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A Shining Moon

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Yuuki Mishima is a coward.

Classes have ended, and a part of him knows that he should leave to get to practice. Or even skip it – go home and enjoy the peace and quiet before the day of the faculty meeting arrives and shatters the fragile safety left there. Instead he sits and stares at his desk, an open notebook in front of him. All the better to pretend with… At least it would be, if there were any notes on the pages.

Someone steps over to his desk. Mishima can hear the white noise of whispers buzz louder.

“Mishima?” A familiar, quiet voice asks.

Mishima slowly looks up at Kurusu. The messy-haired teen looks calm and composed, as if their futures aren’t a handful of days from being destroyed. The only sign of even a fraction of the stress Mishima has felt is the bags under his eyes.

“I… I don’t know what to do.” He says, a numbness settling over him as he blinks up at him. “Everything, it’s… It’s over.”

“We’ll fix this,” Kurusu says.

Mishima can’t look him in the eyes, can’t do much more than wallow in his own self-hatred and pity. He can’t stop replaying the memories in his mind.


 

He’s messed up at practice that day. Badly. So when Rikonan-san slowly walks over to him at the day's end, Mishima gulps.

“Mr. Kamoshida wants you. He’s in the P.E. office,” The dreaded words pierce through the hallway.

“Did he, uhm, mention why?” Mishima asks. The look he gets is half pity and half exasperation, and the feeling of dread only worsens. Why bother getting his hopes up? He knows what he’s facing.

The journey to that familiar room is over much too quickly. Idle fantasies of how this could be a celebratory meeting, a congratulations on improving over this past year, fly out the window the second he walks in the door.

“Ah, there you are, Mishima. Right on time. For once,” Mr. Kamoshida is facing his computer, arms crossed as he leans back at his desk. “Unfortunate that you can’t do the same at practice.”

It’s never about the practice. Not really. It’s always an excuse. But the second Kamoshida needs a reason...

“I-I apologize, Mr. Kamoshida.” He says, bowing so low he might as well be trying to stretch. You can never start groveling too soon. “I kn-know, I need to pay attention better, and I’ve been trying…”

“Of course you have,” He responds, walking right by him to the door. Mishima flinches at the click of the lock. Mr. Kamoshida’s voice darkens. “But it’s clearly not enough.”

Suddenly Mishima is flung forward, almost bashing his chin on the nearby desk. Reflexively, he lets out a choked cry.

“Feh, pathetic. Can’t even stay quiet.” He turns in time to see the fist coming toward him, and then it all goes dark.

When he wakes up, it’s to the sound of the the table next to him getting smashed against the wall. Mishima springs to his feet, his body reacting on instinct and wide awake to find Kamoshida slamming his fist into the wall.

“That bitch!” He snarls.

His face feels numb, and he winces when he breathes too hard. Was he kicked while he was out?

“Oh, you’re up, huh. Good.” Mishima looks up, eyes wide. Mr. Kamoshida is glaring down at him. “I’d better see you actually giving a damn tomorrow. And do not miss the meeting later.” He rolls his eyes as Mishima rapidly nods. “Feh, get out of my sight.”

He’s about to open the door when Kamoshida says,“And one more thing,” Mishima freezes at the too-calm tone of his voice. “Get Suzui for me. We need to have a little talk.”

He could have asked why. He could have refused. But instead, Mishima quickly nods twice more and scurries out the door.


 

He’d known. He’d known something was wrong about it. That bastard had already beat him around yesterday. What happened when he was unconscious to make him do that?!

And poor Shiho, lying there broken, barely breathing. All Mishima can do is watch, mouth agape as the students around him take pictures and videos like this is some kind of messed up show . Don’t they get it? Don’t they understand what just happened? Takamaki looks on the verge of breaking down at the sight her friend. Mishima swallows, staring as they cart Shiho into the ambulance, Takamaki crying, sobbing, as she gets inside after her.

He thinks he’s going to be sick.

Mishima runs. He can’t look at this anymore. He can’t watch as the girl he condemned gets carried out by paramedics. He needs to get away.

He’s in the hallway when suddenly, he’s grabbed by Sakamoto and the new kid. They drag him to an empty corner of the hallway, none too gently.

Backing into the corner, Mishima rubs his wrist.

“That hurts!” He says. Kurusu raises an eyebrow at that, and Mishima can taste the irony of his words. Yeah, grabbing his wrist hurts, but all these bruises and cuts are nothing.

“Why’d you run like that? Huh?!” Sakamoto steps closer, and Mishima feels his heart pound faster. There’s no way they really know.

He can’t look either of them in the face. “I didn’t run…”

“She jumped and tried to kill herself!” Sakamoto shouts, voice cracking.

‘Like I don’t know that?’ He wants to cry out. ‘Like I don’t know it’s all my fault, that all of it is my fault?’ But instead he cowers when Sakamoto punches the locker next to him.

“... L-leave me alone…” Mishima mutters, fidgeting under his glare.

“Just tell us,” Kurusu says, voice all calm. Mishima meets his eyes and almost flinches back again. The look in the transfer student’s eyes is not the disinterested look of someone who has lost everything; Mishima feels as if he’s looking into the eyes of the criminal the rumors say he is.

Poetic justice, really, to have the rumors he started turn out to be true.

“He’s right!” Sakamoto crosses his arms, and surprisingly lowers his voice. “We ain’t tryin’ to get you busted. We won’t say you talked either!’

“Suzui…” Mishima murmurs, lowering his hands. Why does this have to be happening! A tiny part of his mind realizes he’s pulling at his hair. “She was called out by Mr. Kamoshida!”

Sakamoto drops his arms, both boys staring at him in surprise. Well, Kurusu raises both eyebrows, while Sakamoto’s jaw dropped.

“Wait, what!?” The blond exclaims.

“I was called by him a number of times too…”  Hah, an understatement. Why not say the truth? That he’s his go-to call in.  “To the the teacher’s room. It wasn’t just me or Suzui either. He’d nominate someone when he was in a bad mood… And hit them.”

“So the physical punishment thing was real...” Sakamoto mutters. He doesn’t understand, does he? The ex-track star probably thought all the violence vanished with the track team.

“But yesterday, he called Suzui out of the blue. She didn’t make any mistakes or anything…” And he’d already been called… Mishima gulps, glancing back and forth between the two delinquents. “Mr. Kamoshida seemed really irritated that day, so it must have been... Worse than usual...”

“He didn’t…!” Sakamoto’s eyes widen as the realization hits.

“They were never just beatings, were they.” Kurusu says. It isn’t a question. He nods, unable to look either boy in the eyes, and opens his mouth to say -

“That son of a bitch!” Sakamoto whirls around and dashes down the hall.

“Ah…” Mishima says, his response to Kurusu dying on his lips.

Kurusu curses under his breath and runs off after him. Mishima hesitates for a moment. He… He should stay out of it. And yet… None of this would have happened, if only he’d just stood up for once.

He charges after the two delinquents, ignoring the sound of a curious ‘meow’ above him. He catches up to Akira by the side doors.

“I bet he’s going to find Mr. Kamoshida…” Mishima gasps. “I hope he doesn’t do anything…” He trails off. Stupid feels like an understatement.

“Where would he be? The teacher’s lounge?” Even now, Kurusu sounds calm, as if he didn’t just now learn how much of a demon Kamoshida is and is running to confront him. Did he somehow know, or just suspect it?

Mishima shakes his head, failing to manage his breathing. “No, he’d probably be in the P.E. office. It’s on the second floor.”

The rest of the run there is in silence, both of them ignoring the stares and murmurs from the students who are still being corralled around by desperate teachers. Racing up the stairs, they turn the hall just in time to hear the office door slam open.

“Shit, he’s really lost it…” Mishima gasps.

“You bastard! The hell did you do to that girl?” Sakamoto shouts. Mishima and Kurusu run into the office to see the blond haired teen fuming, an uninterested Kamoshida glancing back at him from his desk.

“What are you talking about?” He waves his hand dismissively, turning back to his desk. Kurusu walks forward to stand next to Sakamoto, leaving Mishima near the door. He could leave, right now. Play pretend, and avoid the consequences. What’s another beating?

What if the next one to jump is him?

“Don’t play dumb with me!” Sakamoto shouts, Mishima yanked out of his thoughts as a chair gets kicked aside.

“That is enough!” Apparently the kick is the tipping point for Kamoshida.

“What you did… Wasn’t coaching…”

“What did you say?” The slight disbelief in his voice empowers Mishima.

Clutching his head, Mishima absently realizes he is shaking. “You… You ordered me to call Suzui here… I can only imagine what you did to her! She never deserved that. None of them did!”

Kamoshida lets out a sigh, pushing his chair away from the desk and standing up.

“You’re going on and on about things you have no proof of.” He says with a sneer, crossing his arms. An uneasy feeling settles in Mishima’s chest. Kamoshida sounds too calm about this. “Basically, you’re simply making these claims because you can’t be a regular on the team, right?” He adds, his tone light.

“That’s not what this is about!” Mishima shouts, glaring up at him. Why should he care about the stupid team at this point? “You abused us all!”

“Even if it is exactly as you imagine it to be, hypothetically speaking, what can you do about it? We just received a call from the hospital.” A familiar smug grin rises to his face. “Suzui’s in a coma, and her chances of recovery are slim. Now, how would someone like that make a statement?”

Mishima’s blood runs cold.

Holding a hand to his stupid, blocky forehead, Kamoshida tuts. “There’s no chance of her recovering, I hear. That poor girl.”

“N-no… That can’t be.” Mishima murmurs. He… He did this. He should have stayed silent.

