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Feral Gods

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Ren blinks awake on the train on April 9th, body aching, head pounding and mouth tasting of copper.

Another bad run. 

They were all bad runs these days.

He winces as the train jostles, the intercom announcing his stop. With a sigh he reaches for his bag and gets to his feet as he metally tallies what changes this timeline already has to offer him. Yaldabaoth has twisted things more and more over the many runs of their game, tweaking not just the year ahead of him but the years behind him as well.

In the last run his probation took place back in his hometown and he was homeschooled rather than sent to Tokyo to attend Shujin. He ended up stealing enough cash from his parents to get a ticket to the city and spent the following months as the weird homeless kid his friends didn’t quite trust but let lead them around the Metaverse anyway. That iteration of the game was cut short by Ren being beaten to death in a back alley by some of Kaneshiro’s goons. At least their attention being turned on him meant that the Makoto of that timeline was able to escape.

He just should have bailed from that run early when he realized he was stuck back in his hometown. It would have saved him the pain and aggravation.

Stepping off the train he shuffles over to a nearby bench and ignores the side eye the old woman sitting at the other end gives him. He slumps down in a heap, falling back against the wall behind him with a long sigh. Injuries from past runs don’t carry over completely, but he’s found that dying in particularly violent ways causes some of the pain to carry over for a while into the next run. He’s going to be feeling bruised ribs and a shattered jaw he doesn’t have for a week or two at least if he had to guess. Nothing to do about it now except try and block it out and focus on more important things.

It’s never fun, but he knows he needs to figure out what differences there are between what he’s experienced before and what’s happened this time. Taking a steadying breath he focuses, mind diving inward, gliding over too many memories to count as he digs around for those built in to the body he’s stuck with for this run. He finds them after a moment, cold knowledge and colder memories that he didn't live but still has the experience of settling to the forefront of his mind.

His parents disowned him this time. Nothing new, really, odds of that were a little better than 50/50 he’s found over past runs. The lawyer that got him probation set him up to be emancipated rather than him being shuffled into the system and that at least is something refreshing, something new to experience. And potentially a problem too, he supposes. 

Sojiro’s not going to be his guardian this run, Ren’s going to have to figure out his living and financial arrangements on his own. He has some time at least. His parents provided him with a hotel for a month as a parting gift before editing him from their lives for good. And at least he’d be attending Shujin this time. It’s always a pain when he’s meant to be schooled somewhere else.

His mind skims the rest to find it largely the same as every other time he’s relived this year. Same run in with Shido. Same biased trial. Same expectation that he’d be back in jail before the year was out. 

There’s something though. Splinters, jagged and strange. He settles onto them, diving in deeper, examining the oddity. They align roughly with when he met Shido that night. He’s walking down the street, and there - sharp and strange, something slices through. Shido has blood on his face and again, the jagged splinter in the memory. Something slicing through. Ren follows it, digs in and follows the breaks to the source and -


Well that’s certainly different.

The old bastard of a god has certainly bungled it this time.

This run is going to be short, he decides then and there. The track he’s on doomed from the outset with no real hope of course correcting. The best he can hope for here is a quick breather before diving into a more familiar timeline next round.

Ren opens his eyes and stands abruptly enough that the old woman seated next to him jumps, hands clutching her purse as if expecting him to lunge for it and run for the hills. Her face pulls into a deep, distrustful scowl as he turns to look at her. The expression of someone looking at a roach or a rat. 

Normally he’d let it go. Let her scowl and sneer. It’s not worth rocking the boat with random passersby. But he’s sore and tired and not entirely looking forward to what lays before him. So instead of shuffling away and leaving her be Ren slips his glasses down his nose and meets her gaze straight on, not grey but bright red and burning

The woman lurches back, eyes wide and mouth stretched into a scream that doesn’t quite leave her. He lets his bangs fall back over his face, ignoring her faint short gasps as he heads towards the stairs leading to Shibuya proper.

He has a scheduled meeting with his probation officer to get to. 

