Author’s Note: Beware SPOILERS.  I do not suggest reading if you have not finished the game.  I suggest leaving immediately if you have not yet finished the Justice Confidant.  You have been warned.  Otherwise, I hope you enjoy.  I threatened waiting until Christmas, but it ended up less Christmasy than I thought it would, so I’m posting it now.

Mandatory Disclaimer: The story is based on the world and characters of the Atlus video game Persona 5.  I do not own Akira, Morgana, Akechi, ect.,.  I do, however, own this story itself, and any original characters who appear.  Additionally, assume images used are official.  Any which aren’t will credit the artist.

Example: featured image is from Pixiv.

Now, read, enjoy, and maybe even review.  I hope you enjoy.


 

This is my mind.  I’m in control.  

Akira opened his eyes once more to the dim streets of Tokyo.  This time though, he could feel the weight of a coat hanging behind him, gloves wrapped tightly around his hands, and a mask cool against his face.  

He touched it, assuring himself that this was, indeed, the correct mask.  

He’d entered his dream as Joker, and he would not be caught by surprise again.  

His mind.  His rules.  

The figure in red and white, Goro Akechi, stood a block down from him.  His face shone clearer than ever before.  Akira could see damage on Akechi’s mask.  The most obvious, the missing crow nose.  

“Crow,” he called out.

Akechi turned and fled.  Joker followed.  

His mind.  His rules.  His Tokyo.  The streets around him shifted, becoming increasingly more familiar.  

Akechi turned a corner.  Joker turned the one before.  The chase moved to a parallel alley.  

Joker leapt over trash bins and parked cars.  They were near Leblanc now.  His zone.  

“My turn to catch you,” he muttered.

Akechi spun to face him.  Joker leapt.

A black and white striped Persona with a large red sword appeared between them.  

Joker fell back, cursing, “Loki.”

Sure enough, when he looked at Akechi now, the man’s outfit had entirely changed.  The mask still clearly showed damage, but his entire outfit had turned dark.  

Looking at it now, it reminded Joker of a strait jacket.  

“Akechi…”

“Kurusu, I need…”

Loki stayed between them, perched on its sword.  

“I found out why it happened,” Joker shouted.  “I found out who was using us for their sick game.”

“A game?  Heh, ha, ha, ha,” Akechi burst into psychotic laughter.  “You don’t get it at all, do you?”

A powerful gale whipped around them.  

“What do you mean?”

“Isn’t it obvious?  The person using it all as a game, all as an escape, is you.”

Akira’s footing slipped, and he slammed against the wall of Leblanc.  

Akechi’s face calmed, easily visible through the holes in the mask, “And I did too.  I used you as an escape.”

“What do you mean?” Akira growled, rising back to his feet.  

“I was caught, trapped.”  He lifted a hand to point at Joker.  “By you.”

What?  Behind him, he could hear movement inside of Leblanc.  He recognized Anne’s voice, and Futaba’s, and Makoto’s, and…everyone.  The Phantom Thieves were inside Leblanc, but they didn’t sound right.  Worn out.  

“Turn around,” Akechi instructed.

Unable to resist his curiosity, Joker turned.  He even took a few steps back, closer to Akechi, to better take in the sight of Leblanc.  

The upstairs window opened.  

He could hear the sound of arcade machines and the rough shuffling of mahjong tiles.  A familiar face smiled at him from the window.  

Bright yellow eyes stared into his.  

His Phantom Thief outfit vanished around him as he fell back.  

His Shadow stepped out of the window.  

Akira felt a hand on his shoulder.  He looked back to see the black and purple clad Akechi behind him.  

“You have to wake up now,” he instructed, “before he catches you.”

“What is this?”

Akechi offered him a small smile before hauling him to his feet.  “Just run, before you’re added to his collection.”

His Shadow landed just a little out of reach from them.  

“Knights shouldn’t betray their king, Crow.”

Was that really his voice?  It sounded distorted, cruelty warping the tone.

Akechi’s outfit reverted to the one he had worn with the Phantom Thieves.  He pushed Akira behind him.

“Run,” he hissed.  

The Shadow grinned, mouth curling upwards to a hideous level.  “You know he won’t.”  

Robin Hood surrounded Akechi.  “Hamaon,” he whispered.  

Blinding light surrounded Akira.  He heard his Shadow shout something.  Chains erupted around them, surrounding Akechi.

“Wake up!”

Akira sat bolt upright in his bed, adrenaline racing through his system.  

“Morgana?” he shouted.  Where was Morgana?  Was he really back?

“I’m here.”  

Akira turned to see Morgana sitting on his desk.  

“You started kicking,” the cat explained.

“I caught him.”

“And?”

“And?”  Akira looked at his hands.  “Can I have a palace?”

“Did you dream it?”

Akira looked back at the desk.  “Morgana,” he pressed.

“Probably.  Just because we got rid of the entrance doesn’t mean people’s hearts changed.”  He jumped on the bed.  “I don’t think it’s normal for a Persona user to have one though.  And the Nav’s gone, so I don’t know how we’d access it.”

“I saw my Shadow.”

“A dream of your negative self,” Morgana explained.  “You’re probably just seeing it as a Palace because that’s your context for Shadows.”