Sakamoto takes another step forward, fists clenched so tightly the skin is turning white. “You goddam-”

“This, again?” He plants his hands on his hips, and sneers down at Sakamoto. “Does this mean we have to have yet another case of ‘self-defense?’”

“You shut your mouth, you son of a bitch!”

Mishima can’t move, only watch as the blond rears back to punch that sneer off Kamoshida’s face, only to be stopped when Kurusu grabs his wrist. Sakamoto turns. “Why’re you stopping me?”

Kurusu shakes his head. “Don’t let him get to you.” How is he so calm?!

“But still!” Sakamoto shouts, yanking his arm away to glare back at Kamoshida.

“Oh? You’re stopping him?” Kamoshida’s eyes widen in surprise. “What a surprise.” He lets out a laugh toward them. “Come on, there’s no need to hold back. Why not attack me?” Crossing his arms and leaning forward, he grins. “Oh, that’s right. Of course you can’t!”

Shaking his head, Kamoshida returns to his seat.

“Everyone present right now? Will be expelled. I’m reporting all of you at the next board meeting.” He says, playful tone replaced by his ‘coaching’ voice.

“Wha?” Sakamoto visibly flinches back. Even Kurusu takes his hands out of his pockets. Is that shock? Mishima can’t tell. Everything is falling apart.

“You can’t make a decision like that!” Mishima says, voice cracking as he steps forward. Expulsion? There’s no way!

“Who would seriously consider what scum like you have to say?” He glares pointedly at the bruised boy. “You threatened me too, Mishima, so you’re just as responsible.”

“Huh?” Threatened? He… He did, didn’t he?

“To think you didn’t know why I kept someone as talentless as you on the team.” Mishima’s eyes widen. No, he wouldn’t - “You act like you’re a victim, but you leaked his criminal records, didn’t you?” Kamoshida says, as if scolding a young child. “It’s all over the internet, correct? How terrible.”

“Mishima?” The teens turn, staring at him.  He can feel himself backing up under all their gazes.

“H-he told me to do it. I had no choice…” The excuse feels fake as he trails off. Kamoshida’s laughter rings in the room.

“Now, are we finished here? You’re all expelled!” Mishima stares at the floor, feeling himself start to hyperventilate. “You’re done for; Your futures are mine to take. Now get out of my sight.”

“I can’t believe this asshole’s gonna get away with this!” Sakamoto growls.

“He’ll eat his words.” Kurusu thrusts his hands a bit too forcefully into his pockets.  There’s a moment of silence, and then the blond gasps.

“Oh right! We’ve got that!” There’s a conspiratorial edge in Sakamoto’s tone that Mishima is at a loss to understand. They’ve lost, haven’t they? Don’t they get it?

“Huh? Have you lost your minds?” Kamoshida spits out. “I don’t understand what garbage like you are thinking, but go ahead and try. All you can do is wait for your disposal, though.”


Mishima still hasn’t apologized. How can he? The second that conversation ended, he’d run. He expected one of them to chase him, but neither did. Nor did they approach him until today - though Sakamoto had glared at him for half the week.

“Mishima?” Kurusu prods, dragging him out of his thoughts. Mishima can’t bring himself to look the student whose life he ruined in the eyes . “We’ll get through this.” He reassures him.

Mishima lets out a sigh, unable to even fake a smile for the transfer student. The student he ruined before he could even have a chance. Was that his plan? To just ‘get through’ a probation?

“I can’t believe that.”

Silence. Maybe he wants to say something, but Mishima doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. He thinks he hears a muffled ‘meow,’ and after another moment, Kurusu walks away.

Those are his days, being a dead man walking. Regrets, apprehension, and fear bubble inside him as he awaits May the second, the final day of his pathetic attempt at life.

Awaits, that is, until the morning he arrives to find his school halls decked out in calling cards and everything turns upside down.

Chapter Text

The school halls are abuzz with noise from the second Mishima walks in. Whispers of pranks and rumors flow through the air like so many leaves on the wind.

Mishima doesn’t pay attention, trudging his way toward the stairs to homeroom. Everything’s just white noise - the rumor mill flying out of control as always - and it never affects him. He’s just another plain face in the crowd of the abused.

Lost in his own thoughts, he bumps into someone head first, earning himself a grumbled curse. He looks up to see entrance hall crowded to an absurd degree. Dragged out of his numb sullenness, Mishima bites his lip before slowly shuffling himself past the crowd to see what the commotion is about.

Red and black cards cover the message boards. All of them, Mishima guesses, considering how clogged the hallway is.

‘Sir Suguru Kamoshida, the utter bastard of lust. We know how shitty you are, and that you put your twisted desires on students that can’t fight back.’ Mishima’s eyes widen. That’s just asking for an expulsion!

‘That’s why we’ve decided to steal away those desires and make you confess your sins. This will be done tomorrow, so we hope that you’ll be ready. From, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts.’ What? Who was suicidal enough to do this? It’s practically a declaration of war! A really childish one, if he’s completely honest. But whoever wrote it must know the truth.

Grabbing one of the cards, Mishima can’t stop a stupid spark of hope from rising in his chest. Are there really people who’ll still stand up to Kamoshida? Flipping the card around, he sees what he assumes is a logo: a cartoon top hat, shadowed eyes underneath with a smug, toothy smirk and the words ‘Take Your Heart’ written out.

God, he’s such an idiot for thinking it, but it actually looks kinda cool.

“Who’s responsible for this?” Mishima hears Kamoshida shout, his voice echoing in the suddenly silent halls. “Did you do this? Or was it you?!”

Mishima dashes into the stairwell in an instant. Peeking around, he sees the man looming threateningly over the crowd of students. They’re quick to disperse, a few running up the stairs past Mishima.

He almost runs along with the crowd. It’d be safer. But then he sees Kamoshida turn. His eyes narrow at something - or someone - down the hall.

“Was it you two?” He accuses the unseen people.

He should leave. Dozens of reasons fly through his head; homeroom is starting soon, he shouldn’t get any more involved, Kamoshida will kill him, his parents are going to kill him, this doesn’t concern him… But if he’s already going to get expelled, will it really matter if he stays? What else can be done to a dead man walking?

“What’re you talking about?” He hears a familiar voice say.  Kurusu’s being questioned? How does that guy stay so calm in the face of of that raging bastard?

“So you’re playing dumb?” Kamoshida scoffs. “Eh, it’s not a problem. You’ll be expelled soon enough anyway. Get outta my sight.”

No response comes. After a moment, heavy footsteps start coming towards Mishima’s hiding spot. The teen quickly darts up the stairs, running into the crowd of students still milling around on the second floor.


The morning passes by in a blur of fear and confusion. What is going on? Calling cards from ‘Phantom Thieves of Heart?’ Who would even dare to call Kamoshida out like that, besides someone who knew the truth? The only people who Mishima can think of who have ever fought back were Kurusu and Sakamoto. And everyone knows what happened to Sakamoto last time he really stood up and tried something.

They couldn’t have done this… Right? There’s nothing else they could do. If they tried to call the cops, it wouldn’t work. And going to the Principal or Student Council President is pointless - Nijima-senpai is in the Principal’s pocket, and the Principal is surely in on the whole deal . Nothing will change.

But Kurusu’s reassurances still ring in Mishima’s head. How can that guy just face everything with such a calm and composed outlook? Mishima had ruined him! Everyone had ruined him, and yet, Kurusu keeps on as if nothing was the matter.

Resting his head in the palm of his hand, Mishima glances towards the windows. He raises his brow in confusion. Both Kurusu and Takamaki are texting? Are they trying to get in trouble?

They’re up to something. They have to be. Should… Should he ask? But that would mean talking to Takamaki as well. After all rumors flying about around her and Kamoshida, he needs to apologize. He had known the truth, all the volleyball team had. And they had said nothing, while she suffered ostracization by the entire student body.

I’ve just been moping around this entire time, not even noticing how badly everyone else has been hurt. No, I noticed. I just didn’t care. He snorts, turning his gaze back to where Mr. Ushimaru is blathering about how kids don’t know their history and are doomed to repeat it.

Glancing over again, Mishima narrows his eyes. Is that… Something peeking out of Kurusu’s desk? The transfer student keeps glancing towards whatever it is, murmuring quietly. Straining his ears, Mishima swears he can hear a ‘meow’ sound occasionally escaping from the desk. Wait, that’s where the cat went? Is he insane?!

“Mishima! I take it you already know all this, hmm?”

“Uh…” Mishima gulps, head whipping towards Mr. Ushimaru. The man glares back at him.

“In that case, why don’t you tell me when Tokyo became the capital of Japan.”

“1775?” He tries.

“Wrong! Honestly, do you kids even bother reading those textbooks?” Mr Ushimaru grumbles. “It was 1868. Before that, it was historically Heian-kyo; Modern day Kyoto to all the uneducated in here.”

Mishima tunes the rest of the lecture out, burying his head in his arms as the whispers fill the room. He can’t even answer a basic history question. Why does he even bother?


The final bell rings, signalling one more day over. Kawakami rolls her eyes as the room quickly fills with chatting students before heading out the door.

Sitting in his chair, Mishima catches sight of Kurusu leaving the classroom, and Takamaki soon after. They both seem to be in a hurry. Are they going somewhere? Maybe he could follow them and… And… Whine? Complain? He doesn’t even know what they’re up to. He doesn’t have any proof they even are up to anything. What help would he be, anyway?

Caught up in his thoughts, Mishima doesn’t notice his attention being called until he hears a shout. Eyes wide, he whirls around to see Kotoga, his jaw tight.

“Uuh, h-hey. What’s up, Kotoga-kun?” He’s not even in Mishima’s class!

“Kamoshida would like to see you in the P.E. office.” The student turns away, and a pit opens up beneath Mishima as he adds, “I highly suggest getting there quickly.”