And if Ren has learned nothing else about himself after so long of this tired game with Yaldabaoth, it’s this: he’s a sucker for a pretty face that wants to kill him.



Akechi Goro is irritated.

He’s usually irritated, admittedly. Irritated over the constant scrutiny of his peers, over the gaggle of squealing fangirls that follow him around, over the vapid self interested adults he has to deal with day in and day out. Mostly over Shido and his shouted demands and constant implied threats. Like Goro isn’t the reason he got to where he is. Shido and his bullshit is, almost constantly, the reason for Goro’s sour mood.

For example, Shido is the reason Goro’s superior at the police came to him with a file and a new “mission” to work on. A special request. Worded in such a way as to suggest it would be a great act of kindness for Goro to partake in, good for publicity and not a thinly veiled insult thrown at him by his bastard of a father that he has no choice but to obey. A way to punish not just Goro - for the unforgivable slight of not bending over backwards to kiss the man’s ass during every second of their every interaction - but as punishment for another errant teenager who’d pissed the would be dictator off.

Amamiya Ren. 

Seventeen years old. Recently cut loose from his parents. On probation after assaulting a man in the street on his way home from cram school one night.

The files didn’t name a victim, but Goro is familiar enough with Shido’s habits and many failings to read between the lines. What exactly Shido had been doing before Amamiya had interrupted Goro didn’t want to guess at, but clearly the boy had stepped in on one of Shido’s many misdoings and tried to play the hero. Earning himself the fine reward of first hand experience with police brutality, an assault charge to forever stain his record and an all express pass to being disowned and shipped off to Tokyo where he had no help or support.

And now, because Shido was never happy with just one person miserable, Amamiya is Goro’s problem. 

Assigned as the other teen’s Probation Officer for the following year. To be a ‘ good influence on the other boy’, his superior at the station had said. A real chance for Goro to reach out and make a positive change. Nevermind the fact that Goro wasn’t trained for such a thing and has no business being Parole Officer to anyone. He was a detective - and a damn good one - not a babysitter.

Just an excuse to give him even more work and chip away at what little free time he has left between school, detective work and running around being Shido’s lackey. Damn that man.

At least Goro is going to get some decent sushi out of it. Meals with Amamiya during probation work are covered by the precinct and Goro will be damned if he isn’t going to squeeze whatever he can out of that silver lining. Which is what has him seated in a booth at the best sushi restaurant in Shibuya waiting for his errant parolee to appear and lay out the rules for the upcoming year.

He isn’t waiting for long.

A tall, lean boy with a wild mess of black hair and a pair of oversized glasses obscuring his dark eyes walks into the restaurant. A bag slung over his shoulder bulging and overstuffed. Too small for a year’s worth of clothes and supplies, really, but its owner has made up for it by packing it to the point of bursting. Even from across the room Goro can see the bag’s zipper on the verge of popping from the effort of keeping it all contained.

The boy is perfectly average looking, really. Perhaps without the glasses and a bit of attention to his appearance he would be lovely - Goro can see the hints of sharp cheekbones hidden beneath bulky frames, the faintest curl of a charming smile in the boy’s lips. But as he is, slouched and scruffy with hands shoved in his pockets and eyes hidden beneath dirty glasses and wild bangs, he seems unremarkable. Forgettable even. There’s no reason that Goro should think this is Amamiya Ren.

It doesn’t stop the fact that the moment Goro lays eyes on him he knows.  

The air is violently pulled from his lungs, leaving him breathless and dizzy. He feels like he’s been suckerpunched or perhaps slammed into by a derailed train. Body buzzing with a strange sense of shock and pain and familiarity he can’t even begin to untangle. He feels his heart squeezing so tightly in his chest that he thinks he might be having a heart attack. It’s overwhelming, terrifying . There’s nothing he can do though, rooted to the spot by the glimpse of tarnished silver behind the boy’s glasses. He looks at that face and meets those eyes and is struck by a wave of I know you so powerful that he’s left shaking where he sits.

