his happiness. He grabbed his boyfriend's hand and leaned against him. "I love you."
Akira wrapped his arm around Akechi's waist and chuckled. "I love you too."
The nightmares stopped after his session with Maruki. Akechi found himself happier than ever as he spent time with Akira. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Until it wasn't.
Akechi had thought things were fine. Everything had been going so well until he found himself in a familiar scene. He couldn't stop himself from walking down the grey corridor he found himself in. After a brief interaction with Sae Niijima he entered the familiar interrogation room with a guard. Akira sat there, bloody and bruised. His eyes were unfocused but he had enough awareness to know what was happening. Akechi couldn't stop himself from disarming the guard that had escorted him in. He tried to stop himself from pulling the trigger and putting a bullet in the man's stomach but he couldn't. He was helpless to do anything as his body moved on without him.
He placed the gun to Akira's head and grinned. He said something before he pulled the trigger. A rush of satisfaction filled him. He felt sick. As blood trickled from the wound, Akechi saw himself reflected in Akira's eyes. He looked so pleased with himself. Akechi didn't have to look much longer because Akira slumped forward on the table. Red splattered all over the table, accompanying the resounding thud the impact had made. As Akechi fiddled with the gun's silencer, he felt hot tears run down his face. The nightmare began to merge with reality as Akechi felt the warmth of the covers over him. He could feel Akira's presence but he still wasn't fully awake. He still wasn't allowed to leave.
Akechi hid the silencer in his coat and placed the gun in Akira's hands. A suicide. The thought made him nauseous. He stepped back to admire his work and smirked again. As Akechi walked out of the interrogation room, his eyes shot open. His heart wouldn't slow down, even as he reminded himself that it wasn't real. He'd never hurt Akira.
Akechi breathed in choked gasps. He tried to calm himself down. The world spun too fast leaving him nauseous as his breathing got more and more out of control. He wanted to wipe away the tears but they kept coming. They just wouldn't stop no matter how many times he told himself it was fake. Just a nightmare his mind had-
"Goro?" Akira's groggy voice cut through the panic Akechi felt. He sat up and turned on a lamp showing Akechi's pitiful state. "Hey, what's wrong?"
Akechi wanted to speak but the words were caught in his throat. It felt like something was clawing at his throat, fighting to keep the words unsaid. Akira looked at Akechi for a moment before he wrapped his arms around him. He felt
guilty safe, repulsed comforted.
"So the nightmares are back?" Maruki asked. A worried look settled on his face. Akechi gave a silent nod. "That's not good but... don't worry Akechi-kun, I'll help you through this."
A nice warm feeling settled over him. All the tension left his body as he sat on the comfortable couch. He could trust Maruki. "Thank you." Akechi said without thinking.
"Are you ready to talk about the nightmares?" Strange lights filled the room. Whites mixed with blue and greens in a disorienting display.
Akechi shook his head. "I can't." He couldn't keep seeing himself as the monster who took Akira's life. He didn't want to think about how pathetic and weak he felt whenever he had the dreams.
"You're not pathetic Akechi-kun. And you certainly aren't weak." Akechi looked at Maruki. Had he said that out loud? He must have. "We'll go at your pace. Is there anything in particular you want to talk about."
Akechi shook his head. Everything felt so muddled, he doubted he could even form coherent words. It was nice but just under the surface, he could feel the building anxiety. A small voice in the back of his mind screamed danger but he could hardly hear it. All he could focus on was Maruki and the pleasant fog that kept all the bad things at bay.
"Why don't we talk about goals?" He smiled at Akechi. "What are some of the goals you have for yourself?"
"Goals..?" Akechi repeated. He'd never actually thought about it and now he couldn't. Not when his mind was so painfully slow.
"Don't you have any?" He watched Akechi shake his head with a smile. "Then, why don't I help you come up with a few!" The lights in the room grew brighter. Akechi couldn't bring himself to look away despite the building intensity. He could feel pressure building in his skull, threatening to burst. The voice in the back of his mind slowly faded away leaving only Maruki's. "What's something you want?"
"Akira." Akechi felt like he was on autopilot as he watched the bright lights dance in front of him. He could feel his worries melting away.
"That's good, what else?" Akechi didn't answer. Nothing came to mind. What else could he possibly want? "What about happiness?"
"... Happiness..." Akechi repeated. Happiness. Now that he thought about it, he wanted it badly. The lights in the room died down as Akechi came to this realization. The only thing we wanted more than happiness was Akira. It seemed so obvious now.
"Why don't you say it Akechi-kun?"
"Your goal." Maruki smiled and waited patiently.
