“A...skirt. You want me to wear...a skirt.” Ryuji asked, arms crossed.
“Ryuji, please, I need you to do this for me!” Ann begged, eyes wide.
“And why can’t Makoto help you! Or Haru!” he hissed, staring down at the offensive outfit as if it would bite him.
“I would never ask them to do this! And you can’t tell me you would either! This guy is a total creep! Akira, say something!” Ann whined.
Akira watched this all from a chair nearby. He seemed to be deep in thought while they argued. Morgana was just sitting there, trying and failing to hold back his laughter.
“But still, I go back to; why me!” Ryuji snapped.
“Listen, this guy has already met Akira and he would know Yusuke since he used to do art photography! He’s too dangerous to bring around the other girls too! You’re the only one he might never have run into before.” Ann replied.
“Ok, but why can’t I meet him as Ryuji, the totally not wearing a skirt guy!” Ryuji demanded.
“Because he won’t come in two yards of you if he sees you’re a guy! And, besides, I need you to be in the room with me while we shoot and that is a total no go with this guy if you show up as Ryuji!” Ann replied hotly.
Ryuji groaned and rubbed his face. She did have a point. They had already done some research after all.
“Look, I already told him my girlfriend, Saki, was coming with me. Think of the Phantom Thieves, you idiot! This could be our only shot to figure out what his Palace keyword is!” Ann stated angrily.
Ryuji scowled and looked away. This was completely true and completely unfair. While they were waiting to see what would happen next with Okumura, a new post had appeared on the Phan-site. The post was short and to the point, the poster claimed a specific photographer had been blackmailing her into sex after she did a nude photo shoot with him one time. With a little research, Mishima had claimed to find twelve other women, all saying the exact same thing over the course of several months.
They had already confirmed that he had a Palace, it was his studio in Shibuya, but they had yet to find a proper key word for it.
“Listen, I don’t want to go either, ok? I’m scared, Ryuji, and I really don’t want to go in alone.” Ann stated.
Ryuji grit his teeth and grabbed the skirt.
“Fine! But what do I even do?” he asked.
“Simple, I’ll do most of the talking, you just listen and see if you catch anything weird.” Ann said.
Meanwhile, Akira watched this all and frowned. He hated the idea that both his teammates were going into danger, but it was the only idea they had right now. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t be nearby, of course. They had already planned on having him wait in the waiting room as well. Just in case anything went short and they needed any extra pair of hands.
“Ok, but won’t he know I’m a guy? I mean he looks at pretty girls all day long.” Ryuji muttered.
Ann just pulled out a huge case and dropped it on the counter with a heavy thud. Ryuji and Akira stared in horror.
“Not when I’m done with you. You’ll be the prettiest girl ever!” she said with a cheer.
Morgana laughed at Ryuji’s groan of despair.
“I can’t believe this.” Ryuji muttered, trying not to wipe off the makeup Ann had spent two hours applying.
It felt like chalk on his face and it only made this whole ordeal more depressing. Not to mention, but the skirt was absolutely annoying as hell and cold. Like how did girls do it? Didn’t their asses get cold? Jesus, no wonder Ann always looked pissed off! She was probably cold all the time!
“Ryuji, focus!” Ann hissed, elbowing him.
He held back a yelp as the elevator stopped and the doors opened. He did rub his side though, much to Akira’s amusement. They stepped out into a lobby and a man stood there. He was tall, with dark hair and a nice smile.
“Ah, Ann Takamaki, am I right? Right on time as well!” he said sweetly.
Ryuji already hated the guy and Akira seemed to shift nervously next to him. Ann chatted with the man for a little while, thanking him for giving her a chance to meet with him as Akira and Ryuji looked around. He seemed completely engrossed in talking about his work and some other things when his eyes drifted away from her and landed on Ryuji and Akira.
“Oh and who are you friends?” he asked.