He’s dead. That calling card was the final straw. Even if Mishima wasn’t blamed for it, who’d care about a kid beaten nearly to death when they’re expelled a few days later? What can he do?

Mishima panics. Runs out the door, down the stairs, out the gate, across the street away from this hell hole that he helped make, and that threatens to swallow him whole.

Then the floor actually falls away underneath him, and Mishima swears he can hear the sounds of laughter all around him.


Pushing himself to his knees, Mishima lets out a groan. His head is pounding, and he can feel yet another bruise forming on his forehead. Had he tripped down the front stairs? His vision is still swimming.

Getting to his feet, Mishima shakes his head before letting out a groan and turning around. He freezes mid stretch. “What the hell?” He whispers, eyes widening at the impossible sight before him.

No bland, worn high school meets his gaze; instead, a red-brick castle straight out of a fantasy story towers before him. Even higher above the walls stands a tower piercing the darkened sky.

“N-no way.” This has to be a dream. He’d, he’d gone into Kamoshida’s office and been beaten so hard he was hallucinating. No way this is the school!... Even though the sign right there says it is ‘Shujin Academy… Kamoshida’s Kingdom’?!

The gate is open, and the drawbridge down, seemingly welcoming him in. Even from out here, Mishima can hear cries and the sound of metal boots stomping around from the castle. He should leave. It’s not safe here.

… If he can leave.

Mishima hopes he can. Something about the air is unnatural; Even more so than the fact he’s standing right outside a castle in the middle of Tokyo. It feels like he’s wading through water. There’s an oppressiveness in the air, like someone is watching. An angry someone. He has a flash of Kamoshida glaring above him, making him cringe.

Movement from past the gate catches his eye. In the shadows, he can make out dark figures climbing up a nearby wall towards an open window. As he watches, the first one to the top stops to look around. Mishima quickly ducks behind the nearby wall, holding his breath. One much-too-long moment passes, but the figure steps into the window, quickly followed by the other three. One looks really short…

Mishima gulps. He should leave; Go back, head home, and get some sleep, because he is clearly hallucinating. The alley behind him looks normal enough. But the air seems to waver the further out it goes, and something tells him it won’t be as simple as walking down the street. Taking a deep breath, Mishima slowly makes his way up the drawbridge, following the figures.


It takes all of a few minutes for Mishima to get caught.

He’d entered onto a high overhang, looking out into the entrance of the castle. Mishima’s jaw had dropped at the sight of it all. Marble floors and velvet rugs, glimmering chandeliers and the most eye-catching of all: A portrait the size of a bus depicting Kamoshida in golden armor with rose petals falling around him.

Maybe he was in hell, he thought.

Peeking over the edge, he saw a massive amount of guards - actual, armored guards with weird heart-shaped masks - moving about as another one in gold armor shouted orders. Between all the metal clanking and shuffling, Mishima could only make out a few of his words. Thieves, find and… Kill. How very reassuring.

There weren’t any guards on the level just below him. Taking a deep breath, Mishima had slowly hopped down and then -

The door that he could have sworn was shut slams open, and there stands a cat-thing and three masked people, weapons drawn. Mishima lets out a shriek and stumbles backward, hands raised to the ceiling.

“P-please don’t kill me! I don’t know what’s going on!” He can hear shouts from downstairs and starts shaking.

“What is he doing here?” The strange cat-like creature says, seemingly exasperated as he lowers the scimitar in his hands, err, paws. It kind of sounds like a child, and really, if he wasn’t in the middle of a panic attack Mishima might be really excited about all this. But instead all he can do is gape at them all. “We don’t have time for this. We only get one shot for the treasure!”

Lowering his knife, the smooth looking person tilts his head in an oddly familiar way.

“Mishima? How did you get here?” He asks.

“I-I dunno! I was just running out the building! How do you know my name? Where are we? What treasure?” Swallowing, he lowers his hands. “Are you… The one who posted that calling card? The Phantom Thieves of Hearts?”

The girl in the very-clearly-too-tight-suit-oh-man-is-he-staring lets out a massive sigh and thumps the one with a skull mask on the head. “I told you we should have waited a half hour, Skull! This is all your fault.” Oh. Well, that name fits.

“Ow! Well excuse me, you didn’t put up much of a fight either! Besides, it’s not your life on the line here if we don’t hurry it up, Panther.” ‘Skull’ retorted. “Hell, it ain’t even mine!”

“All our lives are on the line! Didn’t you see those guards? Kamoshida’s gone all out.” She responds.

“Yeah, but if we fail, this guy’ll -”

“W-wait a second.” The voices sounded familiar. Too familiar. “Takamaki? Sakamoto? Is… You really were the ones who put that card up! Oh my God!” He lets out a laugh. “That was so cool!”

Sakamoto flashes a grin, nudging Takamaki. “See? Told ya people would love it.”

She lets out a sigh while the cat creature jumps up and down. “If we’re not gonna kick him out, can we at least get to a safe room? This palace is on high alert! We cannot afford to get caught!”

“Mona’s right.” Kurusu says, flipping his dagger into a hidden sheath. He straightens up when the masked transfer student focuses on him. “Mishima, stick close and let us handle things.”


Mishima finds himself taken to a ‘safe room,’ which consists of one particular room that has a very expensive looking table, some wooden chairs, and a few bookcases. It certainly feels safer; That ‘big brother is watching’ feeling he’s had since appearing here lessens considerably upon entry. He collapses into one of the chairs, staring at the four people before him. Sakamoto and Takamaki are leaning against the table, while that cat-monster stands on top of a chair. Kurusu leans against the door, observing, as the other three finish explaining the circumstances.

“So, you’re telling me you rip masks off your face hard enough to make blood come out, summon demons, err, ‘manifestations of your own consciousness’, and are phantom thieves? And you get here through a phone app?” The group collectively blink, glance at one another and then nod. Mishima lets out a hysterical laugh.  “Oh my god, that’s so damn cool!”

“Not so loud!” Takamaki hisses.

“Sorry, sorry,” He lets out another quiet laugh. “U-uhm, and you all just stumbled into this?”

“Pretty much.” Sakamoto shrugs.

“Speak for yourself,” The cat-monster thing says with a scoff. “I’ve been doing this for way longer than you three.”

“Oh, really? Wow!” Mishima says. “But, uhm, who are you? And, uh, what are you?”

“Oh, him? That’s Monamona. A talking cat.” Sakamoto says with a shrug.

“It’s Morgana . And I am not a cat, bone-brain!” The creature, uh, Morgana turns to him - still looking up slightly to meet his gaze, despite standing on top of a chair.  “I’m a human whose form got distorted by the Metaverse.”

“Oh. o-okay… Wait, so you’re the, uh, ‘cat’ that everyone keeps trying to find? And you hide in Kurusu’s desk at school?” Mishima narrows his eyes. “You do know that kid behind him can totally see you, right? It’s a miracle they haven’t reported him yet.”

“Wait, he can? I didn’t even… Wait a second! That isn’t the point!” Morgana glares up at Mishima. “I am not a cat!”

“Okay, okay!” He puts his hands up, eyes wide. He’d just seen this not-cat summon a giant man who caused tiny windstorms to appear. Mishima is not going to piss him off. “But, how did you all find this place? Wait, was this what you were reassuring me about back in school, Kurusu?”

All eyes turn toward the domino-masked teen leaning against the wall.

“Just thought I’d try to lift your spirits.” Kurusu nods, a smirk rising to his face.

“But, why? I...” Mishima trails off, the room falling silent. From somewhere outside the room, the heavy steps of armored guards echo.

“Damn it! Effin’ Kamoshida, ” Sakamoto shouts, slamming his fist onto the table. Mishima flinches under his intense glare. “Hey, ya said you were forced, right? All of this is Kamoshida’s fault, ain’t it?”

“Skull’s right, Mishima.” Kurusu speaks up, interrupting him before Mishima can protest. “Mistakes were made, but you’ve tried to make up for it.”

“Yeah! You came in and tried to help us, after all!” Sakamoto adds.

“Sakamato... Kurusu…” His eyes drop to study his lap, hands suddenly clenched very tightly together. How can they still believe in him?

“Again, we’re using code names here, remember?” Morgana says, crossing his arms with a sniff. “It’s not just for fun, got it?”

“Yeah, yeah, we got it.” Sakamo- err, Skull grumbles. “But, uh, should we give one to Mishima? You know, while he’s here?”

“I-It’s fine. Not like I’ll ever be coming back here, right?” Mishima lets out a shaky laugh. “In fact, I should probably just leave. Not like I can be any help…”

Mona shakes it’s head. “No can do. It’s too dangerous right now.”

“For real?” Skull lets out a groan, crossing his arms. “The entrance is like right there!”

“The same entrance that the guards are swarming right now?” Panther points out.

“He did let out a pretty loud screech for a human.” Mona sounds almost impressed. “Second only to you, Skull.”

“S-sorry,” Mishima stammers in response, feeling his face heat up. He didn’t actually screech, Did he? That sounds really pathetic…

“Hey!!” Skull squawks, glaring at Mona. “What the hell!?”

“We can’t afford to leave anyway. If we don’t steal the treasure today, there will be no second chance.” Mona looks up at Mishima, pointedly ignoring Skull. “Just stick to the rear and stay quiet, okay? I don’t have time to walk you through all the basics.”

Mishima nods, biting back the question of what ‘the basics’ even entail.

“Perfect.” With a wink, Kuru- Joker twirls around and sneaks out the door.

Mishima gulps. What has he gotten himself into?

Chapter Text

The first thing Mishima feels as he awakens is a sharp pain on the back of his head. Blearily opening his eyes, he can only make out reds and golds swirling around him. Did he fall asleep in a cafe or something? Why do his arms hurt so much?

