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Tis the Hour to Reload
Summary: Goro Shido had hired her to steal from the highborn and spread discontent among the people, so that his ascension to the throne would go that much smoother. He had not anticipated for it to exceed his expectations...or for her to steal his heart. (Or: The Persona 5 medieval Europe-esque AU with Akechi/Fem!Akira no one asked for) Background pairings: Human!Morgana/Haru; Mitsuru/Kei Nanjo.

Rated PG-13/T for mature themes, violence, occasional strong language (mostly the word hell but one instance of shit), past physical abuse and references to past implied rape.
Appropriate warnings will be put on appropriate chapters, such as this one.

Warning(s): References to implied sexual assault, implied sexual harassment, implied abuse (both sexual and physical) and adultery, all off-screen.
Chapter 1: The Spirit (Thou hast acquired a new vow)
Chapter 2: My Homie (Do you want to spend time with her?)
Chapter 3: Wicked Plan (I thought I heard something about...)
Chapter 4: Sunset Bridge (I feel a strong bond...)
Chapter 5: Blood of Villain (Don't give me that cliché bullshit!)
Chapter 6: Swear to My Bones (You won't say no...will you?)
Chapter 7: Our Beginning (Thou hast turned a vow into a blood oath)
FF.net version here.

Chapter 1: The Spirit (Thou hast acquired a new vow)

It was grand, as one would expect a ball held for a prince's birthday to be. At the edges of the room were tables covered in beautifully embroidered cloths and dishes of all kinds on top of them with only the most expensive silverware. From the ceiling hung chandeliers with many, many candles and even more diamonds dangling from their arms. At the back, behind him, were the musicians playing ambience that was low and lulling. And all around there were people—nobles, generals and merchants alike—dressed in only the finest and most eye-popping clothes their seamstresses could make for them, all of them cheering for him as they gave a toast to wish him well and for a long life.

All Goro could do to not outright scream was grit his teeth under his smiling lips and crush his hands against each other behind his back.

He gave a slight bow—not too low but not too shallow, his etiquette tutor's words ringing in his head—and said,

"I thank you all for your kind words." When he returned standing, he swept both his arms out and continued. "Now, let us begin the dance."

And oh did the dance begin. So many of the young ladies his age within ten years asked for a waltz. He had to take many deep breaths for each and every one, since his usual option of tensing parts of himself behind people's view wasn't best. Then after the dance were the leaders of various political importance giving their "presents" to him. Of course, they were just more precious clothes, more pompous jewels and more useless weapons, most of which were kinds he wasn't even trained to use, even if some weren't made of bad material like gold or silver.

So when the ball was over, after bidding farewell to the numerous amount of guests, he went straight for his room, dismissing any servant he passed by. It was only when he was within it did he tear the cape off his back and threw it down before flopping down on his bed and shouting in his pillow. He didn't know how long he did that. Only that when he was done, his throat was sore and that his eyes were heavier than any of the stupid capes he's ever worn.

But, as the moon was nearing the peak, his night wasn't over. With his frustrations let out, he made his way to his desk and took out some paper, writing every participant he could remember. After that, he pulled out his previous notes and compared last year's list with this year.

As he suspected, little had changed. The only significant one was who was reassigned as the General of the Army, a Suguru Kamoshida. If he remembered correctly, he was the one who, ironically enough, had given him the most practical gift out of everyone: a finely made broadsword, one made of the almost mystical metal, steel. He will have to start looking into him and ingratiate himself with him.

Goro frowned at the thought though, now remembering the man had flirted with quite a number of women in the ball, a good portion of them already married. And how he had, several times, "accidentally" bumped into a woman just so that he could touch their bottoms. He would've thrown up at the recollection if he weren't too tired to clean up any mess he might've made.

And the last thing he wanted was for someone else to clean his mess.

It was only after mentally making a few preliminary plans, and then writing them in code, did he finally wrest himself out of clothes, locked his door, triple checked his entire room and allowed himself to go to slumber, his hand under his pillow and holding his dagger tight.


Once again, Goro had to force himself to grit his teeth and do his best to not upturn his nose as soon as the general finally came up to greet him, the smell of perfume pungent and obvious.

"Well, this is quite the surprise, Prince," he said before taking his hand and shaking it.

Goro did his best to keep his grip in the handshake firm, but it was hard when the man was a lot more energetic about it. And the perfume was killing him. But if his behavior at the ball was any indication, and the slight wrinkles in his clothes, he could guess why such a masculine man was wearing so much of it outside a formal occasion.

Still, he said, smiling, "My apologies, General. But my companions and I were on a hunting trip and I thought I would stop by on my way back to the palace. I haven't had much of a chance to speak to you. I heard a bit about your achievements from them." And more, but he left that unsaid.

The general's eyes lit up at his words, just as he had hoped. "Well then, if you have the time, I can tell you a few of them while I give you a tour of my home."

Not the whole thing though, Goro thought, easily imagining there was at least one room the general didn't want other people to see beyond his most trusted confidants. Now all he needed to do was find a way to get evidence about said rooms so that a large part of the population would turn against the newly appointed general.

"I would very much like some wine," one of Goro's "companions" said.

"Ah yes, if you would please, some refreshments would be appreciated as well, if it's not too much trouble."

"None at all! I'll be glad to," Kamoshida said. "Now--"

Before the general could say more however, there seemed to be a commotion as several guards started running around, shouting at the top of their lungs.

"What is going on?" yet another noble "companion" of Goro's said.

The general turned livid, heading straight for the guard that had the misfortune of being slow, grabbing him and said,

"You! What's going on?! Don't you see we have guests!"

"I-I'm sorry, sir! B-But a thief broke into your vault!" the guard said, trying, and failing, to conceal his trembling.

The nobles he had been hunting with expressed their disbelief and outrage at this.

But none more than the general, who shoved the soldier into the ground. "Useless! Of course I have to do everything myself..." he said and began to make way inside his estate. But it seemed he remembered who was here and turned, his expression now sheepish. "Ah, my apologies, my prince, but I must attend to this."

That much was obvious. But a thief raiding in broad daylight? Goro couldn't help but be intrigued. So he said, "Then allow me to assist. I'm sure you could use all the help you can get to capture the thief before he gets too far."

For good measure, he drew his sword, the same one Kamoshida had gifted him in his birthday ball, and turned to the nobles he had travelled with.

"And all of you that are able shall assist me, yes?"

As he had hoped, it worked as the nobles agreed and the general smiled like a snarling dog at the sight. "Very well. Come then and join our hunt," he said.

But after getting inside, Goro gradually slowed his steps until Kamoshida, the guards with him and his own travelling companions were far ahead of him. With that, he went off on his own, memorizing the halls as he deduced what would be the ideal way out of here. Assuming the mansion had the same layout as many others owned by nobles, the vault was likely in the basement, but considering the halls were filled with people and that it was morning, it meant the thief would go through the least likely place the people would look.

"Milady, you shouldn't be out roaming, there is a thief on the loose."

Goro looked to see a young woman, close to his age if he fancied a guess, in an elegant but subdued red dress and a black scarf covering the lower half of her face. And she wore no perfume. That fact tempted him to smirk.

"Oh? Is that what the commotion is all about?" she said. "My apologies then. I shall be on my way."

"Allow me to escort you, milady."

"Oh that's..."

So Goro took the opportunity and said,

"Then perhaps you will allow me?"

Both turned to him with surprise, with the guard saying,

"Prince Goro!"

And that made the young woman tense. It was only with practice that he kept his smile neutral and not smug as he then faced her.

"If milady would allow it? I'm sure you would like to get to safety," he said, hoping she would catch his words and that his hunch, indeed, was correct.

There was a slight widening of her grey eyes that he managed to notice and he held a sigh of relief as she curtsied before she held out her hand and said,

"If you would be so kind, my prince. It would be an honor."

He couldn't stop his smile turning more genuine for the first time in a long time as he grasped her hand, giving it a slight squeeze to convey his pleasure and, to his surprise, she did the same in return, as if giving thanks.

"Now, don't you have duties to attend to?"

"Y-Yes, my prince!"

And he was off the corridor, with Goro and the lady walking in the opposite direction. With the guard gone, she was the one to let a sigh of relief and, surprising him again, she said,

"Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet," he was quick to say. "We're not out of the woods yet."

"I would say that, but it's not every day a prince helps a thief," she said, Goro easily imagining her smiling from her tone. "Would you be willing to tell the reason?"

He didn't stop his scoff. "Only if you tell me yours," he said, not expecting her to answer.

But, for the third time, she unexpectedly did. "I wanted to expose Kamoshida for a friend."

Goro raised a brow. "Oh? And how is stealing in broad daylight supposed to do that?"

She laughed. "Partly for fun," she said. "But mostly for..."

She trailed off and Goro had assumed she had changed her mind...until there was a scream, feminine and high, echoing the halls somehow. It made him raise a brow and quicken his steps, which the lady thief easily kept pace with as she laughed.

"Related to that scream, I presume?" he said once she calmed.

Again, she laughed, but much shorter. Then she said, "Yes, it is. What better way to reveal General Kamoshida's deeds than to show proof of it, lying on his bed, in front of her husband?"

"I could think of a few," he said.

"I'm sure you can," she said, startling him with her bitter tone.

And then he wondered if, perhaps, her friend had been someone who had been a victim of Kamoshida's lust. With that, he felt a pang of sympathy and guilt, knowing she likely, if only slightly, blamed him for not taking action if he knew.

So he said, "Yes. But it is true they would've taken much longer to dethrone the general. So I should thank you for that."

Goro allowed himself a surge of pride at seeing her staring at him in surprise, happy that the tables have turned in that. She did that for a few moments before looking away.

Then she said, "It was my pleasure, my prince."

Seeing that the exit to the front garden was in sight, he took the chance and said, "Then perhaps we should meet again?"

For the second time, she repeated her action as they arrived outside and he made sure to go somewhere discrete. But as it took a few more moments to respond, Goro worried about her response. Thankfully, it was for naught as she said,

"When and where?"

Goro did a few quick calculations and reviewed his schedule before he said, "A week from now at midnight. Head for my quarters in the third floor and say the word..." What would be appropriate yet ambiguous for her? "...'joker' at my door."

Her eyebrow rose. "Joker, hmm? I might just take that for myself, my prince," she said, humor in her voice as she let go of him.

Once again, Goro smiled much more freely than he usually did. "Of course, you would."

The lady tilted her head, her eyes shining with mischief. "I am a thief, my prince."

"Then be one and go. I shall handle the aftermath and make sure that Kamoshida's deeds are not swept under the rug."

"Good. Or I shall perhaps expose you as well, my prince," she said. "Perhaps even in more ways than one..."

A blush spread on his face and he made to protest but the lady, despite her dress, jumped to the wall and climbed over it, disappearing as suddenly as she came. It made him wonder if she was actually fae before he shook that thought out. Of course she wasn't. If she was truly one, she could have easily used magic to get out. But that still begged the question...

Who was she?


It took everything Goro had to not bite his lip, if only because he didn't want to deal with bleeding. It had been a week since Kamoshida had been convicted for numerous sexual crimes including assault and abuse, six days since his trial, and four days since he had been imprisoned for his crimes. And, as he glanced at his clock, four minutes until midnight.

He shook his head, trying to rid of his thoughts and anxieties, as he returned to his notes. But the words might as well have been blurred for as soon as he finished reading a sentence, he realized he understood none of it and groaned over the fact he would have to read it again.

Deciding on changing tactics, he was about to start penning in code once more when there was a soft knock and a feminine voice saying,


He moved like a lightning strike from his desk to him unlocking his door, still keeping the same speed in locking it afterwards as his guest walked inside, dressed as a maid, as he thought she would. So Goro took a deep breath and put on his best smile as he said,

"On time, I see."

But that smile disappeared and his breath halted as the girl turned with a knowing smirk and said,

"But of course, my prince. I didn't want you doubt me."

How did she know? was his thought before he took the reins back on his thoughts and put his smiling mask back on.

"Good to hear then," he said, moving near his desk to offer her a seat. "Then shall I give my preposition?"

Goro pointedly ignored her widened smirk as she nodded and sat down. Once she was, he took his and spoke again.

"You had said that you wished to see Kamoshida's misdeeds come to light, yes?" he said. "And that is why you caused that commotion last week."

