Author’s Note: This is a sequel to Mistletoe, seeking to further explore the relationship between Akira and Akechi as they go into the New Year. Happy New Year!
If you have not read Mistletoe before reading this, it goes into how Akira found Goro. This story is post-game and thus Akechi spoiler land by default.
“White,” the young man muttered, peering out of the small apartment window. A sudden influx of tourists, not too surprising really, had forced him to delay a trip to Tokyo and stay in Sapparo for the New Year. Looking at the unfamiliar world of freshly fallen snow it felt appropriate. He had died in Tokyo.
Not the place to usher in a new year.
It was here, in this world of white, where he’d been found.
Arms wrapped around his waist, pulling him back into bed.
“Ughkira,” he grunted.
A disgruntled mreow, and a cat leapt past him to settle on the desk. “What are you doing?”
“Snuggling,” came the muffled reply.
“And I had just gotten comfy,” the cat grumbled. He licked a paw to wash his face.
“I’m not going anywhere,” promised the young man. He stroked Akira’s hair, reaching around awkwardly to get at it.
The arms reached higher, embracing him in a tight hug.
The young man, Goro, patted Akira’s hands. “It’s a new year.”
“We should spend the day together.”
“It’s been a long time since I spent New Year’s with someone.”
The hug grew tighter.
“Do you know how to get to Hokkaido Shrine?”
“Why don’t we make a visit? It’s still early enough. We can visit the shrine and get to the cafe with plenty of time.”
The same influx of tourists which had filled up the trains had convinced the cafe owner where Akira, and now Goro, worked to open on New Years. After all, what could be better on a snowy day than a fresh cup of coffee or tea?
Akira moved his chin up to rest on Goro’s shoulder. “You want to?”
“With you,” Goro clarified.
The cat, Morgana, began coughing.
Both young men looked at him.
“Sorry, though I’d hack a furrball.”
“Maybe we should get you some medication for that,” Akira offered.
Catching on, Goro added, “You do seem to cough a lot. Perhaps a trip to the vet is even in order.”
“It’s recent too,” continued Akira. “I think he’s really gotten sick.”
“Hey, hey, hey! I am not sick, and I certainly don’t need a vet.” Morgana looked away. “Just a bit much sugar,” he muttered.
Akira rubbed his cheek against Goro’s. “Just enough,” he corrected.
Morgana hopped onto the window. He and Akira had lived in this apartment long enough that they’d figured out a way for the cat to open the window from the inside. Knowledge he now fully intended to use.
“Going out?” inquired Goro. Morgana had barely given the two a moment alone in the slightly over a week he’d been there.
“I’ll meet you two at the cafe.” The black and white cat opened up the window.
“Your scarf,” Akira reminded him.
“No need,” huffed the cat, hopping outside.
Goro freed himself to close the window. “He’s going to follow me.”
“Probably,” Akira admitted. He rolled out of bed. “Guess we should bring his scarf for when he gets cold.” He moved over to his small dresser. Hanging on the side were three scarves. One small yellow scarf with red hearts, and a full sized red scarf with yellow hearts hung together. Haru had made them for him and Morgana when he’d told her they were moving to Hokkaido for college.
A red and black scarf, thicker than the homemade pair, hung on a separate hook. Akira had gotten it shortly after rescuing Goro from the cognitive world.
On a similar note, two coats vied for space on the tiny rack by the door.
Akira had succeeded in explaing to his landlord that he simply had a guest for the holidays, but the apartment was definitely meant for one. He’d already managed to talk his landlord into letting him keep Morgana without charging more than a base deposit and didn’t exactly have a ton more goodwill to work off of either.
Life would have been a lot harder if he weren’t so darned debonair.
Akira looked at the small mirror on his dresser, a grain playing across his face.
“Reveling in narcissism again?”
“Is it narcissism if you’re really that good?”
Goro leaned over his shoulder. “You needn’t remind yourself of your excellence. I’m quite capable of completing that mission myself.” His lips curled into a thin smile.