“Ah, this is Akira and Saki. Akira was just helping us get here since I don’t know my way around very well.” she said sweetly.
His eyes, however, never left Ryuji and he quickly moved closer.
“Ah, Ann-san, you didn’t tell me your friend was also a model! I would have set up the room differently.” he said, eyes running over Ryuji’s form.
Oh. My. God. Is this why Ann hated when guys stared at her? Ryuji knew his clothes were still on, but he actually felt like this man was undressing him with his eyes. He leaned back a bit, smiling nervously. Akira was glaring behind his glasses.
“A-Actually, Saki isn’t a model! She’s very shy and she would ummm hate to get her picture taken.” Ann said sliding between them.
Ryuji nodded his head aggressively, almost knocking his wig off. The man seemed disappointed.
“Well, either way, it is nice to meet you, Saki-san! My name is Ibiki Morino. Welcome to my studio. Akira-kun, if you wish, you can wait out here.” he said dismissively as he led the other two away.
Ryuji looked back at Akira, who just gave him a thumbs up, and he gave a shaky smile back. When they entered the room, Ann’s face seem to drop a bit and Ryuji could tell why. It seemed a little too intimate for the action shoot Ann had told him she had set up.
“Wow, this seems a little umm different than what I was expecting.” she said, looking at him as the photographer set up the camera.
“Really? Because personally, it’s one of my favorites to use!” Ibiki stated.
“Ah, yes, I suppose I have seen it a few times before, but I was thinking more of an action style shoot, you know?” she asked as she wandered around.
There was a large bed with white sheets and drapings. If you asked Ryuji, it looked like a room set for a porno. He felt completely uncomfortable here and crossed his arms. He tried not to think about what would happen if this guy tried to get handsy with Ann.
“Yes well, I thought we’d do something a little softer first. We can always try an action shot later. Now, let's get started. Did you bring the clothes?” he asked.
She held up a bag and he directed her to a bathroom in the room. As she passed by, Ryuji muttered to her.
“Make sure to check for like small cameras and shit. Mishima did say some of the shots looked like they were taken from above in a small room.” Ryuji muttered.
“Now, what are you two girls muttering about?” Ibiki asked.
“O-Oh! Nothing! Saki was just asking me if she could use the restroom after I was done!” Ann said nervously.
“Well of course. Saki-san, you are welcome to anything in this room, just let me know.” he said with a wink.
Ryuji just smiled and gave a small wave. Ann marched over to the bathroom and looked around, she turned off the light and saw a small red light shining in the left corner. She scowled and quickly reached up to undo the lightbulb.
“Um, Morino-san! I think the light is out!” she yelled.
“Coming!” he yelled back.
He threw open the door without knocking, probably hoping to see her half clothed, but she was already fully dressed.
“Didn’t want to keep you waiting, but you might want to fix that bulb.” she said brushing past him.
“Ah yes, I will have my assistant look at it.” he muttered, clearly disappointed.
Ann walked out and they got started, but Ryuji found himself scowling. The photographer was definitely trying to pressure Ann into some more revealing shots and Ann was just not having it, fighting him tooth and nail on everything. They eventually stopped for lunch and Ann stomped out, clearly upset. Ryuji went to follow her, but his wrist was swiftly grabbed.
“Ah, Saki-san, might I have a word?” he asked sweetly.
Ryuji’s eyes got big and before he knew it, he was pinned against the wall behind him, trapped between the man’s arms.
“You know, Saki-san, you are quite a lovely girl. I know you came to support your friend, but I think you would do amazing as well with the right angles. Tell me, would you like to be my little model as well? My little doll? I’ll make you beautiful too.” his eyes were hungry and his face twisted into something terrifying.
Ryuji had never been in a situation like this before. As a guy, he had never felt vulnerable like this, but right here? Right now? Ryuji’s temper was starting to rise and he scowled, ready to open his mouth and start yelling when the door slammed open. Ann stood there, scowling. Her eyes took on a whole new light when she saw Ryuji pinned.