The disguised thief nodded and said, "Yes."

"Well then...I wish for you to do so again, but on a target of my own choosing, for the foreseeable future."

Goro allowed himself a small smile of triumph at causing her surprised expression.

He would give her credit for keeping her voice steady as she said, "You wish to hire me?"

"Yes," he said. "I have been meaning to upturn the echelons of society for some time now, but my plans until now were slow coming."

An eyebrow rose over her grey eyes. "Oh? How so? Surely you could have hired more...professional assistance for such things."

Goro let himself smile at the girl's wit and words. "I would...except the king has spy masters in his fold from all across the land. They would know of any attempts of assassination if I went through the usual channels of, say, assassin or mercenary guilds."

"Oh? Then what about here? Surely they would keep an eye on the prince?"

Goro was forced to cover his mouth lest his unbidden and mirthless laugh echoed across the palace. When he finished, he said, just as unintended, "Because they have no reason to, for they see nothing but the perfect prince in every way...except for who was my mother."

Once again, the lady thief caught him off guard as she reached out to grasp his hand and squeeze it, saying, "I'm sorry."

It took a moment for Goro to realize his breath had halted. When he did, he glanced away, and said, "You have nothing to apologize for..."

"I'm still sorry to hear anyway."

He was tempted to shake his head, not quite sure why would she feel that way, but refrained and instead said, "So? What of my proposal?"

The lady hummed for a while, her brow furrowed in consideration.

Then she said, "I will accept...on one condition."

Of course one condition. There was always one condition. Why did he expect anything—

"We decide on the targets. Together."

Goro, admittedly, had to blink a few times before her words sunk, all the while her smirk returning and growing as each second passed.

"That is all?" he said.

He would chastise himself for his rather remarkable choice of words later.

What mattered then was the thief and her mischief.

"Indeed. Now...can we get started tonight? Or would you prefer another time?"

He found his voice, after somehow losing it, and told her of the first target he had in mind, only realizing after she left that she had held his hand the entire time.

Author's Note: This was supposed to be a one-shot. This could still be a one-shot. But the more I wrote it, the more I felt it was going to be much longer than I intended and I was right. It ended up about 20,000+ words. So here, have the first chapter to my unplanned chaptered fic. It's finished but I will be putting these up bi-weekly while I'm working on my main projects. I hope you enjoy this as much as I wrote this.

This was born from listening to Pentatonix's cover of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" too much. So basically, I made a fairy tale of Akechi and Akira's story...and unintentionally adapted Persona 5's story. That hadn't been my intention either but hey, sometimes that happens when you write.

The title comes from the Persona 5 track that mainly plays whenever you make a new Confidant, or get a rank up with an existing Confidant, as well as a line said specifically when you make a Confidant.

The scene breaks were originally just placeholders, and while I was thinking if I could make a more creative scene break, I realized they looked like diamonds, as in the playing card suite, so I researched into the Tarot card equivalent and found it was cups and...it was perfect. Specifically the Two of Cups, representing a relationship between two people, built on trust, respect and compromise. So I decided to pick two diamonds as a reference to both that, and the fact that there's two "wild cards", Akechi and Akira.

And you can bet your bottoms that I'm going to use that scene break for every fic I have that involves shipping.
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Not thinking twice!
It was really great! I especially liked how you captured Kamoshida's assholeness while pretending to be an upstanding person for the people he wants to fool. . An issue I did have was that in the first part it felt like you went a bit overboard with the descriptions of the setting, it felt kinda overwhelming. You did great when describing character thoughts and actions though, I loved the part where you have Akechi only realize at the end that Akira was holding his hand, it just felt like an adorable way to show him realizing his infatuation towards her

On an unrelated note:
"He shook his head, trying to rid of his thoughts and anxieties, as he returned to his notes. But the words might as well have been blurred for as soon as he finished reading a sentence, he realized he understood none of it and groaned over the fact he would have to read it again."
This paragraph perfectly represents my reading habits, lol (a big reason why I don't tend to read very frequently).

Heh, Pentatonix was a name I hadn't heard on a long time, my brother used to listen to them a lot back in 2014


Tis the Hour to Reload
Chapter 2: My Homie (Would you like to spend time with her?)

Goro raised an eyebrow as he stared at the simple house, wooden and weathered, several feet away from a more grand art gallery, gaudy and pretentious.

"This is the one you wished to deal with first?" he said.

"Yes," his thief, Joker, said as she trimmed the bushes beside the bench he sat on.

"I fail to see how this is more important than my suggestion." Especially considering his target was a duke who had been taking advantage of the poor of his lands.

"Because a friend of mine is under his thumb and cannot escape. Before I do anything else, I have to make sure he's well."

He sighed and pinched his nose. He opened his mouth for further protests, but he was cut off by her saying,

"And besides...wouldn't it be good to do something smaller than last time? So that they won't realize they're connected?"

That made him shut his mouth. That was true. If they caused another commotion involving a more "important" member of society, like his aforementioned plan, than others would catch on. If it was artwork stolen, something that had obvious monetary value, then...

So he sighed and said, "Very well... Will you be needing any assistance from me?"

Joker just hummed and so Goro waited. As he did, he made note of the exact distance between the humble looking residence of her target and the art gallery said target owned. He also noted how many went in and out of the gallery, many of them nobles he recognized, so he made sure to appear as if he was reading his favorite ballad on Robin Hood.

Then Joker said, "Just two things. Information on Ichiryusai Madarame...and an invitation for another friend of mine to the art gallery."

Goro raised an eyebrow but kept his eyes between his book and his surroundings. How many friends did Joker have? And what did that have to do with stealing from Madarame?

However, as curious he may be on that, he simply said, "And how will I know who this friend of yours is for said invitation?"

The gardener disguised thief chuckled. "I will tell you of course...after I have her agree to my plan."

Somehow he had the distinct feeling that her "friend" wasn't going to like the idea.


"It was dreadful I tell you! That thief just struck, in broad daylight. He took off with some of Ichiryusai's best works and left this pitiful imitation of the Sayuri, his magnum opus."

"Oh poor dear... I can't believe you happened to be there when that thief struck..."

"Indeed! I saw him, you know. The thief. He was like a phantom...barely visible."

"Truly? Then perhaps he was a real phantom."

"Don't say such horrid things!"

"Do you know what's truly horrid though?"

"Oh? What?"

"Ichiryusai. I hear that he has been arrested for theft and murder, among other things."


"Yes. I hear that the imitation of Sayuri that was placed in the gallery was, in fact, the original made by his charge, Kitagawa, when she was still alive and he killed her for its immense beauty."

"Kitagawa? But I thought Kitagawa was a young boy..."

"No. I mean Yusuke Kitagawa's mother. She was Ichiryusai's charge as well."

"How despicable! Killing the mother and keeping the son?"

"Indeed. That would certainly explain what I've heard."

"And that would be?"

"He is residing with the Takamakis as of now."

"But I thought he was staying with the Sakuras?"

"Nonsense! He is living with—"

The conversation he was eavesdropping soon devolved to more gossip about the incident with Madarame and where Joker's friend, Yusuke Kitagawa, was living. He was surprised to hear how much of it was true. Usually the gossip was just hearsay and yes, there was still some of it—like their argument over Kitagawa's current residence—that was entirely false, but what was important that people were agreeing about Madarame's imprisonment.

That made him relax. It would be that much easier for the masses to accept him when he takes the throne.

However, that relaxation was gone as soon as he stepped into his room to get one of his books. He stiffened at the familiar sight of dark curls, grey eyes and a mischievous smile lying on his bed like it was the most natural thing in the world.

"Joker! What are you doing here?!" he said, "whisper-yelling" as he locked his door. "It is not even evening!"

She didn't laugh, but he saw her body shook from mirth.

"I had free time and I thought I would visit you," she said, her eyes shining with merriment.

"How did you even—?" he began but stopped when he remembered she was a thief.

Of course she would find a way inside his quarters without needing to disguise herself.

Despite that, she still said, "If you are curious... Yes, I climbed from the castle walls all the way to your window which, might I say, should have better security."

He stared at Joker, then the window to the right of the headboard of the bed, seeing it ajar, then back at her.


The edge of her lips curled. "Is that so hard to believe?"

"No, I..." he said then realized he almost gave himself away and he turned his head to the side, his cheeks treacherously heating.

"You...?" she said, trailing off.

Against his better judgement, he risked a glance at her and saw her eyes now bright from curiosity and warm from...something he didn't want to identify.

Still, that was enough for him to make him answer.

"I'm just...surprised to find someone who is skilled in climbing as I...have an interest in it," he said, gazing at her with the corners of his eyes.

And so he saw her face light up from her smile as she said, "Truly? Shall I teach you sometime?" Then she smirked. "Or perhaps even now?"

Once again, much like his admission, he couldn't stop his eye roll, leaning away from his door.

"You are impossible, Joker."

Somehow, her smirk turned more smug. "I appropriated that word for a reason."

"Now I am beginning to regret suggesting it," he said, walking to his bed. "May you please get off?"

Her mischievous nature returned as she merely made herself more comfortable and said, "No. I'm quite fine here, thank you very much."

He shook his head and sighed. He went to his bookshelf to find his copy of Art of War and said,

"Very well. But be sure to leave before anyone will notice your presence."

"Oh? You're not staying?"

"Seeing as my bed is currently occupied by a woman whom I am unmarried to, I will either sit on a chair or head for one of the balconies."

He almost jumped at hearing an inelegant scoff come from her. "Oh come now, we can share the bed. It is not as if we will do anything inappropriate," she said. "And I would very much like to read whatever you choose to read."

This made him turn to her with a questioning gaze. "Oh? Are you telling me that your tastes in literature are similar to my own?"

Her expression lost all mischief, that warmth he refused to identify from earlier returning, as she said, "Yes. After all, you have Robin Hood and Lés Miserables among your collection. I would very much like to read with you."

Goro knew that was dangerously close to flirting so he cleared his throat, returned to searching, then he said,

"In all seriousness...why are you here?"

"You...do not believe me?"

Goro stilled his hand on the spine of his intended book. Her tone, one of hurt, made him turn to see it on her face as a small frown, furrowed eyebrows and grey eyes no longer shining. He stared. She was hurt? Why? And why did he not want to see that expression ever again?

He hadn't realized he had not spoken until she did so, pushing through the haze on his mind.

"If that is the case...then I shall be on my way," she said and she moved to do just that.


And she did, stopping at his shout and Goro couldn't help but shuffle his feet. He hadn't meant to be so loud but he knew he had to be quick.

So he said, "You may stay. I was just making certain of your intentions."

Thankfully, her usual light returned into her expression, and she actually moved slightly, patting the space beside her. Not that she needed to considering the size of his bed, but it still made him smile. So he took the book he had been looking for and laid down on the offered spot beside her and they read.


I'll pick you up at nine in the evening. Make sure your schedule is free!

That was what the note said in his copy of Art of War and Goro had a mind to defy it if only because Joker no doubt was up to some scheme involving him. And yet, here he was, sitting on his bed, wide awake and wearing the most plain clothes he could find which, admittedly, wasn't much as it was a white dress shirt and brown swimming trunks, nothing close to what most commoners would wear but he would make due.

And, right on cue, when the clock struck nine, Joker's voice came and said,

"Are you awake?"

Except he couldn't see her.


"Up here."

He did as told and was unable to stop himself gaping at her head, upside down and poking from the top of the window, with one of the most mischievous smiles he had seen on her yet.

"Cat got your tongue?" she said, funnily enough looking like one in his opinion.

Instead of voicing that though, he said, "What are you doing?"

"Why, getting you out of here, of course," she said before disappearing.


That was soon followed by a rope being dropped, reaching the bottom frame of the window.

"I had promised to teach you how to climb. I think it best if we practiced around the castle."

"What?!" He slapped his hands over his mouth, realizing he shouted.

Joker laughed, quiet and warm. "Did you think I forgot?"

When he was sure he wouldn't raise his voice, he said, "I think it would be more appropriate to say it that this is hardly the place for such a lesson."

"All the more reason to do it!" she said, her head popping back down to throw him a cheeky grin.

Goro rolled his eyes. "Well not for me. We could be spotted," he said.

"Oh come now, we will be quiet, and few will look to the roofs if nothing is there. Besides, I had thought you wished to climb, did you not?"