Amamiya - because Goro knows down to the marrow of his bones this is who the boy is - doesn’t hesitate. Making a beeline for the table Goro is seated at and sliding into the booth across from him as if they have done this thousands of times before. They have never met, never even spoken past a quick email Goro sent him earlier in the week. It doesn’t change the fact that Goro knows the boy seated across him, and understands - with dawning clarity - that the boy knows him as well.

“Akechi-san?” Amamiya asks, a polite - nearly bashful - smile pulling at his lips. It looks wrong on him, Goro thinks. It doesn’t reach his eyes, and even if it did bashful does not suit the features Goro can see more clearly now that the other boy is closer. Amamiya has the face for sly smirks, an air of a devil-may-care charm that makes the hair on the back of Goro’s neck prickle and his nerves zing with electricity.

Goro thinks he might be in love with him.

That he has always loved him.

The thought is so sharp and startling that it knocks him out of the strange stupor he’d slipped into and back to his senses. What the hell is the matter with him?

He orders his face into a familiar benign smile, effortlessly pleasant and approachable. The charming Detective Prince. “You must be Amamiya-kun. Apologies, you caught me lost in thought.” It’s a flimsy excuse, but the best his still scrambled mind can come up with. “I hope you didn’t have too much trouble finding this place?”

Pleasantries. Easy and practiced. He could run circles around someone with banal small talk for hours at a time without absorbing a single word the other person said. A finely honed skill from years of having the same mind numbing conversations with the same sorts of vacant, vapid people every day for the past three years. He could slide through his introduction with Amamiya and get through at least ten or twenty minutes of nothingness conversation while ordering his thoughts and making sense of his own bizarre reaction to seeing the dark haired delinquent for the first time.

The waiter arrives and takes their drink orders. Goro folds his hands before him on the table, worrying at what just happened like a loose tooth. He gets as far as inquiring on Amamiya’s trip on the train when the dark haired boy across from him derails everything with a gusty sigh.

The change comes over the quiet, recalcitrant boy like a wave. Amamiya’s body language shifts, the shy country bumpkin out of his depths in the city cast away and replaced by languid motions and a more confident air. Amamiya reclines in the booth, pulling off his glasses and tossing them on the table between them, and that seems - bizarrely - like a declaration of some kind. His eyes, now that Goro can see them unobstructed, are striking in a way Goro feels the color grey shouldn’t be.

“I can’t do this,” Amamiya announces, rolling his shoulders as he casts a look over Goro. The expression is fond and familiar, the look one friend gives another. There’s something else too. Something warm and deep that makes Goro’s pulse quicken. He hates it. Desperately wants to cling to the sensation with everything he has.

After a beat Amamiya slips into apologetic at Goro’s tilted head and narrowed eyes. “Sorry. I just.” Amamiya sighs again and pinches the bridge of his nose. “I thought I could do this and get it out of the way. Like, yeah I knew it was going to hurt, but I guess I forgot what it was like to see you. I didn’t last time and I really underestimated how hard it would be.”

The hair at the back of Goro’s neck prickles. This is...concerning. Shoving the bizarre whatever it was that had overcome him before, he’s never met this boy before. He’d forgiven Amamiya knowing Goro on sight on the grounds that Goro is a household name. His face plastered everywhere, name on everyone’s lips. What Amamiya is saying though is far too familiar for Goro’s liking.

Amamiya seems to see the apprehension growing in him because he droops down in his seat further, waving his hand as if he could dissipate the oh god my parolee is a crazy stalker fan energy that had steadily been building up around Goro over the past few seconds. “Sorry, that probably makes me sound like I’m planning to tie you up in a basement and wear your face like a mask.” Imagery Goro did not need thank you very much. “I’m not dangerous,” Amamiya says, then pauses as if to consider something, “Well, not to you or anything like that.”

Goro’s gaze shifts subtly to the front door, then to the even closer hall that leads towards the bathrooms. There are windows high above the sinks. He can probably climb out and make it to the train station before Amamiya realizes what is happening.