"I... I want to be... happy." Akechi managed to string the short sentence together with some effort. Thinking still felt like wading through tar but he did it. As the words left his mouth, they felt wrong. Like he shouldn't be wishing for happiness. Maybe it was selfish of him. What had he ever done to deserve-
"Akechi-kun, it's not helpful to think like that."
His train of thought was suddenly gone, leaving Akechi confused. What had he just been-
"Your goal Akechi-kun, would you mind saying it out loud again?"
"I want to be happy." It was so much easier the second time. The words felt right as they lodged themselves into his mind.
"I'm glad to hear." Maruki said with a smile. His voice drifted further away as Akechi entered a dreamlike state once again. "Do you feel good about ending things here?"
Akechi leaned his head against Akira on the train home. He gave a content sigh and closed his eyes only to be met with a familiar corridor. He quickly shot his eyes open and found that he was still on the train with Akira. He grabbed his hand tight and was met with an amused smile.
"How are you feeling?" Akira asked. His voice was quiet and gentle in a way that managed to slow his too fast heart beat.
"Never better." It felt like someone else said it for him. It was a lie but he wanted so badly for it to be the truth. He closed his eyes again but this time was met with darkness. Happiness, as long as Akira was with him, it would be fine. It had to be.
Days passed and Akechi felt like he was getting worse. Every passing moment threatened to sever his weakening grasp on reality. It felt like he didn't belong. He didn't dare bring it up to Akira. Nothing good would come of it. He told himself that over and over again. As long as Akira was happy, he could make do. Even if it tore him apart on the inside, he would endure it for Akira's happiness. He wanted to be happy but Akira was more important and he certainly couldn't deny that he was scared. If he saw how pathetic he was, he might wake up and realize he could do so much better. He couldn't lose Akira over something so pathetic so he kept it to himself, hoping everything would just resolve itself.
A part of him wanted to go back and tell Maruki about his situation but the thought made his stomach twist painfully. There was something about him that Akechi just couldn't place but it made him nervous. Even though he was just trying to help he couldn't put it out of his mind. Before, when they were face to face, he knew that he could trust Maruki but now he wasn't as sure.
Akechi looked at Akira and felt nothing but anger. He wanted to hurt him. The coward who-
He abruptly snapped out of it, feeling disgusted with himself. He could feel a growing headache the longer he looked at Akira. He was only getting worse but he couldn't tell him. What would he even say that wouldn't immediately scare Akira away or worse, send him back to Maruki.
"Are you okay?" Akira suddenly asked. He smiled at Akechi and walked towards him.
Akechi forced a smile but couldn't stop himself from taking a step back. "I'm fine." He lied.
"Goro..." The disappointment on Akira's face mixed with concern leaving Akechi feeling awful in too many ways to count. "Do you want me to schedule another appointment with Maruki?"
"No!" The word slipped out before he could even think about it. He suddenly realized he was shaking. The mere thought of the man made him sick in a way he just couldn't understand. "Please... don't, I'm fine!"
"No you're not." Akira stepped forward but Akechi found himself stepping back again. "You're upset about something."
"No Akira, I'm fine!"
Akira paused for a second. The tense silent felt as if it stretched for an eternity. Akechi stared at Akira in a wordless battle of wills before he finally gave up with a sigh. "Fine. If you don't think there's anything wrong, I won't force you to do anything you don't want to." His voice softened. "But you know you can talk to me if anything happens, okay?"
He didn't believe him. He just couldn't. "Of course."
The situation continued to get worse but Akechi refused to speak up. He couldn't. Not even when the nightmares became nightly again. The interrogation room was the most common but sometimes he dreamed of an engine room and a very hazy argument in LeBlanc. He always woke up feeling the worst after the argument.
Emotions that weren't his kept spilling over from his dreams. He'd wake up feeling angry or disgusted only to realize where he was. Sometimes, that didn't help. He could hardly look at Akira without wanting to hurt him. He felt like he was being torn apart and Akira knew. He noticed everytime Akechi quickly looked away or refused to meet his gaze. It all made him feel terrible.
Anger, betrayal, Akechi couldn't explain his feelings. He knew Akira was the reason why. He knew he did something but he couldn't understand what. His mind felt too cloudy to grab onto anything.
It hurt. He closed his eyes and tried to block out the world. It all hurt so bad.
Akechi sat on his bed. His bed he shared with Akira. The thought disgusted him. He couldn't take it. Everything was too much, he just couldn't-
The quiet sound of the door knob turning drew Akechi's attention. His eyes shot open as he watched the door slowly open. "Hey Goro, are you awake?" Akira's soft voice called out. Akechi froze. He didn't dare breathe as he watched Akira enter the room. A small smile appeared on Akira's face as he saw him. As he saw the mess that was Goro Akechi. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
Akechi saw the pity in his eyes. Behind the caring act he could see how weak and useless Akira thought he was. He hated it. Without thinking, Akechi launched himself forward. He brought himself and Akira to the ground as he tackled him. He placed his hands on Akira's throat but he didn't look scared. He looked more sad than anything.