"Yes, that is true. But—"

"Then come along with me. I promise you will enjoy it if you do truly wish to climb," she said, holding out her hand for him to grab.

For a while, all Goro did was stare at that her, hanging like a bat from the top of his window.

Then he took a deep breath and began to climb.

If Goro had been poetic, he would've described that evening as a blur of events. And, in a way, it was. As soon as he got to the roof, Joker took hold of him and went about teaching him to climb, from knowing how to keep balance to telling how to land safely. And he listened, enraptured, as each one was accompanied by an explanation in the sciences, such a one's center of gravity and the distribution of force during a landing.

By midnight, he was gasping, sweating, and smiling on the top of the tallest tower in the castle, Joker by his side and much more composed than him but perspiring just as much.

"How...do you...know of these things?" he said, though he had his suspicions now.

She laughed, though sounding more like continued gasping from her breathlessness. "I...learned...from my mother," she said. "The sciences, that is."

Goro raised an eyebrow. "Your mother? I see..."

If Joker's mother had been in such a subject, one that few women, if any, had any interest in, or were allowed to pursue, that would certainly explain why Joker herself was as much of an outlier. But even then, he wondered if she was actually a noble herself, or at least her mother was, if she knew of things only spoken of in books and by academics.

The woman beside him hummed in acknowledgement. "Yes. Though the climbing itself, I learned from my best friend."

He shouldn't have felt that way, but hearing those words from her made him flinch and his heart clench terribly. In an attempt to ignore it, he said,

"Who is your best friend?"

"His name is Morgana. I meet him a few months ago, yes, but I can still easily say that he is most assuredly my best friend."

The clenching got even worse and it was harder to keep his smile on as he counted his age of ten and eight and yet still had no friends. "I see..."

Then she turned to him and said, "Jealous?"

"N-No!" he said on reflex but upon seeing Joker's amused face, he knew she wasn't convinced.

"Oh, do not worry," she said. "Morgana may be my best friend, but you will always be my prince."

He had no idea how she could make two normal words, two words he sometimes wished didn't apply to him, sound so...intimate...but she did, and it made his face light up in a blush.

"D-Don't say such things..." he said.

"Then what should I refer you as?"


He would later slap himself for slipping once more with her. But that was soon forgotten as her smile turned warm and her eyes looked like candle lights as she said,

"Only if you call me Akira."

He most certainly did not sputter at that, otherwise he wouldn't have been speaking. He was close though.

"Very well...Akira."

The light in her expression after he said that nearly broke his mask.

"Very well...Goro."

Author's Note: The chapter title comes from the song that usually plays during Confidant events/hang-outs but also in other scenes fitting for the music. The line after the track is in reference to when Morgana asks to confirm if you want to spend time with the Confidant you're speaking with.

For those who don't know, in the Persona 5 artbook, his hobbies are cycling and bouldering, aka climbing those walls that have footholds, hence why Akechi in here has an interest in climbing.


Tis the Hour to Reload
Chapter 3: Wicked Plan (I thought I heard something about...)

Goro was at his tea table in his room, with a pot freshly steamed and a book in his hand, when he heard a quiet whoosh of air that he wouldn't have noticed had he not been used to it. But he frowned when he heard it and when he saw the look on Akira's face, after returning from scouting out Kaneshiro's castle, it did little to assuage his suspicions.

"Too many guards?" he said, closing his book and placing it on the table but a safe distance from his tea cup and pot.

The thief nodded her head and took her seat before him. "Yes. It will be difficult to get in and steal his excess gold. I would need a distraction in order to get close, let alone escape with it."

"And? I'm sure you would enjoy creating distractions."

Akira smiled, but it was brief as it left when she said, "I would. However, I haven't even been inside the castle, and neither have you. I cannot make a plan with my friends if we do not have a complete layout."

"I see..." he said, his mind churning its cogs. "If that is the case, then I will scout it."


Goro smirked and leaned back into his chair. "I will scout it. It will be simple enough to conjure an excuse to visit and the Duke will likely love support from the crown prince."

Akira glared and said, "Then I shall accompany you."

His smug look fell. "What?" Then he said, "Why? And how?"

"Why? I would like to see it myself and you surely cannot memorize everything in one trip. As for how, surely I can come along as some lady friend of yours? Or, if necessary a lover?"

Goro didn't like the blush on his face, but with no way to hide it without drawing attention to it, he glanced away and said, "W-Well... The latter...would be a problem."

"Why is that?"

"I have...never taken in a lover."

There was silence for a few moments and it was just long enough for him to glance back at her to see her blinking her widened grey eyes.


Not trusting his tongue, he shook his head. And as if to make it worse, Akira blushed from the confirmation, making his heart race as his mind exploded with possible reasons for the reaction. He got rid of the thoughts, the blush and Akira's own as he coughed into his hand and the woman jolted in her seat.

"Then I will go by myself...?"

Akira frowned. "My point still stands, Goro. I will notice details you won't because I'm looking for them."

"Then perhaps you should teach me so I can find them."

She was silent, staring, and Goro let himself smirk as he then said,

"You may recall I am quite a quick study during your climbing lessons."

And that made her snort--actually snort--and laugh. "Show off," she said, quietly but still enough for him to hear the fondness that made his heart treacherously speed up.

She hummed for a few moments, her grey eyes turning distant during it. When she finished, she smiled with mischief and said,

"Very well, Goro. I will make you the prince of thieves."

And suddenly Goro thought that he might regret being under Akira's tutelage on being a thief.


Always pay attention.

Goro couldn't but help but smirk as Akira read his report and examined the map he drew, sipping his tea while waiting for her assessment. He had thought he would be spending quite some time being taught the ways of thievery, but with each "rule" Akira gave as she tutored him, they found he knew them by heart already.

Always blend in.

"Well? What is my grade, Professor Joker?" he said.

She gave an amused snort, with her lips quirked up just the slightest, as she glanced at him and said, "Show off."

"I aim to be the very best, dear Akira."

"I can tell. Yusuke will be jealous of your sketching abilities."

Always keep calm.

To his surprise, his smile didn't crack. Instead, it turned amused as well as he chuckled.

"I shall take a guess and say he is not suited for more stealthy endeavours, yes?"

This time, Akira let loose a laugh, holding her chest to keep her steady. When she was done, she said, "Indeed. He would stick out like a black sheep, in more ways than one."

He raised an eyebrow and took another sip of his tea. "Oh? How so?"

"He is odd in his mannerisms, always blunt and almost coming off as if he is in the clouds, though I love him for it. For example, there was one time he wished to learn of love and had thought this young man and woman were a couple...only to find that they were actually siblings."

Another chuckle and he said, "Truly? I had heard Kitagawa was unusual, but I hadn't thought to that extent."

"Indeed." She placed his findings on the table between them, careful to keep it away from his teapot and cup saucer.

"So? When will you proceed with your plan? Whatever it may be."

And always be ready to improvise.

That made her look at him with familiar shining eyes and a mischievous smile. He felt himself gulp, once again using his teacup to hide his reaction, and his stomach sink. Even more so when she said,

"Five days. And you shall be a part of it."

Now he wondered if that concept from another country, karma if he remembered correctly, was real as he wondered if this was retribution for his smugness.


To say the least, Goro wasn't comfortable being used as a distraction, but logically speaking, he was the best chance for Akira and her friends to pull off their plan. And so he endured the plastered smile, somehow much harder to maintain than before, and feigned surprise when there was a commotion outside the castle walls and a knight from outside told him and Kaneshiro that there was a riot going on.

"What is the meaning of this?! Why aren't you doing anything?!" the duke said.

"U-Um sir... It's...not just a small group revolting... It's the whole town."


With the opportunity, Goro said, "If that is the case, then it's best to marshal all your men to deal with it."

"I can't send all my men! The castle will be undefended!"

"They will reach here either," he said. "If you send your men out now, you can subdue them before they reach here, and thus no risk of damage to your castle."

Kaneshiro dwelled on it for a moment. "Very well," he said, making Goro relieved he agreed...until he added, "You! Tell the knights to kill all the rioters."

Panic shot through him, the face of Akira heartbroken at the possible death of her friends flashing in his kind, and he was quick to say, "No! You cannot kill them!"

"Whyever not? If they will not submit, then they will be shown the consequences."

"But..." Goro said, but with his senses heightened, his mind failed to develop a possible reason that would feed his greed and spare innocent lives.

Just when he thought he would lose the chance, a feminine and quiet voice said,

"If you do...then there will be no one to work."

If Kaneshiro had been mad before, he was livid now as he turned to the speaker and Goro followed his example to see a young lady his age with medium length dark brown hair and plain but elegant clothes looking at them.

"What did you say, you witch?" the duke said. "I should have you--"

But Goro interrupted him and said, "Indeed what she says. If they're all killed, your servants will not work for you anymore when their families are dead. Not to mention that merchants won't come this way."

Thankfully, that made the plump man hesitate. After the seconds stretched into minutes, Goro holding his breath, the duke said,

"Tch. Very well. Tell all men to deal with the revolt but do not kill anyone. I will have any who disobey this order executed, understand?"

"Y-Yes sir!" the poor knight said before he dashed off.

With him gone, Kaneshiro sighed...and turned his attention to the young girl. "Do not think I have forgotten that you spoke out of turn, witch..." he said, his tone low and drawn out.

He didn't like the sound of that. So he said, "True. If you would honor me, I would be willing to teach her manners while you rest. You surely deserve it for being such a gracious host and having to deal with unruly commoners."

He ignored the widening of the girl's eyes as the duke hummed. "Fine. I will allow it. I shall be in my study then. Farewell, my prince."

It took everything he had--gritting, clench and controlled breathing--to not show his revulsion to hearing those two words from his mouth and keep up his smile as he bowed.

"I thank you, Duke Kaneshiro," he said then turned to the dark brown haired woman. "Come now."

She struggled as he thought she would. So, after making sure Kaneshiro wouldn't see, he mouthed the words "calm down, you're okay" and as he hoped, she stopped her fighting against his grip and he led her down the hallway. After a while, he did a quick glance behind him to see that Kaneshiro was gone. With that confirmation, and noting the amusing fact this was much like how he met Akira, he said,

"We're clear."

And it was only then did the lady truly relax, her posture no longer tense as she let out a breath of relief.

"Thank goodness..."

"My apologies for startling you, but I feared Kaneshiro would have seriously hurt you had I not interfere."

"And I thank you for that," she said.

"I can almost hear the 'but' in that sentence."

"Why did you do that?"

"You will have to be more specific," he said. Though he mentally noted to blame Akira for her teasing nature rubbing off on him.

"Why did you tell him to spare them?"

"I could say the same for you. You hadn't need to voice your opinion."

That made a slight twitch in her eye and harder tone. "I couldn't just...let him slaughter innocent people." But that tone left, replaced with remorse. "Especially as I've... I have ignored him before."

"Then there is your answer, Miss...ah, I have realized I haven't asked for your name."

"Oh, um... It's Makoto Nijima."

"Then there is your answer, Miss Nijima," he said, the name vaguely familiar. "I couldn't bear the same."

"I...see..." she said, her gaze turning contemplative.

He gave her a few moments to see if she had more to say, but when she didn't, he said,

"If that will be all, I suggest finding somewhere to hide."


"Yes. There is a riot occurring, after all. It would be best that I assist." And rendezvous with Akira to help with her escape.

Nijima stared at him for a few moment, almost evaluating him.

"I see. Then I will take my leave," she said, letting go of him. "... Good luck to you, Prince Goro."

He nodded in response before heading off, going through the the route Akira would take to make sure it was clear. The castle was more akin to a temple with its marbled look, the only thing distinguishing it from such being the expensive carpet and various decorations of most certainly high monetary value. Grateful it was clear, he left the interior of the castle and headed for the walls that surrounded both it and the garden filled with hedges shaped in Kaneshiro's image.

Once at one of the gates used by servants and such, he took out a dagger that was sheathed in his sleeve and threw it to his right. But just as he was about to head back towards the stables, it was thrown back at his feet, a note tied to it.

Goro frowned. This wasn't part of the plan. Nonetheless, he picked it up and opened it. Unsurprisingly, he found familiar handwriting saying,

Meet us at the coffeehouse Leblanc tomorrow at noon for a celebration. Don't be late!