Akira still hadn’t gotten used to the sight of smiles reaching Goro’s eyes. They seemed so much brighter than he remembered them. He’d seen signs of it while living in Tokyo, a glint in the back of his eyes, or a warm pride, but never had Goro Akechi truly opened up to him before now.
Never before had a mischievous side caused them to sparkle. And they had certainly never appeared quite so warm.
They had both seen each other’s dark sides now. Nothing more to hide.
“Suddenly I don’t feel so hasty,” Goro admitted.
“Do I have to play villain who pulls us outside now?”
Goro backed off. “Hardly. You’re just blocking the dresser.”
Akira flung open the small wardrobe beside the dresser. “All your clothes are hung in there, remember?”
“And yet I still find myself requiring access to the dresser.”
Shaking his head, Akira opened up the dresser. A quick moment of digging and he threw a pair of underwear and socks to his roommate.
Akira spun around. “Guess we have to get dressed now.”
Their first time together without Morgana, and neither knew quite how to proceed. Should they just leave? Or, perhaps, there was something else?
Goro grabbed his pants, long-sleeved shirt, and sweater vest out of the closet.
Guess that answered that. Akira turned around to grab some of his winter clothes too.
Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the year, could get crazy, and seeing as they hadn’t arrived all that early, the shrine grounds looked more like a sea of people than a place for worship and introspection. Akira and Goro melded in with the mob generally moving up to the shrine.
Akira rubbed his gloved hands together to keep them warm. Without Morgana on his shoulders he felt abnormally cold.
“Anything I can do to help?” Goro offered, holding out a hand.
Akira graciously took it. Goro had gloves on as well, but neither of their gloves were particularly thick and some heat still made it through.
He shoved his other hand into his coat pocket. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Goro replied, glancing around at the people around them.
In such a mob very few people even noticed the two guys holding hands. A few did a double-take, but no one looked too askance. New Year’s wasn’t an uncommon time for romance and hand holding, so at least the general attitude towards signs of affection didn’t cause too many issues.
“Don’t worry what they think,” Akira whispered into Goro’s ear.
“A hard habit to break, I’m afraid.”
Akira scooted even closer. “You’ll get it,” he promised.
“A New Year’s Resolution, perhaps?”
“Hmmm.” Akira squeezed Goro’s hand tightly. “I think I’ll just wish for a good year…”
Goro turned away. “Seems simple enough for you.” He spoke sharply, a reminder of the jealousy and anger he had displayed when battling the Phantom Thieves.
“…together,” Akira finished. “I’m selfish, remember?”
“Very,” Goro replied dryly. He did manage to look back at Akira though, so it was good enough.
They slowly oozed forward with the mob, until their turn to take the steps to the shrine came. Akira slid a five hundred yen coin into Goro’s hand.
“Let’s make our wishes come true.”
They ascended the steps together. Stood beside the offering box together. Tossed in their coins together. Bowed together.
Clapped twice, and held their hands there, thinking of their wish.
Akira hadn’t been joking when he said he wanted a good year together. All of his friends, all of the phantom thieves, together again. Even more though, he didn’t want Goro Akechi taken from him. He knew it would be a fight, and so to Okuninushi specifically he prayed for the strength to fight on. To prove to his friends that Goro deserved a second chance, and to see it through.
He bowed down, glancing at Goro as he did. The other man still stood praying.
Akira stood, slowly walking away from the shrine. He had barely turned when an arm wrapped around his own.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Goro reprimanded.
Akira leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.
He sighed. “We should get to work.”
“Not before I get you a New Year’s charm.” Akira began dragging Goro along.
“Akira, it isn’t necessary.” Goro tugged back. “You’ve done more to aid me than any charm ever could.”
Akira turned to him, surprised. He generally just went along with what Akira wanted. He’d been expecting Goro to push back at some point, but over getting a good luck charm?
“I am enough of a financial burden without the gifts.”