“What the hell do you think you are doing! Get off of her!” Ann snarled.
Ann stomped over and pushed him away, making him stumble.
“Now, now, Ann-san! It’s not what you think! We were just talking!” he stumbled and stuttered.
“The hell you were! We’re out of here!” Ann snapped.
She grabbed Ryuji’s wrist and dragged him from the room, but not before Ryuji flipped him off with the other hand. As they got into the elevator, Akira eyed the two and frowned.
“What happened?” he asked.
“He was making the moves on me, man!” Ryuji hissed.
Akira’s eyes took on a dark look and Ryuji shuddered a bit. He looked down at his hands and frowned. They were shaking really bad and he wasn’t sure if it was because of rage or something else. There was a chill in his bones he didn’t like. He rubbed them together to calm himself down.
“That jerk! I leave the room for five seconds and he tries something! God, can you imagine if it had been Makoto? Or Haru!” Ann said.
Both Ryuji and Akira pictured Makoto standing over the man, her foot on his back and her eyes glowing with rage as he cried in fear. They then pictured Haru, sitting at a neat little table, while the photographer was strung up in the background. They just glanced at each other.
“Rightttt.” Ryuji stressed.
“Well, did you guys figure anything out?” Akira asked as they left the building.
“Nothing.” Ann muttered hanging her head.
“I didn’t see anything in the waiting room.” Akira admitted.
“He likes dolls.” Ryuji stated.
The other two looked at him and he blinked.
“He likes...dolls?” Ann asked.
“Yeah, didn’t you hear him? He kept calling you ‘doll’. Plus, he had pictures of them all over the place.” Ryuji said as they walked.
“Doll? Now that you mention it, he did say it a few times.” Ann muttered.
They made it to the station, where Yusuke, Makoto, Morgana and Haru were waiting. Futaba was at home, seeing if she could dig up more dirt on the man.
“My, Ryuji, don’t you look lovely!” Yusuke said simply.
Ryuji scowled and got in his face.
“One more word out of you and you’ll have to learn sign language.” he snapped.
“Oh, but sign language is a beautiful language. I would love to learn it.” Yusuke said confused.
“He means he’s going to break your jaw so you can’t talk.” Makoto stated.
“Oh…” Yusuke paused.
“So what did you find out?” Haru asked as they gathered in the accessway.
Ryuji rubbed the back of his neck, thankful Makoto had brought him a change of clothes. He still had some of the makeup on, but he felt a little warmer with his ass covered.
“He likes dolls.” Ann stated.
“Dolls are quite interesting.” Yusuke stated.
“Yeah, I don’t think you and he are using the dolls for the same thing, Yusuke.” Ryuji muttered.
“Oh? How so?” Haru asked.
“He tried to make me do a boudoir shoot.” Ann scowled.
“Oh my.” Makoto said covering her mouth.
“And he tried to hit on Ryuji.” Akira said with a shrug.
Ryuji hissed and elbowed him as Morgana started laughing hysterically.
“H-He hit on Ryuji?” Haru asked confused.
“Yeah…” Ryuji trailed off, flushing.
“I can see why. You make quite the beautiful girl. And your legs looked amazing in that skirt.” Yusuke nodded his head.
“One more word, Yusuke!” Ryuji snapped, as he held up a fist.
“Alright, alright, let’s calm down.” Makoto stated.
“So we know the where and we know the who, but we still need the what.” Morgana muttered.
“We know now he likes dolls. So let’s head back to LeBlanc and go from there?” Ann asked.
Akira pulled up his phone and sent a note to Futaba to meet them there.
Futaba: Great, because I got big news too!
They all settled in the attic of LeBlanc and Futaba pulled out her laptop.
“I found an article from about a year ago. It was really hard to find, but he’s definitely not a good guy. The photographer really has the villain backstory going for him.” she explained.