Something white spins toward him out of the corner of his eyes, and he has all of a fraction of a second to tiredly think, ‘Oh, that’s a volleyba-’ before it smashes into his head full force. He cries out in pain.

Fighting to regain his senses and ignore the pain - he can’t quite feel his nose, it might be broken again - Mishima freezes as a much too familiar smug voice pierces the air.

“I knew there’d be some wanna-be thieves in my castle today. But my favorite peasant here too? Will wonders never cease.” It’s Kamoshida. Even in this state, a jolt of fear spikes through him at the sound.

In a flash, he’s trying to move away from that monster’s voice, but his struggles lead to nothing but pathetic swinging in place as his arms protest painfully to the attempt.

Wait, swinging? Mishima looks up, eyes widening. A rope ties his wrists together above him, connecting up to a diamond chandelier worth more than his entire apartment, rose petals falling down around him. He’s in some kind of lavish throne room. His head snaps down, desperately looking around. Where is everyone? What happened?

Suddenly everything rushes back to him. Joker had led them to a hidden passage with an elevator. Mishima had been too shocked by the power everyone had casually wielded to really notice much else about the place. Personas, they’d called them. Nobody had had the time to properly fill him in.

In the elevator they’d suddenly been attacked by Shadows. Mishima remembers turning to hide, but… He shakes his head. Everything went dark, and...

“You will answer when your king is speaking, peasant!” A knight in gold armor proclaims, and another volleyball nails him in the chest. Mishima gasps for air, swinging back and forth. He feels something give from that hit, a sharp pain erupting in his chest.

“Even now, you can’t do something as basic as answer? Pathetic.” Kamoshida’s voice calls out. Mishima gasps, another ball smashing into his stomach. It hurts so badly that his vision goes white at the edges; he’s sure he’s tearing up. “Come on, now tell me where they are, or the next one goes lower.”

The Phantom Thieves had said this was Kamoshida’s Palace. They’d described his looks as over-the-top (Well, Sakamoto had used ‘damn nasty’). He’d expected the bastard to look as gaudy as possible, with royal garb maybe, or some other fancy getup. But the Kamoshida smirking - always smirking - below him wears a robe coated in red hearts and… Just a pink thong underneath!?

Mishima grimaces, and shakes his head.

“So even now, you’ll try to stand up to me? What an idiot.” Kamoshida lets out a deep laugh, bouncing a volleyball in one hand as the other rests on his hip. “You know, you could’ve avoided all this, if you’d just sat by the side like a good peasant.”

“W-what?” Mishima gasps. Mentally, he slaps himself. He shouldn’t have spoken. that only makes things worse.

“Honestly, just sit by the side and do as you're told. It’s a simple concept, and yet you struggled to follow even that.” He shakes his head, tutting him, before suddenly chucking the volleyball into his gut. Mishima cries out again. Kamoshida continues tapping his foot as another guard retrieves the ball for him, the picture of composure. “You know, it’s like I said. Scum like you don’t have any talent. Guess even some brains was too much to ask for, too.”

Taking shuddering breaths, Mishima looks around. Okay, okay. Maybe, uhm, maybe the the others are around? He keeps glancing around. The room is ridiculous, the pillars holding up an overhang shaped like the torso and hips of a woman, massive doors and rose petals falling from... Somewhere.

“W-why are you doing this? What’s the point?” He asks.

“Nothing that you can comprehend, clearly. But maybe you’ll actually understand, now that you see the repercussions of going against me.” Kamoshida rolls his neck lazily. “I’m simply indulging in what I’ve earned.”

As Kamoshida talks, movement from the second level catches Mishima’s eyes. A figure rips a mask off one guard, while another quickly jumps on top of it. Joker! He can see the teen holding a finger to his lips, and Mishima’s eyes widen and he forces his gaze to snap back to his assailant. Maybe, if he can keep Kamoshida’s attention, they can get the drop on him!

“W-well, it won’t last!”

“Oh? Why wouldn't it? Everyone knows, after all.” Kamoshida chuckles, stretching lazily while a guard offers him another volleyball. Mishima holds his breath, but Kamoshida ignores it for the moment. “And nobody wants to be the loser here. Well, except you, apparently.”

Mishima glares down at him. “W-what’s that supposed to mean?”

“I bet they didn’t even offer to help you out. But then again, it’s not like you did anything, either. You knew all the secrets, after all. Why, you’ve practically been my right hand man this past year. Actually, let me correct that.” Mishima’s eyes widen and he gets a couple of seconds to prepare before the offered volleyball is finally grabbed and spiked right into his face again. He lets out a cry as it falls away; He can barely breathe. Blood is definitely trickling down his face, mixing with his tears. “You’re just a drag on them, same as anyone else. I don’t think you ever even scored a point for the volleyball team. And really, even if you had? All those points lost because of you would easily eclipse them.”

“Yep,” Mishima cringes at the lazy shake of Kamoshida’s head as he continues. “You really are a zero.”

Mishima shakes his head, wincing at the strain from his arms. “W-well that doesn’t matter! The Phantom Thieves will-”

A loud crash from somewhere behind him interrupts Mishima and Kamoshida lets out a laugh. “Ah, that’ll be those thieves now.”

A door slams open, and the sound of metal crashing against marble fills the air as someone falls down. A guard rolls down into Mishima’s view, letting out one last shake before collapsing into a burst of dark particles.

“Be careful! You’re gonna crush me otherwise!” He hears Mona cry out.

“Well then maybe you could actually help us!” Skull shouts back. “Oh wait, you can’t! Because you’re a cat!”

Mishima winces. Aren’t thieves supposed to be sneaky?

“Ah yes, what noble thieves. You can’t even try to steal my treasure without arguing amongst yourselves.” Kamoshida sneers, glaring up at them. “Well, fine then.”

“Go go go go, Ka-mo-shida!” An airy voice that sounds like a higher pitched Takamaki rings out. What looks like Takamaki runs out cheering and - Holy shit, that isn’t even underwear why does she have cat ears.

Then things get even more ridiculous. The guard in golden armor throws a volleyball up - where are they getting all these volleyballs?! - and Kamoshida leaps up to spike it. A crash resounds behind Mishima, and it continues as Skull curses. A final thud rings out. Mishima’s eyes widen as an absolutely massive crown the size of a human being rolls to a stop just below him. Kamoshida’s hand reaches out, and in a brief flash of light, the crown is now in his hands, shrunken to a normal size.

“I won’t let anyone take this! This proves that I’m the king of this castle - it’s the core of this world!” Kamoshida says, lounging against his throne.

The creepy Takamaki-clone runs up to him, one arm resting on his shoulder as she gazes up into his face. Mishima gags when he sees her other hand reach up, swirling lazy circles over his nipple.

“You rat bastard.” Panther sounds ready to murder. “You still see me like some airhead?!” Damn it, he wishes he could turn around and see them. Mishima tries to shimmy himself around, but quickly gasps, pain spiking through his arms.

“Come now, that’s all you and all the other girls are for. Pleasing and pleasuring people like me.” Kamoshida says. The Takamaki next to him giggles as he aggressively grabs her. “The powerful get rewarded, after all.”

“Powerful? All you did was keep secrets and beat the crap out of anyone who knew!” Skull shouts. “You don’t deserve shit.”

“Feh. What a selfish misunderstanding.” Mishima recognizes that patronizing voice. “I’ve done no wrong; At least, nothing everyone around me won’t protect me for. Adults who want to share in my accomplishments, students who have the drive to become winners. They willingly protect me so that we all profit from it.” He glances up at Mishima. “And to think, you even took part in it. Now look at you. Tsk, tsk.”

“T-they’ll beat you!” He shouts. He doesn’t think he can hide the fear in his voice as he watches the mass of guards coming through the door.

“Still relying on others, hmm? At least the would-be thieves over here actually have a spine. Idiotic to stand up to me, but still more than you.” Mishima shivers under that smirk. Kamoshida lets out a laugh. “You let me walk all over you, like the tool you are.”

He sputters, arguments dying on his lips. He did, didn’t he? Ever since he’d even got the chance at the volleyball team, all he’d cared about was protecting himself and getting ahead.

Mishima hangs his head as Kamoshida’s voice continues. “Though you’re not even a good one! Couldn’t even be a fit distraction for them to try and steal my treasure. You know, I wonder if they would’ve just left you here if it had. A zero like you deserves nothing less,” He lets out another chuckle, bouncing the crown in his free hand. He jerks his head toward the guards. “Now, captain. I want you to make them beg for mercy.”

“N-no…” Mishima murmurs. But there’s nothing he can do but watch as dozens of guards rush the stairs.

“Strip them, beat them… And maybe after, I’ll let them die in peace.” Mishima can hear the smirk in his voice. “Or maybe I’ll let them live a while. Bodies like those have some very nice uses. Oh, but skin the cat. It’ll make a good pillowcase.”

“You filthy bastard!” He can’t do anything but watch as the four thieves are surrounded and pushed down to the center of the room. He can see a tremor in their bodies. Joker keeps glancing around, seemingly trying to come up with a plan even now. Kamoshida isn’t even paying attention to Mishima anymore. He’s not even worth toying with, not when the thieves are before him.

“Why are you doing this?” Mishima cries out. But his words go ignored as he watches, horror growing as the people who came here to save everyone are thrown to the floor. Ryuji lets out a cry, and Captain Kidd comes out to slam down on the closest shadow. The smirking shadow flies backwards, and suddenly everything is a maddening rush of guns and blades and magic.

Why can’t he do anything? This is all his fault. If only he could get Kamoshida’s attention! If only he had the same power as the others! But he… He’s useless. Pathetic. A zero.