“Fuck it, I’m just making you freak out by talking around it and this run’s going to be short anyway. No harm in telling you.” Amamiya reaches for his coffee and chugs half of it - still scalding - in one go. Leaning forward, he folds his arms on the table, meets Goro’s gaze steadily with his own and offers a wry smile. “I’m in an ongoing and potentially never ending war with a false god who’s looking to enslave humanity. Every time I die I end back on April 9th of this year, to try again.”


He’s absolutely fucking crazy.

Goro nods politely, his smile so brittle it’s already threatening to crack, and wonders if he can get his phone out and dial Sae’s number without alerting the lunatic seated across from him to what’s going on. She’d have a few cruisers over there in minutes if he could only just let her know that he’s trapped in a conversation with his delusional parolee. 

Fucking Shido. This was all his fault.

“You don’t believe me,” Amamiya says, sounding more amused than anything, though Goro doesn’t miss the sadness that seems to cloud the other boy’s dark gaze. Great. He’s made the god-fighting-lunatic sad. “Here,” Amamiya says, “I can prove it.”

Goro doesn’t want to know how exactly the delusional boy across the table from him intends to prove his crazed ramblings. It probably involves knives and face carving. He really wishes Amamiya hadn’t put that image in his head.

“Your name is Akechi Goro. You’re the boy wonder Ace Detective of Tokyo police. The charming Detective Prince.” Amamiya starts, easy and light before promptly dropping a bomb down at Goro’s feet with the casualness of flipping a coin. “You also run around the Metaverse shooting people’s cognitions to cause mental shutdowns or using one of your two Personas - Loki - to cause psychotic breaks. You’re doing that because you have a long standing and honestly terribly thought out plan of ingratiating yourself to your piece of shit father Shido Masayoshi so you can ultimately destroy him as revenge for what he did to you and your mother.”

Goro sits.

He sits, and stares at Amamiya, for a long, long time. 

The noise and hum of the restaurant around them rolls over him, a river over a rock, grinding him down to dust and particles. The waiter comes back and Amamiya, seeming content to let Goro just tumble his way through his rushing thoughts, orders for the both of them. By the time their sushi arrives, Goro is still no closer to parsing out everything Amamiya has laid out before him.

“Fatty tuna is still your favorite right?” Amamiya asks - so fucking casually - after the massive spread of sushi is laid out before them and the waiter leaves them to their meal. 

It’s an obscene amount of food, even for Goro and his earlier schemes of getting the precinct to pay for everything. Amamiya reorganizes the platters on the table until the selection of fine fatty tuna is settled before Goro, gently nudging a pair of chopsticks into the detective’s hand. Goro contemplates stabbing them into Amamiya’s jugular, imagining how bright the red of his blood would be against the clean white plates between them.

It’s the sushi that finally snaps him into speaking. The fucking fatty tuna that is - in fact - his favorite.

“Who are you working for.” His voice is low and cold, any pretense at his princely facade shredded to bits somewhere around the time Amamiya mentioned Loki. “Is it Shido?”

Amamiya’s face sours so spectacularly Goro almost wishes he’d taken a photo. The dark haired boy looks absolutely repulsed by even the idea as he spits out a “God no. ” In Amamiya’s hand his chopsticks creak, threatening to break under the pressure of his hold. “I’m not working for anyone, especially not him . I told you. I’ve just done this before. A lot.

It could be a lie. But to what end Goro can’t even begin to fathom. If Shido knows about his plans, then Goro would be dead already, an unrecognizable corpse in a ditch somewhere. And for all Goro doesn’t trust the stranger across from him - despite the distant voice at the back of his mind that wants desperately, bizarrely to do so - he knows he can at least trust the vitriol Amamiya has for Shido. In that, at the very least, they have common ground.

So, Amamiya isn't working for Shido. But what does that leave? False gods and time travel? 

The Metaverse Goro can understand. He’s seen it, been in it, interacted with it and changed it. There is research supporting its existence even if he didn’t have an impossible app on his phone and a Persona or two lurking behind his eyes. Gods though. Goro doesn’t believe in those. Time travel he puts even less stock into.

“You said you can prove it,” Goro says, forcing his body to respond, to settle into a pretense of having control of a situation that has no hope of being controlled. “I’ve yet to hear anything that does so.” 