“You’re not a burden.”
People pushed past and around them on the crowded shrine grounds.
“And you’re the first person to ever believe that.”
“Then you should be the second,” Akira countered. He clenched Goro’s hand tightly. “You should have been the first. You,” he stepped closer, making it easier for people to get around them, “you are not a burden.”
“Then tell me, phantom thief, what am I?”
Leaning in, Akira replied, “A Phantom Thief of Hearts and…” His breath warmed Goro’s lips, a devilish smile crossing his own.
“Your lover,” Goro finished. The word felt weird on his lips. Foreign. A concept he had so little grasp of that even saying it felt strange.
“Your lover,” Akira whispered back. He offered Goro a quick kiss.
“Yours.” The devilish smile had broadened now, and an internal fire granted warmth to his gaze.
“Well then, I suppose if I am yours as well, then things may work out.”
“I really mean this.”
“Impressive for a man with so much dating experience,” Goro retorted. He shook his head in exasperation, “but I believe you.” He spoke gently again. “I don’t know why, but I almost always believe you.”
“Guess I have an honest face.”
Raising an eyebrow, Goro replied, “Truly? I find it rather reminiscent of a kitsune’s.”
“I am fond of foxes,” Akira admitted, “but I find I prefer crows these days.”
Goro’s face reddened slightly, his body making an escape attempt through his cheeks.
The devil grin returned. “Come on, let’s get to the cafe.”
Being one of the few nice cafes open on New Years definitely presented a financial advantage. Master had been thrilled when Akira had brought Goro up to him, asking about work. If they were going to make being open on New Year’s day worth it, they needed the extra help.
And Goro rocked the uniform. Seriously, distractingly, rocked the uniform.
Akira had known it was coming. Master took Goro’s measurements almost immediately upon meeting him, but Akira hadn’t expected it to be so damn perfect.
The last patron they had in the afternoon rush left.
Goro leaned slightly against the counter.
He’d been all smiles and complements the whole shift. The Detective Prince once again. Seeing Goro frown when he caught sight on an unreported spill actually made Akira feel a bit better.
“I’ll get it,” he offered.
Akira nodded, waving the towel he’d already been using to wipe down tables as he did. He was already equipped for this sort of job after all.
“Well done,” Master congratulated. He handed Goro a fresh cup of coffee. “You do seem to have a knack for this sort of thing.”
“I told you he’d be perfect,” Akira called over. The table already looked pretty decent. He stepped back, examining it. Spotless.
“Still, sorry to hear you had to cancel your trip to Tokyo.”
“It’s fine,” Akira assured his boss. “Just decided on it a bit too late. I’ll have to go visit next break.”
“Maybe you should invite them up.”
“No place for them to stay,” Akira replied with a smile. He moved to the counter. They had a small bin for rags behind the counter where he tossed his own rag. Laundry after this wouldn’t be fun, but at least they didn’t have to worry about it quite yet.
Akira leaned back near Goro. He too received a cup of coffee.
“Hey, Morgana,” the man suddenly called out. Akira and Goro both jumped. “I made you an extra creamy latte.” He lightly tapped a saucer on the counter.
Akira and Goro exchanged glances. Neither of them had seen Morgana earlier, so he must have slipped in before they got there.
The disgruntled, and clearly recently awoken, Morgana hopped of a beam near the back entrance.
“You weren’t supposed to tell them I was here,” he attempted to berate the manager.
“There you are.” Master tapped the dish. “Lots of cream with just a bit of coffee. You want it.”
“You sure are responsive to good coffee,” Akira teased.
“I’m sure you two had a good time,” grouse Morgana.
Goro sipped his coffee, but neither cat nor boyfriend missed the smile on his lips.
Morgana put a paw against the edge of his dish. He then slowly drug it further away from Goro, sliding it over until he was on the other side of Akira.
“You have a strange cat,” Master remarked. “Came in on his own just before you got here.”