Don’t you tire of being ignored? Have you seen what you could become? Don’t you want to show them all?

Excruciating pain reverberates through his body with every soft-spoken word, screams of pain echoing in the hall as Mishima thrashes about in his ropes. A cacophony of noise erupts from the chandelier holding him as it sways precariously.

Will you take this opportunity? Or let it wane like your last?

Pain, bones breaking and reforming, blows against his body over and over again. How much he hated it. Every scoff and shove and kick while under that pathetic excuse of teacher, in that disgusting mess of a school. The bindings on his wrists loosen more as his tugs grow more violent.

“I… I want that power!” Mishima cries out, and finally, finally, frees his hands with a burst of preternatural strength.

He plummets, the voice laughing in his mind.

Then let the contract be sealed. I am thou, thou art I! Use this power, and tell the world of the glory you deserve!

He hits the ground, heaving. Something is itching at his face, a burning scratch festering underneath a pair of pilot goggles, but Mishima is tugging, pulling, feeling the very skin underneath tear off with those goggles. A final scream erupts from Mishima, and everything grows freezing cold.

Opening his eyes, Mishima can feel the presence of Dante behind him, the soothing voice calling for rebellion echoing in his mind. There’s no pain in his arms, no ache or blood on his face anymore. He feels stronger than he’s ever been. Shoving himself to his feet, Mishima feels something in his hand - a spear. It feels comfortable in his hands, like it belongs there.

“What! So he did have the potential after all,” Mona cries out, as Mishima slams the butt of his spear down, another small burst of frost erupting from it.

Kamoshida is pressed up against his throne, eyes wide. “W-what is the meaning of-”

“Will you just shut up already!” Mishima cries out. Thrusting out his arm to point accusingly at the shocked Kamoshida, he says, “I am done with getting stepped on by everyone! But especially you, you piece of shit!”

“You naive brats! You don’t know anything at all. I am above this world! I am the ruler of you all!” Kamoshida says. “All your lives belong to me.”

“Above? You mean beneath. You’re a goddamn demon obsessed with your sick desires!” Panther shouts, cracking her whip. “Nobody needs your permission to live their lives.”

Kamoshida glares down at her for a moment, but his scowl quickly morphs into a feral grin. As he starts laughing, swirling black energy crackling around him. Tossing back that disgusting cape, Kamoshida’s voice warps as he cries out, “That’s right. I’m not like you. I am the demon who rules this world!”

And he keeps growing, what few clothes he wore tearing off under the pulsating flesh. Mishima can hear the others gasp as his form warps, liquid flying about from Kamoshida’s disgusting flesh.

“What the hell?” Skull says, grasping the steel pipe in his hands.

Mishima steps back, falling in line with the others as Kamoshida just keeps growing. A tiny voice is screaming in the back of his mind that he should be cowering or running for his life. But then the calming voice of his persona fills his mind. A fitting end to the first act, wouldn’t you say? Slay the demon terrorizing you and your school to christen your new power. Dante murmurs. Let us write it out together!

Steeling himself, Mishima takes a deep breath, staying close to the rest of the thieves. What’s left glaring down at them is a nightmare; A towering, naked pink giant, wearing nothing but that disgustingly ornate crown and a cape. Four arms, each holding a massive golden object, and a golden chalice resting between its legs. The demon before them lets out a roar of rage, an elongated shimmering tongue dancing in the air above them.

“You goddamn, no good, shitty brats! Haven’t you been taught not to point at people? Huh?” Slamming a golden knife larger than Mishima down, he sneers. “I’ll just have to teach you the truth, that I can do whatever the hell I want!”

A blast of shadowy energy smashes him in the face. Glancing over, Mishima sees Joker glaring up at the abomination, Arsene fading away behind him. “Let’s finish this.”

“For King Kamoshida! For his kingdom!” The guard captain cries out, and the remaining shadows gather round him.

“Come! Dante!

A mask of leaves covers the persona’s face, while a cloak of darkened red - almost the color of blood - hides his body. Mechanical limbs come forth, moving precisely over an orb the size of a globe in front of him. Mishima can make out what looks like code dancing across it’s surface, and with a few clicks, ink bursts forth from it as the word ‘ Hama ’ resonates within his mind.

Whirling papers swirl around the guard captain, whose horse rears up in surprise. Suddenly the paper storm freezes, and a blast of light erupts on the shadow. When it vanishes, both paper and shadow are gone. Mishima’s eyes widen as Dante vanishes back into those pilot goggles.

“That’s so cool.” He whispers.

The fight is far from over.

He’s never used any weapon, let alone a spear, before, but with the weapon he materialized in hand it almost feels natural. Stay back, stab forward, defend, call for a freezing blast from Dante, hop away. It’s like dodgeball, if dodgeball involved lethal stabbing. He’s never been that good at dodgeball, but thankfully, Dante’s whispers tell him how to heal everyone’s wounds - something Mona seems quite thankful for, as he blasts away another surge of volleyball strikes with his wind spell.

The power rushing through Mishima feels incredible. Even his wounds are nothing in comparison to the rush of causing a block of ice to form out of thin air. Still, adrenaline can only keep him going for so long, and Kamoshida doesn’t seem to be wearing down.

“Feh, kids like you ain’t shit!” The demon shouts, before slamming his blade down. Mishima lets out a cry, barely diving away before it stabs him right through. As the barrage of volleyballs start falling, a burst of wind knocks them off course.

Looking around wildly, Mishima sees Mona duck behind a pillar. He scrambles over there, ignoring the shouts of Kamoshida as a burst of fire erupts in his face. Joker, Skull and Mona are all hiding here, while Panther is a few pillars over, distracting the monster.

“Dude, I don’t think this is working.” Skull says, hissing as he clutches his arm. Mishima gulps; That angle does not look natural.

In a flash, Mona is at his side, reaching up to touch his arm. Zoro’s image appears above him protectively. “Joker! One of us can sneak around and knock the Treasure away. Even if we don’t beat this bastard down, we can at least grab it and go. Who should we send?” Mona says, letting the light of his healing magic settle over Skull. As he talks, Mishima can see the blood and bruises fading away.

“I don’t like the way he’s been eyeing Panther…” Mishima speaks up, wincing as another flurry of volleyballs get sent at the pillar they’re taking cover behind, the marble shuddering under the onslaught. “And he’s dedicated to taking me out too.”

Joker nods, decision apparently made. “Skull! Get going.”

Shaking his now - apparently healed - arm, Skull flashes Mona a grin and Joker a thumbs up. “Got it, Joker!”

“Mishima, keep us topped in case he pulls something as huge as his ego out. Morgana, try to blast those volleyballs out of the air before they hit us. Ann and I will distract him.” Joker continues. He gets nods of confirmation. “Remember, keep his attention and do not slow down. Now go!”

Mishima nods, and can’t help a maniacal laugh as he leaps back into the fray. He’s no zero. He’ll prove it!


A flash of light, and where that demon towered over them stands Kamoshida, hunched over and clutching his sides. The crown is still in its smaller form, lying on its side just a few feet away. Skull starts walking toward it and -

Kamoshida grabs the crown and dashes past the group towards the nearby balcony.

“You bastard!” Skull shouts, but Mishima can’t help but grin wildly. The idiot trapped himself! As they converge, blocking every route of escape, Mishima feels a near euphoric satisfaction bubble up as he watches his tormenter stumble about desperately, slowly realizing he’s cornered himself.

“What’s wrong? Not running away?” Panther taunts. “Why don’t you outrun us? Aren’t you a great athlete?”

That seems to grab his attention. “It’s always been like this… All those goddamn hyenas forcing their expectations on me!” Kamoshida attempts to growl. It sounds more like a whine. “I’m doing all of this for them! What’s wrong with demanding a reward for all of that?”

“Now you’re makin’ excuses?” Skull scoffs. “We’ll do something about that distorted heart of yours.”

Mishima watches as Kamoshida’s eyes dart left and right. Did he really think he was just going to escape? Get off scot free after all the torture he inflicted? Not now. Not ever again.

“Don’t even bother.” He says. Mishima’s mask vanishes as ice erupts from the ground, encasing Kamoshida’s limbs. The wannabe king lets out a scream, desperately trying to tear himself out of it, only to watch in growing horror as it coats his legs, all the way up to the knee. A pathetic whining noise erupts from Kamoshida. Behind him, the presence of Dante only heightens Mishima’s contempt.

“Scared?” Panther asks, and despite the evenness of her voice, Mishima can hear the rage underneath. “This isn’t too different from what Shiho must’ve felt. Alone. Afraid. Unable to run.” At each statement, a ball of flame erupts overheard. Carmen lazily juggles them between her hands, watching impassively.

“P-please, I’m a victim too!” It’s incredibly satisfying to watch his tormenter grovel in fear.

“Do you want to finish him off? It’s your call.” Mona says, crossing his tiny arms. He doesn’t seem affected by Kamoshida’s words. Then again, neither does Mishima.

Panther hums, glancing over to Mishima. “What do you think? Should he burn alive? Or maybe you could freeze the rest of him to be as cold as that thing he calls a heart.” She says, as if asking his opinion on where to eat lunch.

“No, please, wait! I beg you, forgive me!” Kamoshida is tearing up now, completely broken before them.

“Shut up!” Mishima cries out, glaring at the bastard. “We all begged, pleaded the same with you! And what did you do?” His voice cracks, and he takes a deep breath. He can feel the others watching him. “You destroyed us all.” He murmurs, and flicks his hand.

He feels detached, watching the ice creep up Kamoshida’s limbs, rising up his thighs, to his stomach, inching ever higher. Beside him, he can feel the heat of Carmen’s flames rise even higher, disgust etched into Takamaki’s unmasked face.