Goro blinked and read it again. Then reread it several times before he sighed, shaking his head with an exasperated smile.

He didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed that Akira was so confident that her plan would work.

Author's Note: The chapter title comes from the track that usually plays when the Phantom Thieves are discussing (or should I say, planning) something and it isn't too serious. The line is from one such scene. Specifically, it's a cut off line from Akechi, one of his most infamous ones, "I thought I heard something about delicious pancakes".

Fun fact: originally, I wanted Makoto to be more involved in the targeting of Kaneshiro, and more in line with how she joins in the game, but I decided against it because I couldn't quite fit it in that way.


Tis the Hour to Reload
Chapter 4: Sunset Bridge (I feel a strong bond...)

"What the hell?!"

"My goodness!"

"How in the world?!"

Goro tried not to fidget or twitch his eye, but it proved difficult when he finally was face to face with Akira's accomplices, who had just spoke a string of expletives. Well, except for two. One was a girl, most likely ten and four years, hiding behind Akira and wearing glasses on her face, which made him wonder if she was a noble.

The other...

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Prince Goro," the young blue haired man Yusuke Kitagawa, said, bowing in greeting.

"How can you be so calm?!" the one who swore earlier, a black haired peg-legged young man, said.

"Ann received an invitation to Madarame's gallery, did she not?"

"I thought you were the one who gave it."

"Hmph. Most certainly not. I wasn't allowed such. But my point is...I am unsurprised, as only someone of high status would have been able to procure such a thing, especially for someone other than that person."

"That's surprisingly astute of you, Inari..." the girl using Akira as a shield said.

"Are you implying I'm not?" the young man said, a slight glare in his expression.

"No. I am not implying," she said and Goro thought that was a complete lie...which turned out to be true. "I am saying you are not."

"The nerve! I am not some barbaric idiot. Unlike Ryuji."

"Huh. Something we agree on. I am surprised."

"What the?!" the peg-legged man who he assumed now was Ryuji said. "Don't drag me into this!"

"It is true though," a rather handsome and boyish young man with striking blue eyes said. He frowned as he continued. "Though I will agree with Ryuji. Why is the prince here?"

"And how'd you know the prince?!" Ryuji said.

"That is the thing..." Akira said, adjusting so she was more comfortable with the girl holding onto her. "Remember I said I had an 'inside man' for the Kaneshiro heist? Well, he wasn't really an inside man. But he did help, and it was Goro here."

"What?!" all but he and Akira said, including the shy girl.

Once again, it was the peg-legged man who asked the questions first.

"Why didn't you tell us?!" Ryuji said.

Why wasn't he surprised? "I suspect she wanted to surprise you all, which doesn't surprise me..." he said, glancing at the offender with a deadpan stare.

Of course, Akira just returned it with a mischievous grin and snicker, which very much confirmed his suspicions.

"Indeed it is," she said. "It seems I can hide nothing from you, my prince."

He hated that her saying those two last words made him blush. But thankfully, he had a mug of caffeine before him and decided to cover it by taking a drink. And it seemed he wasn't the only one to be exasperated by Akira's antics as her friends groaned, with one of them saying "you are impossible" under his breath. Well, except for the same two people who were nonplussed by his presence earlier and still were, the blue haired aspiring artist, Yusuke Kitagawa, and the glasses wearing girl behind his friend.

"Wait," the hiding girl with glasses said. "Is he the reason why you occasionally return late at night?"

Before Akira could answer, the handsome man's blue eyes widened and he said,

"Late at night? That is impossible! I make sure she is in bed by seven in the evening!"

A snicker was heard behind Akira and the girl said with a mischievous grin that could rival hers, "So Akira's been sneaking out to her lover at night?"

If it was even possible, his blush got worse and he nearly choked on his drink as each of the others expressed their surprise. He wanted to say something, to deny they were lovers, but his mind refused to give him an excuse. It certainly didn't help that Akira was blushing and so instead the same mind decided that figuring out what that meant was more important than telling the truth.

But almost as if his prayers were heard, they were interrupted by the coffehouse owner saying,

"Oy. Keep it down. You might have the place all to yourself, but I'd rather not have it run amok with people hearing that the prince is here, got it?"

"Yes Boss," everyone but Goro said.

The owner, black haired but balding and attending the counter, sighed and adjusted his glasses. "Good. Now, will you be eating or not? I will not reheat any of your meals should they cool."

"Oh right!"

To his surprise, it wasn't Ryuji, the loudest peg-legged man he had ever met, to exclaim at the declaration and start to stuff his face in. It was the ever elegant Yusuke, who somehow kept up the image despite the almost rabid pace he was eating. The messy blacked haired man was, however, second in the running before followed by everyone else, himself included.

"Hey..." the blonde girl said in between bites. "Did we introduce ourselves?"

"Ack! How rude of a gentleman to forget such a thing!" the handsome blue eyed man said. He stopped eating and cleared his throat before continuing. "My name is Morgana Igorson. My apologies for not introducing myself before."

He knew he shouldn't have. He hated the fact that he did. But he stared at the young man, black hair short and slick, posture straight and proper, and a smooth face with blue eyes that rivaled the sky. This was Morgana?

Before more names could be told, and he could dwell on that thought, the blue haired artist paused his spoon mid-air and said, "But is that necessary? I'm sure Prince Goro has already deduced our names."

"Of course it is!" Morgana said, looking just as offended as he sounded. "It is good manners."

"And it's not like he knows us," the shy girl said.

"All right, then I'm next," the blonde girl said.

One by one, the rest of Akira's accomplices introduced themselves. The beautiful blonde girl was Ann Takamaki, whom he had sent the invitation to all those weeks ago. Ryuji Sakomoto, the messy black haired man with a peg for his right leg, he had previously deduced. Yusuke Kitagawa, the blue haired and lanky boy, he knew already as he was a rising artist. The short girl with long black hair and glasses behind Akira was Futaba Sakura. And lastly, the boss and owner of Leblanc, Sojiro Sakura, who huffed afterwards and adjusted his own glasses before returning to cleaning drinking glasses.

After that, they ate and, once again, to his surprise they talked to him, as in genuinely talk to him. It wasn't like the tea parties with pleasant conversations and back stabbing comments when they thought he wasn't looking. No, it was from things as mundane as going to the market to more...esoteric discussions like the one between Yusuke and Futaba about the whether or not whatever philosophy they were speaking of at that moment was worth discussing in the first place. He certainly wouldn't have thought of a pub for a place for philosophical debate.

But most telling that it was real was that when they would ask what for his opinion on the current subject, they argued with him if they disagreed. None of the people he had tea parties with ever disagreed with him, not in front of his face anyway. He got his chance to share facts, make his point, and most of all, make scathing comments about their opinions and, yes, they would lash out, but instead of running away, they would defend their stance. And sometimes, they would make a compromise.

There was truth to the saying that "time flies" as long after their food was gone, they were still talking until the boss, Sojiro, started lighting up the candles across the coffeehouse.

His heart raced and panic struck him. "Wait, what time is it?" Goro said.

Futaba said, "Five and forty-six in the evening."

Goro frowned. "I should be going," he said, standing. "I had quite the pleasure in dining with you all."

Ryuji was quick to protest. "What? Come now my man, you have yet to join the best part."

The rest said their agreements to this, which made Goro blink and stare for a second time that day.


"Yes, we would very much like it if you joined us for this at the very least," Akira said, smile warm with only a slight hint of mischievousness.

Goro looked back and forth between each and every member of Akira's thieves before landing on the woman herself, staring at him with a hopeful and expectant gaze. A flash of that turning into a saddened one made his decision, though not without a sigh of exasperation. He never thought he would be affected by such a simple thing.

"Very well. I can stay for a while longer."


"I...do not think I wish to participate in this," he said as the Boss got the straws ready.

They had spent dusk and the ensuing evening playing all manner of games, from a card game with an extra twenty two cards in the deck to a guessing game to, of course, a drinking game, though the last one was cut short as none of them wished to be drunk, especially Ryuji it seemed, though he wasn't sure why. But now they were doing a game he had never heard of until then.

King's Game.

The name alone made him uncomfortable. The rules were that they would draw lots by picking from a group of straws in someone's hand. Whoever had the straw tainted with a red tip would be declared the "king". And the king would give an order, absolutely anything from a request to a dare, and that order was absolute.

He wanted to run, dignity be damned.

"Oh come now! You have made it this far," Morgana said, almost looking disappointed in him. "You are a prince, are you not? And a prince must be a gentleman! And gentleman never leave any kind of business unfinished."

It almost worked. Almost.

But he had dealt with disappointed people before.

He wouldn't need to deal with it however as Ryuji said, while taking a sip of his water, "Pfft. How come I've never heard such?"

"Because you are not a gentleman, clearly."

"What was that?!"

Before a brawl could break out, Akira turned to him and said,

"Why do you not want to join?"

His first thought was telling her that he had the suspicion they were going to subject innocent but humiliating antics on him and each other. But he stopped. Upon further thought, he realized that was the point and thus he wouldn't participate at all. And somehow, the thought of disappointing Akira, who he knew wished for him to stay as long as possible, was worse than getting back stabbed.

So, with a sigh, he said, "Never mind. I will give it a chance."

As he thought, Akira smiled, though he noticed their was a brief flash of worry in her eyes. He wouldn't be able to dwell on it however as Morgana said,

"Good show! Well then, let the King's Game commence!"

Yusuke was the first to be crowned and he made Ryuji do a handstand, which was somewhat amusing to watch since his right leg was an oak peg. Ann was next and she made Ryuji something equally innocent but much more painful: eating peppers raw. To say the least, he was out of the game for a while as he went to chug down some milk Boss offered. That, more or less, set the tone for the rest of orders, or rather challenges, each king made, even himself when he was crowned. But when Futaba got it...

She smiled mischievously and he suddenly felt like he had been cornered by an unknowable monster about to play with its prey.

"As the king, I order Goro..." she said. "...to kiss Akira!"

A collective gasp was let out and Goro focused on the ground as he felt a blush spread on his face. He should've known. She was the one to think they were lovers after all. But the worst part was...that he wanted to do it and so much more and that shocked him. Since when did he think of Akira that way? And how did he not notice, worse, realize until now? Not that it mattered. They were friends. That was it. There was no way Akira would return his feelings. Why would she? They were just friends.

"Eh, um, Goro?" the girl said. "Y-You...don't have to do it."

"Oh come now! The king's rules are absolute!" Ryuji said. He could easily imagine why.

What he couldn't imagine just as easily was why Ann was the one who said, "And if you get out of it, that means we can, right?"

Everyone made sounds of agreement.

Well, Goro was never one to ignore an opportunity. This was his only chance to do it without possibly damaging the friendship he had with her, especially since she wouldn't possibly return his feelings. So with that, as Akira said,


He leaned to her and kissed her cheek. She stopped and stared at him, her red face no doubt matching his own. He vaguely heard both gasps and cheers at him, but all he could think about was that he hoped he hadn't ruined things. He embarrassed her, that much was clear, but he couldn't determine whether there was more than that. But he was pulled him from his musings by the "king", who whined and said,

"Hey, it wasn't on the lips!"

And he was quick to say, "You said kiss her. You, however, did not say where."

That thankfully, and effectively, shut her down and she grumbled as she handed the red tipped straw back to Yusuke, who proceeded to shuffle them. With that, the game resumed once again for about an hour before he had to leave to avoid raising suspicious. During that hour, he couldn't stop himself from glancing every now and again at his friend who was so much more, and found their eyes meeting as she did the same.


"How are you faring, Goro?" Akira said.

Goro blinked from his book and turned to his left. The girl in question was laying by his side, holding her book in her hands just as he was, though her calm, grey gaze was focused on him. He closed his book out of courtesy and said,

"How do I fare? I would say I am well, but...I feel as if this question is more than that."

Akira looked away much too quickly that Goro once again blinked. He hadn't seen her done that before. And as if to add to it, her expression was hesitant and pensive. A rush of worry shot to his heart as he frowned and said,

"Is something wrong, Akira?"

She was quiet for a while, not humming, not tapping her finger, just staring at the cover of her book. He waited for a few moments, and nearly spoke when it reached three minutes, but then she said,

"I...wish to apologize."

"Apologize?" That was what took her so long to say?