“Really? Well, glad he made it here. He’s pretty stubborn.”
“Very,” Goro added dryly. He didn’t even bother to look at Morgana.
“Perhaps he doesn’t like someone new in his space,” Master mused. “Cats can get rather territorial after all.”
“I’m not a cat!”
“He’s always so loud.” Master smiled. “Like he wants in on the conversation.”
“I do.” Morgana splashed at the creamy coffee.
“Hey now, no messing up the counter or you get fed on the floor.”
Morgana stopped. Akira chuckled.
Master held up his own mug. “To a new year.”
“A new chapter,” Akira added, lifting his cup.
“A new life,” Goro replied quietly. He raised his mug as well, but stared straight at Akira while speaking.
“Lady Anne,” Morgana called up with a sharp meow.
“Newly available, I hear,” Akira added.
Morgana splashed cream on his uniform.
Master broke down laughing. “I don’t know how you do it, but if I didn’t know better I’d think you and that cat were best friends.”
Goro and Master just blinked at him for a moment.
Morgana recovered first, muttering something about knowing where he slept.
“Heh. Ha….Ha,” a strange grunt following from Goro’s mouth. He put down the coffee.
Now all eyes turned to him.
The laughter grew steadier. Goro leaned over the counter slightly.
“It wasn’t that funny,” Master remarked.
“I…I know, but…” His voice shook from laughter and, maybe, something else.
“Goro?” Akira leaned down.
“Sorry, sorry.” Goro stood up straight. He wore a big grin, but large tears clung to the bottom of his eyes. “I guess all of it just hit at once.”
Akira lunged forward, wrapping him in a big hug.
“I didn’t think,” Goro wrapped his arms around Akira. He took a steadying breath. “I really didn’t believe I’d see a new year. Ever. I didn’t think I’d live. I didn’t really plan to. And it’s not that you were funny, it’s that you and Morgana just play off each other so naturally. You’re a pair.”
“We’re a pair too.”
Morgana walked over. “Look, you’re not my favorite person. I don’t trust you, but you’re one of us now. And if Joker trusts you, well then, I guess I can give you another chance.”
“Heh. That almost sounded nice.”
“I am a gentleman,” Morgana reminded them.
Akira chuckled, pressing his forehead against Goro’s. “You heard the cat.”
“Not a cat!”
“I may not know quite what’s going on,” Master suddenly cut in, “but,” he raised his glass yet higher, “this is looking an awful lot like the part where you kiss.”
A disgruntled meow begged them against it.
The two fools, already so close, leaned in together. It wasn’t their first kiss. Goro had kissed Akira when he had first entered the cafe a week ago.
It was, however, long and warm, and even when it ended they held each other tight.
“Don’t make me lose you again,” Akira whispered.
“I think by now it’s quite clear you’d simply find me yet again.”
Akira leaned into the warm hug. After so many quiet New Year’s, so many years the same, or alone, it felt good to lean against someone.
“Happy New Year, Akira. I don’t know what it’s worth. Used to think nothing, but…for what it is worth: I love you.”
Akira clung to him even more tightly, digging his hands into Goro’s back. “You’re my treasure. Worth everything.”
“Happy New Year!” cheered Master. He took a big gulp of coffee.
Morgana let out a gagging sound, but put a paw again Akira, and another on Goro’s arm. “Happy changing year, you two.”
“You too, Morgana.” Akira nodded to his employer, “Master.”
“Perhaps it really will be happy,” Goro mused.
Akira kissed him again.
End Note: A common term for a significant other in Japanese is “koibito”. It’s a gender neutral term, but used very much like how we like to say girlfriend/boyfriend. That’s the world they’re using when they talk about being lovers. I wanted to stick to the gender neutral aspect to help convey the idea, especially for Goro, that what’s surprising isn’t that he’s dating a guy. It’s that he loves anyone and, even more strongly, that someone else loves him. Whether it be a guy or a girl isn’t the point. It’s the simple act of loving and being loved.