“I-I accept defeat. You want this? Take it.” He chucks the crown away, unable to move his legs. Joker grabs it easily, eyes glancing over it before returning to watching the scene unfold before him.

“Go ahead and finish me off… You do that… And my real self will go down too.” The panic leaves Kamoshida’s voice as he continues speaking, a calm acceptance overtaking it as the ice stops around his torso. “You have that right, since you won.”

It’d be so easy. Nobody would ever be hurt by him. Ever again.

Could he be a killer?

Mishima looks over at Takamaki, who’s observing him. He doesn’t know what to say. That he wishes it could be that easy? Just kill the guy and everything turns out okay? That he’s afraid to do it? That he’s terrified of… Of…

Her face tightens, and she thrusts her hand out. The fireballs launch forward, and Mishima can’t help but close his eyes.

“Ann!” Joker and Skull shout.

The smoke clears, revealing Kamoshida still there, the ice partially melting on him. He seems shocked. Carmen vanishes, Panther’s mask reappearing.

“If his mind shuts down, he can’t admit his crimes.” She says.

“You’re kind, Lady Ann…” Mona says.

Decision apparently made, Mishima dismisses Dante. The ice melts, and the odd feeling of goggles on his face returns. Kamoshida stumbles onto his knees, shaking his head as water drips down his robes onto the carpeted floor.

“I’ve lost. You’re through, when you lose. What am I… What am I supposed to do now?”

“Atone for your sins.” Joker’s smooth voice speaks up. Mishima grunts, but doesn’t comment. That sounds far too noble for this monster to accomplish. But, a soft smile of gratitude rises to Kamoshida’s face.

“All right. I will leave now and return to my real self. I’ll make certain that I-” The rest is lost as the bastard fades away in a blue burst of light. Silence fills the room as they all try to wrap their heads around what just happened.

They did it. He did it. It’s over. A wonderful end indeed, Dante whispers in his mind, and Mishima lets out a small laugh. Everything seems to be shaking. He can hear Mona speaking, something about time.

“Yo, Mishima, we gotta- Hey!”

“Good, we…. We did it…” Mishima murmurs. A faint rumbling echoes in the hall, but the last sound the exhausted teen hears is cries of surprise as he pitches forward. Then it all goes dark.

Chapter Text

Letting out a yawn, Mishima winces at the pain in his neck. Did he fall asleep in his computer chair again?

“Ann, I said I’m fine!”

Blinking his eyes open, Mishima sees Sakamato sitting against the opposite wall, clutching his leg. Takamaki is kneeled next to him, her hands clenched.

“You are not! What were you thinking, carrying him out by yourself?” She shouts.

“Well I wasn’t just gonna leave him!” He shouts back, breaking eye contact and turning toward Mishima. His eyes widen, and he smiles. “Hey, look who’s up.”

Takamaki glances back, giving a tense smile.

“Good, you’re awake. How are you feeling?” She asks.

“I, uh, well. I’m feeling pretty exhausted.” He lets out a hesitant chuckle. “Not nearly as bad as after practice, though.” Nothing ever would be.

“Well, that’ll hopefully never happen again.” She quickly turns back to Sakamoto, smile gone. “Don’t think you’re getting off scot free here, buddy.”

“Come on, I just was tryin’ to help!” Sakamoto groans, face contorting in pain when he slowly stretches his legs. “Damn it. Fine, you can help me home.”

“You need to get that checked!” Sakamoto groans in response, flinching when Takamaki flicks his ear. “I’m serious!” Sakamoto’s scowl deepens.

“It doesn’t need to be a hospital,” Kurusu cuts in. Mishima turns his head and sees the dark-haired teen leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets. His face looks a little pale, but otherwise seems fine. “My doctor friend can check it out. She won’t ask questions.”

“You mean our drug dealer?” Takamaki says. She sighs and massages her temples. “... I can’t believe I honestly just said that.”

“Uh, what happened? I remember K-Kamoshida vanishing and then it all went dark,” Mishima interrupts, making a mental note to question just why they have a drug dealer. He tries to sit up and falls back, wincing. “Did something fall on my legs?” Sakamoto turns away, hands clenched into fists, while Takamaki winces. “And where’s Morgana?” Mishima asks.

“Right here,” A black cat with white paws and blue eyes appears over Kurusu’s shoulder.

Mishima blinks, staring at the cat, err, Morgana for a moment before nodding slowly.

“Right. Uhm, c-cool.”

“Yeah, don’t worry dude. Felt weird talking to a cat the first time we did too,” Sakamoto says, shakily rising to his feet with Takamaki’s support. “Hell, it still does.”

“Excuse me!” Morgana scowls at him, before turning to eye Mishima. Watching a cat’s face contort like Morgana’s is really, really weird. His tail flicks back and forth angrily in a very catlike gesture, even so. “You collapsed, and this bone-head decided to just pick you up and run instead of wait for anyone else to talk.”

“Hey! It all worked out, didn’t it?”

“It worked out because Akira had enough in him to summon Kelpie when you tripped, you idiot!” Takamaki huffs, wincing when Sakamoto leans on her. “And that pillar nearly fell on the both of you. Falling down a flight of stairs is ‘lucky’ in comparison.”

“That final push really took a lot out of me…” Kurusu admits, rolling his shoulders. “I’m exhausted.”

“Then I highly suggest all of us get a good night’s sleep.” Morgana says, a tired grin on his face. “There are still three more days of classes left.” Kurusu lets out a small sigh, but nods.

“Oh! Let me share my info with everyone then.” Mishima says, pulling out his phone. He snickers at Kurusu’s avatar; It’s a picture of Morgana sitting on a bed and glaring at the camera. A red dot is visible next to him. Still smiling, he puts his phone away and starts moving to get off the alley floor. His limbs feel like lead.

“We’ll answer everything tomorrow, okay?” Kurusu’s brow furrows, offering him a hand up. “Are you going to be good getting home?”

“Y-yeah, I’ll be fine.” Mishima smiles, wincing slightly as he takes the offer.

Waving goodbye, he sighs as he walks his train stop. At least when I get home today, they’ll just assume I’m exhausted from volleyball , he thinks.


Considering the empty apartment he enters, Mishima doesn’t know why he bothered even worrying. Turning on the lights, he walks into the kitchen and doesn’t bother holding back a sigh. A small note on the fridge catches his eye as he glances around the kitchen.

Apologies for the late notice, Yuuki dear, but I’ve been called for a business trip. I should return by next Thursday. Dinner is in the fridge, and do make sure to have the dishes washed before you father returns Monday. I’ll miss you, dear.

                    -Love, Mom

P.S. Try to get some rest this weekend. You’ve looked so exhausted lately.

“Of course,” He mutters, crumpling the note up and tossing it toward the trash can. He ignores it as it misses entirely. “‘Tired.’ Yeah, that’s it.”

He glances at his phone and rolls his eyes. Not even a text to confirm anything. Dropping his bag down at the table, Mishima prepares his dinner and doesn’t even bother washing the plates upon finishing. His body already feels like it’s shutting down, even as his mind keeps hopping from thought to thought.

Laying in his bed, Mishima finally lets himself just think.

The entire afternoon slams into him all at once. Kamoshida is going to murder him tomorrow for not showing up! He was just hanging there from a chandelier, for God knows how long. And he was fighting with a magical powers alongside a delinquent, a criminal, a model, and freaking cat! He could have died - They all could have! What was he thinking?!

Clutching his head and curling up, Mishima decides he regrets stopping and thinking.

“Truly? Such worry is unbecoming of a protagonist.” He hears, jolting straight up. “You lived, did you not? And you were even joined with fellows. I’d say you are doing fine.”

Before he can think of any sort of response to the voice in his head, a sudden ‘ding’ erupts from his phone. Who on earth would be texting him at - Holy shit it’s almost midnight? His eyes widen in confusion when he sees who the texter is.

Sakamoto: Yo, you holdin’ up okay?

Hesitantly, he types back, ‘ As good as I can, now that I realize I nearly died.’ He cringes seconds after he sends it. That was so blunt.

Sakamoto: Yeah? I getcha.

Sakamoto: Listen, just wanted to say you did good. You were a real badass out there!

Mishima stares at his phone for a moment. Did… Was he just complimented? By Sakamoto?

Sakamoto: Also, for such a little guy, you weigh a ton, dude.

Mishima snorts, letting out a laugh despite himself. ‘ Hey, all those volleyball practices gotta pay off somehow.’ He responds.

Sakamoto: Yeah…

Sakamoto: Anyways, talk to ya tomorrow!

His phone has another notification, the image of an unamused Morgana flashing on the screen. He opens it, and a series of texts meet his gaze.

Akira: You must be exhausted, so I just wanted to say good work.

Akira: Maybe it was dumb luck you arrived, but we couldn’t have done it without you.

Akira: Morgana is harassing me to sleep, so again, we’ll answer any questions you have tomorrow.

Akira: P.S. Morgana says you did well for a, quote, ‘total amateur.’

Akira: And, quote, ‘It’s late. Go to sleep. Please, can just one of you actually listen to me.’

A whirlwind of emotions run through Mishima, but after a moment, he’s laughing into a pillow at the ridiculousness of that statement. Morgana tells them to get sleep? What? He makes sure to send a response back, thanking him and agreeing to fall asleep soon.

Lying in bed, body sore and mind drained, Mishima can’t help but let a smile rise to his face. The faint sound of laughter and scribbling fills his mind as he finally lets sleep take hold.


His morning routine rushed due to forgetting to set his alarm, Mishima lets out a massive yawn as he walks through the school gate.

Whispers fill the halls as Mishima walks toward the stairs. “Did you hear?” One girl says, so loud he’s not even sure he can call it a whisper. “Mr. Kamoshida isn’t in today!”