"Yes. Yesterday I...I realized that I invited you without asking if you wished to come," she said, her eyes becoming unfocused. "And not only that, you have been doing more than we agreed upon. That isn't fair to you."

Now that she brought it up, it was true. They had only agreed they would pick targets together. He never said anything about assisting her in any capacity, much less join in whatever recreational activities she would partake. But...

"That is true. However, I could say the same to you," he said.

Now it was her turn to be confused as she looked and stared at him with a frown. "What do you mean?"

"Just as it was unnecessary assist you...it was unnecessary to befriend me. But that...that is all the more reason why I appreciate it, as I..." He gulper and stopped his throat from constricting. "...I have never had a friend before."



There was a change in her, he could tell. She was tapping her book again, deep in thought, her grey eyes hardening from whatever they were, but also turning bright, making them almost look pale blue even though he knows it's just his mind painting it such. He gave her the space to do so, but still faced her as he waited to see if she had more to say. He didn't have to wait long as in a minute, she sighed and said,

"Oh sod it..."

And kissed him.

Even Goro, heir to the throne and a person who prided in his wit, was able to admit that his logic flew out that moment.

He had always thought the various novels he read were ludicrous in describing it that way, but there really was no other way to as his mind refused to piece together the meaning as Akira held his face with one of her hands, helping in directing it to hers. But most importantly, he responded to her kiss by reaching out and threading his fingers through her curly hair, pressing his lips against her own, with the taste of coffee making him all the more tempted to deepen it.

But when he tried, his teeth clanked against hers and they separated with a gasp.

They stared at each other, red wide eyes staring at equally large grey eyes. Akira was flushed and panting, just like he was. And then, she laughed, long, loud, and melodious. Goro looked away, his face coloring even deeper not only from the kiss, but from embarrassment as well. How could he even make such a mistake?

But before he could complain, or do anything really, he yelped as he was tackled into the bed by a still merry Akira, who only stopped laughing when she leaned to kiss him again. It was shorter, but was just as gentle and caffeine tinged as before, and he was too stunned by both the action and her expression to really complain.

Her face wasn't like any he had seen on her before. Her curly hair was even more fussed like a wild grass field, her smile was curved and glowing like a crescent moon, and most of all, her grey eyes were inviting and warm like a fireplace. And as if to top it all off like a syrup on pancakes, she said,

"It seems you stole my heart, my prince. But I think I love you too much to be mad about it."

He never thought he'd hear those words.

And he never thought he would say, "I love you too, my thief."

Author's Note: The chapter title comes from the track that usually plays at rank 9 and 10 of a Confidant. The line is also mentioned during it, more specifically, and typically, when you romance the Confidant.

Yes, I made Ryuji's leg a peg because if Kamoshida broke his leg, I can easily imagine it just getting outright cut instead of being fixed. Also made it oak since Thor's sacred tree was an oak and since Ryuji uses zio spells, it made sense to me. And Futaba's hair isn't dyed because, well, not many people did that back then.

I did not plan the confession scene at all, nor the inclusion of King's Game, but I'm glad it ended up existing because I'm pretty satisfied with how it went.

What? You thought the fic was gonna end when they get together? Well, nope. Just three more chapters.


Tis the Hour to Reload
Warning(s): Brief violence, mention of past physical abuse and past implied sexual assault and abuse on a woman who later commit suicide.

Chapter 5: Blood of Villain (Don't give me that cliché bullshit!)

"What is it you wish to speak with me about, Father?" Goro said, forcing the last word out.

Goro wasn't the superstitious type. He thought it was best to learn as much of the facts as possible, preferably with concrete evidence, before making a decision. But sometimes he wondered if the world was playing with him as not a day after Akira told him she would be busy this week, Shido asked for his presence and here he was in the throne room, after waiting a few moments in one of the antechambers

Besides himself and the king, in the room there was another man and a young woman most likely his age in the throne room. He didn't recognize the girl with pink and fluffy hair, but he did know the other man, Kunikazu Okumura. He was a merchant who came from a merchant family. They hadn't been noteworthy until recently when King Masayoshi pointed him as a personal supplier. And considering the facial structure of the girl was vaguely similar to Okumura and her age seemed like his own, he assumed that this was his daughter.

For once, Masayoshj got straight to point. "I wanted to you to meet your fiancé," he said. "I will announce your engagement at your next birthday ball. Until then, Kunikazu's daughter will be visiting you to be acquainted with you. Are we clear?"

His smile cracked. What? His next birthday? No, no, no. That was three months from now! He needed more time! Not enough of the people were against Masayoshi that disposing him from the throne wouldn't cause a retaliation against him!

But Goro knew there was no use in complaining. There never was. If he wanted it to work, he had to adapt. And that meant working around this engagement. So he had to keep his mask on, now more than ever.

"Oh? I see. Then it is a pleasure to meet you," he said, bowing so that he could smooth his expression without notice. "You most likely know who I am, but I shall say so nevertheless. I am Crown Prince Goro Shido, and you are?"

To his surprise, the girl had no mask on. She widened her eyes, her mouth slightly agape, before composing herself. "I-I'm Haru, daughter of Kunikazu Okumura," she said, returning his bow with a graceful curtsey. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well."

If she wore no mask, or perhaps wore a rather loose one, then maybe...

"Would you like to take a stroll in the gardens, Haru?" he said, holding out his hand.

As he guessed, her facade was loose as he saw her eyes light up but they were subdued. "Yes, if you would lead the way," she said.

And just for good measure, he said, "Ah, my apologies. If that is fine with you, Father, Sir Okumura."

"It's fine," Masayoshi said. "Go now. We have business to discuss."

And leave they did, with Goro formulating a plan to take out the king before his next birthday, hopefully with Haru joining Akira's gang of thieves.


Goro let out a sigh of frustration as he put on a change of clothes. He had hoped that since it seemed that Kunikazu had decided to not have Haru be the heir of his business, it would be easier to arrange for them to meet so that he could get to know her...and see if she could be helpful to his plan somehow. But she still had yet to reply to his invitation and he pondered if he needed to change tactics, and whether he needed to change them at all.

Snapping him from his thoughts though was the sound of his room's window opening.

He cursed as his mind went on full speed. That couldn't be Akira, she still hadn't returned, so it could only be an assassin. But his dagger was under the pillow while his sword collection was on the wall opposite the bathroom door, which meant he was defenseless. The fireplace was close though, along with the stoker. So that would have to do.

However, just as he was ready to open the door, his thoughts crashed like a train as a familiar voice shouted,

"Prince Goro!"

And then his body moved as only one thought remained: shut up.

Before Morgana could shout again, Goro reached him, covered his mouth and said in a "whisper-shout",

"What the hell are you doing?!"

But just as quickly, he let out a yelp as the youthful blue eyed man twisted his hand to take it off his face, which was contorted with anger, his eyes narrowed and teeth barred.

"Call it off!" he said.

Not wanting to have an injured wrist, he twisted his body so that he did a backwards sweep on the man. Morgana squealed--there was no other way to described it--and let go of him, falling face first into the ground. For once, Goro was grateful his room was opulent as that meant there was carpet on the majority of the floor, cushioning Morgana's landing.

Knowing a man's anger can speed his actions, Goro said, "Morgana, I cannot give you a satisfactory answer because I do not know what you are asking. Which means you need to calm down and explain it to me."

The lithe man didn't looked pleased at the thought. But as he turned his head to stare at Goro from the ground, he kept his gaze, not backing off nor advancing forward. It almost felt like a staring competition, but thankfully a few moments was enough to satisfy Morgana as he slumped on the floor, looking as if he had just been defeated in a duel.

"My apologies," he said. "That was ungentlemanly of me."

"True," Goro said. Morgan flinched. "But I'm sure you have your reasons. Now, would you tell?"

He extended his hand to him, and Morgana accepted it, letting Goro lift him to stand. After dusting himself off and adjusting his plain but stylish clothes, Morgana said,

"Yes, I do. And they're, well..."

Goro raised an eyebrow. "They're...?"

"You are engaged to Haru Okumura, correct?"

His mind stopped. "What? How...?"

"How do I know this? Well, you see..." Morgana said as he glanced away. "The one who told me...was Haru."

Wait. If Haru told him then...

"You are her friend?"

"Yes. And I am also her love," he said.


His mind was fraying at the seams. So if he was getting this correctly, Morgana, Akira's best friend, has known Haru Okumura for who knows how long, and has not only befriended her, but fell in love with her, and her with him. What were the chances?

He was yanked from his dumbfounded musing with a sigh as Morgana said,

"I thought you were sharper than this, Prince Goro."

His eye twitched and indignation flared in his chest. "I could guess you were, at the very least, acquainted with Lady Haru, but I had no evidence to suggest that she was in a romantic relationship with anyone, or you in a romantic relationship, especially considering the most I could observe from her was that she had an interest in gardening and that is all. So pardon me if I do not wish to make any hasty conclusions, especially if it involves gaining someone's trust."

The blue eyed man's eyes widened, having taken a small step back. But that shocked expression soon turned into a feline grin of equal smugness and warmth.

"Ah, I see... Now I can see why Akira is so taken with you if that is the case. You complement each other well," he said.

Goro blushed. "H-How did you know?"

Much like the woman, Morgan's smirk turned even more smug even though he thought that wasn't possible. "Oh right now, of course. But I had my suspicions. Especially considering how different Akira's smile and demeanor was before she left with the others."

And just like how Morgana's smirk got worse, his blush got redder as he tried to stop his heart from doing a back flip of joy. "N-Never mind that. If what you say is true, then my plan will go much smoother," he said.

The blue eyes narrowed. "What plan?"

"To have her assist Akira and her thieves in a coup."


"Goro, what is going on?!"

Said man jumped and spun towards the familiar voice of Akira tinged with the unfamiliar sound of wrath.

Before he could answer, the thief continued to speak.

"I'm gone for a week and I come back to have Morgana tell me you already selected the next target...and he agreed to it?"

His eye twitched, annoyed and confused about her anger, but kept it together as it could be clouding her judgement. So he said,

"If you would allow me to answer, perhaps I can assuage your concerns."

That seemed to work, or at least enough to have her merely glare at him as she left the windowsill and made her way to him. Goro waited until she dragged a chair and took a seat before him, arms crossed and brows furrowed.

"Go on then," she said.

"First, I would like to know what Morgana has told you so I do not retread information you know."

"He had told me you were engaged to Haru, who had told him about it, and then he came to you to call it off. But since you weren't the one to arrange it, you cannot, so you are now going to attempt a coup d'etat against the king."

"If that is the case, then I don't need to tell you more beyond what we're going to do."

But instead of calming, she said, "You don't need to do a coup, Goro! It's just an engagement! It can simply be annulled! Or cancelled!"

"Don't make a mistake, the engagement is a cause, but not the reason I have decided on a coup d'etat," Goro said, gritting his teeth.

"What do you mean?"

"I had always planned on ousting Masayoshi from his throne. But I know he has many supporters, so I needed to create discontent among the masses, preferably inciting a rebellion, so that I will have the best chance at killing him. Once I do, the majority will gladly take me as their leader with the minority who oppksed being only made up by his loyal followers."

"What? That's why...?"

"Yes, that is why I wanted to join forces with you, so that the people will wish for a new rule and I will be unopposed, for the most part."

"But you don't need to kill him! He's your father!"

The mask shattered.

"Ha ha ha ha... My father...?" he said, quietly. Then he stood and said, "He may have sired me... But that man is not my father! In fact, if he had not been king and no heirs besides me, he would have left me and my mother to rot in the slums! All for the sake of his reputation! After all...it wouldn't do good to have a bastard of the king running around the streets!"

With each word he said, Akira's face turned more horrified, eyes wide and mouth hanging. But he didn't care.

"But of course he didn't care about me, or Mother. No. He just left us to the wolves. Every day, everyone would be saying we didn't belong here. Every day, everyone would do something that seemed like an accident but was clearly meant to humiliate us. And almost every day, I would hear the sound of the men taking advantage of Mother, sometimes, one by one, and sometimes all at once."

A gasp and a choked out sob, but still he kept going.

"So of course my mother did the only thing she could do." He laughed then, loud and long, but there was no mirth in it. "She killed herself! Oh, ha ha, but of course that would be such a scandal so of course they said she died from hysteria!"

Another fit of hollow laughter. When it died, he glared at Akira.