Everyone gave her a blank stare and she huffed.
“My genius is wasted here. Anyway, about a year ago, a really famous model accused him of some nasty stuff, like really nasty and she was only fifteen at the time. But he had a lot of allies on his side and eventually the case was dropped. She ended up losing everything and he came out smelling like roses.” Futaba explained.
“That must be when his Palace appeared. He saw himself as invincible.” Makoto muttered.
“That’s not even the worst part. I started going back even farther and he has a criminal record as early as twelve. He apparently attacked his babysitter and while nothing happened, his parents swept it all under the rug.” Futaba stated.
“Sounds about right. He got away with it once and then afterwards, kept getting away with it. That’s why we have to stop him.” Morgana stated.
Akira placed his phone on the table and they all sat around, thinking.
“He likes dolls...so what about like a dollhouse?” Haru asked.
“Nope.” Makoto sighed.
“Toy chest?” Yusuke asked.
“Nothing.” Futaba blew a piece of hair out of her eyes.
“A toy store?” Akira asked.
The phone beeped and they gasped.
“A toy store? I guess it makes sense.” Ann said slowly.
“How so?” Yusuke asked.
“Think about it, when he gets bored of one “doll”, he can go and just pick out another one.” Makoto explained.
“That’s disgusting.” Futaba wiggled her nose.
“Let’s just get this over with.” Ryuji said standing up.
Before long, they stood before a huge toy store with Ibiki’s face on the sign. “Ibiki’s Beautiful Dolls” was in big, bold letters across the store front.
“This place is awful.” Ann muttered, staring at the dolls in the windows.
She recognized a few of their faces as models she had seen or worked with. To see them, posed in the window, wearing next to no clothing or even nothing at all, their plastic faces blank and empty, sent shivers through her.
“Let’s get going. We have a treasure to find.” Morgana said drooling.
They moved to the back of the store and snuck in through the loading zone. As they hid, they watched as a huge truck pulled up and the back was opened.
“Wait...isn’t that?” Haru asked.
New dolls were being taken off the truck, wrapped in plastic, but their faces were clear as day. It was Ryuji in his female disguise. Ryuji turned a little green as hundreds of dolls looking just like him were pulled off the truck.
“Yes, yes, there we go. I always adore new shipments.” someone said.
They all turned to see Ibiki, dressed in a red suit with dark sunglasses on. He eagerly walked towards one if the new dolls and pulled the plastic off it’s face. Grinning madly, he pulled the doll close and groaned.
“The smell of new plastic. It always gets me...hard.” he said licking his lips.
“I am going to bash this guy’s head in.” Ryuji hissed.
Akira could only agree. The man had his hands in places no one should touch and Akira was about five seconds from shooting him in the face and being done with it. They slowly snuck their way into the vents and started to look for the treasure. Room after room, they came across hundreds of thousands of dolls and the more they saw, the more awkward it became. Each room was dedicated to one of his dolls and it was disgusting to see just what he thought of them.
And then they came to Ryuji’s room. It wasn’t completely set up yet, but they could already see a bunch of dolls were on the shelves. To see his own face staring back at him and knowing what would happen if they left these dolls behind, Ryuji started to feel a little ill.
“I’m seriously getting Kamoshida vibes from this guy.” Ryuji muttered as they moved on.
“I agree. I know most of these girls and all of them are underaged. He obviously has a type.” Ann said with disgust.
“And when he is done with them, he simply throws them away. How utterly tasteless.” Yusuke whispered, staring at the broken dolls in the corner.
“Oh!” Futaba said running over to one specific doll.
“What is it?” Haru asked.
“It’s her! The model I was talking about!” Futaba said, pulling a doll out of the shadows.
Her face was smashed, pieces missing. Her left arm was missing as well.
“She looks like she was attacked.” Makoto said.
“He really slandered her name in the press. This is probably how he views her after everything happened.” Futaba stood up and frowned.