“Really? Oh no, I hope he’s okay. The volleyball team has that big meet soon. How are they going to win without their star couch?”

Kamoshida wasn’t in? Why wouldn't he be? Mishima keeps glancing around as he heads to homeroom, but doesn't catch sight of the teacher in question at all.

Seated, he starts to let himself hope that what happened yesterday in that weird castle actually did something to Kamoshida. They hadn’t actually killed him in that world, but… What did they do? Takamaki shoots him a smile as she walks over to her seat, as does Kurusu when he comes in just a few minutes later. He manages a genuine smile in response to both.

‘Did the transfer student just look at Mishima?’

                                                                                                                                ‘Oh. My God. He’s so dead.’

‘I mean, isn’t he already?’

Mishima’s grin falters, and he bows his head until roll call.

The end of school can’t come fast enough. Questions whirl through his mind, though not on the history of Japanese farmers like his teacher wants. And with the continued whispers from the students around him, it's not like he would've been able to focus anyway.

The moment the final bell rings, Mishima forces himself to stay seated. The last thing he wants to do is make a scene, he thinks as he slowly puts his books away. Takamaki walks out as he’s doing so, and a minute later Kurusu does as well. Neither makes eye contact with Mishima.

Whispers still crowd the halls after class, and Mishima finds himself being watched as he heads up the stairs.

‘Does anyone know why Kamoshida isn’t in?’

                                                                                            ‘No, no one on the volleyball team is talking.’

‘Weird… Who do you think we could pressure into talkin’?’

                                                                      ‘Didn’t the transfer student and Sakamoto corner Mishima a couple of times?’

Mishima barely resists running up the last flight of stairs at those words. Walking up to the roof, Mishima feels himself hesitate at the door. What if they ditched him? Was this okay? What if they decide he's not worth it or good enough or-

Why do you fear them? They are your compatriots, are they not?

Yeah, he thinks. But… He only came at the last second. No one even spoke to him today, especially when the rumor mill started..

Revealing the new world to you in the middle of lunch sounds like a rather odd time to do such a thing. Trust them.

Taking a deep breath, Mishima pushes the rooftop door open, the only sound the creak of hinges. Blinking in the sudden light, Mishima sees the three thieves sitting on some abandoned desks and chairs, Morgana resting next to Akira. They’re heads are turned to him, smiles greeting him.

“Uh, h-hey there.” He says, walking out, and making sure the door shuts behind. “So, I’m definitely not crazy, right? Yesterday totally happened?”

“Nope. This is all a dream.” Kurusu says, completely straight faced, and for a second Mishima panics… Only to feel relieved when the others start laughing. Kurusu’s lips twitch into a smirk when Takamaki gives his arm a weak smack.

“Don’t be so mean to the guy, Akira,” She says, still giggling. Turning to face Mishima, she says. “Hey there.”

“Dude!” Sakamoto shouts as Mishima walks closer. “You were a total badass out there,” Throwing an arm over his shoulder, Mishima buckles slightly under the weight. “The way you fell and transformed on the way down? It was awesome!” Sakamoto looks over to the others, who are smiling warmly at them. “And don’t you think his outfit was rad or what?”

“O-oh, I didn’t get the chance to really look at it…” Mishima mumbles, wide-eyed as Ryuji gives him another shake before letting go. How… What?

“It was… Kinda techy. You had some glowing circuits on your shoes and gloves. Like, what those guys in the Matrix wore! Only, colorful,” Takamaki says, tilting her head in thought.

“Cyberpunk.” Kurusu adds thoughtfully.

“It was way different than what the rest of us have.” She says.

“I’ll say.” Sakamoto says, side-eyeing her.

“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean, huh?” She shouts, flicking Sakamoto’s nose. He flicks her back.

“Ryuji, are you jealous of his outfit too?” Kurusu asks, voice innocent as can be. “And here I thought I was special.”

“Hey! Listen, skin-tight leather can ride up, okay?” He shouts back, crossing his arms. “I’m just sayin’ he’s got something different, that’s all.”

“But you look so good in those pants,” Kurusu says with a smirk. Ryuji stammers in response.

“Maybe,” Takamaki pipes up, a sly grin on her face, “He actually wants my outfit, and is just trying to throw us all off.” She turns to him, her voice cheerful. “If you wanted it so badly, all you had to do was ask, Ryuji. I’ll happily trade.”

“Ah, shaddup!”

Mishima can’t help but join the two of them in laughing, and after a moment, Ryuji joins in too. How long has it been since he’s last done this, Mishima wonders. Just… Had a reason to laugh or smile? In the depths of his mind, he thinks he hears a soft chuckle.

“You guys are so weird.” Morgana says as their laughter dies down. “Still, four persona users in one month? I’m the luckiest guy around! This’ll be perfect… Nyahaha!”

“Perfect for what, huh?” Ryuji says, squinting down at the cat. “What are you tryin’ to plan?”

“Doesn’t matter right now, not that’d you’d understand.” Morgana responds, waving him off with a paw when Ryuji shouts. Stretching out, he looks up at Mishima. “I’m sure you have a lot of questions for us.”

“Yeah, a ton. Uhm, but before you I ask I just wanted to say some things.” Mishima says. “Takamaki, I-”

“Hey, we fought a giant demon version of our bastard teacher together,” Takamaki interrupts with a laugh. “Call me Ann.”

“That goes for all of us, Mishima,” Kurusu adds. Then he flashes a teasing grin. “Or should I say, Yuuki?”

Mishima gapes at him, heat rising to his cheeks. “O-okay, uhm, A-Ann, Akira,” Mishima takes a deep breath, willing away his blush,  and meets her eyes. “I wanted to apologize. I can’t do so for the rest of the volleyball team, but I am truly sorry for all the rumors and lies that were spread about you. Some of us…” He trails off and shakes his head. “Well, no, that’s not right. Most of us knew the truth about what was actually going on between you and Kamoshida, but we kept quiet.”

“Oh,” She says, going quiet. Her smile fades as she watches him.

“We should have done something! But… We were afraid,” He rambles on, bowing to her. “I’m sorry.”

Turning to the messy haired teen, Mishima continues. “And, Ku- Akira, nothing I say or do w-will ever make up for what I’ve done to you. I leaked your entire record, made sure everyone at school would have access… And just pretended nothing could be done, while you and R-Ryuji were both trying to do something.

“You couldn’t have done anything.” He responds, and Kurusu sounds honest.

“But I should have!” Mishima cries out, grasping at his hair. “I could’ve, I dunno, tried bugging the P.E. office, leaked his messages, something! But, I just… Let it all happen.” He sighs, letting his arms fall limp. “And now you have to pay the price.”

Turning to Ryuji, Mishima hesitates. “And, uhm… Sorry that I never tried to look into what K-Kamoshida had done to the track team. It was always weird, but I never thought anything of it… And sorry about passing out? And making you carry me when that castle started collapsing? Uh, is your leg alright?”

“It’s fine, just needed some ice and a break.” Ryuji shakes his head. “But dude, you are way too uptight about this.”

“He should be, given what’s he’s done,” Morgana says, speaking up. Mishima winced, turning to meet those piercing blue eyes. “You’ve hurt a lot of people through your actions, especially this guy right here. But you made your intentions clear when you helped us yesterday, and you apologized to those you hurt today.” He continues, confident in his declaration.

“I completely agree,” Ann says, smiling at him.

Akira nods in agreement. “You’re trying to make a change now. That’s what counts.”

“T-Thanks you guys.” He says, bowing. Crap, his voice is totally cracking. “I promise, I’ll do my best!”

Mishima wipes his eyes and looks between the four of them. He really got lucky, he thinks.

“Alright, enough of this emotional crap,” Ryuji butts in, jolting Mishima out of his thoughts. “Ya gotta have tons of questions ‘bout what happened, right?”

“I do have a few…” He glances at Morgana.

A sudden growling noise from Ryuji grabs everyone’s attention.

“What? I didn’t have time to pack a lunch this morning, okay?” He brings a hand up to his stomach, the source of the noise.

“Well, now that you mention it, I could go for something sweet…” Ann adds, glancing at Akira.

The dark-haired teen shakes his head with a chuckle. “Okay, okay. Morgana will answer your questions while we eat, then.”


May the second arrives, and that morning, Mishima is already halfway to school before he remembers today is the board meeting.

Homeroom proceeds as normal, but then an announcement on the intercoms echoes, interrupting Kawakami’s tired roll call: “All teachers, please direct your students to the gymnasium for an emergency assembly.”

Murmurs from the students behind him catch Mishima’s ear as they march over to stand idly and wait for the principal to talk.

‘Ugh, why do we have to waste time in this dumb assembly?’

                                                                                                 ‘Probably because of that one girl who tried jumping the other day.’

‘Tried? You mean did. And she dropped! Kolu got it all on video.’

                                                                                                                                                      ‘Really? That’s so morbid.’

‘Seriously. But honestly, do we really need this? We know not to commit suicide.’

                                                                                                   ‘Well obviously she didn’t.’

Mishima shoves his fists into his pockets, glaring at the ground. How dare they talk about Shiho like that. Like she’s just some idiot! That monster destroyed her, and they all knew and -

                                                                                                           ‘Could be about that weird calling card too.’

‘Oh right! Did something lame like that seriously freak the teachers out?’

Mishima glances up, eyes wide. He hadn’t even thought of that. What if the teachers found out who did it? Ryuji would be screwed even worse than he already is. Glancing around, he can’t see either Ryuji or Akira, but makes out Ann standing near the front of the crowd.

“Let us begin this school-wide morning assembly,” The principal says, quieting the final murmurs of the crowd. “As you all know, a tragic event took place the other day.”