"And he let all of this happen. All of it. And not only that, he let's anyone within his circle do whatever they please. Rape, theft, murder...all of the corrupt nobles are under his protection...so long as they serve him. If not, he gets rid of them."

Now he added a snarl to his expression.

"Don't you see, Akira? He needs to die! If he's left alive, he will just rally his supporters back into his hands!"

Somehow, that snapped her out of her fear stricken trance. Gone was the terror in her eyes, in its place was a familiar look of determination, turning her grey eyes into steel.

"So? Just because your father has done horrible things doesn't mean you should do the same! You can still take the throne without needing to kill him! Or anyone! We can merely exile him and his followers!"

Goro growled. "You don't get it! It's not that simple! Imprisoning him will do no good, for he will break the rules and find a way to win back the crowd. He can just simply spin the tale that I was power hungry and that was why I wanted the throne before my time. They will rally around him and then dispose me from rule! Nothing will change that way!"

"Well then maybe you are power hungry!"

His heart thudded.

His breath stopped.

His eyes stared.

"What did you say...?" he said, barely above a whisper.

"You heard me! You said it's the only way! It is not! You could've snuck into other kingdoms and ask for their help! You could've used your position to help commoners with simple donations so that your reputation was much better than the king's! Or you could've even helped us more often so that we could've exposed more corrupt nobles! But if you think the best solution is to kill your own father for the throne in order to change things, if you are willing to incite rebellions at the risk of thousands of lives, then you are no better than him! And nothing will have changed! There will still be a twisted man standing at the top!"

"How dare--" he said.

But he couldn't say more as his door unlocked, followed by people rushing in and grabbing Akira.

"You are under arrest!"


Dozens of possible scenarios that could happen should Akira be imprisoned flashed before his eyes, including one all to similar to what happened to his mother. Before he could process what he was doing, he punched one of the guards in the face and elbowed the other in the gut. Both staggered and let go of the woman whose grey eyes were staring at him with shock.



It felt like time slowed as they locked gazes. It was almost as if Goro could tell that she wanted to stay so bad. That she didn't want to leave him here. But the fact that he told her to go and that there argument was still fresh made her turn and dash for the window. Before she leapt though, she glanced back at him one more time.

The last thing he saw was an empty windowsill and rustled curtains when his vision snapped dark.

Author's Note: The title comes from the track that usually plays for a villain, typically when they're boasting or, well, doing villain things. The line is what Akechi says when the protagonist tells him to "Look inside yourself".

Originally, I was actually was going to have Makoto be why Goro makes a move but, again, couldn't quite do it that way.

The argument was one of the earliest scenes I had envisioned in my head when I started writing this. The main reason I did this was because this is the main difference I see between Akechi and Akira. They both care about justice and both have limits, but those limits are where they differ. However, even with Akechi's being more loose than Akira's, I wanted it to be that both of them are right and wrong, so hopefully I conveyed that because this was the scene I looked forward to writing the most.


Tis the Hour to Reload
Warning(s): Brief depiction of violence and brief instance of suicidal thoughts.

Chapter 6: Swear to my Bones (You won't say no...will you?)

"What is the meaning of this?" he heard Masayoshi's voice ring in his head.

"We had thought there was an assassin heading into his room, but when we came to apprehend her, he attacked us and she escaped," one of the guards said to him.

"Is that all?"

"Um, sir?"

"Are you deaf? I said, is that all?"

The guards looked to each other, confused, then the other one said, "I believe so."

"Then leave us."

As confused as they had been, they knew that tone meant that, should they disobey, there would be grave consequences. So they left him, hands shackled and slumped on his knees on the floor.

"Well? What do you have to say for yourself?" Masayoshi said, his bald head making his glare no less intimidating.

But he had most likely lost his chance at ruling, both his way and the traditional way. And most of all...

...he had lost Akira's faith in him.

So he had said, "I wish you and Mother had never met...otherwise none of this would've happened."

"Hmm... You will not tell me who she is then? Fine. I shall find out myself and make sure she's not a threat."

To say the least, he didn't remember much after that. All he remembered was lunging at the tall, muscular man, wanting to kill him then and there for saying that, only to once again be greeted by darkness, just like now.

When he awoke a third time, he had found his hands were still shackled, but now there were more on his ankles, bounding them to the wall, and that a muzzle, an actual muzzle, was covering his face. Considering how sore his jaws were and that a faint taste of copper was on his tongue, it was safe to assume that he had tried and succeeded to bite Masayoshi.

But he found little, if any, joy in managing to harm him. The wide darkness and emptiness of his cell meant he had few options, in both what he could do to escape and to pass the time. That meant that all he had were his thoughts, and all they did was replay his argument with Akira, again and again.

And the more he thought about it, the more he realized she was right.

He could've done more than just constantly observe the nobility and hope for the opportunity to create change. He could've been like her, he could've made the change. Maybe not so publicly about it, to avoid the king's attention, but he with his skills and intellect, he could've been like Akira, secretly helping the masses with his wit and his wealth. But he didn't. It was clear now, he wasn't fit to be king.

However, he knew that Masayoshi would still be a threat if he was alive. And he hated the thought of the man he had taken down rising up to take everything away from him, again.

He sighed and leaned back against the wall.

Why was he dwelling on this? There was no point. He would indeed rot in this cell until he died, whether of starvation, abuse or age.

And he would never see Akira again.

He wished his mind would go numb, just like his sense of time, as he could now easily pick up any sounds of footsteps in the quiet of his cell, most likely silent because it was on the lowest floor in the dungeons, where few, if any, were placed. It was especially annoying now that the steps were getting louder and louder and he struggled against his chains as he tried to block the sound out.

He just wanted to be numb. He just wanted to forget. He just wanted to di--

--the cell door groaned and a voice echoed the walls.

"Prince Goro?" she said.

He flinched at the light coming from her torch but he knew who it was. But even knowing that, he still couldn't believe it.

"Nijima...?" he said, wondering if he was hallucinating.

But no, it wasn't an illusion. "My God..." she said, coming closer and seeing the state he was in. "What have they done to you?"

Despite everything, or perhaps because of it, Goro gave a weak laugh. "They did nothing...but shackle and throw me here..."

"Well then, let's get you out of here."

Did he hear that correctly?

The young brunette kneeled before him, putting the torch on the ground, before pulling out a ring of keys.

So he did hear it correctly. But still...


To his surprise, the red eyed brunette smirked and said, "You will have to be specific, Prince Goro."

Nijima unlocked one of his ankle cuffs as he gave another breathless laugh. "Why...are you here?"

"Because I had my suspicions that you are an associate of the Phantom Thief," she said, getting the other ankle brace. "Initially I dismissed it as paranoia...until I heard of your arrest. Considering what little I know of you, it sounded odd, especially since the king said you had attacked out of madness..." One more unlocked, this time from his wrists. "...unless you were indeed associated with the thief and had been found out. But the king doesn't want people to know that you have been undermining him, so he's hiding it."

With that, she released the muzzle and pulled it off. Meanwhile, Goro silently chuckled, the action shaking his body. Had his plan truly been that obvious? True, she only had it half right, but still, it must have been if a mere acquaintance was able to figure it out without witnessing anything firsthand. Some intellect he had. He likely would've kept up his hollow and self-deprecating amusement had Nijima not spoken.

"But in truth..." she said. "Even if I didn't think you and the Phantom Thieves are the best chance at changing the way things are, I couldn't stand by when I heard you were arrested."

Goro stopped and blinked, slow from exhaustion. He hadn't been expecting that. Though admittedly, he wasn't sure what exactly he was expecting. But certainly not her not only believing he and the others could actually make an impact, she had wanted to free him because she thought he should be free.

He cried.

Understandably, Makoto was confused and worried. "P-Prince Goro?" she said. "What's wrong? Can you not stand?"



"Where...would I...go...?"

"To wherever the Phantom Thief operates from. You do know, do you not?" Makoto said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world as she made to lift him up.


"Then no 'buts'."

She grunted in frustration, trying to get him to stand. When that didn't work, to his surprise, she just lifted him off the ground and held him like a bride. If the circumstances had been different, he would've been equal parts embarrassed and impressed at her strength. But with the warmth of her body replacing the cold of the floor and his condition, he welcomed it. He nearly fell asleep then and there if Makoto hadn't then said,

"Tell me where. We don't have that much time."

On one hand, he doubted Akira would want to see him again after their argument. After all, if she truly wanted to, she could've came back to rescue him, but instead it was Makoto who had came to get him out. On the other hand...

...he wanted to at least apologize.

So he said, "A coffeehouse called...Leblanc..."

"Leblanc?" she said with surprise and a chuckle. "Of course. It makes sense now."

It didn't make sense to Goro, as his mind refused to do anything else but succumb to the allure of sleep.


He had woken when he felt himself straddling something and the familiar sensation of a saddle and horse hair.

"Are you certain you will be safe?" Makoto said from right behind him.

He realized he was seated in front of her with her arms around him to keep him in place and reach for the reins.

"I will, now go," someone, a woman, said.

"But Sister..."

Sister? Ah, so that was why the name Nijima was familiar. It was the last name of Sae, the Iron Judge, and the only female knight under Masayoshi's employ as few, if any, men harassed her in fear of her skill in swords, words and fists, and no one could deny her skills were equal, if not surpassing, her father, a well renowned knight himself before he had passed.

So it came as no surprise that she said, "Go!"

And Makoto obeyed. "Very well. Johanna!" she said and snapped the reins.

The horse whinnied and took off, and with that he began to drift in and out of consciousness, only aware of the fact that it was evening and that they were moving. As such, it was only when they stopped did he start to return to the waking world. He attempted to look around, but his vision was still blurry and mind just as muddled.

"Are we...?" he said.

But he didn't get further as a missed voice said, "Goro!"

And he was enveloped with the familiar scent of coffee and dust and the tight embrace of Akira.

"Oh my God... I'm so sorry, Goro... I shouldn't have left... I should've not said that... I..."

He cried.

Akira stopped her rambling and said as she backed away enough for her to see his face, "Goro? Are you fine? Are you hurt?"


"Eh? Why...?"

"Why are you..."

"I think it best we continue this later, you need your rest."


"No. Rest. We will talk about it when you're well."

Her tone booked for no argument, and soon he couldn't even make a protest as Makoto said,

"Let us get him inside."


And they lifted him towards a door, likely for the back of Leblanc since he didn't recognize it but Akira did, and once he was inside, a wave of gasps were heard.

"What the hell?!" Ryuji, of course, said.

"Oh for love of... Ryuji! Be a gentleman for once and help me carry him!" Morgan said.

The rough mannered man didn't quip back and did as he suggested and started to lift him.

"Futaba? Could you please get Sojiro to cook something for him?" Akira said.

The long black haired girl saluted and said, "On it, Leader!"

"And Yusuke, I want you to get Doctor Takemi. You remember where she is, do you not?"

"Yes, I do. I shall make haste," the blue haired man said, actually dashing out of the front door.

Before long, he, Ryuji, Morgan, Akira and Makoto went up some stairs and he was placed on a bed. The softness enveloping him made his mind want to return to the land of dreams, but he grit his teeth and focused on keeping his eyes awake. However, while everyone else left to do whatever else Akira ordered, the woman herself stayed behind and noticed his attempts at alertness.

"Goro..." she said, tone chiding. "I thought I had told you to rest."

"But I..."

"We can talk about it later, Goro."

Before he could say anything to that, Akira went on his bed and snuggled him, covering him with her arms and placing her head beside his own. That was the last blow against his resistance and he surrendered to the pull of slumber, dreaming of coffee, laughter and warmth.


It was the next day and he was never left alone at all. There was always at least one person that had kept him company, from Yusuke sketching for his next painting to Ryuji talking of his antics at work to even quiet Futaba speaking of myths, legends and books, all of which he knew too to his surprise, and even some he didn't. He hadn't been to sure how to feel about that. He had never had so many people worry over him, not like this, where they would stay after asking their questions and making sure he ate and drank, seeing if they had anything in common to bond over.

It was...nice.

But his chest ached every time they left. Especially with Akira.

Of course, she noticed and when they were finally left to themselves, a little after noon, she said, seated beside him on the bed,

"Goro? Are you okay?"

Seeing the chance, he said, "I want to apologize..."