“This guy is just a nightmare to anyone he works with.” Ann stated.
“We just need to keep going.” Morgana replied.
They continued their way through the halls, beating down shadows and getting a better layout for the building. It was huge, a lot bigger than it looked on the outside. Instead of going up, however, they seemed to spiral downwards, finding more and more twisted rooms of broken dolls. It seems the top two levels were for his newest dolls while the bottom ones were for dolls he had already broken in. That’s when Ann gasped.
“Oh my god, Mimi!” Ann said running over to a shattered doll in the corner.
Her eyes filled with tears as she held the doll’s head in her hands.
“Who is she?” Futaba asked.
“She a model I met at my first photoshoot. She was super nice to me, treated me like I was her little sister. She actually helped me a lot when I started to feel sick because I hadn’t had enough water. Modeling was her passion, but then I heard she quit all of a sudden. I tried to reach out to her, but she never answered…” Ann said softly.
“Looks like he sunk his claws into her as well.” Yusuke stated.
Ann gently rubbed the doll’s cheek and sniffled.
“Have you guys thought about it? I mean how many faces we are actually seeing?” Makoto asked.
“He must have hundreds of victims.” Haru whispered.
“All so young.” Yusuke muttered.
“Enough! Guys, we have to keep going. Once this guy confesses, all those girls will have their revenge on him!” Morgana said waving his arms.
There was a new feeling of determination that came over them. They continued downward, fighting shadows and beating mini bosses until they came across a small room. Barely bigger than a broom closet, they found the treasure.
“Ok, we’ve secured our path. Let’s send the card.” Makoto stated.
They left the Palace and returned to the real world. Ann shuddered and rubbed her arms.
“God, I feel like I need a hot shower.” Ann muttered.
“Thankfully, we didn’t see Lady Ann in there.” Morgana said with a sigh.
“Yeah, goody for her.” Ryuji snapped.
“Hey, I still had to put up with Princess Ann, remember? So don’t start!” she replied.
“Princess? Do I want to know?” Makoto asked.
“Kamoshida.” they both replied.
“Oh, yeah.” Makoto sighed.
“Guys, focus. We have our route and now we just need to send the calling card. Any ideas?” Morgana asked.
Ann smiled slowly and glanced at Ryuji.
“Oh, I have one.” she said sweetly.
He started to sweat nervously.
Ryuji whined to himself as he stared at his reflection in the elevator doors.
“How the fuck did I get stuck in a skirt again?” he muttered.
The doors opened and Ibiki was standing there, looking startled.
“Saki-san! I’m surprised to see you!” he said delightly.
“I-I came to give you this.” he said, trying to make his voice as high pitched as possible.
He shoved it into his arms before running out the door. Ibiki stared after her, before opening the letter. The second he saw the calling card, his eyes flashed.
“They want to take me down? They can fucking try!” his Shadow hissed.
Ryuji and the gang watched from across the street. Ryuji crossed his arms and glared at Ann, who just smiled.
“Don’t worry, Ryuji! You make a beautiful girl!” Haru said sweetly.
Ryuji threw his wig at her.
“Let’s go. We don’t have a lot of time.” Morgana stated.
They entered the Palace and moved their way back to the room. When they got there, Ibiki was already standing there, scowling.
“So you all think you have a right to tell me what’s right and wrong? Me?! I make this world beautiful! I give these half-witted girls some hope of being stars! They should be grateful to me!” he yelled.
“You demand sexual favors from young girls you have exploited. You are nothing, but a monster!” Yusuke replied.
“They should be thanking me!” Ibiki changed into something disgusting.
A doll’s head with a thousand hands stared back at them, it’s eyes darted around crazily.
“Well, I guess he could get worse after all.” Ryuji muttered.