“Thankfully, we have been informed that she has pulled through, but it will take time until she recovers.” The principal continues, chin jiggling slightly as he lets out a sigh. “Everyone here has a bright future ahead of them. Please, I employ each of you to reflect on the importance of life and -”

And then Kamoshida walks out, and the entire auditorium falls silent, save for a single whispered ‘oh shit.’

Peeking between the mob of students all facing the door, Mishima can barely make Kamoshida out. He’s hunched over, arms hanging loosely at his sides. The principal blusters, but Kamoshida ignores him, instead speaking out and saying, “I… Have been reborn.”

His words echo out into the silent hall, and Mishima can only stare at the man as he continues to speak. “That is why I will confess everything to you all…”

Kamoshida’s steps echo as he takes the stage, standing in front of the podium where the principal is as flabbergasted as the rest of the hall. Mishima’s jaw drops as he gets a good look at the man who’d beat him for the past year of his life. Dark bags under his closed eyes, unkempt hair… And the eerie stillness in his movements worries Mishima.

All around him, whispers start up, but he doesn’t hear a word of them.

“I have… Repeatedly done things that were unbecoming of a teacher. Verbally abusing students. Physically abusing my team and… Sexually harassing female students.” Kamoshida’s voice sends shivers down Mishima’s spine. Each word echoes like a recitation, no emotion behind it. “I am the reason… That Shiho Suzio tried to kill herself.” He looks up, finally opening his eyes. “I raped her.” He says with a sob. “I am so, so sorry.”

The gymnasium erupts in noise as he falls to his knees, head bowed.

“I thought myself a king, and this school my castle. I’ve ruined countless students’ lives here, destroying clubs that held funds the volleyball team could use, that I… That I could use to further my own power.” He says, tears falling onto the wooden floorboards as he speaks. “I-I even sentenced students to expulsion, simply for being undesirable in my eyes.”

Mishima feels like he’s watching from afar, like the scene before him is just a dream.

“I will, of course, rescind those.” He shakes his head, clutching his thighs so tightly veins pulsate on his arms. “I am, so sorry. I am so sorry… For all the despicable, disgusting things I’ve done.” Falling forward he cries out, “As such, I will take full responsibility, and kill myself.”

“M-Mr. Kamoshida, contain yourself! Get off this stage at once!” The principle shouts, arms flailing as the other teachers shout to be heard amongst the uproar of students. Mishima can’t stop staring: Is he actually going to kill himself? W-wouldn’t that mean they killed him after all?

“Don’t run, you bastard!” Ann’s voice rings out. Mishima turns to watch as she shoves her way to the front of the crowd. “Shiho’s still alive, even after all the disgusting things you did to her. You have no right to run from this!” She cries out, voice cracking with a sob.

“Y-you’re right. You’re absolutely right.” Kamoshida sniffles, climbing back to his knees. “I should be punished under the law and atone for my crimes.” He looks out into the crowd, face contorted in despair. “I did horrible things to Takamaki-san as well. I used her friendship with Suzio to try coercing her into relations. I spread rumors that we were together to pressure her into committing.”

Gasps and mutterings echo. Ryuji and Akira have both made their way to Ann and stand defensively at either side of her. All three glare up at Kamoshida.

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

It’s pandemonium after those words, with teachers attempting to herd students back into their classrooms - and failing miserably. Everywhere around him, whispers of the Phantom Thieves and calling cards and blackmail fill the air. Mishima gets dragged along with the crowd of bodies, but notices Kurusu and the others standing to the side. Doubling back, he manages to reach them before a teacher can notice him.

“Was this really for the best?” He hears Ryuji ask.

Akira nods his head. “I think so.” Noticing Mishima, he turns. “Hello.”

“H-hey,” Mishima greets. “So, uh… T-that happened.”

“Understatement of the century, dude,” Ryuji says. “I mean, I ain’t arguing the guy didn’t have it coming but… It’s just happening way too fast.”

“I’m just glad it’s happening, period.” Ann says, turning from the stage to face them. Despite the confidence in her words, she’s avoiding their eyes. “At least he isn’t actually going to kill himself…”

Mishima lets out a nervous laugh, rubbing his arm. “Yeah, I, uh, got worried there for a second. Guess Morgana was right after all.”

“He usually is,” Akira says with a shrug. “At least when it comes to the Metaverse.”

“And school,” Ann adds, shaking her head. “I hear him whispering to you sometimes. He’s practically giving you the answers!”

Mishima gapes at Akira, who impishly smirks in response. “I like to think of it as ‘Supporting his leader versus the establishment.’”

“Yeah, yeah, but you still have a cheat-sheet cat in your desk. But hey, speaking of school, no expulsion for us, boys!” Ryuji shouts, throwing his arms around both Mishima and Akira’s shoulders. “We’re free!”

“Heh, y-yeah!”

“As long as you all don’t fail out or something,” Ann says with a chuckle. “Hey, Yuuki. I’m going to visit Shiho after school today. She deserves to hear the good news.” Ann tilts her head, smiling softly. “You’ve spoken with her a few times, right? Why don’t you come along?”

Does he deserve to? Would she even be awake? Would Suzui even want to see him?

I believe the better question you should be asking is how badly does she wish to see a friendly face who is worried about her?

Biting his lip, Mishima nods and returns Ann’s smile.

“Yeah, I want to tell her the good news too.”


Never did Mishima think he’d be spending the end of Golden Week eating at the Wilton hotel. Yet here he is, slowly making his way through the most delicious buffet he’s ever laid eyes on. Half-lidded, very heavy eyes, that are fighting to stay open even as his body sinks into the couch next to Akira and Morgana.

“People keep talkin’ ‘bout us, ya know?” Ryuji says, biting into a particularly juicy looking piece of meat. He lets out a content sigh. “Oh man, this is so good… But, uh, also! We got so many people pumped up now. I keep hearing things, like ‘The Phantom Thieves really stole his heart!’ I think most people don’t really believe it, but it seems like people are actually grateful.”

Ryuji pulls out his phone and turns it. Mishima yanks himself away from his beef skewers to see a very familiar black and red website in Ryuji’s hand.

“See? There’s even a website up now!”

“The Phantom Aficionado Website?” Ann says. She squints to read off of the screen. “‘Thank you for giving us hope.’ ‘Now I can live without fear.’ Huh, there’s lots of messages like that.”

“Pretty cool, right?” Ryuji says, putting his phone away. “I think we’re goin-”

“Wow, it’s already gotten that many comments?” Mishima interrupts, quickly pulling his own phone out and tapping away. “I thought I could take a break, but I guess I underestimated how many people were hoping for something like this.”

“Huh?” Ryuji says. “Whatcha talkin’ ‘bout?”

“Oh!” Looking up, he flashes a hesitant smile at their curious faces. “I, uh, made that site.”

“For real?” Ryuji exclaims, pulling his phone back out to stare at it. “Dude, this must’ve taken ages to pull off! When did you have the time?”

“Is this why you look so tired?” Ann asks, gulping down another piece of cake. “You’ve hardly touched your plate, and you look like you’re gonna sink into that couch.”

Shuffling about, Mishima coughs.

“I… Might’ve stayed up a little late the past couple of days,” He admits, taking a sip from his coffee. He suppresses a shiver as Morgana lets out a heavy sigh, hastily adding, “But it’s fine! We’ve been on break, after all.” Thumbing through the sight, Mishima continues “I even put a poll up. ‘Do you believe in the Phantom Thieves?’ You know, to get an idea of what the public thinks of us.”

“Woah, that’s so cool!” Ryuji says, letting out a laugh. “We could actually make a difference like that.”

“I mean, I was just desperate to deal with my own problems, but just seeing people saying that sort of stuff… It feels kinda strange.” Ann says. “But, still this is a ton of work, Yuuki. Why on earth did you do it?”

“I…” He hesitates, looking down at his phone. The fruit of his labor stares back. They are your compatriots. A calm voice reminds him. Mishima nods and looks up. “I know you all said you forgave me, but… As a part of this, I want to help in whatever way I can!” The energy of his statement is a little subverted as he lets out a heavy yawn and sinks deeper into the velvet couch. “Besides, Kamoshida is far from the last asshole of an adult out there. This way, we can actually get people to tell us potential targets!”

“I don’t entirely understand how you pulled this off, but I’m impressed.” Morgana says. Mishima smiles in delight, only to wince as the not-cat adds, “But you’re a part of this team too now. A phantom thief takes care of themselves! We don’t need you passing out in the middle of class and drawing attention to yourself, okay?”

“For once, I agree with Morgana’s totalitarianism.” Akira says, ignoring Morgana’s meow of protest. “This website could be a big help, but don’t overdo it. We don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

“Seriously! We’ve got some of the best desserts in Tokyo right here, and you’re going to sleep through them.” Ann says.

“Oh my God, are we all agreeing with the cat here?” Ryuji groans. “But for real -”

“I am not a cat!” Morgana interrupts, planting both of his front paws on the table. Mishima lets out a tired laugh at the indignant look on his face.

“So, do you all plan on eating, or…?” Akira interrupts, trailing off as he bites into a piece of the berry pie in front of him.

Ryuji turns to him, blinking slowly. “I mean, of course we are...”

“Oh crap! The time limit!” Ann suddenly jumps up, staring at the wall clock in horror. “We only have forty more minutes.”

“Akira, we’ll leave our stuff with you. Quick, Yuuki! We are going to devour that meat buffet, got it?” Ryuji says. At his dazed nod, Ryuji grabs his arm and laughs. “Then let's go, dude!”

Mishima nods with a laugh, and suddenly he’s rushing forward with him and Ann, searching for the perfect meal to celebrate this perfect day. As he laughs and dives into the food, the sounds of papers turning and the scribbling of a pen fill his mind.