Akechi couldn't take it. He pressed with as much force as he could muster on Akira's neck. He wanted to kill him. He wanted him to feel the pain he felt. He-
A chill ran down his spine as pain exploded from his skull. Suddenly, he realized what he was doing. He felt like he was pushed as he rolled off Akira and onto the floor. Akira's harsh coughing instantly drew Akechi's attention.
He could feel a rising panic fill him. "Fuck! Akira are-" Akira held out his hand as gasped for breath. Akechi helped him sit up and hugged him. "I-I'm sorry! I didn't- I-" He couldn't bring himself to finish, what was there to say? He didn't mean to hurt him? He did, he'd had every intention to.
"It's okay." Akira said once his breathing evened out.
Akechi let go of him. "No it's not! Akira I could have-"
"But you didn't."
"But I wanted to." A silence filled the room. Akechi looked away, unable to meet Akira's gaze. After what felt like an eternity, Akechi felt Akira hug him. Akechi couldn't even bring himself to hug him back. "Akira, there's something wrong with me. I hurt you!" He felt disgusted with himself, guilty beyond all belief. He needed help. "...I'll see Maruki again."
Akira hugged him tighter. "You will?" He sounded ecstatic as if nothing had just happened.
"I can't keep doing this... I don't want to hurt you again."
Akira pulled away so Akechi could see his face. He smiled warmly at him as if nothing had happened. "I love you."
Akechi couldn't bring himself to say it back.
Akechi shifted uncomfortably in his seat. His heart was beating too fast whenever he looked at Maruki so he looked everywhere else.
"What brings you here today Akechi-kun?"
"I-" The words caught in his throat. He couldn't do this.
"Of course you can Akechi-kun." Akechi quickly looked at Maruki who was simply smiling at him. Fear made his heart stop in his chest. He shouldn't have been able to hear that.
"I can see you're nervous," Maruki began, the gentle smile never leaving his face. The need to escape rang through his mind. He needed to get out of there before it was too late. "There's nothing to worry about. You're safe here."
Akechi slowly nodded as the words burrowed themselves into his brain. A small smile came to his face as relaxation washed over him. Of course he was fine, why wouldn't he be?
"So what's the problem Akechi-kun?"
"...I tried to kill Akira." He could hardly feel the guilt anymore. A pleasant numbness replaced it.
"That's worrying." Maruki frowned slightly. "How's he doing?"
"He's fine..." Akechi could feel his smile widen as he felt a warm feeling spread through his body. His eyes slowly fluttered closed. All at once, his worries were far from his mind as everything relaxed until he could hardly think without considerable effort. It felt like he could just drift to sleep. Like everything would be fine.
"Can you still hear me Akechi-kun?" Maruki's voice was muffled and far away. Akechi lightly nodded his head. It was difficult to move when his body was so relaxed so he didn't force it. "Good. I think now would be a good time to hear about those nightmares. You've put it off long enough, don't you think?"
Akechi nodded again. "They're all about Akira." His voice sounded surprisingly clear for the state he was in. The words flowed freely as if there was nothing wrong with them. "I usually shoot him. Sometimes I try to kill him and our friends but I get killed instead. There's one in LeBlanc where we..." Something was wrong. It was like he was running his hand over a smooth surface and got caught on a small fracture. He tried to remember the last dream. "we... argue? I... Wait."
"Akechi-kun?" Maruki's voice only made things worse. The crack grew larger as something threatened to shatter. "What's the matter?"
"W-we argue and I..." Buried memories threatened to resurface. His heart began to speed up as he pulled for the memories. He needed to know. "I... I yell at him... I say that my life-" Abruptly, reality shattered around him. His eyes flew open as the memories all flooded back at once. Maruki, the fake reality, Akira, all of it. It felt like someone had poured a bucket of ice water on him as the warm feeling abruptly left his body.
"Nice to see you again Akechi-kun." Akechi glared at Maruki. He jumped up off the couch to lunge at Maruki but something grabbed his arm. One of Azathoth's spindly hands was wrapped around his arm stopping him from going any further. He tried to pull himself free but Azathoth's grip was much stronger than him. Especially when his body still felt heavy from whatever the hell Maruki had been doing to him.
"You came to me for counselling." Maruki oh so helpfully reminded.
"What the fuck did you do to me?" If looks could kill, Maruki would be dead a thousand times over. He tried again to wrench his arm out of Azathoth's grip until it felt like his shoulder was going to dislocate from the force.