It’s a challenge. A demand. Everything Amamiya said before, though true, is not proof of impossible concepts. He could simply just have access to the Metaverse like Goro does, could have been using that access as a means of stalking Goro - possibly for years. It doesn’t seem likely, but it is one possibility in a slew of many others. Either he is lying to Goro for reasons unknown, or he is telling the truth. And if it’s the truth...

Amamiya smiles at him, different from the small, half-hidden thing from before. This look is sharp and sly. The smirk Goro imagined earlier real and right on the dark haired boy’s face as tarnished silver eyes meet Goro’s own steady gaze.

“Alright,” Amamiya says, teeth flashing as his smile widens. “Tomorrow there’s going to be an accident. A conductor is going to have a psychotic break and the train he’s running is going to derail. This is going to happen because Shido has ordered you to hunt down that man’s shadow and trigger a mental shutdown. When the accident happens tomorrow, fourteen people will die, and forty-six will be badly injured, some permanently.”

Goro narrows his eyes at the boy across from him. He’s not, in fact, received any such orders from Shido. He’s suspected that he’ll be sent out after some target or other involving the trains, if only because Shido has been pushing the failings of his opponents to see that everything is kept up to date and safe on the rail lines recently. But he hasn’t received those orders yet.

He’s ready to shoot Amamiya down and disregard his impossible claims with all the fury and vitriol he feels when his phone begins to buzz.

Goro knows who it is before even looking at the screen.

Across from him Amamiya meets his eye.

Challenge accepted then.

Goro doesn’t excuse himself, only grabs his phone and hustles himself into the bathrooms, locking himself in once he’s certain no one else is there. Shido is snappish and snarling as he gives his orders, already half drunk, and Goro wants nothing more than to curl his hands around the man’s neck and squeeze. On the other end of the line Shido belches through a target’s name and Goro imagines waltzing into Shido’s excessive office, activating the MetaNav and dragging the man into Mementos and letting Loki tear him apart piece by piece.

His reflection in the mirror shows his face, twisted into a feral, monstrous visage. All the viciousness and fury he does so well to hide from the wider world. His voice, when he speaks, is polite and professional.

The call ends with Shido hanging up and Goro is left to stare at his expression in the mirror. 

He contemplates the windows again - he could boost himself up on a sink, it’d be a bit awkward but he has the muscles for it from bouldering - and then imagines Loki savaging Amamiya along with Shido. It's a pleasant thought, though one to save for after he gets more information.

He returns to their table to find Amamiya with a fresh cup of coffee - his third - asking the waiter about what brewing techniques they use. The potential time traveler apparently has notes for them on how to make better coffee. Goro’s not sure he’s ever seen a waiter look so relieved to get away from a peaceful customer - he’s worked in the service industry himself, he knows what he’s about.

Amamiya offers Goro another sly smile.

It takes a great deal of effort not to just stab him.

“Alright.” Goro says, at length, “I’m listening. Talk.”

Amamiya does.

It takes hours and enough sushi that Goro is actually getting sick of the stuff, but by the end of it Goro finds himself bewildered by the fact that he believes Amamiya. Mostly. At least a little. He’s still up in the air about gods, but time travel - or timeline jumping as it seems to be the case - seems more and more plausible with each new bit of information Amamiya gives him. 

That, or Amamiya Ren is an actual psychic trying to make Goro think he’s a time traveler. Goro’s not willing to dismiss the idea just yet.

The personal details he knows about Goro are... unsettling. Things he hasn’t told anyone. Small slices of happiness in the miserable years of his childhood. How his dream of being a detective came long before his plot to destroy Shido. His favorite song, his favorite food, how he likes his coffee, his routine before bed after a long day. Little details that paint a picture, one Goro isn’t certain he likes the look of. 

Ren knows him. Knows him in the subtle intimate ways that only two people who share a great deal of time together - who share a great deal of trust in each other - can.