"Eh? Apologize? For...?" she said confused, but trailed as she realized what he meant.

"You..." His throat choked, but he pushed through it and said, "You were right. I could've done all those things you said...but I didn't. I could've thought of safer ways to change things...but I didn't. So...even though I don't expect you to forgive me...I'm sorry."

That stilled her. He had thought he silenced her and prepared to continued when she said, "Oh Goro..." and proceeded to cuddle him. He tensed.


"I already forgave you, Goro. And besides, I should apologize as well."

No. That can't be. Why would she still care? He had crossed the line and she had every reason to be against his plan, and him for that matter. It made no sense. She had been right, after all. He--

--his thoughts focused on her when settled her head against his shoulder. Then she said,

"You had valid points. He would be dangerous if kept alive. He could hurt even more people even should we exile him. And if we imprison him, his allies could get him out. But I...I was just scared, Goro. I was scared that you would become the very thing we hated, that I would lose you, and there would be nothing I could do to stop it. So I panicked. I thought that saying those words was, ironically, the only way to have you see what I was seeing. But now I wished I hadn't, because I didn't have to say it like that."

Goro had nothing to say. Was there anything could say to that in the first place? He didn't know. What he was sure of was that any thoughts he had of losing Akira were gone now that he knew her own thoughts mirrored his. So he now properly returned her embrace, leaning his head against hers. They stayed like that, letting time pass unnoticed, as he focused on their breathing.

Then she said, "So...do you forgive me for saying those words?"

His answer was quick and precise.

"I already had, my love."

Author's Note: The chapter title comes from the track that plays, most notably, whenever you max a Confidant with one of the Phantom Thieves. Which is where said line comes from, in this case in Rank 10 of Justice in the original Persona 5.

And now finally Makoto pops up...this time in a way I was fine with. Yeah, I could've used Sae herself in reference to her being a crucial part in Joker's interrogation, but I had made Makoto appear already and meet Akechi. It made more sense logically and thematically to me.
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Tis the Hour to Reload
Warning(s): Mild descriptions of violence and one brief instance of graphic violence being contemplated.

Chapter 7: Our Beginning (Thou hast turned a vow into a blood oath)

He still rested the day after that and nothing of note happened. Looking back on it though, it was like a calm before the storm because when the sun next rose, Goro could hear the sounds of a crowd's words combining to make a constant almost hum. He frowned and, with care so no one could reprimand him, he made his way down he stairs since he had been alone in his room. Though not before making sure the floor below was empty of any strangers.

The owner, Sojiro, however, was at the door, the wrinkles showing his age more pronounced as he looked out with a frown as well.

"Boss?" he said so as not to startle him.

The middle-aged man turned to him and his frown deepened. "Goro," he said. "You should be resting."

As touched as he was for the worry, he said, "What's going on?"

"Ah," he said, realization in his tone, before turning back to the ajar door. "I'm not sure. Something's up, but I can't really make it out from here."

"Nor can you leave to investigate."

"Hmm, yes. But I'm sure I'll hear from—"


A tiny, long haired cannonball hit Sojiro, pushing him away from the door, but thankfully not enough to topple him.

"Futaba? What's wrong?" he said with worry.

The girl wasn't the one to answer. Instead, Akira, a smug smile on her face and her head covered in a hood, said, "Nothing's wrong. Unless you call people protesting for the prince's release as wrong."

A heartbeat.


"Yeah! Come on! Come on! You gotta see! People are finally going against the stupid king!" Futaba said and pulled on her father.

Of course the man could've easily resisted, if not outright stop her thanks to his height advantage, but he let his daughter drag him away, if slightly bemused by it. With that, Akira held out her hand towards him and said,

"Come on. You should see too."


She pulled out another simple and brown hooded cloak. "Don't worry."

So, much like Sojiro, Goro let Akira put it on him and cover his head as she led him down the streets, supporting him all the way so as not to strain himself. It wasn't long before the hum turned into rumbling and he saw many people in the streets heading towards a crowd that gathered. It was only when they were a few feet away from that could he hear the words,

"Free the prince! Free the prince! Free the prince!"

Again and again, he heard it, among the other things they chanted, from demands for an investigation to demands for the arrest of those who clearly deserved it more than he. And not only that, there were not just commoners in the crowd, but people from all walks of life. From merchants to butchers to even knights, and they were resisting the attempts of other knights trying to calm the crowd, but they refused to do so. It was exactly what he had hoped for...but it wasn't because of Akira. It was because of him.

If he hadn't known better, he would've thought he was dreaming.


Yes, he had hoped they wouldn't protest to him being the new ruler of their kingdom once the king was gone, but more out of gratefulness the one before was gone, not because...they supported him.

The curly haired girl who was literally supporting him chuckled. "Did you truly think they would not support you?"


Goro could imagine Akira's frown as she said, "No?"

"None of the nobles cared for me, Akira. Why would commoners think differently of me? If anything...I had thought they would hate me for being a noble just as nobles hate commoners."

That made her silent and the chants and rowdiness of the crowd before them became almost like an accompaniment to a drama sequence.

Then she did a one-armed hug and said, "You truly thought you were unwelcome everywhere... It's no wonder you don't much of your reputation amongst the people."

He glanced away, feeling ashamed, embarrassed and indignant of himself that he knew so little of such an important factor.

That irritation won out as he said, "And what? You know?"

"Yes," she said and he wanted to push her away but then she continued. "That perhaps there is more to the prince than he seems, for he is one of the few noblemen who live up to name of prince, as, though distant, he has not treated anyone unfairly and has a wit as sharp as the finest swords." There, she moved so that he had no way to avoid looking at her and her amused grin. "Though, it seems, sometimes he misses his aim."

Goro harrumphed. "As if you are any better, you trickster. You keep pulling off unnecessary antics."

His curly haired laughed. "But of course. It makes things fun."

Goro rolled his eyes and managed to look away. "I would much prefer optimal plans over flashy antics."

"Very well then. Shall we call the others?"

He frowned and returned his focus on her. "The others?"

"We still need a plan, do we not? And I think this is just what we need."

Just what they needed?

Goro observed the gathered citizens once more. They have calmed down now, though it was clear it was because the opposing knights have retreated and not because they themselves have settled their rage. No, they were discussing among themselves on what will they do now that they have rebelled and surely would need to defend themselves from any attempts from the king and his knights to quell them.

Perhaps it is just what they needed.


"So what's the plan?" Ryuji said as he adjusted his position on his seat.

Just as Akira said, the thieves—which consisted of Akira, himself, Ryuji, Ann, Yusuke, Morgan, and Futaba—were gathered the afternoon of that day. They were in the attic of Leblanc, of which he was occupying, sitting at a round table. Included in their meeting was Makoto, who had introduced herself to the others yesterday when she had rescued him, and, to his surprise, Haru, who already knew everyone thanks to Morgan...except, until recently, that they were a team of thieves.

They had discussed their situation, what they were going to do, why were they doing it, and how they were going to make it a reality. It was due to this conversation that Goro was now walking the streets of one of the many cities of the around the capital and the castle, simply called a ward. And he would admit, when everyone turned to stare at him as he walked, he wished he had his regalia on him, particularly its red cape.

It would further prove the point that he meant business as the prince of his kingdom. But the black suit and gloves, paired with a red sash that read Phantom Thieves in extremely stylized black letters, worked well enough and was more comfortable in the temperature straddling between spring and summer.

They began to murmur once he made it to the city center.

"Is that the prince?"

"I thought he had been arrested."

"He was! I heard it was because he went insane."

"Are you sure? I wouldn't be surprised if he said something the king didn't like and he got locked up for it..."

"Yeah, and he doesn't look crazy."

"Then what's with the clothes?"

The words then blended together to make a quiet hum and Goro had to resist smirking. He took a deep breath and then spread his arms wide.

"Citizens of our kingdom! It is indeed I, Goro Shido, the crown prince. And I have come today to address the very questions you speak," he said.

Even if he couldn't see them tense, the silence that came from crowd was more than enough of an indication of it and that he had their attention.

"You were right. I was arrested. But not for madness. No... I had been arrested for resisting the king's rule, for I had been a benefactor of the righteous thief known as the Phantom Thief."

As he hoped, there was a collective gasp and the people were back to whispering and murmuring to each other.

"The Phantom Thief?"

"What? You don't know the Phantom Thief?! He always steals from those stupid nobles!"

"Yeah! I hear he gives the money he gets from his thefts to folk like us."

"It's true! I got some extra gold bags out of nowhere when I needed to pay my debts!"

"Wait? Is that what those letters mean?"

"Hey, you're right! It says 'Phantom Thieves' on his sash!"

Goro smiled, though it was strained somewhat at their assumption that Akira was a man.

So he said, "Yes, the very same Phantom Thief. And it was because of her and her associates that I was rescued from my imprisonment. But now, she and I asks for your help."

All of the people gathered were confused, only a few noticing his use of pronounced while the rest muttered that they had no idea how could they possibly help. Before he would answer that, he said,

"Are you not are tired of all the people taking what is rightfully yours?"

A weak nod from just a few.

"Are you not tired of not having no way to feed your family?"

Even more agreements.

"Are you not tired of seeing your loved ones being killed, or raped, or taken from you?!"


"Then rise up! Rise up and revolt! Just as those who rose against Kaneshiro's reign! Have you seen them now? They are prosperous without that man taking what is theirs! Now it is time to take back what is yours! It's time to rise up!"

A roar of agreement nearly made him go deaf, but it certainly made him smile to see his speech actually worked, even more so when he turned to notice commotion and could faintly hear the sound of knights trying to stop them.

Shouting over the raucous noise, he said, "I shall take my leave, my fellow Phantom Thieves! Do your part and we will see the king off his throne!"

And he ran towards the nearest building before proceeding to climb like a monkey up all the makeshift handholds he could reach, the last sound he heard were gasps at his actions, shouts from both the supporters and the knights, and wood being broken from fights.

It was just the start they needed.


Two weeks—two weeks—and already all of the cities around the capital were against the king. All of them united to finally topple down the regime that did nothing for them. And all of them--including many knights, soldiers and mercenaries--were under him and the Phantom Thieves. They could easily start an assault to topple down the castle walls.

There was only one problem, and that was making sure the other kingdoms wouldn't interfere. So far, they managed to have all of the territories to remain neutral in the war, after much blackmail that Futaba found on them—how, he didn't know, but considering her nature, he wouldn't be surprised if it was a past time of hers—and they answered swiftly...all, save for one.

"Are you sure we have no word from the King and Queen Nanjo?"

Akira shook her head with a frown. "Still none."

She, himself and the other Thieves were gathered at Leblanc, which had been converted into a base for them to organize and plan everything.

"Why we worried about them anyway?" Ryuji said. "We got everyone else to stay out of this and plenty of people to go with our plan."

"Yes, that is true," Goro said. "But there is a reason it has remained a kingdom instead of turning into a territory of King Masayoshi. King and Queen Nanjo are in control of a large and elite army. We need to be sure they will stay out of our rebellion as they will tip the scales towards one side should they join."

With that information relayed, he and the Thieves discussed how best to deal with it when a couple arrived at the doorstep of Leblanc. Understandably, everyone was confused as to who they were. So he, and Boss, were about to ask who they were...when they took off their hoods and they both choked on their gasps.

"You must be Prince Goro," the woman said after a quick glance at everything, her long hair maroon and flowing.

"Of all the places though, a coffeeshop? I have seen stranger headquarters for rebellions, but still..." the dark blue haired man said, adjusting his glasses and his sky blue scarf.

Of course, it was Ryuji who said, "Hey, who the heck are you two?"

So Goro said, voice now recovered, "You idiot! That's Kei and Mitsuru, the King and Queen of the Nanjo kingdom!"

"Wait? Those are the Ice King and Queen?!"

"Ryuji!" said Makoto after a gasp and slammed the back of his head.

"Owowowowow! Not so hard woman!"

"That wouldn't be necessary had you been more of a gentleman," Morgan said.

Thankfully, Akira was calm, as he certainly couldn't speak, and went up to the two.

"My apologies for my friend, Sir and Lady Nanjo. It's not everyday we see monarchs incognito and coming to see us," she said. "And well, he has a tendency to run off his mouth."

Which was good, as Goro could almost feel the irritation coming from the King, but he shook it off and said, "I can see that. It's a wonder he's still alive..."