“Akechi said he had escaped, but that I…my Shadow, caught him.”  Akira let out a deep breath.  “I think he’s still alive.”

“Akira, it’s been two years.”  

Akira detected a hint of pity in Morgana’s voice.  Even in his closest confidant thought he was delusional.  

“I know that.  I know it’s probably all a dream.  But, what if it isn’t?”  He started at Morgana.  “What if he really is alive?  What if my distorted desires are hurting him?”

Morgana let out an approving meow.  “Well, when you put it that way, it does sound like a case.”

Akira gave Morgana a sincere smile.  That was the friend he remembered.

“Now the question is, how do we proceed?  Even if there is a Palace,” Morgana reminded him, “we have no way in.”

Akira stood, moving over to his wallet.  He gently ripped out some stitching along the outside edge.  He had sewn the concealed pocket himself, and it took longer to undo than untangling lights.  

“I don’t know the answers,” he muttered, “but I do know who to ask.”  He pulled out a small blue key.

Morgana let out an approving ho-ho.   

 


 

P5_Lavenza
Lavenza

Akira found himself in a small room draped in blue.  Two comfortable chairs sat across from one another.  One of those chairs, a deep blue velvet, was already occupied by a young girl in almost identical blue.  

She gestured for him to sit in the crimson chair across from her.  

“Welcome to the Velvet Room once more,” she greeted.  “I’m afraid, that with your contract complete, I can’t let you into the velvet room at large, but my Master has agreed to a discussion.  He feels it unfair to you, that you were never given proper instruction.  And so bids me offer any advice you may need.”

Akira took his seat.  “Thank you, Lavenza.”

He could have sworn she saw a bit of red on her face.  “It is the least I could do.  Now, ask your questions.  I will answer as best I can to guide you.”

“Are there still Palaces?”

“Not as you know them, but in function, yes.”

“Not as I know them?”

“The Sea of Souls, the Collective Subconscious, a place between dream and reality,” she gestured around them.  “Whatever you call it, it does not simply cease to exist.  Rather, it is shaped by those who dwell within it.”

“Is it still possible to enter?”

She smiled gently.  “You’re here, aren’t you?”

“On accident?” he clarified.

“It happens all the time.”

Akira leaned back.  So, jumping into your own palace in a dream wasn’t just possible, but perfectly plausible.

He took a deep breath.  “Is Goro Akechi still alive?”

She spread out her hands.  “I am afraid I do not have the answer to that inquiry.”

“He said he used me as an escape.  Does he mean he went into my subconscious?”

“Not impossible,” she admitted.  

“Do I have a Palace?”

“Unlikely, but not impossible.”

“I think I saw my Shadow.”

Lavenza closed her eyes.  “There will always be shadows, but if you truly possess a Shadow…”  She opened her eyes once more.  “Can you still summon your Persona?  Try it.”

Akira took a deep breath.  “Arsene,” he whispered.  Immediately, he felt the power flow through him, the warm flame engulf his face.  

A piece moved across a Shogi board.

The power fizzled out.

“You have a Shadow,” she clarified.

“That’s how you know?”

She nodded.  “It’s very rare for a Persona user to maintain their abilities while they have a Shadow.  Part of why such a Shadow can form is simply that you no longer require the sense of self for Persona summoning.  Perhaps, you are simply bothered by what you witnessed, but given that you could proceed partway in the summoning, it is more likely that you simply lack the strength.  Fundamentally, you currently lack an important piece of your Self.”

“How do I get it back?”

“You accept your Shadow.  You admit that it is part of you, but not all of you, and you accept that piece.”

Akira had a bad feeling about this.  “I have to confront it directly, don’t I?”

She nodded somberly.  

“Is there some way to bring my friends?”

“Are you sure you want them there?”

Akira paused.  He had just thought about needing their help, and he trusted them completely for that, but was he really okay with them seeing his Shadow?

No, but he trusted them, and if it meant saving someone’s life, then it was worth it.  “I want at least Morgana to back me up.  And if I need more help, I know where to get it.”

Lavenza smiled.  “It is good to see that your Shadow has not dimmed your faith in your friends.”  She stood.  “It would prove difficult to enter someone else’s Palace, but your own mind should prove doable and, as long as you truly desire it, then others may enter with you.”

“How?”

“When humans dreams, they inherently communicate with their subconscious.  Summoning a Persona isn’t really any different.  You reach into your Self and pull forth the mask.  This time, you must not bring it forth, but rather follow it down.  I cannot guarantee you will appear near your Palace, but you will appear in your own mind.  From there, finding it shouldn’t prove difficult.”

“And bringing in others?”

“If they are truly bonded with you, as I know Morgana is, then physical contact is all it will require.  If you desire his presence, and he desires to aid you, then you will appear together.”

“Will my body remain in the physical world?”

“I am not sure,” she admitted.  

“I’ll do it in my room then.”

She smiled at him.  “A wise plan.  I wish you well in your endeavor, but I am afraid information is all I can supply at this juncture.”

Akira stood.  “I understand, and thank you.”

“I do wish things had gone differently.”

“Yeah,” Akira muttered.  He did too.  If they could have somehow saved Akechi, how different might things have been?  

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