Ren speaks fondly of times he says they have spent at the little jazz club that Goro loves - the one he always goes to alone and has never even mentioned to anyone else. He speaks of fights in Mementos, cases in the real world. He speaks of Loki, but he speaks of Robin Hood too. He speaks, sometimes, of other Personas. Personas Goro doesn’t have. 

And these are the details that seal it for him. Make Goro believe. Ren doesn’t just tell him of things Goro knows and has experienced, but of things he hasn’t.

He’s never known the power of Hereward, or the temperance of Perseus, or the strength of Galahad. But Ren speaks of them with absent ease and mild curiosity. Talks of how the subtle differences in a timeline could sometimes yield in unexpected results. There are things Ren tells him that Goro can’t even imagine, terrible, beautiful, usually sad.

The hours while away. The world outside the restaurant grows dark and the tables around them start thinning out. They’ve demolished the sushi between the two of them and Goro can only sit back and study the stranger across from him. A stranger that he’s beginning to suspect knows him better in some regards than he knows himself. He still isn’t certain about the concept of a god controlling it all. But he’s settled his belief in the fact that Ren - through some strange tangle of Fate and the Metaverse - has known him in other worlds.

There’s only really one question to be asked now.

“Why did you tell me all of this?” Goro watches Ren carefully, taking in every flutter of long lashes, every twitch of a muscle. Ren knows his every tell, has had years of tries to figure it all out. Goro is meeting the other for the first time, though he’s starting to let himself admit that it doesn’t quite feel that way. He has a lot of making up to do to get them on even ground. “It sounds like you haven’t done this before.”

Ren shakes his head. “No. Never saw the point.” He says, tugging at the wild fringe of his bangs, “Always seemed like it would make things too complicated. But I figured, hey this run isn’t going to last long. Fuck it, you know?”

Goro’s brows furrow, apprehension creeping up his spine. There’s something in the way Ren says that. Casual and absent. Like discussing a bad storm, here but destined to dissipate sooner than later. 

“What do you mean? It won't last long?” he asks.

“This run is one of those doomed from the outset,” Ren says with a shrug. “I figured I might as well enjoy it for a bit then move on to the next one where there might be a chance. When I saw you sitting there looking so, so you, I just thought ‘ I want to talk to Goro.’ Really talk to you, you know? Worst case scenario you think I’m crazy and send me packing or think I’m a threat and put a bullet in my brain.” 

He says it so completely blandly. Like the idea of Goro murdering him barely registers as anything more than a friend’s odd quirk. No different then chewing the ends of pens or constantly humming. “Either way I get to talk to you, and a bullet’s quicker than drowning myself.”

There’s...a lot to unpack in that. 

The way Ren says that this run - this timeline is doomed when he’s been here for less than a day. The uncaring way he talks about Goro killing him. The casual mention of drowning himself -

“Excuse me.” It takes more effort than it should to keep his voice down, anger and disbelief making the words come out in a shrill hiss all the same. He leans forward and fights the urge to grab Ren by the collar and shake him. “Are you telling me that after all this you plan on killing yourself?

Ren shrugs again. 

It’s already becoming a familiar motion from him and Goro hates it. Hates the way it’s utilized to brush off the big and heavy questions he’s launched at the other boy throughout the night. Hates the way Ren downplays every insane thing he says with that simple movement. Hates the way that it was familiar from the first moment he did it, as if Goro has always known that this is what he’s like.

“Not tonight,” Ren assures as if that’s the issue Goro has with everything just said. The dark haired delinquent reaches for his glasses and cleans them off with an easy, practiced motion. He’s left them on the table since taking them off hours ago, and Goro has long since noticed that they aren’t real glasses at all but cosmetic. “Going to take the chance to get a few days of something like a vacation first. There’s a few places I’d like to see again that I missed last few runs and I’m not going to pass up the chance to sleep in for a bit. Next Sunday maybe, if I’m feeling up to it by then.”

Goro has swung back around to his second impression on the boy in front of him. Ren is, in fact, absolutely out of his damn mind.

“No,” he says.

Ren blinks, pausing in inspecting his glasses to look up at Goro. “No?” he asks, sounding confused.