The fight was short, he was not incredibly powerful, but he was tricky. Akira, however, was a lot smarter and before long, his monstrous form faded away. As he knelt there, his eyes narrowed in on Ryuji and he seemed to stare.
“You’re...Saki-san, aren’t you?” he asked and Ryuji flushed.
“We had to get close to you somehow.” Ryuji muttered.
“It’s always that way. People get close to me, just to hurt me. Girls, guys, models, photographers, all of them.” he replied.
“So you started treating people as disposable.” Morgana stated.
“Everyone always wanted something from me, something that wasn’t me. I had to do it.” he replied.
“You ruined so many lives. So many people were destroyed because of you! How can you sit there, acting like the victim!” Ann hissed.
He seemed to look around, stare at the broken dolls around him and whimpered.
“I...I…” he shook his head.
“You will confess to your crimes. You will tell the police everything. And you will apologize to those girls.” Haru demanded.
The man sniffled and then nodded. Akira walked right past him and looked at the treasure. It was a huge dollhouse and he nodded to Yusuke, who helped him grab it. With that, Ibiki disappeared.
“Everyone out!” Morgana yelled.
They raced out of the Palace as it collapsed and when they made it outside, Akira looked at his hand. He held a plastic doll, some old thing that had seen better days.
“Now, we wait.” Haru whispered.
Akira hummed as he placed the doll on his shelf. There was nothing they could do with it right now, so it was best to just hold onto it. Ryuji groaned as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“Man, I can’t believe Ann forced me into this skirt again.” Ryuji muttered.
Akira turned his attention to Ryuji and smirked. He moved closer and wrapped his arms around his waist from behind.
“I don’t know. I kind of like it.” Akira purred.
Ryuji went bright red. He could feel Akira’s hands slowly sliding down.
“In fact, Yusuke was right, your legs do look amazing.” Akira continued.
Ryuji placed his hands on the desk and Akira leaned over him a bit. Ryuji could feel Akira’s erection pressed against his ass and moaned.
“I wonder what else looks nice with this skirt.” Akira cooed.
Akira’s hand slipped up into his underwear and Ryuji squeaked when his erection was taken into a warm hand. The underwear was pushed down and Ryuji let out little pants as Akira jerked him off.
“Maybe next time we go out, we can grab a short dress or something. Maybe even find a pair of nice heels? I bet those would make your legs look incredible.” Akira said as his hand sped up.
Why was it that Ryuji was actually picturing it? Getting some short skimpy dress with high heels. He wasn’t even sure he could walk in high heels. They looked dangerous.
“Maybe I’ll have Ann and Haru do your makeup and take you to a club. One of those sleazy ones that will let just about anyone in. Then I’ll come in and flirt with you, offer to take you home?” Akira continued, his thumb gently rubbing the head.
Ryuji moaned, but bit into his hand, trying not to be too loud.
“I could treat you like a real princess.” Akira said gently kissing one side of his neck.
“Or….” Akira trailed over to the other shoulder and gave it a nasty nip.
“A real slut. Which would you prefer?” Akira asked, switching between the two sides.
Ryuji’s legs were starting to shake, his vision was white and he was so close. He could feel Akira’s erection pressed against his ass and he leaned forward a bit to rub his ass against it.
“Not nice, Princess.” Akira slapped him on the bare cheek and that was it.
Ryuji came with a low groan all over Akira’s hand. He heard a grunt and then Akira sighed. Ryuji stood there, shaking a bit before removing his hand.
“I...don’t even want to know where that came from.” Ryuji muttered.
“Sorry, been thinking about it for days.” Akira said pulling back as Ryuji snorted.
“Pervert.” Ryuji muttered.
“You didn’t seem to be complaining about it a minute ago.” Akira stated.
“I was a little distracted a minute ago. Now get me a towel before this gets all over Ann’s skirt.” Ryuji demanded.
“Demanding Princess.” Akira said with a wink.
Akira just ducked as Ryuji’s underwear came sailing at his head.