Akira smirked and said, "We all ask the same."

"Hey! I heard that!"

And despite the presence of two of the most powerful people besides King Masayoshi, his friends laughed at the peg legged man's indignation, and even he, the queen, the king and the Boss couldn't resist and joined them, with him and the queen chuckling while the king and Boss were smiling.

When they were done, Akira once again steered the conversation and said, "So, what business you have with us, your Majesties?"

"Simple," Queen Mitsuru said. "We finally have an excuse to go against Shido and wish to give our support and troops."


Goro hadn't thought the record time it took for upheaval to be broken, but if there was anyone who would do so—in half the time, no less—he wasn't terribly surprised it was the reinforcements from King and Queen Nanjo. With that, and the ones they've managed to gather in during the week, they had been camping outside the walls of the castle undaunted, his current forces consisted of those knights, ones loyal to Haru Okumura, even more who were allies to the Nijimas and, to his ever growing list of surprises from Akira, people who've served the minor House of Kurusu.

"You could've told me you were from the house that Shido had ruined. I could've helped you and your family," he said, exasperated at Akira for her antics...and at himself for being fond of them.

And, of course, instead of teasing him, she did the opposite of what he predicted and said, "I'm sorry, I should've but...well, you know what it's like, Goro, to be judged solely by your family name. I was proud of it, but with our reputation ruined, I didn't want you to think of me as...anything other than who I am."

So, he decided to catch her off guard as well, and kissed her then and there amongst their forces.

To his satisfaction, she yelped before giving into it, ignoring the catcalls and whistles from both the knights and Futaba.

When they finished, he said, "I understand. It just gives me another reason to take the crown."

"Oh? And that would be?"

"To clear your name by taking it as my own."

Even more cheers and whistles sounded, and as embarrassed and a blushing mess he was, it was worth it to see Akira spluttering.


But as much as he was teasing, he was serious, so he said, his tone solemn, "Willing to take on your last name when we get married? Yes. Yes, I am."

His curly haired thief stared for a few good moments before laughing. "You're such a dork, Goro..."

He raised an eyebrow. "Dork...?"

"I got it from Futaba."

"What does that even mean?"

"It means I love you, my prince. Now come! We have a castle to storm."

With that, his love left to do her part and, in every sense of the word, showed off her acrobatic abilities as she jumped though the trees instead of merely running to the castle walls. Again, he sighed.

"She's impossible..."

"Well you're worse if you're the one who fell in love with her," Futaba said, coming up to him with a toothy grin.

"Don't make me have a bad reputation for punching your teeth out, my friend."

The short girl gasped, mock hurt. "What would Akira think had she heard you, oh prince?"

"She would scold you and then tell you to return to shelter, Futaba," he said, not missing a cue.

The young Sakura just sniggered and then held out a piece of paper. "Well, better get on and see if the king is willing to 'surrender'."

"I doubt it."

"Good. That makes both of us. Now get going, Crow!"

He had no idea where she kept getting these silly nicknames, so he opted to ignore that and walked forward, a contingent of knights following him. He stopped once he was in front of the main gate to the interior, guards stationed at the top on the walls. As loud as he could, he said,

"Guards! Tell your king that I offer peace should he surrender unconditionally! If he does not, he will face the consequences!"

Faintly, he heard, "He will not surrender to you, traitor!"

"Do you truly believe that?! Or do you do it for the sake of the oath you swore as knights?!"

He couldn't see clearly from here, but the silence was enough of an answer for him.

"If that is your answer, then know that whatever happens was of your choice!"

With that done, he turned on his heel, punctuating it with a flick of his large red mantle, and returned to the line of his supporters. The one at the forefront was a man named Iwai, armed with a the finest bow he had laid his eyes on, alongside Futaba.

"Refused?" the aging man said after taking out his cigar.


Futaba grinned with teeth again. "So next phase?" she said.

"As soon as we get the signal."

"Right," the sniper said, readying his stance. "Men! Prepare to charge at the signal!"

The men, and women, shouted in response. With that, they waited, his hand over the pommel of his sword. But as expected of Akira and the other thieves, it was only five minutes until the deep and bellowing horn sounded...from inside the castle, along with the front gate being opened.


And they did. The warriors were shocked to so many enemies suddenly inside, most of them were able to be knocked out by the forces that had belonged to the Kyoto Knights. But those facing his people weren't so lucky, at least the ones he could see. They were out for blood, and so if when they couldn't send them unconscious, they took the simple solution and slew them.

He and Akira would deal with that later. Right now, they made their advance closer and closer to the inner sanctum, each and every door open and welcoming, and each and every defender less confused by their appearance as news spread around the castle grounds. And then, finally, they were in the throne room.

Sometimes Goro imagined having a one-on-one duel with the king—no, his father...both of them wearing their regalia and with the same kind of sword, to prove that he was better than him, and an audience watching so they can see how far their ruler has fallen. He had wondered what it would feel like to skewer through his chest, whether it would squish and squelch or snap and crack under his sword.

Instead, his father was all by himself and fuming under the polished armor that he hadn't used since the skirmishes he'd done with smaller houses such as the Kurusus. And Goro stood before him, in the same armor as his forces, with his love, Akira, by his left, his friend, Makoto, by his right, and an army behind him, ready to attack when he commanded. Goro lowered his sword and said,

"Surrender now, Father."

And the man answered with a shout and a swing of his blade.


"And what shall we do with the King himself?" Goro said to Akira and the thieves after deciding on how to invade the castle.

"Uh, kill him?" Futaba said as if she was speaking of the weather.

Thankfully, someone scolded her in the form of Ann saying, "Futaba! We can't do that!"

"Yeah! That'd make us no better than him," Ryuji said.

And Morgan said, "For once, we agree. I am also against killing him."

"But if he's alive, he could just go to another kingdom, use hks status as a former king, and say 'oh my son's taken over, help me take it back'," the glasses wearing girl said. "We'd be in the same spot he was if we do succeed."

"That is true," Yusuke said.

And Makoto said, "I'm in agreement."

"But we can't just kill him!" the peg legged man said, standing.

"Then what do you think we should do, monkey boy?" Futaba said as she stared at him with an unimpressed gaze.

"Why you—?!"

"Excuse me?"

For the second time, everyone turned to focus on one person, this time, it was Haru.

Morgan was the first to speak. "What is it, my love?"

"How about...we have the people decide if he should die or imprisoned?"


Then everyone began to talk amongst themselves. It wasn't long before they stopped and nodded before turning to him and Akira, telling them they were fine with the thought.

But then the grey eyed leader said to him, "Goro? What about you?"

As he hadn't said anything.


"I think..."

"My people!" Goro said, the amphitheater making his voice echo to the massive crowd before him. "Before you is Masayoshi Shido and now we will bear judgement on him. And I am giving you a choice. Should he be imprisoned for life in the dungeons?" There was cheer for that. "Executed in public for his crimes?" A roar of agreement was his reply.

He walked up to his father, chained and kneeling, with Sae, Makoto's sister, on his right and a knight she knew, a man named Zenkichi, on his left, to make sure he made no attempts at escape.

"Or..." he said.

"...he should be given one more option."

"...exiled to the kingdom of King and Queen Nanjo, put under their supervision, and rehabilitated."

This made a murmur of confusion, even his father was among them as he moved for the first time since they arrived in the amphitheater in the capital.

"I realize this may be odd to you, giving this man who has caused much pain and suffering, another chance at life, but I will not be like him. I will offer him a chance. But I know this matters to you, my people, so I leave the choice in your hands. So cast your stone towards your vote."

With that, he left the amphitheater to attend to other duties, Sae and Zenkichi leading his father away after regrouping with a large contingent of knights, all of them knowing it would be some time, at most a week, until the votes were done and tallied. And Goro couldn't help but wonder, as he saw to reappointing new parliament members, checked whatever damages were still left on the castles, as well as many other matters involving the state of the kingdom that his father left, what they would choose.

Would the people be vindictive and have his father executed before them? To see retribution done and karma enacted? Would that thirst for revenge instead manifest as wanting him to be left in a cell, all by himself, to rot across the years? Or would they, like him, decide they would not stoop to his level and give him a chance to earn forgiveness?

But as evening snuck up on him and he returned to his quarters—not the king's quarters, he wanted it to be redecorated and then some since it was formerly his father's—he was greeted with the familiar sight of his love reading one of his books, a smile on her face and her grey eyes shining, he decided it didn't matter what their choice was. His father would be gone no matter what and he could move on with Akira by his side.


Checking the security, making sure the guest list was in order and no last minute names were snuck in, testing the meals were not poisoned, observing the decorations were in place...and that wasn't even counting seeing to the various kinds of entertainment hired and their welfare, not to mention all the gifts they received and placing them appropriately.

Not only that, the presents he commissioned had yet to arrive and the ball was only a few hours away.

A chuckle pulled him from his thoughts.

"It will be fine, Goro," she said. "No one would dare disappoint the prince and princess n such an important day. They will deliver it on time."

He looked up to see his wife standing in the doorway to his study, her small, amused smile pairing well with her twinkling grey eyes.

He rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, yes. I'm sure one year old children will surely incite terror into the heart of the deliverer."

Akirs just laughed and went up to him, tugging on his arm. "Come now. The twins are getting dressed. We should be as well."

"What?" he turned to the clock on the wall and it was nearly four in the afternoon. He flinched. It was already that late? "Ah, I see. Then let us be on our way."

"I should've known you would be a worrywart..." she said as they walked the halls towards the seamstress and dressers.

Goro did not pout. He did, however, frown and said, "I am not being a, quote-unquote, 'worrywart'. There is much to do and much that could go wrong."

Akira smirked. "Yes. Exactly. When you have already delegated all those tasks to capable people. So, in other words, a worrywart."

Goro groaned. He was not. He just wanted everything perfect for his children. "You're impossible..."

Of course, Akira said, "Thank you, my lord husband."

Seeing that he couldn't win this argument against his wife, he left it at that and they went about getting prepared for the ball. After yet another argument with the more extravagant seamstress, he wore his plain and white attire, the only thing close to what she had hoped to make being the red mantle with gold tassels and the diadem with but a single pear marking its "center". His wife was in similarly modest attire, sleeves and skirt long, but in black, with a garnet centered diadem on her head and identical red mantle adorning her shoulders. His children were, of course, also colored coded—his son in black and his daughter in white to match the parent they resembled the most—and it wasn't long before it was time for the ball.

He and Akira went to entrance of the castle, with his daughter in his arms and his son in his wife's, a small selection of retainers hidden so that they may greet the people that came, who returned the sentiment. Slowly but surely, not only was the actual castle interior filled with the elite, but the courtyard was brimming with life and merriment from them allowing all inside.

Once the last of the people on the guest list came, Goro gestured for one of the guards and told him to get everyone's attention. The knight nodded and said,

"The king would like a few words!"

The crowd did as asked and those who could see him and his family faced them.

With a smile that he had no doubt looked silly to anyone who saw him, he said, "From the depths of my heart, and on behalf of my family and friends, I thank you all for supporting us and for coming for my children's first birthday. Now, let the party begin!"

The people before and behind him cheered while his wife leaned her head against his and his children clapped and laughed along.

Author's Note: What? Too much sugar and cheese? Well, I did say this was inspired by a Disney song, and I'm a sucker for happy endings, so of course I'm going to end it this way. And I just had to book end it.

In all seriousness, if you read this far, thank you for reading this. And again, I hoped you enjoyed it. I know I certainly enjoyed writing it.

Except for writing the middle section of this chapter. Oh my gosh, I rewrote it like five times until I finally sorted the events in the way I wanted it and was satisfied with.

The title for the chapter comes from the track that plays during the last part of the Final Boss of Persona 5. Not only that, I thought the title, by itself, was fitting too, along with the music track significance. The line is said whenever you max out a Confidant.

For those unfamiliar, Kei Nanjo is a character from the first Persona game (Megami Ibunroku: Persona/Revelations: Persona/Shin Megami Tensei: Persona), the heir of the Nanjo Group, which the Kirijo Group, Mitsuru's family business, split from.

And yes, I ship him and Mitsuru despite their 8-10 year age gap. I couldn't help it. I just like the thought that the groups got back together because their heirs-turned-heads are in love.

Again, thank you for reading. Perhaps you'll see me another time.