Goro shakes his head, teeth clenched so hard there’s a real danger he might crack a molar. “No,” he repeats. His hands hurt. He’s not sure when they curled into fists or when he started clenching them so hard. He’s fairly certain his nails have bitten into the flesh of his palm and broken skin. “You don’t just get to come in here, drop this on my lap and then just fuck off and kill yourself so you don’t have to face the consequences. That’s not how this is going to work.”

Honestly, Goro doesn’t know how this is going to work. But he knows he’ll be damned if some half crazed time traveler with pretty eyes gets to just write off Goro’s entire existence as doomed because traffic lights are the wrong shade of red or whatever bullshit it is Ren has decided makes this version of the world unworthy. He’s let himself be controlled by Shido and countless other shitty adults for years now, putting up with it for the promise of one day getting his revenge. It’s part of the game, the role he plays, a calculated risk he’s accounted for.

This, though? Goro draws the line at this. Not even a god - false or otherwise - will get him to budge.

Ren looks startled for half a second. He hasn’t said just how many times he’s done this, but Goro has gotten the impression that he’s largely lived the same year - with some variations - for a while now. Long enough that he’s not used to surprises anymore. Goro has always prided himself on shaking up expectations.

“Um…” Ren starts. Stops. Stares at Goro for a long moment before seeming to come to a decision and shaking his head. “Look. I know you don’t like it. But I already know enough to see how this is going to shake out. Yaldabaoth is going to reset this timeline anyway, sooner than later. I might as well make it on my terms. Gives him less time to prepare that way.”

He stands then, grabbing his overstuffed bag and settling a long, quiet look on Goro. That sadness is back again along with that complicated something that Goro can’t name.

The urge to grab the dark haired delinquent by the collar of his shirt and slam his head against the table is strong, but Goro resists. Ren knows Goro’s a bastard in more ways than one, but the rest of the world is still infatuated by the facade of mild mannered boy detective he’s charmed them with. The last thing he needs is a tabloid plastering pictures of him in his favorite sweater vest bashing his sad eyed parolee’s head in with a sushi tray all over the news. 

Goro stands, ready to chase the other boy down if it comes to it.

The waiter has other ideas in mind though, appearing at Goro’s elbow and presenting a tired smile and a hefty looking bill for their dinner. Goro scrambles through paying as quickly as he can, trying to hold Ren in place with a piercing stare. He’s rewarded with a sharp smile that sets his teeth on edge. 

Ren is there one moment gone the next, off to an undeserved “vacation” then to tear the world as Goro knows it apart at the seams.

He gets as far as the train station before admitting that he’s lost the other boy. The bastard didn’t even have the courtesy to say goodbye . Just a short wave, a sad look, and then disappearing into the crowds of Tokyo while Goro was forced to wait for a copy of the receipt to bring back with him to the precinct for reimbursement. 

Ren made a mistake though, Goro thinks as he digs the timeline hopping fiend’s folder out of his briefcase. Seemingly lost in the delight of getting everything off his chest, the delinquent seems to have forgotten that Goro is his parole officer. And as a result has Amamiya Ren’s file in his briefcase, complete with all of his parolee's personal details and contact information. He may not know where to find Ren in the massive city, but he does know someone who will.

Plan in place and the information he needs in hand, he drops the file back in his briefcase and pulls his burner phone from its hidden compartment. He stares at it for a moment, hesitating, unsure if he really wants to make the call. He’s going to have a lot of explaining to do, a lot of decisions to defend.

He thinks of the strange sense of deja vu that overwhelmed him when he first saw Ren. The way he met Ren’s grey eyes and for a moment - just a moment - thought he was in love with him. Thinks about how fondly Ren looked at him as he shared stories of lives Goro has never lived. The way those eyes went flat and hollow as Ren admitted to his plans to simply start the run over.

Thinks of the way Ren spoke of drowning and all the places a boy looking to die could slip into the water and not come back out in a city like Tokyo.

He punches in the number, and waits for the line to pick up.

He’s not left waiting long.