"Akechi-kun, please stop before you hurt yourself." Akechi's body stopped responding to him. His mind began to panic when he couldn't even look where he wanted to. "Please, take a seat." He found himself back on the couch. If he were in control of his body, his heart would have been pounding by now.
Azathoth let go of Akechi's arm but the hand stayed nearby. Suddenly, whatever hold Maruki had on him was released. Akechi's breathing came out in short gasps as his lungs followed his brain. Panic rose in his chest, speeding up his heart until it felt like it would burst. He tried to calm himself down. He couldn't afford to be showing weakness now of all times.
"It's not weakness, you're just under a lot of stress right now."
Akechi brought his hands to his head as if that would protect him from anything. "Get out of my head!" He yelled as his breathing got worse. No matter how much air he took in, his lungs still burned. It felt like he was suffocating.
"Take deep breaths." Maruki's voice was gentle but it did nothing to calm Akechi or quell the disgust he felt when he looked at him. He refused to follow his instructions, even if it did only make things worse. "Akechi-kun, please, clam down."
A haze filled his mind. He felt his panic slowly leave as Maruki smiled at him. His body calmed down as his mind did. "Why are you doing this?" He glared at Maruki but his smile didn't fall.
"For nearly a year you've accepted my reality with no problems. You were happy with Kurusu-kun so what happened?"
"I wasn't fucking happy! You brainwashed me into thinking this was fine!"
Maruki's smile fell. "What about Akira? I know your feelings for him are-"
"I don't give a shit about Akira!"
"Akechi-kun, I understand you're frustrated but please calm down." As soon as the words left Maruki's mouth, he felt his panic ebb away once again. He tried to fight but found himself relaxing anyways. Maruki leaned forward, a pensive look on his face. "What's been causing you distress Akechi-kun?"
"This entire bullshit reality." He spat. Akechi glared but Maruki remained unaffected. "I told you before, I'll never accept this reality. I'll keep fighting as long as I have to."
"I see." Another wave of calm came over him. He tried to fight Maruki's influence but it felt nearly impossible to do so. "Don't worry Akechi-kun, I'll fix this." He smiled brightly. "You can rest for now, I'll take care of all of this."
He suddenly felt drowsy. Fear rose in his chest only to be swiftly crushed by the artificial comfort that surrounded him like a blanket. "S-stop..." He could hardly speak as an overwhelming exhaustion forced his eyes closed.
Goro opened his eyes and sat up. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to fall asleep." He said sheepishly. Maruki simply smiled and waved it off.
"It's fine. Don't worry about it." He leaned forward. "So you've been having nightmares, right Akechi-kun?"
He nodded. "They've been on and off. I've been having trouble sleeping at night whenever they happen..."
"Do you remember what they're about?"
Goro stopped to think. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't recall. It probably should have worried him but he just felt relieved. "No... I-"
"That's good to hear. It'd be best to just forget about them, wouldn't you agree?" That didn't sound right. Goro looked at Maruki for a moment while he waited for an answer. The comforting smile he wore before had never left his face.
"...Are you sure?" He finally asked.
"Of course. The sooner you forget, the sooner you can move past them. Don't you think it would be better that way Akechi-kun?"
Goro slowly nodded, finding himself confused. He was suddenly unsure why he was even there. Everything was fine, why had he agreed to come?
"How are you feeling Akechi-kun?"
"Fine I suppose." He shook his head "I'm sorry for wasting your time but I really don't think we have anything to talk about."
Maruki's smile widened. "It's not a waste of time at all! Sometimes you just need to talk to someone, even if there aren't any pressing issues."
Goro nodded, "I suppose you're right." He smiled. "Thank you for your time."
The train ride home was strange. Goro's mind felt cloudy but he didn't know why. He felt like something had happened that day but he couldn't remember.
"How are you feeling?" Akira asked. He grabbed one of Goro's hands and smiled.
Goro smiled back. "I'm fine." Something nagged at the back of Goro's mind but he ignored it. "Should I not be?"
Akira let out a small laugh and Goro couldn't help but stare. The sound was amazing enough to distract him from everything else. He could hardly believe Akira was his. That he wanted him of all people. It was unbelievable just how lucky he was.
"I love your laugh." Goro said without even thinking.
Akira's cheeks flushed lightly. Goro was struck with how perfect he was. How perfect they were. He had Akira, he was happy, he couldn't ask for anything else.
That night, while Akira and Goro peacefully slept side by side, Goro had a strange dream. An unfamiliar man with glasses and a monster with too many appendages invaded his subconscious. When he woke up the next morning, he couldn't for the life of him remember what had happened.
"It can't be that important if you can't remember it." Akira said after he told him. Goro had to admit, Akira was right, he was always right. He stopped worrying about it and just let himself be happy. There was no point in ruining everything he had over some stupid dreams.